It was around 1999 and I was about 22 when I got the idea to book some time off work and go to Dublin to see a few friends. What resulted was a pretty wild week of drinking and taking drugs. I was in my own words a para-goth. I looked a lot like a goth but I wouldn’t have exactly called myself one, more like a heavy metal fan who’s been dipped in black dye for extra darkness. And I was mostly into drum n bass anyway. Wearing anything other than black was not an option. I would wear torn up tshirts and because this is Ireland I would wear up to three long sleeved cotton tops under that. I had six of my fingernails painted black with the words mam and dad in gold ink on them. You might not get the joke there depending on where you’re from but trust me its highly whimsical. Now I’m an ex-para-goth which basically looks like a normal person but darker.
You can’t be a para-goth or even a normal goth without plenty of leather. I had very big New Rock Boots and an old style biker jacket with the double breast, epaulettes and a full complement of shiny zips and poppers. It was a uniform and you stuck to it. I had long hair, down past my belt in a braid and dyed black of course. I was old enough to get into any kind of trouble an adult could, and still youthful and wild enough not to think of any kind of consequences of my actions.
I bounced around between approximately three different groups of friends, one of whom was Eve and her entourrage, she was a friend of my sister’s who I got on well with and with whom I had been drinking to excess on many occasions in my native Limerick’s goth/alternative/can’t get in anywhere else Termight Klub, among (few) other pubs and clubs that would let people like us in. We didn’t mind at all, that was the life of a cool person. Most bars didn’t want you there, it was an exclusivity most normal folk don’t enjoy or lament.
Eve and I had been hanging out pouring stimulants into our systems a few times over the week, she was a raving alcoholic and I was really good at drinking. On one particular day towards the end of the ‘holiday’ we started drinking quite early, about 4 pm. I don’t remember a lot of the daylight hours but I recall checking my watch at around 11, we were in Handel’s in Templebar, the noisy one of the two.
I was in some conversation or other with somebody and I had met and shook hands with Eve’s friend Shaun. Bedecked in leather pants and a ratty poncho, German army surplus boots, dyed blonde hair with dark roots and a throng of piercings. He was a bear of a man, as tall as me, 6ft but twice as wide and most of it was not muscle. He had tattoos on his arm that he himself had done with a needle and india ink. They were far from perfect and the one on one of his forearms, barely legibly, read the words
So there were four or five of us drinking away with I remember extremely good drum n bass pumping out of speakers all around us. All Irish bars close sometime, its a safety feature and this one begun chucking out around 1.30. We were hammered but I was starting to get my bearings again and it was around this point when I started remembering things properly again.
Then what usually happens happened. “Everybody back to my place, we’ll get wine on the way” said Shaun. Now that we were able to hear everybody again I learned that Shaun was British, as loud and obnoxious as you like and a largely unemployable old school hippy. In spite of this he was something that could be considered a chef and had been working in the Bad Ass Cafe, and the reason he was out that night was because he had received a large tax rebate having been on emergency tax for a few months. I’m sure previous to that job he had been in Thailand, Vietnam or any number of places., the way hippies do, bumming around for months. Whatever, we got to the Bad Ass and Shaun went in. We knew to stay outside and wait, we were all pretty freakish looking and tended to get looks wherever we went, and we weren’t about to jeapordize Shaun’s mission. They weren’t happy to see him but he came back out with enough cheap wine for a small wedding and we were off.
Oh dear, I thought as I got to the flat. Naturally enough it was a shithole in an old Georgian house. People should know about building practices in Ireland, we have a habit of completely rearranging buildings, that includes walls, doors, windows, even supporting walls so I was looking at about 1.2 of a sitting room that had organically morphed into including about 0.65 of some other room with a few percent of various sundry rooms in the gaps. The bathroom was usually an old hallway or stairwell. What has been done to countless buildings up and down the country defies physics and sense alike.
It would have been an elegant townhouse in the 1800s but now it was a deformed mutant domicile, dank, smelly and cold and then humid and stuffy as soon as enough people were in there. The mantlepieces over boarded up fireplaces in strange places and odd, inexplicable bits of wall were a dead giveaway that many a landlord had divided, rejoined and redivided his rental space for profit.
