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29 July 2010

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My World Cup hangover

IN MADRID, people only seem to really wake up around 10pm and then stay out all night. Perfect for the insomniac social toper, or even the insomniac unsociable toper. So I was ‘in my granny’s.

Those fond traits of the Madrilenos were  enhanced by it being the week that they won the World Cup. I arrived in the city just in time for the start of the game after a frantic rush from Barajas airport through the Metro, successfully negotiating two changes of train (something that I am inordinately proud of I have to say).

The bar I watched the game in was not too busy but those there made up for that in enthusiasm. I couldn’t care less who won really other than that it is polite to cheer for the team of your hosts (unless you happen to be a long-stay guest in Portlaoise) and I wanted to see what it would be like if they did win.

Following the ecstasy initiated by Iniesta’s goal, and after the anxious last minutes as Spain held out, there was a deceptive calm. But then the whole city suddenly seemed to be on the streets and the party didn’t end until dawn on Tuesday after the homecoming.

It is the perfect place to wander about and dip your toes into other people’s joy. You do feel a bit of an interloper but what the hell. I even managed to fit in a conversation about hurling, somewhere about 6 o’clock as one of those dawns broke, with someone who I vaguely recognised. But then everyone seems familiar when you are happy, or drunk.

Isabel from Havana was another extranjera and explained some of the subtle things that were going on, pointing out groups of Athletico supporters who had their own chants; the red, yellow and purple flags of the old Republic that fluttered from balconies along the Gran Via; and an old man in a red Carlista beret.

It was nice to have the benefit of local knowledge even if my Dub Spanish led her at first to believe that I was holandés rather than irlandés. But she had heard of James Joyce – the pub on Calle de Alcala, not the writer.

There is probably not a better place to nurse a hangover than Madrid’s three art galleries – the Thyssen, Prado and Reina Sofia – which are all conveniently within short walking distance of one another. And which of us hasn’t felt like a figure out of Dalí on a bad morning?

There is too much to take in but most impressive, and emotional, of all is the collection of paintings, photographs, posters and film from the Civil War in the Reina Sofia. Picasso’s Guernica is there but the painting that sticks in my mind is Ferrer’s Madrid 1937/Aviones negros, which depicts a family under attack from Nazi bombers of the Condor Legion.

Time to go. It had been a long night and sometimes old cynics need sunglasses for more than the sun.

IN MADRID, people only seem to really wake up around 10pm and then stay out all night. Perfect for the insomniac social toper, or even the insomniac unsociable toper. So I was ‘in my granny’s.Those fond traits of the Madrilenos were  enhanced by it being the week that they won the World Cup. I arrived in the city just in time for the start of the game after a frantic rush from Barajas airport through the Metro, successfully negotiating two changes of train (something that I am inordinately proud of I have to say).The bar I watched the game in was not too busy but those there made up for that in enthusiasm. I couldn’t care less who won really other than that it is polite to cheer for the team of your hosts (unless you happen to be a long-stay guest in Portlaoise) and I wanted to see what it would be like if they did win.Following the ecstasy initiated by Iniesta’s goal, and after the anxious last minutes as Spain held out, there was a deceptive calm. But then the whole city suddenly seemed to be on the streets and the party didn’t end until dawn on Tuesday after the homecoming.It is the perfect place to wander about and dip your toes into other people’s joy. You do feel a bit of an interloper but what the hell. I even managed to fit in a conversation about hurling, somewhere about 6 o’clock as one of those dawns broke, with someone who I vaguely recognised. But then everyone seems familiar when you are happy, or drunk.Isabel from Havana was another extranjera and explained some of the subtle things that were going on, pointing out groups of Athletico supporters who had their own chants; the red, yellow and purple flags of the old Republic that fluttered from balconies along the Gran Via; and an old man in a red Carlista beret. It was nice to have the benefit of local knowledge even if my Dub Spanish led her at first to believe that I was holandés rather than irlandés. But she had heard of James Joyce – the pub on Calle de Alcala, not the writer. There is probably not a better place to nurse a hangover than Madrid’s three art galleries – the Thyssen, Prado and Reina Sofia – which are all conveniently within short walking distance of one another. And which of us hasn’t felt like a figure out of Dalí on a bad morning?There is too much to take in but most impressive, and emotional, of all is the collection of paintings, photographs, posters and film from the Civil War in the Reina Sofia. Picasso’s Guernica is there but the painting that sticks in my mind is Ferrer’s Madrid 1937/Aviones negros, which depicts a family under attack from Nazi bombers of the Condor Legion. Time to go. It had been a long night and sometimes old cynics need sunglasses for more than the sun.

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