Sunday, May 01, 2005

Here Chuck, Chuck, Chuck - English Hen Nights in Dublin's Temple Bar

It isn't until you've seen twelve stone and change of aged British beef in a little black dress shaking her ass to "Is This the Way to Amarillo?" that you are finally full sure that now is the End of Days. Repent, and know ye that the day of the Lord is at hand.

Dublin's fashionable Temple Bar has long had a name as the venue of choice for the discerning British hen party, but it's not until you witness these things in their full, ghastly horror that you realise just how accurately Sky television holds a mirror to reality. Those terrible people are not making it up; this really is what they do for kicks. It's especially disorientating when you're strictly a BBC2 Newsnight followed Late Review with poet and critic Tom Paulin kind of guy - it's hard to imagine Paxo in L-plates and a kiss-me-quick chapeau.

This weekend is one of few Bank Holiday weekends in Ireland that coincide with Bank Holiday weekends in Great Britain. Most Bank Holiday weekends county people, such as your humble correspondent, hightail it out of Dublin just as quick as their Corollas can carry them - which An Spailpín Fánach has long considered the most eloquent judgement on the worth of the capital - but, due to a debt of honour to a man whom An Spailpín Fánach holds in the highest esteem, your chronicler of contemporary Irish life ended up walking up Fleet Street late last Saturday night, into the beating and gory heart of Temple Bar itself, and bore witness to what goes on there when England decants to Dublin.

It is possible that our British visitors are unaware of the more recent pronouncements of the two Gerrys, Martin and Mitchell to the effect that the war is over. That, or they just don't believe them, for why else would so many of them have travelled in disguise? The most popular device popular with the ladies was the kind of demonic horn motif that is predominantly pink in colour and is sometimes fringed at the butt, or base, of the horn with pink fluffy stuff. We can only assume that the devils that sport these same pink horns are the ones that do the filing in Hades, as opposed to those ones that do the heavy work of forking Protestants into those fiery pits for which Hell is chiefly notorious. Then again, they could work in HR - who really can say?

Irrespective of the duties performed by these ladies in this world or the next, it's hard to believe so many of the guests of our nation in Temple Bar are so lacking in documentary evidence, such as Birth Certificates, that leaves them unaware of how long they've been existent in this green and verdant Earth. Ecclesiastics tells us that to everything there is a season under Heaven, meaning that there is a season when a lady can look like a million dollars dressed as a French maid, and there is a subsequent season when the very same lady looks a bit better in a twin set and pearls, and the French maid's outfit is confined to the trunk and sweet memory. A quick consultation with a birth cert might prevent ladies mixing up same seasons, and prevent An Spailpín Fánach from getting a very severe case of nervous fright on Saturday night from seeing too many Whitneys dressed like Britneys.

Despite the horrors, there was one young lady with whom your hopelessly romantic Spailín Fánach fell more than half-way in love - from across a crowded room of course. This girl had what can only call style, as she chose to visit us as Catwoman, that justly famous anti-heroine of the Batman movies and comic books. She looked just fabulous, and could easily have been acclaimed the Queen of Dublin, a woman of such class that the ancient city could only bow down in fealty and pledges of honour. Until she opened her mouth to speak, of course, when the illusion could very easily have been shattered and led to more of a Marie Antoinette short-sharp-shock sort of a scene.

An Spailpín Fánach, despite being quite Correct in his politics, has long been entranced by the cut glass accent of the English upper classes, as enunciated by Liz Hurley, the fantastically glacial Kristen Scott-Thomas and La Divina Nuova Keira Knightley. However, those accents from the other side of the British social sphere are utterly without charm or favour and, after a mere half-an-hour among its speakers, "Eey-oop chuck" began to sound to your shaken correspondent just as terrifying as the war-whoops of the Apache braves that once swept across the plains of New Mexico and Arizona, tomahawks waving above their heads as they tried their best to support their squaws' toupee making cottage industry.

Apaches don't do that anymore, not least as Uncle Sam wiped them and their lifestyle off the face of the Earth over a hundred years ago, but it's hard to imagine how they could have been anymore terrifying than Doris, Charlene and Tracey, pink horns glowing, ample midriffs showing and on-the-session patrolling the mean streets of Temple Bar. Lock up your impressionable sons.