For those of you who (said you) enjoyed my OnlineGrinds.ie story, there is a distinct possibility that you may find some enjoyment in this one too. For those of you who did not enjoy the story, now is the time to fuck off to RedTube.com or Goregrish.com (or whatever else tickles your fancy).
If this is your first time visiting my blog and you haven’t a bull’s notion what I am talking about, let me quickly explain. I originally set up the blog to tell the story about how I founded and ran a company called OnlineGrinds.ie for 3 years, which I subsequently lost through no fault of my own, but through the greed and cuntishness of others. You are more than welcome to read the cautionary tale after you have read the Manuel story, the links to the chapters can be found on the left.
If you simply came here to read Manuel’s Story, please fasten your seat belts, we will be on our way after I give you a little, but important, warning.
WORD OF WARNING:
This blog is the property of Paul Stenson, NOT Charleville Lodge Hotel. The opinions contained here are those of Paul Stenson. They are not in any way shape or form representative of Charleville Lodge Hotel. You can (try to) sue Paul, but do not attempt to go near Charleville Lodge. They take no responsibility for anything stated in the blog whatsoever. I mean that.
Charleville Lodge is a very professional and excellently run establishment which was set up by my parents over 15 years ago. It has very high standards when it comes to accommodation, food and drink. Standards of excellence, I would say. It provides some of the most competitive room rates in Dublin and enjoys a high occupancy all year round. Just because there is a gob shite like me currently looking after the business, this doesn’t mean that my gob-shitedness is evident in any aspect of either the daily, or strategic, operation of the business.
IN THE BEGINNING…
I was driving home on Monday 14th July, minding my own business, listening to the most slowly and sloppily spoken man in the world speaking on Newstalk, when a text came in to my phone. Unlike most people, I check my texts when they arrive. In fact, not only do I check them; I send them, I email, I watch videos on YouTube, I look at dwarf porn on Tube8, the lot. I do pretty much everything you are not supposed to do when operating a mechanically propelled vehicle (I know, why can’t they just call it a fuckin car).
But don’t you worry. This does not mean that I am a deadly threat to society. I am a very accomplished driver and have never had any hand, act or part to play in any road collisions thus far. Well, not since 2002 when I had 2 accidents in the space of 6 months. But I was in college then, and I should think that one is allowed to have an accident or two when doing the bold things that college students do.
Anyway, the exact wording of the text message was as follows:
“U will b happy to hear mr brooks is back on….”
When I received this text, I experienced a feeling not unlike that of a premature orgasm. In fact, the text was so profound, that it sparked an immediate phone call to the source. During the call, I was given some inside information from the stadium which was so watertight that an armless, blind ape, who had recently been given a frontal lobotomy, would be able to tell that all 5 concerts were definitely going ahead.
So, what was I going to do? I was now equipped with information that would excite 400,000 check shirt wearing, line dancing, cotton picking Garth fans, probably to the point that they would climax sexually and ejaculate involuntarily all over their cowboy/girl boots. Was I going to deny them this experience? Was I going to wait until the news broke publicly and enter World War III with the voice in my head telling me “I fucking told you to do it, you gob shite”.
So, pretty much at the drop of a stetson, I typed this message into Facebook via my iPhone:
After a long period of vacillation (approximately 2.3 mins), I decided that the post didn’t come across with the level of certainty I thought was required. I would regret if forevermore if I hadn’t been the first to break this fabulous news. But if I didn’t break it with the conviction and certainty it deserved, we would receive less kudos when the real announcement was actually made. The message from my source was so convincing that this certainty needed to be reflected in my Facebook post. I needed to take a ‘no-two-ways-about-it’ approach. So, here is the second Facebook status I posted. 4 mins later (as you can see):
All of a sudden, calls started flooding in to the (poor unfortunate) receptionist on duty at the hotel. She was unaware of the devilment I had been up to on the page. So, when the first culchie (of many) rang asking what the story was, our receptionist replied along the lines of “I’m sorry I haven’t been posting anything on our page”. The angry culchie (let’s call her a cuntchie) went back to Facebook and posted “the hotel didn’t post anything, it must have been hacked”.
In a bid to curb the number of calls coming in to the poor receptionist, and in an effort to further prove to the world just how sure we were about the concerts, I put up yet another post on Facebook:
Amidst the 157 (approx.) calls our receptionist received from fuming cuntchies, there were a handful of calls of relative sanity and composure. This handful of well-balanced, rational calls were from the press looking to speak to me. They obviously believed I would be present in the hotel at this time of the evening (they obviously don’t know me).
