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Galway ~ Ireland – 2013
I remember my automatic reaction when a (now ex) lady-friend of mine suggested a spur of the moment mini-break to Ireland…we hadn’t even known each other for that long…I mean, we weren’t even an official thing (whatever that is!) She could have been a mad-axe murderer, she could have hatched a plan to get me out of the country, and harvest my organs or something…or, she could just be a nice normal person, with a nice normal plan to have a romantic getaway together…you can just never be sure in these circumstances…
But I said yes all the same, I mean…why not?
The clear choice apparently, was Dublin, for the sole reason that it is the capital – I knew in my heart of hearts this was a lazy choice…and I was relaying this to an Irish friend of mine, who immediatley grabbed me and muttered, “no…no man…NO. Not Dublin. Galway – I’m tellin’ ya…fucken…Galway.” There was such sincerity in his voice, such clear and unequivocal passion, that there was no way I would defy his opinion! He went on to explain that Dublin had became oversaturated, and overpriced. Playing up on the usual lepracaun Guiness drinker, who does nothing but have sex with four leaf clovers all day, “ting.” He found it obnoxious, and not a true reflection of Irish culture – just a pumped up stereotype to pull in fucking American tourists.
I nodded, as if I knew what he was talking about.
So Galway it was, I did some research…I knew it sounded a little familiar, turns out a few of my favourite comedians are from there…so at the very least I was expecting some fun, and some humorous thrills and spills! Good thing is, it’s just a short flight from Newcastle, I think like half an hour, maybe a bit more? So before we had even finished our peanuts, we found ourselves there…we were immediately lost, which didn’t help at all, and spent what seemed like forever, walking up and down streets dragging bags filled with clothes we would never get around to wearing…thank God for the friendly folk there. Someone, a random stranger who honestly looked a little bit scary – stopped us and asked what we were doing, maybe my blotchy red face served as a beacon that displayed I needed aid. We told him, and he called up the hotel – got the address, then called a taxi and had it pick us up, then drop us at the door. This friendliness was no one time, stroke of luck! People are actually NICE there…I know, it’s a crazy notion!
The following night we found ourselves somewhere on the main high street, after an amazing dinner, and quite a few fine ales…we were deliberating which way to go, you know, where to head to next – when I felt a sudden arm around my neck. “Where are we off to, then?” It was a small group of people a couple of years older than us, we were taken aback…and went into the usual stranger, danger mode, obviously we immediately tried to escape…but they were having none of it; “Come on maaan, come onnnn! Ya’ with us tonight!” and with that we were shepherded into a nearby nightclub. We had skipped the whole awkward first stage, and been invited into the “best friends for fucking ever” section of friendship. I found myself thinking that this is how it should be…all that wasted time, your a person, I’m a person – let’s just go someplace, and have a good time.
I seemed to click with one guy in particular, I think his name was Adam…anyway, we had some rather enlightening conversations once we got in there – after a few round of drinks of course…
“Galway…is fucken amaaaazing! Don’t even tell me it’s not! YOU CAN’T SAY THAT!”
“No, no – it’s lovely, I was jus-“
“Wanna’ know why? Eh? The PEOPLE.”
“I was planning on going to Dublin, then my friend sai-“
“NOOO! DON’T! Galway…Galway…GALWAAAAY! I’ve lived here all my life, and you know – I have never once paid for a taxi – NOT ONCE. I just walk, someone picks me up…brings me a mile, I get out – within seconds someone else is along…they take me so far…then, I’m HERE!”
I laughed, and so did he – but he was obviously telling the truth. There was something great, about that community feel, that help people out just because it’s fucking nice mantra, that made parallels to other places, including my own hometown, pretty bleak.
“I’ve never actually paid into this club till now…usually just hop over the back-way, you know? But you went and paid for you and your lady, and I was like FUCK it, didn’t fancy the upheavel! There’s like glass, and nails – ya’know? But you gotta’ live dangerously, or ya’ not livin!”
The next day my girlfriend and I, were walking the streets again, sampling more food, and even more of the ales. As we came out of a tourist store, we heard excited screams from across the street…the group, our new sudden best friends we had parted with a few hours ago, ran toward us. We began to recount the craziness of that night, without even a sniff of nervous awkwardness – we laughed about the stupid stuff that had went on, and after we had giggled till we were breathless – they asked if we fancied lunch, or maybe even dinner later on…
You know…there’s hospitable, and then there’s that. I haven’t even got a slightly negative thing to make a joke out of! Lovely place, lovely people. It’s simple as that…Galway man, GAAAAALWAAAAY!
