Danny does Boston
IT’S not every day you meet a Scotland rugby fan who hails from the Kentucky/Tennessee border. But then Boston – the city in which that happened to me – is full of surprises.
That encounter came on the last leg of the Revolutionary Trail, a walking tour which involves stops at 16 places closely associated with the American Revolution. After examining the Bunker Hill Monument, which commemorates a 1775 battle during the Siege of Boston, I stepped into a nearby museum … and found myself being asked about Scotland’s chances in the Six Nations.
Having spotted my Rugby World Cup regalia, the friendly woman behind the desk explained her allegiance to Scotland – rooted not in family connections, as I had assumed, but in the name of Murrayfield sports stadium in Edinburgh. She had attended Murray State University in Kentucky and had a now-deceased dear friend with that surname. Maybe if Aviva bought the naming rights to a college, Ireland’s rugby fan base would grow. It’s just a suggestion.
Shortly before visiting Bunker Hill, I stepped aboard the USS Constitution, a ship which saw action during the War of 1812 between America and Britain. By the time our tour guide (a member of the armed services) had finished his funny, inspirational talk about the ship’s history, I was ready to join the US Navy. I reconsidered when the word ‘scurvy’ was mentioned, which my mother will be relieved to hear. Somehow I think her enthusiasm for my American adventure would wane if I ran away to sea.
Back on dry land – and still a civilian – I took a walk through Boston Public Garden. There I saw a statue commemorating the discovery that inhaling ether “causes insensibility to pain” (proved “to the world” at Massachusetts General Hospital, according to the accompanying caption). Then, a man a few feet away began emitting loud, haunting sounds (rather like the ‘Aaah’ noise one might make for a doctor). Maybe he was hoping to score some free ether, but I was all out.
The ingenuity celebrated in that statue was much in evidence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum. There I saw robots galore, a musical stairs, a piano dropped from the top of a six-storey building and some unapologetically nerdy t-shirts. One read ‘I have an imaginary friend’ over a symbol for the square root of minus one, while another, Vegas-inspired effort was ‘What happens in the black hole … stays in the black hole’.
There was just time for a quick dash into a nearby university. So if I’m ever asked “Did you go to Harvard?” I can truthfully say “Yes”. I’ll try to avoid admitting that my time there lasted just ten minutes.
Daniel Carey, a Mayo News reporter, has taken a year out to travel the world. His addiction to the keyboard remains, however, and this column will carry his reports from life on the outside.