Armin and I each got stuck into an Irish breakfast at a cafe on the south bank of the River Liffey. The receptionist at the hotel had kindly let us leave our bags in a securely locked room behind the reception desk, so we were free to roam the city for a few hours without being weighed down by our belongings. We could check in properly from 2pm.
‘I love these sausages,’ I said, eagerly devouring the contents of my plate. I love food and I’m always hungry, but I was particularly ravenous after the early morning flight from England.
‘Slow down, you’ll give yourself indigestion.’ Armin sipped his coffee and looked out at the river and the bridges, observing the people walking in the bright morning sun. ‘It’s not very crowded with people. Leeds is busier than this.’
I nodded distractedly, dipping my toast into runny yoke.
‘I wonder what the population of Dublin is,’ said Armin. ‘I’m surprised. It’s Friday morning and look, the streets are pretty quiet. I’m not complaining, I like it. I hate how crowded English cities are.’
‘It’ll be busy tonight, I’m sure,’ I said, glancing out the window and observing the truth of his words.
‘Y’know, your English is perfect. You never make any mistakes, and you even speak in a kind of informal way. It’s totally natural. If I didn’t know, I’d think you were English.’
‘Thank you, that’s good to hear. Not that I want to be mistaken for being English! Especially not here!’ I laughed. ‘But I’m happy that my English is so good.’
‘You speak English better than I do, and it’s my first language!’ said Armin. This time he laughed. ‘You don’t even speak with an Italian accent. If you’d told me when we first met that you was English, I would have believed you.’
‘Well, I’ve been speaking English for a long time.’
‘Did you learn it at school?’
I nodded, chewing another mouthful of food. I looked down at my empty plate, wishing the breakfast had been bigger.
‘I need to walk off this food,’ said Armin, leaning back in his chair and patting his stomach. He was naturally slim and I was jealous of his metabolism.
‘If you’re not gonna finish that food, I will,’ I said, pointing at his plate with my knife.
‘No, I’ll finish it. I just need to rest for a minute.’ He picked up the pocket guide book from the table, and leafed through its pages. He’d bought it from a tourist information near our hotel. ‘Ok, so we’re seeing the Book of Kells this afternoon,’ he said.
I grinned with excitement. ‘I can’t wait!’
Armin smiled. ‘I love how passionate you are about that book. Seriously, I love your enthusiasm.’
‘You don’t know how much I’m looking forward to this! I studied it when I did my Masters.’
‘I know,’ he said, laughing.
‘What are you laughing at?’
‘You. I love how animated you become when you’re excited. You gesticulate a lot. I love it.’
‘It’s an Italian thing,’ I said. ‘But listen, I’d love to get my hands on the Book of Kells and study it. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, research and study old books.’
‘I know. That’s the main reason I suggested we come here. Well, that and the Guinness. But I knew you’d really love to see that book. Our tickets say three thirty, so we’ve got plenty of time. We can walk off this breakfast, then check in properly at the hotel, then go to Trinity College to see the book. Then tonight we can go out for dinner and do a pub crawl.’
‘Sounds like a great plan!’
‘After we’ve finished eating this, let’s go to Temple Bar and then go to the General Post Office.’
‘Oh my God, you’ve been going on about the Post Office more than I have about the Book of Kells!’
‘But I thought you loved history,’ he said, putting the guide book back down on the table.
‘I do. But it’s just a building.’
‘But apparently you can still see the bullet holes in the brickwork where the English opened fire.’ He folded his arms. ‘I’m sorry if it’s not as old as the Colosseum or the leaning tower of Pisa.’
He was so cute when he was being defensive and sulky, and I loved winding him up. ‘I’m just joking, chill out. I want to see it, too. But we’re here until Monday, so we don’t have to see everything today.’
‘Ok. Let’s just wander around and take it all in. We can go to the Post Office tomorrow, I don’t mind. Like you said, we’ve got plenty of time.’
‘Are you gonna finish that breakfast?’ I said, coveting the remaining food on his plate.
He picked up his knife and fork. ‘Don’t rush me, bitch.’