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Bloomer & Keogh Investigate spacer Issue 6
Bloomer and Keogh Investigate
Hitching To Dublin
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The Mission at Hand:
In order to investigate stranger's attitudes towards us I propose that Mr Keogh and myself engage in a most sociological adventure. The experiment will take the form of a hitchhiking race to Dublin and back. Mr Keogh will wear his best suit, shiny shoes and carry a brief case as is befitting of him. I will dress in a common and slapdash manner (my normal attire) and carry a shopping bag. I propose that pertinent dress will not serve to grease Mr Keogh's passage but will simply furnish him with less interesting conversation. The fact that the arse is out of my trousers will not I suspect adversely affect my chances of vehicular transportation.
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Mr Bloomers passage:
I started off by cheating, I caught the bus to Banbridge, but at least I caught it. Cheated again by persuading a mate who drives that there was a social event on a beach near Drogheda that was worth attending. He was easily convinced because I had the directions. This is not exactly hitching but is effective. The directions worked and we conserved fuel by driving at 56 mph. So I was only a 'kick in the arse' off Drogheda and hadn't taken my thumb out of my pocket. After some light recreation we engaged the early morning public in conversation. Mostly they are not very optimistic about the weather but aren't too judgmental and think the party is good clean fun. One googley eyed Droghedoian gives us a wide berth, googley eyes are apparently a genetic trait of the inhabitants of Drogheda.
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Later:
Over the next dune golfers are assembling at the tee off and passing judgement in our direction, it seems unlikely that they will venture into the rough. Then from nowhere comes a lone golfer at speed, I didn't realise that his specially designed shoes were so effective on any thing other than manicured alien grass. He is smoking a pipe and is marching around our encampment quite deliberately, he appears to be conducting an in-depth examination, peering into cars, doing a head count and taking an inventory of equipment. He cannot be distracted from his important work by those who want to draw him in to a conversation about the weather. Eventually he explains that there is a golf competition on and our persistent jubilance is ruining it for every one.
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Mr Keogh begins his journey:
We've to get a bus to Banbridge in order to get a lift with Sean to a Party in Drogheda, we can then set out on our way to Dublin early on Sunday morning with clear heads, focusing on the investigation ahead of us.
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Saturday night:
I've just left the workshops after eating Marty and Helen out of house and home. I make some preparations for the trip ahead. It's a lovely night, its like proper summer time, think I'll have a bath. The air is humid. From my bath I can hear lots of people passing outside, enjoying the warm night. Our big old house must have been grand in its day. Its a bit run down now, Its like I imagine a lot of places might have been towards the end of the days of the Rhaj. I'm sure they had big baths with feet just like this one, with a gramophone playing wonkey music.
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I leave the house as happy as Larry. I emerge from an eddy of dilly dally back at the workshops. 'Nicky ye eejit why are you not on the bus'. Helen has raised a very appropriate point and it will take some thinking about; fuck I'm an eejit. All dressed up and nowhere to go. It's too late to hitch and that was the last bus. I'll have to meet Mr. Bloomer tomorrow. Where's my phone? Instruments of communication seem to be rationed.
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Sunday morning:
I decide that it will probably save me time to get the bus straight to Dundalk: the first bus isn't until 10:00am. The ticket is eight pounds which leaves me with two pounds that I intend to blow on some fast live'n. I might catch the dregs of the party-, which is good enough for me.
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Life on the road in an Ulster bus. At least I can sit here and watch the world go by, or as much of the world as you can fit along a road. Aha, Dog grooming parlour sounds good. A poster campaign warning people about the risks of food poisoning is a bit over the top. I pass a bill board, the pixel faced man who often helps police with their enquires on crimewatch UK is saying 'I put my best friend in hospital', he's looking all ashamed if you squinted. I'm sure his mate saw the funny side of it. We once poisoned our mate Dave with canal water and you don't see us complaining on a billboard. A woman has just walked past with six sausage dogs; the leads look like cocktail sticks. I've got that annoying song by George Harrison stuck in my head, 'if you don't know where your going every road will get you there' In my experience if you genuinely don't know where your going you should stay well away from roads.
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Mr.Bloomer gets closer:
Jump in a car with a guy I know who's not too specific about his destination but thinks it might be the Meath Vs Dublin match at Croke park. We're hitched at by a man with a rather aggressive technique; he's standing in the middle of the road waving his arms about. He gets in the car and explains that HE'S LOCAL. We take the scenic route to Belrothery where the driver has finally decided to abandon his car and get a lift with his dad and brother. I change cars, get in, say hello and promptly fall asleep. On waking in Dublin I have blurred vision and can only see hundreds of football fans: I know that I must travel in the opposite direction to them. I set off against the flow.
