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The Vacuum Issue 12 Down Mexico Way spacer The Vacuum Issue 12 - Down Mexico Way
Bloomer and Keogh Investigate
Dublin
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This week we're in Dublin town on our holidays. Like moths we are dazzled and disoriented by the bright lights of the big city. After sampling a pint of the black stuff we spiral into the shamrock encrusted magic of an advertisers dream world. Oh to be sure to be sure to be sure to be sure. My colleague and I, diddly I, cannot fully account for our first three days. For brevity we put this down to acclimatising and jet lag.
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Dublin is a bit busy and it's hard not to feel like the traffic is out to get you. The new racing style traffic lights with a digital count down help to give the streets an authentic demolition derby feel. Pedestrian crossings are no place for cockiness and Mr Keogh's highly developed anxiety glands will increase his chances of surviving long enough to reproduce. Meanwhile manufacturers are designing ruffty tufty SUVs with intimidation in mind. A current advert appears to be selling a tough new look to the under assertive business man. Those of you who are a couple of months behind with the rent will be pleased to hear that only a very small minority of these vehicles are piloted by whiskey supin’ rednecks who could knock out a horse with one punch.
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An experiment. Pedestrians and cyclists, next time you're nearly run over by an SUV why not test this hypothesis by dancing on the offending vehicle's bonnet in a neanderthal rage and see if the driver has the nerve to get out.
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Wednesday
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On our way to get a cup of coffee Mr Bloomer steps on what I suspect is a chocolate Muffin. On entering Bewleys we are informed by a sign that the butter has moved. I suspect this is because it's the bingo bus day out today at Bewleys. Sporting blue rinses and headscarfs they are hungry for butter. We finish our coffees and decide to go on a bus tour.
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To document our journey Mr Bloomer recommends a Paddy Irish camera. This particular piece of equipment was recommended to me on Parnell street by a cheery character who was so pleased with his acquisition he improvised a song celebrating its greatness and every one in the street was invited to join in. Not being much into the old public singing I opted to discuss the properties of his camera through ordinary conversation. He outlines the key points: it's called the Paddy Camera, it is covered in shamrocks, it is cheaper than a normal disposable camera by a margin of 2 euro. He also reveals that he plans to use this camera to document an attic based horticultural project on which he is engaged, before skipping off up the street singing. He did tell me where he got it but I can't find any today, they probably sold out pretty quickly.
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We give up on the Leprechaun camera and settled for a plain old normal one. Undeterred we find a 'Dublin Tours Hop on Hop off bus'. The official tour of Dublin lasts one hour fifteen minutes. Mr. Bloomer recommends Hopping on and hopping off immediately to avoid the fourteen-euro tariff. This cuts the tour down to mere seconds leaving our schedule free for another trip. Its good watching the Liffy go by while waiting for the next bus. It's a scary enough looking river. I wonder what lives in it. The man in Rory's fishing tackle shop says the river is closed but it's full of salmon and brown trout. He took it personally when I asked whether the fish were a bit green around the gills by the time they got to the city. 'Cleanest river in Europe' and he'll argue anyone who says otherwise. But I bet you there's more exciting, dark noodle doodle things, down there amongst the phlegm. Cleanest river in Europe. We've heard that before. I remember we were sitting by the majestic river Shannon watching a feeding frenzy of sea gulls. We thought it must be a shoal of spricks and went over to have a closer look to find they were eating bits of sweet corn spewing out of a big pipe. The bloke in charge of the sewerage and drainage system in Limerick told us that the dilution factor is so great that you can pump what ever you like into it.
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Here's our bus. The number 77 to Tallagh, and for one euro sixty we're stuck on the bus for ages so its good value for money. The journey is pretty uneventful. It is momentarily livened up by a family who smell of dog food and beat each other up in a freindly way. The bus driver calls for the last stop so we have to get off. We were suppose go to Tallagh city center but we must have missed it and this is the suburbs. we start walking across the rolling prairies in what we reckon must be the direction of civilisation - no sign of any gofers but the place is full of big rooks swaggering about the plains like John Wayne. Walking along a ridge surrounding some sort of factory we come across a surprising amount of flora and fauna. We see horses, chickens, geese, rooks, dogs, cats, ducks, rosehips, thorny stuff a waterway but still no gofers .
