A Tale of Two Streets

Dublin is a rich city.

Sometimes I forget how rich this city can be. Right place, right time, fortune makers are no fortune tellers.

I asked a fortune teller once. She had no good news.

So rich, Dublin city.

It is easier to forget than to remember.

I know the grit better than well- groomed hedges. I can’t help it.

I have a bit of time of left.

Dublin can be such a rich girl. Pearls like fists. You know what I mean. Don´t you?

Golden frames, windowpanes, fine teak, true antiques. Big cars. Bigger cars. A Ferrari. A yellow one. Playful, sweetlike. Aren´t we all children sometimes?

Sweet kids, of course. Such a rich city, rich city girls waiting for the car valet.

The men make business, the children breath entitlement, the pavement too, the women look good, sometimes they look even better when the divorce gets through.

I stand there in the rain, window shopping is just another word for waiting. Oil paintings, hunting scenes, the empire is not dead yet. Red coats, dead hogs, a man drinks old sherry. Dublin is a rich girl. Christmas trees, candlelights, button-up or button-down, your so silent rich girl I think, when do you ever speak. I am leaving. Such a rich girl you are I think

I don´t know thing about you. I walk back. It is not a long way.

Just a one way.

One bridge,

Two traffic-lights,

One zebra crossing

Two pharmacies, one deli, one Supervalu later, Dublin is poor again, or at least poorer. Just an ordinary street.

A pizza place.

A Laundromat.

A bakery. Orange brownies. What is not like?

Puddles of all sorts. Water, dirt, puke. It´s Christmas season after all.

All souls.

An ATM machine.

A vegetable shop.

600 metres maybe more, maybe less.

I stop.

They have honeymelons in the window.

They just look like a summer day. A day without shadow. Blasting heat. Hell I am roastin, the Irish say. I am so cold. Always cold. Rain is dripping. I could go and buy one, I want to convince myself here. It is turnip season after all. I have a bad conscience. But the honeymelons, I can smell under my tongue. I look up, suddenly. Why did I look.

A Woman on the street stands somehow awkward at the corner.

She looks cornered. Sometimes my English can´t follow my eyes.

The woman is still there. Standing still. Why is she standing so still? Is cornered actually a word? I forget the honeymelon, I hear a man shout. I am not surprised. Men are shouting all the times. Couples have issues, don’t they? It’s Christmas season after all. Finally I listen. Listen what the man shouts at the woman. The woman, still the same woman, standing there. He shouts, but I don´t, he shouts like a child would, looking for words, but finding any. I takes me a moment, because sometimes I don’t trust me English. Am I getting it wrong? Am I a not? More shouting, louder and louder, and the woman still standing there frozen. It takes another moment until realize that this man and this woman have never met before. She just meets his scorn.

Out of the sudden he jumps forward and grabs her by the arm, drags her with him. A massive lad, he is wearing stained jeans, and cut off bin bags, he has a firm grip at the woman he just shouted at. Finally I grab the woman by her elbow. So cold, I think, my hands are always cold. I want to tell her, I am so sorry for my cold hands. The man is shouting trying to drag the woman with him. Strong this man. A heavy grip, my cold hands are clammy.

Don’t be afraid I want to to tell this woman, but the words do not come. So strong is his grip, I shout, finally two men come to help.

Arab men, vegetable sellers. The honey melon still behind the warm windows. Three pairs of hands finally, the man caves in, all so sudden, we land on the pavement. The vegetable vendors keep the shouting man at bay. So loud, his voice is a boomerang, a grinding piece of metal. The woman cries. A man calls the police. There is a man who grabs women on the street. He fells silent, the police needs twenty minutes. The woman is shaking.

I want to tell her that she will be ok. It is just 6.30pm, this is busy street, but I don’t tell her. I can’t. Your fingers, she whispers are so cold. She covers her ears.

The man throws a beer can at the two men, then he turns around, walks across the street, disappears, is gone. We are still waiting. The woman, the two men and I. We don’t speak. I look back. The street makes a swift left turn, where the street turns left, Dublin is a rich city, grand houses, proper fire places, security alert, fine wreaths, careful measured scorn. Warm windows glowing, silk tapestries, heavy linen, brass plates, velvet curtains. Dublin is a rich city. Sometimes I forget the riches. I don’t buy a watermelon. Count your blessings, the policeman looks so young. The woman shivers.

