An agent had expressed some interest in my first novel El Niño. That was enough to go drinking indefinitely til the contract for millions came. We were sitting in the pub. Wednesday afternoon. Rain soaked window and a blast of empty stools, except for two fellas in the corner talking Irish. There was a smell of soup and bleach and people outside were rushing from the rain towards their lunch. There was a politician on the radio saying the Celtic Tiger would go on forever. He couldn’t see an end to it. Something catastrophic would have to happen.
Cleaned out my pint. The world went sideways with the glass. Two pints, there, barman, when you get a chance. Did you hear I’m big shtuff. It was then I remembered the tickets.
‘I’m goin to Paddy Casey, tonight.’ I said.
‘Paddy Casey?’ Said McGrath. ‘I wouldn’t piss on that fella if he was on fire.’
‘He’s shite, he’s pure shite, I’d prefer to listen to cats bein tortured by electrocution. Christ, I’ll need a whisky to get over that statement..’
The barman said: ‘Ah, jez, he’s not that bad.’
‘He’s not. He’s worse. And the lyrics? Sure who wrote them songs, a demented six year old? Make that a double Jameson.’
‘I don’t know, he’s supposed to be good LIVE.’ I said.
‘LIVE my hole. LIVE up his hole maybe. If I went to his concert I’d take off my shoes and throw them at him. I’d be doin the world a favour. Shtop, Paddy Casey? And me writing songs here, and playin with my own band and people goin to listen to the likes of him then?’
‘€8.60.’ Said the barman.
I paid. We drank. The rain fell more. The pint was cool and full of escape. Barman left down the change with: ‘He had a good song there last year, can’t think of the name of it.’
‘Probably an anagram for shite.’ Said McGrath.
Another woman came in and ordered a whisky and sat on her own and nursed it as long as she good. She was counting bits of change from the bottom of her bag, trying to find the price of another. A busker outside broke into a blast of the tin whistle. Something rebellious, the Wolfe Tones maybe, it was hard to tell cos there was a rubbish truck ticking over at the same time, and two binmen were arguing through the loud crash of breaking glass in the compactor. One of the fellas talking Irish came up to the counter and ordered two pints of Special.
McGrath drank the double whisky, left the tumbler down, let the ice cubes rattle. The barman raised his eyebrows when he took back the glass. There was a sign on the wall for Double Vodka and Redbull – €10.
Then, I said: ‘I got the tickets free, won them on the radio. So you’re welcome to one if you want it.’
‘Oh.’ Said McGrath, contemplating.. ‘I suppose the first album wasn’t too bad. What time’s it on?’