Friday, June 13, 2008

"But delirium passes"

"But delirium passes"
The message was to the point.

"I know this is short notice but Dublin in two weeks time?"

It quickly emerged that it wasn't just Dublin in two weeks time. It was Dublin for six hours in two weeks time. And, possibly the clincher, it was Dublin for free in two weeks time.

Now I like Dublin. The last time I went, in that particularly rock and roll New Year's eve in 2006, I mounted James Joyce. And got a balloon. Add to this the fact that I like free things and my answer was obvious.

"Well, I'm not working that day..."


12.55pm: Leeds Bradford Airport Security. "Does anyone have bottles in their hand luggage?" a man in uniform asks. I quickly realise I do. I also have an aerosol. The man rolls his eyes at me and I wonder what the probability is that I've inadvertently managed to leave at least one of every banned item in my handbag.

12.59pm: Surprisingly I pass through security without any more problems. Not everyone is so lucky. I stand and giggle. The giggling is not really appreciated.

1.03pm: We find the solitary pub in Departures. So does everyone else in the airport, including a hen party who have their names in cerise writing on their backs. I, not so silently, hope that we're on a different flight.

1.10pm: I have my second vodka of the day. It all seems very civilised.

1.25pm: It comes over the tannoy that our 1.50pm flight has been delayed and will not depart until 3.30pm. It is quickly calculated that, excluding transport to and from the airport, this will leave us with just over two hours in Dublin. It is decreed that another drink is necessary.

1.33pm: A copy of The Times is purchased and the crossword attempted.

1.35pm: One of the answers to the crossword is Mercutio! I find this rather exciting.

1.42pm: A man wearing a long yellow dress walks past our table. There is some confusion as to whether he is with the stag or hen party. Regardless, yellow is not his colour.

1.55pm: The novelty of the crossword and our inability to finish it is beginning to wear off. In a bid to work out "what happens when you break the law" the conversation turns to R Kelly's defence, though none of us are particularly sure if he actually has one.

2.00pm: Someone mentions Counting Crows. I go off into raptures. History Boy goes to the toilet in order to escape.

2.15pm: The possibility that we will arrive at Dublin airport and then have to leave immediately is raised. Another trip to the bar is agreed. It is all starting to feel less civilised.

2.30pm: We move on to one of the word puzzles in The Times instead.

2.45pm: Despite the fact that there are five of us contributing answers we only just scrape a 'good' score. This is mildly depressing.

2.55pm: There is an announcement about our flight. Sadly the airport has neglected to install an actual sound system, relying instead on a woman speaking through the inside of a cardboard toilet roll and thus we are none the wiser.

3.05pm: It's embarrassing passport photo time!

3.07pm: It's still embarrassing passport photo time! I'm still see-through in mine!

3.20pm: It is announced that our plane is boarding! There is something of an unseemly scramble from all concerned.

3.30pm: We're now walking to our plane. I sense there is the distinct possibility that we might have been better off just walking to Dublin.

3.34pm: Finally I am seated inside the plane. My degree of relief is quite high.

3.45pm: Still sitting in the plane.

3.50pm: Still sitting in the plane.

3.53pm: There is an announcement for a Mr Blah-Blah-Blah to contact one of the onboard crew. I have very bad thoughts indeed about Mr Blah-Blah-Blah.

4.00pm: The plane starts moving! The crew do their safety blurb and we discuss whether it would be more or less dangerous for HB to take his glasses off (thus making him almost blind) in the event of us having to evacuate using the slide.

4.05pm: I look to my left. "Are you counting the ten seconds we are most likely to die in?". There is a nod. I despair that it is too late to change seats.

4.12pm: Now that we're properly in the air this is all very pleasant. The crew come round with magazines for us.

4.15pm: The seat belt lights go off. There is a very unseemly rush for the toilets.

4.18pm: The seat belt lights go back on. Oh, how I love turbulence.

4.24pm: The turbulence is still, erm, turbuling. The trolley comes round, I decline alcohol.

4.34pm: There is a particularly strong stretch of turbulence. I give up all pretensions of trying to hold a civilised conversation about wanting to travel on the Trans Siberian Railway.

4.35pm: A crew member comes past asking if we have any rubbish. I ask instead for a sick bag.

4.39pm: "Does anyone else need a sickbag?" the crew member says loudly, waving around the offending items, and standing next to my seat. "No?" I sink slightly into my seat at the realisation that I have just been outed. This would not happen with BA.

