Yesterday was an odd day. I’m in Cork, giving one of my weekend courses. The hotel we use in Cork isn’t the best organised with their bookings. They have two small conference rooms that seem to be permanently double-booked. Twice now I’ve had to do the course in their aerobics studio, surrounded by mirrors. This weekend was different. It’s First Holy Communion season, and seven-year-olds (one of whom arrived in a stretch limo) had the conference rooms booked for both the Saturday and the Sunday. They must have been using the aerobics studio too, because the hotel put my group in a bedroom. I have spent the weekend teaching a group of 12 adults in a hotel bedroom.
The hotel did take the beds out, and there is enough space for 12 people here, but it still feels profoundly odd. The bedroom is ensuite, but we didn’t have the use of the bathroom, as they’d moved much of the furniture and fittings of the bedroom in there. There are two bedside lockers, an armchair, a telly, a kettle, cups and saucers, reading lights, duvets and pillows in our little bathroom. I felt the consummate professional.
At lunchtime in the hotel, I was on my way to the loo, when a man at another table in the restaurant smiled at me and said “Hello”. He obviously knew me. I recognised him, but couldn’t place him. I asked how he was and he didn’t give any clues. After a very short conversation, where I must clearly have looked very confused, I made my apologies and hurried away.
And then, 10 minutes later, I realised who it was. Do you remember Apollonia, the girl who had lent me money, and saved me from ending my days begging on the streets of Galway? It was her fiancé. Let’s call him Eusebius. Oh no! I must have looked so rude. Argh! I ran back down to the restaurant. He was gone.
This wasn’t good. I’d just insulted the fiancé of a girl who I’d made a right eejit out of myself in front of only a month ago. She’d blacken my name far and wide. I decided to be proactive about it all and I texted her.
This was the text I sent: “Hello. How are you? I’m 99.999% sure I met Eusebius in Cork today and ran away from the conversation because I couldn’t place him. When I realised who he was, I went back, but he was gone. It seems I’m on a roll with embarrassing myself in front of your family!”
Apollonia replied: “Well, i’m not sure whose family you embarrassed yourself in front of but unless eusebius had some secret rendezvous in cork that he’s keeping from me it wasn’t him! Good thing whoever it was was gone when you went back! 🙂 x”
Oh, dear God. Now I’d managed to mess up with Apollonia without having snubbed her fiancé, and to make it worse, I had snubbed an actual person and I still have no idea who it was!
Well, the day couldn’t get any sillier, or so you would think. After work, I was going to my friend’s 30th birthday party. It was in a pub that I’d never heard of, called Sober Lane. I googled it and discovered it was on Sullivan’s Quay. I had no idea where this was. When my dad asked me where I was going, I told him that it was a pub on Sullivan’s Quay. He didn’t ask me if I knew where that was, so I gathered that this was the kind of thing you were expected to know. Anyway, if I had asked him, he’d probably have explained it with references to places like George’s Quay and Union Quay and if I’d admitted to not knowing where they were he would have shaken his head in disbelief at having produced such a son.
So I got out my trusty iPhone and googlemapped it. I followed the directions very well. Until the South Mall, where I took a different right turn from the one Google suggested. As a result, I ended up circling the same three streets a few times. Each time I did this, I passed a woman who was sitting on a ledge having a cigarette. I felt I must have looked fairly clueless to her. Eventually, I parked, right in front of where the woman was sitting. I figured I was near Sullivan’s Quay.
I stopped the car and got out my phone. It is rare that my iPhone fails me, but this is one occasion when it did. When I turned on Googlemaps, the phone told me I was in the river. I knew I wasn’t. I was definitely parked on dry land.
I spent a few minutes on my phone, trying to figure out where I was and where I should be going. The woman sitting on the ledge obviously noticed this. She came over to the car and knocked on the window. She made a thumbs up sign at me. I presumed she was asking if I was ok, so I nodded emphatically. But she didn’t go away. So I rolled down the window. She asked me, “Are you looking?” This confused me utterly. Was she offering to give me directions? She raised her eyebrow in a most alarming fashion and asked again if I was looking, as she reached to open the door.
Oh sweet Lord! She was a prostitute. And I’d driven past her slowly. Three times. Parked in front of her. Left my engine idling. Nodded enthusiastically to her. She’d obviously thought she had me in the bag.
I’d accidentally solicited the services of a lady of the night. Thank God she wasn’t an undercover policewoman!
I refused her, presumably looking as shocked as I felt. She apologised and went back to her ledge.
I arrived at the party feeling fairly highly strung and I still haven’t fully recovered.
More blog coming soon.