28 August 2007

From Galway to Dublin town, no maid I've seen like the sweet Colleen...

Actually, Colleen isn't so sweet. Frankly she's a bit of a hooer and couldn't mind mice at a crossroads. Dirty as the henhouse, that one. Idle as the piper's little finger, to be sure. Not that I know from personal experience, mind...just the word on the street.

You know how they say the grass is greener on the other side? Well in Ireland it's literally true. It's so friggin green it's not funny. It's almost phospherescent. Note the correct usage of the term 'literally' there, grammar fans.

Man, do they ever love to parp their horns over here. Red light - parp. Green light - parp. Someone doesn't give way - parp. Someone does give way - parp. Bored - parp. Too lazy to scratch your nuts - parp. I think Irish cars have their indicators replaced with an additional horn. About the only thing they love more than the parp is the counter-parp. If someone parps you, parp them back, only longer and harder.

Awesome weekend back in London. Sun was shining, temperature hit 26 degrees and spent Saturday morning clothes shopping and Saturday arvo drinking cider in Chelsea with Trudi (ex ATO colleague). Then got home and drank Baileys on the stairs with my flatmates and told them a few truths about life and the perils it holds for them in future. Needless to say, Sunday was a very slow-paced affair as I moved my stuff across the hall and packed for my return to Dublin. Monday was a public holiday in London but not in Ireland so I made sure I stayed in the UK. I'm not missing out on another one!

This weekend promises to be epic as I head back to the Guinness Storehouse for the official tour. I'm a bit excited! I've got plenty of fake moustaches so I can race to the back of the line and get more free samples at the end. I met a guy whose dad used to work there years ago and all around the brewery grounds there used to be open taps which you could just take a hit from anytime you liked. Needless to say there was always a huge line and it's a wonder anyone in Ireland got anything done ever.

Looking forward to seeing some good theatre while I'm over here. There's a powerful tradition for live theatre in Ireland, as evidenced by the four nobel laureates they've produced...and all of whom were miserable profane drunken mad bastards, which is my favourite kind of laureate. Also, Patrick Stewart (Jen Luc Picard) is doing MacBeth or Hamlet or something at Shakespeare's Globe theatre back in London so I'm so gonna go to that and shout out "Make it so!" in the quiet bits, cos you're allowed to heckle from the standing area in front of the stage.

I'm also trying to get in on a ghost hunting expedition with the London Paranormal Society. They take people on midnight tours to all of London's most famous haunted places and look for ghosts with all their high tech geeky gear. I really want to go to the London Dungeon or the London Operating Theatre which they say is haunted by Florence Nightingale. I'm planning on reminding everyone constantly and incessantly to NEVER cross the streams. I bet ghost people think that's hilarious!

That's all for now. If all goes well my next post should be from the liver transplant ward at the Guinness Hospital. Go on wit'cha!

20 August 2007

All the way to Dublin, whack follol de rah!

I'm struggling a bit to find songs about Dublin, particularly now that I know 'Dirty Old Town' isn't about Dublin at all...it's about a town in London. But The Dubliners do a pretty rollicky brand of fiddle-dee-di-de-dee and how rad is that "whack follol de rah" on the end? Bloody rad, that's how rad.

This installment is all about art and history. I spent my first weekend in Dublin touring the museums and learning quite a lot about the Irish and realised they're far more closely related to Australians than I thought. Of course the vast majority of the first fleet were Irish, so most of us are descended from the dregs of Irish society which, frankly, is the best part. They fought hard to win their independance from the English and paid a heavy price. But they're fiercly proud of it and even though they suffered greatly for a time it's really a testament to their unbelievable optimism and good humour and ability to have a laugh even when things are at their worst. Did you know there were Irish soldiers fighting (and dying) with the ANZACs at Galipolli? So both countries have pretty much been screwed over by the English for centuries. Oh and they had a replica Viking long boat called the Sea Stallion which was built in Dublin in the 14th century, scuppered in Denmark, then salvaged and restored in the 90's and sailed back to Dublin. Vikings are metal!