“Can you tell me what happened?”

It is still raining and my hands are still so cold.

The grocer’s wife won’t have her soup and eat it.

The scene: A small village somewhere in Ireland. A street. A woman in a yellow raincoat enters the grocer’s store. She carries a heavy bag of books and a knapsack on her back ( in the knapsack there are more books). This is the reason why she is known as Miss Read On in the village and beyond. There are more sheep than people in the village and the sheep have constitutional rights. Just so you know. It is however the grocer’s wife who runs the shop and the village. Somtimes that’s the same.

It is half past six and Miss Read who looks slightly ruffled enters the grocer’s store.

Miss Read On: Evening grocer’s wife.

( Miss Read On needs potatoes, milk and baking soda. Miss Read On is not too sure if there is still raspberry jam and yoghurt in the fridge.)

The grocer’s wife: Jesus Read On, I don’t know how you are doing it.

Read On: Doing what, grocer’s wife?

Mrs G: Going up to Dublin every day.

Read On ( slightly distracted because wasn’t it the honey that she used up the other day?) Well, grocer’s wife, we all need to work somewhere.

Mrs G: It’s a mad place. People havin’ no reason. I am tellin ya.The husband and me went to do the last bits of Christmas shopping the other day and ye won’t believe me what happened. By the way got somethin’ very nice for the vet this year.

Read On: Grocer’s wife just so you know the vet won’t be here for Christmas.

The grocer’s wife however is far too agitated to launch a major complaint about the vet’s absensce- for now.

Mrs G: We’ll be talkin about that Miss Read On.

Read On: The flights are booked grocers’s wife.

Mrs G: The last word is not yet spoken on this matter. Will ye let me tellin ye what happened in Dublin, will ye?

Read On: I will grocer’s wife.

Mrs G: Jesus, I find it hard to believin it meself. So we did our shopping. Getting some really nice stuff, ye know. So I said to me husband, let’s grab a bite to eat. So off we went to a café, ye know. Meal deal, ye know needin a rhyme the Dubliners for everythin. Feelin’ like Mr Joyce himself. ( The grocer’s wife chuckles.)

So we sat down. Me sayin’ to the waitress. What soup are ye havin today? The girl said Pea soup with ham. Haven’t had pea soup for ages ye know. Me said: “We are havin’ the soup with bread and butter. Off went the girl. We’ve been waiting ye know. No bother. Finally she came with the soup, ye know. Me took a mouthful. Jeus, Read On I nearly spat the soup out. Ice cold soup, I swear on me mum. Ice-cold soup, I ma tellin ye. I said to the girl: Are ye havin no shame serving an ice-cold soup. Won’t belivin me what she said: Its our specialty, cold pea soup. We won a prize for the soup last year. Never have had single complaint. Would ye believe that Read On, would ye believe that?

Red On: Hard to believe, grocer’s wife.

Mrs G: Jesus, I’d give her a lashin’, if I had a thing to say in that café. I told her, to stop tellin me that nonsense. Will ye warm up the soup I told her, we are not havin all day to sit around, ye know. Jesus Read On, these Dublin girls don’t know how to work. Just lookin out for a fella, ye knew. It is shameful. Just lookin out for the fellas. Would ye imagine she was warmin’ up the soup in a microwave. Would ye belive that. Heatin‘ up soup in a microwave. Me sayin to the girl: Have ye forgotten what a pot is for, here in Dublin? I told her do ye not know that a soup needs to boil? Jesus, Read On, ye wouldn’t believe how she was lookin at me. Didn’t have a clue. Didn’t even know that a soup needs to boil. Imaging all the germs swimming in the soup. All these germs freely floatin’ because these Dubliners don’t know a thing. It is disgusting, I tell ye. Don’t even get me started on the ham. This was no ham, I am tellin’ ye, that was a disgrace. That’s what they are servin ye in Dublin cafés, Miss Read On. It is a shame.

Miss Read On is still unsure what to do about the raspberry preserve. Or was it the apricot preserve she used while baking the other day?

Mrs G: I am tellin ye, this was the worst lunch me ever had in me life. So the husband and I drove back home and I tellin ye, we had a scone and we had cream with the scone and we had cold meats for dinner and I am tellin ye, we won’t be back to Dublin anytime soon.

