Boston is bustin’ for Paddy’s Day

Did I ever tell you how I got banned from the YMCA in Boston and ended up living in the black ghetto, the Combat Zone?

Come again?

And you thought Boston was all Old Money, American History and Harvard.

Yes, it’s that too, which was why I stayed and worked for a summer after university.

Boston Skyline

I worked in Faneuil Hall, in a Mexican restaurant, Guadalaharry’s and did my share of the Revolutionary Trail.

But back to the YMCA and our first two nights in Boston when I arrived back after a sesh.

I’d like to say it was on the local beer Sam Adams.

But going through a cocktails stage (it’s lasted 30 years) it was Strawberry Daiquiris.

And that was my excuse for taking Manuel’s bed both evenings.

Yes, I was on them too

With time the story has become embellished.

And Manuel had become Pablo Escobar.

To book your room for the next night you had to book in at reception.

Queueing up, I fidgeted and played with the gadget on the wall which just happened to be a fire extinguisher which went off.

They not-so-politely recommended we take up the advert on the notice board for an unfurnished flat on Tremont Street.

Anyone who knows Boston will know that Tremont Street starts in town and goes out, and out, and out.


And as the day got darker, my very anaemic looking Glaswegian pal tugged at my sleeve and said:

‘Jim, we can’t stay here, I can inly see the whites of their eyes.’

True, and of course I sent postcards home saying it was a very different neighbourhood from what it was.

But for all the drugs being pedalled and gangstas it was a more authentic experience than I would have found in Cambridge.

And on the last night in Beantoen after we’d stirred up the courage to go into Alfie’s Bar we were welcomed with open arms.

Not least by the double bass player in the band.

The only other white in the bar, and probably the Combat Zone.

Our friends at the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) have flagged up Boston for St Paddy’s Day.

Four nights from March 15 in sports-mad Boston from €899pp, staying in the 4* Park Plaza Hotel. www.itaa.ie.

You might also want to pop in for a Sam Adams, or a Guinness, in the Black Rose pub.

Where the service has got a lot better since they emptied that Scotsman who kept getting the orders wrong.

I have come to love American black culture, I probably always did from music.

With the first record I bought Chuck Berry’s My Ding-A-Ling.

Here’s my tribute to The Deep South, my American Trilogy (thanks Elvis) The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.

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