Saturday, 21 November 2009

Irish Tour - day five

In the middle of our cereal breakfast, the B&B owner put a basket on the table. “Homemade scones for you,” he said, “and your cooked breakfast will just be a few more minutes.”

I think we both felt a bit reluctant to have scones. We’re not exactly eating healthily this week but it would’ve been rude to turn fresh scones down. Kirst was first to have a go.

“They’re still warm,” she said.
A bite later, “these are really good.”

And sure enough, they were. The best scones I’ve had outside Cornwall, or maybe ever. A lovely touch by Fernroyd House B&B. Two of the most competent B&B accommodation providers you could hope for.

We were caught out with the train tickets. Just like in England, buying on the day will get you screwed. Two tickets to Dublin cost €102 and would’ve been a lot cheaper if booked in advance. It seems strange to punish on-the-day purchasers but we had little choice – or maybe that’s exactly the point?

The CityLink coaches had spoiled us with its free WiFi and it felt a little frustrating that the train didn’t have similar facilities. Still, it gave us chance to do a bit of admin – and a game of travel Scrabble. Highlight for me being the word ‘sedative’ half way through the game.

The train seemed to take ages for a relatively short distance but we were hardly in a rush. Eventually we arrived at Heuston Station where Christian was waiting. It was good to meet Christian again. He was the first to invite me to Ireland and that snow-balled into the tour. It was also good to see him because I met him very briefly at a DAAD screening in the summer. This screening (at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park) went down really well. The audience loved the film and were keen to say some very kind things to us in the bar afterwards. People were so nice, in fact, that it was a fairly intense experience. It felt a little like being plugged into the mains for an hour.

At the end of the hour, Kirst and I agreed to take our untouched drinks back to our room. It was at this point that Christian introduced himself. Making My DDR T-Shirt was a lonely experience and it’s a treat when anyone expresses an interest. However, as we were a bit frazzled and literally walking out of the room, I always felt like I didn’t show my appreciation of Christian’s comments. I tried to explain this to him on the bus to DCU. As it turned out, and maybe not surprisingly, the issue was greater in my mind than his.

He showed us to our apartment and we dropped off our bags, then we had a quick tour of campus and then he introduced us to some German Department staff.

“Oh, you’re Ian Hawkins. Pleased to meet you.”
“Oh, hi! We’re really excited about the film.”

It was both flattering and strange that all these people knew something about me and my film.

The DCU screening was the first with significant technical problems. When the play button was pressed, the volume was very low. A frantic few minutes of amplifier fiddling ensued but there was no quick fix. I offered to do the presentation I made for Cork while Christian sorted the sound. This worked quite well. I skipped through the slides and was careful not to give anything away while an engineer fiddled with the sound equipment behind me. It was all a bit distracting but thankfully, the screening was informal enough for this not to matter. At the end of the screening, we learned that the amp was knackered but we had some speakers and a laptop and projected the film through that. In the end, it made very little difference.

It was a smallish room filled with maybe 40 people. There was something about the intimacy of the screening that really helped the mood. Some of the comments afterwards picked up on some of the poignant comments in the film and this was nice to hear. I went to a lot of trouble to make it something more than just interviews. I wanted it to have some kind of mood to it.

When the Q&A finished, and as we were leaving the room, there were lots of people who wanted to buy the film. One person bought four as Christmas presents. Another came to buy the DVD because she’d missed the screening. By the end, we’d sold out.

Instead of a B&B, DCU put us up in one of their visitor apartments. These were quite big with a lounge, kitchen and balcony. We were a little relieved that Christian hadn’t organised anything formal after the screening. It would’ve been nice to socialise with him but hospitality can be tiring sometimes. Especially if there’s a large formal feel to it.

We bought a few drinks, a frozen pizza and some breakfast for morning and settled in for the night. I couldn’t get the broadband access to work so I wasn’t able to update the blog. We watched rubbish telly and enjoyed the resounding cheer as it echoed through the campus – Ireland had obviously just scored against France.

An hour or so later, their dreams of qualifying for the World Cup were shattered by ‘The Hand of Frog.’

I’ll remember the night at DCU as a night off and for the sense of fatigue descending on me. I think this inactive fuzziness gave me chance to reflect on the tour so far. It was pretty rewarding to think that My DDR T-Shirt had really achieved something. It was being closely scrutinised by a different group every day, and not dissimilar to the trabants at the beginning and end of the film, it managed to survive and get me from A to B in one piece.

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