Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Pucking the Sliothar in Boston, MA.

Oh, for a muse of fire!An Spailpín Fánach made his way into town on Sunday night to soak up the atmosphere after the All-Ireland Hurling Final. While lowering convivial pints of Mulligan's strong black porter your faithful chronicler got talking with a dude who told him a terrific story that gives a marvellous insight into how the Irish are perceived by others. Unfortunately, the porter was so strong that the miserable Spailpín has completely forgotten who his informant was; however, I retain a strong suspicion that it's a man that knows a lot about American novelist Philip Roth. If so, then Goodbye, Columbus, and please forgive me.

The story:
It seems that at some stage during one of the those student summers a group of young men - Corkmen, almost certainly - were abroad in beautiful Boston, Massachusetts, trying to turn a dollar, as many an Irishman had before them and many an Irishman will after them. But it wasn't all work - at the weekend, it wasn't unusual for these young men to spend a happy hour or ten slugging down bottles of Sam Adams' fine Boston beer (or beah, as the locals say) and discussing world events and happenings.

Anyway, this one particular night one of the boys filled himself up to the brim with Sam Adams' fine Boston beah, and made his merry way home, happy and content with life. But not everyone was happy and content with life that night in New England - our innocent Corkman was spied by a local who was most discontented with life, and planned to ease this discontent, this ennui, by mugging and robbing a drunken Corkman. And this is exactly what the local proceeded to do.

As those of you who have been in the United States during the summer months will know, the place gets as hot as the very hob of Hell, and windows are left open at all times, as the only hope of preserving Irish life. And while these windows are left open, all the sounds of the street can float up and in, and the heat-stricken Irish can thus keep up with all the news.

On this particular night, the news wasn't so good. First, the boys in the house heard the sound of a rumpus; nothing particularly unusual in that for that part of town, I believe. However, as the rumpus continued, they noticed that one of the voices involved - the one shouting for help, specifically - had that certain lilt that is not found in Boston, Mass, but in that city that holds the pig's humble crubeen as superior nourishment to the bowl of chowder; that is, the city of Cork.

Suddenly, the penny dropped - "Jaysus lads, Timmy isn't home yet - someone must be bating the shite out of him outside! Come on!"

If it took a while for the initial penny to drop, these young Cork men wasted no further seconds. Stopping only to grab those hurls without which the true Cork man never leaves home, they stormed down the stairs and out the door, roaring into the night, waving the ash above their heads.

The result was immediate and gratifying. Exeunt mugger, pursued by several bears.

All very well and good, but the story, as all good stories should, comes with a coda; the tale has a tail, if you like. Later that week one of that Cork number was on the wrong side of the tracks, taken there by his work, and he heard a ragamuffin describing his week to a ne'er-do-well of his intimate acquaintance. In a moment of the most serendipitous synchronicity, the ragamuffin was the very man involved in the ruckus, and he took a very dim view of it:

"I couldn't believe it man. All these crazy fucking Irish came out of nowhere, waving these big wooden spoons - I never saw anything like it!"