by Dan Coakley © 2014
One night when my wife had returned home to Cork I was staying in the Yalta Hotel with some colleagues. When I mentioned that it was my wedding anniversary a group decision to celebrate it in style was agreed spontaneously. Our first port of call was the ground floor restaurant. When we entered we were struck by a vibrant air of tension the source of which was soon obvious. A large group of men were sitting at a long conference table and a number of thugs armed with sub-machine guns were distributed around the room. The waiters were shaking and tense as they hurried to bring more drink to the conference table. We had stumbled on a Mafia meeting obviously one intent on conflict resolution. The opposing chiefs sat in the middle of each row facing each other. The exchanges were pretty brusque but finally the two chiefs rose and shook hands and everyone relaxed. We hurriedly finished our first drink and departed to the next bar above us. We repeated this procedure a number of times until we arrived at the bar on the 15th floor next to the casino. As it was quite late by this time we had the bar to ourselves. A sound of laughter from the room behind the bar alerted us that it had some patrons after all. On entering the room we saw about ten young good-looking ladies sitting around a circular table. In their midst sat an older lady with a telephone in front of her. We had seen her a few times on the beach with her grandchild. The group was a very convivial one and invited us to join their company which we did. We had a very lively repartee and considered ourselves very witty indeed, or at least we thought we were. Every few minutes the phone would ring and the old lady would scribble out a number that she gave one of the young ladies who would immediately take her leave. It soon penetrated our confused minds where we were and what was happening so we hurriedly departed. When I reached my room I romantically rang my wife at home to declare my devotion for the day that was in it. For some reason she did not reciprocate. It was four am in Cork. I also marvel at the wifely ability to smell alcohol over the phone. It is a wedding anniversary I would prefer to forget but for some reason I am frequently reminded of it.