Tuesday, March 22, 2011

North of the Border, Up Mexico Way

It’s the buses that I’ll remember most. Long hours, or days, or even weeks in a cramped seat, without enough leg room, hoping against hope that your phone battery doesn’t die, so that you can at least have twitter to keep you entertained. I imagine that this is what purgatory is like. Do they still have purgatory? I know they abolished Limbo a few years ago. It was probably to do with budget cuts.

 I was travelling to Belfast for the Irish Blog Awards. Yes, they are a real thing. I was a little surprised myself. Still, any excuse to get hideously drunk in a room full of other drunk people. And nobody drinks like a room full of people who describe themselves as writers.

The ceremony itself was, frankly, rather a let down. The host seemed bored and anxious to be elsewhere, there was no free booze, a big tray of cup cakes that people got given out to for standing too close to, winners had to pick up their own trophy from a big table of them on the stage, and the whole thing felt like everyone involved in the running of it just couldn’t be arsed. Maybe they couldn’t be arsed, I don’t know. Apparently, it’s the last year that the awards are being run, and perhaps the organisers are burnt out. They did have big Styrofoam letters though. Mainly “b”s, but I did see a few “p”s, and even a “q” or two.

This had been my first excursion North of the Border, and to be honest, I spent most of my time panicking slightly, in case I said the wrong thing to the wrong person, and ended up coming home without kneecaps. Apparently, saying Ulster is ok, but Ulsterman might be offensive to one group or the other. I’m told that giving someone the nickname Jaffa Cakes is right out, even if they have ginger hair. I’m not sure, but I gather the Unionist community still believes them to be biscuits. A sensitive issue indeed.

So, what lessons were learned? Firstly, one should never give a sandwich to a guide dog. This is seen as poor form, akin to going up to one of those guards outside Buckingham Palace who aren’t allowed move, and tickling his balls. Second, The Arrogant Frog is a great name for a wine, and is tasty to boot. Third, it’s ok to call a clothes shop in Belfast Republic but Free State is probably a no-no,. Fourth, one should never make fun of someone because of their looks, unless they’re really annoying too; then it’s all good. And finally, calling someone a cunt for no reason on the internet is both big AND clever, and is a sure fire way of increasing your blog readership.  Billy Zane is a cunt.