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Friday, June 15, 2012

Prefatory to Anything Else

So here we are in Ireland. The trip here was a little bit of crazy. I won't bore you with details except to say that the Belgian train website times bear no relation to the actual train times. Sprinting was required.

But we are loving the Irish. All our taxi drivers have met Bono. They all know who James Joyce is. A bus driver gave me a disquisition on Brendan Behan. They have very strong opinions about the austerity budget, and though they blame us for starting the financial meltdown, they have forgiven us.

They're not quite as good at driving as at literature. One cabbie took us to the wrong tower, not the Martello Tower/Joyce Museum. Sensing our desperation, a couple who owned a taxi but weren't working decided to drive us around looking for it. During the drive, the woman recited poetry to us: "The Ballad of Redding Gaol" and several of her own compositions. She was about to embark on "Paradise Lost" when, thankfully, we arrived at our destination.

We got to the museum just it was closing for lunch, so we ate at a local pub dedicated to James Joyce. I ordered gorgonzola cheese, just to get in the mood.

Joyce's room at the Tower,
When the Tower reopened we were first in line. Phil, having recently written on Stephen Dedalus's time at the Tower, was in Joyce heaven.

As we left, it began to rain. I dropped Phil at the Joyce conference at University College Dublin, where he sat in on  a panel given by two of his doctoral students, who worked with him 24 years apart.

Afterward, in a deluge, we took the panelists out for Guinness, and then went on to dinner with additional Joyce fanatics. Phil ate many organ meats, and the other Joyceans ordered enormous quantities of wine. I partook rather too much, but the Irish had just lost their football match, so you couldn't tell my stagger from anyone else's on the street.

The city is thronged with Joyce wackos, including Phil. By tomorrow many of them will actually be dressed as James Joyce. I am afraid...

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