Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Ruddy nosed men jabber and joke and wink and swear. They have sprigs of green pinned to the stained lapels of their shapeless black suit jackets, which have long since parted company with the trousers they once matched. Worn beneath the jacket is the ubiquitous V-neck jumper or GAA jersey: the insignia of Wexford, Kilkenny, Clare, Limerick are just a few on show. I’m wedged between the bar and a gang of four hollering away in their mother tongue. One tufty-eared gent peels away to gobble down his boiled bacon and cabbage, washing it down with savage gulps of lager. Dennis Taylor is greeted with a boozy cheer as Irish sporting heroes of yesteryear flash up on the big screen. A large group of girls wearing green ‘Kiss Me’ t-shirts sit in front of the stage, breaking mid-sentence to fend off amorous advances from all-comers. One girl leans forward revealing a shimmering emerald thong rising patriotically from the arse of her jeans. With a final swig the band strike up and we all sing along to The Fields of Athenrye. Shoulder to shoulder we sway, which has as much to do with the Guinness as it does the music. If you hadn’t already guessed, it’s St Patrick’s Day. And I’m in an Irish pub in Finsbury Park. Just as I’m thinking about going to the toilet Belle of Belfast City jolts the dance floor to life. Draining my glass I weave my way through the kicking feet, past the unsmiling landlord keeping a watchful eye out for trouble at the end of the bar. My nose wrinkles the instant I step into the toilets. I push open the door to the cubicle. The toilet seat is down and liberally sprinkled in wee. As is the floor. I can only assume whoever is responsible was attempting to draw a shamrock in the toilet bowl. There’s no way I can use this toilet. The clean up operation required would be on a par with those after the floods of last year. I fear sandbags might be necessary. These Irish may know how to throw a good party, but they sure as hell can’t piss straight. I’m going to have to go home. I make my way back through the bar as the band begins to play Dirty Old Town. How appropriate I think to myself.