There Is No Bakeries

A few days before I returned from my Christmas holiday in America, the football team I play with lost 6-0 to a team called “Bakeries.” I know nothing meaningful about the neighborhoods east of Ravenhill, and therefore assumed one of them was simply called “Bakeries.” Upon reentering Belfast, I asked why we had such an issue with “the lads from Bakeries.” The very fast, very republican man who plays next to me explained that “they aren’t from Bakeries.” My eyes narrowed in the timeless tourist’s gesture of confusion; he clarified (existentially): “There is no Bakeries.”

“Your men are bakery men, like.”

Pure happiness crossed my heart, misapprehension supplanted by unambiguous delight.

“So, bakers? Youse have lost six nil to bakers?”

Very rarely does God above grant such ripe, luscious opportunities for puns. Dragonfly-quick I moved from teammate to teammate, seized by a still hunger:

“Right lads – couldn’t rise to the occasion?”

“Next time I’m away, I think youse knead to try a bit harder.”

I was asked to stop; I didn’t.

“6 nothing? They’ve absolutely battered us.”

After I shredded up the next few minutes by accusing these decent gentlemen of “folding,” getting “creamed,” and the like, the pre-practice meeting began. Our coach mentioned that the result last week had been disappointing, and indicated we needed to push harder in practice. The fast republican’s eyeline brushed against mine as he stepped forward to interrupt:
“Aye lads we’ll need to be at it this week – 6-nill to Bakeries and we’ve still got the butchers and candlestick makers yet to play!”

Orson Welles once wrote that “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” We lost to Bakeries, yes, but had a lovely season and will be still stronger next year! I suspect my impending return to America will prove a case of addition by subtraction.

I went on holiday to the south of Ireland recently. The odds of my deploying a fake Belfast accent increase with my distance from Belfast; this far south the chances of detection are low. Having greeted the barman with a crisp “how are you keeping?” and extended a few sentences with “so it is,” I was sitting in a pub reading. An American tourist entered, ordered a pint, placed it and a takeaway bag next to a lit candle at the table next to me, and walked to the bathroom. The bag caught fire immediately.

Shaking the bag, beating it on my backpack, and blowing on it put out around 80% of the fire. But embers remained, the entire pub was made of wood, and I was out of ideas.

Returning in nervousness to my normal American Black accent, I called to the barman: “Yo, uh…”

I will end the story there, though all the endings I could write are positive. My time in Ireland will end soon, but it was a wonderful adventure and is, as far as I am concerned, ongoing.

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