A History Of Great Mistakes

Teaser 2
December 27, 2009, 10:00 am
Filed under: About, Book | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

And so, in keeping with the theme of ‘teasers’ I’ve started – here’s the second one for you…!

Merry Christmas everyone – hope you have a Happy New Year!

The luck of the Irish – pt 9
March 16, 2009, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Dublin | Tags: , , , , , ,

(Yaaar Jimlad! New to the web-ship are ye? Then ye may not have read part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8… Best ye have a shifty before setting sail below – lest ye want to walk the plank of confusion!)

As I entered the barbers, I had a feeling that you only get once or twice in life – if you’re lucky.

Something bad was going to happen in here, but I had no idea what.

My eyes scanned the room and fell upon razors, unusually sharp scissors and discarded newspapers with red blotches on them.

Bad things happened in here on a regular basis, I could feel it.

“Hello!” cried the Australian hairdresser I’d met when booking my appointment. “Here for your trim?” she said with an innocent smile.

“Er…” I looked at the stained sink opposite her, it was an uncomfortable shade of crimson. “Yes…” I replied, slowly taking a step backwards.

“Well come on over here and sit down!” she said, beckoning me towards a chair near the stained sink.

I moved cautiously forwards.

“So what is it that you want exactly?” she asked, as I eased myself into the chair.

“Well, I’m thinking about something a little different… Maybe bleached blond?” I replied, looking at her smiling face in the mirror.

“Great idea!” she replied, pressing her hands into my shoulders and touching my neck slightly. “Cut first?” she asked, quickly snatching the sharp scissors from the side work surface.

I gulped.

“…Go on then…” I said, watching the blades of her scissors glimmer in the mirror’s reflection.

Fifteen minutes into the haircut, I wasn’t sure what I’d been worrying about. The lady hairdresser was nice, she had interesting stories, and knew a lot about Dublin for the relatively short period of time that she’d been there.

“I came over here to be with my boyfriend, but that didn’t work out, and so now I’m cutting hair until I can afford a ticket home…!” said Miranda, who’d introduced herself shortly after her first snip into my barnet.

“Aw, hey, I know what you mean about things not working out when you expect them to… I had this really bad date awhile back…” I replied, telling her my tales of Sky and Thai waitresses.

We talked as she snipped away, and I found myself quite liking Miranda’s company. Although whether that had something to do with her being Australian, and me having a bit of a ‘thing’ for Ozzies (due to past events) I wasn’t sure.

Either way, I enjoyed her company.

As she tidied up the back and sides, Maranda asked me how bright I wanted my hair to be.

“Bright?” I asked, unsure if she’d meant to say ‘blond’.

“Well, you see, with your hair being dark brown and pretty thick – we’re going to need to bleach it at least twice to make sure it doesn’t look golden. Unless you want it golden?”

I didn’t want it golden.

What I could have won

What I could have won

“Erm… Quite bright?” I replied.

“Well I tell you what – I’ll bleach it twice – and if you like it as is, we’ll leave it there. If you want it brighter, we’ll do it again. Ok?”

“Ok” I said, foolishly.

As she applied the first set of bleach to my scalp, I found myself wincing.

“I’ve made the mixture a little stronger than normal, to speed things up for you…”

‘No s@!t’ I thought to myself. ‘Don’t remember it being like this when I did it before at home’ I muttered to myself as my head sizzled, ‘maybe it’s because it was a home kit…’

Miranda washed the mixture out of my hair after 15 minutes and span my seat around to show the most golden hair you ever did see.

“God, that looks awful…” I found myself saying.

“It really does, doesn’t it” said Miranda, agreeing far too quickly for someone who’d just created the monstrosity in front of her. “Let’s do another” she said, applying more mixture to my scalp.

The hair on my arms stood on end, and I felt every nerve ending in my head set alight all at once.

“Faaahh!!” I blurted, moving sharply forward in my seat.

Yeah, it’ll do that the next time too… Your scalp is a little raw from the first bleaching. Truthfully, the next one may be a little… Uncomfortable. If you go for it that is!”

Another fifteen minutes later, and I stare into the mirror again.

My hair was slightly less golden.

Third time’s the charm?” said Miranda.

I nodded.

