A History Of Great Mistakes

The luck of the Irish – pt 2
March 2, 2009, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Dublin | Tags: , , , , ,

(hang on – you almost missed the first part of this tale – don’t read the below before you’re up to speed!)

It was the Wednesday before my week off, and I was beginning to get more than a little nervous.

As I sat in my bedroom, I flicked through the brochures I’d picked up from the local travel agent, and wondered where I’d be ‘this time next week’. I stared longingly at pictures of snowboarders catching big air and girls grabbing the sun in skimpy bikinis.

For a moment I imagined my Thai waitress in a skimpy bikini.

Lost in thought about Thai waitresses in bikinis

Lost in thought about Thai waitresses in bikinis

I lay down on the bed and looked up at the ceiling. ‘What the hell is going on?’

My mobile went off – Lewis was calling.

“Hello mate” I said, “was a bit worried that everything was off – we haven’t heard from you in awhile!”

There was a familiar silence from the other end of the phone. I knew that silence well. It was the vaccum of guilt.

“Yeah… Listen mate, I’ve got some bad news…” replied Lewis.

And so, Lewis proceeded to tell me for the next hour how he’d planned to budget for the holiday, but had to replace the engine in his car, paint the house, wax his legs, buy some diamond shoes and many other excuses about how he had no cash. I stopped listening after a short while, and started to get very very very angry.

This week away with my mates was meant to be the stress relief I was in dire need of, and it was being snatched away from me in front of my ears. All I could think about was the new pair of swimming trunks I’d bought on the off chance we were going somewhere warm. I’d been hoping to pull in them. Or at the very least strut my stuff.

I looked down at my stomach. ‘Perhaps that was a bit of a lofty ambition anyway’ I thought, calming myself down as Lewis continued talking.

The phone call lasted for nearly half an hour, and many apologies came in my direction before it finished. Lewis, before hanging up, apologised profusely for the umpteenth time and vowed to make up for it in the near future.

And just like that, my week away was off, and my ear was red hot from excuses.

I sat up on the bed and shook my head. ‘Rat b@$tard‘ I thought. I let out a small sigh, resigned myself to my fate, got up and knocked on my brother’s door.

“Looks like the holiday is off” I said to the back of Dave’s head.

“Eh?” said Dave, spinning around in his seat, temporarily tearing himself away from Command and Conquer.

“Well, Lewis just called and basically said he’s broke.”

Before Dave had a chance to respond, my mobile went off again. This time it was Gez.

“Hello mate” I said, answering his call in a slightly crushed tone.

“CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT THAT F@£KING B@$TARD HAS DONE?!?” screamed Gez down the phone.

“Not so much, no… Right royal f@£ker isn’t it…” I replied, walking out of Dave’s doorway.

“YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT IT’S A F@£KER! A F@£KER FOR HIM – I’M STILL GOING!” said Gez, still screaming.

My eyebrow raised slightly. “You’re still going?” I said, quizzically.

“Damn straight!” said Gez, now shouting. “Coming Pete?”

Now, there are times in your life where you’ll have to make tough decisions.

Whether you should try to fix a failing marriage, or leave and try to find happiness with someone else.

If you should tell your son or daughter the truth about their conception, or give them a more comforting image of love and forethought.

Tough decisions requiring great thought.

But this was not a tough decision time for me.

It was, in fact, the simplest decision I ever made.

“God yes!” I said, practically punching the sky.

“Right then!” said Gez, now only raising his voice slightly. “Where shall we go? I quite fancy Turkey… Very nice ladies in Turkey…”

Gez and I talked for a few minutes about different places we could go and hit upon a few ideas, most of which revolved around beer, sun and ladypersons. It was – to quote the great Bill and Ted – ‘a most excellent conversation’. At the end of it however, we were no closer to a destination.

“Hang on a minute mate” said Gez, mid boob discussion, “got another call coming through on the other line. Give you a callback in a moment.”

As I hung up the phone, I walked back towards Dave’s room, uplifted.

