Monday, August 30, 2004

I know you got soul-ed out

For my birthday (which was now three weeks ago) Emma took me to Dublin for the day, flight out at 10am, back home by midnight. In between Trinity College, Grafton Street, Temple Bar, and all the other delights Dublin offers. It was a brilliant way of spending a day. Our mid-afternoon break saw us visit Bewley’s Café. According to the Rough Guide, Bewley’s is so much of a Dublin institution, when it ran into financial trouble the Government had to step in amidst public pressure and prop it up until new investors could be found.

I can’t deny that Bewley’s is one nice café; its labyrinthine layout hides a myriad of mezzanine floors and hidden rooms. Nice though it was, I didn’t I feel the magic that whipped that national fervour. My Fanta and pink iced bun were very nice, but it didn’t stir my spirit.

Well of course not, I’m not a Dubliner; Bewley’s has no history with me so it doesn’t exist in my soul. To get to the soul of something, you have to absorb it as much as possible. If I’d been visiting Bewley’s with my friends for years, and shared thousands of hours of laughter and sadness and drama, I’d have a connection that would stir me into action.

It takes years to get a connection with any city, but I can’t get anything at all just by turning up. For this reason we walked the Dublin sites rather than take a bus tour. I’m averse to bus tours or anything that reduces the meaning of visiting a city down to a tick list of ‘things to see’. It separates you from the true soul of the place, you may not really ‘get it’ in a day, but by sitting on a bus you’re guaranteed not to.

Likewise, people love Bar-b-que-ing because it makes a connection with their inner spirit to fend for themselves. It makes little sense on a practical level; you can’t guarantee the weather, it takes much more effort than regular cooking, it’s messier and less hygienic, but people love it. Making the oven, lighting the fire, nurturing it, and cooking it. Bypassing any element of the true bar-b-que-ing process releases another finger from that connection. That’s why I resist the pressure to buy a gas powered bar-b-que. I know they’re more convenient, I can’t deny that gas-powered bar-b-queing tastes exactly the same as proper a bar-b-que. But by rationalising the process, all in the name of convenience we will eventually get to the stage where we won’t bother doing it at all.


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