My face went white as Miranda applied the third ‘coat’ to my head. I felt a lone tear fall down the right side of my face as whatever nerves left on my scalp were obliterated by another wave of peroxide death.

I was in serious pain territory in that chair – the likes of which people create large red and white ‘danger’ signs for.

Hell was on earth, and the devil was toasting my bonce to prove it.

Mercifully, 15 minutes later – I was looking at a blond haircut in the mirror, which I felt had been worth the effort.

As I made a movement to stand up, Miranda said something crushing that only a hairdresser who’s just cut your hair could say to you.

“Looks a bit… Yellow Doesn’t it…”

I looked in the mirror again.

It did look yellow.

‘How had I missed that before?’ I asked myself, bemused.

“I’ve got an idea” said Miranda. “Now this may sound a little out there, but bear with me…”

“Ok…” I said.

“What you need is another colour to slightly take the edge off that one, and make it more natural…”

“That’s not so out there…” I said, looking at her in the mirror.

“I think it needs some purple rinse” she said.

I began to stand up.

“No no! Trust me! If I leave it on for no more than a minute, it’ll give a nice effect, and look great…!”

I looked at her skeptically.

“It will! I’ve done it before!” she pleaded with puppy dog eyes.

“Ok…” I said, sighing. I never could resist an Australian girl.

“Right – I’ve just got to pop out to grab the rinse from another hairdresser I work at – be no more than 5 minutes” said Miranda, grabbing her coat and dashing out of the door.

I sat back in my seat and grabbed one of the discarded papers blotted with an unnerving shade of red. Peering closer, thankfully, the red appeared to be from hair dye.

For a few minutes, I sat back, enjoyed my own company and read the business section of the paper in my hands. ‘I need a new job’ I thought to myself as I read about massive bonuses and contracts awarded to city workers across Europe.

“Back!” said Miranda, walking through the front door and hanging up her coat. In her hands, a small purple tube could be seen.

“Is that it?” I asked, never having seen a purple rinse mixture before.

“It is! Now all we need to do is lie you back, put this on and wash it off in a minute’s time…!”

Trusting her, I lay back, closed my eyes and let her apply the rinse. After three sets of bleach, it’s surprising how cooling a rinse can be to the scalp.

As I leaned over into the sink basin for the fourth time and let Miranda wash my hair, all felt (and smelt) good in the world.

“Oh s@!t” said Miranda.

“What?” I asked, face still in basin.

“Don’t look up whatever you do” pleaded Miranda.

Of course, I looked up.

My hair was bright purple.

Something similar to my expression on the day

Something similar to my expression

The luck of the Irish – pt 8
March 13, 2009, 7:00 am
Filed under: Dublin | Tags: , , , , ,

(Hey there! New to the site? Then you may not have read part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7… Best have a look before reading the below – it’ll make so much more sense if you do!)

As we walked out of the zoo, I left my old opinion of animals in captivity behind me. I had been changed forever.

‘There are some, big cats in particular, that should be caged from birth’ I thought as I rubbed my nose. When the tiger had crashed against the glass, I’d taken a small hit to the face.

Sodding lion” I said, walking back to the bus.

“It was a tiger mate” said Gez, correcting me.

“Whatever” I replied, handing my ticket to the driver.

As we arrived back at the campsite, we were a little stuck for things to do. There was plenty going on in the centre of Dublin, but getting buses and taxis backwards and forwards was getting to be expensive.

Over the past few days, between us we’d managed to spend nearly 80 Euros on transport alone.

“Remind me again why we’re sleeping in a tent?” asked Lewis.

“Because YOU said you had a limited budget” snapped Gez angrily “which, from memory, was somewhere in the region of nothing?

“Yes, well…” said Lewis, backing down slightly.

Gez scowled at him.

Maybe…” I said, cautiously “…we could have a look at rooms in town…? Might be just as cheap as here?”

“…ok.” muttered Gez, turning away to grab something from his bag.

“Speaking of cash…” said Lewis “…it looks like I’ve run out of credit on my phone… Don’t suppose anyone would be willing to lend me their phone for a quick call home…?”

Gez and I both scowled at Lewis.

Thirty minutes later, Lewis gave me back my phone and smiled. “Thanks for that Pete – I’ll give you some cash for it when we get home!”

