Four Duvel beers with Polish meal PRACTICAL SILESIAN WIFE cooked for my mother’s neighbours. “This beetroot is too hard,” they complain, but fearing instant Silesian vengeance, immediately apologise.
Bottle of red wine, described as being ‘throaty, full-bodied and slightly leathery..’ while eating meal with friends at two-hundred year old, west of Ireland hunting lodge. PSW has two glasses of wine for first time in a year and wonders aloud if one of my friends is bulimic as he keeps going to the toilet. Silence at table. I lift the mood by doing Roger Moore-era James Bond impressions.
Sampling blonde European beers in Galway Tapas bar. PSW has one beer and proposes a bet on last eight teams in World Cup. Everyone at our table picks a team and puts five euro into the pot. I demand Brazil. PSW picks Germany. I laugh at her naivety.
Drinking Guinness and whiskey chasers on remote Inish Boffin Island. Irish barman learns PSW is Polish and goes to get a Polish man who also works at hotel. Irish barman constantly repeats his one word of Polish – ‘Osiol’. “What does that mean?” I ask.
Champagne and grapefruit cocktail at Afternoon Tea in Ashford Castle, county Mayo. “So less elaborate than its European equivalents,” says PSW about the castle. Plaque outside tells us that the castle was built in 1228 by my du Burgo ancestors.
Root beer while eating pies in ‘The Pie Maker’ in Galway City. Picture of Jan Pawel in the corner. “Why?” I ask owner. “Why not?” he replies.
Pale Ale at Mitchell’s Seafood Restaurant in Clifden. Swim in Roundstone village. Water 13 degrees. PSW takes fives times as long as me to get into water, but swims five times further. Going home, I revert to driving on right side of road until PSW reminds me I’m in Ireland.
Four defiant whiskeys before going to the English department of my old University in Galway. I ask them to give Krzystof Barnicki (Silesian who translated ‘Finnegans Wake’ in to Polish) some academic support. English professor laughs in my general direction.
Three Weisse Beers in Sheridan’s, Knocknacara with Col. Eamonn Colclough (retired). He tells PSW she could earn 100,000 euro if she became a doctor in the Irish army. PSW doesn’t want to do military missions abroad. I offer to give her a piggyback ride home if she reconsiders.
Two 11% ‘Brainblasta’ beers to celebrate an important occasion.
A mug of something dark, while visiting a Hungarian anaesthetist who lives near my mother. She says she could give PSW a job “tomorrow if she were an anaesthetist.” I mutter that I’m a writer, but no-one is listening.
A rough concoction of coke and wine with Connolly’s of Taylor’s Hill. Their children play with our children. The dawning realisation that my link to Ireland is at best tenuous, at worst severed. To return to the place of my birth, my youth, my hope, and yet to come away feeling stale and flat is truly terrible and the sadness lingers.
Return to Poland. Boop (Flat green peas) and black tea. Write column. Keep going.