Twenty years on… from Dublin… from truly the lowest ebb… on a programming course… 😦 … f*ck me, it was some dump.
13th July, Tuesday
The plankton eater was complaining about the pointless questions asked by his neighbour (Hugh). The plankton was eaten for his colon. Gone overboard on health food (including liquid protein) and still he doesn’t look overly healthy.
14th July, Wednesday
Some petty c*nt of an assistant manager put me out of the “staff toilets” in the corridor next to the canteen. I couldn’t believe it when it happened. I’d finished my leak. I didn’t say a word to him in response to “You’re not allowed in here” but just looked at him, washed and dried my hands and left. We’d been told not to react to things like that.
12th August, Thursday
Stalag FÁS: Marcos and the Limerick boys were prevented from driving out to the nearest shop at breakfast time and then Marcos was put out of the staff toilets.
3rd September, Friday
Niall and I are sitting down to breakfast in the canteen when the plankton eater comes over. “I’ve got nits,” he says, straight out, before we take a bite. Niall christened him Nit Boy. Hugh won’t sit upstairs on a double-decker bus. He’s afraid of heights.
6th September, Monday
Went to James’s Street post office this morning but got no rent allowance. They had new computers. Made it more of a pleasure, more of a breeze, for the blonde to tell me there was nothing there. Any question was cut short by telling the customer to go see social welfare. Who are the true parasites? The option is always to f*ck them out of it, for some small satisfaction, but you ration that. What about the day one of the Hitler Youth behind the glass gave the fella called Mustapha the grief about ID? No one else, just the dark-skinned gent. He said he was coming there every week and that he wasn’t a refugee (“I’m not refugee, I’m married here”). Not that the public servant’s words were objectionable but his tone was far out of order, as was his ‘discretionary’ (i.e. discriminatory) cheek. They wouldn’t be long having manners put on them up in the Barn. According to my neighbour, they never give anyone hassle up in Dolphin’s Barn. They wouldn’t dare.
7th September, Tuesday
Nothing there again this morning. This was the extent to which the Nazi with the earring was helpful: he muttered something behind the glass and when I said “What?” he exaggerated the words “Is it your day for signing on?” After a long wait in Bride Street, where I was almost the only Irish person in the queue, I discovered it was only a computer problem. I asked if I could get changed back to Leonard’s Corner post office.
10th September, Friday
A bunch of us were drinking in The Full Shilling in Finglas. Niall was asked to leave after slagging a one-legged biker.
13th September, Monday
Compassion on the bus. I gave Niall and Dara a tenner each and we had a few pints in Bowe’s. Niall was thinking of nine quid out of reach in the bank and Dara was locked out of his flat.
21st September, Tuesday
At breakfast in the canteen, the plankton eater complimented the state of my teeth. He said he’d noticed on the bus the previous afternoon.
Last night I’d fallen asleep when the Algerians underneath came in after midnight and woke me up with their mouthing. They kept it up for an hour and when the guests left, one of the tenants had a ferocious dump. The smell wafted up to me, like a coup de grace. Open both windows. They had been good, quiet boys since the confrontation over the blaring of Rod Stewart a few weeks ago, when I stamped on the floor and one of them came up, giving out in broken English. I had a cold so I wasn’t worried about this Arab hothead. I figured the only way to get through to him was to speak French. He backed down and said sorry, once I’d explained and turned up my radio full blast, as a demonstration.
18th October, Monday
A whirlwind start with Mike, the fat English instructor, at ‘C’, or C++? He described one of my programming attempts as “logical spaghetti”.
19th October, Tuesday
The plankton eater told us he’s been riding a married woman for a couple of years and in an effort to get her to break it off with him he stole £60 from her purse. It didn’t work but it’s not much of an exaggeration to say Gary was in awe.
21st October, Thursday
In the night the winos were fighting in the back alley. When given out to, a woman among them mentioned the (symbolic) fact that a window was between them and the person giving out. A male wino shouted, “Nobody tells me what to do with my woman!” The power of the powerless.
26th October, Tuesday
It got to a stage where (I reckon) Mike was trying not to tear out his hair, while I was trying not to laugh, as he attempted to drum in the structure of a program I couldn’t grasp. I wanted the code, not the (mathematical) philosophy.
27th October, Wednesday
No class due to roofing. Three radio ads are signs of the times:
(a) an appeal for factory workers in Blanchardstown, money spelt out;
(b) the soccer player Paul McGrath on about a plastic surgery clinic;
(c) a hotline for software piracy.
29th October, Friday
A multiple choice exam in Basic 2. 14 from 18 = pass mark. I got 14. Some educated guessing and plain guessing.