Not now?” I said, pointedly.

Erm…” said Lewis, squirming slightly and looking away.

“Get the money now mate, I’ve learned this from experience…” said Gez, jumping in.

“Yeah, I think I should ask for that money now…” I continued.

After several assurances of a complete refund upon a return to British soil, I let the matter go, and returned to the more serious business of deciding what to do.

Looking at our wallets, it made sense to give town a miss for the night, and instead grab a few beers and tell stories in the tent.

A few moments later, we remembered that there was a small store along the bus route we’d traveled to the pub on our first night, so we quickly set off to grab some provisions before closing time.

We arrived just in the nick of time to grab enough Murphys and Fosters to stay merry for the rest of the evening. And at just the right time to grab some discounted snacks too.

Some time later, we returned to the campsite, opened a few beers and watched the sun go down in the background.

“It’s a pretty amazing place this isn’t it” I said to the lads.

“Aye” agreed Gez.

“Reminds me of the field” said Lewis, laughing.

I turned to Lewis. “Yes, the field. The field I woke up in. That you left me in.”

Lewis laughed “yeah – that’s the one!”

“…b@$#ard…” I said, taking a swig of Murphys.

“Reminds me of the barmaid…” said Gez from the background.

“Eh?” I responded, puzzled.

“From the pub, the other night” replied Gez, sipping his Fosters.

“Ahhhh… Starting to regret the decision to leave are we?” said Lewis, smirking.

Gez started to pull the label off his bottle. “No” he replied.

“You know, tearing the label off your beer is supposed to be a sign of sexual frustration” I said, stifling a smile, “did you know that?”

“No” said Gez, looking at me. “So what does it mean if you crush your cans and tear up the box they came in?” he asked, staring at the pile of metal and cardboard next to me.

Lewis laughed.

…nothing” I said.

But I knew exactly what it meant.

As I slept that evening, my dreams were invaded by my Thai waitress. And by the stunning girl that had captured my attention on Sunday.

They were both so lovely. And doing such lovely things to each other.

A the sound of thunder came from somewhere in the background. An unexpected bolt of lightning struck in between them and shocked me into consciousness.

Waking up from a happy dream that feels real to you, is never a comfortable sensation.

It’s a little like being ripped from a picture of the life you should be living, only to be thrown into the body of someone you wish you weren’t.

Right then, I wanted to be anyone but me.

As I rubbed my eyes, and thought long and hard about the Thai waitress, I was sure that in another universe somewhere, we were both very happy together.

It was just a pity that I lived in this one, in which we were apart.

‘God, I really need to get laid’ I thought to myself, closing my eyes.

Lewis farted.

I threw my shoe at him again.

“Look lads, I don’t think we should just look around for a room today” I said to Lewis and Gez as we sat in the tent together, chomping on reduced price breakfast sandwiches. “I think we need to pack our stuff up here and go and get ourselves a room somewhere. We need somewhere closer to town…”

Leaning to my right I unzipped the tent entrance.

“…with a window we can open” I said, directing my comment towards Lewis.

As we packed our things up and struggled with the tent, it felt as though our holiday were only just about to begin.

It didn’t take more than half an hour in town to find a cheap hostel (The City Manor) and dump our stuff in a two-bed room. The room wasn’t fantastic, and the shower looked like it had been broken since it was installed, but it was a massive improvement on sleeping in a field.

After we’d unpacked and changed our clothes, Lewis and Gez went off to grab some breakfast, while I made a trip to the barbers…

The luck of the Irish – pt 7
March 11, 2009, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Dublin | Tags: , , , , ,

(Bonjour! Ave-e-vu read part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6? No? Then you’d better have a butchers and get yourself upto speed!)

We ducked and dived through the night crowds as I struggled to keep her in sight while holding on to Gez.

“F@£king SPORTS BAR!” shouted Gez at the doormen of a random pub as we walked past.

“And there goes another place we’re not getting into” said Lewis, pushing Gez forward.

In the distance I saw her enter through a well lit doorway.

“Where are we going?” asked Lewis.

“…I want to go back to the Sports Bar…” grumbled Gez.

“Lads – we’re going there” I said, pointing towards Busker’s Bar.

