The Lung Brothers

Hanging out at the extreme end of the long tail ...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Xtreme Friendship

There is a type of friend that every man should have. That being said, he should only have one because having two would be a living Hell.

When my Dad was in college in the late fifties, he was a tall, stringy, shy guy whose social circle could be described more in terms of quality than quantity. I picture him as a sort of young James Stewart wearing Buddy Holly glasses who didn’t make a whole lot of eye contact with his peers.

One of his few friends was Noel who, although he resembled my father in physique, was very much his antithesis in personality. Noel was a country boy with no qualms about getting in your face and according to my old man, he could be as blunt as a sledgehammer with it. When it came to getting drunk, loosening up and getting into trouble Noel was a kind of Yoda to my dad’s Skywalker.

One time they were getting nicely oiled in a city centre establishment when some working class guy who decided he didn’t care much for the student class, followed Dad into the jacks and tried to pick a fight with him. Well Pop was no brawler and this guy was built like a stevedore, so he backed off and escaped back to his barstool flustered, full-bladdered and shaken. He warned Noel to avoid this guy at all costs to which Noel calmly asked ‘Which guy?

No sooner had dad pointed him out then Noel was off his stool and striding towards the thug. Dad said that he’ll never forget the expression on the bully’s face when he suddenly found a bony fist stuck under his nose and a level Tipperary voice telling him that if he had a fucking problem, they could fucking settle it right fucking here and right fucking now. It was like watching a Rottweiler being taken off guard by a Doberman and to everyone’s amazement, it was the hulk in the overalls who backed down.

When Noel got back to his place at the bar, flushed with adrenaline, he took a long swig from his stout, slapped my father on the back and said something that my dad will never forget:

‘You know, when you see trouble coming it’s usually best to meet it half way.”

As I’ve said, everyone should have one Noel as a friend. A friend who would embarrass the Hell out of you at a garden party but would probably take a bullet for you on a battle field. A friend who is as likely to save your life as he is to get you both killed. A friend who will call you an arsehole and slap you upside the head, but only when you’re being an arsehole and your head deserves a good upside-slapping. A friend who won’t hesitate to tell you the ugly truth when all your other friends are walking on eggshells.

Curiously, when I’ve talked to others about their versions of Noel, we’ve often found a common thread. The Noels in Ireland usually drink too much, are nearly always a lot more intelligent then they let on, they often have very anti-social political opinions and very politically incorrect ways of expressing them, they usually make your other friends nervous, on at least one occasion you’ll have seen them tell an authority figure to fuck off and they are nearly always disliked by your girlfriend or wife. (but barely tolerated by her if you're lucky)

But whether it be a Begby from Trainspotting, a Randal from Clerks or a Kent from King Lear, you should always hang on to these friends because you never know when someone’s going to plant drugs in your luggage before your holiday to Thailand. And while back home all your other friends are wringing their hands during the lead up to your execution, who will be the loyal lunatic drunkenly abseiling down the inner wall of the Bangkok prison with a map of the local sewers between his teeth (in case you manage to escape together) and a hooker strapped to his back (in case you don’t)?

I have my own version of Noel of course and I chatted over the phone with him a few days ago. We’ll be seeing each other fairly soon, for the first time years and I must confess that I'm really looking forward to it. Because although this guy has gotten me into more scrapes than I can remember, the time spent in his company was never ever dull.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Come over to the Dark Side, Sven.

“You Catholics are pathetic assholes.’


“Sexually repressed wimps all of you.”

I looked up at this blond Neanderthal with incredulity and wondered how the Hell we had gotten onto this subject. I then wondered, drunk as I was, how the hell in a party full of sexy sassy Spanish talent, I’d ended up talking to someone who resembled Dolph Lundgren’s ugly younger brother.

With superhuman effort, I managed to regain some kind of visual focus and noticed that this guy’s lower jaw seemed about two sizes too big for the rest of his face. ‘Fuck’ I thought ‘If this fella could gurn, he’d probably end up with teeth marks on his forehead.’ Funny the things a mind will come up with when pickled.

“So, I suppose you Swedes are a bunch of enlightened gurus when it comes to the act copulation.” I said, bravely defending a religion I didn’t give a shit about, as any good Irishman would.

“It is not that. We just have a healthier attitude, that’s all. For us, sex and nudity is normal, wholesome and is perfectly accepted by our society and our media.”

