A History Of Great Mistakes

Quick News
March 6, 2009, 7:54 am
Filed under: About | Tags: , , , , ,

Hello again!

Because I’m a terribly nice chap, I’ve promised to help out with a bit of removal work for Anjii this weekend. So unfortunately, part 5 of the Ireland tale (in which our hero stands at the top of Dublin, has an unusual idea for something to do and meets a woman who will cause him incredible physical pain later in the week) will be coming this Sunday…!

In between now and then however – here are a few links you may (or may not) find interesting:

And a picture to let Lewis and Gez know what’s coming:

I was very very very happy



The luck of the Irish – pt 4
March 4, 2009, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Dublin | Tags: , , , , ,

(Wait! There’s a part 1, part 2 and a part 3 that all come before this bit – have a butchers if you missed ’em the first time around…!)

I sat just inside the opening of our crumpled green tent, and watched the rain pour down outside.

“So this is Ireland” I said to Gez, sighing. “Looks more like Wales to me.”

“Ah it’s not that bad mate! I mean, at least we know all about rain right? Rain we can deal with!” he replied, smiling enthusiastically.

“I suppose you’re right.” I conceded. “So what’s the plan for tonight lads? Taxi into town and see how it goes?”

“Sounds good to me!” said Lewis, poking his head outside of the tent to check out the surrounding talent.

A bolt of lightning flashed in the field opposite, and the sound of thunder enveloped us.

Lewis retracted his head cautiously and looked at me.

Hail stones the size of gobstoppers began to batter the tent from all sides.

Gez stopped smiling.

“I spy with my little eye…” said Lewis.

Hail stones from The Land Of The Giants

Hail stones from The Land Of The Giants

After three hours of ‘T for tent’, ‘G for grass’ and five million green bottles on a wall, the hail and rain mercifully subsided.

I looked at my watch. “You know what? It’s 4 o’clock lads – and I’ve, frankly, had more than enough of this. I signed on for a relaxing trip – and so far I’m cold, I’m bored and I’m stone cold sober. I’m going to the pub. Anyone joining me?”

“Aye!” “Yep!” said Lewis and Gez, grabbing their coats.

“Right…” I said, assertively standing up and exiting the tent “…where is the pub exactly?”

A local pub, for local people

A local pub, for local people

As was to be expected, the pub we were directed to (by the owner of the campsite) was even further away from Dublin, and so remote that it was only reachable by a bus running every two hours. In the first spot of luck we’d experienced all day – it turned out that one was just about to arrive, and we had almost the exact change leftover from the taxi ride.

Clambering up to the top deck as the bus set off, we sat down at the front to see the sights of Dublin’s surrounding areas.

The journey was quick, but beautiful. We twisted down small lanes, onto hidden estates and along a small section of motorway before reaching Mulligan’s Inn.

We bounced towards the front door as we got off the bus, and laughed as we walked in, expecting to be greeted by a crowd of merry Irish men and women.

The bar, apart from a very drunken man in the left hand corner, was empty. We looked at each other with puzzled expressions.

It was, without a doubt, the quietest Saturday night we had ever seen. ‘And in an Irish pub – of all places‘, I thought to myself.

“Where is everyone?” asked Lewis as he walked towards the bar.

A small barmaid dressed in green appeared from a doorway to our left, and smiled at us. Then a larger barman appeared from a doorway to the right, and grimaced. “Anything I can do for you lads?” he said in a menacing fashion, rolling his sleeves up to show skull and crossbone tattoos.

“Errr… Three pints of Guinness please…” I said, stepping towards the bar. “So – what do you do for a laugh around here…?” I asked, attempting to break the ice.

“We–” began the barmaid – – “Enjoy cards and board games” said the barman cutting in and pointing at a pile of boxes in the corner.

“Right… Nothing else?” I asked.

The barman looked at me.

As we sat by ourselves playing poker in a hidden room just off the back entrance, it slowly became obvious that a holiday ‘plan of action’ was in order.

Rather than working out what we were going to do and when we were going to do it, we aimed instead for a list of things to tick off as we went along.

After extensive debate and another pint or three of Guinness – we had our draft list.

  1. Get laid.
  2. Visit Guinness factory.
  3. Do trip around Dublin.
  4. Go out in Temple Bar area.
  5. Nightclubbing.
  6. Grab a musical. (Gez’s idea – crossed off after Lewis and I mocked him)
  7. Catch a film.
  8. Eat local cusin cuisne food.
  9. Search for cheap hotel.
  10. Get laid again.

Now all we had to do was start somewhere.

The small barmaid came over to clear our glasses as Lewis put the finishing touches on the list, and peered over his shoulder.

“That a list of your plans for the week lads?” she asked in an incredibly sexy Irish accent.

We all looked at her.

“…Yes…” said Lewis, slightly nervously.

“Well then lads, you’re going to want to knock some of these off the list quickly…” she said, looking Gez in the eye “…to get right down to the important things.”

“…Yes…” said Lewis in a hoarse voice.

“…Any ideas…?” I said, looking at the barmaid’s shamrocks.

“Oh I have a few” she said, still looking at Gez. “But I’d start with the trip first…” she continued, looking at the list again “…so you can figure out where the real action is quickly…”

“Yeah, we’ll see how it goes” said Gez, turning away. “Have to work out for ourselves what’s best, but cheers for the advice.”

Lewis and I looked at him in stunned silence.

The barmaid smiled and caught Gez’s eye. “Well lads, don’t forget if you ever need any advice… I’m always here.”

She turned her back to us, picked up our glasses, and slowly walked away – turning briefly to look at Gez in a fashion that I can only describe as ‘longingly’.

“What the… f@£k… was that?!?” I said to Gez, slapping him. “Get yourself up there and talk to her!”

