"...In the slums, dirt sometimes lies in black flakes on the windowpanes, as if thrown there on purpose,..." but..."I shouldn't worry". A sojourn in Ireland finds the author partaking of what he perceives to be Irish humor; which really has nothing to do with comedy. The complexion of Irish humor has everything to do with presenting what disasters could have befallen and haven't. It's a way of shoring up against the fates, giving of compassion to the needy.
Heinrich Boll's Ireland is a rather dreary place with crumbling, abandoned houses, minus roofs, in which the square footage is measured by looking up at the patches of revealed blue sky.
From another chapter on Dublin, "It must be fun to have your own peat ditch", referring to the practice of burning peat moss for heating fuel. Boll proceeds to give a description of flotsam which can be added to fuel Irish peat fires.
I do believe in the existence of culture shock. And, upon reading this small book, it's my belief that Mr. Boll was just not having a pleasant time in Ireland. It's worth reading just for the sake of reviewing how any human, Irish or no, goes about his life. It's clear from the tone of his writing, that Heinrich Boll's German fastidiousness is diametrically apposed to the Irish "It could be worse" sentiment. I found myself wondering about our human condition. Which is worse? Total denial with some joy; or, in need of escapism, discovering that you lack creativity or resourcefulness.