Monthly Archives: January 2015

Close Set Eyes and the Driving Test

For God’s sake, how hard can it actually be to pass a driving test? I mean, it’s not exactly rocket science. Even Lourda Kennefick got it, albeit, on her fifth attempt!  What? No, no, it’s not me doing the test, shure,I passed mine first go, years back, no, it’s Dolores. She’s actually failed the practical a whole NINE times which surely must be some sort of record. But like the trooper she is, she’s determined to crack it before she dies or before she’s too old to be insured, – whichever it is that comes first.

Of course, Dolores is right wicked over it. According to her, it’s all down to the driver tester not liking her. Knew the minute she set eyes on him, he was going to be trouble, she says. Smug little bastard with eyes set too close together and a small moustache. That’s how she described him. I mean, for God’s sake?

Well, the minute Peggy heard about the close set eyes she was off. She has told us over and over again in the years I’ve known her that anyone with close set eyes is not to be trusted. Then she tells us this story of how when she was a young one going to the dances she was doing  a line for a small while with a fella called Mickey Finn(I kid you not) whose eyes were very close together. Next thing she finds out, she says, the little fecker is throwing her over for a woman years older than himself with a farm of land and a large dowry. Honestly what a story about Peggy’s love life back in the year dot has to do with Dolores’s driving test in the present day, I have no idea! Jeez.Anyway, Peggy advises Dolores to change the venue from Gortmore where she’s failed nine times to Glenbower . This way, Peggy says, she’ll get a different tester who might look a little more favourably on a woman in her prime taking the test for the TENTH time.

So off Dolores goes this morning with Bridie all dolled up so’s you’d swear that they were going to a beauty pageant for the Over 50’s. You know, Dolores is so desperate now to get that test that she could do anything. She’d never bet her (false) eyelashes at him though, ah, surely not for God’s sake. Mind you, Dolores was brought up in the good old days when actresses got their big part on screen by sleeping with the casting director and batting her eyelashes(false) at the driving tester could well be seen to be Dolores’s version of the casting couch.

Well, I’m glad I’m not the one accompanying her into Glenbower and that’s for sure. I’ll wait here until they come home with the news and do you know, I’ll treat myself to a bottle of Stella Artois while I’m waiting. Shure, I could do worse and if it turns out that Dolores is unsuccessful, I’ll be much better able to deal with the fall out with a bottle of cider inside me.

So I drink and wait.

Continued next week.

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Calling Playwrights

Calling all playwrights in the Greater Duhallow area. Kanturk Arts festival is looking for short plays(10-15 minutes) with no more than three actors and minimum props. The winning selection of plays will have a staged reading during the festival at the Courthouse. So c’mon playwrights, get writing.

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The Play’s the Thing

Looking forward to a great evening in Friars’ Gate theatre with fellow playwrights, Mary- Anne Bartlett, Mary Bradford and Marie O Halloran and mentor John Sheehy, artist in residence at the theatre,

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Peggy and Lourda Have a Falling Out.

Well, you could see it coming a mile away. Peggy and Lourda have been as thick as thieves for the last couple of months so we were all waiting for the inevitable falling out. Sure enough yesterday, they had an almighty disagreement so that now neither of them is talking to the other. I saw Lourda below in Gilhooley’s Mace this morning and she looked simply poisonous. Then again, I’ve always thought Lourda looked poisonous and fairly ridiculous with that head of badly dyed hair and the la di da accent. She didn’t even salute me, thinks me in Peggy’s camp, you see.

I didn’t even dare mention Lourda’s name to Peggy, she was that incensed. To be honest, Bridie and Dolores and myself were mad curious to find out what happened to the pair of them. But seeing that Peggy wouldn’t even allow Lourda’s name to pass our lips inside in her house, we had to rely on picking up the story from someone in the village. Sure enough, when Bridie was inside in the Post Office this morning, she heard it all.

