Saturday, June 27, 2009

Untergang Part 3 (Day 3) plus a COMPETITION!!!

Day 3 - Wednesday, 10th June 2009: Prague; Huge Snails, Punchy Barmaids and Racist Texans.

So...when BigBro came back from work on Wednesday noon-time, I was washed, tea'd and packed. Hanna (BigBro's Girlf) came back soon and made the day for me by asking me, in her thick Welsh accent, "Con-or, would you like some roc-ket in your baguette?". That's right! She's that cool that she was making me a sandwich roll for the bus - what a legend.

BigBro and I went down to the bus, and I had my final sight of all the great parts of Karlovy Vary that I hadn't touristed (at all) and the pubs that I vaguely remembered. The bus soon came and we clambered on, with our sandwiches and bottle of coke, like two schoolkids on a trip.

Watching a frankly disturbing film, and listening to the terrible secret, I munched on the fantastically tasty baguette as the Sudentenland sped by; ruminating on what I could remember of the past few days. The shock of having finished the exams sank in, and I watched as the coming-of-age film made the two of us squirm in embarrassment at the story. The hangover from the previous day had finally gone, and by the time that the big yellow fun-bus pulled into the stop, we were both eager for a good ole session.

The Prague underground system is great fun. Combining an overwhelming stench of piss with the steepest escalators in the cosmos, it's the most fun in the world on a Wednesday before happy hour. We sped along, surrounded by the Czech versions of all the hipsters, nuts, fatties and tourists that we all know and love from our separate underground worlds and before long we were coming to ground and walking towards the super-hostel. As we came to the door, a goddess of a young lady opened it from the inside. I whispered "I love you bro" to the BigBro and, yes, she heard me and yes, she had perfect English. I blushed (for the first time in years) and didn't stop til we'd landed our bags and she'd left. Smooth.


We quickly scanned the room; pristine beds, immaculately elegant bathrooms etc. It was perfect, the best hostel I've ever stayed at. Luckily there were no mental psychopaths or visible sex offenders, so we changed, left our stuff and ventured out.


Now...my memories after that are a little muddled. Suffice to say we went to a lot of bars. About 16 or 17 in total I think, including two wine-joints (which, in the bathroom of one I definitely threw up) and a goulash restaurant. There are only a few bars I remember. One was an Irish bar.

Rocky O'Reilly's is quite an odd place. It was the closest bar to our hostel that BigBro had been to, and one about which he will likely someday write. Apart from the usual bar stuff all over the show, the weirdest things about the bar were the webcam (which probably picked up the jist of some of the horrible jokes I was telling) and the fact that the bathrooms had the facade of a children's toyshop. A bit weird when you're breaking the seal. We went to other places too; including a bar where the owners were smoking loads of weed, a bar were we played darts for hours, the aforementioned wine bar (no.1..not the emo one where I was sick), a gothy cavern of a bar that kept a tank of giant snails as pets and a great little bar called O'Che's, which is a Cuban-Irish goldmine of a place. Soon we were a pair of carousing sots, drunk as a bucketful of badgers and flitting between jazz bars and restaurants, we talked a lot of bullshit and had a great night. A few memories of specific events remain from this mad evening. I remember being punched in the back by a barmaid because I had forgotten to pay and left. I told her I would "buy and sell her like she was on ebay" before laughing like a nutcase and trying to play tag with BigBro. In another bar we ordered the drinks and then, realising how shit and cheesy the place was, we ran away. Another bar had a tropical theme. Wine bar 2 was full of middle-age swinger types all gloomily chatting away, and I think we might have been asked to leave. My memories are a bit hazy drawers, but I shall consult with BigBro, and if they return, write a supplementary entry.


Now, the COMPETITION. Near the beginning of the evening, we went to a great wee pub called The Dog's Bollocks, that had an amazing liquor selection and the best music videos ever. Whilst trying to take this lovely photo of me and the brosef, for the mammy to go "Awwww" over, I somehow managed to take a film-shot. Now, I have no idea what was being said, but would like to hear people's theories... I will write a lovely poem/haiku for the person who comes up with the best one. It's been annoying the fuck out of me.