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So it is upon us again…St. Patrick’s Day! Or as I like to call it “the day Americans tell you they are Irish because their Grandmother’s half-cousin once dated a guy who once had a teacher who was Irish.” ..so yeah, with that in mind it should come as no surprise that the global Irish population expands temporarily by about 10,000% (just for the festive weekend, of course!)
But what’s the harm? None really. So you pull on something green, sip something strong, and head on out to celebrate life – and just have a fucking good time! Perhaps the true meaning has been lost, but it brings people together in a joyous (although slightly blurred) beautiful moment – so I’m all for it!
I was wearing these green jeans I have for some reason, which I thought looked cool…but which actually make me look like a demented pixie. But it was too late, I was on the subway – and people are usually against strangers stripping off in public. Especially in tight spaces. But I eventually got into Seoul at 12, and we immediately went hammer, and tongs with the soju, and beer. And lunch…but honestly that was an after thought. After which we headed over to a big event that was happening – probably guffawing as I laughed manically at my friend’s moderately funny jokes. I read a quote someplace that said something along the lines of, “when you laugh, laugh like hell” – which I guess is saying, make the most out of happy moments…
Well I imagine I looked worse than this…how much worse though? I picture myself as a pterodactyl who just learned to fly…shaking my massive head around in celebration – and making bizarre squawks at irregular intervals. That much worse.
Mind, I loved the performances that were going on…so many talented people – dancing, singing, playing musical instruments – the lot. My favourite were these guys who played hip hop songs with violins…each time it took me a minute or two to realise! Fantastic stuff! It was also wonderful to see so many old friends, acquaintances, and naturally new people – I love things that bring people together, and this was one of those events ~
Anyway, great times…with some great people…what more can a person want, ey? If you are celebrating, enjoy yourself – if not, kick back, and eat some bacon or something. Toodles!
Have you ever been skiing? Because you see, I hadn’t until this Saturday – so the whole thing was a completely foreign experience for me! For those of you who haven’t, and/or are visitors from out of space, let me give you the low down…
…basically you get to wear bizarrely fitted clothes which always make you feel like you’re either incontinent, or as if your pants are forever at your knees – this is all thanks to the strange swish, swish, swish the material provides. But forget about that, it’s not important – so yeah, then you put these big moon boots on, which you are sort of expected to walk around in, as if it isn’t a big deal…but you look like a demented zebra who is trying to walk on their slightly bent hind legs. Seriously everyone just staggers around, trying to pretend like they are walking properly…as if they always walk with their legs positioned in a strong C curve…
…then you attach these sticks to your foot, and you have these walking stick things. Except they don’t really help you walk so much, as just get tangled in your new-fangled extended feet contraptions, and doom you to fail from the first off. Your natural reaction is to laugh at all of the morons who are falling over…it’s your own personal screening of You’ve Been Framed…like a 3-D performance just for you! But then you fall, and it is no longer funny. You want to change the channel, but no…you are living it, this is real life. And now there is slushy grey snow down your butt-crack. And no, it is not at all pleasant.
Anywaaaaaaay, I didn’t do too badly – at first. I was on the baby slope as they called it, or was it the bunny slope? Either way it made me feel rather emasculated – why can’t it be called ‘the mini GOD track’ or ‘the tiny TITAN’…why do we have to feel like shit just because we’re not fucking winter olympians?! But I digress…I was doing pretty well, or so people lied to me anyway. I hadn’t fallen down (apart from when I tried to help another person up, and ended up being pulled down with her! Doesn’t count…doesn’t count…) I was actually getting a lot of confidence, and had started to shoot all the way, throwing in some imitation skill moves I had either played on a Playstation, or watched on a bad movie from the 90s. As I said to many…I felt like Pierce Brosnan….but probably looked more like Piers Morgan…
So I was killin’ dem slopes, yo. I hadn’t caught any air, or curved the…alright I don’t know any skiing/snowboarding slang so I’ll just stop for both our sakes! I was doing well, so after a lot of pushing I decided to take my amazing skills to the big hill. WHAT A FUCKING DISASTER OF A DECISION. I mean I had an incline as soon as I saw the damn thing…it was basically as steep as a wall. Like an actual wall. There wasn’t much of a slope at all. But I still found myself sitting alongside some small children on the rickety steel lift thing…what the hell was I doing…and was I responsible for these children now, should they tumble to their death?!