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Notice a man getting out of a rallied up hatch back with a white snack sized toy dog and observe that the dog is just the right size to fit up his oversized exhaust pipe. I bet he doesn't pick up hitcher's. Luckily I find a park and have a well-earned sleep.
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Bloomer and Keogh Investigate - Hitching To Dublin
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Mr. Keogh falls by the wayside:
After the bus, even though I am dressed to the nines, I don't have much luck with hitching. I'm standing in the rain on the 'Lords day' and a priest drives past avoiding eye contact. Who can blame him? There are important visitors, biscuits and iced buns to be eaten on this holiest of days. It's generally a bad day to get a lift; everybody's back seats are full of babies and grannies. Maybe all the people who normally give you a lift are drunk. I go to the nearest pub to use the phone. I use half my money phoning my own answer machine. I phone the 'not available' woman on Mr. Bloomer's phone. A successful meeting is looking unlikely; I am over twelve hours late and in the wrong place, without the means of communication. I could preserver to Dublin but I could also buy ten chomps with the last of my resources. With heavy heart I abort mission. I'll have to conduct my research on the way back to Belfast.
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I don't think anybody south of Dundalk bridge trusts me in a suit, I must look English. Go north of the bridge and get lifted pretty quickly. He's only going as far as the Carrickdale, on the border. I remember the last time I was stuck there somebody got stabbed in the back with a bottleneck and made an awful mess. The bloke driving said he remembers somebody there biting a man on the arm resulting in getting his teeth knocked out to prevent it happening again. Get lifted from the Carrickdale in about ten minutes. Another fancy car, maybe my splendid attire is standing me in good stead. On the way to Newry I get told about a drunken sailor recently wrecking the docks with a bit of free style cowboy parking.
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Mr Keogh back across the border:
Today is the day to be in Newry, it's a free sample extravaganza in the Buttercrane shopping centre. Thank God. A delicatessen is flaunting their wares. I make up a Scooby snack and discretely do a couple of laps before once again proving my sampling skills. I'm tempted to ask them to do me up a baguette- It's more like holidays now. A wee girl passes me wearing a miniature wedding dress; maybe it's first Holy Communion day. I bet you she would have got a lift no bother in the south, its one to remember in the future. Revitalised I continue on my way. From talking to my next chauffeur I find out he's a Christian. It's a first. Usually I only see those fish symbols on the back of cars as the good Samaritans speed away. He seems interested to find out what I'm doing all dressed up in the rain. I'd like to think he thought I was an international playboy down on my luck after some fast live'n and hard gambling: prime development site for saviour. I get to Dromore only to get picked up by another man on a mission, tending to one of the lost flock. If I score a hat trick I'll be saved. His methods were more crafty, he gave me religious leaflets and drops me in a place were I would have plenty of time to reflect. Lisburn.
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Lisburn City Blues:
I'm in for the long haul. The town is full of Orangemen, maybe they'll mistake me for one of their own and I'll make a fast escape. Enough time passes to get such a ridiculous notion out of my head. If you were obstructing the road here by bleeding in the middle of it they'd only stop to phone the D.O.E.
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Soaked and with on coming sleeping sickness I refer to my religious leaflets, for I have sinned. The bowler hat brigade have resisted temptation to open their umbrellas even though ye clouds are pissing with rain. Behold now is the day of salvation. Ye shall be free indeed. I now accept Jesus as my saviour and with his help I intend to confess him before men. I finally get rescued from this dark, dark hole; now a thriving city according to the sign. Hallyellulya. I ask if he's a Christian. That's a negative. Fair enough, I'm not saved but there's always a next time, it saves me having to hand out leaflets when I get home. I get back disappointed; I did not retrieve enough information to judge whether being immaculately dressed makes a difference when it comes to getting a lift. I get back to the house and hope Mr. Bloomer isn't getting violated in a Dublin door way
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Bloomer's day:
The good people of Dublin allow me to enjoy my sleep in peace and I feel a lot better on waking. Went into town and buttered some bread on O'Connell street with a biro pen. An unconscious street drunk is balanced precariously on the other end of the bench. People seem to think he's my friend and look at me as if I should try to stabilise him in some way. I suppose I could put a guy rope on him but why should I? He's a loser, he could have gone to the park, it was quiet there.
