Category Archives: Ireland, our Ireland

How The West Was Won

The Irish police force are facing controversy at the moment over the fact that over a five year period they recorded 937,000 breathalyser drink-driving tests that did not in fact take place, and the fact that during the same period 14,700 people were wrongly convicted over traffic violations.

Maybe it’s always been this way….

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It was late evening in Tombstone. From the street came the whinny of tethered horses, and the occasional oozy splat as horse-poo hit street-mud. From the saloon came the teeth-grating sound of a honky-tonk piano, and an occasional tinkle of glass as a whisky bottle, slid along the counter by the barman, was missed by a customer.

In the Sheriff’s Office, Marshal Wyatt Earp set down the ledger, rubbed his weary eyes, and sighed. He looked up at the clock, and saw that it was time.

The front door opened, and Sheriff Doc Holliday walked in.

“You wanted to see me?” asked Doc.

“Yes,” said Wyatt. “Sit down.”

Doc sat. Wyatt stared at him for a long moment, wondering how to begin. “Quiet tonight,” he said, eventually.

Doc nodded. “Too quiet,” he said.

Wyatt’s attempt at calm evaporated. “What does that even mean?” he snapped. “It can never be too quiet. Quiet is good. And quiet, as it happens, is what’s been happening every night since I’ve been here. And every day.”

Doc shrugged. “Trouble comes in spells,” he said. “Sometimes we get quiet times.”

“Really?” said Wyatt. “Because I was sent here because you never get quiet times. I was sent here because you have more recorded crimes than any other town in the country. I was told to bring my two brothers as back-up, because the job I’d be taking on was so dangerous.”

“Maybe folks are behaving,” said Doc, because you and your brothers are here.” He looked at the ledger in front of Wyatt. “You’ve seen the records,” he said. “They were pretty un-law-abidin’ before that.”

“Yes,” agreed Wyatt. “I have seen the records. They don’t make pretty reading.”

“Sorry about that,” said Doc. “It’s my doctor’s handwriting”. (History seems to think that Doc Holliday was a doctor, which is odd, because the same History does not seem to think that Sheriff Bat Masterson was a bat).  

“It’s not the handwriting,” said Wyatt. “It’s what’s written. I’ve had a look at some of the entries, and I’ve talked to some of the, well, let’s call them perpetrators.”

“Oh,” said Doc, looking worried for the first time.

“For example,” said Wyatt, “Jethro Watts. Arrested for Money Laundering. He says he was washing his pants and forget to take his money out.”

“That’s true,” said Doc, “but strictly speaking -”

“Next, Joe Bob Peters,” continued Wyatt. “Arson?”

“He has no job,” said Doc. “He just sits outside the hardware store all day.”

“Setting fire to stuff?”

“No,” said Doc. “He’s just Arsin’ Around.”

“That’s Vagrancy,” said Wyatt.

“Crap,” said Doc. “Never thought of that.”

“And Miss Amelia Trent, the school-teacher,” went on Wyatt. “Holding up a stagecoach.”

“Yes,” said Doc. “She stepped out in front of it and put her hand up.”

“That’s how you get on a stagecoach,” said Wyatt. “It’s called a bus stop.” He looked down at the ledger again. “Then there’s Caleb Hoskins,” he went on, “Forgery. I haven’t actually talked to him yet, but I’m guessing he’s the blacksmith.”

Doc nodded, then stared down at the floor silently. “Why?” asked Wyatt, softly.

Doc Holliday looked up, defiance suddenly blazing in his eyes. “Have you any idea what it’s like to be Sheriff in a sleepy little back-water like this? All I do is rescue cats from trees and help little old ladies across the street. Well, that’s not why I went to law-enforcement classes. That’s not why I shot off a toe trying to practice a quick draw. That’s not why I accidently invented the pierced nipple when trying to pin on my badge. I want to be remembered. When folk recall the heroes who made this country I want to be right up there with Pat Garrett, and all he ever did was shoot Billy the Kid -”

“In fairness,” began Wyatt, “that was pretty -”

“- and eat him,” continued Doc.

“What?” said Wyatt. “With fava beans and a nice Chianti?”

“Er, no,” said Doc. “With chilli beans and grits. That’s how you eat goat.”

“Billy the Kid was a goat?”

Doc rolled his eyes. “The clue’s in the name,” he said simply. “But Garrett spread the rumour that he had killed an outlaw, and now he’s a legend. Well, I want to be like him. I want the Sheriff of Tombstone -”

“I’ve been meaning to mention that,” said Wyatt. “Apparently the town’s called Norville. You got it changed two years ago.”

“Yes, well, no-one would remember the Sheriff of Norville,” said Doc. “I got the idea from Sheriff Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke.”

