Monthly Archives: September 2010

Can Someone pass me a Babel Fish?….

‘De ya hav en trouble unerstandin uz?’…..See my Irish accent is pants. Sparkeys Dad asked me if I had any trouble understanding them….Well no not really….I mean the odd word threw me…but it wasn’t like I was having to much trouble understanding them, well no more than they had understanding each other. That was an observation I had made on the train from Belfast to Ballymoney the day before. I sat looking out the window of the train, I was seated across from a father and son, engaged in a loud discussion about something, football possibly, I wasn’t really paying attention to the topic. What fascinated me were the constant requests to repeat what was just said, at least I assume that’s what ‘Wa’!??? accompanied by a quizzical look means. This conversation took most of the journey to complete, but i am not sure how much information was exchanged, I got to the point where I almost offered to translate for them. I decided not to, as that kind of thing spoils the anthropological moment, changing me from being an observer, into a tourist getting a right kicking.

Meet the Parents……

I have a rather strained relationship with my own parents, this makes me rather uncomfortable around other peoples parents. The fact that I had received the same warning for parents I was about to mmet, as i had for the pets wasn’t helping. “Careful they can be a bit tricky around strangers” and this time I would not have the assistance of my animal whisperer skills to bail me out. “Around Strangers”…..well then, a guy I met on Internet, who has traveled from Australia to stay in our house, must qualify at least as a 9 on the Stranger rating system. I need not of worried, I don’t know if it was my rougish antipodean charm (unlikely) or the inate hospitality of Northern Ireland, but I have rarely felt more at home.

Beware of the Dog!!!!……

I am not a pet person….let me just say that now. I don’t hate animals, believe me growing up on a farm you can’t hate them,…but it also doesn’t pay to get too attached to something that maybe on your dinner plate next week. So not a animal person, shame animals never seem to understand that about me.

“Just be careful of the dog, she is a bit tricky round strangers!” or something to that effect….in fact it is always something like that. And of course 30 seconds later I have a new hairy friend treating me like a long lost relative….If only this talent for gaining animal confidence could be transferred to something useful, such as attracting young women or picking winning race horses….but alas I must sit at the kitchen table, with only a big friendly puppy’s wet nose poking me in the lap….

Stranger in a Land….

I stepped off the train into the balmy Northern Irish weather, let me say that again, balmy! Sunshine and warm weather just like the don’t have in the travel guides, but more about the weather later. Waiting at the platform is either the person who is going to tell me about tattooing, or the serial killer that has had me travel half way across the planet to stuff me in the boot and bury my dismembered corpse in a peat-bog. Let’s call him Sparkey. In fact he says “Call me Sparkey!” whenever I attempt to call him anything else. Hands are shaken, luggage is stowed in the boot (blood stain free, as far as I can see).
I always worry about first meetings, it is often hard to see which way things will go, but he is both relaxed and nervous as I am. Talk of trips, weather and all the normal ice-breakers are employed by both parties, but the the tipping point comes surprising early in the trip. Now a tipping point as the name implies can go either way, it can roll the situation back to uncomfortable silence, or as it did in this case it call hurtle off the other side with a nice long drop that breaks the ice. This tipping point was an ice-breaker….

SPARKEY – You see her!
ME – Who?
SPARKEY – The red haired girl, crossing the road!
ME – Yes.
SPARKEY – That’s Her!!!
ME – Who?
SPARKEY – That’s the Irish Red Haired Girl!!
Me – Sorry?
SPARKEY – The Irish Red Haired Girl!! There’s only one! She just travels around all of Ireland, for the tourists to see!!

Like I said, tipping points…you can’t make them happen….but when they tip the right way you suddenly know everthing is going to be fine…