This isn’t so much a Chucky Report, as a minute’s silence in respect of a lost piss-up.
Except I refuse to be silent, not even for a minute! What sorry excuse for a St. Patrick’s Day was this? What a tragic, senseless waste! I was ready. I’d done my very damnedest to encourage enthusiasm, to gather attendees, and to plan my Sunday – nay, even my Monday – hangover with a care and dedication seen only in the great drinking personalities of the 19th, 20th and early 21st Centuries. I had my medications at the ready, my greasy fry-up breakfast all planned, and my liver transplant all lined up, and for what? I’ll tell you what. An Irish pub that wasn’t serving Guinness, an hour and a half spent sitting with my wife making idle chit-chat (nothing against the good lady, but we could have done exactly the same thing at home on a much more comfortable couch, with better booze and full remote-control access to the TV), the shame of appearing in public in my green hemp shirt, cosy green cardigan and green Jameson beanie, none of which really fitted me but were the very least I could do in honour of a Patron Saint about whom I knew nothing but to whom I was willing to pay my respects in the name of alcohol on this solitary occasion each year, indeed, a perfectly good Saturday evening thrown down the toilet like so much beer and pub snacks, at least beer and pub snacks that should have been thrown down the toilet, but weren’t on account of this being the most pissweak St. Paddy’s Day in the history of alcoholic endeavours! That, to answer my previous question, is what! It was just sad. No, it wasn’t sad, it was a fucking disgrace. Furthermore, we live way the fuck out in the boonies and getting in and out of Helsinki shoots the better part of an evening right through the bollocks, so even if we do happen to decide the whole thing is an abortion from beginning to end – and we did, with no small justification I might add – the realisation occurs far too late for us to do anything about it whatsoever, making this an even greater sacrifice for us, but one we are more than willing to make for the sake of these black-hearted traitors we call our friends, and I don’t mean ‘black-hearted’ as in ‘hearts of pure Guinness’, oh no. I mean the bad sort of black-hearted traitors. Willing victims of our own solitude, we are, and we bear the necessary burden with quiet stoicism. But perhaps the odds were more profoundly stacked against us than we thought. Maybe it was the day itself that was all wrong. Who wants to go out with friends, let alone co-workers – let alone former co-workers – on a Saturday? St. Patrick’s Day was on a Monday this year and that means it’s going to be very difficult for most people to get out. Certainly, looking back on my St. Paddy’s of 2000, I acknowledge freely that I couldn’t do the same today. Times change. I’m a shadow of my former self in every sense but the literal. I have a full-time job and have already booked up way too many days off this winter, sad but true. Gone are the times when one could make a day of it, without significant planning, and although the opportunities for such planning were ample this year it seems as though nobody wished to make use of those opportunities. Since I was among those who squandered this marvellous, once-in-a-year chance for a day of responsible gorging and social drunkenness, far be it from me to cast the first stone. Monday couldn’t be done and even the Irish accepted that, and so they moved the whole thing to a Saturday instead, bless their hearts. But that was the point at which the sound, sensible planning ended and the Festival of the Dog’s Breakfast began. And so the inward spiral of self-recrimination begins. Was it my fault? Was I, in my over-enthusiasm, blinded to the fact that I was piling too much pressure onto my dear friends, with whom I simply wanted to spend a little time and fellowship? Were my expectations unreasonable? Were my incessant Emails in connection to various social events and gatherings so remorseless, so spam-like in nature, that they sapped the will to live of my fellow travellers, causing a loss of enthusiasm or perhaps a feeling that there were too many things to remember, too many things to do? In providing them with so many different messages on the topic of fun times to be had, did I confuse them or wear out their miniscule attention-spans to such an extent that they simply thought "oh fuck it, I can’t be bothered going to any of these things or even, apparently, reading the Emails themselves anymore, let alone responding to them, I never did learn how to reply to an Email and this fat Australian cunt isn’t worth the efort of learning how"? Apparently so! Now far be it from me to deride the drinking skills and dedication to socialising of my friends and colleagues, they are beyond reproach when it comes to such things and I’m sure they had their reasons for leaving me high and dry. It is pure bitterness on my part which causes me to hypothesise possible reasons for this treachery, and to conjure up in my mind’s eye a secret gathering of Freemason-style killjoys who mastermind the destruction of innocent Saturday nights for nothing more than the pure pleasure of random, senseless debasement. Most likely it is nobody’s fault, if not my own. People have other things to do, and can’t postpone or reschedule them for the sake of anything so passé as a centuries-old tradition of good times and comradeship. And admittedly, a couple of people – yes, a precious couple – did actually show willing. So what if only one of them was Irish? In this day and age, that hardly matters! We had a pair of takers, from a star-studded field, and that should have been enough. And it was my own doing, my own crippling depression and desolation, that caused me to advise them not to waste their time hiking into Helsinki the way I had done. What is an hour or two of sitting in a pub without Guinness, I rationalised to myself, against the bygone days of 16-hour benders and thick black stout running in bountiful rivers? What is the point, when half the time is spent in transit and only I have the presence of mind to bring a flask? I blame myself, dear God, I blame myself. What have I become? Have these hands become the hands of a sad, pathetic sipper? Am I become my own betrayer, the architect of my own demise? It is a grim day for all of us, a grim day indeed, when Australians and Irish and Finns can’t get out on St. Patrick’s Day and have a few brewskis. Where once a dozen pints were downed and fabulous prizes won, now a botle of Corona, a pint of Kilkenny and a couple of shots of Salmari and Minttu Black shuffled their feet in the hallowed halls of Drinkerdom like a half-booked tour group showing up on renovation day, knowing all too painfully their acute lack of worth. Yes, Minttu Black, that sorry excuse for a liquor that tried valiantly, for all its flaws, to stand in the great dark shoes of Sir Guinness, a liquor chosen for a blackness that proved, ultimately, to be false advertising of the lowest and most pernicious sort, as it was neither black nor, to my lasting disgust, even Minttu. Where once I would walk home with head held high, bearing the spoils of a day and a night of carousing – including but not limited to shot glasses, barmats, pints and tumblers, swizzle-sticks, cocktail shakers and a plethora of other dipsomaniacal treasures – now there was a hanging head, a shameful mien, and a lowly cardboard drink coaster pocketed in full view and bored acceptance of the woefully underworked and embarrassingly-relaxed bar staff. But it goes beyond a simple let-down, beyond the mere bummer of an evening not satisfactorily spent – oh, so far beyond. It is, without wanting to get unnecessarily melodramatic about this, a microcosm of our social and cultural situation, a reflection of this day and age in which we live. I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that these are end times, people. This is truly the end of the long march of days, and when Last Drinks are called not even the repentant will be spared. The great flood started with a single drop of water, the fires of Armageddon will begin with a single spark, and how can we, brittle, dry branches that we have become, hope to stand in the way of such a relentless juggernaut of boredom, misery and sipping-tea-with-pinky-finger-extendedness? I’ll tell you how: we can not, that’s how. It’s over, and all that remains is the long, drawn-out whimper of a fading dream, the slow death-rattle of a once-proud drinking tradition and the passing of a legend into the realms of lame superstition and barely-remembered bygone achievements. Weep, you who dwell in such grim and dreary times. Weep for what is lost, weep for what is forgotten, for what is forsaken and what has been traded, heedlessly, for empty promises of better things, in this life or the next. And weep, my friends, for all those who do not know what is missing from their souls. They are surely the most miserable of God’s creatures. But for I.