Something positive: Poles

29 March 2008

Spar                               Irish people                  Polish people

Before Ireland goes down a cultural and economic chute, as always happens to countries that got bumptious in a boom, I thought it would be good to write about how great it is to live in Dublin city centre in 2008.

I was going to write about how every week something exciting opens – a new pub, restaurant or indie music venue, how Dublin is finally a city comfortable with its hairstyle: multicultural; alive and rippling with a vibrant youth; a melting pot for ideas and edgy design; stirred by iconic theatres, a dynamic and alternative movie industry, an angsty literature and a casual music – an opera in every pub, a Citizens’ City with a surprise at each street corner. Embracing, laughing, iconoclastic, HUMANE Dublin.

I’d love to hear from anyone who can make the case that this is true. My attitude changes and I know the city centre is convenient and all that, but today I’m conscious only that my doorstep is the most vomited-upon in Europe, the next-door building is derelict and scrawled with graffiti and there’s less green space in the North Inner City than there is in a prison yard.

A few weeks ago I came home in the middle of the day to find a man urinating against my house, which is recessed and a good place to behave appallingly. I am used to people (men) peeing there and, as you may understand, am against it; therefore I tapped him gently so he would confront his delinquency and wet himself. Then everyone was shouting and amid the swirl it eventually became clear that he was in fact “emptying his kidney bag”. I laughed, half-apologised and shook his hand. We might as well have resolved to stay in touch. This is no way to live your life, at forty-two.

No, after a few years when it flickered, the city centre is moribund again. Full of too many desensitised hard-chaws with protruding faces who pee on our houses or ignore us. They’re right to ignore me. And in return I am committed to ignoring them. But they ignore everything. They even ignore my daughters. Almost as if they weren’t goddesses come out from the river. Venuses on chewing-gum-beslobbered Capel St.

Really the only good thing in my area is the Poles. Because I work from home and need desperately to get out, I spend far too much time in the shiny new Spar which is where they are concentrated, as in a Pomeranian sitcom. They obviously love each other and for all I know may even like Dublin.

Poles still know what smiling is. Male and female, they kindle and flame with warmth when you arrive and crackle when you offer up your milk carton or ask them for a coffee in the Insomnia cafe which Spar engirdles. And they’re so generous to my daughters. They beam at them and my daughters radiate back. Like it was the fifties.

I wish we could hang out in a bookish cafe but it is Dublin and there is only Spar. We make a second home among the baked beans and happy Poles.


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