Very many moons ago, before I had even started my nurse training in fact, I had a rather sophisticated and learned boyfriend who bought me a copy of The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde and impressed upon me that if I didn't get along with this book I wasn't going to get along with him.
I made a half-hearted attempt sensing that this was already going nowhere, read Dorian Gray and The Ballad of Reading Gaol and that was about it. I was unceremoniously dumped, which was all to the good because Bookhound was out there waiting a few years down the line, but I have had a bit of a soft spot for the plight of poor old Oscar and his terrible demise ever since.
That argument with the wallpaper as he died in semi-poverty in Paris, and in what can only have been the most excruciating agony from meningitis and the mastoid abcess which reputedly did unspeakable things in the minutes after his death in 1900.
I've visited Oscar Wilde's grave in Pere Lachaise cemetery so I took in his house and memorial whilst in Dublin, doubtless happier times for Oscar when he lived at 1 Merrion Square.
And his memorial directly opposite finds him sprawled and with a rather wry, sardonic look to his face as he looks across to his old abode.
By now I'm too late and miles away from the start of the guided walking tour of Joycean sites suggested by my hosts at Discover Ireland, so I revert to Plan B, the dovegreyreader tour, whilst my feet are giving me a strong message that it's time to test out the free pass on the Tourist Bus.
I'm heading to The Writer's Museum in Parnell Square, it's quite a trek and I'm already carrying seven volumes of Joyce Studies, but on the way to the bus stop I can't pass the National Gallery of Ireland without nipping into the shop and perusing the cards, which would at least give me an idea of what I'm missing by not going in.
If there's one painting of many I would like to have found it is this one, The Doll's School by Walter Osborne.
I'm always reminded of this Marty Feldman sketch when I see a tourist bus (phrases from this have entered our family vernacular...on your left the Houses of Parliament ...everyone back on the bus) so I hopped on and watched and listened incredulously as the female bus driver multi-tasked, negotiating a double decker bus around Dublin's Saturday morning traffic whilst giving a highly informative and amusing talk about the sights we were passing. I'm considerably wiser about Georgian architecture... the little windows at the top to give an appearance of height, the one and only front door in the city made into a double one because Royalty were expected to visit and could only walk through double doors, though in the end they failed to turn up.
But I was missing the streets so I hopped off again at St Stephen's Green and walked along Grafton Street; pure pleasure to watch the street entertainers and The Bird Man, one of the best living statues I have seen, not a flinch and with real pigeons hopping all over him.
Then over O'Connell Bridge and up O'Connell Street towards Parnell Square past The Spire to the James Joyce statue.
The Spire, the most extraordinary 120 metre high stainless steel, needle-like structure that almost seems to be touching the clouds, making for the most uninteresting picture with my little camera that does nothing to convey its impressiveness.
The James Joyce statue was 'occupied' when I got there and I had to agree to take a picture of the 'occupants' first, a pair of very merry and slightly wobbly Dubliners...
Before asking very nicely if I could then take a picture of James on his own.
I have a feeling James Joyce would have loved this moment, and of course I'm not far from Eccles Street and also the Writer's Museum which thankfully had a cafe and and a lunch stop.
Writing this now I'm beginning to feel this is starting to resemble my own version of Poldy's progress around Dublin, which says a great deal about how much there is of interest to see whilst also realising how far James Joyce made Leopold Bloom walk. I was only there for a total of thirty hours, and soaking in the bath or asleep for some of that, but I still have so much to tell you, we have the afternoon to do yet.