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Searching for food we come across the square shopping centre. Nestled amongst the foot hills of the Tallagh mountains the square shopping centre offers a wide range of snack foods and a feeling of despair.
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We especially enjoy the amusement arcade style solicitors. Its flashing sign tempting you in to spin the wacky wheel of law. Have a go even if you are not a gambling man. Why not try fairy liquid on your shoes and falling over in Carphone Warehouse.
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Thursday
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I have to admit to you that I'm not a big fan of crowds of people or running away from cars. So my first priority this morning is to find a relaxing place. The grounds of Trinity College are an oasis of calm right in the middle of the city. I feel like a Greek scholar walking amongst the buildings. After going to see the big Irish elk bones I find the cheapest source of dinner so far. Later while strolling about, I come across a vehicle that would have Mr. Bloomer quite excited. The TCD ground investigation unit, parked outside the department of civil structural engineering. Interested in what exactly they investigate I try to find somebody to talk to. As we are fellow investigators of the underground Dr. E R Farrell is happy to answer some questions. He informs me that the ground below Dublin consists predominantly of boulder clay. This makes it very stable and almost as solid as rock, making building relatively straightforward. He informs me that to date no buildings have been swallowed up by the earth. Sometimes pile driving is required when building on the pre glacial course of the Liffy. On rare occasions the piles have punctured unrelieved water pressures. The last time this happened was in 1986.
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I leave content, imagining the water exploding, blowing men and heavy plant up into the air. Distracted by whether this is the case I return like Colombo to ask just one more question. I am informed that it's not as spectacular as that and the foundations just fill up with water. Dr. Farrell with a distant stare tells me that unfortunately Dublin is built on very stable ground so nothing exciting happens. He looked disillusioned and I'm sure he won't mind me saying that I think he needs a good earthquake or volcano to cheer him up.
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Friday
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Unable to find a pram to sell things out of we take part in the Dublin tradition of being a sign post. It's not a bad way to spend the day. Doing very little we watch the world go by. The wind causes our sign distress so we have to point it in whatever direction the wind blows. This confuses the public. We decide to seek assistance of builders who keep walking past us tooled up with extensive utility belts. A New Zealand man only has 4 inch screws which he can't possibly use to fix our sign for health and safety reasons, the protrusions could have someone's eye out. A man from no exotic location only had hinges. We have to make like Rambo and eventually fix sign using old zip ties salvaged from a lamp post probably vestiges of the last abortion referendum so three cheers for the pope.
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Large Toblerones from a pram cost just two euros each, avocados 3 for a euro, and you can buy four lighters for a euro. This bears very well against five lighters for a pound. We decide that Moore street is our favourite street. It's the only place where people hang around and talk, say hello to strangers. Moore street is cosmopolitan but a cup of coffee doesn't cost 5 quid and is still called a cup of coffee. Some kids give us crisps and recommend an obscure brand of pop avilable from Aldi for just 50 cents a tin. We heed the advice but somehow end up with an obscure brand of whisky.
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Friday night
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I am lucky enough to take part in the local tradition of getting robbed blind beside Christchurch by ghosts. This all in one financial service is offered as an alternative to getting slowly bled dry in bite sized instalments by the Celtic tiger. All profit goes to cottage industry and it is a truly rustic experience. I enjoyed the one to one service offered by the rattling rapscallions.
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So that's nearly the end of our week and what a roller coaster of an adventure it's been this time. It's been like one big west end musical. But we can't stay forever, after all there's only so much tradition and culture you can take, and like Dorothy said, 'there's no place like home'. It's great to be heading back to Co. Down. A land where plastic shamrocks are rare, whin bushes are plentiful and the green isn't made in Taiwan.
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