Sunday, February 26, 2006

Venus and Mars: Valentines Weekend in Dublin, 2003

Husband: It's late Sunday. Mardi Gras is hours away and you're still grinding your gears on Valentine's Day.
Me: True. But you know...supposed to be resting my eyes this weekend.
Husband: Are you sure that's all?
Me: I don't want to write up that argument at the church.
Husband: It wasn't a big deal. We got lost walking there and when we showed up they were in the middle of something. And so we left without the ring blessing thing which I wasn't too hot for in the first place. There. Now it's written up.
Me: And my mother did like the gift we found for her at their bookshop.
Husband: Fifteen minutes later, I was already in a better mood.
Me: Oh, now I remember how that came about!


"She Died of a Fever"

We were back on Grafton Street and walking toward O'Connell Bridge. Suddenly the bulk of my husband's presence was no longer keeping pace with me. I turned to see what snagged his attention.

Husband: Well hey! Where do they keep the ones like her?
Me: In a plastic surgeon's office in Beverly Hills.
Husband: Can we grab a picture of this?
Me: Oh goodness. Let me deconstruct this moment of 'culture' if I may. That happens to be there courtesy of a company called Jury's, which is in the hotel business. So what you see here is the local variant of the grass-skirted hula girl icon designed to evoke pleasant associations in the visiting male psyche.
Husband: Well yeah!
Me: O come on! What person would walk around half-exposed like that in damp weather? No wonder 'no-one could save her!'

On my last visit, my camera was not handy to catch a charming shot of a local youth reclining on the barrow of cockles and mussels, smoking a cigarette and using the ample cleavage at arm's reach as his ashtray.


"The faces seem familiar,
And I know those songs they're playing."

My husband has a hard time keeping track of me in the crowds on Grafton. He's actually even approached another woman of my build and color, thinking she was me. But we negotiate the obstacle course from Jigsaw to Bewley's and other stops. I've been fighting a sore throat from my week in England and want something to sooth it. My husband remembers that he's forgotten to pack something indispensible for our weekend of romantic abandon. Both needs are met easily.

At one of the record stores, I find a copy of The Book of Invasions by Horslips. It has been recommended by those who would know as one of the first albums to move along to after the double CD of greatest hits. Much later in the day, I'll accidently buy the same album again from a different store. That copy is later given away as a gift.

I buy clothing wantonly. There's even a temptation to buy slacks, which I never do, because they look as if they will not require hemming.

Living in a tourist town ourselves, we easily ignore the more aggressive vendors of the usual in t-shirts, postcards, mugs, and china figurines. We do not even consider joining our fellow Americans on one of the tours designed expressly for our kind.

It's funny how my world goes 'round without you -
You're the one thing I never thought I could live without.
I just found this smile to think about you;
You're a Saturday night far from the madding crowd


Merrion Square


After three years, it is hard to remember what day we visited the museums and galleries. It seems improbable that we did all of these on Sunday, but our Saturday plans swerved into an unexpected direction at midday.

The day before, on February 14, 2003, Hans Blix had delivered his latest report on Iraqi compliance with Resolution 1441 to the UN Security Council. In part he said:

How much, if any, is left of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and related proscribed items and programmes? So far, UNMOVIC has not found any such weapons, only a small number of empty chemical munitions, which should have been declared and destroyed. Another matter - and one of great significance - is that many proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for. To take an example, a document, which Iraq provided, suggested to us that some 1,000 tonnes of chemical agent were "unaccounted for". One must not jump to the conclusion that they exist. However, that possibility is also not excluded. If they exist, they should be presented for destruction. If they do not exist, credible evidence to that effect should be presented.

We are fully aware that many governmental intelligence organizations are convinced and assert that proscribed weapons, items and programmes continue to exist. The US Secretary of State presented material in support of this conclusion. Governments have many sources of information that are not available to inspectors. Inspectors, for their part, must base their reports only on evidence, which they can, themselves, examine and present publicly. Without evidence, confidence cannot arise.

If we'd picked up a copy of the Guardian that morning, we would have seen the following article:

A case for war? Yes, say US and Britain. No, say the majority

Britain last night insisted it would press ahead with framing the resolution. An official said it was unlikely that a draft resolution would be circulated over the weekend. Instead, it would be pushed back until Tuesday at the earliest. "If you slap down a piece of paper right away, it doesn't look like you were listening."

The French and Russian foreign ministers were given rare applause in the council chamber yesterday when they demanded more time for inspections, in striking contrast to the stony silence that greeted hoarse and irritable insistence that time had run out from Colin Powell, the US secretary of state.

Me: I had forgotten that the march was today. I saw them organizing a bus for the people in the village to get to London last week. They'll be travelling from all over England for it.
Husband: They were already covering it in San Francisco before I left.
Me: Do we have anything scheduled this afternoon?
Husband: We do now.
Me: Alright. Let's go.

Next: "When we got to Yankee land..."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Venus and Mars: Valentines Weekend in Dublin, 2003

Valentine's Weekend 2003 was the one. After a week of work on a transatlantic project that still looms in office legend, I was off for the usual extra day or two in Dublin. But this time, after much persuasion and the fortunate alignment of a three day US holiday weekend near the traditional day for romance, I had convinced my husband to join me.

For me, it would be my fourth visit. For him, the first time travelling outside the United States. For both of us, the last time visiting this place in the pure, heedless state of tourism: knowing no-one and no-one knowing us.

As the advance scout, I had already discovered the Georgian on Baggot Street. The Harcourt Hotel, of my first visit, is fondly remembered for several reasons -- one of them being its appearance in Patrick McCabe's The Dead School and therefore part of the personal Horslips walking tour for me -- but it was one long trek to and from anything. And though closer to the action, the Comfort Inn on Talbot Street was an experiment not repeated. So the Georgian, where you go outside to get back inside, where a double set of Winchester Mystery House stairs misleads you every time, and where suspiciously rounded humps in the carpet seem to shift location during the night, won out in the end.

And in 2003, registering at the front-desk with a man in tow, I was rewarded with a vast, top floor suite and a high wide-mattressed bed fitted out in soft white linen and down-filled duvet. And a shower of unimaginably warm and ceaseless water. That first afternoon, I lost one of my earrings in the bedding.

It was a shame, actually, that we had so much sightseeing planned for the weekend.

The next day we followed the advice of the taxi-driver and set off to find the Church with the relics of Saint Valentine. Apparently, we were told, they'd bless our wedding rings for us at the place.

Me: Remember that church?
Husband: I remember we got into that bad argument there.
Me: Yeah. I was remembering that too. What were we fighting about?
Husband: Can't remember. Remember the museum?
Me: Which one? The Art Gallery or History museum?
Husband: I was thinking of the Dead Animal Zoo.
Me: Remember the guys at the Cobblestone?
Husband: And that dinner after the march?
Me: Remember the march?
Husband: That was like four percent of the population there.
Me: We found that other place...not as good as Cobblestone. What was that?
Husband: We went to Trinity too. Remember?
Me: We did a lot!
Husband: You could write some of that up.
Me: I'd have to do it over a few days. That's a lot to write up.
Husband: Use pictures too.

So, yeah. Three years ago, we went to Dublin and saw some sights. It might be something I could write about over the next few posts. Not as exciting as some. But there'll be pictures.