After the match in a Dublin pub

16 Mar

After the match in a Dublin pub: The curious case of the smouldering Scotsman and the flying tea caddy.

 

 In Kehoe’s, four rugger-types stood at the bar next to Nicky and her two escorts, Terry and Donal. Three of the rugger boys were Dubliners and one was a Scotsman. This was evident aurally, from his accent, and visually by his apparel of kilt, sporran, off-white woolly socks and footwear which was a hybrid of Doc Martin’s and black ballet shoes. They were clearly in an advanced state of enjoyment and could not but notice Nicky sitting pertly on her bar stool.

With enthusiasm, they engaged her in conversation. As expected, Nicky was well able to handle them in a ladette but controlled manner, which only encouraged them more. Any attempts by Donal or Terry to prevent this were futile. Donal passed a few sporadic words with one of the Dubliners. After a few minutes, the Scottish citizen moved around the extended group and asked Donal a question.

‘Are you English?’

This would normally be a cue for Donal to give the whole Cork roots story but he knew that the question was not asked in a friendly manner. He felt he owed this person no explanations so, in order to keep the conversation short, he replied:

‘Yes’.

‘That’s interesting because, where I come from, we f***ing hate the English.’

Donal did not reply to this challenge. He feigned not to hear it and casually turned his body through 45 degrees so that he could join a conversation between Nicky and another of the rugger boys. The Scotsman moved away and spoke to Terry in order to further research Donal. After a few minutes he returned.

‘And you live here, do you?’ said the Scotsman to Donal.

‘Yes.’

‘And the Irish – don’t they hate you?’

‘No.’

‘That’s interesting because, where I come from, we f***ing hate the English.’

The Scotsman was well dressed in his traditional attire. He did not look rough so Donal felt pretty sure that he would not extend the traditional Scottish greeting ‘Do you like embroidery?’ followed by a head-butt and the exclamation ‘Well stitch that!’. Therefore, Donal chose to respond to, rather than ignore, this repeated act of aggression.

In the most nauseating, smug English accent that he could muster, he replied.

‘No, no, no old chap. There are tens of thousands of English people living in Dublin in perfect harmony with their Irish hosts. And you know why that is don’t you?’

‘No.’

‘You see, about 70 years ago, the Irish f***ed the English out of Ireland. They own this land and they are masters of their own destiny. So they have no hang-ups about the English. Whereas you chappies – you’re still under the thumb aren’t you?’

“No, no, no – we could have f***ed the English out of Scotland but we were bribed.’

‘What a sad, sad lot you are. To think that you traded your sovereignty for the King’s shilling’.

‘I will be not lectured on Scottish history by a miserable, yellow-livered Sassenach . . . ‘

Fortunately, Nicky intervened at this point. ’Now boys, boys, boys – please pick up your toys and calm down.’

An uneasy calm was restored. However, the Scotsman was still smouldering and likely to erupt at any time. The trio finished their drinks, trying not to be seen to rush them, and headed for the exit.

As they opened the door, the Scotsman could restrain himself no longer. On a high shelf above his head various items of pub paraphernalia were on display. He grabbed a rusty tea caddy and threw it in their direction.

‘Stick that up your jumper, perfidious Albion,’ he roared defiantly.

The artefact, made of tin, spun slowly as it glided above the heads of the crowd. It left a trail of rust and dust in its wake like an aging jet liner struggling to gain height after take-off. However, it was not aerodynamically designed and, being light and empty, its height and speed soon diminished. Limply, it glanced off the entrance door’s lintel with a disappointing ‘pop’ before landing on the threshold with an equally unimpressive ‘boing’ sound. The door then closed and pushed the caddy out onto the pavement.

The Scotsman had crossed the line. He had become a health and safety issue and had endangered the quiet enjoyment of the pub’s clientele. Within seconds he found that two small, but wiry, barmen had linked their arms around each of his. They marched him to the door. He protested but he could not break their vice-like grip.

‘Let me go. Do ya no ken ? I’m trying to help you rid this land of Sassenachs.’

A pedal driven rickshaw taxi was passing as the three stood on the pavement outside. Inexplicably, Donal hailed it, thinking this would provide a fast getaway. As the trio mounted the rickshaw the pub door opened. The Scotsman, with arms still locked, kicked the caddy in frustration. It flew forward loudly and lodged under the back wheel of the rickshaw. The two barmen released their grip while skilfully propelling the Scotsman away from the pub and towards the rickshaw.