I got along to the Irish Museum of Modern Art, which was ok, but not mind-blowing. The problem with modern art museums is you never know what's art and what's just furniture or rubbish. For example, the most amazing piece of modern art was completely unintentional: the museum is an old manor house and all the galleries are rooms. Someone had placed a fire extinguisher in one of the unused fireplaces, which looked awesome! It totally subverted the form and turned the ouvre on it's head. But it was really just for safety. I then spent 15 minutes staring at an empty chair wondering at its significance when the security guard came back from the pissoir and sat in it. I decided to leave. I found the Guinness storehouse too (huzzah!) but the line for the tour was really long so I'm going back in a couple of weeks.

I got to eat my lunch in the grounds of Dublin Castle the other day. How cool is that? How many of you can say they eat their lunch in a castle? Oh, wait a minute...one...me. And Prince Charles, of course. I bumped into him the other day outside Buckingham Palace and I was all like, "Dude! Lunch in a castle!" and he was all like, "I know! Fuken A!" Then we slapped five in a princely fashion which isn't up high, like you would think, but down low 'cos we're earthy and in touch. Church!

On another day I ate my lunch in St Steven's Green which is a lovely park with lots of grass and French people, which is annoying, and seagulls, which you would think would be annoying but isn't. Irish seagulls are different...they're humble and affable and know heaps of jokes. But there's way too many French people over here. There were some ugly French people sitting on the park bench near me staring and talking out of the corner of their Frenchy mouths going, "Oh hoh hoh!" and smokeing long cigarettes and singing attrocious Maurice Chevalier songs. I didn't know how to say "What the fuck are you staring at, Frenchy?" in French so I just said it in English. I think they got the message. Then I mimed it and they TOTALLY got the message. They're so smug...even the ugly ones. Presumably because they know that even the ugliest French person gets more sex than the hottest English person.

I'm over my love affair with the Irish accent. I was trying to find my hotel the other night and was a bit lost so I asked this woman, "Excuse me, how far is Cardiff Lane?" And she said, "Fookin' wha?" I said, "Cardiff...Lane" and she said, "Yer lookin' fur Loime street?" I said, "No...Cardiff Lane...L-A-N-E...LANE" and she said, "Yah want a loine?" She then tried to sell me some coke so I took a different tack. "Where's the Quality Hotel?" "Oh sure," she said, "it's roight aroond tha cowrner, an all". So she sold me the blow and we had a party in my hotel room for 15 minutes.

But thankfully I've figured out how to make people understand me. It's a simple matter of modifying my language to incorporate three simple Irish phrases: surean, fookin', and loike. So if you approach someone in the street and say "Excuse me, where is the nearest public toilet?" they'll just look at you blankly and probably punch you in the face. But if you say, "Surean, where's the fookin' toilet, loike?" they'll be only to happy to point out the possie of the nearest public pissoir.

Oh my god! There's a Forbidden Planet here in Dublin! I'm totally going but there's also a couple of really cool dingy little comic shops in the alleys on Crow Street behind my building run by nerds of the highest calibre. I've decided the interior of my building, Castle House, looks like the film set from some crap 70's hospital show which I call "Paging Doctor Love". I was going to call it "50cc's of Love, STAT!" but that's more of a soft-p0rn0, I think. They're apparently moving us out at the end of the month but I reckon I'll be gone before I get to reap the benefits. Story of my feckin' loife...

It rains a lot here and there are canals all over the place. All of which sounds quaint but it smells really bad. The water is really horrible and polluted and hobos wash their doonas in it. I did see a canal boat (a 'barge' as we call it in the biz) which you can hire out for parties and what not, but it's right in between two main roads so not what you would call picturesque. Plus, harking from Dutchland, I bet they make you clog dance and eat herrings...no thanks.

It's funny how you notice the contrasts here. On first glance everything looks quaint and oldey timey and cool - the cobbled streets, the canals, the stone bridges - but the closer you look the more you see how modern life has sullied everything: streets are littered with bottle tops and cans and glass, canals are full of rubbish and oily water, tunnels under the bridges are dark and slimey and is that a bag of rubbish or a body? One day I even found a bullet. It was out the front of a record store owned by U2 so I went in and Larry Mullens Jr was behind the counter and I was all like, "Dude! IS thisbullet the blue sky?" He thought it was hilarious and wanted to rock out with me but I was all like "Feck off, grandpa. Go find some other chump to sell out with." Awesome.

