The End of the Beginning

I woke several times during the early hours of the morning and checked my phone for messages in the aftermath of yesterday’s awful news. I buried my head in the bedclothes, and ignored the world until I absolutely had to leave. I did get up eventually, and wandered down the road to a nearby supermarket to buy lunch.

The day passed without incident. As is usual, I cannot impart anything worth reading, because it crosses all sorts of professional lines. I can tell you about the German gentleman that spotted my bullet journal on the table, and exclaimed audibly about it – picking it up, and showing it around everybody else in the session.

“Look at this! It’s amazing! It looks like it is printed! Tell me – how do you write such writing?”

I shrugged, and smiled at the pretty oriental lady opposite.

“I take care ?”

She broke into a huge grin.

“Why does my notebook not look like yours?”

“He told you – he takes care!”

We grinned at each other. I bet she had a beautifully written bullet journal hidden in her bag. I was just glad she had my back.

After the work day finished, I wandered back across the road to the hotel, changed from work clothes into a pair of jeans and a polo shirt, and wandered off in the direction of downtown Frankfurt. A search of Google Maps had turned up a few potential places – one of them an Irish bar opposite the railway station.

You when you walk into a place, and there’s just something about it ? That happened to me this evening. The bar could very well have been a real-world recreation of the Irish bar I frequented in “Second Life” for a few weeks of evenings earlier this year. A bubbly member of bar staff strode straight up to me, smiling. She looked a little like Kylie Minogue, and spoke almost perfect English. The place was called “O’Reillys”, and is probably much like every Irish bar the world over, but to me it was a welcome reminder of home.

Within moments I had been shepherded to small table in the corner next to two German women on a night out. While they chattered endlessly about this and that (I have no idea, such is my lack of understanding of a single word of German), I sipped an amazing pint of Guinness, and filled my face with perhaps the best burger I have eaten in quite some time. I am half tempted to return late one evening while here, because apparently they do karaoke. Standing with an improbably large glass of beer while watching drunk people attempt to sing is strangely enticing.

I sat quietly in the corner of the bar, and watched the serving staff go about their jobs. A taller server with long brown hair lifted an impossibly full tray of drinks into the air with one hand, and stood examining a map of tables, solving the “Travelling Salesman Problem” in her head before setting off. Her strength amazed me – I struggle to carry a round of tea and coffee for the office single-handed – how she hefted perhaps ten or twelve pints of beer into the air so easily is a mystery to me.

After leaving I called home, and talked to the children while picking my way across endless road junctions en-route to the hotel. I heard about Miss 13’s trip to the minor injuries clinic – the first of many projected with a rugby career ahead of her – and all about her hamming it up in school with crutches. Always the drama queen.

It’s now approaching 8pm, and I’m sitting in the hotel bar for the first time, sipping at my second wheatbeer while watching the german equivalent of MTV, and people watching. It’s amazing how much you can pack into an evening when you’re on your own.

The barman is African, and seems to be holding down every job in the place – serving customers, running to the kitchen, settling bills, and so on. Sitting next to the bar are two german businessmen, laughing loudly at each others tales, while gesticulating wildly. In the centre of the floor a lone businessman sits, eating a forgettable looking pizza. He has the neatest, shortest hair in the known universe, and is wearing a blazer while eating. On the right side of the bar a fifty-something man is sitting with a twenty something girl. I wondered if she was his daughter until they kissed. Nearest to me, an african family are sitting – three generations sit around the table. The youngest, a boy, is watching MTV while his parents fuss about the skin on show in the succession of videos appearing. Over in the far corner a middle-aged American couple are quietly eating their forgettable pizzas, and seemingly talking about everybody around them. She has the best laugh. Her hair looks like it came from a barbie doll – he looks like he does exactly as she tells him.

I only came down to the bar for a coffee. How have I ended up drinking two beers, and writing all this rubbish?

I know I shouldn’t laugh, but after a succession of music videos by the likes of Katy Perry, P!nk, and Iggy Azalea, there is now a local German “pop star” on. He’s trying really hard to be cool, but it’s just not working.

Ok. So 8pm must be the time when everybody comes out to play. The bar just got much more busy, with several couples appearing seemingly from nowhere. One of them is sitting opposite me, looking at the forgettable pizza menu. I wonder if they know there are far better places to eat less than five minutes walk away ?

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