Read On: Grocer’s wife, I need six eggs as well please.

Grocer’s wife: Six eggs, sure, I’ll give ye six eggs.

Read On pays her groceries. See you, grocer’s wife.

Grocer’s wife:  Servin’cold soup. I am asking ye, will they ever stop behaving like animals up in Dublin?

I really don’t know how ye are doin it.

The kids? Oh,the kids are just doing fine.

Dear Irish mummies, dear Irish daddys,

do you know your children? Sometimes I wonder and you may wonder why I am asking you. Whenever I meet you, you’ re telling me: “The kids do grand.” Great kids you all have: they all are superstars, daddy’s little princess, mummy’s good boy. Just the best. Outperformers in school, on the pitch, even at home. Really the kids do great. You tell me. Tell more about it. Summer camp in Florida, and Christmas in Connemara, mummy is the school shuttle, daddy does barbecue, the kids do so appreciate. We trust them. No worries. Apple of our eye. “It’s a shame you don’t have kids” you are telling me. I don’t know. Maybe and maybe not. Your kids are private school kids, you just want the very best. They will be investment bankers, youtube superstars, or lawyers in a few years time. Sometimes I wish I would meet your children, but I never do. Whenever I meet your children and I unfortunately do quite often, I meet kids but they never seem to be the children you are having such a great time with.

I live in a rundown village. In the rundown village ahead of my rundown village, a rundown hotel is running parties for children like yours. Great kids, I know. You have money and the kids have a great night out. You remember how you once fumbled a woman you can’t remember behind the bins. But a great night out it was. You remember puking behind the bushes, but oh my, the fun we had. You don’t remember the skinny kid with pimples anymore you kicked around like a coke can. But oh my, these were the golden days, weren’t they? Your kids deserve such greatness too and this I when I meet your kids. I left work late last night and the last train was gone ( we have a great public transport here in Ireland, just great!) and I took the bus home. When I got on the bus, the bus was empty and I was so relieved. I didn’t last long though. Your kids were coming. Your children came and this was it. My quiet night was gone. Yeah, I know I am such a loser. I have always been. Your kids did great. Shouting and bitchin around. Fuck me bae say your kids and they snigger. The bae was an old Irish granny, the bae was staring on the floor, your kids were opening Lucozade bottles. Smellin’ like champagne? Oh that pussy smells good, are your kids shouting. The Irish granny leaves. Your kids are delighted. They shout: “What a pussy.” Fuckin’ pussy.” Your kids wear Michael Kors handbags, ADIDAS rucksacks, skinny jeans and fake tan. Glitter in the face and a shitface on the phone. So funny. Your kids are really humorous. Your kids open their handbags and rucksacks. The open Listerine bottles are full of vodka. So yummy. “Bitch be humble” do they shout. They mean me. Your boys are drinking beer. Bottle after bottle, great kids don’t you think? Just fifteen and drinking straight. Really men. The girls drink the hard stuff. Girls always worry. Beer has so many calories, and nobody wants to fat fuck fat girls, don’t you know that? This is why there are no fat kids on the bus anymore. They got off the moment your kids get on the bus. Better leave before it is too late, they are smart kids, too. “Bitch you better holin’ up, are your kids shouting.” They still mean me. Are you talking like that at home? When you are having dinner do you shout: “Hey bitch get me a piece of bread, please. Thank you very much bitch, I appreciate bitch”. I wonder, because it comes so easy to them. “Nobody is going to fuck a bitch like you”, are your kids telling me. “You better sit down” that is what I am saying to a son of yours stumbling after can number ten. He is not too grateful. The bus is packed with your kids, drinking, swearing, singing, having a great time. “Get the fuck off me,” shouts a girl. Your son doesn’t listen. So the bus drives on. Your kids are getting more and more drunk and I wonder how you do at home. Are you getting drunk there as well night after night? Are beer bottles littering your kitchen and do you throw wine bottles through your living room? Your kids do. They are throwing beer bottles through the bus, they are throwing beer bottles out of the throwing bus. So funny! So talented, so gifted, so inventive are your kids! Who would have thought that? Have you ever been hit by a beer bottle? I have been. Last night on the bus, straightfaced, your kids did. Not a moment of consideration. “Be bold”, is this what you tell your children? Is this how you do it at home? Is this how you live?

