Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Frozen Dublin: Pratfalls and Snowballs

The Mountjoy Hotel, North Circular RoadThe city of Dublin is frozen tonight, like one great block of ice. An Spailpín had to walk home through it, the buds in Dublin Bus having taken one look out the canteen window, shivered, and returned to their cards. Allegedly.

There’s no way between Hell and Bethlehem they’re gritting that in time for the commute to work tomorrow. The RTÉ news site is reporting that the Corpo owes five gritting trucks. The greater Dublin area covers an area of three hundred and fifty square miles. How fast can a gritting truck go? Do the math and draw your own conclusions.

The best thing the citizens can do tonight is to visit their whiskey shelves and make a few hot ones, congratulating themselves on being at home in the first place. When An Spailpín heard a bud from Dublin Bus or the Corpo or some other class of stonecutter telling Matt Cooper on Today FM that Dublin Bus were going to “make a call” on whether they’d take gritters out tonight and get the public transport system back up, or snuggle up in bed and take a jolly good go at it first thing in the morning, your faithful quillsman realised that his boots were made for walkin’, and set off into the night.

And considered himself lucky to do so. The traffic was making no progress whatsoever. Crossing the streets it was clear that the roads were sheer ice, and haste would be made slowly. Very, very slowly.

the snowball thrower's pater, no doubtBut I made it home safely, with only one incident of note. As An Spailpín trudged up Poplar Road towards the crossroads at glamorous Summerhill Parade, I espied some youths of the locality preparing snowballs.

One of them, a rangy welterweight, stepped forward and let fly for a bus (an out of service bus, of course, but recognisably a bus nonetheless). An Spailpín noted that he aimed for the cabin, where the driver sits, and realised aha! These are the disaffected urban poor of whom Joe Higgins, Fintan O’Toole, Vincent Browne and others speak so eloquently.

As Fintan himself might say, the projecting of the snowball was in fact the projection of a greater truth; from this simple action we can draw a metric, if you will, that expresses this young man’s inarticulate yet wonderfully expressive rage at the bus, which he sees, not as nineteen tonnes of Volvo B9TL with Alexander Dennis Enviro500 bodywork, but an expression of the cruel and faceless power structures that imprison him in Summerhill, born to bloom unseen, forgotten about by the heartless metropolis. Take that, says the snowball thrower, as the missile smashes home against driver's window! I’m a man! I rage, I rage, against the driving in the night!

And then the second snowball hit your correspondent on the right cheek, just above the line of An Spailpín's current unusually elaborate whiskers. As I walked on, cheek stinging from the snow, ice and grit, it became clear that the bombardiers were perhaps not disenfranchised urban youth striking with poetic and symbolic beauty against the insignia of the cruel capitalist oppressor, but rather democrats like myself, who view all targets as equal sources of feckless amusement. Sigh.

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