Monday, January 02, 2006

The Mounting of James Joyce

The Mounting of James Joyce

One of the things about working at the WYP during the Christmas rush with its inflated staffing requirements is that during the bits where we're not actually in the theatre watching out for mobile phone photographers and vomiting children, or scolding ourselves in the coffee shop and selling interestingly priced packets of haribo, there are certain topics of conversation that come up again and again. Because when there are thirteen attendants a shift and miscellaneous others that's a lot of people to have the same conversations with. Given that we've covered Christmas, UCAS applications (just how old did I feel during that one? I think the four or five of us who are graduates visibly aged by a decade) and my foot (and really I began to feel for some of the attendants that I regularly have shifts with and who know the story of the beach ball practically from its outset every time that someone new would ask what I'd done, because there is no interesting way to dress up the same story - which isn't very spectacular in the first place anyway - for every new questioner. In the end it was decided that, on a variation of the South African at the Bedford and The Bear's in York, that I'd injured my ankle sandsurfing in South America just to add some interest for all of us who knew the story), the topic most often up for discussion was what everyone was doing on New Year. And if there is one way to win any such conversation (win as in, come up with the most spectacular unbeatable answer, that no one else has and, more importantly, hasn't thought of having) it is to be able to say at least four times a shift to different questioners - I'm going to Dublin. Or rather that I'm flying to Dublin during the afternoon of the 31st and flying back on the morning of the 1st with no hotel and only the possibility of matching the amount of chocolate I've eaten in the past week with Baileys in between. And once it is established that I am not Irish and have no connection with Dublin in any way other than a three day trip there aged 17 - of which I remember surprisingly little of other than thinking I was dying on the ferry on the way back - , an obsession with Oscar Wilde and more than a passing friendship with Ulysses then the full weight of the answer becomes apparent. Because it means that I am either insane or incredibly interesting. I'd like to think both, but I'm aware that it may be the former rather than the latter that draws the readers in here. But Dublin wins. And it means with the London thing, and the missing the attendant's Christmas party for a gig thing (note I haven't given the full story as it really does take too much of an explanation), in just over a fortnight I have become a little bit rock and roll. And I like that because, c'mon, I stalk musicians. In my head I'm a bit rock and roll already.

But the problem with being rock and roll in Dublin for such a period of time is the issue of hand luggage. And having to carry whatever I was taking with me all night. In the end I thought that I'd done quite well, given my already marked propensity for carrying my life in my handbag. This was until I met up with Becky and Gayle at Manchester airport and was awarded - pending Cat's entry - the Jamie Theakston award for Services to the luggage industry. Having amused ourselves at my packing, the blurb on the back of Burger King food (I'm more a golden arches girl, but their packaging isn't anywhere near as much fun) and the prices at the airport fake pub (fake pub in the way that big shopping centres have fake pubs) we were off to the gate to await boarding. Having been ushered in a special way (not, unfortunately, because we were inherently special, though we undoubtedly are, but because we tried to go in the wrong way) we were greeted by a nice Airport Man who informed us he'd been waiting for us, and as VIPs he'd cleared the area. As none of us really need any excuse to act like VIPs - like the rock and roll thing, a lot of the time I like to think we're VIPs, it's an unfortunate by-product of being infamous in certain circles - it was unspoken but universally acknowledged that WE LOVED Nice Airport Man. There was a football team waiting for us apparently. Sadly I missed possibly the most unintentionally hilarious exchange of them all as I'd had my turn at the counter; Nice Airport Man asked Becky if she'd sing a bit of her Eurovision song. How little he knew.

During the last two years - and a bit - I've done quite a few things with the ND. I've camped, vomitted, broken my leg in a fountain and been to Swindon (and Bristol) - all of which are potentially hugely traumatic events and some of the reasons (along with the kleptomania proof and the Derby and Birmingham Zanzibar photos) that I am tied to them forever, if only so they don't sell stories about me to the Daily Star when I'm famous. But of all the things we've done, I've never flown with any of them. So Becky, Gayle and I were in new territory. And I probably shouldn't use fear as blog material, but since they mocked me for the excess baggage and announcing rather too loudly (I'm blaming the double riccardi and coke in the fake pub) that I was taking my dress off on the plane (this is not as odd as it sounds, I was layering, and the removal of the dress still meant that I had more clothes on that a good 80% of the rest of the flight) I think we're even. So let it be known that I put to one side the mocking, and was a Good Friend, even if that did mean losing feeling in my left hand on take off. Once we were up in the air, I was allowed my hand back and we got to uttering not so quiet disbelief on the price of alcohol. Which was something of a first for me in as much as I'd never flown on a flight where they make you pay for stuff. I'd also never flown on a plane as small as the Ryanair one either, and while we're here, aherm leg room? To be fair this was also the cheapest flight I've ever been on and Ryanair probably suffered given that the last company I flew with was BA back from Budapest. And I know that BA is much maligned, but I would be a one woman advertising campaign for them. Because I came off that holiday always wanting to fly BA - because their staff are lovely, there's as much free alcohol as you can reasonably stomach and did I mention the leg room? Entire football pitches of it. Or something like that. But what BA doesn't have is vodka in little plastic bags. And, if there could be anything classier than these bags, it turned out that Ryanair, possibly in the spirit of getting their New Year reveller cargo trolleyed, were doing a buy one get one free offer. So - with the coke from the Jamie Theakston bag that no one was laughing quite so much about now - it was double vodkas all round.