“Yeah… Maybe later” he said, collecting the cards up and putting them back into their box. “The week is young lads – plenty of time for all that…”

The luck of the Irish – pt 3
March 3, 2009, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Dublin | Tags: , , , , ,

(Wait! There’s a part 1 and a part 2 to the below – check them out first…!)

Having never been abroad before, I was excited, intrigued and completely hyper during my train journey to Holyhead.

My little mini-disc player had been crammed full of party music and podcasts for the journey, but for the most part it sat untouched in my coat pocket.

I was totally made up that I was going abroad. To Ireland. With my mates.

There was no other conclusion to reach in my head – it was going to be a brilliant time.

As I got off the train and threw my rucksack over my shoulder, I spotted Lewis and Gez out of the corner of my eye. It was a moment of true man love when I ran up to them both and hugged them senseless. In slow motion, I imagine it would have been quite a sight. Especially as Gez didn’t see me coming, turned around at the wrong moment and very nearly decked me.

“So, Lewis!” I said, adjusting the straps of my rucksack with one arm around his shoulder “why the sudden about face?”

Lewis looked at the ground. “It’s a bit difficult to explain see…” he said, slowly turning away and walking towards the station exit. “Essentially…” Lewis said, pausing as he walked, “…I didn’t budget well enough, and was a bit broke.”

“Riiighht…” I replied, wondering what was new information out of everything he’d told me previously.

“So… You see…” continued Lewis “…I couldn’t really afford it when it came to the crunch like…”

“Essentially Pete – what Lewis is trying to say, is that he went on a few trips over the past three weeks” said Gez, jumping in. “Apparently, three of those involved 150 mile round trips to see friends in South England. Each, because of Lewis’ car, costing somewhere in the region of £80 each. Add this to the rent arrears he owed his landlord, his credit card bill and eating, and you’re left with no holiday.”

“Aaaahhh…” I said, beginning to understand. “But what changed?”

“That” answered Gez, “was an option that apparently was always open. He borrowed the money off his Mom and Dad.”

“Option always open?” I queried.

“Yeah. Apparently it was on the table before he called us, but he didn’t want to go for it, as it would mean paying it off with work on their house…” said Gez, looking at Lewis.

I turned to look at Lewis. Are you telling me that all you had to do was paint a few rooms and mow the lawn to get the holiday?!? And you had us thinking that there were no options left?!?” I said, scowling.

“Erm…” replied Lewis, sheepishly.

After a short walk to the port (pretty much in silence), I put my bag down onto the floor by the entrance and took a deep breath of sea air. I loved being by the sea. My thoughts drifted back to living with Dad in Borth, and how I used to listen to the sea crashing against the shore in the evening before slowly drifting off to sleep. I’d always been so calm when I lived with Dad. Back then however, I would be anything but calm at work.

I took another deep breath. ‘Time to leave work in England’ I thought.

And as if by magic – simply with that idea – I completely relaxed.

“Hey Gez” I said, smiling “where are the ferry tickets?”

“Good question” he replied, turning to Lewis “I left him in charge. So where are they Lew?

“Erm…” said Lewis.

Gez and I looked at each other. I felt my eye twitch.

“Now don’t be mad boys…” continued Lewis, backing away slightly “…but I haven’t exactly bought them yet.”

“You… What…?” I said, spasming sightly. “The ferry is leaving at 10:30 for Dun Laoghaire, the world and his dog appear to be around us, it’s 10 now – and you haven’t bought the tickets yet? The one lone simple little job that we asked you to do while Gez sorted out accomodation and I sorted out insurance and the Euros? THAT ONE LITTLE JOB?

My shoulders tensed up and I felt myself growl.

“Erm… I’ll be right back…” said Lewis, joining the ticket waiting line.

After managing to get three of the last tickets going – we ran over towards the ferry and jumped on board.

The ferry – was a very strange place for me, filled full of wonder. It reminded me of a small casino, nightclub, bar, shopping centre and hotel all rolled into one – but with a little bit here and there missing from almost every section. The bar however – had nothing missing.

Lewis, Gez and I sat down together and enjoyed a pre-Ireland Guiness.

“To the first of many!” said Gez, raising his glass.

“Cheers!” said Lewis and I, touching glasses with Gez.

While we sailed away from England, I learned three things:

  1. Gez, does not like boats;
  2. Lewis, Gez and I can all drink four pints of Guiness each in under two hours, and;
  3. Gez can vomit up four pints of Guiness in approximately 15 seconds over the side of a ferry.

As we arrived into Dun Laohaire, Gez wasn’t looking 100%.

“I’m not feeling great lads” he said, walking slowly off the boat. “I think we should have a bit of a lie down before we do anything tonight.”

Lewis and I looked at each other and nodded.

After a short walk from the port over to the Dart station, we boarded a train headed for the city centre and sat down.

“We’re here lads!” I said, grabbing Lewis’ shoulder. “We’re in Ireland!”

Welcome to Ireland

"Welcome to Ireland lads"

“Now all we need to do is get ourselves checked in to the hotel, have a bit of a break and go out on the town…!”

“About that ‘checking in’ thing…” said Gez.

It had never occurred to me to question why Gez had brought two large bags with him. At the time, I think I’d just assumed that he’d come prepared for every eventuality.

Looking back however, the fact that one was large, green, and held together with elaborate ropes really should have tipped me off to what was in store for the week ahead.

As the ridiculously expensive taxi from the Dart station dropped us off at the camping site (some 20 minutes outside of Dublin) the heavens opened up. Wind and rain howled towards us with great and furious anger the like of which I have never seen before or since.

‘If this is going to be our week in Ireland, I’m ready to go home’ I thought…

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…