A classy joint - Buskers Bar

A classy joint - Buskers Bar

As we arrived, we took a moment to look at the outside of the pub and peer through the windows to check out the people within.

It was a pretty classy joint. And obvious that they’d recently done it up to make it even classier. Spent a lot of money on it too from what we could see.

Almost as if via a common telepathic understanding, we all checked our wallets.

The object of my desire walked past the window, stopped, turned and looked out into the dark distant Dublin sky.

She didn’t notice me as she looked up, but I noticed how she was looking tired and lonely.

‘I’m going to be the man who makes sure she isn’t tired and lonely anymore’ I told myself, checking my wallet again.

“Right – best behaviour and no more Red Gerwyn” I said to Gez, verbally wagging my finger as we walked towards the door.

The doormen looked at me, and waved me in. ‘Result!’ I thought, mentally high-fiving Lewis as he joined me just inside the doorway. The curly haired girl was finally within my reach.

We turned to look back, and in slow motion watched Gez be denied entry to the third pub in a row. I watched his face slowly mouth ‘YOU FU- –‘ just before we both bolted for the door.

As I woke up the morning after to the sound of more farting from Lewis, I sighed and held my hands over my eyes. It had become pretty obvious that we should just call it a night as we’d dragged Gez away from Buskers’ doors kicking and screaming.

I rubbed my eyes, turned away from the entrance and looked at the contents of Gez’s bag (which was piled up in a corner). Sports tops, shorts, tracksuit bottoms, one pair of jeans and a shirt.

The contents of my bag were no better really. Based on the night before, my idea of shopping first thing had gone from ‘a good idea’ to downright essential.

Lewis farted again in the background.

I threw my shoe at his head.

After a fairly quiet bus ride in (Gez was rather poorly after his Budweiser experience, and unwilling to talk about the previous evening’s events) and a spot of breakfast, we went shopping. A store selling cheap clothing was quickly found, and we set about getting ourselves something reasonable on a 20 Euro budget.

It didn’t take long for me and Gez to find a few decent Hawaiian shirts and a couple of long sleeve t-shirts for relatively nothing, but unfortunately I couldn’t find a passable pair of jeans for similar money. And at the same time, our bling bling shop assistants were making me feel that my footwear was in need of some ‘sprucing up’ (thanks to our muddy campsite).

For the first and only time in my life, I bit the bullet and walked with Lewis and Gez into River Island. Before I knew what had hit my wallet, I’d left with a pair of red jeans and some very comfortable tan leather shoes for somewhere in the region of 120 Euros. The shoes and jeans were pricey – and I had to use my new ‘emergency only‘ credit card to get them both – but man alive did I feel the business when I was trying them on.

‘It’s worth it’ I thought to myself.

As we walked around Dublin we couldn’t help but drift back towards the Temple Bar area to check out the local talent and scout for the evening ahead.

Lewis and Gez didn’t notice me doing it, but every now and then I’d peer through a window to see if my love interest was anywhere to be seen.

Sadly, she wasn’t

But I did catch a glimpse of a tattoo shop, and a barber. I toyed with the idea of getting something small and Celtic to remember Dublin by, but quickly changed my mind when I saw the prices and artwork on offer.

The prices in the barber’s shop were much more reasonable however. I booked an appointment for the following day, and decided to have a think about what I wanted later in the evening.

Dublin Zoo?” said a Japanese tourist to Lewis as I walked out of the barbers.

“Erm… Babylon Zoo?” said Lewis, making a reference completely lost on the Asian gentleman in front of him.

“Dublin Zoo?” repeated the man, pointing to a leaflet with a mini map.

“Dublin Zoo… Dublin Zoo…” responded Lewis, nodding and looking at the map. “Ah – Dublin Zoo” said Lewis, pointing at one side of the map “not Temple Bar” he continued, pointing at a nearby street sign.

“No Dublin Zoo?” said the man, somewhat crestfallen.

“No, no Dublin Zoo” replied Lewis, making a sad face.

“No Dublin Zoo…” said the man, leaving to rejoin his party. “Ahhhh… No Dublin Zoo…” said the crowd as they walked past us.

“Hey lads! Dublin Zoo?” asked Lewis.

“Dublin Zoo.” said Gez.