Here's the film...

video



Now...what are we saying?



The final event of the night, as far as I can remember, was a bit more weird. We were in a goulash bar, eating goulash. BigBro and I were by now very drunk. But, oddly, we were also very lucid. Munching away at my, yep - you guessed it, meat and dumplings, I became very engrossed with the table cloth when I heard a voice. A large, fat man across the room was chatting over to me. I answered that it was indeed a jolly lovely evening and that yes, the goulash was lovely. Before we knew it, there was a conversation and we had been joined by a family from Texas.

We chatted for hours, I think. They quickly realised that I was a conversational liability and focussed the attention to my BigBro. They asked me to convince their daughter into going to law school. It wasn't as fun as it sounds. She was about seven. She was a better conversationalist than her folks though. After a while, BigBro suggested that we return to O'Che's, the great little Irish-Cuban place from earlier. The big fat father needed to go to the ATM and for some reason, BigBro took the girls and I was to take the Dad. Problem was, I got lost.

We spent about 45 minutes walking around the Astronomical Clock, chatting about the differences between the sidearms of the Irish and US armies (apparently the Irish rifle is better, but EVERYTHING else that the US have is better) and talking about how much fun it was to be lost. Well, I was. He wasn't.

When we arrived at O'Che's I bought the father a pint, and we settled to chat. I was slightly more sober now, and the chat turned to politics. It was slightly congenial at first until we started talking about Obama. The Texans didn't like Obama. When I asked why, the father said

"Well, first of all, he wants to limit gun ownership and secondly, he wants to socialise Medicare."

We sat, staring, expressions of 'your point being?' across our faces. BigBro looked how I felt, a sudden realisation of what had been said, and by whom. Silence fell and the wife, as if to explain further to the silly micks pitched in,

"Plus, he's not even THAT black."

Even the daughter pitched in about how necessary it was to have guns. They had that 'you know nothing because you're not American' tone and look and I played along, trying desperately not to take the piss, and watching my Bro look more and more incredulous at the shite that was streaming from their mouths.

The conversation soon deteriorated. BigBro left the table, rather pissed off, as our company took a turn off Rational Street and travelled ever faster down Right-Wing Avenue, all reason long abandoned. I was just about to ask them whether they believed that Palin and her 5000 year old dinosaurs really should have been allowed to bomb China when they left. Thankfully.

Before they went, there were handshakes all round and the Fat Father gave us each a business card. Afterwards, we soon went back to the hostel, too drunk and pissed off to continue, with only a short pub detour on the way. We passed out quickly, absolutely drained with our exertions and the absolutely horrible way our great evening had been squandered by the religious right. The following morning, looking for a coffee shop before I got the bus (there were none - a million pubs - but no coffee shops) to the airport, we were waiting for the light to go green so we could cross when I brought up the arsehole family from the night before. He took the business card from the night before out of his pocket and smiled.

"Somebody's going to be getting a lot of porn subscriptions."


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The journey home was hellish, and I don't remember a lot about it.. One of the worst hangovers of my life and lots of KFC. I waited at the airport for hours, listening to the secret, I barely noticed the flight and by the time I arrived in Derry, having got the bus from Dublin airport, I was dead on my feet.

Thus began the summer holidays.
Lots of tea, sleep-ins and lazy days.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Late-Night Anecdote About My Grandmother


My grandmother is a bit of a legend. Mamo (as we call her, from the Irish maimeó- grandmother) has always been a little bit of a rebel. There are a million little funny stories I could tell about you, like the time she told off an RUC officer for waking her because of a bomb threat, or the great (joke) conversations we have about how much I love coke and hookers. Needless to say she's rather cool.

One time in the mid 80's, she was driving along the Glenshane Pass, bringing my ubercool, biochemist super-aunt Jill back to Uni for her final semester. This was during the height of the Troubles in the North, when the least important thing on anyone's mind was the state of the public motorways, so needless to say, it was a pretty crappy road to be driving on. Also, it was apparently very wet and, as occasionally is the case, rather foggy.

