What is the Chinese for a Pint of Guinness?

So at the end of two hours of episcopal ordination in Dublin, the question was, ‘Has O’Neills of Suffolk St changed under pressure from the new Ireland?’  To which the answer is, ‘Not really.’  When I asked for a pint of stout, the barman required simultaneous translation – behaving as if that was the first such request he had ever received.  Scottish accent?  But once we had got over that cultural and linguistic hurdle, things went just fine.  Indeed everything seemed just as normal – the only slight innovation being the presence of a Chinese girl behind the bar.  Even that most important facility in all Dublin pubs, the gents, seemed intact.  And admiring it, I remembered standing in there to relieve myself at some length and the customer next to me saying cheerily, ‘Sure it’s only rented to you.’

Meanwhile, I moved amongst friends old and new at the tea afterward the service and told them that I was really sorry to have left, that I was suffering major cultural dislocation, that the language barrier was insuperable, that I didn’t understand the jokes – but otherwise I was just fine.


  1. Have just ‘found’ your blog and printed it out. Read it over breakfast – great peals of laughter from self & husband – and as I skip through it again now ‘live’ the tears are rolling down my cheeks! Suspect it helps to have an ‘inside knowledge’ of good old Ireland! When you produce your first paperback let me know; I’ll be first in the queue to buy it!

    Keep scribing.

  2. Not understanding the jokes reminds me of my non-Spanish speaking father going into a bar in Spain last week where they were being entertained by a Spanish comedian. My father knew he was a comedian, because he was haranguing the audience and every so often someone laughed.

  3. Clearly a strange experience that tea – and I have such sympathy with you: imagine the cultural dislocation, language barrier and difficulties with jokes that we’re having with our ‘new’ bishop!

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