‘Quickly man – go! Haste post haste! And don’t spare the horses,’ implored Donal.

The emaciated cyclist upfront turned his head sideways and looked back at Donal with a doleful left eye, very much like an exhausted horse might do. His legs did not possess the explosive power required for a quick getaway and with the caddy jammed against his back wheel he was going nowhere.

With menace, the Scotsman walked slowly up to the rickshaw. He was on eye level with the seated Donal, who chose not to look at him but straight ahead at the cyclist, whom he silently implored to action. Into Donal’s left ear was roared:

‘We hate you f***ing English!’

Then he gave the rickshaw a dismissive push which, fortunately, caused the wheel to roll over the caddy and, with this added momentum, it moved slowly forward. Behind them he could be heard extolling the virtues of his native land.

‘And another thing pal – oil, mountains, skiing, Sean Connery, Bill Shankly, Denis Law, Archie Gemmel, Jock Stein, Billy Bremner, Bill McLaren, Jim Telfer, Mighty Mouse McLaughlin, Sandy Carmichael,  Rod Stewart, Lulu, Kenneth McKellar, Andy Stewart, Moira Anderson – you’ve got nothing like that.’

This is an edited extract from the book ‘London Irish Dublin English’. You can download it now at the special St Patrick’s week price of 99c/99p for the next couple of days.

 

Christmas Eve in a Dublin Office

12 Dec

In some houses it is said that nothing stirs on the night of Christmas Eve, not even a mouse. This could not be said of the public house situated not a stone’s throw from the company’s office. From about 4pm, various members of its staff gravitated towards the pub. Some came sober, directly from the office, while others came from meetings with customers. The unfortunate ones had had tense, stomach-churning encounters which would determine whether the salesman could or could not afford Christmas. For the more fortunate ones it was a Christmas lunch to give thanks for a year, nearly passed, which had reason to be celebrated by both seller and buyer. The food and drink tasted even sweeter because it was free, correctly charged as a business expense.

Donal entered the pub at 5.30pm. People stood in groups ranging in number from two to eight. The bigger the group the noisier was the conversation. The most popular topic centred on how the year had gone for the company overall, followed by a drill down to those individuals who had done particularly well or badly. This led on to speculation about what organisational changes would be announced in the New Year. Who was going up and who was going down? By this time of the evening, the talk was becoming more jovial and flippant. There was much self-congratulation among the teams who had had a good year.

After completing a survey of those present, Donal’s gaze rested on the window of the bar and out into the middle distance. There were plastic snowflakes stuck to the inside of the window pane but real ones were starting to fall outside. There were only a few, falling slowly, softly, faintly, individually. Like furry prawn crackers wobbling in the air, skilfully adjusting their flight plan as they prepared for an economic soft landing on a windless night

They fell upon a window ledge of the Westbury Hotel and formed a small drift which enhanced the seasonal view along Harry Street, past McDaids and on to Grafton Street. Two fluffy white cones were formed by them on top of the lamps outside Neary’s. Across the playing fields of Dublin they fell, casting doubt on the matches arranged for St. Stephen’s day.

They formed a smooth, white carpet upon the flat roof of a bank’s data centre in which computers lived in ambient, water-cooled surroundings. Thickly, they balanced upon the telephone lines which left the data centre to carry asynchronous information across the dark central plain and treeless hills until they reached the far flung branches of the west in Clifden, Westport , Dingle and beyond.

They fell on all the giving and the led. Upon those who made things happen and upon those who saw things happen.

Finally, they came to rest on those who asked “what happened?”

This is an edited extract from the book “London Irish Dublin English” by Daniel M Doyle. You can download it from Amazon.uk for the special price of 99p until Thursday 17th December.  

A Rugby day-out in Dublin – lunch in the clubhouse and a view from the bar

28 Sep

The agenda for the day commenced at about 12.30pm with pre-lunch drinks in the club bar. A gong was struck at 1.15pm. Members and their guests then moved to the function room for a fairly formal lunch. This was followed by, hopefully, short but witty speeches from the respective presidents of the home and away clubs.

