Posts Tagged ‘Grafton street’
I have lived just off Talbot street in Dublin city centre for nearly four years now and I tend to have a mixed bag of feelings towards my neighbourhood. No exclusive brand name shops for us, nor venerable cafes steeped in history, offering savoury delights and exotic coffees in salubrious surroundings. Alas we rarely if ever hear troubadours vying for our attention and money, playing everything from Bach to the Rolling Stones as is common on Grafton Street.
You see, for many in Dublin, Grafton Street is to Talbot street as the Champs Élysées is to downtown Kabul; chic,desirable and unlikely that one will end up running screaming through the streets being chased by a foaming mob of lobotomised people.
For many in Dublin a trip from the south side to the inner city of the north side is something you threaten your children with if they misbehave. ‘If you don’t eat your greens, I’ll make you spend a day on Talbot Street! Then you’ll see what happens to those who wouldn’t eat broccoli”
And I admit it’s not far from the truth. My neighbourhood is infested with the living dead: for ever shambling about in what I call the junky shuffle; always at speed, but feet never quite getting far enough in front of each to avoid collision. Perfect locomotion being secondary to their all encompassing need. And then there is The Call.
The average person attempts conversation using their voice as an instrument. Engaging it in a myriad of tones and individual mannerisms. Conveying meaning with a mere hint of tonal change or a whisper of expelled air. Not so the shuffling denizens of Talbot St. In a form of reverse Darwinism they have reduced syllabi, created a single tone and upped the volume to loud. They can be heard calling each other from one end of Talbot St to the top of O’Connell St. It is of course mostly unintelligible to those of us for whom being medicated involves some aspirin and a doctors note.
None the less the neighbourhood is more than just the sum of its drug addicts. It has a character,a certain flavour that one can taste no where else in Dublin. Along with a few Irish owned convenience stores the street has many excellent Indian and Pakistani food stores and a plethora of cheap home stores run by people from a variety of nations. It has several excellent Italian restaurants and a Thai restaurant that for my money is as good as anything on the south side.
Add the Russian tattoo parlour, Chinese noodle joints and ubiquitous pizza places, at times it feels more ethnic than Irish, more foreign than local. Diversity is the best of what the street has to offer. It seethes with a manic energy, like a meth addled clown performing modern dance with a monkey for a partner, one feels anything can and will happen.
On any given day I gravitate between love and hate; drab utilitarian buildings and the human detritus caused by the horrors of heroin abuse can cast a shadow on the brightest of days. But yet, the life, energy and comedy of it all is as addictive as the drug that has ruined so many young lives in the area. And besides, some of Dublin’s finest pubs and purveyors of excellent stout stand ready to bring a little cheer. Old man smell, free of charge of course.
So drop over some day, take a wander enjoy the madness and maybe stay a while. You might just find you like it.