I needn’t have worried. They whizzed off with no problem. On the other hand I peered down the track uneasily, with all the confidence and cheer of a man on death row. It was basically the same thing. But only one way down…which was, like down, down. A new version of down I had no idea was even a thing. Sheer drop, break your neck, rest of your life as a vegetable level of down. That’s when gravity took hold…and against my will I was just sliding down this thing…I tried to retain composure….the speed increased, and increased, and increased…I thought about slowing down, but this hadn’t been much of a problem before…what had people told me about fries? Or pizza? Or…was it watermelon? No…maybe I’m just hungry! Trust me to be thinking of food at a time like –
SLAMMMM! My pizza was too damn cheesy for the slope I guess, and I went tumbling, and falling with the grace of a rhino on stilts – I felt my leg click, I suppose I must have dislocated it or something….no matter, still tumbling, still falling – it should stop soon. Cartwheel here, back flip there, gravity will get sick of me soon, and move on to someone else to bully…hmmm…I think…
But in that moment, looking up at the sky, I was relieved to have jarred to a halt. I was positioned awkwardly, splayed out like a swastika – basically the most offensive snow angel you’ve ever witnessed in your whole entire life. I eventually dragged myself up, I was barely a quarter of the way down the hill…and could see me leg somewhere in the snow right up near the top…well okay, not my leg – but my stick slidy ski thing that had jolted off from my right leg – I’d have to reapply it, and continue on this cursed path…
But no, there was to be more shame, and embarrassment to come. You see the patrol ski guy…who thinks he’s so great because he has a red, and yellow jacket, with a little cross on it…and he can probably do backflips intentionally, rather than you know…by accident like me. But still, doesn’t make him any better than me! Apart from maybe, just maybe…at skiing…
He picked up my dismembered leg. And yanked off my other one. “YOU. WALK.” That was all. I was left alone of this icy tundra…just with my little grandpa poles to help me down, as everyone else whizzed past me…I felt like a pensioner version of spiderman…trying to walk down this basically vertical slope…digging my heels in, and bending my knees, so that I didn’t tumble, and turn into a giant destructive snowball – if cartoons have taught me anything, that is never fun, and ruins everyone’s day involved.
At the bottom, I got back my skis, and returned to the other hill. I was the big fish again…then again that’s not saying much when the other users were largely seven, and under.
Due to recently returning to South Korea, (after a few months travelling in a few other countries) I found myself reminiscing on the previous year I had spent in this lovely place…and the certain comedy capers I got up to during that time. One in particular stood out, and that is the tale of Indiana John, I hope you enjoy it!
I had just enjoyed a lovely few days visiting the glorious Jeju Island, a semi-tropical paradise island which is a boat ride away from the mainland. I had went with a large travel group, which isn’t my usual way of doing things – but it is sometimes nice to let free of the reigns, and let someone else do all the hectic brain-work. Your guide tells you when you are all getting on the bus, when you will arrive, when you can take photographs, when you can pee, and so much more…after a while you feel a bit demeaned I am sure – but as a short term solution, it is strangely comforting not to have to deal with all of those irritating issues. You can just relax, and let it all go…
So we were on our way home, the convoy of coaches had dropped us all off at the ferry terminal – and soon we would be shepherded inside, and told exactly what the plan was. Most of us were hungover, sun-burnt, and tired…in short, we had just had a brilliant few days (and we were now all suffering because of it!) As we made our way inside, the guide asked for passports, and ID cards…and got to work getting all of our tickets from the counter. There was some issue that caused there to be a huge delay, but remember I had let those reigns go so I didn’t pay much attention! Something to do with the numbers not matching, or the colours being different, or, well I have no idea – the guide seemed freaked out, in fact he appeared to have entered the realm of nervous breakdown – as he was frantically sprinting around the place from corner to corner, which I found to be doubly odd as we hadn’t even had lunch yet; so where he was getting this renewed energy from, I just don’t know.
Everyone appeared to make the decision to spread out, and dodge out of the way of his mad marathon dash. My friends found a quiet corner, and I popped to the store to get some drinks and snacks – to weather out this tedious wait with a little bit more joy. Others from the larger group had the same idea, or meandered around the shops looking for last minute relics, and souvenirs. I felt like some form of demi-god when I returned, as if there would be a harp playing, and a glowing golden halo around my head – after all it was a sweaty, gross kind of heat, and this was a stuffy and dirty kind of place. We ended up sitting on the floor with our bags as makeshift cushions, taking long slurps from our beer and occasionally pointing out the places people had caught the sun particularly badly. Of course I was the main topic of conversation – as it looked like I had just had a bare-knuckle fist fight with the sun, and lost.