Would you credit it, they fell out over religion. Both of them are Eucharist Ministers and Fr. O Mahony asked Peggy to serve at the wedding mass of Sheila Burns and Seamus Crowley next week. Lourda is fit to be tied because she wasn’t asked and according to her, it’s her turn for a wedding. So Lourda attacks Peggy because she thinks it’s too well in with Fr. O Mahony she is and that’s how she got the wedding gig. Peggy is only fuming because Lourda more or less straight out accused her of using her influence with the priest to have Lourda overlooked. I mean, could you believe it in this day and age? Fr. O Mahony is like a rabbit trapped in the headlights of a car, so he is, between the pair of them. But he was a foolish man ever to get entangled with either of them, so he was. I mean, each one on her own is bad enough but together, they’re just like steam-rollers.

According to village gossip, the two of them run the church and Fr. O Mahony between them. I’d say now that Lourda is even bould enough to say Mass if she got half a chance. That woman’s neck is thick enough to support two heads so it is. Anyway, apparently Fr. O Mahony is dithering about who gets the gig at the wedding and his decision depends on which of them he was talking to last. The man is craven but in fairness, trying to cope with two obstinate and bould women would try Pope Francis himself. Anyway, my money is on Peggy. The woman is full of brains – artful and subtle, that’s our Peggy. Lourda is too obvious, too in your face and that accent would drive you to murder. No, it’s brains and subtlety is going to carry the day in this one, you mark my words.

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New Year at Peggy’s

Isn’t it awful how flat you feel after Christmas and facing into January? I mean, beforehand, you’re flying around like a blue-arsed fly and then; nothing and you’ve eaten and drank so much that you feel wicked enough to fight with your own finger nails.

Anyway, there I was on New Year’s Day morning having a lie in. I had a thumping headache from all the wine I’d drank the previous evening. Suddenly,  I heard all this tatarara coming from the garden next door, Peggy’s garden that is. At first I tried to ignore the thumps and whacks by burying my head under the pillow but there was no way you could shut them out. So I gingerly sat up, holding my head and swearing that this was the very last time I was imbibing too much. It wasn’t even the wine, I’d swear but the bottles of cider. What with all the talking and laughing,  I never know until it’s too late how much I’m actually after putting away.

To be honest, I don’t even know why I celebrate the arrival of the New Year, I actually hate all the festivities – all these strange people joking and grinning at you – I mean, the celebrations, they’re obscene. Why I continue to do it year in, year out astounds me and must put me down as a feasible candidate for the biggest mug in the Western Hemisphere Award.

I actually blame Peggy. Left to myself I’d quite happily read a book and eat my way through a box of Black Magic. But no, nothing will do Peggy but we must have a bit of a get-together in her place to mark the end of the year and welcome in the new one. Then of course, Bridie and Dolores are invited (Not Mick, thank the Lord for small mercies) and naturally Lourda Kennefick drops in for a small one and before you know it, we’re eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow.

As the night wears on, Dolores does a few turns of a sean-nós dance, Peggy and Lourda do this totally bizarre version of the brush dance even though Lourda had a hip replacement a few years ago. That woman quite honestly hasn’t the sense she was born with. At the end of the night, we normally all catch hands together and sing Auld Lang Synge and then Lourda starts crying, Peggy starts lamenting that she mightn’t be around for the next New Year and starts snivelling into a paper serviette, I start sobbing because the place wouldn’t be the same without Peggy despite all her faults so’s in the end Bridie gets everyone to sit down cross – legged on the floor to do a bit of yoga and deep breathing to calm us all down before we go home.

Well, between the deep breathing and the fumes from the alcohol we’ve consumed, we all gather ourselves and stop the snivelling and sobbing and stand up rightly embarrassed with ourselves. Eventually, after a whole load of long drawn out good byes – I swear if the village wasn’t already awake celebrating the New Year  that Lourda Kennefick would wake everyone up with all the shouting, laughing and back slapping she goes on with. It’s at this time every New Year that I get an almighty desire to give Lourda wan right belt across the kisser to shut her up. I have never, ever, drunk or sober, in all my born days, met a woman that irritates me as much as Lourda Kennefick. Finally, I escape next door and throw myself down on the bed without even undressing and I’d say in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, I’m off in the Land of Nod.

