Headed down to Cork for a family birthday celebration last weekend - a few pints, a dinner, and back to Dublin the next day. I packed a wash bag only. My old faithful Saab estate had been misbehaving lately but I'd taken it to the garage for remedial work and reckoned it would do the business. North of Cashel it started to lurch and lose power so I stopped for a while at the Cashel Palace to watch the annual bookies benefit - the Grand National. (Sue Smith has a good record at the Aintree course and I had looked at her horse's form - but his age (11) and a recent fall put me off. So a little sick with the result.)
Back on the road I nursed the car towards Cork, or rather my brother's house in Cuskinny outside Cobh. On arrival I reversed the car into a tidy parking spot. When I got out I spotted two lines of freshly spilled thick black oil tracing the path I had reversed. An ominous portent. Getting in to check it out I found it was stone dead. It had got me there and died. I had abused the poor thing. I called the AA immediately. They came with admirable alacrity and the mechanic, a dead ringer for Pat Kenny, didn't take long to get to the heart of the matter. I had a major transmission problem and the car was going nowhere except via tow truck. I know little about car mechanics but I know transmission problems translate into a right royal financial rogering.
The dinner was a pleasant interlude. Given my family's propensity for back-biting, gossip, conflicting recollections, flagrant lying and gratuitous dogmatism, it was unusually relaxed and conflict free. The food wasn't bad either (Farmgate in Midleton). We finished off the night in The High Chaperal - a pub in Ballymore that is beyond bucolic but serves perfect pints of Murphy's. And so to bed.
Up next day for a leisurely morning before settling down to the Munster Harlequins match. Shortly after half time in noticed my nose was beginning to drip. I grabbed a tissue to wipe it and when I took it away is was soaked through with blood. Shit a nose bleed - something I rarely get. I escalate from tissue to towel but the blood keeps flowing so I abandon the match and go upstairs to lie down. The blood continues to flow from my nose and, more alarmingly, down my throat. Worried wife hovers sympathetically. The steady flow is clearly not going to stop. But fate smiles on me. In our group is my amiable brother-in-law who happens to be a consultant in a Cork hospital. He makes a few phone calls and I find myself heading in to the ENT emergency hospital - the South Infirmary. A bearded Aussie doctor takes over and after much exploring up my snout with various probes and cameras announced that I had an "arterial tear". A bit frightening that. Horrible things happen then - but I will draw a veil. Anyway I end up with a baloon being inserted and inflated - to compress the tear. And then I'm carted off to a finely appointed room to sit tight for a few days. Time to catch up on my reading.