As a couple my wife and I don’t ask for much. We really, really don’t.
One of the first things we found we had in common when we met was a love for rugby, particularly the Six Nations. And so it became a ritual for us that we’d take our place in Sinnotts bar in downtown Dublin and watch every minute of every game on the days Ireland was playing.
Of course, in long term relationships, things change. Like last year, we were expecting our baby son, but when it transpired that the Grand Slam was possibly going to be decided on my 40th birthday, my wife was determined to go to a bar and sip orange juice so we chose Dicey Reilly’s over Sinnotts because it was a more of an open space and would be less crowded.
This year, the dilemma is rather different. We are both very short on relatives living near us, and the only person who can realistically babysit is her brother, so we try not to impose on him too much. He did, however, offer to take the little fellow last Saturday afternoon so we made our plans to go into town and watch the big match in Paris.
Once again, we decided against going to Sinnotts, on account of us wanting to be close to the Luas line so we could get home after fulltime so we could offer her brother something left from his Saturday night to go out himself. As a result, we settled on the Knightsbridge Pub on the quays right near O’Connell St bridge.
We knew they had multiple big screens, did reasonable carvery food, and were definitely showing the rugby and not the competing FA Cup football. So we got there in plenty of time for kickoff in the Wales v Scotland game, and had some lunch with a few opening pints for starters.
We also got there early enough to single out a prime location for viewing the big screen, and I really thought I had found it, tucked at a table by a railing so not only had we a clear view of the screen, we weren’t near any other tables around us.
And so the game kicked off, and we were ready for the ensuing action.
Enter Northern Ireland’s answer to the Gallagher family out of Shameless.
They swanned into the bar, all ten or so of them, a good ten minutes after kickoff, and proceeded to gather chairs from about the place and plonk themselves down right in front of the screen.
When seated, they were no problem to anyone. But seemingly they didn’t seem to mind taking turns standing up and totally blocking everyone’s view for one reason or another. Again, of course nobody minded them getting up to go to the bar or toilet, but I mean standing up in front of screen and remaining standing for no earthly reason at all.
Now we had a few pints on us at that stage, and as I’m sure you know by now the match wasn’t exactly going Ireland’s way, and these people were clearly getting on everyone’s wick, not just ours.
But then they started with the wigs.
One of the bunch was clearly the “guy who liked the rugby”. Big guy, baldy head, beer gut, sporting one of those Ireland rugby jerseys you get in Carrolls gift shops for a tenner. And he seemed to think it was hilarious to stand up and prance around with a mop of fake blonde hair on his noggin.
Well, taken in context, he looked funny alright, but not funny hilarious. With his big frame taking up a large chunk of the screen, he looked funny downright effin stupid.
Of course, something needed to be said.
“Jesus, would you ever sit the fuck down, you big dumb eejit!”
Is what my wife said at the top of her lungs.
And so his missus had to jump to his aid….”Alright, relax, no need to shout”, instantly making it look like we were the ones at fault. Still, she got him to sit down.
That was fine. Till he decided to turn around and face me.
“Berdy bordy berdy bordy berdy bordy”. Sorry, I don’t mean to mock the Northern Ireland accent, I just really couldn’t make out a single word he said, but from his body language it was clear he was annoyed with us.
Then, he got up to go to the loo, and walked right by us on the way, doing a walk that was meant to look macho but thanks to his belly looked like it had more to do with a nacho (or twenty).
So after my doing an impression of his swagger/stagger to my wife while he was gone, he chose to have a word with us on the way back.
And guess what, he was right in our faces, and I STILL could barely make out what he was saying. At least he had taken the stupid wig off. One word I could discern was “prollum”, as in to rhyme with “Gollum”, so I had to assume he was saying that if we had a problem with him to say it to his face.
He then began pointing his finger at my wife so I came back with this.
“Listen, mate. We asked you to sit down because you were blocking the screen. That’s all that happened here. Best thing you can do right now is walk away.”
A good dose of reason will always flush out stupidity, I always find.
“Fuck off, fuck you, fuck off, fuck you!” And off he went back down to his seat.
“My God, you don’t have a brain cell in your head, do ya?” I said in the midst of his rant. Well, I figured if I couldn’t understand him, there was a good chance it was mutual. Still wasn’t the wisest move on my part, I know, but I was coming from a place whereby I wasn’t going to let these out and out morons bully us out of watching a rugby match.
Of course at this stage I was hopping mad, and then Sandra began at me…”Please let it go, PLEASE let it go…they’re not worth it” and all of this…
I’m like…”Hang on a sec. Am I the problem here? I was just watching a rugby match! Did I get in everyone’s way?”
But I guess I could see where she was coming from. She felt responsible for starting the whole thing by shouting in the first place, and didn’t want me to be hurt as a result.
It was getting close to fulltime at this stage, and we were close to finishing our drink. Our plan had been to go right after full time, but neither of us wanted to look like we were running away from these people. She went to the loo while I waited for the lounge girl and we were to have one for the road before heading.
I went to my phone to check my messages after she left and before I knew what was up, there was baldy back in my face again. This time he extended his hand.
I went ahead with shaking his hand, but he put his other one behind my head and pulled it close to his so he could talk directly in my ear.
Even that close I could barely make out what he said, but there was a “sorry “ in there, together with a “let it go”. But most of all I was thinking “Get you motherfucking hands off of me right now””.
Luckily, as I’d looked at my phone, I saw a pic of the wee fella. That’s all the reality dose anyone would need. If I started a scrap with this moron, chances are we’d both be in a garda cell within minutes. Not to mention the fact that Sandra could have been hurt. You just don’t know who you’re dealing with.
So instead of getting him away from me, I began to say “Look, it’s a big match, emotions are running high, we both lost the head…” but I should have known that sentence had words with way, way too many syllables for this guy.
“JUST LET IT GO!” he said again after pulling away from my ear.
I smiled. “It’s gone.”
He went back to his missus, clearly to tell her he’d done anything BUT apologise to me to keep up whatever Alpha male image of him she has in her delusional brain, while my wife returned from the loo to hear about what happened and began to ponder what she would have done if she had seen him with his hands on me.
We went home, her brother brought the wee fellow back, and we enjoyed our Saturday evening in with him.
But let’s be perfectly clear about one thing. This guy was big, but he was no bigger than I am. I could’ve taken him. 😉