My aunt tells me that as Mamo was driving along, barely peering over the wheel, a car suddenly shot past them, dangerously overtaking them on a bend. My grandmother apparently let out some noise disdain and tutted.

Of course, my aunt asked what the problem was, and my gran told her that the young man had been been travelling "far too fast" for such a dangerous road.

When asked what she meant, Mamo replied,

'Well, I was doing 90..."

Untergang Part 3 (Day 2)

Day 2 - Tuesday, 9th June 2009: A Town Called Elbow, the Rebirth Churchwarden and Late-night Scrabble.

I woke up on the Tuesday with the most curious sensation that I was either dead or dying. There was a hangover, certainly, and it was certainly going to be harsh, but this was more of an out-of-body feeling, somewhere between a dream and being fully woken. Around me, BigBro and his girlf were bustling about, getting ready to go to their jobs as English teachers, passing from bathroom to living room to bedroom in an attempt to dress, wash and eat at the same time (y'know... the morning routine) as I lay there, face down on the sofa, in a post-lobotomy limbo.

Soon, the chat seemed to fade, and it took me a while to realise that I was alone again. I lay there, in my weird stupor, enjoying the quiet, and sort of fell asleep again. I say sleep, but I could hear the birds outside, and the noises of children playing in the street, so some part of me must have been awake. I could see myself lying there, face down on the sofa, the flowery bedspread over me, and my silly canoe feet sticking out at the far end.

It was like when you go into a shop and see yourself on the cctv monitor, from a different angle. Except this time, it was a bit more like Big Brother, or some weird avant garde student short film. I tried to move, and could see my own leg shift slightly. It was fascinating. Kinda like watching The Fountain whilst very very very stoned, or watching a spider build a web. I had completely forgotten that I wasn't in Dublin, and it wasn't until I heard some old crone screeching in Czech outside the window that I remembered where I was.

Soon, of course, I had spent about four hours doing this, and as I watched, I saw my brother come through the door and was forced to make some attempt to appear alive. A wash, a cup of tea and a lunch roll revived me a little, and I was able to regain the power of speech and recollect on the previous night's happenings. BigBro wasn't exactly looking like the picture of health, but we were determined and before I knew it, I was walking with sea legs out to BigBro's car, trying desperately not to fall off my shoes.

BigBro has two cars, given to him by his job. Both are Skodas, and both have names. Today, we were riding in Bryn, on the first rainy day they had had in about three weeks (Irish = bring bad weather with you). Being a modern sort of chap, Bryn only had a tape deck, or dodgy Czech public radio, and the only tape BigBro had was Take That's Greatest Hits. I obviously made quite a lot of jokes about this, but within three minutes was doing my best funboy dance to the strains of Could it be Magic? as passing drivers stared at the two weirdos out for a Tuesday noon-time jaunt. The hangover was pretty bad. My stomach felt like a walnut and my eyesight had a permanent magic-eye effect going on, so Bro thought it would be good to get some food.

The Czech people love a few staples of food. Chief amongst them are Meat & Dumplings, Goulash and Pickled Cabbage, which they eat ALL THE TIME. Yum. (NB: I may have just used a lolcat there in that last link, and the feeling for having done so is approximate to having a failed wank)

We went into a weird ranch-style place, and soon the fear descended upon me. Of course, all the men and women conformed to the Czech standard of bouncer-esque men and statuesque ladies. The place was so amazingly New European that I was really surprised that no-one was naked and having loads of sex, as the background music, the people and hell, even the decor seemed mildly...porny.

