It’s 3.30 on Saturday afternoon and so far it has been an eventful if slightly surreal day.
A friend of mine was attending an employment fair in the national convention centre by the riverside this morning. This is in close proximity to my apartment. As we rarely meet it was a good opportunity to meet for a morning coffee. Which we did.
He told me that he enjoyed reading my blog and that he found it to be an interesting blend of inanity with an occasional spark of profundity. I imagined myself with head full of luxuriant locks, tossing them over my shoulder and saying in a manly voice ‘Well that is the tone I was aiming for, glad it’s coming across that way’. I didn’t but it was pleasing to hear.
As we were about to leave the cafe I decided to take a trip to the facilities. There was a solitary unisex toilet which was vacant. What luck. It looked a bit blocked. I tried to flush but that had no effect.
Now I am not a person that routinely uses the toilets assigned for disabled people, but if they are the only functioning facilities in a venue selling food and beverages, then needs must. I did a quick scan over both shoulder to make sure that no-one was looking. I opened the door. I was greeted by the sight of a blonde woman in mid-wipe.
She gave a little scream of horror. I replied with a little yelp of embarrassment, mumbled sorry, and sprinted back to my table and said ‘Come one we are leaving immediately’, and bolted out of the cafe.
I have a friend who determines the quality of a venue based on the condition of the facilities. His logic is that if attention it not paid to the toilets then there little to defend the place. I discovered this about him in the Aboriginal Cultural Centre close to Alice Springs in Australia – a place that he would highly recommend. I shall not be returning to this morning’s cafe.
My little encounter with the blonde woman was not remotely embarrassing really – it was just so unexpected. And it’s hardly my fault she didn’t lock the door. I must say however that she didn’t look disabled in any way. I suspect she was merely a clever, resourceful toilet-goer, like I thought I was.
Having said goodbye to my friend I wended my way to the Connolly Bookstore in Temple Bar. It’s a left wing, socialist, trade union supporting shop. It is also the home of the New Theatre – a 70 seater theatre that specialised in new plays. And once a month on a Saturday afternoon they have the Gay Film Club there they show a movie that would not have been released in the cinema. Today’s film was called ‘Little Sparrows’. I knew nothing about the film, but thought that seeing as I had no plans that Saturday afternoon, and the fact that Dolly Parton has a song called ‘Little Sparrow’ that this would be a pleasant way while away a few hours on this cold February afternoon.
I entered the shop. The shop was full. It seemed like time stood still for a moment and that in slow motion everyone in the store tilted their head in my direction and threw me evils.
This is utter nonsense of course, and a complete figment of my imagination . But what was undoubtedly true was that the entire audience for the film was female, and of a certain age (and dare I say it – a certain size?). I had come to the lesbian film afternoon. I would have been welcome to stay and would have enjoyed the film, no doubt, but it felt like I had taken a little jolt, so I turned on my heel and left. I should have stayed.
Next month it might be an idea to do some cursory research on the film playing before rocking up.
There was loud music coming from Dame Street so I ventured on to that street. Huge loudspeakers were set up the entire length of the street. And there was no traffic on the road – slighly unusual for one of the busiest roads in the city. The music blaring from the speakers was that sinister space opera music that they play in films like Alien or Star Wars – atmospheric and dark. Police were everywhere. I stopped and stared and wondered what was happening. After a few minutes the answer was clear as a parade of thousands of protesters started filing by wih their placards and loudspeakers.
It was the big pre-election anti-water tax protest. That was today of course, but it had completely slipped my mind. The number of participants was impressive – it seemed to go on forever. Any time in the past where there has been a parade on Dame Street, I have been a member of the parade, as the gay pride parade used to pass through Dame Street. I had never witnessed one from the sidelines though.
It really was a sight to behold – groups from towns all over the country, out, exercising their democratic right to protest.
Then I saw the placard of placards – ‘LIMERICK SAYS NO TO WATER TAX’.
A fire started blazing in my belly (and it wasn’t from the cheese croissant I had eaten earlier.) These are my people I thought. So I sidled along in beside them and walked the length of the street – well I was heading home anyway and this was in my direction.
I do love a good old protest and shouting slogans in the street is quite exhilarating.
The trouble is that one the slogans has lodged in my head and won’t leave.
‘LABOUR, BLUESHIRTS, FIANNA FAIL. JAIL, JAIL,JAIL THEM ALL’.
I must try to remove that from my conciousness by Monday.