Friday, September 08, 2006

On the way to Rathmines

Do you chat to taxi drivers? I take it on a ‘case by case’ basis. Sometimes you just couldn’t be arsed. Other times an opening conversational gambit is greeted with such lack of interest that the rest of the journey is silent. During the World Cup, I was surprised that on a number of occasions my attempts to engage in a chat about Spain’s lively campaign opening or the majesty of the Argentine demolition of Serbia were rebuffed. Then sometimes you deeply regret initiating a verbal exchange especially when you get onto subjects such as Dublin Airport, the Ryder Cup, property or worst of all immigrants. But amid all the dross, there are hidden gems. On the way to Rathmines last night, the cabbie told me how he had seen the Beatles five times in the sixties and had lost count of the number of times he had seen the Stones. He worked all over England – Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham- and took in as many gigs as possible – Gerry and the Pacemakers, Freddie and the Dreamers, Manfred Mann, Cilla Black even. “We were like the Poles then,” he said. “You had to go elsewhere for work.” And despite the ever-present racism towards Irish people in England at the time, he loved life there. “Later on, I was a mod and had a moped, parka, the whole thing. And we used to have scraps with the rockers. My girlfriend was a hippie, into flower power and free love. Those were the days, mad fuckin’ memories.” He came back to Dublin in the 80’s but goes back to England, particularly Blackpool all the time. “The working men’s clubs are the best. You pay nothing in and the pints are only two pounds. The comedians are great – they always rip the piss out of you if they know you are Irish and I love listening to the cabaret singers. The hotels are dead cheap and once the clubs close we usually head back there. There’s nothing like it in Dublin.”


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