I am currently suffering from what is known (in politically correct circles) as WB.
Or as it used to be called in less enlightened times….
Writer’s block. (Gasp!)
The problem lies not with a lack of topics, but rather too many.
So, I thought I would just relate a personal anecdote as a form of therapy. It concerns the last time I had a hangover, which was in 1998 following the Good Friday Agreement. (There were political elements which exacerbated said hangover, but it was mostly just garden-variety self-induced suffering, which at the risk of sounding blasphemous, seems fitting in retrospect).
As you may or may not know, it is notoriously difficult to obtain alcohol on Good Friday in the Republic of Ireland. Your options consist of boarding a train, plane or ferry, visiting a shebeen, or preparing in advance.
Having been a scout as a boy, I was well-prepared. After all, it was to be not just a religious observance but also possibly an historic event. I was on Inis Mor, on holiday with some friends of mine from Derry. We bought more than we needed of beer, whiskey, and some wine for our companions of the fairer sex.
Or so we thought. By which I mean, we had a great Thursday.
Come Good Friday, however, we were down to whiskey alone, and whiskey and I do not dance well together. Never having been one to learn from my mistakes, I bravely pressed on. We spent the night in front of the fire, listening to RTE and the BBC on the radio for the latest news on the peace talks. I honestly don’t remember what day we heard about the outcome. I remember two things only; one, that there was much rejoicing amongst the younger crowd, and some grumbling amongst the elder. That, and a friend of mine gently taking a bottle of whiskey out of my hands.
“What? Am I that shattered?”
“No,” he replied. “You’ve been drinking from an empty bottle for the last half an hour.”
I didn’t feel all that bad when I woke the next morning. Had a bath, went downstairs to make some tea, and then tried to eat some bread and butter.
I fled the house like a man on fire.
I was headed down to Kilronan, to the beach, where I was sure the sea air would set me straight. I could barely see; there was an intense white light all around me with only a narrow tunnel of reality through which I could navigate. I vaguely recall women and children scurrying out of my way. At last I made it, and wandered almost to the water’s edge, where a ferry full of French school children were just arriving on their Easter holidays.
Their first sight of Inis Mor was me; leaning against a boulder with one hand, great coat, scarf and hair blown by the sea breeze.
And then I vomited.
Atop a crab, for which I felt enormous pity.
Viva la France.
Welcome to Ireland.