Everyday when I come in to work there's about 5 emails with berevement notices and directions to the wake. Public service people are just dropping like flies over here! But in typical Irish style, death is simply another excuse to get pissed. I reckon so many people are dying due to the number of wakes they have to go to...it's like some vast alcohol-fuelled perpetual motion machine.

Right, that's it for now. I've put another batch of photos up so check 'em out, y'all at http://picasaweb.google.com/blind.phineas/. Back to London this weekend to move my stuff across the hall - the dude's coming back and I'm renting a room from one of the girls in the flat who's going away for 5 weeks - then back to Dublin for more of the craic and the black.

Love and Guinness.

13 August 2007

Doity ol' toooooooooown...

Thank goodness I've moved to a whole new city with a whole bunch of new musical references from which to create my subject lines.

Here I am in gloomy old Dublin, diddley dee potatoes! It's not gloomy in a London kind of gloomy, but a whole different kind of gloomy. More like city gloom (smog, noise, bad smells) compared to farm gloom (drizzle, mold, weird animal smells). Kinda hard to explain but trust me, it's different. It wasn't what I was expecting...not like a city at all, more like a big village. There's not a lot of tall buldings and most of them are really really old. There are seagulls sitting on the roof of the building across the street and when they go off it feels like you're either at the world's crapest beach or the world's nicest dump. My office looks like something from the 1950's and all of the power points are in the floor, which is really funny when people trip over them, but not at all funny when I'm the only one who does.

The people are SO friendly! It's unbelievable...in 4 weeks in London I made, like, 4 friends and had about 5 decent conversations. In 4 days over here I met about 20 people who may well be my best friends for life and have had so many conversations frankly I'm sick of talking. I feel like a bit of a broken record cos the second thing everyone says to me is, "So, how are you finding Dublin, then?" and I'm all like, "You people are SO friendly!" and they're all like, "Yer feckin' eejit!" Incidentally, the first thing everyone says to me is, "So you're from England, yeah?" One of the managers I work for, Richie, has taken me under his wing and is telling me all about the history of Dublin and his boyhood escapades. He's an old-school Dubliner and has bright red curly hair and freckles like a little wee leprechaun (I didn't mention that to him cos he looks like he'd punch me). He told me where all the best "old man pubs" are located, and told me where to go to find some "fiddley-di-de dee" music, as he calls it. I think he means smelly old guys with ukeleles and hand drums like giant tamborines and pan pipes and fiddles, or something.

Two things they love doing in Dublin is drinking and swearing. And not necessarily in that order but usually ones comes very soon after the other. If you stand in the middle of the street with your arms out and spin around, you'll hit about 17 pubs before you fall over. I think I've drunk more Guiness in 4 days than I have in my entire life before now. They say it tastes better over here but I can't tell. You can do a tour of the Guiness brewery and they give you one free Guiness but I reckon if I wear enough disguises I can get about 4 in before they're on to me. Plus, you can say "feck" as much as you like cos it's not a swear word...go figure!

People's accents are cool...no matter how young they are they all sound about 65. Most people speak Gaelic, which is the Irish language, so when they answer the phone chances are they'll end up speaking weird. When something's funny or good fun or enjoyable you say "Good craic" which is pronounced "crack", which apparently confuses the hell out of the Americans. The traditional names are lovely but can cause confusion. When I first arrived I phoned my manager and he said he'd send the cleaner down to let me in. "The cleaner?" I thought. "Are they all so busy they can't spare 2 minutes, they have to send the janitor?" But then I thought perhaps they meant Cleaner as in the dude who mops up after CIA assasinations...oh no! Why do they want to kill me? I only just got here, I didn't do anything! But before I could run away a lovely lady named Cliona (pronounced 'kleena') showed up. Derr!

They love sport too and play this wicked game called Hurling. I know what you're thinking and, no, it doesn't involve dwarves or vomit but it's equally as exciting. It's kind of like hockey but the ends of the sticks are flat and round, kind of like a ping pong paddle, and the goals look like a soccer goal but with two big posts either side. The ball looks like a white cricket ball and getting it in the net is worth, I don't know, a eugoogaley or something, and getting it twixt the sticks (ooh err!) is worth a pootenanny. You can pick the ball up and run with it so long as you bounce it off your chest now and then, or you can smash it with your stick for one of your doodz to catch further up. It's very fast-paced and loads of fun to watch, particularly when some dude gets smashed in the face with the ball or a stick (apparently it's very woosy to wear head gear, and let's face it, there's nothing sexier than brain damage).

