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. Im
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
George beamed his appreciation
at the barman. Ill have a pint of your finest Guinness, seeing as
its Irish. He lent over to the barman and beckoned him to come
closer. Im 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 youre 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 Im not working, Im studying a Masters in Comparative
European Law at Trinity.
Study hard and dont
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?
The beard nodded at the
Theres only six
million of us and we need to stick together. Let me buy you a drink,
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
Hospitality is my second
name. The house whiskey will be fine, single measure. Everythings
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 dont 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
A grimy fingernail tapped the
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 couldnt 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
George took the glass to the
bar. Single shot of your double malt this time. Were 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
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
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
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
mans empty whiskey glass without asking. Youre such a good
listener that Ill get you a double. I have a feeling that were
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.
Im a patriotic
Republican. Nuts wouldnt come amiss, extra roasted, George
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. Theyd rob us blind,
given half the chance, George said, munching a mouthful of nuts.
Once Im settled Ill find a girl from Galway, start a family
and buy some land. I might get into the export business if I can get a
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.
said to the old man and rolled his eyes. Us locals would be lost without
The old man looked at his
What would you say to one
for the road? George asked. But Ill 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. Youd be telling me that my new best friend has gone
to the cash point. Theres no need for him to be so generous. My
redundancy payout was three months, tax free, he said and hiccupped.
Dont 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.
Ill have a Heineken to sharpen my appetite for a flutter, George
Forgive me for my
lawyers bluntness, but Jonathans from Liverpool. He tried to pay
his bill last Friday with an English pound coin. Im not one for
stereotyping, but Id 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
Youve got the wrong
city. Temples 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
Im 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.