outwait outrun outwit


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To get to the world's edge, you need a bus that will break down in the snow and a soused old coot who gets himself kicked off at the stop at Knock airport. The trip takes two hours longer than expected.

The world's edge is covered in snow and ice, and there isn't much to do here. Neighbors brawl in bars where everyone is fifteen. Lads in track suits stare into mobile phone screens, waiting for orders of chips and bangers. As the latest pop queen screams about how she likes being hurt, paper airplanes crash at the feet of browsers in the DVD shop and teenage snooker joint.

Every day is the same day, a milder and chintzier Groundhog Day in a sprawling six-story house. The view is the same: smoke unfurling from ice-crusted chimneys and, beyond, bluish white slopes and a faded sun. The menfolk hide in this or that room, behind barricades of Irish Independents and Sligo Champions. Butts hover over radiators as we tsk at burst pipes, new leaks, and news that A. O'Hagan's snooker champ fiance has called off the wedding only three days prior; it's a grim holiday indeed.

We distinguish the days by the meat we eat. Turkey for Christmas, goose for New Year's. All manner of roasted beasts, with gravy, mash, marrowfat peas stewed in butter. Boiled bacon with turnip and lashings of mustard. Once, dessert: plum pudding, with cream and brandy butter. Breakfasts consist of buttered slices of factory-made fruit brack or boxty, a potato pancake and north Leitrim specialty, quartered and fried in the pan, then buttered and dusted in salt and pepper. Rasher sandwiches on Tuesdays, slathered in butter and brown sauce, juicy with quartered tomatoes grilled in the drippings. My heart races at the memory of Leitrim gastronomy.

At night, we stoke the fire in the sitting room and watch movie after movie, films set in landscapes of snow and ice, where the undead stalk and the third day of February is ever a tomorrow that never comes. By now, Galway is only a dream, located in the future anterior, somewhere in January. A new year arrives in a kiss steeped in gin and tonic, the roar of new friends in a dimly lit pub on the world's edge.


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