When I was 20

Sorry about the hiatus.

Massive stress in moving into the new house and work lead to blogging silence. I am also typing this on a wireless dongle connection (new house has no TV, phone or BB) so it may not be the best.



It started well with me passing my driving test at the tender age of 19 and 3 days in my mother’s car.

It then went rapidly downhill with February 1990 being the worst month I can remember in a long while. Nothing tragic happened like somebody dying. No, it was much worse than that.

The girl I fancied went off to the Hockey Ball with another fella, I crashed my mother’s car (badly – the sort of badly where your mother doesn’t give a shit about you and just looks at the car) and as I was sitting at home one evening a big police man knocked on the door to serve me with a summons for speeding.

The speeding had happened nearly 6 months previously and I was working on the old wife’s tale that if you made it to 6 months without a summons you were scot free. Apparently not. The wife was wrong.

I was in a bad place.

So, from February things only got better.

Within a month (soap opera script) I had won the girl back (she is now my wife of nearly 10 years and my girlfriend and true love of 21 years and 22 years respectively) and within 4 months (June) we were off to New York to work for the summer on J-1 visas.

Now the stories of the Irish Student’s J-1 summer are legion and we were no different. There were days of monotonous boredom but the high points were amazing.  The summer was basically split into two parts.

the first 6 or 7 weeks until the end of July were great. There was Mick, Alice, Myself, Finola (Better half) and a fella from Youghal called Aongus Buckley.  Finola had an ID that allowed us to  buy drink to our hearts content. By American standards were were candidates for a 12-step programme. By northern European standards we were just having a few drinks. We spent these days working in  the Nassau Country Club on Long Island and then, in our time off, wandering around Manhattan.

Innocents abroad.

Then the girls had to go home because they loved their summer exams so much the decided to do them again in September. They left at the end of July. To this day, those 6 weeks until I came home again have been the longest that I have been away from Finola (cheesy I know).

In the Country Club there were plenty of Mexicans, some African-Americans (one called Mr. Kelly) and a few Americans. Of these there were two guys called Scott. One was a camp Minnesotan M’aitre d’ and the other was the all-american kid. Torso like a triangular wedge of muscle and loved and admired by girls and boys alike.

And then he goes and proves that he can’t hold his beer and pot. You give me a spliff (back then) and it’s a case of hide the cheese sandwiches. You give one to Scott and it’s a case of look at me – I can dive off the balcony into the pool.

Except he couldn’t.

He missed.

And cracked his head, and sunk to the bottom.

And drowned.

At the time we (Me, Aongus and Mick) were watching ‘Dead Calm’ on HBO. We stepped out of the TV room and were greeted with a scene from Hill Street Blues. Cops and paramedics everywhere. Crazy shit.

And that put an end to our summer of free booze, late night dips in the pool and general misbehaviour.

We had a few more cultural highlights. One was being stranded in Jamaica, Queens late one night. Now Jamaica, Queens isn’t so-called because of the huge Irish community. No sir. There we were, midnight. The departing train not wanting to open it’s doors to us and the fear of a night on a station platform looking all the more likely.

So we (two of the 3 of us) jumped onto the engine of the train as it pulled out of the station.


Until the train stopped in the middle of nowhere. And a man with a gun came up to us and wanted to know what we were up to.

So we sat with the guard all the way to Glen Cove as a pair of bold boys.

Still, it beat having to spend another 3 hours in Jamaica like Mick had to.

the summer of 1990 was also the summer of ‘the double’.

Cork had to play Meath in the All-Ireland Football Final in order to win the All-Ireland Hurling and Football finals. We were going to have to play our part. For play I mean drink.

We rocked up at 7:00 in the morning to start the day off with a few beers. This was followed by the match and a few more beers and eventually we made it home at around 10:00 that night having been drinking in the Horse and Jockey in Woodside for most of the day. The details would lead to several sets of proceedings against me.

The rest of 1990 was all a bit of a blur. I was home, in love and had made it into 3rd year in Civil Engineering (considered easy).

time to get seriously into the Doors and grow the hair seriously long.



2 responses to “When I was 20

  1. Crikey! Poor triangular wedge of muscle fella!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s