home sweet home
Home sweet home Latest site info Poetic stuff Serious stuff Funny stuff Topical stuff Alternative stuff Shakespearian stuff Musical stuff
  click here for a "printer friendly" version

by Martin David Edwards




George stopped on the street and looked up at the skyline. A square wooden sign with a painted green four-leaf clover swung in the wind.

“Home at last. I’m getting emotional,” he said to himself and straightened his t-shirt. A faded photograph of the Dublin Post Office winked at him from his belly button, the date 1916 crinkled over his stomach in black numbers.

He opened the door and went inside. The long rectangle of the bar took shape before his eyes. Tables were dotted around the room, half empty. A man with a stained white shirt and a greying beard sat on his own, nursing an empty whiskey glass and reading a newspaper.

George beamed his appreciation at the barman. “I’ll have a pint of your finest Guinness, seeing as it’s Irish.” He lent over to the barman and beckoned him to come closer. “I’m blessed with Gaelic genes too.”

“As we say in Poland, that will be the Top of the Morning and six euro,” the barman replied, pouring a pint of black, streaming liquid.

George handed over a twenty euro note. “I bet you’re waiting for your Irish passport. I got mine last week,” he said.

“Fourteen euro change and the EU has borderless travel.” The barman handed George his pint. “When I’m not working, I’m studying a Masters in Comparative European Law at Trinity.”

“Study hard and don’t get lazy like the Brits,” George replied and gave a euro tip.

He scanned the tables and settled on the old man reading the newspaper. Keeping up with the news?” he asked.

The beard nodded at the paper.

“There’s only six million of us and we need to stick together. Let me buy you a drink,” George said.

The old man slid the empty glass across the table.

George tilted the glass and an amber droplet ran down its side. “Our national drink, nearly like mine,” he said and went to the bar.

“Having a party?” the barman asked.

“Hospitality is my second name. The house whiskey will be fine, single measure. Everything’s bountiful in Ireland,” George replied.

He returned to the table and gave the old man the refilled glass. “God Save the Taoiseach,” he said and raised his Guinness in a toast.

The old man emptied his whiskey in two equally paced gulps and turned his page.

“Let me give you my secret, seeing as you look like a priest,” George said and pushed aside the newspaper. “I used to be a Brit but got my true nationality back,” he sighed. “But don’t blame Brexit. The UK waltzing out of Europe has nothing to do with the calling of the emerald hills.”

The old man held his empty glass up to the light.

“My grandmother was Irish and I could only resist for so long.” George sipped at his Guinness. “Thirty eight years of waiting to come home. I visited Dublin ten years ago before my dearest went upstairs.” He crossed himself and nodded at the ceiling. “She was a practising Catholic, naturally. My mother was her only child.”

A grimy fingernail tapped the glass.

“The holiday was the best time of my life. We toured the city on an open deck bus and grandma pointed out the sights, like the Irish Oxford Street,” George said.

A thumb joined the fingernail drumming in tandem.

“Nothing was keeping me over the pond anymore. My mother retired early to Spain. She couldn’t hide her disappointment in me. I had a bedsit in Archway and I was kind of a loner.” He paused. “Glass getting empty?”

The old man gave George a thumbs up.

George took the glass to the bar. “Single shot of your double malt this time. We’re bonding,” he said to the barman.

“Eight euro fifty. Would you like to run a tab?”

“Do I look like a tight-fisted Brit?” George asked and handed over his credit card.

Back at the table, he handed the glass to the old man. “I have a confession to make.”

The old man scratched his beard.

“On behalf of Brits who have seen the light, I would like to apologise for 1916,” George said. “The siege of the train station was a national tragedy. They should be ashamed of themselves, massacring those commuters.”

The beard lowered in acknowledgement.

George licked the white froth from the top of his Guinness and sighed. “We Irish are living at the apex of civilisation compared with those barbarians. The Brits have done nothing for Ireland, except introducing electricity and the potato.”

The old man raised his glass in a toast.

“They have no culture and exploit every country they occupy.” George emptied his Guinness. The Brits deserve a lesson in breeding,” he said. His t-shirt wobbled as he belched. “We have dragons, saints, Vikings, freedom fighters and writers like Jim Joyce. Rock bands too. U3 are my favourite.”

He reached for the old man’s empty whiskey glass without asking. “You’re such a good listener that I’ll get you a double. I have a feeling that we’re going to be the best of friends.”

At the bar George waggled the two empty glasses at the barman. “Another Guinness and a double whiskey on the tab,” he said.

“You could try a packet of crisps to keep up the pace,” the barman replied.

“I’m a patriotic Republican. Nuts wouldn’t come amiss, extra roasted,” George replied.

Returning to the table, George handed the nuts to the old man. “Dinner,” he said.

The old man shook his beard and took the whiskey instead.

“We Irish have such a brilliant future, unlike those bastard colonialists. They’d rob us blind, given half the chance,” George said, munching a mouthful of nuts. “Once I’m settled I’ll find a girl from Galway, start a family and buy some land. I might get into the export business if I can get a government grant.”

The old man emptied his glass.

A couple sat down on the table next to them and started talking in German while they consulted a map.

“Tourists,” George said to the old man and rolled his eyes. “Us locals would be lost without them. “

The old man looked at his watch.

“What would you say to one for the road?” George asked. “But I’ll need to answer the call of nature first.” He tapped the Post Office photo on his t-shirt. “I got a weak bladder from the sewage Brits call beer.”


* * *


Whistling, George returned from the loo five minutes later. He found his table and his mouth dropped open. The old man had disappeared.

George waved his little finger at the barman. “You’d be telling me that my new best friend has gone to the cash point. There’s no need for him to be so generous. My redundancy payout was three months, tax free,” he said and hiccupped.

“Don’t worry about Jonathan. Every afternoon he sits in the bar, regular as my essays, and does the horses,” the barman replied.

“We Irish love the turf. I’ll have a Heineken to sharpen my appetite for a flutter,” George said.

“Forgive me for my lawyer’s bluntness, but Jonathan’s from Liverpool. He tried to pay his bill last Friday with an English pound coin. I’m not one for stereotyping, but I’d check you still have your wallet,” the barman replied and gave George his pint.

“Resilience is also a national trait.” George sipped at his Heineken and eyed the Germans still consulting their map.

He marched across to their table, holding his Heineken in front of him like a talisman. “I have a confession to make,” he said to the Germans.

“Please be our guest. We were looking for Temple Bar,” the man replied, pointing in the middle of the map.

“You’ve got the wrong city. Temple’s next to Embankment in London,” George sighed. He pulled out a chair and placed his glass on the map with a thud. “The Irish call 1916 a national tragedy, but they do get overly worked up about a tea party. My confession is more serious.”

“You are ill?” the German asked.

“I’m fighting fit, despite the hideous taste in t-shirts at the airport gift shop,” George thumped his chest. “On behalf of the remaining Brits, I would like to apologise for winning in 1945. We should have welcomed a pencil moustache to run us. The country needs discipline.”

The Germans gasped as George sipped at his pint. “Anyone for crisps?” he asked.




Rate this story.

Copyright is reserved by the author. Please do not reproduce any part of this article without consent.


© Winamop 2019