Over the course of at least a few hours it turned out to be your usual drunken talking session but almost completely confined to topics that bohemians would find interesting, mostly music. Shaun was on the one hand, interesting and engaging. He professed to know or have known lots of different bands and described most of them as a “ beauuutiful person.” I got to know a few new bands like Subhumans and The Slits (“ beauuutiful people”) and which members of them had died from heroin overdoses and what other famous people he knew, all sorts of stuff he thought and blah blah blah.
I was nursing a reasonable dislike for the guy. I was not motivated positively in my life at the time but this guy was a serious waster. And loud to the point where it made sense just to agree with him because it wasn’t worth the effort of shouting him down. He was the alpha that night and that’s what he was used to. Alphas usually have leftenants and this one was no exception. Beside him sat his ‘friend.’ I don’t remember his name but he was a bit of a wretch, not likely to get laid anytime soon, unhealthy looking and at Shaun’s mercy, whenever Shaun wasn’t brow beating me about something or placating Eve with compliments. He wasn’t very nice to the wretch at times but they had a rapport and the wretch seemed happy enough to put up with it.
Shaun explained in great detail that Squarepusher was better than Aphex Twin, which if you know your music is completley untrue. Squarepusher’s amazing but Aphex is the king and I don’t take kindly to people telling me he’s anything less. Nevertheless I went along with him and we shook on it. It was definitely the smart option. He was getting messier and messier from the drink and his voice was now booming. He had quite a nice stereo system about which he was extremely vocal, something along the lines of “this stereo costs five grand but I got it for nothing, it would cost you five, no, seven grand to replace, they’re the best speakers in the known universe, Pete Shelley offered me five grand for them, you can’t buy them anymore, they’re valve…”
There was a tv, amp, cd player and vinyl player and some huge speakers that would normally be used in a pub or nightclub. It was all black and mostly covered in a layer of dust, thick in places. The whole audiovisual menagerie was so precariously balanced it would shake when somebody walked past it or if there was a very bassy tune being played through it.
Another reason why he’s a twat.
Eve was someone who talks about stuff people wouldn’t normally think to talk about. More than once I was asked if I loved Shaun and ushered to give him hugs. I was very nice and respectful to my host and complied but all the time I was thinking about what a waste of space he was and although I was more or less having a good time there were many other places I would have liked to have been. With all the love floating round the room, fake or otherwise the conversation got more intimate. Shaun gave me a present of a rock, oh it had energy in it or something. I was to leave it in the sun for some reason, I remember accepting it graciously and thinking that I didn’t want the stupid thing but then changed my mind and I honestly forgot about it when I was leaving. I would love to have that rock now because I didn’t know about the key events of the night that had yet to begin.
Some people will identify with what I’m about to describe, I can’t be the only one but it is something that has happened to me, oh I’d say maybe three times.
You’re in the middle of a room full of people. Everybody has taken large amounts of booze and pot, you blink and then all of a sudden the room’s gone quiet, everybody’s gone, you’ve been asleep for three hours and if you’re lucky somebody has thrown a blanket over you. The sound of it is intriguing, going from a full-on session to total peace in what seems like a nanosecond. Like pausing an MP3 of something aggressive.
It didn’t go exactly like that for me on this occasion, there was the usual cacophony of the session but instead of waking up naturally I was being woken by the wretch.“You have to let me out,”
This was not enough of the right kind of information for me. “-There’s the door man” I said. He persisted “No you have to use the key.” I still wasn’t compus mentus so I tried the key which didn’t fit, then just openened the door of the room, which was the front door of Shaun’s flat, and sat back down and tried to go back to sleep with the wretch standing there looking at me. This was not ideal for him and he hailed me again. What followed was surely as confusing for him as it was for me but eventually he got the concept across to me. Naturally enough as a result of being a deformed dwelling it had no shortage of its own particular quirks. What I needed to do was walk out to the front door of the house, (apartment block, whatever) open it, let him out, lock it behind him then go back to Shaun’s flat and lock that door. There was no sign of Eve but I was still fucked from intoxicants, my head was pounding, it was still dark and I took up my place on the couch and went back to sleep.
