Yesterday was Gloomy Monday, the most miserable day of the year. That made sense. I went into Galway City yesterday to get on with a sketch I need to do, and I sent a text to my husband that read “You cannot imagine a more crappy and miserable day in Galway. Pouring rain, freezing cold and just awful…” Luckily I then added “But I have a nice seat in Neachtain’s.”
Neachtain’s is one of my favourite pubs, in Galway or anywhere. It is full of colourful posters advertising concerts, plays and exhibitions. It is a warren, full of snugs that you can squash into with your friends and either get merry (me back in the day) or have a fab conversation with a good friend (me now…and back in the day). There is often great live traditional music, with the band squashed into a corner somewhere, there’s homemade soup served from a huge pot during the day and there are always grizzly men in hand-knits and hobnail boots at the bar (and similarly-dressed young foreigners) – in fact, it’s a microcosm of Galway City itself.
The nice seat I had was in one of the gorgeous snugs. My husband and I were operating one car as our nineteen-year-old, 220,000-mile VW Golf was in the garage, awaiting a verdict on whether it would live or die. So, after a freezing journey in on the bus, I was very grateful for a warm and cosy pub with a roaring fire. The view I had from the snug was perfect: a grizzly man in a handknit hat was reading the paper, so I drew him fast before he left, as people do.
Around this time last month I sketched in Neachtain’s with Urban Sketchers Galway, and drew the very tasty gin and tonic I had there.
You can see the big pot of soup being served at the back wall, and I would wager that there is at least one pair of hobnail boots at the end of the feet of the men at the bar.
I was eager to find out what was to become of our car. We bought her new not too long after we were married. The colour was called Jazz Blue and we pushed the boat out, buying the Comfort Line, meaning we had lovely velvet seats and lots of other nice extras. We’ve driven all over France, Britain and to countless sailing events in her and we have had nothing but the most comfy journeys in her. It. I don’t believe in gendering cars, or I didn’t until I realised I was about to say goodbye to this one. Now the car makes the most unbelieveable cacophony as it drives: among many baffling sounds we can identify some, such as the sound of brake pads on metal, and the rattle it makes in reverse because I misjudged the width of a tractor about ten years ago: what’s new is the fine coating of mildew on the comfy velvet seats, because the window seals aren’t what they should be any more. It smells rather dank now, and it was smelling a little anyway from all the damp sailing gear thrown into the back.
On the bus on the way home, Marcel texted me the news from the garage. It wasn’t good. The car would cost far more to fix than it was worth – by a factor of more than ten. It was to meet its maker…so to speak.
“At least they didn’t charge for the evaluation,” said Marcel.
“Maybe they took her for a spin and brought their wives out,” I replied, “as a treat.”
“They probably have asthma now,” he replied. I had a laughing fit on the bus then, and because I was in the front row I am sure I looked like a mad person.
Goodbye Jazzy Blue!