When our receptionist explained I wasn’t there, they took to email and social media to contact me. The first email I received was from a journo in the BBC in Belfast, she wanted to know more information about our Facebook post. I think I was stopped at traffic lights at the time this email came in. The explosion of laughter that I exhibited when I read it would have certainly made the couple in the green, rust laden Ford Mondeo beside me think that I was completely and utterly cracked beyond repair. How right they were.
Having much more interest in contacting a mate of mine about this news than actually calling the journo herself, I gave him a call. We had a great laugh. Our call was short-lived however, as I was driving and had to concentrate on the road, and much more importantly, on the Facebook page. For those of you who don’t know, I live about 45 minutes outside of Dublin. I live in a house, a very big house, in the country. I don’t take herbal baths, however.
IT ALL GOES VIRAL
About ten minutes later into the journey, I noticed that my friend Lyndsay had tagged me in a Facebook post. It was a post on the Her.ie Facebook page. At first I had no idea why she would think I’d have any remote interest in a post on Her.ie, as this is a website for Irish woman and it was only a Monday night (as opposed to a Saturday when I dress in drag).
When I clicked into the post I nearly had the first road accident of my adult (as opposed to student) life. Here is the article:
Needless to say I spent the rest of my journey home on the phone to mates laughing my head off.
Some time later, another article appeared on Joe.ie. Here it is:
As a result of these articles on two prominent Irish websites, the destination of choice for most Garth Brooks loving cuntchies was the Charleville Lodge Hotel Facebook page. Our likes must have increased by at least a complete of hundred in the space of the hour. All good, wholesome, cuntchie likes by good, wholesome, cuntchie folk.
As soon as I got home it was straight to Facebook. The dog didn’t even get his usual, energetic, honey I’m home style greeting where I lift up his front paws and dance with him around the kitchen. No no; on this occasion it was straight to the iMac with me. Renko would have to wait for his nightly waltz.
Despite the fact that I had just given the line dancing population of Ireland the best news since resealable rasher packets, there was still a lot of negativity on the page. Some people were saying that the announcement smelt very similar to their back fields where a male cow resided. People (usually woman) of questionable sanity continued to call the hotel, looking to speak to me about the accuracy of our Facebook posts.
To further confirm just how reliable my source was, I started telling the cuntchies that they would owe me an apology when the official announcement was made. It was around this time that I first said to myself “I hope to fuck my source was correct”. I must say I never once really doubted him, but if there was ever a time to hope he was correct, it was now.
I then noticed that another Facebook page called Garth Brooks – Croke Park, which had far more fans than us, had posted a similar message to ours on their page. “Phew”, I said to myself. Looking more closely at the post, however, I noticed uncanny similarities between my wording and theirs. The sentence ‘it has not yet been announced publicly but we can confirm for definite that all 5 concerts will definitely go ahead’ was exactly the same as my sentence. Could they have simply copied and pasted from our page?
After writing my post, I experienced severe cognitive dissonance for using the word ‘definite’ (or variations thereof) twice. Although I was kicking myself for writing such an amateurishly worded post, I decided to leave it in the end. I didn’t think Garth fans would be as anal as I was when it comes to Facebook post wording. But this is how I knew that these lads had simply done a direct copy, and that their source was yours truly.
IT ALL GOES PEAR SHAPED
At 21:42, RTE News posted the following to their Facebook page:
I think I had just taken a gulp of diet coke when I saw this. How the mouthful of diet coke didn’t end up on the screen of my computer is a mystery that will remain unsolved in my mind for the rest of my days. When I saw this I didn’t do a double take at my computer screen, I did at least a duodecuple take, rubbing my eyes to try to wake myself up from the dream in between each take (I can actually wake myself up from a nightmare btw, just sayin).
After the twelfth take, I began to believe my eyes. When I say began, I mean began. I still wasn’t sure. I said to myself, hang one, surely the RTE Facebook has been hacked? I then looked at my news feed, and they all followed suit. TheJounal.ie, BreakingNews.ie, Independent.ie, Joe.ie, the lot! I then said to myself “Surely this can’t be true? …They can’t have all been hacked?”
When the reality of these sites not being hacked, and the fact that my source was unreliable, eventually hit home, I took one of the most profound gulps in the history of humankind. My gulp was so profound, that my dog actually looked quickly up at me to see if I was ok. Such was the audibility of my gulp.