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I am awaiting a phone call from my suited college Mr Keogh. Eventually it come's and he tells me that he had got as far as Drogheda and turned back because it was raining and he only had a pound left. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get to gloat at my victory in the first half. Being first is no good if nobody comes in second place.
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I was on the new boardwalk by the Liffy. Some kids shouted at me 'mister, mister look at the rat', they pointed into the river where we saw a huge rat blotted and belly up, he really was a big one. What a treat. The kids speculated that the marks on his belly were caused by a pellet gun but were probably not the cause of death and had happened during his passage down stream. I had to agree with their diagnosis. Mr. Keogh will be upset he missed this. I like this board walk. Last time I was here I saw a man get fished out by the fire brigade, I don't know what possessed him to jump in but he'd created quite a spectical. A crowd had gathered then the guards handcuffed him and took him away. Went in search of harbourage and found some people I knew. Had tea and toast and went to the pub.
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Mr. Keogh Existential moment:
I don't know if it was due to my appearance or because it is Sunday that I didn't end up in a car with any rare breeds: like the vibrating humming man who smelt of prawns. It wouldn't have bothered me if he had taken his eyes off my ear to look at the road. He was worse than the barking man. But it's all a good laugh afterwards. A lot of the time people give you a lift on long journeys because they're looking for a good story or just a bit of crack. This means that in some cases wearing a suit might hinder your chances as you might not appear to be appropriate entertainment. If one person gives you a lift because they fear the repercussions of eternal damnation and want to spread the word and another lifts you because they simply can't see a person stuck Š. I wonder who is the better person. Do motive's matter in God's eyes? or does he just score you on actions. I'm sure regulations are a lot tighter than that up there, according to these leaflets however they're not. They are susceptible to a bit of political voting. There'd be a lot of nil pwa's and Terry (Wogan) would be up in arms.
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Mr.Bloomer homeword bound:
Got a lift from outside the airport in Dublin in about five minutes (I don't think you could do that in Belfast) from a guy who was very enthusiastic about generally everything, held great hope's for the future and thought that everybody should be allowed to do what ever they wanted. He was going to Drogheda. I said I'd always wanted to see the shrunken head of Drogheda, he said it was only a bit of rubber in a box and I'd be an idiot to bother going near it. He dropped me off on the north side at what he reckoned was a good hitching point. He was right. There was lot's of traffic moving slowly and a big lay-by to pull in. It was sunny and I had a cheesy grin. I soon had a lift to Newry; the pilot gave me the impression that he didn't really want my hitching service but was happy to help me get where I was going. Some pilots are like this, other's pick you up because they want to be entertained. Some would not pick you up if they thought you were going to the shop to buy a pint of milk, they want someone with a bag on their back who's going somewhere. Some people's requirements can be more practical. I once hitched a lift with a guy who was fly posting, he required me to jump out every half-mile and stick a poster up. The passenger door didn't open and I had to get in and out of the window, it was just like the General Lee (The car in Dukes of Hazzard) except the brakes didn't work. As I near Belfast I realise that my job will become more difficult near Banbridge; drivers may gesticulate back to me either with their thumb or middle finger. At Lisburn you can expect them to slow down and throw projectiles at you, angry at the idea of someone getting something for nothing, instead of working in a job they hate to meet the repayments on their Corsa. This is so they can drive round town with no where to go.
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The hitch hikers guide to the province:
Get a lift from Newry O.K. Despite the speed of the traffic at my chosen spot being such that on one occasion the lid of my sandwich was blown by the draft of a passing articulated lorry onto my shoulder where it balanced until rescued and put back in its rightful place. My lift is going to Lisburn which as previously mentioned is no good for hitching; its no good for anything. I decide to get out at Banbridge.
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I'm standing on the hard shoulder in the rain, the traffic rolls by at 70mph and I think why I don't live here I wonder if I should get the bus back to Newry and try for a express lift to Belfast. I suspected that the most likely vehicle to give me a lift would be a Japanese van. The vehicles are easier to spot: it's not that unusual to get a lift in a Merc or a BMW. Despite the righteousness of their driver's no one I have ever known has got a lift from a VW camper or any car with a fish on the back. The operators of these vehicles would not give you a lift. Never mind ; I've got a lift going to Belfast, great. He's listening to Hugo Duncan and he's a talker; 'you wanna talk? I'll talk the leg off ya, just get me past Lisburn'. 'Yes the Germans do make great diesel's' and 'with drivers like that on the road its no wonder there are accident's', I couldn't agree more, no bother - I'm talking.
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