They're very curious about Australia and are always quizzing me about stuff so I've been making up a lot of it. I'm actually liking it more here than in London. I get to sit with a team of nice people and see them everyday. It really makes a difference when you feel part of the gang instead of just a visitor. I'm staying over this weekend instead of flying back so I'm going to do some exploring. Richie's suggested hiring a car and driving out into the country to see some of the outlying areas, which are very close and supposedly quite lovely. Kristen's probably rolling her eyes right now and going, "I've SO done all of that already! I lived in Ireland, you know!" Feckin' princess...

That's all from me for now. I'll try and post some pictures of Dublin this weekend and look forward to hearing back from you guys with all your news.

6 August 2007

I predict a riot...I predict a riot...

Well what a week it's been. I think I mentioned to you last time that I'd started work and met my boss. Well, I've been given a project to work on and I'll be travelling to Ireland for the next few months. I'll be living in Dublin, which is the capital city of Ireland, and everyone tells me it's a great place. I'll most likely be in a hotel the whole time, which is a bit of a drag but there you go. Had some major hassles with HR when they didn't pay me and kept fobbing me off to Payroll who kept fobbing me off to HR. Angry Man was in his element as he called down the powers of senior executives from across both areas to sort it out and finally admit they'd made a mistake. What a way to start my new career...

On Saturday I walked around the shopping district of London. I mean, there are shops everywhere, but Oxford Street is supposed to be pretty cool and hip...my kind of place, you're thinking, and you're dead right. I managed to find this awesome comic shop called Forbidden Planet and it's a HUGE, with like 3 floors of plastic models and toys and books and dvds and comics and all sorts of nerdy crap, which I love.

I also found the Natural History Museum which I'm gonna go back to next week. They've got a full-sized T-rex skeleton in the front lobby just like in "Night at the Museum". I don't think this one comes alive but I'm gonna poke it with a stick just to make sure. How funny would it be if the whole thing came crashing down on my head?

It's really hot over here...well, not today, today sucks...but on the weekend it was lovely and heaps of people were out in the parks relaxing and taking their shirts off. Most of them probably should have kept their shirts on, it wasn't very pretty and once a little bit of vomit came up into my mouth when I saw this big sweaty fat guy eating an ice cream. How are ya, Joey?

I made a couple of friends at work and we went out for a drink after work on Friday. One's an indian girl from Kent (south-east coast) and the other is a guy from Wales. They're a lot of fun and it was nice to just chill out and relax and talk crap with people like me instead of having to pretend to be professional all the time.

London is such a city of contrasts. The other day I was walking along on my lunch break and I walked around a corner and nearly collided with a horse's butt. There were two mounted Police officers patrolling the streets on their horses and they'd stopped for a rest right in front of where I was walking. I was going to ask them whether they have to pick up their horses' poop and put it in a plastic bag but they didn't look like they would see the funny side of it.

On Sunday I went to a museum where they had a Star Wars exhibition and it was so cool! They had all these costumes and props and models and full-size ships and everything. I've got photos of all the cool stuff, like Darth Maul's costume and lightsaber, Boba and Jango Fett, Darth Vader's costume, and Anakin's pod racer. That thing was HUGE! They mostly had stuff from Phantom Menace, which was lame, but it looked awesome. Because most of them were behind glass I couldn't use a flash so some of the exposures are a big dodgy but if anyone's interested I can send them through.

I've also done the tourist thing and taken heaps of photos of London, but there's a lot so if anyone wants to see them drop me a line. It's a bit hard to explain what they all are so just go "Ooooh!" and "Ahhhhh!" a lot and pretend you know what they are. Keep your eyes peeled for the giant ferris wheel. That's the London Eye and it's supposed to be awesome. Takes an hour to go all the way round. It's right out the front of the place where I saw the Star Wars thingy, and there's also an aquarium and a Dali museum, cos you can never have enough Dali.