Your kids are shoutin: CUNT. They mean me. Look at this cunt they say and they sing. She is just a fuckin cunt. Is this how it is? Do you talk like this? Do you say: “Pass me the bread, cunt! Sleep well, cunt. Have a great day cunt, please call me back cunt?2 Is this how you do. Your children are pissed by now. They are singing: “Paki, go home, Paki, go home. You’re a feckin Paki bitch.” Is this what you teach your children? Is this you telling them that just the Irish and only the Irish are great people? The rest is just scum? Do you tell your children that they have every right to shout: “Feckin Paki bitch” at everyone they suspect of not being born and raised south of Tipperary? I have fond memories of Pakistan, I have none of your kids. Your children laugh and shout at me and I wonder, what do you know about your children at all? I don’t have children. I don’t know how much time one has as a parent to clear the essentials. You had maybe fifteen or sixteen years. It is painful being with your children, they are abusive, shameless, violent and cruel. When I was sixteen years old and not in a great shape, a loser, a ‘losin feckin Paki bitch’ as your kids would say, she said: “Stop looking for excuses my child.” I did. She was right. What excuses do your children have? Or do you think they are right?

Do you want to know how the story ended? I got up and accompanied by a chorus of your children shouting: “The Paki bitch is leavin’ fuck, fuck, fuck. We fucked the Paki bitch,” I went down to the bus driver.

I said: “Hiya, I am really sorry, but please do stop the bus.” The bus driver did. I said: “Do you want to call the police or shall I do?”

The bus driver said: “I do.”

Fifteen minutes later- your children were still shouting relentlessly- the police came and it was silent. I just realized I was holding my breath. The police was quite nice. They were looking like in the movies. They were good with your kids and your kids had to leave the bus. One of the policemen said to me: “I am sorry this is not how it should be.” I said: “You know this is just how it is. This is Ireland. These are your children.”

I left the bus and walked home. Your kids were having a great night anyway, I have no doubt about that.

As ever,

Your Read On


Das Fräulein Read On ist missgestimmt

Die Busfahrer streiken. Das ist ihr gutes Recht. Der politische Wille, der so stark ist, wenn es um Vorteile für Konzerne geht, die keine Steuern zahlen, aber steuerfinanzierte Infrastruktur nutzen ist sehr, ist sehr schwach wenn es um die Rechte von Busfahrern, Krankenschwestern und Müllmännern geht. Sie zählen nicht und die Busfahrer fahren seit acht Jahren längere Schichten für den gleichen niedrigen Lohn. Alle Räder stehen still/ wenn Dein starker Arm es will. Die Platte auf dem Plattenspieler meines Großvaters knarzte, aber gemerkt habe ich es mir doch. Mein Großvater hatte eine Schwäche für Arbeiterlieder und vor allem für Hanns Eisler. Meine Großmutter sah beides nicht gern. Ich wippte auf seinen Knien. Das Dorf aber ist abgehängt. Der Tierarzt, der mich mit zur Bahn nehmen wollte, kommt nicht. Ich rufe ihn an. Er nimmt nicht ab. Die Uhr tickt schneller. Das Fahrrad hat einen Platten. Zweiter Versuch beim Tierarzt. Wieder nur Stille. Ich laufe los. Fünfeinhalb Kilometer sind es vom Dorf zur Bahnstation. Ich fluche, die Eichen halten sich die Ohren zu. Die Gräser am Wiesenrand zittern vor Furcht. Ich zähle mitleidlos alle Abendessen, gebackenen Kuchen ( 32!!), Hundebetreuungen und alle anderen Dinge auf, die mir der Tierarzt heute schuldig bleibt. Nie wieder schwöre ich mir, lade ich den Tierarzt auch nur auf ein Butterbrot ein. Ich bin so kleinmütig und hässlich wie es nur geht. Es geht sehr gut. Natürlich fährt der Zug mir vor der Nase weg. Die Milch im Kaffeebecher ist sauer geworden. Eine Distel hängt in meinen Haaren und lässt sich nur schwer entfernen. Ich verfluche auch sie. Im Zug gegenüber probiert eine Frau sehr ausgiebig den Gebrauch von Zahnseide aus. Das Buch welches ich gerade lese, liegt mir schwer  im Magen. Im Büro sind Bauarbeiter, die laut schmatzend Breakfast Rolls verzehren, der Geruch des Schinkens macht mir Übelkeit. Weiteratmen. Ich trinke grünen Tee, der mir viel bitterer als sonst vorkommt. Die B. versetzt mich. Ich esse bei eine rote Linsensuppe bei Blazing Salads, die wie flüssiger Ketchup schmeckt. Natürlich fische ich Selleriestücke aus der Suppe. Dieser alte Erzfeind musste mir natürlich heute auch noch begegnen. Schlimmes Heimweh nach Delhi. Jetzt bei Frau Rajasthani in der Küche sitzen und Paneer, scharfes Dhal und Naan Brot essen. Mir von Aunty über die Haare streichen lassen, bevor sie mir alles über die Nachbarn im zweiten Stock erzählt. Niemand kennt die Geheimnisse der Nachbarn so gut wie Aunty in Neu-Delhi und die Frau des Krämer’s im kleinen irischen Dorf. Der Apfel, den ich stattdessen esse, ist innen faul. Alle anderen Frauen, denen ich begegne sind wunderschön. Ich bin es nicht. Der Zug zurück ist zum Bersten gefüllt. Eine Ansammlung müder Pendlersardinen fährt durch den Regenschleier. Fünfeinhalb Kilometer laufe ich von der Bahnstation zurück in das Dorf. Das Wasser schwappt mir aus den Schuhen.


