March 17th, 2005.

Tonight you're Irish.

Liverpool goes nuts on St Patrick's Day. It would seem that everyone becomes just that little bit Irish ready for a night on the town, no matter what day of the week it is, and no matter how early they have to be up for work the next day. Tonight they're Irish in spirit if not in fact, and tonight they'll be drinking only one drink, Guinness, cold or warm, it'll make no difference by about 10 PM because everyone's been drinking since they got out of work.

As we arrived in the city that is the last stop on the West coast before the Emerald Isle itself, we were greeted by a huge sign warmly welcoming us to Liverpool, the European Capital of Culture 2008. No matter that it's still only 2005, Liverpool is proud to be given the honor. Then, just moments later, just a hop away from the shadow of the sign a car passes us, the driver hanging out of the window gesticulating and shouting in the broadest of Liverpool accents at the car in front, which it turns out is towing him.

"Wind down ya winda ya silly bitch!" Ah yes, welcome indeed to Liverpool, the 2008 European Capital of Culture.

A taxi pulls up next to the umbilically joined cars and the driver leans out of his window to shout at the man who is still shouting at the woman in front who is apparently going the wrong way.

"Sort 'er out will ya Jez! The pair of yoos gonna cause an accident!" shouts the taxi driver, but it's all in good humor as 'Jez' shouts back, "We're 'edding for a 'claims direct' moment 'ere mate, I can tell ya!" Both the men laugh as the traffic lights change and the towing vehicle drives off. At this point 'Jez' resumes his position of steering with one hand while hanging out of the window shouting "Oiiii!! Wind you fockin winda down will yoos!! The Winda, the fockin winda! Wind it fockin down!!" As both cars head down Hope Street 'Jez's' voice fades into the noise of the city that's gearing up for a long Irish night ahead.

We step into the Everyman, theatre/bistro/bar/whatever. Tonight, like everywhere across the city, it's taken on an Irish flavor as a six-piece Irish band by the name of Reckless Elbow warm-up at the far end of the room. At the bar, everyone is ordering Guinness whether that be their usual poison or not, and by the time we've got our drinks and turn to find a table, all the tables are occupied. The place has now filled to capacity as the show upstairs has ended and everyone has just flooded into the bar.

We find a spot next to a pillar adorned with scraggy posters advertising forthcoming act. The sound of people talking and music grows louder. It certainly sounds like Ireland, even if this English crowd is a little more reserved than the Irish (the Irish would be far louder and way more drunk!). If you close your eyes, breathing in the pub air that tomorrow will hang on your clothes like a drunkard to a wall, the sound of the fiddle whisks you away to Temple Bar in Dublin. We're on Irish time now, no need to look at our watches from this point on. It could well be a long night over in a second, such is the Irish way.