All entries for Monday 05 March 2007
March 05, 2007
This morning I woke up to chaos. My legs are curled up on the grotty sofa I've slept on, I have a neckache digging into my shoulderblades, and there are things crawling and moaning in my stomach. It has not been long since I opened my eyes to a battering ram of sunlight that made me writhe in my sleeping bag, but once I became accustomed to the explosion of light firing through the window right onto my face I soon realised there was little to wake up to. I am visiting a childhood best friend at his university accomodation, and for all his qualities he is not the most enthusiastic of hosts, hence the terrible sleep, the junk-food hangover and the fact that I can hardly see the floor. The state of this flat is inexplicable. There is the mess we created together; the beer cans on the table, the packets of crisps that became our supper because he didn't have any food to offer, the newspaper we bought and read. But nothing accounts for the bits of paper sprinkled across the whole room, the plates and cutlery decorating the carpet, the clothes collecting like dead animals about the carpet. What can be seen of the floor is polka-dotted with stains and crunchy with crumbs of crisps and pizza crusts. Across the room I can just see the start of the kitchen; a bin can be vaguely discerned under a heap of rubbish, and a fridge with a pile of plates with little tongues of food hanging off them. I sit up on my couch, and as my sleeping-bag falls off me I sense the cold prickle my skin immediately, reminding me how the heating was broken in this apartment. Just as I am wondering if there will be hot water for me to take a shower, another friend, sleeping on the other sofa, stirs. She turns, looks once at the state of the room, groans, and retreats back into her sleeping-bag. This is when I smile and get out my notebook, to write of this kingdom of chaos and how I embrace it, to proclaim my love for a childhood friend. This will be a beautiful day.
Visiting my friend studying in Dublin over the weekend, I arrived in the city at six in the morning just as the buildings were beginning to glow from the burning red clouds. There was no one there to greet me, and after frantically skimming through pages of emails and messages in an internet cafe, I learnt I was to meet my companion under the spire on the main street of dublin, the monument of the town.
Unlike the Big Ben, or the Eiffel tower, no one seems to have this symbol of Ireland stamped onto their consiousness, and so I did not know what to expect. My friend had told me it was "Ireland's penis-shaped answer to the eiffel tower", but that hardly created a vivid image in my mind.
At six in the morning, the streets seemed crowded with loneliness, and the wind was free to slide down alleyways, rustling up rubbish and shaking my garments. I tentatively travelled through a maze of unknown pavements, driven by cold to hurry on my quest for a towering metallic penis. Around me the town was slowly starting to stretch and shake off sleep: a ghostly tram hovered past me and the odd huddled figure cast an eye on all the bags hanging off my shoulders.
After about half an hour I found myself on O'Connell street, and the spire stretched up to the dawn in front of me. I walked up to it, and felt with my fingerless gloves its smooth surface all the way round. Its grey skin perfectly glistened in the weak daylight, its tip peered over everything in the area, and yet the first thought that struck me was of its pointlessness. It was not beautiful, its height failed to make it imposing, and it in no way seemed to represent the qualities of Ireland.
My friend was 40 minutes late, so after a while I sat down on a nearby ledge and gazed at it a while longer, hugging myself. This early in the morning, there was something intimate about my meeting this spire: unlike so many, I could gaze at it for the first time without the battle of the traffic and pedestrians, and with the stinging wisps of the wind instead. It stood right in front of the post office, which was bullet-riddled and seeped in bloody history, and I was reminded of what my friend had told me; the spire had been created to replace Nelson's Pillar, blown up by the IRA.
I looked at it for a long time, this 'Monument of Light' as it is sometimes called, and with my arms about me absorbed the sparkles of sun it reflected. I think about that time now, and realise that in some way that was my perfect introduction to Ireland; against the steel weather, the monument embodied nothing else but the country's want to stand alone, in pride and conviction. Sitting at my computer at home, all I can think of now is that after a weekend in Dublin, I am completely ready to stand with it.