I have been thinking long and hard about 2004. What made it different from 2003 or 2005? It is one of those middle years in a decade when all the noise of the war on terror, the invasion of Iraq and all the other world events were overlapping.
Looking back on it now, from the prism of the present, it was, as Dunphy would say, a good year, not a great year.
The main thing to take the gloss off 2004 was that we decided to have another child and realised that it wasn’t just a case of getting drunk on champagne and waiting 9 months. It also, would you believe it, took lots of biology. The getting pregnant was no problem, it was the staying pregnant that was the problem. I was still phantom pregnant (having been inseminated with Guinness) but we were not staying ‘real pregnant for more than 8 weeks. This meant that the roller coaster of emotions that comes with being pregnant was being derailed like a head on collision with an on-coming train.
The experts in the wife fondling department at the maternity hospital were full of useful shoulder shrugs and droopy smiles. You had to hit 3 miscarriages before you made it to the next level and got prodded some more.
This sort of event, looking back on it, is the sort of thing that makes you realise that you are not the master of your own destiny and that the immortality of your earlier years was all just a sham. You also realise, once you talk to people about this sort of thing that everyone has similar (or worse) experiences.
2004 wasn’t all bad though. I used to do a bit of fund raising for a local charity called Enable Ireland. This involved me going swimming on Christmas day for money. In 2004 I had the chance to combine this with motorbiking (the fund raising, not the swimming). I had to raise €5,000 for Enable Ireland and this allowed me to travel the Camino Santiago by motorbike.
The down side to this was about half the guys of the trip were motorbike cops so I had visions of all sorts of sam brown belts, speed limits, life safer moves and sensible BMWs. I was resigned to this as I was doing it ‘for the kiddies’ and not for the chance to hoon around Europe on a Blackbird.
How wrong was I?
How any of these guys had made it into their 40’s was completely beyond me. I could handle the all night drinking – every night, I could handle the 140mph on rural French roads. I could handle the twisties in the fog through the Pyrenees. I just wasn’t prepared to do it for 8 hours a day, every day. The experience was so intense that it was almost impossible to sleep. The flashbacks were so vivid that you couldn’t de-tune from the manic nature of it.
I remember one evening in Santander where we (me and a TV licence Inspector called Frank on an Africa Twin) went for a lovely salted cod dinner. With a bottle of Cava and a bottle of wine.
We then crashed a wedding and were kicked out and caught a taxi to the centre of town where we started smoking and hanging out with a guy dressed as snow white (it was his stag night).
That was normal. the next day it was back on the bikes after two runny eggs and a porno bill for the hotel room (Frank was the sort of guy you would share your porn stash with) and through the most frightening piece of motorway in Europe (the road past Bilbao) and then back to doing 140mph up to Bordeaux.
They only lost two motorbikes on the trip – A Hayabusa ‘hit’ a car and a VTX1800 had the clutch ripped out of it by someone trying to pop a wheelie on it. Not bad going.
Then, as I was awash with celtic tiger gold (well, about €40 up on my take home pay a week )I decided to postpone trading in the skoda and instead bought this:
Back then, in 2004 it looked like this:
The golden Pencil got married in 2004 as well. I was the best man and that was cool.