3 September 2007

When life looks black as the hour of night...a pint of plain is your only man...

This weekend we had the All Ireland Hurling final which, admitedly, sounds like a bunch of Irish people getting drunk and throwing up (which happened, but that's incidental) but is actually a pretty cool sport. For those of you who don't know it it's one of the hugest sports in Ireland even though it's only played at an amateur level. It was played in the Crowe stadium which is absolutely feckin' enourmous and seats almost the entire population of Dublin. Limerick and Kilkenny were playing off for the title (which Kilkenny won easily) in possibly the most bizarre game in the world of sport. It's basically a 2-hour fight with a ball thrown in to legitimise the use of an oval. I reckon the guy who invented it got the idea from watching a bunch of street kids re-enact Mad Max 2. I'm not too clear on the rules as the the concept of a foul is tautologous to a game where the ultimate aim is to bludgeon enough of your opponents to death so that there's nothing in the way of the goal. It's pretty much just every sport you can think of all thrown in together and is an absolute blast to watch...especially when the wooses with face masks get smashed in the head, which I think is worth a point.

But the real highlight of the weekend was touring the Guinness Storehouse. Oh baby! That place is huge! 7 stories of beery goodness. You know when you're getting near the joint cos the whole world suddenly smells like a dodgey casserole. There's a whole lot of info on each floor about various stages of the brewing process and the ingredients used. It's a common misconception that the water for Guinness comes from the River Liffey. Eeeewww, as if! It actually comes from the mountains up near Wicklow. Back in the 1700's, Arthur Guinness got in trouble from the local council for drawing more than his allotment and when the town sherrifs came to switch it off, he went at them with a pickaxe. Go on wit' yerself, Arty, ya big man! I reckon he may have been sampling his own produce just prior, what do you reckon? Another common misconception is that Guinness is black...it's not. It's actually a deep deep red colour. Are you feckin' kidding me? No, god's truth...red. About halfway up you get to the testing lab or, as I call it, Paradise. They let you try a sample of their newest brew, North Star...Hey Azza! There's this new type of Guinness called North Star which was brewed last year and you can only get in Ireland. It's deadly! It's grand! It's fantastic! Don't worry, champ, I've got you sorted with a couple of bottles...no need to send away. Anyhoo, it's not a bad drop but after the third or fourth free sample they tend to give you the hurry along, the stingey feckers. I got to become an honourary apprentice to the Guinness Master Brewer so my certificate should be along in the mail presently. At the end of the tour you go to the Gravity Bar on the 7th floor which in theory should give you a glorious panoramic view of the whole of Dublin, but in fact gives you a glorious panoramic view of the back of sweaty american tourists' fat heads. But you get to have a complimentary pint of the good stuff so the sweet sweet liquour eases the pain. I don't know whether Guinness tastes any different over her but damn that free pint was good. Plus I got a little Guinness paperweight as a souvenier with a drop of Guinness in it for emergencies.

Work's a bit of a drag...same old same old. Which is what I expected I guess but getting shuftied all over the place from one week to the next makes it hard to meet people. One of the cool things about The Company is they really look after their people. There's plenty of paid for nights out and fancy parties - we have our Xmas party on a boat on the Thames - and stuff, but the best thing is every week they bring in two huge baskets, one full of fresh fruit and health bars and the other full of jaffa cakes and bikkies and chocolate. We just hoe in and chow down, it's awesome! Now I understand why they have subsidised gym memberships...

Heading back to London early as I have an interview for my National Insurance Number, which is the UK equivalent of a tax file number. I'm working on my plan for Xmas time and all going well should be hitting Canberra around the 13th or 14th of December. Get in quick, some dates still available.

Hope you're all well and I'll try and get the Storehouse photos up ASAP so you can continue to live through me vicariously.

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