The bric-a-crap beloved of Irish pubs was all there; threshing handtools, bridle pieces for horses, saddles, old instruments and of course the oversized radios that look like tables. With all the crazy shit on the walls, the gorgeous ladies, the scary men and the mental oversized radios, my neck was almost cricked right off. Not to mention the cat. There was this huge tortoiseshell, (obviously the mascot, or the owner's pet, and probably beloved by all and sundry) stalking between the tables and looking at everyone eat. When I wasn't falling in love with the waitresses, or trying to see if my feet were still attached (they were) I could see this malicious cat just stalking closer and closer, like a horrible black cloud. I tried desperately not to burst into tears over my Meat & Dumplings (with 2 types of dumpling, and approx. 9lbs of starch per portion) and chugged my sparkling water like a dead man walking as the malicious little fucker came closer. BigBro (who was in the bathroom) would have laughed at my feline-induced freak out, but I was very hungover, and my wee mind wasn't working too hard. As I sat there, for some reason my arm twitched, and BigBro's glass was knocked over. I'm pretty sure it was me, but I don't know how it happened.


Later, having not died, and having eaten my share of starchy dumplings. We got back in the car and headed off once more the the sounds of Want You Back. The rain was pretty heavy and as we drove, BigBro pointed out the little huts and the ladies outside them (yay, hookers!) and also all the wee gypsie shops, selling icons and Christmas decorations (in June). At one point he stopped for a turn-off, between the path of two crossing lorries, with a half-jellyfish hungover freak-victim in the car beside him. This fear (of truck-induced death) cleared my head more than any starch OD, or even my own favourite hangover cure of a shot of tabasco, or the tawdry glances at cheap prostitutes and turned me back into Conor again. Adrenaline pumping, and mind now fixed, we sped along the windiest roads in Chrisendom towards our destination, Loket.


Loket (or 'Elbow') is one of the few places in the world that seems almost automatically defensible in the event of a Z-virus outbreak. It also set the scene for Casino Royale by masquerading as Montenegro. Other than that there was really not much to the place. We arrived to the genius of Lulu and Co. belting out Relight My Fire somewhat scared by the crazy twisty car-journey and the hangovers, walked across the bridge and into the square. There were a disproportionate amount of little cafés and closed shops and the place was entirely empty. We walked along, looking for somewhere to sit and have a coffee, but everywhere seemed closed and depressed. As we turned around to go back to the car, BigBro pointed at a shop and told me to go in, a barely concealed smile on his face.

It was without a doubt the SADDEST SHOP IN THE WORLD. It looked like the set of a crappy student production of a Chekov play; all empty shelves and grey light. There was a solitary apple on the counter, and in the little chewing gum racks was a sole packet of Orange Orbit. Yes, they make it in orange flavour apparently. The woman in the shop looked like she didn't quite know how everything had gone wrong, or as if she thought she had a babybell in the fridge only to discover someone had eaten it. So very, very sad. I tried not to laugh...then realised that I was sad. The shop was sad...sad sad sad (NB: Might be saying 'sad' too much) I quickly grabbed the (lonely) packet of gum and when I gave her a few coins, she looked almost surprised that I wanted to purchase something from her. I left...feeling a tad empty, to find BigBro laughing heartily at my shocked expression.On the bridge back to the car, we played some games like Walking Game, Being on Bridge Game and Spitting From Bridge Game. I was still pretty deadened from Sad Susan.

On the way back from Elbow, I saw a sign that made me laugh gleefully for about 10 minutes. Globus!!

We went inside and while Bro was showing me around the (many!) ketchup aisles, the separate wine and beer sections, the fruit counter (and adjacent auto-parts region) and the rows upon rows of pickled meats. It very confusing. I saw a pipe shop, and, in honour of my New Year's hobby (which is also a shameful secret), I decided to buy a lovely churchwarden pipe. It only took a few hours for her to bag it up and take my cash, during which time the queue had swelled from me and BigBro to a load of surly Czech chaps. The whole ordeal of point, say 'please', give money and take bag had turned into a horrible joke.

We got back to the casa and sat, exhausted from our day. I was still a bit hungover, shocked by the sad lady and happy about my new pipe. We watched some great videos from home, really making us proud to be Irish. When BigBro's girlf came back, we played Scrabble for 100 hours (I'm really shit at it btw) and I read my horrible secret for a while before going to sleep, ready for my trip to Prague the next day.

