No Need To Argue

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Chapter 4

After walking around the shops and briefly passing the General Post Office on the north side of the river, we stopped at a pub for lunch. The pub was a converted church, and still retained its stained glass windows and imposing stone pillars leading up to a vaulted ceiling. But where the pews had once been were now tables and chairs, and a wooden staircase near the entrance led up to a mezzanine where more people were seated. In the centre of the building was a large circular bar.

‘I love this,’ I said, running my hand along the stone wall as we walked towards an empty table. ‘What a beautiful building, and what a great thing to do with it.’

‘It’s stunning,’ said Armin. ‘There are loads of empty churches in England; they should be turned into pubs like this.’

We sat down, and as Armin scanned the menu, I looked up at the high windows refracting colourful light across the vast space above us. Voices echoed down from the mezzanine behind us, and I made a conscious effort to absorb the friendly and uplifting atmosphere that pervaded the entire building.

‘I love that they’ve turned this into something useful,’ I said. ‘It would be a shame to lose these buildings just because nobody goes to church anymore.’

‘I agree,’ said Armin. ‘I love churches, and it’s great to see them being renevated into pubs and other things. Let’s come back here tonight. Our pub crawl could start here.’

‘Great idea. Let’s start drinking now. Shall we share a bottle of wine?’

‘It’s a bit early. I might just have a coke.’

‘We’re on holiday!’

‘I know, but drinking during the day gives me a headache.’

‘Fair enough.’ I looked at the menu. ‘I might have a Guinness. When in Rome, eh?’

‘Do you want to go to the Guinness Factory?’ asked Armin.

‘No, fuck that. But I’d like to go to Oscar Wilde’s house, and there’s a writer’s museum somewhere that I think would be interesting. We could do that tomorrow.’

‘Yeah, I’m up for that. I’d like to do a walking tour, too. There are some free ones. We’d just have to tip the guide at the end.’

‘Cool, let’s do it.’

Armin went to the bar to order the drinks, and as I looked at him standing there, I began to realise that this was the happiest I’d felt in a very long time. My period of unemployment in Italy after finishing university had been demoralising, and then after the initial excitement of finding work in London and relocating there, I had become unhappy once more, due to the high cost of living and general alienation of living in a large and crowded city. But now, here I was enjoying a holiday in Dublin, a beautiful city rich with history and culture, with a modern and liberal atmosphere. And I was here with Armin, a handsome man who I had known for only a matter of months, but with whom I was conducting a relationship. I couldn’t remember ever feeling this happy.

Armin placed a pint of Guinness on the table and then sat opposite me with his soft drink. I picked up my pint and took a sip.

‘Mmm, that’s really nice.’ I drank some more. ‘It’s really creamy and smooth. Way better than it tastes in London. Try it.’

I handed the drink to Armin and he drank a little. Then he drank a little more. ‘You’re right, that is nice.’ He drank some more. ‘It’s like a dessert.’

‘Hey, don’t drink it all,’ I said, and he smiled and handed it back to me.

‘I bet I couldn’t drink more than one,’ he said. ‘It’s too rich and heavy. It’s nice, though. I’ll have one tonight. After we’ve eaten, let’s go back to the hotel and check in properly. Then we can just chill out for a bit before going to see the Book of Kells.’

‘I’m so glad that we met. Do you remember our first kiss?’

‘Of course. It was only a few months ago.’

‘I feel happy and comfortable with you,’ I said. ‘I’ve always felt very awkward and anxious and uncomfortable, but when I’m with you those feelings just go away.’

‘Aww, that’s nice to hear. You make me happy too. And I love the way that you just say what you feel. I’ve never been very good at talking about my feelings, but you’re teaching me to open up. You make it seem very natural, just being open about things. Are all Italians like that?’

‘We’re passionate people and we speak the language of love,’ I said, laughing. ‘I’ve noticed that English people are more reserved.’

‘That’s true, but things are changing. I think it’s a really exciting time to be alive, don’t you?’

‘Exciting? Why do you think that?’

‘Because younger generations are more liberal,’ he said. ‘Diversity is seen as something positive, and in the UK people are much more open about discussing their mental health. It feels really progressive.’

‘Yes, I’ve noticed that, actually. That people discuss mental health a lot in the UK. It’s a good thing, definitely. It’s not really discussed in Italy in the same way, but maybe younger generations are more open about it. I don’t know, I’m an old man.’ I laughed, and drank some more Guinness.

‘You’re only in your early thirties,’ said Armin. ‘And so am I. So if you’re old, what does that make me?’

‘Hey, I’m joking. Actually, I kind of feel like a teenager. I didn’t enjoy my teens or my twenties, so I feel like I’m experiencing and enjoying my youth now. These are my formative years!’

‘Why didn’t you enjoy your teens or twenties?’

I shrugged. ‘I don’t know. I was just focused on my studies. And then I was unemployed. And coming out was difficult, but I don’t want to talk about that right now.’ I looked at the menu. ‘Come on, let’s order some food. Do you know what you’re having?’

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