There was no possible way to be ready for what happened next. Within a short space of time, as far as I knew there had been a party, immediately (and I do mean immediately) followed by one of the strangest bits of logistics I’ve ever had to organize, for 10 minutes or so, then a little sleep, immediately followed by of all things, a screaming Spanish woman, screaming in mostly Spanish with a smattering of English thrown in.
I believe her name was Rachel and she was Shaun’s long term girlfriend. I’m not sure when in the story I got these bits of information but she was a total staightedger, no drugs and very little drink in her life. Probably quite a nice quiet girl but somewhere a few years previous to her present screaming fit she had managed to end up with almost exactly the wrong man for her. Not that Shaun would be the right man for any woman but really, they were chalk and cheese. Shaun, being irresponsible as he was, had made her pregnant some months before, she had gone to England for an abortion and was understandably psychologically damaged about the whole thing. Shaun was not understanding of this at all and regularly treated her like shit. One of the recurring themes of his conversations the during the night was how much she would curb the amount of fun Shaun could have by trying to get him to do things like stay in, not drink so much and to be a good boyfriend. He was not understanding of this either and that factored highly into my investigation and subsequent conclusion that the guy was simply a dick and a waste of space.
I hope she’s ok now, I really do, it must have been hell for her. She would work 12 hour night shifts in some factory and was almost certainly paying most of the rent and Shaun’s keep. It was a wet March or April morning around 8am, the daylight was just up and Dublin being Dublin she had most likely spent at least an hour travelling home. She got home to her flat, walked in to find a sleeping para-goth on her couch and Eve on her bed next to her so-called boyfriend. Shaun was under the covers, Eve was over. Nothing was going on, Eve was just looking for somewhere comfortable to sleep but Rachel saw Eve there where she thought she herself should have been and totally flipped out. She was dead right too and fair play to her. She was your average looking Spanish woman, not very tall, not very slim but good looking enough for any guy with his heart in the right place and lovely deep brown eyes. Heavily jacketed and scarved against the cold but she was steaming now.
I noticed the eyes quite by accident when she paused in the middle of all the screaming. Eve came swiftly out of Shaun and Rachel’s bedroom and sat in next to me on the couch. Rachel was properly in our faces at this point, it was time to go and had it not been for feeling compelled to get Eve out of there safely I would have bolted there and then. I was considering for a split second letting on that Eve was my girlfriend and it was a good thing I didn’t try that because she knew Eve and knew full well that she had a boyfriend, he was out of town at the time. But before I could get it from my mind to my mouth to try to diffuse the situation Shaun came barrelling out of the bedroom, caught Rachel by the collar, there was a struggle, it was ugly to watch but it resulted the only way it was going to given his size, he threw her out the door and slammed it behind her. He was furious and far too big for me to tackle.
All was quiet. I hated Shaun, I wanted to leave but Eve wasn’t ready yet. Shaun sat on the floor and insisted on drinking any and all left over wine from the night before, it was mostly red, and got himself drunk all over again. More Shaun-affirmations “do you love Shaun?” me affirmations “Shaun, do you love Simon?” and rock-givings were carried out before he got rowdy again and stood up. Except that didn’t go so well, he came crashing down on top of his stereo equipment sending it all over the place. Then rolled around on the floor with his ample belly hanging way out for a bit and began to vomit.
You should only be allowed drink white wine if you’re going to do that. He did a lap of the flat hurling up burgundy puddles as he went. I wasn’t fucking cleaning it so it didn’t bother me.
I just wanted to leave, Shaun got himself together and proposed going to the pub. It was after 9am now and they’d be open. Good enough for me, lets go.
Air! That air was really tasty after being in Shaun’s sitting room then vomitorium all night. Did I mention we all dressed freakishly? Well three freaks were walking up the road in search of a place for Shaun to have a drink. He stopped one old lady on the street and inquired quite cordially “Excuse me, where’s a good place to have a drink?” She was a characterful old doll and well able for his banter, she told us the name of somewhere, gave us directions and added “and they have grand black pints.” Groovy.