If only Dublin Zoo were this interesting

If only Dublin Zoo were really this interesting

Dublin Zoo reminded me a lot of the Borth Animalarium.

If you’ve ever been to the Animalarium, you’ll know that a comparison like that isn’t a good thing for Dublin Zoo.

When I was much younger, my mother took me to Dudley Zoo. I was fascinated by the gorillas, meerkats and kangaroos all living together in close proximity.

Looking back on the visit, it conjoured up thoughts of comical conversations between animals, and situations not unlike the plot(s) of the Madagascar films within my four year old brain.

In my nineteen year old brain however, it all looked a bit bleak, more than a little lifeless – and overwhelmingly sad. ‘None of these animals want to be here’ I thought to myself ‘I bet they’ve not even enjoyed themselves since they arrived, being poked and prodded left right and centre…’

I pressed my face up against the glass of the tiger enclosure.

“Poor tiger‘ I thought ‘all alone in this world…” I said to Lewis.

Without warning, the tiger leapt for me with his claws outstretched, and came crashing into the glass I was pressed up against.

“…but that b@$£ard can stay right the f@£k where he is…”

The luck of the Irish – pt 6
March 9, 2009, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Dublin | Tags: , , , , ,

(Stop stop stop! Backup there fella! If you’re new to the site, chances are you haven’t read part 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 yet – be sure to read them first – the below will be so much better if you do…!)

I sank into my seat and stared at her as she approached the bar.

Her beauty was comparable to a crisp summer’s morning, radiant but slightly chilling. I had to find some way to attract her attention before my confidence faltered.

I swiveled the chair round to face Lewis and Gez, who were pretending to fly next to the window. My stomach churned again. I turned back.

‘How can I get her attention…?’ I asked myself, looking at the world with a MacGuyver-esqe slant. My eyes scanned the small table next to me. I spotted Lewis’ wallet, three spots of Guinness, a half empty glass and Gez’s backpack (clipped around the table for security).

‘If I can just hook the arm of the backpack… I can bring the table closer to me, slowly reach down to grab the half drunk pint, and try to catch her eye…’

My foot reached for the backpack’s dangling arm, and on the third attempt – I hooked into the strap.

Slowly, I began to pull the table towards me. Going too fast would have made me spill the drink, but going too slow could have meant her leaving before my grand entrance.

It was a precise art – but as it was only an inch away, I felt confident I’d succeeded in getting the timing just right.

Then one of her bumbling friends walked by me to look out of the window.

I say bumbling in an uncomplimentary manner because as she walked, she accidentally knocked the arm of a man by the bar, elbowed a girl in the ribs – and most importantly kicked the table I was moving – setting in motion a most unfortunate series of events.

The table jolted forwards, and with it, the half empty glass.

Instinctively, I quickly moved forwards to grab the glass, but missed.

The glass ‘bounced’ slightly on the table and ejected its contents onto the crotch of my jeans.

“AHHH! COLD!” I shouted, flinging myself back into the seat as Lewis and Gez sat down next to me.

I clutched the seat arms and looked up.

A room full of people stared back at me.

The angelic lady looked at my face, then my crotch, then my face again, and began to laugh.

Half the room joined her.

“Lads – I want to go now” I said, closing my eyes.

It may as well have been a rope bridge for all I cared

It may as well have been a rope bridge for all I cared

As we walked back towards the bus stop, Gez and Lewis cackled like hyenas.

“Mate… Best fail ever…” said Gez, patting me on the back.

Lewis turned to me as if to offer some words of comfort, but took one look at my crotch and burst out laughing again.

Just before we left, I’d made a quick trip to the gift shop for something to hide the damp patch.

In my haste, I’d grabbed a golf towel and a rugby top to cover the watermark on my jeans and replace the t-shirt I was wearing (which had also caught some ‘splash damage‘, and now smelt like – well – exactly where we were, the inside of a brewery).

As it happened, the top I’d chosen seemed to accentuate the patch instead of hiding it, almost directing the eye towards the dark blue embarrassment in between my legs. This, unfortunately, left me with no other alternative than to tuck the golf towel into the front of my jeans.

I traveled around Dublin for an hour looking like an extra from Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat, a mess of different types of clothes and colours, before the patch was no longer visible. It still stank though.

