Friday 6 November 2015

Halloween story

Sammy Nugent came into Magowan's the other night - the first time I'd seen him in ages. I'd heard that he hadn't been well, and it showed. He'd lost a few stone, wasn't too steady on his feet and was the colour of raw tripe.

'There y'are Sammy,' I said. 'Y'are lookin' well. Will ya have a pint?'

He said that he might manage a bottle of stout.

'I heard ya were under the doctor,' I said.

'Ya heard right,' he said. 'I've had tubes in an' out o' every orifice. I've had blood tests, biopsies, autopsies ... you name it.'

'Bu' y'are alrigh' now?' I asked.

'I am not alrigh'.' He seemed pleased to be able to contradict me. 'I've got the Big C. An' after makin' a scientific study outa me, they say there's feck all they can do about it.'

'Jaysus,' I said. 'Tha's desperate. Can ya get a second opinion or somethin'?'

'Nah. There's already gangs o' them have had a look. They all say the same thing - I'm stuffed.

'Ah well,' I said - it's hard to know what to say in these circumstances. 'Did they say how long?'

'They won't give a straight answer. It depends - it might be this an' it might be tha'. I said to them - look I'm not goin' to sue yis if I last too long - an' if I go quicker, I won't be able to, will I?'

'Shower o' feckers,' I sympathised. 'Ya'd want to know whether ya'd be wastin' yer money buyin' a new winter coat - or puttin' an early bet on the Champion Hurdle.'

Barney Pugh was passing on his way back from the jacks. Barney is a gobshite of the first order and can't mind his own business.

'Howyis lads,' he said. 'Jaysus Sammy, ya look like shite. Are ya alrigh'?'

'No Barney, I'm not bleedin' alrigh'. I'm after gettin' bad news. Very bad news. Terminal news - an' I'm not talkin' abou' the airport.'

'Feck!' Barney said. 'Tha's too bad. I'm sorry to hear tha'. Do ya mind me askin' - wha' is it?'

'AIDS,' Sammy said.

Barney took a step backwards. He muttered some further sympathetic remark and scurried back to where he'd been sitting. I looked at Sammy.

'Why did ya tell tha' eejit ya had AIDS?' I asked.

'I don't want him tryin' to sleep with me missus after I'm gone.'

The comedy novel 'It's a Desperate Life' is now available as a paperback or e-book from Amazon  or through and all other good book sellers.

Friday 2 October 2015

Iggy Farrell's quick pint

Iggie Farrell got home from Magowan's last Saturday just before five. Peggy says that the football results were on when she heard the commotion. Iggy had told Marie that he was just going for a quick one and that he'd be back for his dinner. But he got talking to Barney Pugh who bought him a pint, so he had to buy one back for Barney. Then me and Joe Horgan came in and we bought rounds. And the racing was on and well you know how it is yourself - it all got a bit messy.

The cardinal rule is never to be specific about any return time. 'Later' is as precise as I ever get. Things happen and the best laid plans of mice and men go out the window. In the meantime herself is back at the ranch fretting that you might have been murdered, and after a while thinking that if you haven't, she's bloody well going to do it when she gets a hold of you.

Marie very much rules the roost in the Farrell household. Iggy is not so much a partner in the marriage as a captive. The last time the poor bugger was asked anything was 'wilt thou Iggy take this woman?' and like an eejit, he said that he would.

Of an evening Marie operates a curfew system so that if Iggy isn't back by half eleven the door is locked and barred and he has to sleep with the cat in the shed. Iggy doesn't mind much, but the cat is territorial and not keen on lodgers. He has been known to take lumps out of Iggy just to show him who's boss.

Anyway last Saturday Iggy got back several hours later than planned. He was already facing Marie's wrath in the form of an ear bashing and a burnt dinner - if the bastard cat hadn't eaten it! Unfortunately for Iggy, Marie had just finished mopping the floor. He didn't notice - due to being pissed - and traipsed across depositing street muck en route.

It has been often said that hell hath no fury like a woman who has just mopped a floor and some gobshite walks all over it. Marie was already at boiling point and this sent her over the edge. Still armed with the mop, she laid into Iggy with it. But finding it unwieldy in the confined space, she exchanged it for a ketchup bottle which was more suited to close combat.