Heimweg oder Ländliche Idylle Irlands

Von weitem sehe ich schon die Frau des Krämers winken: „Read on sagt sie, der Tierarzt hat diesen Blumenstrauß für Sie abgeben. Mit dem allerletzten Rest an Selbstbeherrschung, den ich aufbringen kann, nehme ich den Blumenstrauß nicht und pfeffere ihn auch nicht vor ihren Augen in den Mülleimer, sondern ich schüttle den Kopf und sage zuckersüß: „Nein, Frau des Krämers, der Strauß ist für sie und nicke bekräftigend. Dann, denn meine Beherrschung ist ein sehr dünner Faden, dann verlasse ich ihr Geschäft ohne mich auch nur einmal umzusehen und ignoriere ihr stetes Rufen sehr erfolgreich. Als ich die Tür aufschließe, werfe ich der Katze einen scharfen Blick zu, die Katze versteht sofort und springt vom Tisch. Natürlich hat sie die Reste des Pflaumenkuchens der abgedeckt auf der Fensterbank stand, gefressen. Aber ich sage nichts mehr, sondern huste missmutig in ihre Richtung. Dann endlich ziehe ich die nassen Schuhe aus. Das Klingeln des Telefons indes ignoriere ich geflissentlich.

Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland(X)


It can’t be helped, I am afraid.

Sometimes things change over night. Especially when living in Ireland. You can go asleep thinking of not much more than you need to buy washing powder and in the morning you hear on the radio that Apple owes 13 Billion Euros in tax return to the little island in the Western Atlantic. The grocer’s wife has heard so too. “Oh Read On”, she sighs „I could use a bit of that money to get a new refrigerator for the shop.“ I nod in full agreement. But I won’t tell you what she said about the Irish government not wanting that money. But better it would be fro Enda Kenny not entering the shop of the grocer’s wife. However I am drifting away, because many things stay exactly the same. The weather ( grey and drizzle ) and of course the food in the canteen. I can reassure you, it is as strange as ever. A more warm welcome to the bleak realities you face as a non-pork eater in Ireland could hardly be possible. The sign reads: “Three bean-curry with rice.” I was scratching my head. This really does sound suspicious. But only the brave and the very hungry will make it through and so I nodded when the sweet canteen lady passed me the plate. Here ya go darlin’. Here she goes. The beans turned out to be chickpeas and whites beans, which had been too long in the pot and were burnt black. Even when searching forceful with my fork I couldn’t detect a third species. The beans came- remember some things just stay the same- with celery, onions, reminders of red peppers and zucchini. The sauce reminded from afar of a mixture of baked bean sauce spiced up with Tabasco. I am sparing you the details. I hate wasting food but here I gave up. The half-burnt beans were just that tiny bit too much. “Its all bonkers” as the grocer’s wife would put it, but these are her words of course not mine.

