Part of my commute to work now includes walking from one end of O’Connell Street to the other. Thankfully and I mean thankfully, it’s only something I have do maybe 3 or so times a week, depending where I’m coming from and where I’m going to [I’m still ‘between’ 3 different places but let’s not go there again!]. Anyway, I mean thankfully, as O’Connell Street is one of the last places I ever like to be and move along it as swiftly as possible. To put it in not uncertain terms, it’s a kip with scangers and junkies, weirdos and the plainly violent at every turn and I’m not going to apologise for hating the very sight of what’s considered the main street of our Nation’s capital.
I don’t open my bag while walking down O’Connell Street. I don’t use my phone. I step away from people when waiting to cross over the side streets. I hate being at the traffic lights right at the Bridge, there’s often people there acting weird, looking out of it, dressed weirdly, talking away to themselves trying to catch someone else’s eye to annoy them or distract them or pressurise them into handing over money to get away. And don’t get me started on the ‘boardwalk’ where you get groups of people of indeterminable age and sex shouting, scoring drugs and adding to the seediness of the area.
The way a lot of the width of the street is now paved over and tree lined only means that there’s more places for them to appear out from. To lean against while smirking and sleazily following girls as they walk by. I see it in the eyes of many others as they walk towards me, they too are hurrying to the other end of this disgusting street just as much as I am, eyes front and centre, reactions razor sharp though in case you accidentally bump into anyone that would put you in hospital rather than accept your apology. No amount of street cleaning will ever make this part of town anything but dirty and grimy, unsafe and dangerous.
Oh, every city has it’s dodgy areas, that I know and I’ve been in many, many cities. I just hate that O’Connell Street has become a cesspit for the dregs of Dublin life. What must the tourists think? Really! I see so many of them with their maps, trying to find someone that looks approachable to ask for directions, the look on their faces when another pajama zombie runs the wheels of the baby’s buggy over their toes while the tracksuited scumbag she’s with throws a bag of chips at their feet.
One example of a typical bolt down O’Connell Street for me happened last week. I became aware of ‘a gathering’ of some type, just at the corner of Talbot Street, where the Kylemore is. I moved to walk against the shop side of the path, just keeping my head down. People had stopped. I could see that people were trying to figure out what was going on while not engaging any of the ‘people’ involved. It was a whole group of them, maybe 6 or 7, males and females of various ages, a few buggies, low flying hoop earrings and ponytails and the girls had their jewellery on too. They were standing, shouting at one another, taking up most of the pavement, pointing at each other, walking away and then turning back to shout louder. God, they were one ugly bunch of scumbags now that I think of it. I definitely heard words I understand, so they were ‘speaking’ some kind of English, but I was only able to get words here and there and it took a few minutes to get past the developing melee. I was just disgusted at the state of them. Acting like animals and looking like ones that hadn’t washed in days at that.
Say what you want, call me a snob. But quite simply, it’s not a crime to want to be able to walk down a main street in a capital city without feeling that you’ve just been through a complete haze of eau de scumbag. The irony being me actually glad to get on a Dublin Bus at the other end isn’t something I’ve forgotten either. I’d happily avoid both but unfortunately it isn’t possible. Excuse me while I go for a shower, the mere thoughts of being on that street in the not too distant future has me coming out in a sweat.