2nd November, Tuesday
Cold and bright. No heating due to the roofing. Had a couple of pints in the Bridge with Niall and the plankton eater.
4th November, Thursday
The tool’s equation of maths with fun reminds me of how in school such problems seemed as meaningless as cryptic crossword puzzles. What on earth is the relevance of calculating massive prime numbers to what we’re doing?
10th November, Wednesday
Past the halfway point now. With this thing I feel I’m in the trenches. It’s not helped by this tosser, this smart-arse talking to me like I’m a schoolboy. He’s putting me off learning the blasted language. Life feels full of annoyances. This is what it’s like, tired in the evenings. Walking up through town I saw a city of students. Some buskers on Grafton Street were doing I Shot The Sheriff in the style of Oasis. Some yahoos on the Green were mixing up Brits and Britney Spears in a Spanish guy’s head, explaining the crowd and the limos outside the Fitzwilliam Hotel (re MTV Awards, Thursday) and up on Wexford Street, across from Whelan’s and the Mean Fiddler, an aged-looking Noelle Campbell-Sharp stood in a black skirt and leather jacket talking to some green-jacketed bozos. All I heard while passing was “…really f*cking something. Now let me introduce you to…” One limo was reportedly burnt out on the Northside.
11th November, Thursday
A drunken scumbag landed beside (almost on) me on the bus. Fiddling with a walkman, he said he’d just robbed a car but his mates had driven it away on him.
14th November, Sunday
While my brother was a distant silhouette on a beach I thought about the fact that at twenty-one I couldn’t imagine being thirty but at thirty-five I can easily imagine being fifty.
15th November, Monday
Class abandoned due to lack of heating. Stages of life are only stages but should one worry, getting older, that the chances of better periods lessen? From ‘This will end’ to ‘How will this end?’
21st November, Sunday
Looking for the hoover, Sarah knocked on the door of number nine (top floor). One of those Algerians emerged (scratching his balls) from a haze of dope smoke and a sing-along to camel music. No, they didn’t have it.
30th November, Tuesday
Windy, then wet. Didn’t sleep too well. Still, there was a bit of poetic justice in the end of the day that made my day. Despite having the exam program done for them by Dazza and then keeping it to themselves, the Three Licks still failed, to general delight. Everyone bar Keith failed.
I wonder how long it will be before I lose it with fat, snide Mike. I’d have done it before now if I thought he was worth rearing up on but he just may pester me over the edge soon. He seems to be goading me to quit, to suit himself, but he’ll be the last person I’ll do anything to suit.
This morning on the bus I had to listen to a DCU student who incidentally looked a bit like me, with glasses and cap. I saw what he looked like when I looked around to see who was talking like that. He was from the West and he was pontificating in the manner of a typically ignorant student of some technical subject. The object of his bullshit was a girl who was both Australian and Jewish. He told her that the passing of the Millennium marked two thousand years from the start of “modern civilization”. She was able to point out that the Romans were established long before that and when he turned to the purely Christian thing she countered with the priority of Jewish history. Then he said, “You’re a lapsed Jew, I presume” and (luckily for him) she said, “What’s ‘lapsed’?” He had been to America so of course he knew everything. He knew nothing, except that “California rocks”, and I wanted to shoot him.
2nd December, Thursday
Dazza told Keith he thought he’d have to extend the course (on a day when he did forty-five minutes’ teaching).
Went to see Morrissey at the Olympia. Seventeen songs. When he threw his (first) sweaty t-shirt into the crowd it arrived back on the stage after a few minutes. (“When I threw it in I didn’t expect it back. Really, I insist.”) When he sang “Do you care how animals die?” I’d swear I heard a chorus of “No!”
4th December, Saturday
Frost. Tour guide to T. and V. A good day was had, in the cold, bright capital. First time in the Cellar Bar. T. told me his junkie half-brother survived a shotgun blast, which blew a hole in him, but died later of an overdose. The Yugoslavian Mafia have now flooded Oslo with good, cheap heroin.
7th December, Tuesday
Having had a bad night (hot, aching, dizzy, with laboured breathing) I was surprised this morning to find the oncoming ‘flu’ gone. Cold twilights leaving Finglas. The women on Camden Street looked well, wrapped up but feeling the cold. It made them more alive. You could see it in their eyes, in their faces.
8th December, Wednesday
As well as the cold now, the wind is up and the rain is down. Some vessel is missing off Galway in the storm. Since last night I’ve had a pain in my left shoulder, roughly speaking. Nothing’s gone.
