Saturday 16 August 2008

Dublin, rain, the street

I had a Dublin moment tonight, as I left the Luas station in Ranelagh. "How're you doing", asks the tall man to my left, quietly, on the street. "Grand, thanks", I reply. And we chat a bit, a few more sentences to the corner, where we part ways. "Lovely talking with you", he says. It is genuine and friendly. So nice, especially after a walk through the very weird parade that is Dublin's nightscape.

On Grafton street: a very old drunk man, stumbling down the street, a fresh gash across his forehead, yielding blood. At the top of Grafton street, several large bouncer-looking working class Dublin men held large yellow placards emblazoned with the legend, JOHN 3:7. Getting off the Luas, presumably to join them, was a very pious looking pale faced type, definitely more the 19 year old pioneer pin-wearing stereotype of fifties Ireland, but with a yellow tshirt on over his coat, again declaring, JOHN 3:7. This is a verse from the opium eater's gospel, the young one, and it has been showing up (some sort of cult seems to be emerging, on the face of tonight's attendance) for some years now just behind the goal posts at rugby and Gaelic matches, and, I suppose, has taken on a life of its own. My guess is that it preaches something about abstinence, maybe the guys holding the placards were fresh from some 12 step programme. I don't know.

I won't bother getting started with Temple Bar. As Friendly Ranelagh Man said, sure there's no one Irish in there at all. Truly. And for good reason.

I often encounter these random moments of friendliness, actually. They always come as a surprise. It's amazing how a momentary meeting with a stranger - nothing intense, nothing fancy, no big ideas - can feel very intimate. Some intimate part of you, touched. And then you say goodbye, and walk down the street. I remember a conversation I overheard on the bus from Girona airport to Barcelona, a month or so ago, between a girl from Texas and a softly spoken Spanish man. I sat behind them, it was a rainy night, they were speaking English, I am curious, I listened. It was largely chitchat, but you know, chitchat is some of the most interesting chat there is, really, especially when other people are having it. She was intelligent, independent, a 'good' girl, conditioned to be guarded with strange men. He seemed such a lovely sort. I sort of hoped they would exchange email addresses or facebook contacts or something. Afterwards, I saw her, on the train to Catalunya. She looked like she was thinking hard. Like the part of her that was forgotten from the thought, was suddenly sad.

Do you know the feeling of sudden sadness? The one that comes like a whirlwind, and tears through your body? The active sadness, the living sadness, that leaves space after it has gone, energy and joy the next day? Do you know that feeling, or anything like it?

So, according to my late night chat tonight, news from Roscommon is that apparently no one even says how-are-you-doing there anymore. What a pity. I'm glad they do in Dublin.

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