Needed a place to stay after the staff party in Dublin. Nothing fancy, just a cheap Plan B to lay the head in the early hours. The maps said I was there, but it was hard to know. Looked more like a church with the hard stone and the big wooden doors. I got out and some fella pulling a wheelie bin walked over. Had the look of one of the lads carrying the crucifix up the hill. Asked me if I was lost, and I said I was just trying to check in. He looked me up and down, Terminator scan for dodgy types, and said to follow him. Around the corner, through the warm sun and orchard like ambience, Garden of Eden vibe, wheelie bin style. There’s an extra here but I can’t see him. He’s in a vague sleeveless shirt and undistinguished glasses. Maybe he’s part of our parade, or just got caught in the shot, and now we’re stuck with him pulling focus. Your man with the bin asked if I could see the big arch, through the big tree. He was like one of those ageless fellas that walk The Camino in their feet and take part in impossible charity cycles and drinks raspberry tea. Grey stubble, khaki shorts, always tanned somehow. Eventually I could see the arch and he said to go over there and himself and the nobody went off screen.
Then. There was a squeaky door and a smell like incense at a funeral. Everything was timber and triangular windows and high ceilings. Inside, there was an American with a long beard and a gym bag with walking sticks poking out the side. He was asking a question to the girl at the desk. Something about sights, scenery, guidebook recommendations. He looked like a shady hitchhiker from Highway to Heaven. She was losing patience, but he was in no hurry. Eventually he left and I was next, after the confused Ukrainian and the couple in shorts and fancy runners. She gave me directions at the desk and a list of Saints and holy corridors and a keycard to get inside. I followed the instructions and found a long hall populated with pictures of priests and Vatican style glass. They might have been Popes and Bishops too but it was hard to know. They all had that stern look of disapproval, like they were saying: Who let you in?
The lift was a clattery affair. Prone to mid journey sulks and alarming delays before opening the door. It was small too, and smelled like an ashtray from a second hand car in 1980. Had the feeling it was installed reluctantly, had a sort of presbyterian nostalgia about it, like they used a confession box to make it and just installed a weak dirty bulb and a few ropes from a church bell and, if it broke, well, that’s your final destination, Ted.
Managed to find the room. The keycard worked to get in. It was a place for priests, monks, ascetic types looking for Sainthoods or running from themselves. Too afraid to have a wank in case they go to Hell. Or that big crucifix on the wall might come down on top of their head. Maybe this is where some of the lads on the walls outside started off. Denial, Fasting, Prayer, Inner peace and demonic turmoil. The air had the gummy smell of carbolic soap and shoe polish. Fired the suitcase on the bed and there was a loud clunk, like I’d just dropped it on concrete. These days, there isn’t much need for mystics with the calling and the rooms are there to rent and here’s me. Catholic Capitalism at its best. What next, fuck it, better get in to Dublin fast before the Angelus starts, I might never get out.