In Dublin’s Fair City …
which is where I was on Sunday and Monday. And it was a truly enlightening experience. Not because it was new – I’ve been to Dublin half a dozen times in my life, sometimes work, sometimes pleasure, usually a mixture of the two – but because I was travelling with my son, and his Dublin turned out to be a very different place to mine.
You see, I reckoned I knew Dublin pretty well, particularly the parks and gardens, which I’ve researched in some depth. But Kai’s Dublin opened up new areas of the city, and new experiences, and gave me a completely fresh perspective on the place I thought I knew so well.
First – there isn’t a damn pub in the city that plays live music and allows under 21s in. So my usual practice of buying a glass of Guinness in a couple of bars and listening to music didn’t work – and that was a total pain because one of the reasons we went to Dublin was for Kai to experience some traditional Irish music. I’d never thought of the city centre as being ageist, but after we passed two pubs with ‘over-23’s only’ signs on the door, I really began to wonder …
Second – if you’re a woman alone in Dublin, you get talked to all the time. Not just be men who hit on you, although they do, but by everybody. If one of you is six feet tall, male and has long hair, that level of craic just doesn’t happen. I walked through Dublin with Kai in a kind of bubble … normally I complain about how often I end up trapped in conversations with male drunks or elderly women who want to tell me the history of the city, but not once did we have that happen this time.
Third – we went to different places and saw different things. Usually my practice is to say hello to Joyce (aka the prick with the stick) and Molly (the tart with the cart) on my way round the city, to wave at Wilde through the railings but to eat my lunch sat next to Eire. This time we found completely new statues, in totally different places, which was really the purpose of our visit because Kai wanted to visit his hero – Phil Lynott. (That’s me with Thin Lizzy’s lead man by the way – and yes, he is gorgeous close up!)
What it all added up to was this. Seeing the place through another’s eyes completely changed my perspective. So it is with writing – the Dublin I would have written about before Sunday didn’t have all these extra resonances and layers, some good, some bad. It’s as if I’d been forced to change genre, write Dublin in my head as a road novel not a domestic drama, and in that enforced rewriting, I saw different truths. Amazing. Quite frightening in a way, to see how blinkered we can be by our own experience. But very interesting … I think I can see something here I want to turn into a story.