Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rain on the Tyne

Durham CathedralDurham Cathedral
Newcastle was the scene of the crime last weekend, the particular felony being Justin's stag's weekend (great to see a 'night' become a 'weekend'). For all of you chomping at the bit for juicy gossip, I am a firm believer in what goes on tour stays on tour, except of course where that applies to my own touring. In the interests of a future happy marriage then I will keep my account brief and to the point.
Some maniac decided that the best way to kickstart proceedings was to book a 6.25 flight, that is a.m.. Given that I rarely sleep before 2, and that the taxi company refused to pick me up any later than 4, sleep was not an option. I got out to Dublin Airport at 4.20 and was shocked at the lunacy that seemed to drive millions of tourists to travel at this ungodly hour and clog up the departure hall. One of our number was already there, Seb, and he had been there since 3.40. He claimed to be a night owl and if he had hooted and ascended on wings to the airport roof I would not have been surprised. Unnatural. Actually a claim to be a night bird, coupled with his arrival time, probably would have been sufficient cause to have him committed. I just stood there grumbling darkly and cursing the day airplanes, or early mornings, were invented. The others arrived in dribs and drabs until, after I had consumed bad coffee and a Toffeecrisp doughnut, all 29 of us were present and correct. Check-in was quick and painless, but the queue to security was dangerously long and slow. Were it not that the Ryanair flight was obligingly delayed, we might not have made boarding (and we all know how obliging Ryanair are when it comes to letting latecomers onboard). The upshot of it all was that we left a Hen party to the Edinburgh flight and arrived in Newcastle before 8.
A coach had been hired to bring us to Durham, home town of Ian, the organiser of things, I believe. Ian had gone over the night before (no early morning for him!) and greeted us when, after our driver got lost, we finally pulled up in the city centre. With him was his father, Dennis. Although Durham famously has a cathedral, I think 'city' is too grandiose a term for what is really a very lovely large town. Whatever way you label it, it still had a Wetherspoons pub and that's where we went for beer and breakfast.
After beer and breakfast we went on a brief sight-seeing tour, the principal sight being of course the cathedral. Unfortunately Friday 29th was graduation day for the university's students and the conferral was held in the cathedral, so we could not explore the it fully. Nevertheless we did get to see the treasures of St Cuthbert, including the 1300 year old wooden coffin that once held his remains (with its mixture of Roman and Runic script). Will, James, Dennis and I were the only ones to take in these particular attractions as the others had all followed Ian to his favourite boozer. We joined them.
The rest of the weekend was a succession of pubs and clubs. That Friday, after most of us got separated, my particular group ended up in Buffalo Joe's, a Western themed club, with bargirls in cowboy hats and bikinis. Upstairs was a mechanical bucking bronco Seb seemed determined to tame. I got on once but allowed myself to fall off pretty promptly; was there any point in getting unpleasantly spun round with beer inside you? Later outside I got some curry chips. Typically the one chip my drink-addled fingers let fall dawdled yellowly all down the front of my shirt. To bed at 3.45.
I made up some of the sleep I had missed staying in bed until a knock on my door at 12 told me the taxis were waiting down stairs. I took my time anyhow. A lot of pool players were still there when I finally did get downstairs.
More bars. Ian's brother, Keith, came up from London to join in, and his father came along too.
In the evening some of us felt like a sit-down meal and went to Pinochio's Italian Restaurant. Being Saturday evening, we had to wait twenty minutes or so before getting seats (beside a Northern Irish hen party, I might add). That was understandable and acceptable. What wasn't acceptable was the waiting to have our order taken, then served. It was an hour and twenty minutes before we got our starter, garlic bread made from pizza bread which was fairly bland and didn't go down well with Will. He began to get a little vociferous and walked out straight when his pizza finally did arrive. I'm not sure what he was expecting, he did ask for it, but whatever it was, it wasn't what he got. My risotto was smothered in tomato sauce, but edible. Nevertheless we lost no time getting out of the place once we had finished eating.
A phone call directed us to Liquid. The taxi driver took us to Fluid. We redirected him. When we got there a girl in black talking on the phone by the door let us in. It all seemed very quiet until we entered a huge hall full of women. Full! Most of them wearing bunny ears and hen party outfits. We clapped each other on the back until a female bouncer came over and asked us roughly how we had got in. Eh, we walked? We were escorted out. Apparently it was a private function and the nightclub wouldn't be open until another hour. From this earthly paradise we were cast into the Newcastle rain. And there was a lot of that about that night. More phone calls and missing people. The rain got heavier. More walking. More rain. At one point I sheltered in a doorway watching the water rush by my feet. Then I noticed the water was rushing from behind me, from under the door. The building behind me was flooded! This was crazy.
The Box nightclub was dry and spacious and right after we got there most of the others wanted to leave. Granted it was not packed, but perhaps we should have given it a chance. Outside rivers flowed on the tarmac. Girls in shorts and short skirts waded through the water. We needed to get soaked. We left for Buffalo Joe's.
Buffalo Joe's was packed, standing room only. Drenched as we were, we stood by the doorway and tried to dry off. I am convinced the music was the very same as the night before, a cd of 80's tripe played continually. The place wasn't bad though, just too packed for me. I wasn't going to get any place with any of the Newcastle lasses either. They were a very mixed bunch and occupied with themselves and their own groups. I drank, occasionally scouted and waited until it was time to go. Thankfully the rain had abated by the time we went for taxis. Again to bed at 3.45.
Our flights home were at lunchtime the next day, so I was up by 10 the next morning. Not early enough for breakfast though. Most of the others sat downstairs drinking Bulmers (or Magners as it was there), but I resisted. When the taxis arrived I took one of the first planing to eat at the airport.
We had heard rumours of the Glasgow terrorist attack the day before, but now it was everywhere, the papers, the tv, on everyone's lips. Thankfully it had no effect on Newcastle Airport ad we got there and checked in with no problems. Our flight was on time and, turbulence notwithstanding, I slept as much as I could on the way back. Getting home early (and thank you Eoin for the lift) had the advantage of getting me to bed sooner. There was little else to expect of a Sunday afternoon after a two days drinking. Sunday afternoons are empty at the best of times, lacunae in weeks of living. Dehydrated, tired and with a sore head though, I was grateful to be alive and not as destroyed as I expected to be. I didn't go to bed, but sat, read (Lorri Moore's 'Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?') and listened to one of the classical radio stations. A quiet end to a riotous weekend.


At 8:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Treasures of St Cuthbert" this sounds like an episode of Father Ted that was never made.

All the elements you'd need are there..........Cowgirls in bikinis, stags, hens, toffeecrisp doughnuts, bunny girls just need a diferent story. Where maybe you are a bunch of young clergy (one being the nightowl who is afraid of flying who actually has a nervous tick which means he hoots, and in airports this goes into overdrive) on a mission to save Durham from the evils of Buffalo Joe, his bucking bronko, 80-'s music and wayward curry chips.

Obviously you'd have to bring St.Cuthbert and his treasures somehow, you're the writer, I'm sure you find a way.

HOpe you've recovered. Nig

At 12:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

... don't forget the pizza. One of the clergy storms out because the pizza is not kosher! The floods are spoken about by oblique references to Noah ... punishment etc. Yeah, I like the "train of thought" - the name: "St Cuthbert" is genious. Phil


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