14th December, Tuesday
I was only words away from a successful cog at the telephone program test. I had a hard copy of the program inside my jacket but made a simple error copying it and the program wouldn’t run. I’d never have seen the obvious mistake.
15th December, Wednesday
Which word is more accurate, “lonely” or “alienated”? When the majority of women seem to dream of timber floors and freezers big enough to hold a man, I cling to the latter term. You know the way they think when you pass them on the street because you can hear them talking into their mobiles.
The Boys from Ballymun
The evening bus picked them up on Ballymun Road. At first they seemed to be talking about an ominously immediate situation like shoplifting or mugging. The more sober and coherent of the two made two points.
(a) He’d batter anyone who decided to mix it
(b) It only takes a minute to get away
When they were talking about how much “a fix” is these days (£20) I thought ‘That’s cheap heroin’ but they were on about prostitutes. The same guy said he got one for £15, when he was a truck driver. He used to park the truck down on Benburb Street and do the business. “You wouldn’t go down there now,” said his more out-of-it companion (who was carrying something in a grey bag). Reason? “They’re all riddled with AIDS.” The first one said he’d had a fourteen-year-old down there who’d been abused by her father since she was six, “until he put her out on the game”. They said they’d roast that man on a small fire. “I’d keep adding coal to it and his screams would be heard for a thousand years,” said the main talker, the leader. Then he extrapolated.
“You see some people with their kids and they’re f*ckin’ bootin’ the bollix out of ’em and punchin’ ’em in the head. I mean, what do these people be tinkin’?”
They said that Ballymun’s kids had gone quiet “because their fathers told ’em ‘Watch out for him’ and ‘Stay away from him’ and so on”. They were scared, in other words.
“But Finglas is still a wild place. The kids are into it, turnin’ over coppers’ cars with coppers inside in ’em.”
Their last earwig-able subject was driving. On being told he couldn’t drive the number two said he’d driven when he was pissed. Then the leader told his own parable.
“This is what I did. I went and bought a car off the knackers and I got me ould fella to drive me up to the industrial estate. By nine o’clock that night I was a f*cking rally driver. I was fifteen.”
Those two were an education. And these are only the bits I could make out from their conversation, while the clicks of the lighter signalled joint-rolling was going on (“Put in more soup”).
16th December, Thursday
Ran off a hard copy of the doctoral thesis. 190 pages. I need to go over that with a pen in order to come up with a total draft for January. I could have done it by now but who would look at it over Christmas? Who will anyway?
I’ve addressed a letter to the customer complaints section of Dublin Bus on Upper O’Connell Street.
Since last July I have had to use the 19/19A service on a daily basis and in general the impression I have formed is that it is an utter disgrace… This morning I was the last passenger on a single-decker 19A that turned on to Cedarwood Road. The bald, bespectacled driver stopped the bus and disembarked, saying he’d be back in a couple of minutes. Given that the terminus for the 19A is McKee Road, for which I had paid, what really made me lose my temper was the fact that the same driver had pulled the same stunt at the same point a couple of months earlier. On that occasion he said he wanted to go into a shop to get his breakfast so I said it was okay, got off and walked up Sycamore Road. This time, I got off and asked why he wouldn’t do his job – with a few expletives added, admittedly – and he then gave the excuse that he wanted to go to the toilet. Colleagues of mine who use the same route have had similar experiences with this individual. Employees like him and another individual who happens to live on Sycamore Road and who has been witnessed taking breaks in his own house during shifts only add to the common impression that many of your drivers treat the public with contempt.
Even a fellow driver parked on McKee Road confessed that the last chap indicated was taking the piss.
22nd December, Wednesday
Town is mad. It would be a good day to punch a few people’s lights out. I lost it a bit with some screeching little slappers on a bus stuck dead in traffic.
23rd December, Thursday
Did my bit of shopping. Got a poster for Bela Lugosi’s Dead in Final Vinyl. At the end of the night Dermot bought a voucher so I could have a lap dance in Strings. I declined the offer.
29th December, Wednesday
Before the end of the year let me note the last strange thing told to me by the plankton eater, of a morning in the canteen. He said he saw a girl electrocuted at a rave in a big squat in London, in Willesden Green. She was heating a hash knife at a cooker when she let the knife touch the ring. Dodgy wiring meant she was blown back against the wall, dead. He said that three fellas tripping with him at the time started crying and that they weren’t right for days. When I asked him what he did, he said he just left, along with everyone else.
30th December, Thursday
George Harrison was stabbed by an intruder but his wife managed to knock the guy out. I hope nothing takes to the air in Russia (Y2K). The Finns have stocked up with iodine tablets.