“Um, I don’t think the name of his town -”

“Who cares? That’s how he’s known now. And I wanted to be remembered as the man who kept peace in the meanest town in the West, so I made up a few things. But I must have gone too far, because they sent you.”

“It was the car thefts,” said Wyatt. “There’s no such thing as a car.”

“Well,” said Doc, “now that you’re here, what are you going to do about it? You can turn me in, or you can stay here with me and we can help make history, by making up history.”

Just then the door burst open, and Virgil and Morgan Earp rushed into the office.

“The Clanton gang are up at the OK Corral,” said Virgil. “They’re drunk, and they’re causing trouble.”

“Just leave them,” said Doc. “They’ll sleep it off, and be fine tomorrow.”

“They snatched Virgil’s hat,” said Morgan.

Doc and Wyatt looked at one another, then both stood and began to buckle on their holsters.

“Stealing a policeman’s hat?” said Wyatt. “Not in Tombstone.”

-oOo-

An hour later the four of them were back, flushed and exhilarated. “Well,” said Virgil, “we showed them.

“Sure did,” said Morgan. “They won’t be causing trouble around here no more.”

Wyatt sat down in front of the ledger. “Better record it, ” he said. He took up his pen and began ‘tonight there was a fist-fight at the OK Corral’, then stopped and looked at Doc Holliday. They looked into each other eyes, into each others souls, for a long time.

He changed the word ‘fist-fight’ to ‘gun-fight’.

 

 

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Dragon’s Den

Saint Enda took a long, deep breath and, holding his offering in front of him as if for protection, stepped bravely into the Dragon’s lair.

The lair was large, and not quite round, more oval-shaped. For a second St Enda thought that it was empty, but then, from a throne at the far end, the Dragon arose and padded menacingly towards him.

The two stood facing each other – both proud, both haughty, both ginger. It was like watching a family row between the Weasley twins.

“Who are you?” growled the Dragon.

“I am St Enda,” said St Enda, “the patron saint of Ireland.”

The Dragon’s eyes narrowed. “I thought that was St Patrick,” he said.

St Enda snorted. “God, everyone bangs on and on about St Bloody Patrick,” he said. “All he did was chase snakes – basically over-fed worms – out of Ireland. Whereas I saved our country from ruin,  re-built its economy, scrapped taxes on its water -”

“Didn’t you bring those taxes in in the first place?” asked the Dragon.

“Um, yes,” said St Enda, “but the important thing here is that I scrapped them. And I drove the fearsome, three-headed Troika from our shores by, well, by giving it everything it wanted. And after all that the other guy’s still more revered than I am. Honestly, it’d try the patience of a saint, and obviously I’m not just that as a turn of phrase. I mean, he wasn’t even born in our country.”

The Dragon nodded. “I know exactly how you feel,” he said. “Bigly.”

“Anyway,” said St Enda, “I brought you this.” He held forth a glass bowl containing some green plants.

The Dragon snorted, with far more impressive results than when St Enda had a few paragraphs ago. The saint could feel his eyebrows smouldering gently.

“I think you’re mixing me up with Popeye,” said the Dragon. “I don’t eat spinach.”

“It’s not spinach,” said St Enda. “It’s shamrock. It’s supposed to be lucky.”

“If it was all that lucky,” said the Dragon, “it wouldn’t be cut up and lying in a bowl. Anyway, why are you giving it to me?”

“I have come to entreat with you,” said St Enda.

“Er, what?” said the Dragon.

“I need a favour,” said St Enda. “You have fifty thousand of my people in your land who shouldn’t be here.”

“I see,” said the Dragon. “And you’d like them back.”

“God, no,” said St Enda. “I want you to keep them.”

“Why?” asked the Dragon.

“We don’t want them,” said St Enda. “They’ve got used to proper public transport, and real summers, and they’re three series ahead of us in Blue Bloods.

“I see,” said the Dragon. “And why would I want them?”

“They’re Irish,” said St Enda simply. “Everyone loves us. Everyone knows that.”

The Dragon thought for a moment, then began to speak. St Enda noticed that as he spoke he would raise one front claw and bring the tips of two of the talons together, as if he was trying to do a shadow-puppet of a rabbit on the wall behind.

“Very well,” said the Dragon. “Because they are Irish, and because of your, um, generous gift, I will let them stay.”

“Thank you,” said St Enda.

“Would you like me to build a wall around them, to keep them here?” asked the Dragon.

“Trust me,” said St Enda, “I don’t think you’ll find that’s necessary.”

 

 

Belated Birthday Wishes

I started writing this last Monday, but unexpectedly found myself in the pub (ok, I am Irish, but it wasn’t something I’d been planning), so I’m only finishing it now…

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He chased the snakes out of Ireland.