What? Three bean curry with rice.

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Only halfway.

Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland (IX)

IMG_4513 (1).jpg

You all are dead right. I neglected my duty of showing you and the world the wonders of the vegetarian option in the canteen. I know I deserve your quizzical brows and disappointed looks, but here we go again. You can see nothing has changed. Today the cook decided to finally use up all zucchini someone must have ordered without knowing what to do with them further. So may the non-pork eaters suffer from an zucchini overload, as long as it not us ,it is fine. The cook quite optimistically called the dish: „Vegetarian curry with rice“ as if exoticism ever helped to disguise blunt failure. Mrs Rajasthani, Queen of the curry would just snort angrily and dismiss the whole idea of this dish being even a close relative of an Indian curry. Unfortunately, Delhi and Mrs Rajasthani are far away and on a drizzle Dublin Tuesday, this is what you get. Vegetables discovered: chickpeas, zucchini ( loads of them ), a few pieces of green pepper, a fizzle of red pepper, onions, sour aubergines and of course my old and best enemy: celery. The curry sauce was surprisingly hot, even if I could not make out any spices. Maybe the cook just has a big jar standing next to him called „indifferent spice for various purposes“ use carefully. But what do I know about such matters? The book by the way, whose cover matches so stunningly with the colour of the dish is about 17th century vermilion making. What a coincidence!

What? Vegetable Curry with rice.

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? It can’t be helped, can’t it?

12 of 12, Ireland edition. A day in pictures

I take a shower. How very exciting.

I don’t like Porridge very much. But I don’t have enough time either.

We call it summer and sigh deeply. Welcome to Ireland.

We have to get some work done.

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College Green #dublin #ireland🍀 #12v12 #5v12 #12von12

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Here comes the sun.

Immigrants made Europe. There is no but.

We need more coffee.

There are so many great female writers to discover

I love these trainers. That’s not too important tough.

I am so tired but I made a new friend.


I always have cold feet but I believe in the power of sheep-wool

More and I assume more exciting days you can find at Draußen nur Kännchen.


Everybody seems to be exhausted. The priest is exhausted because he is all alone in the parish and Easter has been an especially demanding time. The vet is exhausted because of the lambing season, which began recently. The grocer’s wife complains of her aching back as she usually does at this time of the year. She swears to give up this bloody business: meaning the shop. The shop that is otherwise known as the apple of her eye. I mumble soothing words. Queen Cat is exhausted of three days of constant rain. Queen she is, she utterly despises wet feet. I am exhausted of a long night-shift and a couple of other things I am too tired to name. The priest sighs. Queen Cat yawns and the vet falls asleep on the sofa before I even lit the fire. The grocer’s wife complains about her daughter. ( Things with the electrician which had begun so promising last autumn have cooled down recently.) I mumble soothing words while buying another broccoli for today’s supper. Two hours later two miserable men chew veal and dismiss the broccoli. Queen Cat scratches me badly because I dismiss her from the table. I said it before I am not happy to cook without being praised for my efforts. But today I am out of luck. The vet gets up, still chewing and leaves for the lambs. The priest gets up not much later returning to urgent church matters. Queen Cat pretends she doesn’t know me and I am all on my own with cleaning the dishes. Next Sunday I swear the, the kitchen will remain cold. I am exhausted but then I remember that there is homemade vanilla pudding in the fridge and a fruit-salad in the pantry. Then I close the door and when the phone rings and I see the vet’s number blinking on the screen I pretend not to notice. I too, have learnt from Queen Cat.

