I had to go up to Dublin this morning.
Fortunately I only had to go to the southern suburbs so I wasn't dreading it too much. Even better, it was to an area that I used to know extremely well and where I did a quare about of pint sinking in my youth.
Because I knew the area, I left the motorway before I left Wicklow and I took a sentimental journey.
Fuck me but I hadn't a clue where I was! Open fields had disappeared under cities of apartment blocks, quiet roads had suddenly morphed into wanna-be motorways with bus lanes, cycle lanes, car lanes and fucking arrows all over the place. I had to stop several times at traffic lights that had sprung up like nettles. The old road actually disappeared at one stage and I found myself driving through what once had been my favourite Pitch and Putt course. There were fucking signs everywhere ordering me about – No Right Turn, No Left Turn, No Parking, No U-Turns. There wasn't a single Please mentioned anywhere. There were little signs everywhere flashing my speed at me. I knew fucking well what speed I was doing and I'm glad to say I upset every one of them.
I decided to take the Quiet Road back.
Now the Quiet Road is the road I used to take every night when I was pissed out of my gourds. The other roads frequently had spot checks but never this one. It heads up over the mountains and is only used by the locals as it is twisty and narrow with some very steep hills. They used to have a slogan [probably still do?] "Don't drink and drive". I never did. It's quite difficult steering a motorbike with a pint in one hand as it tends to slop, despite my best efforts. So I confined my drinking to pre-driving and never mixed the two.
Ah the memories!
Suddenly they all came back. I came to a sharp right angle bent had had a lovely total recall of the night I was on the motorbike and because of my highly inebriated state I forgot to turn the handlebars. That was my first real experience of flying as I sailed gracefully over the wall and landed in a field. No bones broken but it sobered me a tad.
Then there was the very steep hill where one night I was so pissed I didn't realise the road was frozen into a solid sheet of ice. Myself and the motorbike parted company at the top of the hill and slithered together all the way down. I remember being quite chuffed as I won the race and beat my motorbike to the bottom of the hill.
Then there is the rock that juts out on the long straight stretch. It still has the mark from where I hit it with my first car. It took me ages to hammer the rim of the wheel back into shape so the tyre wouldn't fall off. I wonder if people look at that mark on the rock and think of me?
Then there was that steep upward hill where the trick was to lam down into low gear and accelerate like fuck in the hopes I would reach the top before the car stalled. Out of old habits I did the same technique today and nearly took off. I had to change beck up the gears again as my modern car is a little more powerful than my old Mini. They don't make 'em like they used to.
I didn't dare go near my old pub. They have probably turned it into some kind of shit "gourmet" or "gastro-pub" affair with fancy menus and fancy prices to match. They won't allow smoking and all in all I would wager it is not an inviting place any more.
I wonder if they ever managed to clean that puke-stain in the Snug?