Sunday, May 22, 2005

An Speaking of Gurriers...

Two sightings yesterday: the first was on a city imp bus, on a side road that turns onto O'Connell Street. A track-suited young man had been refreshing himself with a bottle of Lucozade on the journey into town. His beverage consumed, he leaned towards one of the windows of the bus and threw the empty bottle out onto the road. Whoosh. Pop.

Some hours later, a chipper on the north side. Five young men, awaiting chips and milkshakes. Two have a soccer ball, and are kicking it against the wall of the chipper. From the inside. Three more - a tracksuited shout chap, a whippet-wiry second chap, dressed from toes to chin in Nike gear, the one exception to the uniform being a burberry baseball cap, which looks even more foul in real life than it does on the television. I can't remember what they third guy looked like - he must have passed for a human being.

Burberry goes up to the counter and address one of the staff, a young man trying to make a few quid working in a chipper. This entire address takes a place at the top of the burberry capped one's voice: "Hey you!... Where's me milkshake?... I told ya... it's chocoleh!... Three Euro fifty!... where's me change?... Hurry up, wouldyeh!" The three friends then retired to the front of the chipper, where they watched some character doing wheelies up and down what's left of Fairview Park on what looked like a toy motorcycle.

When I saw the young man nonchalantly throwing his bottle out of the window of the bus, I suddenly remembered one of the chapters of a book written PJ O'Rourke called Holidays in Hell. The book is about visits O'Rourke made in the 1980s to some of the world's then hell-holes, such as El Salavador, Northern Ireland and Eastern Europe. In the chapter I associate with my bottle-disposer of the city imp bus, O'Rourke was in South Africa, as the houseguest of a white South African who was explaining to O'Rourke why it would take years and years for the apartheid system to be dismantled. While they were having their chat, O'Rourke and his host were in the garden, enjoying evening cocktails and a few smokes. O'Rourke noticed that once his South African host had finished his cigarette, he'd just throw away the butt onto his perfectly manicured lawn. O'Rourke couldn't understand it - why keep a lawn so perfectly cut if you're going to litter it with butts? And later the penny dropped for O'Rourke - the South African could chuck his cigarette butts anywhere he pleased because there would always be a kaffir who had to come along and pick them up. That was how the South African apartheid system worked - there was always an underclass to service the needs of luxury for the whites, just as my lucozade refreshed young man clearly believes there is an underclasses - "muppehs," I believe, is the term used in that society for people who are employed in everyday jobs - who will pick up his bottles for him.

Do you remember Leona Helmsley? Ms Helmsley, the so-called "Queen of Mean," was the hotelier who famously quipped that "only little people pay taxes," and who was famously cruel to her employees. If Ms Helmsley was ever to visit Dublin and was overcome with a desire to visit an Italian chipper and enjoy a one-on-one, could she have been any more boorish that the boy in the burberry cap?