Sunday 20 July 2008

Hollowmen and the Irish Ambassador

Although episode 2 was a bit flat compared to the first one, I still had a good laugh at The Hollowmen. That's because our family once stayed with the Australian Ambassador to Ireland (and the Holy See). This was back in 1983. Dad knew the ambassador, and arranged for us to crash at his residence whilst we were having a gander around Ireland.

I think we spent 8-10 days there. 8 miserable bloody days, stuck in what was then a 3rd world country. The EU subsidies had not really kicked in back then, and it was still possible to be driving down a 6 lane highway that suddenly turned into a dirt track, complete with donkey carts and farmers with flat caps and a milk churn on the back of the cart.

And yes, it rained an awful lot. And it was very green. And I couldn't wait to leave.

The ambassador told us that Northern Ireland was a much nicer place to visit - wealthier, cleaner and much easier to get around; and that was at the height of the Troubles. Harrods was bombed whilst we were staying in London. We'd hired a flat not far away, and we popped out of a tube station near Harrods to find streets closed off and police everywhere. I missed the "boom", but even with that going on, apparently Northern Ireland was a better place to go.

Staying with the ambassador was pretty good, given that we were collected from the airport by an official car, filled up with Irish Coffee and generally well looked after by the staff. Proper Irish Coffee. I've never had anything like it since.

Yes, if you thought they were pulling your leg when they talked about the duties of the ambassador on The Hollowmen, then I can tell you that they weren't. I never asked the ambassador what his golf handicap was, but I'm sure it would have been in single digits.

I can confirm that Guiness tastes much better when drunk in a proper pub just outside the gates of the brewery. Given that I was 16 at the time, I didn't develop much of a taste for it. I could only drink 2 or 3 pints of it before I had to move onto lager. The stuff we get here is crap by comparison.

Travelling with my parents always involved stopping in a pub for lunch, and sometimes a pub for dinner, so I returned home with a bit of a beer gut.

I had been silly enough to sign up for a pre-season rowing camp before going on holiday, so I stepped off the plane, white and pasty and paunchy, and went straight into camp. The head coach was a bit of a bastard - he had spent the holidays turning his son into a super-fit rower, and expected that we had done the same. He was not impressed when I told him I had spent the last two months drinking Guiness and eating pork pies. His son had spent that time hardening his hands with a bit of broomstick and a brick - you cut off about 8 inches of broomstick handle, drill a hole in it, attach a rope and then tie the rope to a brick. You then wind the brick up and down until you get blisters. The blisters form calouses, and you do it all again until your hands are like leather.

Mine were like gloves made from the softest hide of a kid goat. I was probably accused of having gay hands.

I am pretty sure he pushed us so hard, I spewed on the first rowing session. And I went through a bottle of Bettadine and another of metho that week hardening up my blisters. (You don't drink the metho - you pour it on the open blister to dry it out. Yes, it hurts). I paid dearly for that trip to Ireland, and all that Irish Coffee and Guiness.

In case you are wondering, I am not consulting on the script of The Hollowmen. But someone who knows what they are talking about certainly is.

1 comment:

kae said...

Name dropper.

Meh. Buy a new camera.
Wot, you think I'm MADE OF MONEY?

(After I get my last three years' worth of tax done and get the return, and buy the new fridge, I'll decided what else I can afford.)