What's going on (saw this on 20 sb)

excited about seeing one of my best friends,Rufus, and the whole 'moving to London' thing.
worried about a tooth which needs a filling and the fact that I'm stony fucking broke.
reading Stalling for Time.
creating some new characters and plot elements for a story I'm writing
loving seeing some much-loved friends and family I've missed, and the fact I'm finished with my degree.
hating boredom and the fact that I've been wasting my time recently.
wondering how I will be able to charm the bank into giving me a loan.
craving nicotine...but less so than yesterday.
listening to City of New Orleans Willie Nelson.
watching Just watched That Mitchell and Webb Look and Kingdom on the bbc and utv iplayers.
netflix-ing Once Upon a Time in America.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Got my exam results

Conor Darrall, LLB.

Huzzah!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Untergang Part 3 (Day 1)

So,

I've decided to go ahead and jump over Part 2 and talk a little bit about what happened after my exams. Not immediately, mind, but about three days after. I've decided that part 2 is going to be more a treatise about the feasibility of defending several Dublin locations in the wake of phase 3 of a Z-virus outbreak. Not much to do with debauchery and adventure, more of a strategic exercise.

Anyway...

There was the usual panoply of end-of-days roleplay: the goodbyes, the sincere (and patently not-so-sincere) promises to keep in touch, the many retroactive wishes that "we'd gotten to know each other better" and the inevitable messy leavers dos. All par for the course, and suitably corrosive on the old liver. I had been unceremoniously thrown out of my old gaff on campus (the cell that overlooked the methadone clinic and the homeless shelter that I'll talk about later) by the day after my final exam by the putrid, money-grabbing whores of the TCD administration and my pal R's boyfriend let me crash in his super man-pad while he stayed over. Serious comfort. I caught up with some of my 'tribe' and discussed zombies (stay tuned for all this later...) and after a few days of hazy post-exam delirium, I found myself at 8.30 am at the architectural beauty-spot that is Dublin airport.

My parents, in one of my occasional telephone talk-conversations, had somehow gleaned that I was somewhat stressed and that I needed a break. When they suggested this, I had of course growled at them, but they were astute enough to realise that the exams were taking their toll. Thus, they gamefully paid for air tickets to the Czech Republic, so that my swashbuckling (quote hottie unquote) older brother, Ruairí could get a visit from...well, me.

What follows is a three-part attempt to chronicle what happened when I went to visit my brother...
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Day 1 - Monday: Homophobe-Baiting in Transit and Operation Anthropoid.

The flight was the typical affair. Ryanair doing their absolute best to treat everyone like complete shit in some weird form of Pavlovian conditioning designed to make us feel claustrophobic and greasy when we hear ice-cream van, funboy europop, but I was seated in an exit seat and there was plenty of space for my legs. I settled down to listen to my TERRIBLE TERRIBLE SECRET in comfort and watched Ireland zoom away, dreaming about someday meeting Ilyana Kadushin...

As I listened, lazily watching the beleaguered cabin crew telling us how not to die, I noticed the man sitting two seats away. He was one of those 50's-born midlanders, made mostly of devout Catholicism and fried breakfasts, and still high on the fumes of Brylcreem from his tame, agrarian youth. He sat, his bushy beard quivering, a look of puzzlement on his face as he stared at the tanned, toned and very camp steward. The 'how-not-to-die' class ended and soon the food was rolling up and down. The steward, a lovely guy (as much as over-worked, under-paid air staff can be lovely) who looked like the 'Hallo? Salut!' guy from Ozone (and possibly was him) bustled past us with his cart, when the bearded prick beside us muttered 'faggot'. I say muttered, but in the sense of someone trying to mutter during a gale, beside a rock concert, whilst riding a Vincent Black Shadow, and to an elderly relative, expecting to be heard clearly. The poor guy stopped, his shoulders dropped, he gave a shuddering breath, and then slowly walked on, clearly hurt.

Not cool.

I was pained to say (a brief) farewell to Ilyana, but a plan formed in my mind, and I was hell-bent on giving this guy the most uncomfortable flight of his life, so I had to stop listening. I dug deep inside, channelled my inner culchie-baiter and camped up:

-First of all; I thought that if I kept leaning across him, ordering lots of food and drink, getting things from my bag in the locker, going to the bathroom and loudly clearing my throat, he wouldn't get too comfortable.