The lunch finished at two-forty-five – fifteen minutes before kick-off. The more enthusiastic supporters donned their overcoats and went to stand by the side of the pitch in order to give close, vocal support to their team. The bar and the function room were on the first floor of the clubhouse building so that the match could also be clearly seen from there. The less energetic supporters  either moved to a seat by a window in the bar or stayed exactly where they had sat for lunch. They just continued talking, ordered more drink and carried on, oblivious of the catering staff who were now rearranging the room around them for the post-match reception.

At half-time the bar was not crowded but those in it, who had not availed of a break in the fresh air, were warming up nicely. As the second half progressed the vocal support in the bar, alas unheard by the gallant players on the pitch, became more opinionated and emotional.

‘Now that’s a thundering disgrace! Ref, you’re as blind as a bat.’ said the honourable member with spectacles as thick as milk bottles.

‘They’re not fit!’ said the honourable member suffering from morbid obesity.

A rugby club bar is frequently populated by an unusually high proportion of very large people – both old and young. This understandable for a club that has been producing first-class players over many years but it still seems unreal. This is not like looking at a group of lanky, seven-foot basketball players. Most large rugby players are built in similar proportions to much smaller people. It is like an optical illusion. From 20 or 30 feet away they look no more than average-plus size, but as you get closer they seem to grow faster than the eye or the brain can handle.

Hanging around with very large people can occasionally be dangerous. Consider the case of the man, then in his 50s, who had played lock forward for the first team for many years. He was six foot four inches tall and, not being in as good a condition as in his playing days, he was as broad as he was long, weighing in at about 22 stone. He remained an active member and enjoyed reminiscing with his former team mates over a few drinks on a Saturday afternoon. On this particular day, however, he must have been tired after the week’s work. He was standing in a circle of friends with a newly-poured, untouched pint of Guinness in his right hand. Then he slowly moved away from his circle with small backward steps. The pace of the steps began to quicken but they could not keep up with his upper body. It was clear that he was going to fall.

Nobody shouted “Timber!” but many thought it. All those in his backward path scattered for fear of being crushed. It would have taken at least three men of similar size in perfect formation to have created a wedge capable of preventing his fall. He travelled another six or eight feet before landing, back first, on a table laden with pints of Guinness and other assorted beverages, the owners of which had wisely vacated their previously desirable location just seconds before. A tsunami of black and tanned frothy liquid hit the inside of the clubhouse window, accompanied by the sound of splintering furniture. When the unfortunate man came to rest he looked like an upturned turtle. He was lying on the floor with his head and knees pointing upwards. Despite getting on in years, he still knew how to fall. His large and powerful back had protected him. Miraculously, his freshly poured pint remained full in his right hand, his wrist and elbow having automatically operated in perfect counterpoint to the dynamics of his fall. He slowly turned his head and gazed in admiration at the perfectly formed pint.

‘There, never split a drop.’

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This is an edited extract from the book “London Irish Dublin English” by Daniel M Doyle.

P.S. There is very little about rugby in this book. So why not take a break from the World Cup and enjoy this celebration of the buzz and mighty craic of Dublin City life. You can download this as an eBook or order a paperback from Amazon.

Self-published, self-absorbed and self-obsessed? – Listen – it’s not all about me you know…

27 Aug

It was hard work but you got there. You created a piece of literary art and you finally got to press the “publish” button on Amazon. You built it and now they will come…but they didn’t. Hopefully, the reason why they did not come is not because it is rubbish but because they don’t know about it.

It comes as a shock to many self-publishers that, having written a book, they then have to sell it. Most people are uncomfortable with the idea of selling. It’s a bit grubby and demeaning. You can tell a battle hardened salesman by his flat nose and bruised toes, both injuries having been caused by slamming doors.

I, myself, personally have learnt to accept the literal meaning of “self-published”. There are thousands of guide books on this subject. They should all be categorised on the D.I.Y. shelf.

The broad thrust of the advice given in these “how to” books is that the self-publisher must harness the power of social media. A strategy must be devised to create awareness of your great work using the power of Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, your own website and whatever else you choose. All your efforts must be focussed on driving traffic to the “buy” button – either on your website or directly to Amazon etc.

These efforts must be subtle and must not be seen as a disguised version of “please buy my book”. The big reader/author websites, like Goodreads, urge wannabe best-selling authors to be nice, polite, helpful and giving. They must participate energetically in discussions. Useful information and advice must be given. Detailed and professional books reviews must be offered. That seems like way too much work for a dubious return. Authors selling to authors is not an efficient use of one’s time.

