Keep goin til ya hear the bang….

One time in Australia I was drinking with a fella and we were talking about cars, and lightning storms, and floods in the Northern Territory. We were in Broome, or Katherine, or Hall’s Creek, one of them. The air was soft and warm and the Jim Beam&Coke was going down well on his porch. And there was more porches, and people drinking, and everyone worked in the mines. He was saying to keep an eye on the temperature and if it goes up, no matter how much, even a bit, then get it checked and it’ll save the car in the long run. Now I’m down by the Shannon Weir in Athlone and the temperature is gone up to the last. There was nowhere else for it to go. It was like it was trying to escape, breakthrough the dashboard and into engine. If it was a game of Snake or Pacman it would go through the wall on the right and come in through the wall on the left again. I was waiting for the bang, the smoke, the plume of mechanical and financial disaster that usually followed. Same as the Insignia in Edenderry and the Qashqai in Claremorris and the Astra in Galway that time. And let’s not mention that fuckin Peugeot. My immediate plan was to park somewhere handy for a truck to tow it away. This was important. It was only seconds before all the lights came on and the engine would blow, and the power steering would die and then there’d be no hope of getting it anywhere.

            But this time nothing happened. The gauge stayed high, but the car continued to drive. Up by St. Peter’s Port and onto Connaught Street. The sun smiled on and people wandered by like nothing was the matter. Usually by now there’s a crowd gathered, and extras giving unwanted advice, and a smell like burning tyres and mechanical piss. Yet, the Focus glided through the panic like there was nothing wrong at all. No warnings, no stutter. I pulled in. Surprised and optimistic. Time to look at the engine like I knew something about them. The bonnet can only be opened with a key. One of them fancy ideas that never took off. Either way, I fucked it up about three months ago and now there’s a steel stick that does the job. You have to angle it through the front grille like you’re doing a blind endoscopy and then it clicks and slicks and you’re in. The engine was a bit hot but nothing solar. Plenty of water and coolant, no lack of oil. Time for Youtube. There was lads talking about sensors, and waterpumps, and putting eggs in the radiator. And click here, and like this, subscribe and follow, but there was no need, sure cos the needle was gone down by now and the car was grand. Sure they’re all mad in Australia anyway, and on Youtube, time to drive on, keep goin til ya hear the bang, and there was no bang yet. Might buy six eggs just in case but that’ll do.

Knightrider

On the road again, motorways, tolls, dying twilight and reluctant dawns. Dense fog like a symbol of the future. Sometimes the car sucks in the condensation and is slow to warm up. Chugs a bit, struggles through the gears, doesn’t fully commit to fifth. And then you have lads coming up the fast lane trying to flash you out of the way. One fella in a Polo got real emotional. Flash Flash Flash and drove right up so close you could see his dirty eyeballs. I pushed the rearview to the left so I couldn’t see him and let him drive around me. He was delighted, all thick revs and stressed acceleration, and took off. I gave him the fuck off flash back and turned up the radio and listened to all the good news which didn’t take long because there wasn’t any. Later, found a car park in Dublin close to the hostel where I was staying. It was tipped to be world class, great atmosphere, safe and friendly. And now It’s 2 o’clock in the morning and there’s a fella standing over the bed in a leather jacket. There’s a rucksack behind him against the wall and there was screeching and drunk skittering in the corridor outside. Your man said: ‘That’s my bed.’

            It was a four bed dorm and all the beds were full with people that were sleeping up until now. An American lad in the corner spoke and said, I think you’re in the wrong room.

            Your man was like something out of Knightrider with the collars up and the hard to see features. A woman to the left gave a dramatic toss from one side of the bunk to the other and there was a squeak of metal under pressure and the agitated sigh of someone that wished she’d paid extra for a hotel. Outside, through the window, there was two lads arguing at the wall of the Liffey and taxis strolled by and there was some girl with purple hair shouting at her friend up the street to come back, or hurry up, or some other variation of the intoxicated shriek.

            The Hoff looked around, figured it was a tough crowd, and picked up his rucksack and left. There was an almighty blast of light as he opened the door, like a portal into the sun, and you could see heads and legs running past. Think they were some kind of foreign language students playing fuck having a party. Things almost settled then, the room assembling itself into sense from the nonsense but I’d a fair idea your man would come back. Had that kind of vibe, like he’d walk around for a while, and try a few more doors and rooms, get quare looks from the students, and then arrive here again and start pulling at blankets and insisting he be allowed to stay. So I got up and went downstairs, through the blinding light and down the concrete stairs and asked them at the counter what the story was. The fella there was on a chair so low you couldn’t see his body so he just looked like a floating head. He said they’d had a few complaints already, and they were trying to find him, and did I know where he was, and could you let us know if he comes back, and sorry about this, and they were looking for him now and it shouldn’t be a problem soon, and sleep good, and enjoy your stay. World class. Great atmosphere. Safe and friendly.

Magazine road

After a while, the company left the country. Pulled out, reversed its financial boat and went full throttle over the waves of escape from the doomed Irish market. This is how I see them, on a yacht, or a ship, or some kind of super commercial freighter with a scrawny European name and a bright flag and lads in orange jumpsuits shaking their head at the coast of dreams that became their broke nightmare. They must have been thinking about all that promise and hope they had. Like them two lads that started one day and were going to change everything. Take over the Midlands Campaign, promote the region, grow the book, enlarge the territory, expand the reach. This was big, these guys had serious experience and credentials. This was what we’ve been waiting for. Except one lad couldn’t drive and the other had a fucked up Insignia that he couldn’t afford to fix. But this was ok. Let’s work towards solution based goals. Ideas like: Ask Micky to drive them around, sure isn’t that why we gave him the car, and he’s doing shag all anyway.

            I met them outside the designated hotel in Athlone. Expecting suits, sophisticated tablets, expensive ties and serious aftershave. Clean cut lads with a killer instinct and a desire to win. They struggled around the corner and the first fella had a three day stubble and thick glasses and a bag full of cigarette papers and tobacco and bottled tap water. He had habit of looking at the ground when he talked and explaining everything in rapid detail. The market was quiet. The customers were awkward. The product was poor. The company had such an awful wank of a name that half the public couldn’t even pronounce it. And the management were awful. The weather was dodgy. The walking was killing him. And they wouldn’t pay for buses and trains. And he needed a toilet. And herself at home had his head bushted about the price of schoolbooks and fuck this. The other lad was tall, quiet, black jeans, torn shoes, four kids, and no interest in the job. You could tell by the way he sat on the wall and worked hard scrolling through the phone. Half his day’s wages was already gone between the train down and lunch and it was nearly time to go home and there was no hope of commission, and did I know anyone looking to buy a broke down Insignia?

            This was great, the promised team, the life changing salary, the head hunted prize. The sun was laughing as we went over the speed bumps on Magazine road. Went around by Connaught Street and down O’Connell. Waved at the Romanian lad playing accordion at the roundabout. He was probably making more money than me today. The bridge felt uncertain, like it might break half way across and we’d fall in bonnet first and that’d be the end of the great campaign and sure who’d take over then? No Micky to drive anyone around, and the car in the river, and the two lads drenched wet on the way home on the train and still no sales. Ring ring, went the phone, looking for updates, numbers, progress. How’d you get on with the guys, Mick, exciting times ahead….