“Bastard’s got good English, I’ll give him that.”
I thought. It then occurred to me that my own English was probably not too hot at that point.

“So for you lot, getting nekked and doing the Nasty is a clean and salutary act, akin to going for a jog or having a slap-up sauna?”


“You poor bastards.”


“Oh come on, sex has to be dirty if it’s going to be any fun. You shouldn’t turn it into a horizontal workout. It’ll lose all the morbid interest. Haven’t you never heard that stolen sweets taste better?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Listen Thag, have you ever….”



“My name is Sven.”

“Oh sorry. Listen Sven, have you ever thought that being gay today is probably not nearly as much fun as it used to be? Think about it, when homosexuality was still illegal, going out to cruise must have been a mix of heady adventure (excuse the phrase) and thrilling danger. The fact that it was taboo must have heightened the experience incredibly. Now that homosexuality is practically accepted in society, things must be so much duller.”

“Nonsense, you are being very stupid and drunk.”

“Aw don’t be like that Mungo…I mean Sven. Look, just tell me one thing. One thing and I’ll go on my merry way. What - in your magnanimous opinion - would be a Swede’s idea of a dirty weekend?”

“A dirty weekend? And what is this?”

“Ha” I thought “English isn’t so good after all, my fine Aryan Frankenstein”

“You know, any weekend where you decide to slip away quietly to a discrete location so you can be naughty.”

“I have already told you that we do not consider the act of….”

“I’m not talking about nookie necessarily. I’m talking about transgression, doing something that you know you shouldn’t. Something bold that you wouldn’t want others to find out about.”

“But why would we do something that we are ashamed of?”

“Oh God, you’re not making it easy Ug…”


“Sorry. Sven. Well it seems that the only way you’ll ever understand my question is if I give you an example.

I remember once a long time ago, staying overnight at a bed & breakfast just the far side of Tralee in the west of Ireland. We were on a driving holiday and wanted to see the Dingle peninsula in the morning light. So we got up horrendously early the next day and were tucking into the full Irish cholesterol napalm breakfast when we noticed a strange middle-aged couple in the other corner. They were the only other people in the dining room so their strangeness stood out like a sore thumb.

Firstly, I couldn’t make head nor tail of the language that they were speaking and this irked me terribly coz I’m a bit of a smug tit when it comes to sussing out nationalities. Secondly, although they were doing nothing untoward, their attitude could only be described as ‘acutely furtive’. They would occasionally shoot a glance over their shoulders like startled meerkats and the expressions on their faces resembled that of a pair of twelve-year olds asking for a pack of condoms in a pharmacy.

Later that morning before leaving the Bed & Brekkie, we gave our thanks to the charming woman of the house and I couldn’t resist asking about the mysterious couple in the dining room.

Get this – the language they were speaking was Hebrew and they were a couple of Kibbutz owners from Israel. I was shocked and thrilled. Shocked because I thought a Kibbutz was a type of egalitarian live-in commune and shouldn’t be ‘owned’ by anyone. But the big thrill was that we had actually spotted a pair of Israelis on a dirty weekend. I mean what else could they do to be naughty? Their Kibbutz was probably a sexually liberated, healthy environment with loads of guns so there’d be no novelty in going on a holiday to fuck or shoot something.

Naw. These pair of semitic scallywags travelled to the farthest point of Europe (probably to avoid Mossad surveillance) and got stuck into an 80% pigflesh full-Irish grease orgy. Naughty but very, very nice. I imagine that they probably went to a Mass on Sunday too and giggled all the way through it. What a wonderful way to put a bit of zest back into their marriage. Actually, considering the amount of piggies, booze and casinos we have in Ireland, our tourist board should promote us as the de rigueur destination for sinning holidays to everyone east of the Bospherous. But that (as Hammy Hamster said) is another story.

"So, do you get it now Sven? The buzz of nipping off somewhere to get up to something impish?"

"Yes, I think so."


"So, what?"

"So, what do you Swedish rascals get up to when you go off for a dirty weekend?"

"Em. Well, mostly we catch the ferry to Finland. The alcohol on the ferry is cheaper than home so we drink ourselves unconscious and then come straight back to Sweden sprawled over the deck."



“You Nordics are pathetic assholes.’