-Secondly; I gently touched his arm, shoulder and, once, his knee, each time I did this.

-Thirdly; at the slightest shiver of turbulence, the horrible prick clutched the arms of his chair in terror and began to sweat, a lot. I began to giggle loudly everytime this happened, saying 'Oh my goodness me' in a slightly camper version of the carrying whisper which he had previously used.

-Fourthly; when the turbulence got really bad, I put my ipod up to full volume so that he could clearly hear me listening to (and harmonising and air drumming with) one of the few pop songs I actually have, 'Since You Been Gone', through my earphones. On repeat.

That flight was lots of fun.

-----------------

I arrived in Prague, got my stuff and walked to the kiosk for a bus ticket to Karlovy Vary (where my bro lives) and see if I could get a student rate. The first thing I noticed was the police. Most European airports now have the usual staff of part-gorilla neckless wonders, sharking about with submachine guns and suspicious eyes. In Prague, they seem to have supermodels doing the job too. Leggy blondes in high heels walking about with MP5s and Glocks, accompanying the brick-shithouse gentlemen and looking equally tough...but also a tad really sexy. Most distracting. It was my first induction to the Czech laws of how couples appear. The men look like bouncers, the women look like models...very unfair for a Casper-white cross between Gollum from LOTR and Shaggy from Scooby-Doo.

Anyway,I had been standing at the counter for about five seconds, looking at the kind assistant in a sort of post-security-babe daze, when I suddenly realised that I wasn't saying words. Also, that I spoke basically no Czech, and still wasn't speaking.

Somehow, i managed to buy a ticket, then went for a pint of (ridiculously overpriced) airport Pivo and a smoke to get myself relaxed before the bus. Bright yellow, it was a bit of a weird experience; watching 'Chicago' (I was having a very gay day) and sipping coffee in utter comfort as the Czech Republic zoomed past. When I reached KV, I was more interested in what was going to happen to Roxie than get off.

Big bro/Hugs/Skoda/Apartment/Shower/Drinking excursion.

Drinking with my brother is almost intimidating. He is one of those people who can drink beer...really drink it. He writes his own blog about Irish pubs abroad, and is a connisseur. I can go on the rip as good as the next bloke, but I was always more spiritsy and cocktailsy (NB: seriously, gayest blog post ever) in my drinks...and this was the Czech Republic, one of the birthplaces of our modern beers. The bro took me first to a small bar (that may very well have been the seediest place in the world) for our catch-up chat, then we went on a walk through the bars. We had tankards at a 'pour-your-own' bar, (apparently) ate a meal of meat and dumplings in a weirdly wood-pannelled bar. Took shots of Becherovka (the devil) then, inevitably, went to an Irish bar. We apparently went by cab, and I apparently insisted on speaking to the driver the whole way. FML.

We met Hannah, BigBro's girlf, in the Irish bar, along with her class. She and BigBro both are TEFL teachers, and I had the best crossed-wire conversation (with a bunch of frankly mental Czech forty-somethings) that I've had for a long while. Hannah (who I was meeting again for the first time in like six years) is a very sweet Welsh girl with the most amazing Valley's accent and a great match for the bro. Conversation flowed.

More Becherovka, more beer. I started a conversation with one of the class about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, that lasted for a few hours, and Ruairí wandered home. Finally, Hannah led me back to their apartment and (when I wasn't leaning out of the fourth story window, smoking and admiring the Soviet architecture) I dozed off.

Hell of a first day.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Untergang Part 1

Raaaar!

The last time I wrote in this blog was about six weeks ago, when I was young, fresh-eyed, idealistic and full of hope and dreams for the future. Now, as I sit propped up against my bed in my house in Derry, I look more like an alluring crossbreed between a dusty scrote-bag and Silvio Berlusconi's conscience; something wrinkled, battered and exhausted. The reason for this change is the exam period and its aftermath.

