From Pillar to Post

Last Saturday I went, for the fourth time, to the Inkslingers Creative Writing Workshop in the Irish Writers Centre, and I finally worked up the courage to read out what I’d written. They laughed, though not as often as I’d hoped, and were all very complimentary about it.

The theme was to imagine a person from about 100 years ago arriving today on OConnell Street, Dublin’s main street, and writing about the changes he would find. We were to start with “Standing outside the GPO I couldn’t believe what I saw…”

Unfortunately most of the places mentioned on the street will mean very little to any of you, as indeed will J.M. Synge, the person I chose simply so that I could make the joke about the shifts, but since the first thing I’ve ever written and then read to a live audience posting it here anyway…..     

Then ...

Standing outside the GPO I couldn’t believe what I saw. The number of taxis, to start with. They used to be a rare sighting, the motorised equivalent of Bigfoot, now they lined up all along the street, hunting in packs.

The Savoy Cinema across the road had eight film listed. Plainly films are much shorter these days if they can fit so many onto one screen in one day.

There were cafes, all luridly coloured and selling something called “fast food”. Everything came with fries. I couldn’t believe that if you ordered, say, chicken nuggets (a part of the chicken that they didn’t sell when I was last here) they would give you a side-order of a fry as well.

I saw a shop called “Anne Summers”. One of my plays once had riots at it because I referred to “ladies in their shifts”. Shifts have apparently got shorter since then.

... and now

McDowell’s the Happy Ring House was still there. So was Clery’s clock. Nelson’s Pillar was taller and narrower than I remembered it, but at least it was still there too.

A group of people were sitting at little tables outside a bar, smoking. At least we Dubliners still drink as much as we used to, I thought, there must be no room inside.

And it was these people that astonished me most. A couple were speaking in what I thought were the thickest Kerry accents I’d ever heard, until I realised that they were speaking Polish.

There were blacks and Asians among the Irish, a sight you’d never have seen in my time. And they all seemed to fit in, to be accepted, and to be friends.

I realised that I liked this Dublin better.

And that’s that. Tomorrow’s post will make in-jokes about my kitchen, which none of you have ever seen either.

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5 thoughts on “From Pillar to Post

  1. kateshrewsday

    My ind of post, Tinman, as I’m sure you’ll have guessed. i shall have to read this a few times: I have never been where you describe and that painting is so tantalising…

    Reply
  2. Tilly Bud

    Well done for being so brave! I know how horrible it is to read your own work out and I still sweat thinking about it. I hope you’ll keep doing it.

    Reply

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