The logic of this argument is impeccable. He is our Patron Saint, we have no snakes, therefore he must have got rid of them.

We have no zebras either, but he never gets the credit for that.

St PatrickIt wasn’t the job he applied for, being Patron Saint of Ireland, especially since he is Welsh. But while St Valentine got love, St Vitus got dance and St Louis got jazz he got a tiny country full of cows, confusing road signs, and freckles. It was like a Greek deity finally qualifying for Mount Olympus and finding that she’s been made Goddess of Light Drizzle.

He found that he had to wear what is essentially a ballgown, and a hat that looked like the nose-cone of Thunderbird 1. He had to carry a crozier, an implement that’s sole use is to hook an actor off stage during comedy sketches.

Every year he gets thrown a birthday party. Those of you who think that this a plus have never seen the Irish party.

On the day they all wear shamrock, which is a weed. They might as well pin dandelions to themselves, and let the clocks blow up their nostrils. They will wear giant Leprechaun Hats, although the term “giant Leprechaun” is an obvious contradiction in terms, and drink green beer, which is essentially sending vomit through your mouth in the wrong direction.

And St Patrick just sighs, sips his Guinness (there are some advantages to being Irish) and waits for the day to be over.

Sometimes, he reckons, you need the patience of a saint.

Power Shift

Here in Ireland we were asked to vote last Friday (by the Lower House of our Parliament) on whether to abolish the Seanad, our Upper House…

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Bolts of lightning flashed across the sky, like the aftermath of an explosion in a lightsaber factory.

The Lower Gods had been dreading this moment, and weren’t disappointed. Jupiter was seriously angry.

“Get rid of us?” he stormed. “Why?”

“Because you’re an elite,” said Reforma, who had been chosen as spokesperson by the others. She was Goddess of Making Things Better, and had thus created the sticking-plaster and the phrase “there, there”.

“Of course we’re an elite,” said Janus. “We’re Gods, for Gods’ sake.”

“Yes, but Gods of what?” said Reforma. “The moon, the sea, the sky? Do you think stuff like that would just vanish if you were gone?”

“Well, no,” admitted Neptune.

“See? You’re just old hat,” said Fedora, Goddess of Old Hats. “you’ve become settled, and complacent, and fat.”

Venus’s eyes narrowed. “Really?” she said. Fedora took a step backwards.

“Don’t be afraid of her,” said Exbocs, God of Male Virginity. “She’s not even armed.”

Venus smiled sweetly and turned her gaze upon him, a look full of haunting beauty and smouldering sensuality. Exbocs gave a great groan and hurled himself into the Tiber, which turned to steam.

“Well, I’m not old hat,” said Bacchus. “I’ll always be popular.”

“Actually you’re on the way out too,” said Gasius, God of Lager. “I’m more popular with the people now.”

“The people?” asked Minerva. “Who asked them?”

“Actually we did,” said Retorica, God of Unimportant Questions.

“But they’re gobshites,” said Mars. “They let you get off with them even if you turn up as a swan.”

“We wanted to deflect attention away from the crap jobs we’re doing ourselves,” said Ryneer, God of Approximate Geography. “Like why Lesstaxus has to keep raising taxes, Heltservus keeps closing hospital wards and Alucanete can’t give them decent broadband.”

Jupiter was about to reply when someone passed by. He was like them, yet somehow gave off a sense of far greater majesty.

“Good morning,” he said, and continued on his way, towards Earth.

All the Gods, Upper and Lower, turned towards Oshit, God of Having  A Bad Feeling About This.

“Who was that?” asked Saturn.

“He’s new,” said Oshit. “He calls himself God.”

“Well, that’s a bit unimaginative,” said Jupiter. “It’d be like having a teddy bear called Teddy Bear.” Minerva blushed at this, but no-one noticed. “What’s he God of?”

“Everything, he says,” said Oshit.

All of the Gods relaxed visibly.

“Jack-of-all-trades, master of none,” said Mars dismissively. “He’ll get nowhere.”

The Charge Of The Tight Brigade

Irish State Broadcaster RTÉ is apparently losing TV Licence revenue because some people have no actual TV, and the Government believe that they are watching programmes though their computers instead. Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte is therefore introducing the Public Service Broadcasting Charge, payable by all households, saying “I don’t believe that we have cave men in the country. I don’t believe that there are people who don’t watch television and don’t access content on their iPad or iPhone.”…..

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There was a knock at the front of the cave, followed by the strangled curse of someone who has just unthinkingly rapped on a stone wall with their bare hand. Ugg went to the entrance and was surprised to see Patrabid, one of the Village Elders, standing there sucking his knuckles.

“I’m here about your television,” said Patrabid, eventually.