Potential customers also try to be nice. For example, they place your book on their virtual “to read” shelf. That’s cruel. You high five when you see you have another “to read” customer. Then you dig a little deeper and find that your book is 547th on their list. Your only hope is that these keeno readers have bionic eyes which can speed read 100 books each simultaneously.

Self- publishing does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s DIY. That’s the deal and if you get a great buzz (like I do ) each and every time the Amazon sales graph stops dragging along the bottom and shoots skyward – then just keep doing what you’re doing.

P.S. The ebook version of my book is available at a promotional price of 99c in the USA from today, Thursday 27th August, for a few days.

P.P.S. Please note the P.S. above is not a plea to buy my book. It is merely the dissemination of useful information which may help you to improve the general quality of your life.

Kilkenny City: the Arts Festival, its wonderful castle and … Oliver Cromwell.

17 Aug

Kilkenny City is perfectly appointed for tourism and especially its Arts Festival.  It would be hard to beat the breadth and depth of events available during this festival week in mid-August each year. There is classical music, performed in the ancient cathedral of St Canice, Jazz, Blues and, of course Traditional Irish is played on every corner of the winding streets of this historic city. Drama includes a daily open-air performance of the work of Shakespeare in the Castle yard and there are many, many art exhibitions and street performers around the City.

The medieval streets lead to a magnificent castle located on the banks of the river Nore. Although built in 1195, this castle is not an ancient ruin through which you must try to imagine what it must have been like in its glory days. No, it is a grand, habitable and lively building which has been beautifully restored and maintained. Please make sure you take a guided tour of it.

Oliver Cromwell is not held dear in Irish history. However, one unintended consequence of his pillage is the view of Kilkenny castle from its adjoining park. The castle was originally built around an enclosed, rectangular courtyard but in 1650 Cromwell destroyed the east wall with his cannons – thus providing the view you can now see in the picture below.

photo0208_001KkyArtFest2915

Ireland wins the Aga Khan Trophy at The Royal Dublin Society’s Horse Show !

10 Aug

Founded in 1731, the aim of the Royal Dublin Society(RDS) has always been to improve Ireland’s economic condition by promoting the development of Agriculture, Arts, Industry and Science. It is a magnificent amenity located in Ballsbridge,one of Dublin’s most salubrious districts, and comprising 40 acres of land.

Last Friday it staged the annual Aga Khan Nations Cup involving national teams from the US, GB, Germany, Italy, NL, Spain, Switzerland and Ireland. It’s always a great day but it’s even sweeter when Ireland wins! I hope the attached photo’s give you some idea of the great buzz and craic that’s to be had at this event.

photo0200_001blin.photo0197_001 (1)  photo0201_001 (1) photo0202_001

Pierce Brosnan certainly likes Dalkey!

6 Aug

A view of Killiney Bay and the Irish Sea from Sorrento Park.

Fyi, Niel Jordan ( Film Director: Michael Collins, Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, The Actors etc) lives in one of the terraced houses that can be seen behind Pierce. On a warm & sunny day (a rare thing) Niel can be seen plunging into the said same sea.

Pierce Brosnan – a great ambasssador to Ireland

29 Jul

Why do you want to be an Accountant?

28 May

This question was often asked of me while I attempted to get my first “serious” job. It was a difficult, philosophical question to answer. Looking back on those times, I wonder if the enquirer had asked it because he could not remember why he himself had chosen to become an accountant. Nearing retirement, the job interviewer hoped that this young, fresh-faced interviewee might retrospectively give meaning and justification to the previous thirty years of his working life. Unfortunately, there was no blinding flash of wisdom from the mouth of this babe accountant.

Shortly after I commenced this career path I knew that I would struggle to compete with many of my peers. They read SSAP’s (Statements of Standard Accounting Practice) with the same enthusiasm that I reserved for the sports pages. These guys clearly had a “passion”. For them, a spread sheet is not just a random collection of Arabic numerals on a page. It tells a story of life, of love, of struggle, of disappointment and shared sadness. It tells of the indomitable human spirit to try, try and try again until the final battle is won and the highest mountain is climbed. Numbers don’t go up and down. They leap and bound. They soar like Icarus but they also fall to earth with an almighty thud.

I can’t remember exactly how I answered the question as to why I wanted to be an accountant. I guess it was similar to how a beauty contestant might have done so. I hoped to make a significant contribution to society – to make the world a better place. Can this be done by the role of an accountant?