When we decided to head back and get changed to go out later in the evening – I was a very happy man. Although Guinness is a lovely drink, having your crotch smell of it for a few hours will turn you right off the stuff. ‘Perhaps the genius idea of bottling a designer Irish brewery scent, isn’t quite so genius after all’ I mused to myself.

As sod’s law would have it, the bus dropped us off on the opposite side of the motorway to the campsite, and I had to face my second man made (vertigo inducing) structure of the day.

The thin, wet, metal motorway bridge.

When we’d been traveling back, there had been a small downpour that had created several tiny little rainbows, each (no doubt) with gold encrusted leprechauns at the end of them.

Lewis and I had loved the sight of so many in one field to the left of us, but Gez had been less impressed, choosing instead to look out of the other window – towards the direction of our rural pub from the evening before.

We knew he was running over ‘should I’ and ‘what if’ questions in his head. And most probably he was mentally running over the seam of her tights too.

I took a few cautious steps towards the bridge, and I felt my legs begin to buckle. Closing my eyes, I grabbed hold of Lewis’ shoulder and walked across the bridge, terrified. Coming to the other side, I scampered down the stairs and bolted towards the gravel path leading back towards our camp site.

Dragging my other jeans out of my bag, I quickly rifled through my possessions are created a makeshift inventory:

  • Three pairs of jeans (one now requiring a wash);
  • Four t-shirts (one also requiring a wash);
  • One smart shirt;
  • Two towels (one beach – wet, one golf – dry);
  • A brand new rugby shirt (that I was becoming quite fond of);
  • Several pairs of socks;
  • Plenty of boxer shorts;
  • One pair of causal / smart shoes;
  • Half a bottle of Lynx deodorant, and;
  • A box of condoms.

A small bit of mental ‘acceptable body odour‘ calculating later, I suggested a shopping trip as an item for the following morning.

Taking the bus back into town after changing, we spotted advertisements for a friendly Ireland vs Australia football match later in the week.

“We’ll have to find a bar with Sky to give that a watch on Tuesday” I said to the lads.

“Definitely – grab a few beers and our put our feet up I reckon!” agreed Lewis as we arrived at O’Connell Bridge again. “But first – where to now?”

We wandered up and down the Temple Bar strip, meeting the strange people of Dublin’s sidewalks and taking every opportunity to peer through windows and check out bars to plan the week ahead. Stopping in a Sports Bar, we sat down, grabbed a few Budweisers and ordered ourselves some dinner.

Steak and chips was the dish of the day for all of us – and soon after our meals arrived, we tore them to pieces and devoured all but the plates and cutlery. As you can probably guess, our chosen Sports Bar did an excellent steak.

Exiting the bar more than a little stuffed, we headed towards a nightclub that Lewis had spotted earlier in the day. Waiting patiently in the queue, we were anything but happy when Gez and I were declined entry for wearing ‘sporting apparel’.

Neither of us understood why a Newcastle shirt and a Guinness rugby top would cause offense in the heart of Ireland, but we turned away nonetheless (admittedly after a stunted ‘conversation’ with a bulky balding doorman).

“Back to the Sports Bar I guess” said Gez, heading in that general direction.

Upon arrival, we again waited patiently in a queue to get in (it had become surprisingly busy in the space of a very short time) and found that we were yet again denied entry because of our clothing.

“You are f@$king kidding me” said Gez, looking a greasy little bouncer in the eye. “We were here before. This is a SPORTS bar. SPORTS. Get it? SPORTS.

The bouncer stared Gez in the eye and told him to do something rather unpleasant involving a spatula and no lubricant.

Luckily, Lewis and I saw the look in Gez’s eye and carried him off just as ‘Red Gerwyn‘ began to rear his ugly little head.

“F@£king c@$k sucking f@£king b@$tards!” he shouted as we hurriedly dragged him down a side alley.

Budweiser really doesn’t agree with you does it mate” I said, clutching Gez’s arm ‘just in case’.

“…f@£king SPORTS bar…” grumbled Gez.

And then, from the corner of my eye, the picture of loveliness from earlier reappeared, walking towards Fleet Street.

“Okay – so where to now?” asked Lewis, who was also holding onto Gez’s arm.

“Follow me” I said, watching the the curly haired vixen from afar…