Also, I finally have a mobile phone so someone can call me with the good news when Little Johnny finally gets the boot.

Peace, y'all! Next time you hear from me I'll no doubt have an Irish accent, b'gorah!

1 August 2007

London calling! Yes I was there too...

I'm still having trouble believing that I'm actually here. It's a bit like a parallel dimension where everything's familiar but somehow slightly different. For example, at KFC they don't have chicken salt but you can order baked beans instead of chips. They eat baked beans with everything over here AND they drink Fosters. Bleech! As you would expect, the weather on the day I flew in was dreadful. Grey and rainy, thanks London! Thankfully, things have fined up and we are having a run of lovely sunny 23-25 degree days. The height of summer, they tell me.

I figured out the Tube on my first days here as I was only in my hotel in Kensington for 2 days before moving into some dude's room in Finsbury Park for a few weeks. For those of you who don't know, Kensington (south west) is really lovely and posh, and Finsbury Park (north) is pretty much chav (booner, westie) central...the Arsenal football club merchandise shop takes up half of the train station. As soon as I got there I saw a 45 year old derro in a tracksuit having a fight with a gang of 6 year old red-haired kiddies outside KFC...and the kids were winning. They were chucking cans and rubbish at him and he was screaming, ''Fook off, yer fookin coonts! Yer pack of fookin coonts!'' It was awesome! David, the dude renting me the room, assures me it's a nice safe neighbourhood, which was evidenced by the cops arresting a some young guy right in front of the flat. I've been there a week now and it's ok I s'pose. Very small, particularly as I'm rooming with a 2 kiwi guys and 2 aussie girls. It was a total pain having to lug all my stuff up there on the tube...not looking forward to doing it again. On the way back I was molested by a 7-foot drunken jamaican business man on the tube who wanted to have $ex with me because I looked ''dirtay, mon''. So alive this city!

I've been looking for somewhere permanent to live and have seen a whole bunch of really awful places. But on the weekend I found an awesome place on the east side in Balham with an aussie guy and english girl which looks great. It's a nice trendy area, close to parks, awesome Victorian house with lots of room, and mature laid-back flatmates who are more interested in getting along than clubbing or partying. I hope I get it...fingers crossed!

Have been doing a lot of sight-seeing and there's always something to see and do. My first weekend here I saw a Surrealism exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum and a Dali exhibition at the Tate Modern gallery. The Tate is an incredible gallery! It's built in an old power station and they kept the massive turbine tower as a feature. I've spent a lot of time wandering about along the banks of the Thames just in awe of all the amazing old architecture and these buildings which have becomed so ingrained in my mind through tv and photos that they don't even seem real. I was walking along on Sunday and BAM! There was Big Ben. Big friggin Ben! I'm dying for a ride on the London Eye but I don't want to go by myself. It takes a real effort to go out and explore on my own…I wish I had someone to share it with. But I can't spend all my time sitting in my bedroom…I may as well make the most of this place while I can. There's a Star Wars exhibition on which I'm totally going to next weekend, and it's on right next to the Dali museum cos you can never get enough Dali in this town.

Londoners are strange people, not necessarily unfriendly, they just keep very much to themselves, probably a result of there being so many people here…they value time to themselves. But then there's always throngs of people out drinking every night of the week. The pubs get so full they spill out onto the street. Work is going to take some getting used to, though. Because we're consultants we're always out in the field working with clients so we rarely come into the office. The few times we're there we have to get whatever hotdesk is spare so you never get to sit with the same people day after day…you don't even spend much time with the people in your team. It's going to make it really hard to make friends, but I met some great people during induction and have been assigned a buddy. Now that I think of it, I've got 3 drinks nights lined up this week, plus I caught up with an old ATO colleague who moved here 6 years ago on Friday for drinks...so can't really complain, can I?

I was assigned to my first project yesterday and it's based in Dublin. I'll be there full-time for about 2 months, flying back to London for weekends. Apparently it's quite rare to get an out of country gig, specially for a new starter, so I'm pretty lucky. Keen to get my feet wet and get stuck in to work again after so long, but a bit scared too.

Anyhoo, hope all is well. Drop me a line sometime.