If you hold to your audit principles of truth and fairness

When all about you are losing theirs

If you can meet with debit and credit

And treat those two imposters just the same

Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it and – which is more

You’ll be an accountant, my son!  

What’s so funny?

8 Feb

I believe the answer to this question is “people” – human beings. People can often be at their funniest when they’re not trying to be funny at all. Most people believe they are unique. There’s some truth in that thought but others go much further and believe that they are the only sane person on the planet.

“All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer.” Robert Owen (Welsh philosopher and philanthropist 1771-1858)

Some people think that the world revolves around only them. The British nation used to feel like that. Back then, in days gone by, they described mainland Europe as the “the continent”. On a dark and damp morning in the 1950’s the headline of the London Times proclaimed “Fog in channel – Continent cut off.”

Speaking of the continent, I am reminded of a witty one-liner about a place called Frinton-on-Sea. This is a resort on the east coast of England in the county of Essex. It is a quiet place, populated by retired geriatrics – the last resort? This part of the Essex coast is one of the nearest points to “the continent”. A few miles north of Frinton-on-Sea is the port of Harwich. It used to be a popular starting point for English holiday makers who were brave enough to travel to mainland Europe. The ferry’s advertising slogan was:-

“Harwich for the Continent! “

How exciting! Not to be outdone, a wag from Frinton extrapolated this slogan:-

“Harwich for the Continent!

Frinton-on-Sea for the incontinent!”

Let’s move on…

“Oh, what a great gift we would have if we could only see ourselves as others see us.” Robert Burns (Scottish poet 1759-1796) said that. He knew, of course, that we cannot view ourselves with complete, detached objectivity and wouldn’t life be boring if we could? We would lose all the humour to be found in observing how people perceive their place in the world and how they prevent reality from interfering with that perception.

I am not suggesting that I want to laugh at people but rather with them. Pathos and empathy are essential ingredients of humour. Watching people skilfully reconcile their perception of self with the real world is like watching a tightrope walker or a trapeze artist.  We marvel at their ability to defy gravity, as we fear for their safety. We also laugh, nervously, from the relief of knowing that we are not a risk of harm from what we are watching.

Some people work hard to present themselves in the most favourable light. Is this selling or acting?

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

Take me, for example. Most people I know call me Danny but that wouldn’t be good enough for an author – so I became Daniel. It’s commonly acknowledged that your name sounds more intellectual if you stick a middle initial into it. So I have moved from plain old Danny Boy to Daniel M. Doyle – author, wit and raconteur.

In Ireland, where I live, our president is Michael D Higgins. He’s a Michael Daniel and I’m a Daniel Michael. So who knows? Today I am talking to you and tomorrow – maybe the presidency of Ireland? Am I losing the run of myself perchance?
Lots of people in Ireland like to answer a question with a question. For example:-

“Excuse me. Can you tell me where is the nearest Post Office?”

“Is it stamps you’re after?”

Some people might find this to be a funny reply but it is merely good selling. The respondent is looking for more information so that he can accurately determine the requirements of the inquirer. There might be a sweet shop around the corner which sells stamps – so the inquirer actually has no need to visit a Post Office at all.

What is logical to one person might seem perfectly illogical to another. For example, a visitor takes a taxi to a remote house in rural Ireland. Eventually the taxi turns off the road and proceeds along a narrow boreen. After a few miles the passenger says:-

“This boreen is very long?”

The driver replies, logically:-

“Well sir, if it was any shorter it wouldn’t reach.”

Humor must not only make us laugh – it must also make us cry. I don’t cry about sad things or the terrible misfortunes of others but I do get a bit bleary-eyed when I see the best of human nature displayed in people. When I see qualities such as unconditional generosity and bravery I know that these people are not aware of how great they are. As with the funny side of humor, they are just being themselves. The tears flow from the sensation of experiencing beauty – as in a painting or a piece of music. We are momentarily lifted out of our day-to-day lives and reminded that life can be wonderful!

Sometimes I get it wrong. I make an inappropriate or flippant comment about a subject which I should have left well alone. My standard technique to recover this situation is to quote from Lord Byron’s Don Juan:-

“And if I laugh at any mortal thing ‘tis that I may not weep.”

I have achieved mixed results from this manoeuvre.

Daniel M Doyle

(This piece first appeared in the December 2014/January 2015 edition of InD’tale Magazine)