History 1997 and I was staying at a caravan site in the North Wales with my parents for a week. On the Thursday a coach trip was organised to Ireland, taking in Avoka, home town on the television series Ballykissangel (RIP) and Dublin. Having spent more time than is actually needed in what amounts to a cute small village, we eventually arrived in Dublin at four o'clock in the afternoon.

A veteran of fitting a whole city into two hours, I knew that you should always pick just two things and stick with them. Attempt to see everything and you'll see nothing. Just be careful which two you pick...

Number one: Being a film fan it occurred to me on the boat over that Ireland was this whole other country, off the mainland. This meant that the laws which governed us didn't have to carry over there. It was wildly believed at the time that A Clockwork Orange was banned by the censors (although we eventually found out it was Kubricks idea). So it stood to reason (I think you can see where this is going) that it would be available in Ireland. So my first port of call was HMV. I was in an illicit mood.

HMV hadn't heard of the film. Or at the least the clerk hadn't. So I asked if there was a Virgin Megastore about. There was - a good fifteen minutes walk away. I'm working the time through in my head. It's already 4:20 - fifteen minutes there, fifteen minutes back - Kubrick 'heaven' - yep, it's worth it (I must point out I only knew film from its reputation as a 'masterpiece' -- how surprised were we when we all eventually saw it?). So off I trot. Through one of the prettiest cities in Europe looking for a shop I could visit at home...

I walk past it three times. It's the tinyiest Virgin 'megastore' I've ever seen. Trundle up the stairs to the video department and set upon the A-Z section. Starting with the As (yes I know). Then the Cs - still nothing. I even try the Ks - well all of Woody Allen's films are clumped together under his name so ... nope. I spot a clerk and go and ask her. Which neatly brought me to:

Number Two: The bet. When I was still a student I had an argument with a friend about which European city had the most beautiful women. I swore blindly it was Leeds (which is where I was studying). My friend rasped lyrically about Dublin girls. He'd only met three but that was enough. So we made a pact that when either of us actually went to Dublin we'd see and report back.

[I should interject here that I know that 'looking for a "banned" videos' and 'scoping the girls' aren't what most tourists would be looking for in Dublin, and to be honest now I might have sampled the architecture and the food instead of dashing about, I'll give my younger self the benefit of the doubt -- to be honest my curiosity is still at right angles to everyone elses].

Anyway, there and then my friend was proved right. This Virgin clerk was probably the most beautiful girl in a black sweatshirt I'd ever seen. Fiery red hair, deep green eyes. I was actually nervous about asking her to do her job.

'Um - have you errr - I mean...
'Can I help you?' She steps into my random muttering.
'I was just wondering - is A Clockwork Orange banned here as well?'
She beams at me.
''Fraid so.'
I must have frowned.
'But I've got a copy at home if you want to come around and see it...'

[Time for another bracket because this is turning in to the kind of story a 'bloke' might tell his 'mates' at the 'pub'. But regular readers will know that although I have a habit of embelishing, I never flat out lie to make myself seem good -- in fact I'll usually make myself look inane for a cheap laugh. But on this occasion this actually happened, I'm quoting verbatum and just to prove it I'm going to write it again.]

'But I've got a copy at home if you want to come around and see it...'
I paused. Well you would. Then I grinned.
'I'd love to ...' - and this is the hardest thing I'd ever had to say looking at my watch until then - 'but I'm leaving Ireland in an
hour.'
She frowned. I frowned. This never happens to me.
'Oh well.' She shrugged.
'Thanks anyway.' I said brightly. And left. With an hour to walk aimlessly around Dublin and wonder about moving there...

[Although having visited Paris in the meantime I could tell my younger self that the girls there are really special and that he's got something to look forward to.]

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