“Looks like it’s back on, but only me and Gez!” I announced in Dave’s still open doorway.

“Wahay!” said Dave, spinning round in his seat again. “So where are you off to?”

But before I could answer, my phone went off again.

It was Lewis.

“Hello Lew!” I said, strolling out of Dave’s doorway and back into my room. “How’s things?”

“Mate” said Lewis, in a slightly firm tone, “tell me you’re not going away with Gez. I’ve just spoken to him. Tell me it isn’t true.”

“Well,” I began “I’d love to tell you that, but…”

Lewis groaned. “I can’t believe it! It was my bloody idea and you’re both buggering off without me now!”

“To be fair mate… We were both more than up for the holiday with you… Just kind of happens that we’re also up for a holiday without you!” I said, stifling a small laugh.

“There must be some way around this… I mean… What about a holiday in Wales instead…?” pleaded Lewis.

“Yeeeeaaaahhh… Not really going to happen mate.” I smirked. “Still, if you could find some cash… I think we’d still be okay with you coming along with us…”

Then there was another familiar silence. A silence that felt a little like ‘there’s something I haven’t told you’.

“…I’ll see what I can do.” said Lewis, to my surprise. “I’ve got to make another call.”

I hung up, and wondered what Lewis had been holding back.

Roughly 25 minutes later, the phone rang. It was Gez.

“I have no idea what’s changed” Gez said in a quiet tone, “but now, he appears to be up for the holiday again. He’s even suggested Dublin, which isn’t a bad idea for the cash we have.”

“Dublin? Land of Guiness and Irish ladies?”

“Aye” said Gez.

“What a good idea.”

An hour or so later we’d arranged via interweb messenger to meet in Holyhead on Saturday and catch a ferry, on which Lewis had promised to explain his sudden about face…


The luck of the Irish – pt 1
March 1, 2009, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Dublin | Tags: , , , , ,

Huddled next to the fire, I sat in a nameless pub over the Liffey on the bad side of Dublin.

I looked around me.

There wasn’t a single person I’d known for more than a day nearby. And there appeared to be an ever increasing crowd of people who were focusing on me, convinced that I was an Englishman on their land, drinking their beer and talking to their women. I’d spent the last hour trying to convince them that I was Welsh, but I didn’t get the impression that they were buying it.

Didn’t help that I’d occasionally slip into my brummie accent either.

A sound of smashing glass came from outside. Somewhere in the background of Dublin a corner shop was getting turned over. Everyone cheered as the Guarda ran down the street past the window.

Everyone, that is, except me.

It was Wednesday night, I’d been in Ireland since Saturday, and I had no idea where I was or how to get back to the hostel we were staying in.

This wasn’t what I’d had in mind when I’d said yes to a holiday with Lewis and Gez a month before.

It had been roughly a year since my ill-fated date with Sky, and life had just about managed to get itself back to normality.

Which, in other words, meant that I was stressed out of my mind at work, and still single.

To make myself feel better about my lack of a personal life, I’d take each opportunity I could to chat with attractive customers. And I’d take particular care and attention with one customer, a waitress from Totally Thai, a local Asian eatery. Good heavens was she a picture of loveliness. I could have spent hours staring at her smile.

My ogling from afar was frequent, and incredibly pathetic. I hung on her every word, but I couldn’t muster up more than a few bites of conversation with her. She taught me how to greet people in Thai (khok un khrap – almost certainly not spelled correctly, but close), and brightened up my day on more than one occasion.

But, she was out of my league (or so I thought back then), I’d had another failed date with a girl who was very pretty (but more in touch with God than dating), and a very small part of me was still hung up on Sky.

To cap it all off – it had been well over a year since I’d been laid. A painful fact that wasn’t helped by regularly hearing about how well Lewis was doing at Cardiff University.

I’m not sure if it was the Indiana Jones link in people’s minds, or just that Lewis stepped his game up into overdrive after sixth form – but man alive was he swimming in women when they found out he was training to become an archeologist.

