Friday, January 28, 2011

Thing 273 Bus to an Unknown Destination

Way back in December 2009, when I first started prattling about The Project to anyone who'd listen (turns out Spoon was the only one listening at that time), one of the first and earliest suggestions was to get on a bus to an unknown destination. We hadn't really worked on the logistics of it, but one way or another, I wanted to be on a bus and have no idea where I was going.

Two hundred and seventy three things later... Ferbane, County Offaly. Boom.

The Frenchman came with me to the bus station. I gave him my money, he bought me a ticket somewhere, then he popped a blindfold on me, stuck the headphones in my ears (because apparently I can't do that for myself) and shoved me on to a bus (he didn't shove me, but it sounds cooler). The bus driver gave me some funny looks I'd say. I don't know, I couldn't see.

So I set an alarm for an hour and a half after I got on. No idea where I was going. Started to worry. What if he's put me on a bus that doesn't go for an hour and a half. What if I end up in... Cork... shudder... (Watch Cork people go mad now...) What if this isn't even a bus, but an elaborate hoax organised by Token Northy and Pony Boy designed to humiliate me... urge to rip off blindfold... rising...

This is where I ended up. Right on the River Brosna, outside this little shop. Maidin Gheal. It's a cafe, and it's only lovely. I walked in, the nice lady inside the store asked me was I lost: "Yes. No. Where am I?". "You're in Maidin Gheal, in Ferbane", she told me. "Lovely", says me, "Where's Ferbane then?".... "County Offaly, are you sure you're not lost? Where are you looking for?".... Nope, I'm fine. This is exactly what I was looking for. Can I've a coffee?

So I sat down there and had a chat. Told her all about The Project. She introduced me to a few of the locals. Among them Mr Maurice Higgins. Lovely chap. More on him later...
I took a stroll around to see the sights. It was lovely. Nice little town. Friendly people. Lots of teenagers floating about, looking at me crossways, but for some reason teenagers do that to me in every town, so I'm not knocking Ferbane. Saw the local ruined church, and the local not-ruined church. Took a nice long amble about. First time I've got off my lazy ass to walk anywhere in months. Had to go to Offaly to stop being a lazy so-and-so.
That there is one of the finer sights. It's a bog oak sculpture in the church that's not a ruin. They've got a little ante-room like a sanctuary, with a little water-fall and this sculpture. Lovely little room. Lovely little church. Lit a candle and said a little prayer when I was there - I know what you're thinking; "Choirboy...".
So with that all done I still had an hour and a half to kill... what to do... what to do... Pint it is. I popped down to Hennessy's Bar on the main street, conveniently located next to a bookie's. I strolled in and the locals looked at me funny. It's a Tuesday. In the middle of the afternoon, and someone nobody seems to know is in for a pint...

They watched and waited... I got more and more awkward. Just then, my new hero strolled in the door. Maurice Higgins to the rescue.

"Hello Dan. You didn't get very far...", he chuckled.
"Hello Maurice. Took a bit of a stroll, but I've time to kill. Join me for a pint?".

Whole bar relaxed, sure if he knows Maurice Higgins he has to be okay right? Delighted with myself. So I sat with my new friend, and we cured all the world's problems from our bar stools in front of a roaring fire. We even tipped down the road and backed a horse.

Turns out my mystery tour took me to a place in Offaly where I may as well have been at home. Sweet. Next time, plane journey to an unknown destination... although, that might be a bit trickier to organise, and everyone knows The Frenchman is xenophobic.

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