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Typical Piscean, dreamer, story teller in the tradition of my country, I love to write. I'm not sure that I'm any good at it, but getting the words down has its reward.

15 October 2009

A Night at the Opera and the rest of it

Fortunately I had Tuesday night free as E.D decided to surprise me with a trip to the National Concert Hall to see Bizet's "Carmen". We had a wonderful evening and being me, I enjoyed studying the attendees as much as I did listening to the story of Carmen and Don José. For me the show was stolen as the saying goes by the singers who portrayed Mercedes and Frasquita - divine voices.

Two rows down a lady had her "seeing eye" dog with her. A ripple of comment passed through the row when they arrived "would he start to howl when the music began?" but not a bit of it! He was a perfect gentledog...apart from getting up now and then when the drums grew louder to check on her, he snored quietly through it all.

It was the third night of the Opera and during the interval I enjoyed a quick study of the crowd. I was reminiscing on how years ago everybody dressed up to attend, nowadays diamons to dungarees are the norm. Rightly so in some respects, but yet I ask myself, have we become too casual in our dress sense nowadays. There was always something glorious in dressing up in ones finest to attend functions, today in some instances it is casual almost to the point of why bother attending something at all.

Yesterday OH and I decided to travel into Dublin on the DART [Dublin Area Rapid Transit system] and visit O'Connell Street. I'm a Southsider by nature, south of the River Liffey that is and most Southsiders consider that if you are shopping then the only place to go is Grafton street and its environs. It's an old traditional sort of 'haves' and 'have nots' attitude, we may consider ourselves a cosmopolitan city, but the olde divides still exist.

After almost breaking our necks to gaze up at the Greatest Waste Of Money [otherwise known as The Spike] in O'Connell Street, and completing our business, we decided to take the DART back to Bray from Connolly Station - which I still call Amiens Street Station through force of habit - and our route took us down Talbot Street. I can never resist dropping into Guiney's for bargains. Egyptian Cotton towels, soft as lambswool, €2 for hand towels €4 for a bath towel and €6 for bath sheet, plain or patterned. Really true good linen glass cloths €2.50c. For heaven's sake, this was heaven. I topped up our towel stocks and only spent €20. OH had a good laugh at me because the bath towels were exactly the same as one I had purchased in one of our new fancy shopping mega malls for €20, the only difference being the colour cream that time, white this time. Oh! yes, and the price - two for €8. Grrrr! I'll be back as Arnie says.

I love this part of Dublin; it's the heart of the rowle as the song says. There is a buzz of excitement about the area, I listened to two elderly women, shopping trolleys firmly planted across the pavement, headscarves to keep the perm dry from the rain and the sharp tones of true Dublin "aul wans" [old ones]. "Here Missis, dja hee-ur dat Luis was screechin about dem railin's? Dja kno wha, der'l be cro-wads at de funral so der will, yew merk my wurds" one pronounced. "Ai kno Mary, an dja kno wah? Der'll be no gettin inta da chur-ich wih all dem starz cummin - Elting Jawn is cummin der too I herd". Stephen Gately [Boyzone/Joseph & his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat] Lord rest him, will be buried from the local church on Saturday. Thirty three is too young to die no matter who you are. I gather the church railings are getting a much needed coat of paint. Dublin has its pride.

Feeling peckish we slip into The Pantry, spotlessly gleaming, bright and cheery and enjoy an all day breakfast with a pot of tea from which you could dole out mugs of tea to a football team - and all for a tenner [€10] for the two of us. We had turned our noses up at the same across the Liffey in a cafe which would have cost us near enough to €20. There is something about a bargain that makes one feel saintly...especially in recessionary times.

Seated at a table nearby was a young mother and her toddler. With the face of an Irish Shirley Temple and curls to match she sang her little heart out with "Goosie Goosie Gander, where shall I wander" and other old fashioned childrens songs. Her voice clear and uninhibited, I thought it was wonderful. Most children nowadays seem only be able to sing Postman Pat or something from the Charts. Here was the voice of my childhood, I listened enthralled as Mother and daughter sang together, just as my own Mother and I did when I was little, the songs her Mother had handed down to her. At that very moment the Kerry side of my nature slipped into second place and my Dublin side came to the fore. I caught OH studying my face, blushed and asked him what he was looking at. "Your childhood" he replied, mine was a musical childhood with a music teaching Mother, his was more one of agricultural pursuits, cutting turf in summer, tending the hay, and Saturday nights of traditional ceilí music in the kitchen. Mindreader.