Four, three-hour exams, combined to account for (thanks to my jaunt to the States last year) 75% of the fecking degree.It was made an even more enthralling prospect because of the conditions of my future lawyer job. The firm made it lovely and clear that a 2:1 was necessary, or the contract would be void...lovely. It sounds straightforward enough, and I gathered my (pitifully incomplete) notes as best I could in anticipation of a double-barrelled cramming season, bought the 'nutshells' notebooks and stocked up on the cigarettes and 'colour-and-animal' energy drinks. My desk, once a feasible alternative to my bed in cases of extreme drunkenness, was transformed into a multi-platform study console, and I wept.
I had been working in a wee Gaeilgeoir pub on Harcourt til about three days before my first exam - the bow-carrying white horseman. Working in the bar was really weird; a mixture of bullshit politics and heaploads of fun, with cheap pints and a mostly nice group of people working and spending (far too much-) time there. By the time I was quitting though, the place was really starting to grate on me, so it was almost a relief to leave.

Company Law was first; an almost mind-numbingly boring buffet of rules and regulations. I did my usual superb trick of not sleeping beforehand, and by some weird fucking spark of chance, I didn't die. I had my Nerdgasm Hyperpack handy, the greatest collection of stuff that an exam-person needs, and by a mixture of sugar, caffeine, nicotine and panadol, I got through it.

Okay, so far so good.

Now, that was all fine and dandy after I'd had a few hours sleep. Then, it was back on the wagon, filling my head with all the stuff needed for the next injection of fun...Equity. The exam, on the Monday, was a tough one, and I had more than one of those "Oh shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit I don't know a thing!!!!" moments before calming down and finally finishing.

This went on for a while; this system of no-sleep/lots of cramming. By the third exam, my routine had started to resemble an 80's 'against the odds' montage of late nights, coffee and smiley thumbs-ups! I'd even started to sleep. I was feeling pretty good until the night before my 3rd exam - Intellectual Property.

My routine had become set in stone; study from 10 to around 2 (with a few breaks etc in the middle). Sleep from 2 to 7, then arse about in the morning. On exam days I tried to get one or two hours and wake up early to cram. All pretty standard. On the night before IP (well, very early in the morning before) I was in bed sleeping, trying not to freak out and my phone went off. Groggily I checked the text to see who it was, and balked. It was Western girl, who had been angry about the post-yakka fatigue, sending me one of her patent 'attention' texts. It was suitably mid-conversational and (totally sincerely) badly spelled to confirm drunkeness and accidental sending. Bollocks obviously. I'd received them from her before, and they never failed to provoke a typically apathetic reaction...except this time it was a few hours before one of the biggest exams I've ever taken, and that had quite a lot riding on it. Needless to say I'm still angry about it.


There was a week between that and my final exam, one week to go back to neutral, to catch up with returning friends and pack my stuff away. I met the parents of my friend M during that time, and it was funny to find how jumpy and nicotined-up I was in the face of these lovely calm people.

Finally, Evidence. I'd always loved it when I'd studied it in the past and had found the (few) lectures this year to be pretty cool. Again, the montage scene took a hold, albeit with a few enjoyable caffeinated interludes , and I was a wee bit more confident until about 20 hours before the exam. I realised, too soon, that trying to study evidence completely was like trying to pick up mercury with a fork.

The exam was painful, to say the least. I was sat beside a twitchy, weird nutcase who ate the noisiest food in the world and kept giggling at every opportunity. The room stank of sweat and desperation and you could tell that we were all dying for it to be over. The clock ticked closer and closer and then...nothing. There was no great gust of sighed relief or even (as I'd imagined) an explosion of cheers as all the inexplicably good-looking people around me started dancing and singing in unison. No, all that happened was a huge apathetic version of a Mexican wave (the Gallic shrug, we'll call it) and then everyone shuffled out, as if to the firing squad.

What the fuck? This is the moment we've all been waiting for and all we do is...mill around outside, like a bunch of mourners at a wake, trying desperately hard not to cry. Bad craic

We were all completely fried and totally exhausted so it's no surprise that after a few drinks none of us were really much use to anyone. All I could do was order a pizza (or two) and try to relax...

TBC...