“What’s that?” asked Ugg.

Patrabid indicated a large box on the cart behind him. “It’s a device that provides entertainment, information and opinion,” he said.

“Don’t need one so,” said Ugg. “I’ve got a wife for all that.”

As if on cue, and not at all because she’d been eavesdropping, Ogga came to the front of the cave to join them. “Are you trying to sell us one?” she said.

“Of course not,” said Patrabid, “because you already have one.”

“No, we don’t,” said Ugg.

“Of course you do,” said Patrabid. “I don’t believe that we have cave men in the country-” here he stopped and looked at the cave in which Ugg and Ogga so obviously lived, “-well ok, we do,” he admitted, “but I don’t believe that there are people who don’t watch television.”

“Well, we don’t,” said Ugg.

“But you should,” said Patrabid. “It’s great, look, I’ll show you.” He lifted the box off the cart and carried it into the cave. The three of them watched it for a while.

“It’s not doing anything,” said Ogga eventually.

“Well, no, it doesn’t yet,” admitted Patrabid. “Yeddi’s son in the village is working on something he calls electricity that he says will power it, but until he gets it right the box does nothing. When it does, though, it’ll be great – weather forecasting -”

“Snow tomorrow, snow the next day, bright spells with snow spreading from the west later the day after would be my guess,” said Ogga. “This isn’t called the Ice Age for nothing.”

“There’ll be nature programmes, like ‘When Mammoths Attack’ -”

“I already know when they attack,” said Ugg. “Every bloody time they see a human, that’s when. I’m a hunter, trust me on this.”

“Well,” said Patrabid desperately, “there’ll be fascinating little programmes about fur-skin making, or arrow-head crafting, or why the square wheel industry is dying out.”

“But we know why,” said Ugg. “It’s because the round wheel is all the rage now. Dunno why, at least you never had to chase a runaway square wheel down a steep hill.”

“Listen” said Ogga, “come back when it works, and we might buy one.”

“I told you, I not here to sell you one,” said Patrabid. “I’m here to collect the charge for you having one.”

“But we don’t have one,” said Ugg.

“Not my problem,” said Patrabid. “You have to pay for having one anyway.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” said Ogga. “It’d be like having to pay off bank losses that you weren‘t responsible for.” The other two stared at her. “Don’t ask me what that means,” she said. “The phrase just popped into my head.”

“Why does anyone have to pay anyway?” asked Ugg. “Why not make it pay for itself by charging for advertising?”

“Advertising?” said Ogga.

“Yes,” said Ugg. “A man could appear and tell you to keep your skin soft by washing more than once a month. He could say it’s because you’re worth it.”

“Excellent idea,” said Patrabid. “We’ll do that too.”

“Then why would we still have to pay the charge?” asked Ugg.

“It’s to fund Public Service Broadcasting,” said Patrabid.

“What’s that?” asked Ogga.

Just then a loud shouting started up outside. “Here is the news,” yelled a voice. “Mammoths attacked some hunters. Snow is forecast for later -”

That’s Public Service Broadcasting,” said Patrabid.

“That’s just The Old Yeller,” said Ogga.

“He’s providing a public service,” said Patrabid, “and we have to massively overpay him in case he decides to leave and join another network.”

“Is that something to do with spiders?” asked Ugg.

Patrabid was about to witheringly reply when Ogga said “we don’t listen to him.”

“You can’t  possibly not,” said Patrabid. “You can hear him from half a mile away.”

Ogga picked up a bucket of slops, walked to the front of the cave and hurled it out. The shouting abruptly stopped, there was a brief shocked silence, a lot of hawking and coughing and then something that sounded very like a man blocking one nostril and blowing hard, in an attempt to clear the other one of poo.

“As I was saying,” said Ogga calmly, “we don’t listen to him.”

“Well, you’ll still owe -”

Ogga looked into her bucket. “There are still some slops left in this,” she said matter-of-factly.

Patrabid decided to chicken out, or at least to whatever-the-prehistoric-equivalent-of-a-chicken-was out. “Er, there are of course certain caveholds that will be exempt,” he said.

“I thought there might,” said Ogga, swinging her bucket gently.

Patrabid left. Ogga was about to go back to the kitchen area when she noticed that Ugg was looking at a small flat slab of stone. There was writing on it which said “Village Elder For Communications And Snide Remarks Patrabid has today introduced a charge which you will have to pay even if you aren’t using the service that you’re being charged for.”

“What’s that?” said Ogga.

“It’s the news,” said Ugg. “Soothsaya in the village will chip it out for you each evening for two flints.”

“But what are you reading it on?” asked Ogga.

Ugg held up the slab proudly. “This is my Tablet,” he said.