I met up with the old friend, and as a result, I'm no longer single. I suppose I can be a charmer; when backed into a corner, I charm with the best. I saw her again on Tuesday and we watched a few films at mine. It's worth mentioning her prodigious knowledge of films; her favourite director is Wong Kar Wai. Things are proceeding nicely, but unfortunately she's only in the area for one day now before the new year, so I'll have to make the most of that day. Ah, well.
The screenings were OK, although I would have liked to see more people there. My older friend, Guillaume, arrived on Wednesday evening, and we embarked on an odyssey worthy of Homer. We scoured the countryside looking for our oldest friend Bob, and were confounded at every turn. Defeated, we returned and I took him to La Salsa, a nice tapas restaurant where my friend works. Naturally, it was her day off! On Thursday, Guillaume came to see Milky Thursday, and he tells me he enjoyed it, although I should have added subtitles for his benefit, really. I introduced him to the delights of the nearest chinese buffet, and returned to the cinema. I grumpily watched the winners in Best of The Fest, and we could have gone to congratulate them in the bar, but by then my sour grapes had killed my enthusiasm for a couple of free Corona, so we called it a night. It's not as bad as that, really, I mean, getting nominated in Best Of The North West isn't that bad. Besides, I did enjoy the sight of a tramp dressed as Father Christmas, who played a flute for the car park patrons queueing for ticket validation.
The day of the road trip we finally tracked down Bob's current street, but had no idea which number he lives at. We made an educated guess, and proceeded to leave a note. Just then their neighbour arrived home, so we pressed her for information, and after much cajoling finally discovered that we were standing at the wrong house, and needed to be four doors down. Thankfully we were able to retrieve the note, and recommenced our leafleting campaign through the correct letterbox. Elated, we set off on our road trip, and it took an age, mainly because of the horrific accidents in our path, and partly because Guillaume's Tom-Tom tried to guide us down people's driveways and through hedges. All told, the 250 mile journey took nine hours, so we had little time for more than a meal before we had to retire. Michel, Guillaume, Gemma and I decided upon Bella Italia, and the food was delectable. We ate, drank and generally caroused until closing time, and Guillaume journeyed back to his plush hotel while I prepared for a night on a strange mattress in Gemma's spare room. Of course, Gemma and I had to watch the feature I'd edited for her, so we slumped on the sofa and picked it apart until around 2AM. She didn't like the cut, which wasn't a huge surprise, as no-one likes the first cut of their own film. Hopefully it'll be in better shape the next time she sees it.
Guillaume picked me up at 10 am and we set off back, but by Birmingham it was clear that we would struggle even to make his plane, never mind drop me off first. I left him at departures with minutes to spare and made my way home. I can't remember having had a more fun time in so long, perhaps I'd gone stale like the bread in my kitchen cupboard. Back home, I grabbed a bite to eat and headed over to Glen's where we were catching the Taxi to the airport at 6AM. We watched another rough edit, of a different film - Sweet Snogs. It went down considerably better, mainly because it's intended as a knockabout comedy, rather than a bittersweet lighthearted melodrama. This time there were beers, and after three hours sleep, I roused everyone just in time for the taxi.
I love Dublin. Despite its status as a European capital city, it feels small and cosy. We wandered the south bank of the Liffey searching for our hotel, but in vain, as they had claimed it to be near Temple Bar and Trinity College, when it was on the wrong side of the river. In their defence, though, I should point out that Dublin is quite small, and nowhere is really far away, even for someone hobbling around with a cane.
I won't go into much detail at this point about the Dublin meeting, as it will all come out in due course. Let it suffice to say that the meeting went exceptionally well, and we spent the rest of the day drinking and making fun of each other, heading over to the South Bank and the ridiculously expensive delights of Temple Bar. After hardly any sleep we retired for the night, and the next morning we wandered around the north bank of the Liffey. We stumbled upon an unveiling ceremony that day. In 1975, three members of The Miami Show Band were murdered because their music promoted peace and unity amongst the Irish. The Taoiseach (I believe it's pronounced "Teashock"), Bertie Aherne, made a poignant speech about the Troubles, and the whole event was moving. Two priests, Catholic and Protestant, jointly read the lord's prayer, and everyone in the crowd held hands as a symbol of togetherness.
A stranger offered his hand, and I felt awkward. I decided not to offend him, and concentrated instead on the message of humanity in the words. I turned to see my colleagues stifling laughter; like characters in an old comedy film, they'd all taken a step back when the hand-holding was announced. I can expect a lot more ribbing for the next few weeks. Ah, well.