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Published: January 14th 2010
17th April ‘09
The colour of one’s deckchair is crucial: it calls into question one’s sexuality. The good news, then, is that my deckchair left in Zurich was not in fact ruined, but rescued by another driver: hawk-eyed Ken. The bad news.. Erm, there isn’t any bad news except that most of us could happily have remained at home for a bit longer. So, no more pink deckchairs for me. Namibian talks of donating the - now redundant - polka-dot eyesore to Little Dick for a small fee.
To prove a point of machismo, we roll the trucks onto the weighbridge in Holyhead, Wales this morning, before boarding “Ulysses” to Dublin. Namibian weighs in at 26 tons, and I, despite a usual diet of fish and vegetables, come in at a whopping 36, 200kg. Well, no wonder I’m struggling on the hills. In the manliness stakes, I suggest that Namibian should think about taking up hairdressing instead. By the way, he has retracted his statement that ‘I lose weight all the time’, finally admitting that he might have picked up an ounce or two. He looks at the map of the ship. ‘Now, if we’re here, where is the
The “Ulysses” is enormous. In fact, she is the world’s largest car ferry. Standing twelve decks high, and grossing 50,938 tonnes, she offers plenty of scope for walking round in circles trying to find the freight lounge. Just getting out of the car deck is bad enough: there is almost three miles of parking space. The crossing is calm, we find something to eat, and watch a helicopter perform a training exercise, landing on Deck 11.
Remember Cookie? Yes, that’s him, the chap who regards jazz as ‘playing the wrong tune.’ Well, he lives in Ireland and is consequently engaged in a little furniture-moving endeavour. He’s loaded up from a relative’s house in England - disappointingly he hasn’t even gone off route - and now faces the task of fitting chairs and tables into a van already containing his wife Caroline and four children. Oh, and the van is already clogged to the gunwales with bric-a-brac. Little Dick and I offer to help.
‘Be careful where you step,’ says Cookie, ‘there are demijohns for homebrew in that box.’ Little Dick has some experience in removal jobs, and is last seen underneath a cardboard box, trying
to find an anchor point for a strap. You see, Irish roads aren’t the smoothest: we’re concerned that the four-hour journey to Kerry is more than enough time to have a child’s eye out with a chair-leg. While I unpack the trombone for a rendition of “The Acrobat”, one of the urchins has a pee against Da’s lorry..
18th April: ("A drink?")
I suppose you think I’m well rested after a good night’s sleep? No, I’m not, thanks for asking. Why does the human body, when in need of recovery, wake us up for no earthly good reason? At 4am I get a serious bout of hiccups. There is surely a medical reason for the affliction but they seem to me nothing short of a dashed nuisance. They last an hour, by which time it’s hardly worth going back to sleep again.
The situation strikes me as precarious: five years ago, in Prague, I took a sip of cold Pilsener which s et me hiccupping furiously. Lying on my stomach, sleep was eventually achieved but the condition lasted 52 hours. I thought at the time that the trombone playing career might well be in tatters. Quite frankly,
I’d rather be tormented by a feudal lord in the Carpathian Mountains - impaled, roasted and flayed if necessary - than go through all that again. Today, fortunately, the morning passes without - ahem - a hiccup.
Blast! Lunch sets them off again. If one is to resemble a drunkard, hiccupping as though pickled in gin, one may as well have a drop of poison - we are in Dublin after all. A gentle cycle along the River Liffey brings me to The Temple Bar, confusingly the name of a pub within the area known as Temple Bar. Still with me? As you enter, history and conversation vie for your attention in equal parts; fading barrels and whiskey advertisements adorn the beer “garden”, and travellers from around the world chat over a drink or three.
Established in 1840, this is a local institution, and houses Ireland’s largest whiskey collection. In fact, both whiskey (Irish) and whisky (Scotch) are sold. That, by the way, is another pearl of information on spelling. As Namibian’s nose reddens, and our pockets grow lighter, it’s rather a sobering thought that there are more than 410 different bottles to try. I have a
pint of Guinness while contemplating just how much alcohol that is.
Outside, a market is in full swin g. A teenager is bashing a drum kit with an astonishing lack of dexterity - in fact, it’s quite clear that, aside from a Kentucky Fried Chicken, he’s never held a drumstick in his life. However, he perseveres for a full twenty minutes, successfully drowning out a professional string quartet celebrating the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death. Remarkably, seventy cents is flung onto the cymbal case, which sadly encourages him to attempt a drum roll. Oh heaven help us, the poor lad wouldn’t know a parad iddle if it hit him on the nose.
Talking of noses, this ineluctable tendency of the modern generation to misuse apostrophes really gets up mine. FILM’S indeed! Honestly! Do I have to stress, yet again, that apostrophes denote omission or possession, NOT PLURALS? Come on, this really needs nipping in the bud..
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