|Raymond and bicycle on the Marco Polo Bridge, near Beijing, China|
October 24, 2009
I've been thinking about the Irish character recently and I was just telling someone the other day about a few occasions I've experienced abroad. I was in London a few years ago, on my way to Israel, and I stopped to listen to an elderly busker, playing his accordion at night in a shop doorway, between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.
We got chatting and I told him where I was from and he said he was originally from Dublin. Next thing you know, he asked me to 'mind his accordion' - and his money! - while he took a leak across the road! Talk about trust, eh?
Well, a coupla days later I was in Jerusalem, at night, and I met Cyril. Cyril is also from Dublin - a young man who was selling Celtic-style jewellery in the middle of Ben Yehuda Street, (a pedestrian area).
Again, we'd been yarnin' for a few minutes when he also asked me to look after the jewellery, while he relieved himself nearby! He handed me a wee torch and left me to answer questions about the jewellry from young Israeli couples for the next five minutes, or so.
It just shows something about the Irish character that someone will trust you like that, just because you're a fellow Irishman.
Continuing my thoughts - about the natural bond between Irishmen abroad. I was in Beijing in 1999. I'd just cycled 444 kilometres across Beijing Province for charity and planned another week to get to know the city, when I had my wallet stolen at Tienanmen Square.
Now I'll not go into the whole story of my experience with Chinese police 'n' all - but I met another Irish guy, from Newcastle, here in Northern Ireland, who lent me 100 yuan to pay for my hotel that night. And another part Irishman, from London, loaned me another 100 yuan and handed me his mobile phone to cancel all my credit cards, and to phone my wife back home to send me some money by Western Union.
When I got home again, and told friends I'd been in Beijing, they said not to make a whole song about it - but, actually, that's exactly what I did do! It's 11 verses long and it's called, 'Ballad of Beijing!' You'll find it on iTunes.
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