Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Dublin Cabbie Dreams of the Dear Old Days Gone By

Sunday evening in snowy Dublin, and An Spailpín Fánach is on his way home from the rugby. I hail a cab on Shelbourne Road and direct the chariot to the Northside. Off we go.

We go past the turn off Pearse Street for the new bridge but An Spailpín passes no remarks. Opinions vary about being quicker along the quays or up the NCR. Nothing’s going to be quick today as the snow falls relentlessly. An Spailpín isn’t too bothered.

And then the cabbie gets talking. Was I at the rugby? How much were the tickets? Jaysus, that’s a lot to pay for a ticket. Well, I mean to say!

And he had a point. An Spailpín got them half-price, thanks to a deal run by the pragmatic Leinster Branch during the week, but the cover price of ninety Euros was shocking. No questions there.

The driver has moved on to the weather as we crawl up Pearse Street. I remark that the Nitelinks were cancelled on Saturday, leaving the citizens – whom Dublin Bus is meant to serve, after all – high and not-so-dry in the snow on Saturday night.

“Ah yeah,” says my man. “It was just like the good old days. I was doing Connolly Station, around there, and you could see the people going up the North Strand looking for a cab to get home.”

It's like listening to The Wolf wondering why Little Red Riding Hood didn’t come around here no more. I remember those good old days too, queuing for hours with drunks and ne’er-do-wells at College Green. We had made it to Tara Street by now, and were at a dead stop.

“This looks bad,” said the charioteer. “Will we go up Gardiner Street? What do you think?”

“Hold on,” replied your correspondent, hackles raised nicely. “If we were going up Gardiner Street, why didn’t we go across the new bridge? What’s the point in looping around?”

“Well, there’s a slope on Gardiner Street. I was worried about getting stuck, and I didn’t think the quays would be this bad.”

And I’ve got a mug here who’ll shell out ninety bills for a rugby ticket and fancies a tour of the docks, suspects the cynical Spailpín Fánach.

“A slope? On Gardiner Street? Look, you’re right. We’d better not chance it. Let me out here.”

The taxi-driver is shocked by this. “Are you sure? I don’t mind.”

“I know well you don’t mind,” said An Spailpín Fánach, the truest word uttered by either of us during the trip, “but I don’t want to take a chance with that oul’ slope. I’m better off taking a bus.”

I got out at Beresford Place, paid him his legal due, and left a €0.00 tip. And then I trudged on through the sludge and snow, west and north in the city on the way home. Yet strangely content all the same, thinking of the dear old days of the Dublin taxi driver and how, whatever else happens, those days are gone forever and will have no tears shed after them.