It was the oul wan next door who called the Guards. She saw Iggy retreating into the garden covered in tomato sauce and she thought the worst. The two Guards found Iggy in a mess and mumbling incoherently. Not knowing that he's always like that, they thought he was concussed. They managed to gather from him that he had been assaulted by Mrs F and were going to go in and arrest her - but fair do's to him, Iggy stopped them.

'Jaysus, no lads - don't go in there,' he said clutching their sleeves. 'The floor'll be still damp.'

The comedy novel 'It's a Desperate Life' is now available as a paperback or e-book from Amazon  or through and all other good book sellers.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Impure thoughts

I was at the 12 o'clock mass last Sunday. Normally I hang around at the back for the quick exit. As soon as Fr Collins says 'In the name of the Father ...' it's my starting gun to head to Magowan's for pre-prandial pints.

Last Sunday, Peggy came with me and I was escorted to the front. She wouldn't normally go marching up there either, but she has a new frock. Paddy Mulhall came and sat beside me. He doesn't like Collins and likes to get up close so that he can show Collins how bored he is.

At the communion, I couldn't help noticing young Emily Shannon as she swayed past me. There was the cloud of perfume and talcum powder before I got the full visual effect. She must have been planning on going to a night club after mass. She was wearing a tight-fitting top that was a compliment to God's creation, and a skirt that was no bigger than a tea towel. The hair and make-up were film star class and must have had her up at dawn to get it together.

She swooshed by with her curves swinging left, right, up and down. It was like watching a play in an American football game - so much happening at once that you're not sure what you're supposed to be looking at. I settled on the legs. They were long enough on their own, but propped up on six inch heels, they went on forever, until eventually they disappeared under the tea towel.

If there was a man in that church who didn't have an impure thought, it wasn't me.

As she passed me on her way back to her place, something went wrong in the shoe department, and she went over like a felled pine. I didn't trip her - I swear.

As she lay in the aisle with her modesty compromised, Father Collins, who was still miked up, said: 'If any man looks around at that poor girl, may he be struck blind.'

Paddy nudged me and whispered: 'Will we risk one eye?'

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Tuesday 14 July 2015

Charity begins at home

I had one of them charity outfits on the phone this morning, looking for me to sign up for a direct debit.

First he tried the old guilt-trip tactics: He told me that even ten euro a month would feed a family of four, or buy them a herd of goats, or something. When that wasn't getting him anywhere, he tried a different tack.

'Mr Flynn, I notice from the Shared Charity Database that you don't seem to be supporting any charitable organisation at all.'

That annoyed me.

'Did ya now?' I said.

'An' did yer database tell ya tha' I have a son-in-law out of work, an' him an' me daughter are tryin' to feed four children on fresh air? Did it?'

'An' did it tell ya tha' me wife has chronic arthritis an' needs medication tha' costs a hundred an' fifty euro a month - jus' to relieve the chronic pain and help her to walk?'

'Or tha' me best pal's car is off the road, and withou' a loan from me, he won't be able to fix it an' get to his job?'

'I'm sorry Mr Flynn,' says yer man - backin' off rapid like. 'I didn't realise...'

'No, ya didn't, did ya?' I said.

'An' if I'm not givin' them anythin', you're sure as hell gettin' nothin'.'

I hung up the phone.

And for your light summer reading: You can buy the comedy novel 'It's a Desperate Life' as a paperback or e-book from Amazon and all other good book sellers - especially the excellent Owl Bookshop in Kentish Town, London NW5, or through

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Foot in Mouth Disease

Image result for woman chiropodist

For the past few weeks I've been sufferin' terrible with the oul feet. Or to be more pacific, in the toes area on one foot - the left one. The itch was so bad at mass on Sunday tha' I had to take the shoe off an' have a good scratch. Father Collins had been sayin' somethin' about the lame an' infirm an' I think he thought tha' I was takin' the piss.

Fearin' tha' I had trenchfoot or foot an' mouth disease I took myself into the pharmacy in Dorset Street. They're always tellin' ya tha' it's the thing to do - not to be annoyin' the doctor or the A&E people. There's even a sign in the place sayin' tha' they have a private room for examinations an' consultations.

