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  • Paul

José from the flats

It’s been quite a while since I’ve perfected not touching my own face when I’m out. I’ve been working out of my own office for most of the last 18 months and I’m a dab hand at hosting a zoom meeting as well as ones on WhatsApp and even Signal. Because of what I do for a living I was able to present a business card at Garda checkpoints and move about at will even during the worst of the lockdowns. What I’m really bad at is talking to real humans.

Now apparently we’re all on again sometime later this month. Most of the country and particularly Dublin are back up to pace. How much did you miss the M50? For a little while last year it was pretty much empty pretty much all of the time. That was weird in a really enjoyable kind of way. Now we’re back to needing to have a full set of our ‘wits’ about us before we even venture out.

Speaking of venturing out, that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing between now and the upcoming obscure Christian holiday that’ll be here before we know it. This may sound easy, or even something like good news, but spare a thought for those of us who took to social distancing like a duck to water. Not everyone is experiencing the same amount of gratitude for the new ‘normal’ as you might be.

First up we’ll be going on our holliers. That’s an ancient northside term that references two weeks annually where you don’t have to listen to the same asshole that you, unfortunately, have to listen to for the other fifty. This year we’re going out to the West to ride with the team from Celtic Horizon Tours. We’ll be hitting the road in a few days and after leaving the midlands I’d be surprised and bitterly disappointed if we saw a straight stretch of road for the following four days. If you’ve got this in time call any of the team in the office and we’ll see you in Athlone. Just make sure that you specify that you don’t want to share a room with me. I snore.

No sooner will I be hearing the words, ‘Yes, but how did you get our GS this dirty in such a short time?’ that it’ll be time for the real daunting one. Getting back in the air. I know, I know, most of you have already flown somewhere and it was great to get back in a plane and get some sun and so on... I’m not, however, made like you.

A few years ago someone made a scheduling mistake and several of us needed to be somewhere for a tyre launch. We ended up flying across Europe on a private jet before being transferred to the penthouse in a five start hotel. I haven’t been the same since. It’s not that I don’t like flying, it’s just that I now know how it could be. Meeting someone at 5.30am who hates me by default just because they work for that airline is not the way to do it.   

But getting on a plane is exactly what I’ll be doing. Two of us from the office are off to Portimao for a few days with Motocraft. While I’m not looking forward to the security, the health checks, the flight itself and the lack of decent food while we’re in the air I simply can’t wait to get back out on track after what seems like an eternity of riding on the road. I really like the circuit, the last corner necessities me, little old me, bringing an extra set of knee sliders. It really is that easy to ride that fast there. I can’t wait. The only thing that I really hope happens is that Joe from the flats is going. While he knows exactly what he is, I can’t write it here or I’ll get fired, I’m so looking forward to telling him in person. Because, after all, that’s exactly what he is. And he’s sure to benefit from hearing it yet again from me.

No sooner will I have set the new lap record for the Portuguese circuit than we’ll be getting onto a series of filthy human crammed flying cans of unhappiness and heading off to Milan and the bike show at EICMA. Milan is a city of style. All the big Italian clothing and furniture brands live there. It’s easy to get around and the food is awesome. There’s a half decent cigar shop in every neighbourhood and I have just enough Italian to eat well. It will, however, be colder than Coolock at the end of February. If you’re going, and you should, bring a coat. There will be a lot to do and see at the biggest show in the world this year and a lot of people to catch up with. If only we could ride there and back. That would be better.

Then we’re over to the NEC. Post Brexit and post Pandemic. Getting in and out of here should be great craic altogether. Never the less, there are a whole load of former Europeans that we’ve got to say hello to so hopefully we won’t be detained for too long by Her Majesties least happy employees.


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