Each and every week I was hearing about someone else that he was dating.

He was an utter bastard, and I was incredibly jealous.

My plan of ‘not going to university to avoid wasting my time’ had backfired completely into making me waste my life. It was an incredibly low period for me.

On a hot Tuesday summer night much like any other at the time, mid waitress thought and internet porn browsing, I got an unexpected call from Lewis.

“Hello mate! How’s you?” said Lewis, obviously beaming down the telephone line.

I looked at the discarded pizza boxes, crusty socks and flickering desk lamp around me. ‘Life is terrible mate – I’m thinking of jumping off a cliff somewhere, or emigrating’ I thought.

“Yeah, not too bad” I said, deciding to not burden him with my thoughts. “Everything alright with you? Been awhile since I’ve heard from you and Gez…!”

“Indeed!” said Lewis, still beaming “That, my friend, is because we have come up with a plan. How do you fancy a holiday? Just the thr–”

“God yes!” I said, cutting him off mid-word.

Lewis laughed. “Well, I guess that’s settled then! Gez is thinking of somewhere cheap, maybe somewhere like Spain, Greece, or somewhere else like that. What do you think?”

I’d never been abroad before. Well, unless you counted Wales, in which case I’d been abroad for four years of my life. “I don’t have a passport mate…!” I said, putting a slight dampener on the conversation.

There was a brief pause. “Mate – I can sort that. We can get you a passport in a few weeks. Well, that is if you’d be up for a holiday abroad…”

My bank account had taken a right royal beating over the past few months. A misfired attempt at learning to drive and building a nice gaming computer had both eaten away whatever savings I’d squirreled away, and I was close to penniless. But, I did work at a bank. And I had just the other week been offered a staff credit card. Which was gold. And I did like the sound of having a gold card… “Mate – I’m up for it” I said, thinking ‘to hell with it’.

“That’s all I needed – leave it with me and I’ll get all the balls rolling! In the meantime, get yourself a passport application, and get in touch with my Dad, he’ll vouch for you, and then you can get yourself on a fast-track…!”

“It’s a deal!” I replied.

Lewis said that “time was of the essence”, wished me well and hung up.

‘I’m going abroad! With my mates!’ I thought as I closed down the porn window and opened up a holiday search engine. ‘This is going to be great!’

Lewis, Gez and I arranged a good week that worked for all of us via text the following morning, and I booked a week off in the afternoon. I grabbed a passport application the next day, and sent it off to Lewis’ father for a reference. Within two weeks, I had my passport, my credit card, and a theoretical expenditure limit in my head.

My mood picked up at work, and whenever my favourite Thai waitress would come in, I’d even find some time to drop the odd flirt into my conversations with her.

And from time to time, to my surprise, she’d drop the odd one or two back into her conversations with me.

These were happy times.

But with a week to go before ‘our big adventure’ neither Gez or I had heard from Lewis.

We were both starting to think our grand plan may have just been a pipe dream…

interactive intermission – result
February 28, 2009, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Aberystwyth, About, Dublin | Tags: , , , , ,

The votes are in! Thank you to everyone who voted on here, on facebook, and offline. Because of you, from tomorrow, you’ll be reading about…

Unexpected surprises lie in store for you...

Unexpected surprises lie in store for you...

…my time spent in Dublin with Lewis, Gerwyn, Zoe and the man-woman (option A).

If your opinion of me is (somehow) still good – prepare for it to be demolished in front of your eyes over the next couple of weeks.

For the record – I was really hoping that you’d pick option C – so whatever you read about me now, is completely of your own doing…

In the meantime however – feel free to let me know what you thought of my shameful weekend with Sky, stalk me on Twitter, or drop me a line to ahistoryofgreatmistakes@googlemail.com to tell me about your great mistakes! If you want me to, I’ll even post some of the best ones up online.

Speaking of which – Anjii already did that last week, so one from her will be coming shortly…