What I got from Ireland? - part of the book.
It’s an interesting thing, finding yourself in a thoroughly catholic country, where the greatest and most magnificent cathedrals in the capital are protestant, the national sports are completely unlike anything else despite being among the oldest in the world and, as the Irish say, are treated in Ireland like religion, only more seriously. This is a country of interesting paradoxes, Guinness, guys loudly farting in pubs and aggressively liberated red-haired women, who persistently bleach their hair blonde and white and take time off work to stand in never-ending lines to buy the new collection Gucci handbags, €800 apiece before the recession.
How to become news in Ireland?
Like Gary Keogh from Blackrock near Dublin, you can chuck an egg at the head of the Central Bank during the annual report for the media. After the cheerful events provided by the politicians and bankers to the Celtic Tiger mourners, many people lost their nerves. Some of them, brought to the brink of utter despair, let their frustrations loose.
Like every year, the bosses of the banks took their spots in front of the cameras. Among them were Pat Molloy, the president of the Bank of Ireland, and Richie Boucher (the BOI chief of chiefs). One of the spectators was an older man, the “Blackrock Avenger”. He sat at the back of the room, waited for the most important people to take the stand, covered the distance between him and the proscenium with the speakers in a few leaps and skilfully projected an egg at the president. Unfortunately, he missed his mark. I guess his aim is not as good as it once was. Gary is a professional egg thrower. In 2009, he threw an egg at the board during the annual report meeting of the AIB Bank, the same bank that had purchased the Polish WBK and Western Bank and is currently spitting them out. When security was escorting the brave egg pitcher out, the media got hold of the elderly gentleman and began to question him of the purpose of his act. Gary happily replied that it was a way to release his tension, a substitute for sedatives. The old man was released.
This is generally how breaking news looks on Irish TV. In order to push the chickens bred by Mr. Path off channel one, you need to set fire to half of North Africa. The news of a newly painted school in some deep, dark Irish village competes with the national presidential election. Meanwhile, the Garda’s spectacular chase of a top model just to take a picture with her aroused a nationwide media debate. Compared to Polish press, the Irish pre-election and election reports seemed like poor previews. A short newsflash and see ya, we’re off to the Irish country to make a report on a duck farmer. Nevertheless, the Irish deserve praise for covering the beatification of Karol Wojtyła all day on TV. Furthermore, they played the Vatican transmission live, uncut. Just like in Poland. Economic and financial news holds high regard. On this subject, the Irish media go on and on. Such news is also equipped with extensive commentary from experts and specialists.
While Polish TV is dominated by sociologists, psychologists and filmmakers, its Irish counterpart is filled with economists and bankers. This is the difference between television produced in a normal, although provincial country, and a nuthouse. Besides the reports from Wall Street, foreign news is dominated by the successful birth of 12 baby pandas by a giant panda in China, festivals and tours of Jedwards, the Irish twins John and Edward, who almost won the British X–Factor and represented Ireland at this year’s Eurovision. In Ireland, the TV does not destroy the provincial world order. The Irish don’t want to know more about the world than they need to plan a successful vacation. Just like Poles, they’re crazy about the TV weather report, they also watch it like their favourite soap opera, but the Irish forecast does not provide atmospheric pressure.
To Ireland for health.
I was a client of the Dublin physicians, nurses and lately even physiotherapists several times. I broke the smallest bone of the smallest finger of my right hand. I tried to show my brother the best way to chop wood, which culminated in the fracture of this part of my dear body, one I had previously not given much thought. One swing, and the stupid block fell right on my paw. Not that my method is unreliable, or that I’m a poor lumberjack mentor. Nothing of that sort. It’s just that you should get hammered after you swing an axe, not before. Good thing I didn’t chop my head off. After having such a good time in Poland, I returned to the womb of stepmother Ireland and told her to heal me. This went pretty well.
The doctors put my finger in a plastic splint and told me to go about my business. I wore the plastic proudly, while people felt sorry for me. This would be nothing odd, until it turned out that after the order to remove the cast, I was entitled to rehabilitation. Damn! How do you rehabilitate your little finger? I decided to check, and now I have the best-set little finger in the world. The progress in the small bone of my little finger was examined every two weeks. Does it rise, or rather drop? I was asked of the impact it had on my vocation. We all breathed a sigh of relief when it turned out that I’m not a pianist. The small bone in my middle finger could have crippled my career. I would never again play Chopin, whose music requires a perfectly able little finger. It also seems that I would not have been able to become a professional tennis player and play in the US Open.
This would be an irreparable loss to the sport and its faithful fans, who spend a fortune to express emotion-filled “oooos” when a player fails to hit the ball to the intended location. This would have probably been me, no way would I have made that shot with a badly rehabilitated little finger. Fortunately, I don’t play tennis. But they confirmed that I can practice journalism with a crooked little finger with no problem, practically with my hand up my ass. After four visits, I decided that I had had enough of this charade and didn’t go to the next examination, which was appointed with great care. Two days later, I received an official letter, which threatened that if I failed to show a sign of life within a month, the bastards would cross me off the list and good-bye therapy. I was ashamed indeed, how could I, a grown man, be so irresponsible as to not give a damn if the tip of my finger has risen by another tenth of a millimetre, or if it had remained the same? What would happen, what kind of therapy could I expect, if my leg was torn off? Who pays for these things? You, you, the society, one would want to say.
On the town.
I decided to take a cab ride in Dublin. I was going to go to the “Focus” Theatre, where the Polish community was presenting a show entitled “The Scent of Chocolate” of some guy named Paczocha. Actually, I was going to go on foot after checking the location in Google Maps, but I got lost. And so, I stopped a taxi with a spry Irish driver. Who would know the way better than a cabbie? Well, surprise, the Irish driver got lost. As it turned out later, we were a half-kilometre away from the destination. Along the way, he made a few stops to ask pedestrians of the theatre, the people replied, and he continued to weave and wind. Countless times, I assured him that it wasn’t the name of a pub, that it was a real theatre. Christ, a circus like this in the land of S. Beckett!
After a half-hour of forced sightseeing, he finally gave up. I tried to grab another one, but always cautiously asked the driver if he knew where the theatre was, then if he was aware of theatre in general, then I gave up. Right then and there, my original driver appeared and happily honked his horn at me, because he had found out where the “Focus” Theatre was. So, after an hour, I had finally arrived. I decided to walk home, which took me fifteen minutes. To this day, I still don’t know if the guy really didn’t know where to take me, or intentionally drove around town to run a higher fare. I never paid him for the wretched ride, so it seems like he really didn’t know.
I’m going on the town again tonight, so it’s likely I’ll come across something equally as delightful.