Skip to main content

Town or City?

I live in a sleepy little town that qualifies as a city. There are certain criteria you have to meet in order to be a city, and Galway’s status as a city has always been debatable. Nevertheless, it is historically known as ‘the City of the Tribes’, and if you happen to be around Eyre Square, in the heart of the city, at around say 3a.m, you may spot various tribes engage in combat outside Supermacs ( a Galwegian fast food outlet specialising in contemporary Irish culinary delights). 
But city or nay, most people have heard about Galway. There’s the races, who hasn’t been to the races? Then there’s the Arts Festival; there’s Cuirt, the international festival of literature; Baboro is a festival for kids; there are at least two Oyster festivals with a film Fleadh thrown in somewhere in the middle.
More recently there was the Volvo Ocean Race and on foot of that there have been a good few boat festivals attracting polo shirted men in deck shoes accompanied by leggy blondes with an attitude. And there doesn’t even have to be a festival for the place to fill up in the summer months. You always know the tourists: sensible raincoats, aran sweaters, expensive cameras and a stressed out frown brought on by the price of Guinness and a bowl of chowder. They call Galway ‘Gallaway’ if they’re European, whilst Americans pronounce the ‘gal’ in Galway as if it was the Galway gal and not gal as in gallstones.
So in other words, I live in a so called city that has been taken over by festivals or tourists for most of the year. The thing is, though, this place really only comes to life around late September, when the rest of the world goes home and Galway turns back into a little town again. The rain doesn’t get any worse than it is during the summer months, but you don’t feel cheated anymore, because although the weather is more or less shit all year round, the calendar is telling you that it’s ok to light the fire and order pizza. You can watch telly without having that guilty feeling that you should be at the launch of some book or play or film and if you do go out the pubs start offering alternatives to Irish dancing, Irish music and traditional Irish shows that traditional Irish people wouldn’t ever set foot in.
That’s why today was a good day in Galway. It was pissing rain and not a raincoat in sight, there wasn’t a queue for the ATM, everyone was in bad form and the general consensus was that really, what else could our leader have done here last week but get pissed and make an eejit of himself on national radio?  It just made me ask that question again, are we a town or a city?  Then I remembered that KFC recently opened in Galway and that it costs €2.50 an hour to park in town. There’s a place near the docks that sells Japanese food and a transvestite works in the hairdressers on the main street. So yeah, that’s it really, isn’t it? City. Definitely a city.


Popular posts from this blog

A Packet of Solpadeine and a Lecture Please

Years ago I was a respectable lady married to a nice German doctor, and it was he who brought to my attention that in Germany you can only buy pain killers in a chemist and not in a petrol station, pub or supermarket and that there was not a chance in hell that you could ever buy a pain killer with codeine in it directly from a pharmacy, which in Ireland, you can - Solpadeine.
Then a friend of mine who is a pharmacist told me that Solpadeine was her best seller. So lucrative were the sales that she did not have enough room to store the stuff in her pharmacy. But that was also back in the time when I was respectable, and in the meantime the Solpadeine police seem to be out on patrol.
Now if you ask me, I think it's pure madness to sell substances with codeine in them over the counter at a pharmacy, and I'm also a bit iffy about buying paracetemol in the supermarket, given that any 13 year old can go in and stock up on a drug that is lethal in relatively small doses. But there a…

The MoMa, a Beggar and my Limp

There’s a woman who walks up and down the streets around West 82nd and Amsterdam Avenue asking people if they’ll give her a dollar. I’d put her around 80. Small, wiry, bent, wispy hair. Brittle bird legs in black tights, but still a follower of fashion in a knit skirt with a tartan pattern, more the kind of skirt you might see on a 20-year-old Asian student. Pale pink lipstick, and a crimson red blouse topped with a cream overcoat despite the muggy August New York heat. I wonder what she does with the money she collects. She doesn’t look like she eats anything, can’t tell if she drinks. She’s sober when she pushes her trolley bag up and down 82nd, asking ‘do you have a dollar for me?’ I don’t give her one. I keep my dollars for the MoMa. My feet are killing me after walking into the city, but I’m scared of the subway. I did make a weak attempt, but have no idea what they mean by uptown and downtown. Both of these expressions mean the same thing where I come from: Uptown – as in, I’m…

The Now or the Nervous Breakdown?

There’s a thin line between reaching a state of inner peace comparable to that of a Buddhist monk and being bang on in the middle of a nervous breakdown. Thing is, I’m never sure which state I currently find myself in. It’s true that one feeds the other at times. You need to have a proper meltdown to let the storm settle and find your peace. And peace wouldn’t be peace if you didn’t allow the true tempest of this life to enter your accepting and non-judgemental state of whatever you want to call not letting stuff get to you.
The buzz word nowadays is ‘Mindfulness’. If I understand it correctly, it means that you should mind your mind, like think of it as a place where you set yourself up for feeling good or bad, and as with all of these pop psychology hits, it’s about living in the now. Like Buddhism it involves meditation and sitting cross legged on a straight-backed chair, and then you have to focus, focus, focus…
So far, I’m pretty good at not sweating the small stuff. I don’t worry…