Happy St Patricks Day! Congratulations to the Irish in their recent rugby game beating France, apparently it meant something bad for us (England) but as I don't follow rugby I don't exactly know what! But well done to the Irish anyway, and being a day for the Irish, it seems appropriate for me to share a story from the last time I was in Dublin. I should say that the story is from a few years ago, and I was tired and emotional so I apologise sincerely if I have got any of the details wrong.
Now let me say, I love Dublin. I haven't been for about maybe seven years, and to be honest it's far too long, I definitely need to get myself there. And yes, Guinness tastes different there to anywhere else - anywhere else, it has a sort of burnt aftertaste, while in Dublin it's more like mild, a very easy to drink beer.
So, I went to Dublin by myself for a long weekend, not long before I moved out of my parents house. I got to my hotel around lunchtime, had a spot of lunch and a couple of drinks in the hotel bar, and decided to walk into the city centre.
And I thought it might be quite jolly to stop at each of the bars on the way to the centre, and have a pint in each one.
However, I had stayed in a hotel maybe half an hours walk out of the centre, and in Dublin there are quite a few pubs.
So, by the time I got to O'Connell Street, which I seem to remember is where the main shopping area is, I believe that I had had somewhere in the region of seven or so pints, mostly Guinness but I think there was maybe a pint of lager in there as well, just to mix things up.
And I came across one of these chinese health shops. If you've been to any decent sized town or city you'll have come across one of these, they do acupuncture and herbs and all kinds of things to cure everything from weight problems to baldness.
Being somewhat merry, I noticed that the person stood at the entrance to the shop was holding out some leaflets. Hey, I thought to myself, lets grab a leaflet. We're on holiday, lets go wild.
So, I grabbed a leaflet.
Now the usual social process for such a situation is that I take hold of a leaflet, and the person with the leaflet lets it go. Maybe there's a smile or perhaps even a "Thanks" uttered, and that's optional. But the letting go of the leaflet so that the punter can take it with them - that seems to me to be a key part of the event.
Instead, she walked backwards into the shop while holding on to the leaflet that I attempted to take, dragging my inebriated self with her. She sat me down on a chair, and then after a couple of minutes went by I was taken into a small room at the back, where there was a Chinese doctor (I assume) and a translator. The translator said a lot of stuff which basically came down to "You're fat, so we're going to do acupuncture on you, we're going to give you a shoulder and back massage, and do cupping for 35 euros."
I should explain that cupping isn't some bizarre fetish, it's a therapy which involves putting glass jars on your back, with tealight candles lit in them. The candles burn away the oxygen, creating an area of low pressure, which sort of sucks the skin into the jar. I think that it's supposed to be good for blood flow.
I remember one point of bizarreness being that after the translator left, the doctor starting talking English. Maybe she wasn't the translator, maybe she was just the doctor's boss. And when I'm referring to the doctor, she probably wasn't a doctor, I just called her that. She might have been the cleaner for all I know.
Anyway it was all quite fun, the massage was pleasant enough (all above board and the like), I don't really remember anything about the cupping, and the acupuncture was quite weird - if you asked me before if someone could stick a load of needles in you without it hurting I would have said no, and even now I would probably say no, but I have to say that at the time it was fine, I even remember waving my hand and watching the acupuncture needles wobble. The doctor seemed to think it was funny that I could look at the needles without cringing.
After the treatment, I went out to the main part of the shop to pay, and they told me that they would have to book me a new appointment. I explained that I was on holiday, so they suggested that they could book me an appointment at their London branch in England.
London is about four to five hours drive from where I live. Not going to happen.
So, they then attempted to sell me 270 euros of teabags, herbs, oils, and assorted paraphernalia because I wouldn't be able to attend another treatment. I made some excuse (I think that I might have said that I was bankrupt), paid the 35 euros for what they'd done, and left to find another bar.
So the moral of this story is... don't try to drink in all the bars in Dublin. You won't do it and it won't go well.
Now, I need to get some Jamesons Whiskey so I can make a hot whiskey.
Happy St Patricks Day!