Archive | November, 2017

Ronnie and Len have tea in the Westbury

18 Nov



Rain, earlier in the day, had prevented Ronnie from taking his usual Saturday morning walk along a road called The Scalp, in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains.

A furrowed brow and a branch broken from a giant wild rhubarb plant, growing by the side of the road, accompanied Ronnie. As his mind wrestled with various weighty matters, the rhubarb cudgel would strike the weeds beside the footpath. Rhubarb was his weapon of choice because he liked the firm but springy action of the stem. It flicked the large leaf forward, thus achieving maximum velocity on impact with the weeds.

At four o’clock Ronnie decided to substitute his morning exercise with a walk around Dublin city centre. The train took him to Pearse Street station. At the corner of Westland Row, Sweny’s chemist shop came into view and reminded him that he planned to buy soap but, as he did not want to carry it around with him on his walk, he deferred this purchase and proceeded directly to the grounds of Trinity College. He caught the last ten minutes of a rugby match but had little interest, being a Gaelic games man. After a few more laps of the playing fields he left the campus by the front gate and turned left. Passing the provost’s house, he proceeded along the length of Grafton Street. On entering St. Stephen’s Green he was very tempted to break off a small branch of a tree to make a thinking cudgel but he was concerned that this might be frowned upon by the gardeners and, besides that, there were no weeds to attack. On the way back to the train station, retracing his steps along Grafton Street, he met Len while passing a flower seller’s stall at the corner with Harry Street.

Len was in ebullient form. He had just completed the procurement of an overcoat at a very satisfactory price. The garment had been identified a couple of weeks previously. Winter would soon be over so Len reckoned this was the time to do a deal. He entered the shop at 6.10pm, 20 minutes before closing time. He engaged the salesman fully for the next 18 minutes, trying on various other coats. Then he struck, when all the staff wanted to shut up shop and go home to their loved ones.

‘Give me 50 pounds off this one and we have a deal.’

What a snip! A double-breasted, Pierre Cardin camel coat with double stitching and 40% cashmere! Arthur Daly and Del Trotter would have been very proud.

Len insisted on buying Ronnie a nice cup of tea to celebrate his success. Whilst walking up Harry Street they spotted a window table on the first floor foyer of Westbury Hotel. They were pleased with this location not only for the view it gave, back along Harry Street, but also because it was quiet and, as they were both drinking tea, it was the furthest point from the bar. That is not to say that they did not enjoy a drink but Len enjoyed it more than Ronnie. The former embraced the mood change it caused. It assisted him when he wanted to be quirky and playful in a social setting. The latter saw it more as a duty. It was an act of camaraderie with his colleagues but should only to be taken in moderation.

This is an edited extract from the book London Irish Dublin English. You can order a hard copy or download the ebook from the Amazon website.