I think my favourite place in the world is the open-air top level of the Trinity Street Multi-storey Car Park in Dublin. It’s grey and brutal and urban and everywhere you look you see Dublin, but not a panorama of rooftops, you’re not quite high enough for that. I don’t think Dublin’s rooftops are particularly worth looking at from above. However, from the rooftop of the Trinity Street Car Park you can see the grim upper storeys of the central bank. You can see rusty fire escapes. You can see pigeon-beshitted gutter pipes. It’s the closest anywhere in Ireland gets to New York and I love it. (It is kind of crazy that I live in a tiny village in Longford when my fantasies are all so urban.)
You stand on top of the Trinity Street Car Park and you feel free. No one else ever parks up there unless it’s a really busy shopping day, so usually I drive past at least two empty storeys of parking spaces in order to get to my space on the rooftop. It’s at the beating heart of the city but you’re alone. And it’s always windy there. I sometimes stand on the rooftop, watching office workers in the buildings around and I spread my arms and roar that “I’m the King of the World”, like I’m Leonardo and this is my Titanic. Sometimes I buy a lunch and bring it back to the roof and eat it there and watch the city and invent stories about emotional scenes people must have on the fire escapes around me. If you want to sweep me off my feet, then take me to the rooftop of the Trinity Street Car Park on our first date and push me against the wall beside the pedestrian exit and kiss me hard. Then I will love you forever.
Last week I was in Dublin for work. Like I always try to do, I parked on the rooftop of the Trinity Street Car Park. I had been on the road for two hours and I was feeling sweaty. In particular, I was feeling sweaty down below, where my testicles had fallen out of my underpants and had stuck themselves to my inner thigh and had been growing more and more uncomfortable over the past hour and a half. I got out of my car into the winds of the south inner-city. I stretched and reached down into my pants, I cupped myself gently and rolled my balls around a bit to soothe them. I sighed loudly and contentedly.
Then I heard a car start. I wasn’t alone on the rooftop after all. It drove away very fast.
In the first series of the West Wing, Sam Seaborn, the White House Deputy Communications Director befriends a young woman who is paying her way through law school by working as a high-class prostitute. On the day before she graduates from law school, he finds out that the press knows that he is friendly with a prostitute and so he can’t attend her graduation. Instead, he sees her privately, to give her a present of a brief case. As he hugs her to congratulate her, he hears a car start opposite and he knows he’s been rumbled and that the story of the White House staffer and the call girl will appear in the papers.
I felt like a senior White House aide who has just been photographed hugging a prostitute as I stood on that car park roof, with my hand down my pants and heard that car start. I’d been papped.