We got to somewhere and walked in. There were about 10 old guys talking quietly, maybe there was sport on the tv. You could tell they were regulars, they all knew eachother. And then this loud ignoramus walked in with his friend and his grudging new friend, me.
Shaun surprisingly had plenty of his rebate money left. He put £100 on the bar and told the barman to take what he needed as required. That was probably what saved us from getting thrown out in the first place. Eve and I sat at the bar and got a couple of pints, we were quiet and respectful to the barman. Shaun was all over the old guys swapping jokes and generally being his loud obnoxious self. In the time it took for Eve and I to get halfway through our pints he had bought them all a round of whisky and was getting through quite a bit of it himself, more than 5 shots, I lost count. He seemed to be having a good time and so were the old guys until one of them or maybe Shaun took offence to something somebody in the mix had said, I don’t know how it started exactly. Well Shaun was a competent ignoramus so he launched a tirade at the old guy before dispappearing for about ten minutes. That was fine by me, I’d have walked out of there but Eve asked me to go to the toilet and look for him. She was on the money because when I walked into the men’s there he was sitting on the floor in about an inch of water. I don’t know how I lifted any part of him but I helped him up and brought him back out to the bar, he was a disgrace. The barman quite rightly refused to serve him and after some debate we left in a storm of even more of his insults.
Escape from the madness was foremost on my mind. The plan was to stick Shaun in his bed and get the hell out of there so we were heading back to the dreaded flat. He was mouldy drunk at this stage, being held up by me and Eve, who by the way weren’t well suited to the task. It was like trying to manoeuvre a shopping trolley with a cow in it, except this cow in a shopping trolley had the added proficiency of moving in the worst possible direction for the moment about 20% of the time. For example we were motoring along fairly well, had got a bit of momentum up and we were close to moving in a straight line then Shaun just lunged away and fell backwards across the road into the path of an oncoming jeep. A brown Land Rover Discovery, first generation. It screeched to a halt before the bull bars could give Shaun even more problems and two very angry, very fit and muscular and positively badass men jumped out and were going to explain to Shaun how traumatic the experience had been for them and how he should think about being a bit more responsible. They very much looked to me like they were going to explain it with some punching and kicking. Think Vinnie Jones, that’s what they looked like to me.
Shaun was preparing himself for the explanation, as you would expect, by being ignorant. There was a chance what I did next could have turned them on me but I wasn’t drunk, I was very reasonable and I appealed to the driver, who was the more badass of the two. “I’m sorry lads, he’s off his head, we’re just trying to get him home and off the street. I’ll take him away and you won’t have to see him again.” They were honourable guys, they told Shaun what they thought of him one last time, shook my hand and headed off about their business. The rest of the half mile trip was comparitively uneventful but he fell on the pavement, then outside the door to the georgian house, then inside the house but outside his flat and was sitting on the ground in the hall with all the faculties of a newborn baby. Eve had his keys at this stage and opened the door. “Shaun man, what are the chances of you coming inside?” I said, still pretending I liked him. “-You know what I’d love Sy, a cigarette.” Oh thank fuck for that, he can think, a little at least. “I can sort that out for you man, I’ll even light it for you, come on now.”
I lured him crawling into the flat and gave him the cigarette, he was able to get to his bed and we were free. We walked back towards Templebar, spent a few hours in Eamonn Doran’s, Eve’s boyfriend showed up and insisted on smoking a joint in the pub, super risky but then he was a massive idiot as well. As far as I can recall its one of the very few times I refused one. After lunch we moved on to The Foggy Dew. I decided I wanted to get my ass back to Limerick, have a hot shower and sleep somewhere comfortable. I told Eve I was going to bolt home and she spent the next hour convincing me to stay another night on the promise of a really good night out and loads of things happening, or something. So I said what the hell, I might as well, she took off back to her house for a shower while I met another friend, a civilized one and waited for her to call me. The night dragged on and she wasn’t answering her phone, she had gone home and gone to sleep and I should have taken that train. Luckily my civilized friend put me up for the night and I was home by lunchtime the following day, unscathed and grateful to be there. I wish I had that rock.
This story is 100% true, it really happened to me. Names have been changed to protect me from embarrassment if I ever meet any of the people concerned again. Hopefully not eh?
One crazy night.