4.40pm - 4.52pm: I'm not detailing this bit. Just assume that it wasn't pretty.

4.53pm: Crew member comes round offering scratch cards. I am slightly underwhelmed.

4.56pm: "Does it help if I do this?" Out of the periphery of my left eye I can see HB moving slightly from side to side. I swear.

5.00pm: We start our descent. I am rather pleased.

5.05pm: Finally we are in Dublin! We go through all the passport checks and I discover that being sick in a toilet with an automatic flush is not ideal.

5.10pm: There is almost-running involved as we surge to get a taxi. We get one and with much demonstration of arms and giddily high voices ask to be taken to Temple Bar.

5.11pm: "We've just over two hours and we want to experience Dublin properly - we want to get drunk!"

5.20pm: This is obviously a bad time to be attempting to get into the centre of Dublin. Clearly some people feel the need to leave work and cause traffic problems.

5.33pm: We get stuck in a narrow street as an articulated lorry attempts to turn round. I wonder if I have managed to stumble into a badly plotted farce.

5.37pm: We're still stuck.

5.42pm: Finally we achieve freedom.

5.44pm: "That pub doesn't look too bad!" I look in the direction indicated. There is an old man possibly about to be sick standing outside. We continue driving.

5.50pm: The driver is possibly beginning to sense our mounting panic. He suggests dropping us at the oldest pub in Dublin. This idea is immediately embraced - allowing us to believe at the very least we are going to get some history/ Dublin culture in this.

5.56pm: We arrive at Oldest Pub. Taxi Driver is unimpressed with how the door to his car is opened and quite possibly adds another five euros to the bill.

6.00pm: A pub! Which is not in an airport! The excitement is almost too much.

6.01pm: I order a soft drink and am roundly abused. I try and put all thoughts of the return journey out of my head and add a vodka to it.

6.03pm: "We've got to have the full Irish experience in less than two hours so there's no room for messing about. Are you two girls going to Irish dance?"

6.05pm: We find seats in the outdoor beer garden. I know it is in Dublin because there are shamrocks on the opposite wall.

6.06pm - 7.30pm: There is alcohol, there is much conversation that makes me laugh until I ache, there is nothing to suggest that we are in a country different to England other than the money we hand over at the bar and the ridiculous price of beer.

7.35pm: We're given instructions as to where to find a taxi which make it seem easy enough. No need to panic.

7.38pm: We cross a bridge over the River Liffey and, suddenly, standing over Joyce's Anna Livia Plurabelle, I properly feel that I'm in Dublin.

7.40pm: The directions seem a little optimistic as we end up at very busy road where all the taxis seem to have occupants.

7.44pm: We accidentally hail a bus. The driver looks bemused.

7.50pm: We find a taxi. And nearly die getting to it. But it does not matter as we pile in and say hello to "Mr Tony".

7.55pm: Mr Tony seems to be dealing well at having a group of drunken tourists in his taxi. He points out Bertie Ahern's pub and laughs at our jokes. Or at us. But at this stage it makes little difference.

8.15pm: We arrive at the airport and thank Mr Tony warmly. He doesn't add five euros to the bill, though he probably should have done.

8.16pm: (running to departures) "We've had a whole holiday in eight hours. All we need to do now is to fall out!"

8.20pm: Our flight is delayed indefinitely. We decide to find a bar.

8.21pm - 10.00pm: Repeat as 1.25pm to 3.20pm, only without a copy of the Times and with slightly worse co-ordination. Oh, and in Dublin airport instead of Leeds Bradford. Which is infinitely more glamorous if only for the fact that there are Oscar Wilde quotes on the wall.

10.05pm: We accidentally queue jump whilst boarding the plane but do nothing to rectify the situation. The only thing we're missing is those t-shirts with our names in cerise.

10.10pm: We may be bordering on hysteria as we take our seats. "This holiday has gone far too quickly, it seems like only hours ago we were on the plane coming here".

10.20pm: I look to my left. "Are you counting again?". There is a nod. At five the plane makes an odd noise. "Ah, this might be a quicker count than normal".

10.25pm: We discuss the fact that next time we might do something radical, like actually stay there for more than two hours.

10.35pm: HB and I have an argument about the fact that my motion sickness is not rational and thus fulfil the final part of the holiday requirement.

11.05pm: We arrive back in Leeds! I have not been sick! It is a moment of triumph.

12.00am: I arrive back home. I have been to Dublin and back. I have been sick and seen the Liffey and drunk not-so-cheap vodka. There is little else I could have asked from my day.

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