Tuesday, March 18, 2014

St. James's Gait

In the past, I've posted excerpts from my unedited 2005 Ireland journals in order to mark St. Patrick's Day.   Part One can be found here

  ...I eventually wound up at the Guinness brewery, having followed its scent for the previous few blocks.  It presented first as the smell of popcorn, then a block later shifted to that slightly sour smell I now find familiar.  For a brief moment, as I passed a fruit stand, all was sweet goodness.  

I turned up at the wrong gate, but an incredibly kind man set me straight.  His double around the back had the complete opposite demeanor, a slightly crooked and wretched-looking man standing beside a smaller version of a clydesdale.  I slipped past him to find an attractive Italian girl just inside.   Noticing the discounts given for student IDs, I slipped her my Japanese gaijin card, the only romanized characters being those for my name.  She noted that I could be showing her just about anything.  I replied that she'd just have to trust me, a hint of flirt in my voice.  She smiled and bid me pass. 

 I spent an hour or so working my way up through the multi-leveled displays.  It was an extremely industrial set-up, of huge girders, open spaces, and exposed elevators.  I felt like Charlie in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.  As a reminder of how indelibly linked the name Guinness is to stout in my own mind, I had honestly never realized until visiting here that it was the same people involved in the record keeping.   A true beer man, I am.

I finished with the brewing process stage, loving the smells and the immense wooden casks.  I was amazed that Guinness used oil tankers to ship its similarly-colored product.  There was certain level of hipness found in the multi-media "Craic" display, as well as in the video layout of old commercials.  On the 5th floor, we could post messages.  I wrote, ”クラックはどこ?”   

But the treasure lay at the top, in the form of a complimentary pint, served in a circular glass bar with a near 360 degree view of the city.  On the glass were written quotes by Joyce, facing the landmarks they described.  I was thrilled to have my first stout in Ireland, in all its creamy glory.  I nursed it while enjoying the view, then chatted with a guy from Chiba who I'd met downstairs.  

I set down Sráid Watling, which figures in Joyce, then turned the corner to find a house from "The Dead," facing the hideous James Joyce Bridge, obviously inspired by dental floss and ice cubes.  The Liffey itself was similarly uninspiring, but I followed it awhile before cutting directly across the city to an open shopping street of dull generic brand shops.  The streets running perpendicular had lively markets and various signs of immigrant life.  I began to notice more and more Chinese faces, no doubt preparing for  Lunar New Year the following day.  On one corner, a woman sold pears from a pram.  

The further east I walked, the more the local shops appeared.  I took a short break in order to share a coffee with Joyce, then set off for dinner and live music at O'Shea's, not far from my tourist ghetto bed.  The pub was busy, most disinterested in the football match showing on all the TV screens.  I alternated between writing, watching the game, and looking out the window.  Young beautiful women strode quickly home.  Many small groups of Chinese came from a single direction.  A guy dragged his bus pass along an iron fence.   Live music came on at 9:30, two guys playing trad tunes and really tearing it up.  Growing sleepy, I order a pint of Coca-Cola for 5, twice as much as my beer.  

 At my room once again, I talked awhile with my three Polish roommates, who had no trouble finding work in these days of the Celtic Tiger.  They all seemed quite intent on leaving their home country for good.  They had little money and had actually brought food over from Poland when they came.  I envied the fact that they could work in any EU country.  They thought my quest for family was brave, but it was they, giving up all that was familiar, who were the brave ones.  I taught them some Japanese numbers and basic phrases, then we all crashed out.  

On the turntable:  The Wolfgang Press, "The Burden of Mules" 

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