The early afternoon DART back home was filled with students, housewives reading the latest Cecelia Ahern and tourists. Two English ladies sat across from us on their return journey from Howth Peninsula. They were anxiously watching the names of the stations and I overheard one of them say "Canal Dock is where we get off to visit Trinity College". Fortunately we were just coming into Tara Street and I advised them that they should get off at the next stop Westland Row if they wanted to visit Trinity; the journey between the two stations is short and they hurriedly gathered their possessions and thanked me as they disembarked with fresh directions, they could have alighted at Tara Street, but it was too late to do so. Trinity College and College Green is not to be missed, even if new traffic regulations have started to have a disastrous effect to businesses in the locality by taking away easy access.

As we drew into Sydney Parade the sun burst through a densely clouded sky and we were invaded by the boys from the local schools; by the time we hit Blackrock the air was filled with techno jargon and the ladies with their chic lit were looking bewildered at megabytes and googling, phishing and what else was thrown about the compartment. At top vocal pitch to boot! I was fascinated at the changes wrought in nearly 40 years. I used to travel home from college on the same route and the released inmates of the same schools were just as raucous but it was rugby, rugby and....yes, you guessed it. Now it was the boys involved in their techno terms, the girls like clones of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, attempting to slay a young knight with their orange tans and back combed hair, the young knights more interested in slaying dragons online thank you very much! Pale pink lipstick is back in I see, God be with the days of my first Miners Pale Pink Frost at 2/6d in Woolworths. Ahem! cough! only yesterday of course. Yes. Indeed.

By Dalkey there was a huge disembarcation, the ladies, chic lit in hand, subsided outwards into the empty seats beside them; we swept around Killiney Bay - definitely resembling the Bay of Naples in the pale sunlight with Sugarloaf a miniature Vesuvius glowering in the mist over Bray. Cormorants diving after tasty morsels, sea gulls wheeling over a glassy calm sea and one brave swimmer on this mild October afternoon. Housewives walking their dogs along the beach and young Mothers with little toddlers throwing stones into the water across from what was once Homan's Tearooms. The self same tea rooms to which we were sent by our respective parents to bring back trays with emptied tea pots as children. We swam on Killiney Beach from May to end September or even mid October if there was an Indian summer. Glory days.

Back in Bray, laden with parcels, tired, content and looking forward to a meal handed up to us by ED who is "experimenting" in the catering department. Tasty and hot and lashings of tea.

8 comments:

her at home said...

You sound as if you had a fantastic time ! Envy you Carmen!

Elizabethd said...

I loved the tale about the little girl, singing traditional nursery songs.

Friko said...

what a wonderful day, a bit of everything included.
I envy you your trip to the opera. and yes, definitely, I believe in dressing up for such an occasion. I love the preparation almost as much as the event.

Frances said...

Oh Irish Eyes, I so loved this post, with its insights into modern life, and how those insights are deepened by close observations of prior years.

Just want to see Dublin myself some day. Meanwhile, you do give me a grand view. xo

muddyboots said...

sounds like a pretty perfect sort of day really.

Pondside said...

You've painted a vivid picture of the hustle and bustle of the bargain zone and the music-box moments of old women meeting and mother and child singing. Beautiful.

laurie said...

i love this post so much! we took DART down to Dalkey a few years back, and also north to Sutton (and hiked to Howth). So i had a lot of memories triggered by this.

And i've been up and down o'connell street but never been to Guiney's. (Cleary's, yes.)

even though it's unlikely that i'd buy towels while vacationing in ireland, it sounds like a place i'd like to wander.

TIGGYWINKLE said...

Beautifully written blog IE, and you packed so much into it. I don't go into the City very often, but once or twice a year I do what I call my "knacker run" which is to Talbot street, and Thomas Street.Often pick up great bargins in linens and towels in Guineys, and Frawleys and the old Bull Ring in Thomas street.Frawleys is now gone, and the Bull Ring is smaller and not so good. I love to listen to the "ould ones" having a natter. Nothing like true old Dublin wit.
I must say I like to dress up to go to The Concert Hall.Its part of the ritual of a lovely night out, and worth the effort.I am a bit traditional about a sense of occasion.