So tha' I wouldn't be mortified by a couple of big yellow cheesy feet, I went to the trouble o' washin' me feet (both o' them), an' I made sure I was wearin' clean socks.

I was glad to see tha' the assistant wasn't a young dolly bird only interested in floggin' perfume. The woman behind the counter was nearly as old as meself, an' she had a white coat so she must have known somethin'.

'Can I help ya?' she asked, an' I prepared to give her me full medical history in case some tiny detail might be important.

'Well, it's a bit of itch between the toes ...' I started to explain.

'Athlete's foot,' she said. 'This is wha' ya need.'

She pushed a tube o' gunk across the counter at me.

'Nine euro seventy,' she said clearly implying tha' this was the end o' the consultation as far as she was concerned. I have to say tha' I wasn't completely confident in her lightning diagnosis. I didn't feel tha' the problem was gettin' the attention it deserved. It wasn't like I was askin' for blue lights an' a helicopter, but she might at least have had a feckin' look. The feet washin' an' the clean socks were a waste of time. I felt miffed. I began to suspect tha' her white coat came from her other job in a pork shop.

'Are ya sure?' I asked.

'Yeah - Athlete's foot,' she said.

'Well, if me leg falls off, I'll be back to complain,' I said.

'Grand,' she replied. 'Hop in any time.'

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Sunday 7 December 2014

Goodwill to all men and women

At this time of year I remember a story that Joe Horgan told me. Joe got it off a postman who drinks in the bar in Kinsella's.

It was a few weeks before Christmas and the lads in the sorting office got a letter addressed to Santa. They opened it and found that it wasn't from a child but from an old woman living over near Oliver Bond flats.

'Dear Santy,' the letter said. 'I'm in a bit of a bad way. I'm behind on me rent and I'm afraid that they'll cut off the gas and electric if I don't pay them something. I haven't a friend or relation left alive to me, so the Christmas is going to be miserable. If I had £100, it'd be the difference between having some kind of a Christmas and ending up in the poorhouse. I'm at me wits end, and I don't know who to turn to for help - but you Santy. You're me last hope. '

The lads in the sorting office in Sheriff Street are as tough a bunch of desperadoes as you'll meet, but tears were shed when they read that letter. They immediately got up a collection between them and sent the woman £90 with a little card from 'Santa' thanking her for her letter and wishing her a very Happy Christmas.

The first week of the New Year they got another letter addressed to Santa in the same shaky hand.

'Dear Santa,' it said. 'Thank you very much for answering me last letter. It was really very kind of you to help me, and it made all the difference to me over the Christmas. I was able to get in a bit of food and a few bottles of stout, as well as paying a bit off what I owe on the rent, the gas and the ESB. I just wanted to tell you that the robbing bastards in the Post Office took a tenner out of it.'

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Saturday 29 November 2014

The power of silence

Peggy sometimes goes to the bingo with a woman called Carmel Behan. Carmel is married to a big lug known to one and all as '5 Seconds' because that is the approximate length of his fuse. He is one of the few Dubliners I've ever come across who was born without the ability to debate and discuss at length. After drawing on his limited vocabulary to issue his point of view, he rests his case. If a counter-argument is put forward, he seethes silently for about five seconds, and then belts its proponent.

On more than one occasion poor oul Carmel presented herself at Dr Lawlor's suffering from contusions and abrasions inflicted on her when 5 Seconds came home from Magowan's. Lawlor started off giving her his usual combination of blue, pink and brown tablets, but when that was having no effect, he decided on a different approach.

'This is what I want you to do, Mrs Behan,' he said. 'When your husband is coming back from the pub, as soon as you hear his key in the lock, take a mouthful of warm sweet tea, and swish it around in your mouth.'

Carmel was confused. 'Tea, Doctor? Drink a mouthful o' tea?'

'No,' said Lawlor. 'Don't drink it. Keep swishing it around your mouth. Whatever you do, don't swallow it. Not until your husband has gone off to bed.'

Carmel was bemused, but she gave it a go. And guess what? Peggy says that he hasn't laid a finger on her since.

So if you come into Magowan's and see me and the lads swishing stout around our gobs, while 5 Seconds is talking, you'll know why.

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