As much as I thought that now was an appropriate time to walk the dog, clean my windows (both sides), do some yoga exercises, bleed my boiler, comb my leg hair, pirouette in my new violet lycra tutu, I realised there was no escaping from the Charleville Lodge Hotel Dublin Facebook page. No matter how much procrastination I would do, I still had to face the music; I had to click back on the page.
Clicking back on the hotel’s Facebook page was the closest feeling I will ever experience to that of disarming a bomb with only seconds to go before detonation by having to cut either the red or blue wire (where cutting the wrong wire would result in immediate explosion). However, I mustered up the courage (don’t ask me from where) and clicked on the page.
Initially, things didn’t seem too bad. There was no immediate abuse. This could have been due to the fact that not everybody had heard the news. I then looked at the comments below my ‘psychic’ posts, and the abuse was beginning to trickle in.
I picked up the phone and called a close friend. About 98% of the call was spent laughing uncontrollably, 1% was spent laughing with some degree of control, and 1% was spent discussing what to do next. He said “you know best Paul; I wouldn’t have a clue what to do so it’s really up to you”.
None the wiser after this call, I dialled my source. When I told him the news, he seemed surprised. Not a duodecuple take kind of surprised, but surprised all the same. I’d say his level of surprise was of the sextuple take magnitude, at the very most.
He advised me to write either a post saying that our Facebook had been hacked, or a post of a serious tone apologising most sincerely for the misinformation. I didn’t buy into either approach, to be honest. I thought that if we were to offer a conventional apology and then simply disappear, we wouldn’t be simply burying our heads in the sand, we would be burying ourselves in our own grave. Besides, I don’t do serious. It’s not my style.
I felt that our approach needed to be light-hearted. We needed to issue a short, one worded sentence, with an upbeat angle to it. And what better word to use in this instance than the word ‘oops’. So, into the ‘write post’ section I typed O, O, P and S, and then added not 1, but 3 exclamation marks before clicking ‘Post’. I must say I did experience some internal conflict about the exclamation marks. Whether to put 1 or 3 marks represented a decision of significant importance to me. I kid you not. I am as anal and pedantic as can be when it comes to punctuation.
Below are some of the comments we received on our OOPS!!! Post:
As you can see, the abuse we received was classic. I wanted to buy some of these people a large quantity of pints. Particularly the likes of David O’Connell. What a legend. I bet he is such a laugh!
However, having a laugh with these guys and buying them a pint is one thing. But could you imagine how fucking head wrecking they would be if they ever stayed in our place? This whole exercise proved to be a very beneficial way of filtering out cunts like these so that we would be spared of them in the future. To think that these people could have one day stayed with us makes me want to vomit incessantly for days.
Having sat at my computer for about an hour or two, enjoying every minute of what I was seeing, I began to feel that the likes of David O’Connell and friends were beginning to hog the limelight. I thought that I needed to put an end to this.
There were a number of options available:
(a) Simply say we were hacked
(b) Unpublish the page and let it all ‘just go away’
(c) Do the professional thing; issue a short statement of apology
(d) Stop being a pussy and fight back
The only option as far as I was concerned was option (d). I would imagine that nearly every other hotel (or any kind of business) would have opted for (c), but not me.
I began to formulate a statement in the style of a letter. I took nobody’s advice on the statement and pretty much made it up as I went along. The main objectives of this letter were as follows:
1. Apologise for giving false hopes
2. Tell the haters and abusers to f**k off
The actual letter can be found on our Facebook page. I am sure you have seen it 58 times now so I won’t bore you with it again. You can see it here, if you really care: https://www.facebook.com/CharlevilleLodgeHotel
The reaction to the letter was divided. Unlike the ‘OOPS!!!’ post, only about 50% of replies to this post were from haters and abusers. The rest were from people who supported our approach. In an effort not to discriminate between haters and supporters, I made a concerted effort to reply to the comments of all parties. Even those threatening to burn us down deserved a reply in my eyes. It’s only fair and more importantly, common courtesy.
Below are some of the replies to the statement. There were 347 replies and I am sure you’ll manage to find some that are much more funny than these. This is just to show you the divide of opinion:
This letter seemed to be getting such a reaction, both positive and negative, that I decided I should make a hashtag out of it. I thought there may be a chance we could get the fiasco trending if the haters and abusers were to include the hashtag #oops in their abuse comments. I therefore posted the following:
Unfortunately it was mainly the supporters that used the hashtag. The haters needed a bit of gentle persuasion:
Mary was a total legend. She is the type of woman who would have gone on all night, I’m sure. Respect to Mary.
