Three Men that don’t know they’re in my life

1.The pioneering beggar

Every day I see an oval-faced man on Grafton Street holding an enormous wooden sign, which points you in the direction of the Sweet Emporium on Duke Street. He has been holding this sign day in, day out for many months. For years before that he sat slumped on the steps of the insurance building next to Hodges Figgis with a tin covered in chipped orange paint. His eyes were too sad and vacant to be those of a charity collector; he was a pioneering beggar. Somebody must have noticed him there and decided that if he was going to stay in the city centre looking for money all day, he might as well send people to the Sweet Emporium. Now he works double shifts because I’ve seen him back by the steps on Dawson Street at evening time. He’s been on my mind on and off for years. I wonder what we’d talk about, if I ever found the courage to introduce myself.

2. The Man with long, blonde hair

Since my schooldays, I’ve been passing an extremely tall man, with long blonde hair and thick pink lips. When he walks, his whole body jolts heavily forward and then bounces back, as if on a spring. He has a long, beige face, which blends in with the bewildered expression he wears. When I watch him, he seems to be looking at something beyond what I can see. I think he is the wildest and gentlest man I’ve ever seen and I also think that he is intellectually disabled. I feel sad when I see him, because of the way he moves, and because of the large blue pools which are his eyes. Every once in a while he puts on black, knee-high women’s boots and stumbles down the street in them. Sometimes I try to imagine his mother and father but I can’t because I can’t paint their pictures in my head.

3. The Opera Singer

He wears a smoking jacket and bow tie and sings to the crowds of shoppers as if he were on stage in an Italian opera house. He has a neat, tight face with symmetrical features and short, sandy brown hair. He could be from the Czech Republic or from Slovakia, but in fact he comes from our own shores. I’ve heard him speak; he asked a lady last week if he should sign her CD “To Anne with an E”.
His body language, coupled with his attire is highly comedic. I know this because once I was sitting by the window upstairs in Bewley’s watching him speak to a middle-aged lady, who happened to be a fan. He bent forward to touch her arm and tilted his head backward to laugh at what she had said. He used his hands constantly, flapping them politely in her direction and then mock-modestly at her wide-eyed praise. He’s a charmer.

These three men are in my life but I’m not in theirs.

8 thoughts on “Three Men that don’t know they’re in my life

  1. Yeah, especially when they’re part of our routine. I find it especially with people who get the same bus as me – I always time myself compared to them. If they’re not there, I’m late. If they’re not there for many days, I begin to wonder what happened to them, where they are.


  2. I know the blonde man as well, I’ve often seen him around!

    There was a homeless man who lived in the vicinity of an insurance building near Merrion Square. I used to pass him every day when I lived down that direction. During the day, he would sit on the street with a collection cup in front of him and rosary beads in his hands. He was thin and sallow and bearded, possibly Eastern European by his accent. He never asked anyone for money, but he always thanked me and asked God to bless me when I put a few coins in the cup. If I passed his spot at night, he would be bundled up in a sleeping bag on the steps of his building. Often, he was reading.

    One day he simply wasn’t there anymore. I never saw him again, but I like to think that life gave him a break and he managed to get accommodation and a job for himself. I was always struck by his dignity and his gracious manners in the face of such dire circumstances.


    • It’s incredible the snippets of stories you see just by going about your daily routine. You can see so much of human dignity and baseness on the streets. They’re the kind of people I’d feel compelled to talk to if I met them out of the usual context, like on a holiday.


  3. I love this post Kate. I honestly thought I was the only person who did this so never mentioned it to a soul. You have reassured me of my abject normality.


    • Very glad to do so, Rachel! There are some people that I’ve been seeing for years that just fascinate me – the old man with the badhrán who colonised the Molly Malone statue is one – but he deserves a whole post to himself.


  4. Pingback: Thoughts on leaving Ireland: Why emigration is my lifestyle choice |

  5. Pingback: Thoughts on leaving Ireland: Why emigration is my lifestyle choice |

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