number 29

Well, I didn't expect to see them again, but my old high school teacher and her friend invited me to meet them for a tour of Number 29, an old 18th century house not far from College. I actually hadn't been before, so I took them up on the offer.

You hear people complaining about the lifestyles of the rich 'n' famous nowadays, but I'm glad I don't live in the eighteenth century. The house is absolutely beautiful, and perfectly restored and no doubt live was fun for the folks with the money, but the exhibition has some sobering aspects, too. Like, governesses often had to go and live in homes for the destitute when they got too old to work, and the life expectancy of poor people in Dublin in the 18th century was just awful. Meanwhile, the wealthy were eating meat something like five times a day. Well, it's enough to bring out the socialist in anyone. But it's also really very interesting seeing inside one of Dublin's Georgian houses. Outside, they are all very similar, and that uniformity gives the various squares and Georgian streets their distinctive look, but behind the doors each house seems to be different and it's interesting seeing how the plaster people (not sure of the technical name) used the ceilings and cornices and stuff (as you can see, I'm not a big expert on architecture) as a backdrop for some really great work. My impression is that in the past the Irish didn't really present much of the history of the rich to tourists, because of historical reasons, but that now people realise that this is all part of the common heritage.

Anyway, back to the grindstone. Nearly there, nearly there... but I've read so much nineteenth century literature by now, I'm liable to have a fit of the vapours any day... :-)

nearly there...

I've been working really, really hard to finish my dissertation, and also to master at least some basic cooking skills so that I can get work in a restaurant to tide me over for a year while I decide what to do with my life so, honestly, I'm bushed. The interview at Bepe's restaurant is next week, and at the time of writing, I don't have a plan B so here's hoping.

What with all that's going on in my life right now I've been going out less than usual. But last night I got a call around nine and, guess what, it's from my old history teacher back home. No kidding. She's also a friend of my Dad's and she's retired now and on a tour of Europe with her friend and Dad had given her my mobile number so I got a call from a pair of over-excited ladies in their 60s. Needless to say, Dad had not warned me ahead of time so they sort of caught me on the hop.

But I did the hospitable thing and took 'em out for a Guinness. In fact, I hit one of the most popular tourist destinations in Temple Bar, Gogarty's. There's usually at least a few Irish people there, but last night I think the musicians and bar staff were the only ones. While usually I think of myself as pretty much a local these days, last night I felt like a tourist. They loved it, though, and the music was actually very good. I hadn't seen my old teacher partying before, so it was a little startling watching her polish off her third pint of Guinness and hearing her insist that we go to another pub for more drink. It was kind of fun, but I'm not necessarily all that sorry that they are only on a short trip to Dublin because I'm stretched really thin right now, and two raucous retired ladies from back home is a bit more than I can deal with at present.

Gotta go -- work awaits and after that I have to go home to learn how to make lasagne. I'm sort of getting the hang of this cooking business. It's actually not as difficult as I thought.

Dublin goes south

What a wonderfully sunny weekend it's been. Somehow, it had passed me by and I hadn't even realised it was going to be on until a friend rang me to see if I wanted to go and check out the Africa Day festivities in the Iveagh Gardens.

It was Sunday and it was sunny and warm. The park was full of Africans living and working in Dublin, locals out for a good day out, and more than a few half-African, half-Irish families. I don't know very much about African music -- OK, so I don't know anything about African music -- but the bands that played were loads of fun and the food, mmm, the food was fabulous. I think a lot of people must've heard about this event by word of mouth, because although I hadn't seen any posters about town, the park was packed with thousands and thousands of people. We ended up staying for six whole hours!

Later this month, African-American culture is celebrated in Dublin with the Soul Festival. Which reminds me, on Friday night Saoirse came over with a DVD of an old Irish movie, The Commitments about ... a Dublin soul band!! It's a great film though I think Dublin's probably changed a lot since 20 years ago. Still, it was fun spotting familiar bits of the city on the screen, and I'm pretty sure I've actually seen several of the actors about town, just a bit older and greyer!