I had missed the first day of sketching, as we were still down in Kerry. So for me, Tuesday the 13th of June was Day 3 of our Bloomsday sketchout. I'd had a wonderful time the two previous days, but, like everyone else I think, I was pretty exhausted.
It was a hot day. The whole area around Talbot Street was busy.
The areas around the back, more towards Summerhill, where there still stands a Magdalen Laundry by the way, were too edgy for my liking (apart from a gorgeous pitbull puppy - they are sooo cute - Yes, I know, that is a weird thing to say about a banned breed, but all dogs have the potential of being good, if they are given the right guidance - its owner didn't look too friendly though, so I didn't make too many cooey noises).
So, Cleary's Pub on Amiens Street was such a haven when we walked in. All tranquil and dark and cool. A few middle-aged men having a quiet pint. A friendly publican. He even went to a shop to get ham and cheese to make us toasted sandwiches. As the afternoon wore on, more and more men lined the bar, watching the racing on the telly, talking quietly, drinking their cool beer. And we sketched. The three ladies, one nearly eighty, one in her fifties, one in her forties, in companionable silence. When we left, we felt recharged, becalmed, and ready for the next challenge.
Interesting that this pub was not only mentioned in Ulysses (as the Signal House), but was also one of Michael Collins's bases as he was moving around the city. This was verified by a French lady we met at the Olivier Cornet Gallery. Yes, the mysterious French lady, who sends flowers to Michael Collins's grave every year. Small world. Full of connections. Criss-crossings of lives.
And another interesting bit of information: did you know what office stands on the corner of Talbot Street and James Joyce Street? Irish Water. I was standing there for 10 minutes or so chatting with Mr Bloom himself towards the end of lunchtime, and all the young staff were coming back in from their lunch. What do they all do now, I wonder? (Well, if you really want to know, have a look at their website - I for one believe in paying for water! Cute little video too btw)
And I can't help slipping in another titbit:
- What's the Irish word for water? Uisce.
- What's the origin of the word whiskey? Water of life in Irish is uisce beatha, isn't it? Let's turn to Wikipedia for the full explanation: "The word whiskey (or whisky) is an anglicisation of the Classical Gaelic word uisce (or uisge) meaning "water" (now written as uisce in Irish Gaelic, and uisge in Scottish Gaelic). Distilled alcohol was known in Latin as aqua vitae ("water of life"). This was translated to Classical Gaelic as uisce beatha ("water of life"), which became uisce beatha in Irish and uisge beatha [ˈɯʃkʲə ˈbɛhə] in Scottish Gaelic. Early forms of the word in English included uskebeaghe (1581), usquebaugh (1610), usquebath (1621), and usquebae (1715).". So there you go, uisce beatha, water of life!
- Where does the word Aquavit comes from? Yes, if you've read the above paragraph, you will have figured it out: aqua vitae in Latin means "water of life".
- And if you go to a café in Belgium, I wonder would they still serve you "eau-de-vie"?
- And what is the word for water in Russian? вода (written voda, but pronounced vada). Lightbulb moment, anyone?
- Can you think of a Russian words that reminds you of voda? Yes, you got it, водка, vodka. The ka is a diminutive, so, it means "little water". Think Agnes - Agneshka. I hope you enjoyed that little digression into linguistics!! I certainly did!
And now, for the quote, as my handwriting is as bad as ever:
"So, bevelling around by Mullett's and the Signal House which they shortly reached, they proceeded perforce in the direction of Amiens street railway terminus, Mr Bloom being handicapped by the circumstance that one of the back buttons of his trousers had, to vary the timehonoured adage, gone the way of all buttons..."