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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

plus ca change

Last night I went on the lash with Donal Scannell (a.k.a. the new Conor Pope) and Brian. For those of you unaware of my geographical changes, I’m currently back home in Dublin, and having zipped around to dinners, barbecues, christenings and rock-n-roll gigs, this was my first real night out in town. A Tuesday night, and fairly mellow, you’d think, but Dublin was a-rocking as we blagged our way into Vicar Street.

I’m a great fan of the blag, but always reluctant to pull one myself. Scannell, however, is the Holy Emperor of blaggery. There’s nobody in Dublin he doesn’t know, and no venue, bar, club or exclusive establishment that he can’t talk his way into. Last night, he wheedled us two coveted tickets to see Toots and the Maytals, not to mention a few complimentary beverages from the bar.

You have to admire that kind of mischief. There’s no one this lad doesn’t know, and no one he won’t shamelessly sweet-talk to ensure an open-door policy everywhere he goes. I watched him butter up bouncers, wink at barmen, and pump hands across the dance floor as we weaved our way through the sweaty masses.

But there’s something quintessentially Dublin about that, about the who-you-knowness of it, and about not even being able to pop your head out the door on a Tuesday night without running into fragments of your life all over the place. And despite the fact that I’ve been living on the other side of the world for four years, wandering along Thomas Street last night pretty much erased all of that. Coming out of the Thomas House I bumped into the very lad who taught me the rules of rugby at the back of Physics class. And over in Vicar Street I was accosted by another old friend, last seen at a Yellow House party playing pool in the basement. And as we wended our way towards Isolde’s (see why he’s the new Conor Pope?), I ran into a former work colleague, now a barrister, still a boozer.

While that small-townness may have been part of what made me pack my bags in the first place, I have to admit it was kind of comforting to venture out after a long absence and still see familiar faces among all the sea changes, confirming that the uber-hyped new Ireland's still got a few old heads in it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

eenie meanie miney and mo

There we were, the four of us, sitting around a bottle or several of wine, like no time had passed, like it hadn't been light years since the last wine-fuelled encounter in another capital city thousands of miles away. And though so much had changed, nothing was different. N still exploding with that booming belly laugh of hers as she explained, glass in one hand, fag in the other, that she'd come directly from another detoxifying, soul-cleansing "breathing course", then leaping to her feet, legs splayed, as she illustrated another of her side-splitting stories with an anecdote or accent. L still the understated fulcrum of it all, organising and galvanising things the way only she can, and managing somehow to look both like an authoritative professional and a little giggling girl at the same time. G still out to save the world, the sweet endearing softness of her shot through with that steely firmness of prurpose that strikes awe and admiration in the rest of us. And me.
The four of us, banging on about endless Buenos Aires nights, about fabulocinos , and exes known only by their country of origin, about cheap depilation and the 152 bus, about bad dates and happy hours and the controversial open-door policy in our Bolivar residence, but still so much ourselves, despite shorter hair here, or a love won and lost there.
There's just something about being with these people whose Latin adventure coincided so fortunately with my own, that warmed the cockles of my vagabond heart, and helped break the fall from there to here. Something that puts geography firmly in its place behind history, behind contact.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

cain, abel and an ancient violin,,3-2260926,00.html

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

deja vu

Juan is organising post-work pints in honour of my departure. Has it really been four years since I did this last? Four years since the post-work pints with the crew, and Conor Pope falling off his bicycle? Four years since I was commended by my boss's boss for doubling my salary through use of the company phone and dancing to Britney Spears songs in Isolde's Tavern (let's never speak of this again)?

And now I'm at it again, this time leaving Reuters and my Latin American colleagues, but the same post-work pints in a faux Irish bar, and the same melancholy pull to be leaving a great bunch of folk who have rescued me from taxis, fought with me over driving, bar-toddled through BA and Santiago by my side and sung a capella in the wee hours, visited me in two hospitals and managed despite all of that to teach a non-visual wordsmith how to tell a story through images. For which, from the bottom of mi corazon latino I thank each and every one.