But I’m wakened as I say by all this whacking. First of all, I think I’m dreaming but no, when I open one eye(the light from the window almost blinding me) I realise that all the thumping is coming from next door. Jeez, it’s like someone has taken an axe and is whacking it off my head. I stagger out of bed and make it to the window. I can tell you my head is only splitting open with the pain. And when my eyes eventually become accustomed to the brightness of the day, who do I see but the bould Peggy and she out in the middle of the garden, taking huge chunks out of this old press with an axe. I mean, an axe at her age, she must be nearly eighty for God’s sake. With great difficulty I get the blasted window open, stick my head out slowly and ask her softly (Because my head is killing me, stupid) to stop making such a fucking racket at this hour of the morning. But of course with all the racket, she can’t hear me. In fact, the woman can’t even see me there at the window with wan right wicked looking head on me.

After what seems like an age, she looks up and my wicked head puts her so much out of her stride that the axe narrowly avoids clipping her foot. Jeez, the woman is an accident waiting to happen. So what exactly is she doing, I ask through gritted teeth, breaking up the old press and annoying the bejasus out of the neighbours? She’s breaking up the old press, she informs me, which by the way is only massive, and putting it into bags for kindling to sell  below in Gilhooley’s Mace for 4 euro a bag. People these days are too bleddy idle to go out and gather cipins to start the fire, she says so she’s got it into her head that her New Year resolution is to make a killing out of selling bags of kindling. And the words are no sooner out of her mouth than she’s back swinging that axe like a madwoman again.

As I look at her there in the garden, my mind is filled with the most evil thoughts. I mean, how long would I get if I actually killed the woman – I could always plead diminished responsibility. And with that thought, I slowly gather myself and holding my head, carefully begin the long walk down the stairs.

See you next week

Vanessa.

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God Helps Those Who Help Themselves, Peggy Says

A wardrobe a hatchet and Peggy. Pop in on Wednesday January 7th to see Peggy’s latest antics.

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Sarah’s Story

It’s 1928 and Ireland is only beginning to emerge from the horror of the civil war. Sarah, a young girl of sixteen, lives in a  cottage on the outskirts of the small village of Tullybawn. She lives alone with her father, a farm labourer who has a fondness for the drink. Sarah herself is slightly innocent. According to the family, this was a result of a fall in her childhood. Whatever the truth or otherwise of the story, the fact remains that Sarah is not worldly- wise. While her mother lived, things were different, she had someone with her all the time, someone who understood her and loved her whole-heartedly.

Since her mother died when Sarah was fourteen, things have changed completely. Her father, out of loneliness and grief, has taken to drinking more and because he works during the day, Sarah is left to her own devices. For Sarah, the cottage and the isolation prove sometimes too much for her and she escapes to run wild through the fields and the wood near her. Her father is terrified something will happen to her, he is especially terrified that someone will take advantage of her simplicity and beauty  and she’ll find herself pregnant. In the dark repressive catholicism of the time, a pregnant unwed daughter was probably the most shameful thing that could happen to a family. So the father beats her to keep her from rambling – to no avail. Sarah has a compulsion to wander through the countryside and nothing will stop her even though on a number of occasions her father beats her so badly that neighbours have to intervene to safe her.

The father then discovered, through a concerned neighbour, that a large farmer, just below the village is paying her great attention. At the creamery, this man, married though he is, talks to other farmers about her beauty and what a shame it is that she is simple-minded. When he heard about the big farmer’s comments, Sarah’s father is desperately worried. He is even more worried when he finds out that this farmer contrives sometimes to meet Sarah on her flits through the fields and the wood. It has to be stopped before anything shameful happens to Sarah. A landless labourer who lives in a cottage is in no position to take on a large powerful and prosperous farmer so the decision is made. Sarah has to be protected from herself so a week before her 17th birthday, she is given into the care of a community of nuns in the nearby town. She emerges from the convent only once – for her funeral. She died aged 38 from pneumonia.

 

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