It’s the last outing for this column. Aidan and I are celebrating at the Bull & Castle in Christchurch. We’re joined by our friend, Johnny, briefly home from the States. “Butler pays for everything, by the way,” says Aidan, as we take our seats. “Why?” I ask. Aidan snorts. “I’ve given you enough fucking material,” he says. “You’re lucky I don’t sue ya for commission.”
He has a point. I order chicken breast with stuffing and gravy. The lads both go for steak. This is going to run me a few euros, but it’s the best pub food in Dublin. Hands down.
It’s four years since I started this column. That’s also about as long as it is since Aidan and I hung out with Johnny for any length of time. His presence only serves to underline that, despite appearance, Aidan and I have actually grown up a bit in the meantime.
Johnny expects to pick thing up where we left off. Exactly where we left off. He starts by teasing us about a failed carpet cleaning business we set up in college. It’s not “Go home and get your fucking shine box.” But it’s not far off.
The final straw is when he inquires after Aidan’s mother. “Actually,” I tell him, “Aidan’s mother is in the hospital. Broken hip.” A sly smile spreads across Johnny’s face. He performs an understated pelvic thrust. “I’ve still got it, wha?”
“I’ve got a shovel in the boot of my car,” I tell Aidan, when Johnny excuses himself to use the bathroom. “Good,” he replies. “We’ll be digging holes tonight.”
Luckily for Johnny, he can’t stay long. He’s got a flight to catch in the morning. So Aidan and I repair to the bar. One for the road, I tell him. Aidan asks why I chose The Bull & Coach for my final column. I tell him it’s because I came here once before. Had a lovely meal, a great chat with the barman and gave the place a nice write up.
The only snag was that, in the review, I identified the pub as The Lord Edward, which is actually the name of the place next door. I run a tight ship ordinarily. But these sorts of minor mistakes can be made occasionally even by the best of us.
“You feckin’ eejit,” says Aidan, shaking his head. “You know, you always made me out to be the fool. Every single week. But you were as bad… Worse even.”
“I mean, for God’s sake!” he roars, banging his fist off the bar. “Would it have killed you to…”
There’s a sudden crash and Aidan momentarily disappears from view.
He picks himself up. “There’s never a good time to fall off a bar stool,” he says. “Is there?”