Tuesday, 30 October 2007


I spent last weekend in Dublin visiting my friend Lisa and had a great time. On saturday we visited various shops and bars and on sunday we saw Ian Brown play the Big Top in beautiful Phoenix Park. And what a big top the Big Top is! Certainly the biggest top I've ever seen, let alone been in. And what a lot of wankers there were in the Big Top! When you're standing near the back of any arena you're entitled to feel that you're unlikely to get jumped on or barged over by those young men whose idea of gig-etiquette involves throwing themselves at, and rubbing themselves against, each other in a very poorly concealed display of homosexual yearning. But that's what happened to us each time that Brown played one of their favourites. Any nearby women were pushed to the margins for fear of being struck by flailing limbs and this all affected the enjoyment of the evening, in my group at least.

You know what to expect from Ian Brown. He'll do that funny little dance where he jogs on the spot and points to the tambourine that he's shaking above his head. He'll play a few Stone Roses songs and each of these will be celebrated by the crowd in pretty much the same way that goals are celebrated on football terraces. He'll play F.E.A.R. and this will be as rapturously received as the Stone Roses songs. He'll play a bunch of other songs that are utterly pointless in comparison. He'll sing every song with what must surely be the worst voice in popular music. And he'll be worshipped by some of the most adoring fans there are. All of these things happened and, apart from during the Big Songs, I was pretty bored. I don't think I'll be seeing him again unless he goes on a nostalgia tour with the rest of the 'Roses some time in the 2020s.

The first unusual thing I noticed about Dublin was the amount of people out in the city centre when I arrived there on saturday afternoon. Grafton Street was full of more shoppers than I'd ever seen in one place. And these shoppers weren't picking up bargains, they were just desperate to buy stuff. There didn't appear to be any sales on. Every shop was packed, and each time you left a shop you were carried down the street by a ceaseless tide of people. There's clearly a lot of money in Dublin right now, a point further illustrated by the bar prices. It's an expensive city, probably even more so than London. It's also more fun than London and I met some lovely people.

There were, however, also some people who weren't as friendly. I'm talking about those who gave my friends and I the finger as we were driving around because we were in a car with British plates. It could be that they don't like Renault Clios or the French in general but I'm more inclined to the view that it was the number plates that were objectionable. There were also unfriendly bar staff to contend with. There seemed to be a generational correlation to these attitudes - the older you are the more likely you are to not serve a polite Englishman with a smile. The youngsters and the Polish, of which there are many, were also fine. But the older Irish bar staff were definitely less friendly to me than when they were when they were serving other Irish. I watched Liverpool V Arsenal on my own in a lovely pub on sunday afternoon but was actually scared to go to the bar, such were the looks I was getting from the staff when I ordered and betrayed my heritage with my guttural West London lilt. I took a record amount of time drinking each pint because of this. Eventually I decided that enough was enough. I marched to the bar and addressed the haughtier of the two men serving there:

"Listen, my friend. I'm really sorry about Bloody Sunday. And what we did during the Famine and whatever else your country has had to put up with from us lot over the centuries. But I had nothing to do with it and neither did anyone I know. Now, while I'm standing here paying five euros for the privilege of buying a pint of piss-weak lager from you could you please pull your bigoted head from your arse and serve me with something approaching common courtesy? Thank-you."

That's exactly what I said. In my head, anyway. In reality what happened was that I went to the bar and asked for what I wanted as clearly but also as quietly as I could so that I could slink back to my chair having brought as little attention to myself as possible. What a man I am, eh?

That last paragraph was going to be the last one but I don't want to end on a sour note. Dublin's lovely and I can't wait to go back. The End.

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