Before I'd even had a quarter of my drink (and before the people behind us had received their little griffins) came the announcement that it was seat belts on, hold on to your stomachs, we're landing. Which seemed impossible given that we'd been in the air for about ten minutes. The fact we'd been delayed by about ten minutes so - and shout out if I'm wrong - should have made arriving ten minutes early impossible. If speeding tickets were issued to aircraft, however, one would have been heading the way of our pilot, who clearly was as keen to get his ass to a bar as we were, and we arrived in Dublin in possibly world record time, to be greeted by Cat and her entry for the Jamie Theakston award. After some debate it was decided that Cat won on weight whilst I won on size. Which sounds like a draw to me.

After a comedy bus ride - complete with very Irish man who told Cat - much to her disquiet - that her pop-up map was wrong, we made our way to the Temple Bar area to be greeted by a parade of Scottish men in kilts, which hadn't been what I'd expected, this being Dublin and all. This was possibly a marker for the night as for the irish/other nationality ratio stayed around 1:25 all night. Indeed in the course of two pubs, a bar with great seating and odd paintings on the ceiling, a club playing the best of the eighties and the strangest chinese outlet I have ever been in in my life we met approx:
100 Scots (all of them in kilts).
70 English (no national dress here, though they did include the shortest man I have ever met and that, from me, is saying something)
1 very, very dodgy Greek (I don't know if he was Greek or not, but he looked it, and in my head at least, had a chain of kebab shops)
1 Australian
2 Americans (who wouldn't buy Becky and me roses even though the strange rose selling man was convinced that they should)
20 of indeterminate nationality (by which I mean I'd had a double bacardi, a double vodka and six Baileys and knew that they didn't belong to any of the other catagories but couldn't place them elsewhere)
10 Irish
Which isn't quite 1:25 but then I haven't done maths since I was sixteen, and I kind of made up numbers in the right ball park for a couple of the catagories, so it'll have to do.

And if we're dealing with numbers, it's important to bring my balloon into the story here. At venue number three - the bar with the odd pictures on the ceiling - Cat, Gayle and myself had gained balloons which we'd attached to our bags. Cat's mysteriously dissapeared in the club, Gayle got her's trapped in the McDonald's meets Chinese Takeaway place before popping it and mine ended up tied to the back of a cubicle in the ladies' loos in arrivals at Dublin airport at 5 in the morning. Before this point though, there are some important numbers to consider regarding this balloon:
Number of people who wanted my balloon:
And let's look at some related numbers:
People who asked for my balloon nicely: 5
People who asked for my balloon so that they could set fire to it and turn it into a firework: 1
People who licked my balloon: 1 (the Greek guy, and I was one of the luckier ones in as much as it was only my balloon that came into such close contact)
People who tried to take my balloon with their teeth: 1
People who entered into a debate about my balloon and why I should give them it: 1 (the very foolish short guy, who was foolish for i)entering in a debate with me because that is SOMETHING YOU DO NOT DO. Especially when I've been drinking. I can last for days and ii)bringing himself to our attention and Cat's wrath).

I'm sure I've blogged before about the propensity of hat wearing to attract weirdos and towards the end of the night I discovered that this holds true on the worldwide stage, despite everything that numerous fashion-forward women have done for the cause (including Sienna which on its own I'd have thought would be enough). The oddest was surely the man who had a rather protracted conversation with me as to where I bought my hat. I was as bemused as that sentence suggests.

Having finally encountered some Irish men outside the club (who informed us that no one Irish lives in Dublin, which seems to correspond with our experience), we got possibly the cheapest taxi to the airport in the history of the world and attempted to get at least a couple of hours sleep. Given that Gayle and I ended up lying on the floor of Upper Crust until 5 o'clock, I think I'd have settled for a couple of minutes of sleep. But soon the airport was full of people, and McDonald's hash browns seemed to compensate for the lack of sleep. The only thing to ponder before flying back to Manchester was who we could stalk if we had to live in Ireland. When we'd excluded everyone who is Irish-but-lives-elsewhere and Patrick Keilty because he's from Northern Ireland (who I otherwise so would), we were left with Westlife and The Conway Sisters, which wasn't at all appealing. I think, for now at least, I'm going to stay put.

After all that you're probably wondering where the title of this blog comes into play. Well I owe Becky for it (yes, such is DA's impact on my ordinary life that I have conversations with people about what I'm going to call my blogging) and it refers to this:

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You honestly didn't think I'd go all that way without bumping into an Icon, did you?


gayle said...

Thanks for the edited highlights, my memory of much of the night is still somewhat hazy. On the plus side, the vodka-induced shaking has stopped.
Thanks for holding my hand too... x

Nik said...

So, if we stalk radio dj's, does that mean we go down in the rock n roll stakes? Damn.

cat said...

thank you for filling in the blanks, I think! I don't actually remember anyone (short or otherwise) incurring my wrath, but when the red mist descends it can be a fearsome thing, at least so I'm told! sounds like we had a really good time! xxx