A strange Korean man, who strongly resembled Taz of Tasmania, had just taken it upon himself to rudely interrupt our happy little scene. He was speaking in an odd tone that made no sense to anyone, worse still he was a heavy spitter – and we were drenched with a sloppy saliva shower every time he opened his mouth. As he used the wall to stabilize himself, he continued complaining…we looked at each other, in a don’t look at me, this guy is crazy kinda way, totally dumbfounded…hoping that one of us would be able to comprehend what his problem was, instead we all just shrugged at one another – we felt glued to the ground, as he lorded over us, spraying us with spit, and stifling us with his heavily alcoholic breath.
A savior stepped in, thank the Lord! A short middle-aged Korean guy, put an arm around him, and spoke in soft tones, whilst guiding him away…he turned, and politely apologised on the drunk guy’s behalf – “no problem, no problem!” we all stammered, simply happy to be rid of him. The drunk man looked to have been sufficiently calm as he was walked away, but just when we began to begin our past tense “well that was weird” conversations, he BURST back into life! Pushing and shoving the other man, grabbing him by the scruff of his neck and wrestling with him, the man was largely powerless against his drunken flailing arms – our group began to shriek, and gasp – I stood up and ran over, dragging the two apart – and in doing so, I unintenitionally threw the intoxicated guy into the corner with a large crash!
Phew, that was intense. More exercise than I like to do on a Sunday…but necessary. I asked our savior if he was okay, he rubbed at his throat – but assured me he was…the other guy seemed out of steam thankfully, and decided to stay put.
But…what was…what was that sound?
Huh? Wait…“THE SHUTTERS ARE CLOSING?!” I heard someone scream – I suppose that in the scuffle, someone had smashed into the switch, busting it off the wall – and setting the roller shutter doors in motion…in a few short seconds they would close, and we would be locked in the small corner section we had settled in…locked in with the drunk belligerent lunatic! “IT’S CLOSING, GRAB YA BAGS, GRAAAAB YA FAAAAKIN BAAAAAAGS!!” People stared at me, seemingly not sure what I was going on about, they looked almost as clueless as the drunk guy who was still sat on the floor smirking at the whole situation…“COME ON, YOU ARE GOING TO BE LOCKKKKKED IN – FAACKIN LOCKED…URGH! NOW!”
Those who had snapped out of their daze ran under to safety, by the time I made it to the shutters there was only a few feet left before I would be entombed along with everyone else…I hurled the bags under, and did an awkward little roll. CRAAAASHHHH.
OH GOD…I’d made it…just. I opened my eyes, and stood up – the main section of the ferry terminal stared at me, people from the group…children, grandmas…all without a clue as to the crazy events that had just unfolded. That was until there was loud, petrified banging from the other end – then they started to pay attention!
Along with some other bystanders, we attempted to use the switch from the other side – but it was well and truly broken, and the mechanism would only go down further, crushing the metal into the ground…we had desperate conversations through the roller shutter door, which were made difficult as the offending mad bastard had decided he too would voice his opinion on the situation, through his typical grunts and growls.
Ten minutes or so had passed, we had tried to pull it up with the aid of ten or so men, but still no luck – we had called for security, and still they were not here…would they really just have to stay there forever?!
“It’s okay, guys…guys? We will get you out of there alright? Listen…guys?”
“Hi John!” Their voices sounded strange…and distant, it echoed around the room – they sounded so close, but they were so far away…
“I’ll get you out – we’ll get you out…I promise you…”
“JOHN!” they shouted again…I began to reply, but was interrupted when I then felt a short jab to my ribs – I turned around to see them all stood there, shaking with excitement…but for the most part, okay. Well, alive at least. I thought I was seeing things, and was largely speechless, I kept pointing at the closed shutters, and back to them – they explained that security had a small door inside that section, just in case (does this happen all the time?!?!) – and that they had taken the drunk guy away, one would hope for a cup of tea, and a lie down; that’s definitely what he needed!
Just as we were happily reunited, the tour guide ran up to us, asking us where we had been – but not waiting for a reply – “COME ON, WE HAVE TO GOOOOO!”
It was over as quick as it had all started…we spoke about it that night, checking again, and again with each other, just in case it hadn’t really happened…I had always secretly wanted to the Indiana Jones roll…but I thought that it isn’t a thing that happens in real life…well…one of the bucket list. Here’s to that!
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