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Sober Life
by Sinclair Newton



Sober Life

I can’t leave off going on about Ireland without telling you about Dublin and I don’t just mean the Grafton Street of my drunken youth (well, one weekend of it when I was about nineteen, actually).

There’s one area called Temple Bar where they’ve transformed a maze of little streets into a bemusing fantasy of bars and restaurants. Does this sound familiar?

Youngish people in garish tee shirts throng everywhere like a rash. They all talk at the same time without listening to each other and the music is all Greatest Hits of the Sixties.

I suppose what’s so reminiscent of Ibiza is the way they all have money to spend and are determined they are having a good time.

A few hours after the football, all you could see were people clinging to walls and trying to hold themselves up. I didn’t see many people making pavement pizzas, though.

Elsewhere, Dublin oozed quality. I went to watch the Saddleworth Morris Men cavorting in O’Connell Street, which they managed for roughly eight minutes before Irish policemen moved them on. They were stopping the shoppers outside the famous old post office where bullets once riddled the front.

So they went to the pub.

Dublin is like that. I got the feeling it was one large village and you would find it hard to get separated from each other for long.

The joyous underdog mood was everywhere as they - unlike England yesterday - awaited their inevitable departure from the World Cup. I told you my money was on Brazil about three weeks ago, the only trouble being that I never actually placed the bet. That’s the trouble with being sober - you forget things that would have been a priority if only you’d had a drink.

I also visited Limerick and finished up in some place in County Westmeath where there was a slip of paper in the hotel bedroom warning that the tap water might be poisonous. Perhaps it was just an excuse to promote the red lemonade that was everywhere rather than the Seven-Up, so highly favoured by Roy Keane.

Traveller’s note: I was provided with a very smart silver Primera from Murray’s Europcar at Dublin Airport, courtesy of Bord Failte Eirann. To discover the island of Ireland, contact: Tourism Ireland, Ireland Desk, Britain Visitor Centre, 1 Regent Street, London SW1Y 4XT. Freephone: 0800 0397000. www.TourismIreland.com You can contact them in Spain, too: Paseo de la Castellana, 46-3, 28046 Madrid. Tel: 91 57754 58.

P.S. I’ve started it, so I’ll attempt to finish. But can anyone remind me of the author of this Dublin ditty, the rest of which goes (I think):

“There’s no need to hurry
There’s no need to worry
You’re a king and your lady’s a queen

Grafton Street’s a wonderland
There’s magic in the air
There’s diamonds in your lady’s eyes
And gold dust in her hair

And if you don’t believe me
Come and meet me there
In Dublin on a sunny summer’s morning”!

Sinclair Newton