As the evening progressed, the number of haters got smaller and smaller and the number of supporters grew exponentially. It was at this point that I was really beginning to have fun. I decided to put a name on the haters. As they clearly appeared to be suffering from some sort of mental illness, I thought I needed to come up with a name of a condition from which they were suffering. Hence the birth of the term ‘garthritis’.
In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, I made the following announcement:
I was having so much fun that I didn’t notice the time pass by so quickly. It was now 2am and I could have kept going all night long. So, with that I posted a good night post including a little kiss for all the haters:
I took on the persona of Manuel so I would be able to extract the urine out of Garth fans much more than I could if I said I was boring Paul. A bit like how Podge and Rodge can get away with murder because they are puppets, I guess.
Despite the fact that Manuel had said adios, the abuse continued throughout the night. One lady kept posting on Facebook and ringing the hotel, abusing our Brazilian Night Porter Arthur over the phone. This was surely the last thing the Night Porter needed, given the performance of his national football team in the World Cup. The woman was clearly insane. By all accounts her behaviour on the phone would suggest that she was a total crackpot. All our calls in the hotel are recorded. I have to speak to my solicitor tomorrow to see if I can release the recording on my blog just so you can see how totally fucked up the woman is.
Here is some of her Facebook activity in which she clearly states that she was talking to (abusing) Arthur over the phone:
Here is Arthur’s text message to me the next morning:
As you can sense from the message, poor Arthur was clearly shaken by this mad woman.
THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE
The next morning I woke up to the sound of a text from a friend saying that the ‘oops’ story was featured on Newstalk that morning. Believing that this was too good to be true, and obviously a dream, I smacked myself firmly in the face to wake up. But alas, I was already awake. It wasn’t a dream. It was reality. If I could shake my own hand, I would have. My spate of eejit-acting the night before had fucking gone viral. I was full of pride.
Within minutes the story appeared on the Irish Daily Mirror (which I admit I wasn’t quite as proud of, but it made me smile all the same). To say I was surprised that my story was beginning to appear across the media would be the understatement of the eon. A quintuple take at the very least. How was a story such as ours so newsworthy? What I did the night before was pretty lame, by my standards, yet it made national news? Whatever I was doing, I was doing something right and this gave me the confidence to carry on.
So, I put on my Manuel hat, sat down at the computer and started to rub my hands mischievously. What would I do next?
After a long period of solitary brainstorming (approximately 43 seconds), I decided to run an abuse competition. The abuse the night before was so awesome, that someone definitely deserved to win a prize. With that, I posted the following:
The onslaught of emails hitting my inbox was nearly as intense as the number of calls coming in to the hotel reception desk. It ranged from your average Joe lambasting me, to your average Josephine wanting to sleep with me, to the media wanting an interview with me, to a member of An Garda Siochana calling me from a 0044 number. It was completely bizarre.
THAT’S A FINE FENCE YOU’RE ON THERE MATE
Another bizarre one was this email I received from a gentleman called Paul Somers in a company called Market Ireland. See his email below (click to enlarge):
Paul was obviously from the ‘Play It Safe’ school, a school which I most certainly did not attend (I would have been expelled within the space of 17 mins). And that’s absolutely fine. Whatever floats your boat, as the saying goes. What made it slightly bizarre, however, is that Paul was giving me advice via the medium of email, but he was one of the haters/abusers on the Facebook page.
I am putting Paul’s strange, almost bipolar behaviour down to complete confusion on his part. At that time on Tuesday morning the tables hadn’t quite turned. There were still as many haters and there were supporters, and lots of people on the fence (Paul clearly fell into the latter category). It was a transitionary period for everybody. Where they with us? Where they against us? All of Paul’s activity took place at the height of this period. So we will forgive him for his ‘running with the hare and hunting with the hound’ approach. But aren’t I lucky that I didn’t take his advice!
Another email that came in was from Liveline. They wanted to have a chat on air. I decided I would do it ‘for the craic’. When the researcher called me, I asked him who was ‘on duty’ that afternoon. I was looking forward to speaking to Joe on air. I think Joe would have appreciated my ‘get a life’ approach. Dare I say he would have much preferred a ‘fuck off’ approach? The researcher told me that Philip Boucher Hayes would be in Joe’s seat for the week. Joe was obviously off on his holiers.
