Ireland, Day Two

A wake up call and another meat-intensive Irish breakfast later, and it was time to go to work.

In an effort to give us a change of scene, work was to be done in a conference room of a different hotel a block away. This conference room offered windows, and was therefore seen as a vast improvement over what our own hotel was offering by way of conference rooms. The commute was a brief walk along St. Stephen’s Green where they were doing dry runs for the city’s new ultra-modern streetcars. After spending billions ripping up the city’s old streetcar tracks years earlier, Dublin had just spend billions setting more down all over again. The streetcars were supposed to help solve the congested traffic problem of the city but so far, during the testing alone, they had only made it much worse, holding up traffic for an extra two minutes at a time whenever one of them approached a busy intersection. Coupled with the fact that the streetcars had limited coverage and could only hope to transport people from one specific area to another specific area, assuming these people even wanted to go there, the project had already been dubbed “A Streetcar Named Disaster” by local smartasses. As we listened to the merry “ding ding ding” of the cars as they passed under our windowed conference room over the course of the next three days, we all agreed it was charming and atmospheric. Not billions of Euros worth of charm and atmosphere mind you, but disarmingly quaint just the same.

It turned out I’d bailed on quite the booze-up the night before. Operating under the principle, “Make the first night the worst so all the others seem easy by comparison,” several members of the production set out to have such a good time, they’d be incapable of remembering what a good time they had the next day. It is with a measure of pride that I report it was one member of the Canadian delegation that put everyone away. Canadians, often ignored or at least underestimated, take great pride as a nation whenever we beat another country at their own game. We still talk with passionate fervor (but in politely hushed tones) about how we beat the Americans at war in 1812, the Russians at hockey in 1972, and now the Irish at drink in 2004. To add insult to injury, this same national hero arrived for work the next day in a timely fashion and ordered a half bottle of wine over lunch.

The same cannot be said for everyone else. There was some tardiness as others from the drinking party rolled in past our start time, and nobody else could even look at booze over lunch (although they did all recover in time for dinner). Keeping with the same principle of the previous night, we set out to make the first day of work the worst so all the others would seem easy by comparison. To that end, we threw out all the material on this new show we were talking about (about two years worth of effort) and began again from scratch.

By quitting time, I felt I’d earned my quickly paced but peaceful walk through St. Stephen’s Green, the largest park in town. Old gnarled trees speak of the park’s long history as alternately public and private land over the years, and in the spring it was particularly lush and green. Quite scenic if you can ignore the great number of beer cans stashed under the shrubbery.

Keeping my entire day within a block of my hotel home base, we all had dinner at Thornton’s in the Fitzwilliam, just a few floors downstairs from my room. This was the first example of the lavish gourmet cuisine I was to be subjected to night after night by our generous hosts. Ah, the sacrifices I’m willing to make for my craft when all expenses are paid – five star hotels, some of the finest restaurants in the world, really expensive wine I actually kinda vaguely sorta like. I bleed for my art, y’hear? I BLEED!

With Guinness the first night and a variety of wine over dinner, it was only fitting for me to end my drinking binge (binge for me, at least) in the hotel bar with a couple of Baileys. In twenty-four hours, I’d had an unprecedented amount of alcohol – pathetic but true. I don’t object to drinking, I’ve just never found a drink I like enough to get drunk on. Well, I still wasn’t drunk, but there’d be time enough for that in the next two days. This was Ireland after all, and there are people living there – well-meaning but sinister people – who will not rest until they get you trashed.

A Streetcar Named Disaster

Getting you from nowhere to nowhere faster than any other means of midtown public transportation, hopefully the Dublin streetcars are a little more full now that the test runs are over and they’re accepting actual passengers. Drivers will likely curse them for weeks, months or years to come until they find a better way to synch them up with the traffic lights.

Blossoms, birds and beer

Even the pond scum is pretty in St. Stephen’s Green. Strict anti-polluting rules apply, and there’s hardly a spot of litter to be found unless you look closely and discover where the infringing drunkards have hidden their stash of empties. A fortune in deposit returns is there to be had by any adventurous bushwhacker.

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