St. Sylvester

Getting up early is crucial. So I get up when the dark still lingers around the corner. But I know better: if you want to get away on the 17th you have to be early. I feed the cat and put on the heavy boots. These boots are made for walking. Yes, they are. The door shuts quietly behind me. Shush. The village is sound asleep. I turn right and face to my left the church St. Sylvester. I quickly pass the grocer’s wife shop and cross a smaller street, turn left and soon I am at the seafront. Above my head the sun rises, being all glitter and gold. From the distance of the shore the village looks even smaller than it is. It is not quite sure if the vast, open sea makes the village shrink or the towers of the church, St. Sylvester. Soon the buses full of tourists who booked a tour for St. Patrick’s Day will arrive, first roaming around the village before they are driven into Dublin to get drunk, as it is a tradition for this day of the year. I am not too fond of their presence. They leave the beer cans they emptied on the bus in my frontyard and think it funny to throw their cigarette butts into all our letterboxes. Happy St. Paddy’s day or so. They don’t care about the village, they hastily wolf down their breakfast and don’t look up to the silent towers of St. Sylvester. They click their photos and miss the point but that doesn’t matter for the people in Italy, France or Spain, who receive a message and look at my front- door probably wondering why a door should be the image conveyed of rural Ireland by their children. But I am long gone. I already went past the willow and nodded hello to the sheep. The sheep look back subtle and silent and not much disturbed. Crisp is the morning, silent and cold. But the rising sun, promises warmth and the spring can not be far away. I carefully swing my feet over an iron gate and wander along a narrow path that leads up to the former house of the former earl. The earl died a couple of years ago, said the grocer’s wife, who knows such things. Sometimes tourists are asking how to get to the castle and the park. But the villagers just shrug their shoulders. Even the grocer’s wife, who can’t keep a secret at all, makes a face and says: “Don’t know what you are talking about.” It took me half a year, when finally the grocer himself told me the way to the castle. It is not only a narrow path that leads up there, but a complicated one, with many corners to miss and soon you find yourself at a dead-end. “Always watch out for the cross at the top of St. Sylvester” said the grocer back then. But twice I lost sight of the church and didn’t find the castle nor the park. But maybe the castle decides who is allowed in and who not, what does one know about such things? The grocer’s wife said: The old earl was a sweet man, g*d bless him. A shame that he had no wife to look after him. Died of sadness, said the grocer’s wife and sighed deeply. The castle is silently sleeping but the lawn in front of it is wide awake. A sea of daffodils spreads out as far as your eye reaches. Here a blackbird wanders through the grass and there a seagull bathes in the sun. The old yew trees are humming their old song and the sun is all glitter and gold. I sit there and close my eyes. I think of the old earl sitting behind the windows, maybe patting an old greyhound or a black cat. Maybe not that unhappy at all as the grocer’s wife thought him to be, just carefully hiding before the eyes of the world. I walk around the park for a good while and before I get back to the village I search for the upmost top of St. Sylvester, the guide back to the world. When arriving at the main street of the village, the tourists are queuing up in front of the busses and the grocer’s wife calls out to me, : “I saved you some Scones.” When walking further down the road, I pass the open church door’s: the priest is preparing the church for a concert and carefully adjusts a blue banner: LENT is written on it in white letters. Hiya, I say and half an hour later we sit in my garden, with tea and the scones, the big black garbage bags to be filled with the visitor’s leftover’s in a minute, facing directly, because the church and my house share a long stone wall, the tower of St. Sylvester, silent and staunch and high above us mortals.

Cold. So cold. So very, very cold.

In a room there sits a woman. The room is spacious and were there more light in Ireland than there is, it would be quite bright. Inside the room it is warm, not to say it is boiling hot. The books are sweating, the papers piled up high on the woman’s desk seem to breath  heavily and even the paper clips seem to melt away in a minute. The pencils look horrified and whisper something of: complaint at the High Court for Pencil Rights otherwise we will die of heat. When the woman looks at them, they fall silent and pretend that there is nothing wrong at all. The woman at her desk however does not sweat. The woman shivers. She is ice-cold. The grey- rosa scarf doesn’t seem to help. The woman shivers stronger. There is a big cup standing next to woman filled with boiling hot peppermint tea. But the woman can not stop her teeth from rattling. But the woman keeps on shivering. If you would look under her desk, you could see that the woman wears thick dark green woolen tights over her thick woolen dress. Looking even closer you could see that the woman wears thick grey woolen socks within her Timberland boots. ( of course it is not too nice to look under a woman’s desk to inspect the state of her legs and feet.) But not even the socks stop the woman from shivering. She feels as if she would hold her feet into a pond of ice-water. The woman at her desk is freezing as if she never would feel warm in her life again. For five minutes or so, the woman closed her eyes. She imagined many, many sheep climbing up the stairs and walking into her office, surrounding her and keeping her covered in a sea of warm and thick wool, where she could forget the cold and float away warm and comfortable and sheltered in the midst of the sheep.But the the telephone rings and the cold, which never left is back.