Philip was ‘on my side’ from the get go. As would any normal person be. The radio interview can be heard here:
Throughout the rest of the day our story featured on the following:
The Journal – http://www.thejournal.ie/charleville-lodge-hotel-apologises-for-garth-brooks-status-1571733-Jul2014/
Irish Independent – http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/even-people-who-are-threatening-to-burn-the-hotel-down-deserve-replies-30433047.html
Irish Examiner – http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/dublin-hotel-doesnt-give-garth-fans-the-apology-they-were-expecting-275505.html
Newstalk – http://www.newstalk.ie/Dublin-hotel-apologises-after-telling-customers-Garth-Brooks-concerts-were-on
Irish Mirror – http://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/hotel-tells-angry-garth-brooks-3863067
IT’S ESCALATING (ACCORDING TO MEGAN)
Most of the articles were written by ordinary, decent journalists. The kind who eat porridge for breakfast, use public transport and won’t walk another step if they see that their shoe lace is undone. Normal, decent folk. For the most part they remained impartial in their articles. The only journalist that annoyed me was a girl called Megan from RSVP.ie. Here is her article:
For some reason Megan thought that it was all BAD news for our little, innocent hotel. Her article was written in an exceedingly negative light.
I can only assume that lovely Megan was putting a completely negative spin on the story for one of the following reasons:
(a) Megan is a very smart journalist in real life. She was having her hair done that morning for 6 hours which is why she didn’t pick up on our story until that evening (as opposed to 8am in the case of Newstalk). Because she ‘missed the boat’, she had to put a negative twist on the story to get more eyes on it, but in reality she knew that this saga could only have had a positive outcome for us.
(b) Megan is a frightfully inept journalist. She actually believed to the core that this would be negative news for us, and didn’t realise that our Facebook fan numbers were increasing in their hundreds on an hourly basis, and the hits to our website were of unprecedented volume. Nor did she realise that what she was doing was actually helping us to achieve the very opposite of what she was saying. Is there a phenomenon in the world of journalism called paradoxical journalism? Or is it more simply referred to as retarded journalism?
By the way, I wouldn’t let her misspelling of the word ‘Charleville’ cloud your judgement on this one. She’s only a journalist and spelling wouldn’t be a skill that’s high up on the priority list in this profession, would it? Besides, her name is not Paul Stenson, after all. An error like this wouldn’t make her want to pull off her own finger and toe nails in an act of self-punishment, as it would me (even if it is just a foolish blog that will be read by 13 people max). We will let her away with it so.
I am quite conflicted in deciding which of the above options applies to Megan. In any case, I will let you, my beloved reader, decide which of the two options above best applies. It might make your decision a little easier when you remember who she writes for.
The lovely Megan finishes her article by saying:
“A word to the wise, just – stop – talking, and hope people will forget” – she seems to use this phrase with mammoth gusto and immense aplomb. Could it be something she repeats over and over whilst doing her makeup in the morning? Your guess is as good as mine, I guess.
As the evening continued, there was no need for Manuel to defend the hotel anymore. The garthritis suffers thankfully removed themselves from the page to make way for all the supporters. I guessed they realised how fucking stupid they had been acting. Unlike the day before when for every 1 supporter there were 9 haters, the tables had turned completely in our favour. For every 1 hater there were at least 15-20 supporters. We had turned the situation around completely.
It has now got to the point that whenever a hater starts to abuse, they are immediately zapped by our supporters, like blue bottles in a fly killer. Mission accomplished I reckon.
MORAL OF THE STORY
(a) Don’t follow the norm or run with the herd. If we had done what would be considered the norm, we would have been eaten up by these angry and sad haters. And yes, then there may have been a chance that our business would have actually suffered.
(b) Stand up and don’t take any shit. Don’t let haters and abusers run all over you like race horses on a fallen jockey.
(c) Always take a light hearted approach on your Facebook page. It’s supposed to be a fun forum, that’s why people ‘like’ it. Restrict professionalism to the business itself, its website etc. Facebook is no place for professionalism.
(d) Use your Facebook page as a way of filtering out guests you don’t want.
(e) Don’t believe everything, in fact, anything, you read in articles written by a girl called Megan.
(f) Be spontaneous on your social media platforms. Don’t plan posts. Just do them. Don’t listen to anyone else. Just do it yourself. The one sure way to stifle creativity is to let others restrict you from doing what you do best.