Is It About a Birthday?

A knock came to my door, waking me from my afternoon sleep, and when I opened it, I found a courteous gentleman, a member of the devil class, leaning against the wall with one elbow.  His toe was propped against the step, in the manner of one who has spent too long on a bicycle for his own good.

You are not unexpected, I told him, thereby employing a figure of speech. (Name of figure of speech: Litotes).

Indeed, he concurred.   This day has been coming for a long time.

Biting back the impulse to point out that all days have been coming a long time, I merely nodded assent.

Is it about a birthday anniversary? I inquired.

‘Tis, he confirmed.  That very thing.  There’s to be a birthday party, this evening in the Red Swan.

You mean, I started, … but I thought he had passed away this 45 years or more?

Who did you send to kill him? the spectre laughed

I am very glad to hear it, I told him, but how did it come to be?

–  Well, you might know that he was a divil for the bottle, but we all kept an eye on him, and just when he was about to croak, didn’t we dash off another chapter!

-You mean?

– Precisely.  He now resides at the Red Swan with the rest of us, and he likes it greatly.  Ms Lamont has become quite fond of him and even Mr Trellis has forgiven him for what he made me do to him.

He is well, then?

Very well indeed, for a man of one hundred years, or even for a man of eighty.  He looks considerably chirpier than you, if I may be so forward as to mention it.

He had a point.  My suit was rumpled as a consequence of not being removed for three days and I was a little under the weather after consumption of a dozen new friends the evening before in Festy McGonagle’s civil public house.

–  There are many more to inform of the festivities, he said.  If you would be so kind as to give me a push, I’ll be on my way.

Before you go, I said, you must tell me what gift to bring.

Two large bottles of plain will be very acceptable.

They’ll probably do no harm, I observed, employing another figure of speech.  (Name of figure of speech: Meiosis). And what festivities are planned?

– There will be recitations of melodious Gaelic. There will be chess.  Fosterlings will play handball against the arse of Finn McCool.  There will be a lassoing demonstration by two real cowboys.  I myself will demonstrate the art of collapsing a ceiling by magic.  There will be lectures on how to read a gas meter, on Boyle’s Law and on the correct manner of refitting a new saddle when the old one has been stolen by dirty filthy ruffians who had a very bad upbringing by the looks of things.  Isn’t it a fright when an ordinary working devil, a Pooka such as myself must walk the streets instead of cycling, for want of a saddle?

– I am sorry to hear that, I consoled him.

It looks like rain, observed the Pooka.  ‘Tis always a bad sign when the ducks are in the nettles.

Is a contingent from Corcadorcha expected?

– ‘Tis true that it is not, he answered.  Things is gone so bad down there that nobody has even the price of a mild curse to buy from an honest Pooka such as myself.

That is a fright, I said.

– ‘Tis, he nodded, a holy fright, but never mind, for tonight we give praise to our principal progenitor, our deus ex machina, our prime cause.  Now, give me an aul push there so I can be on my way.  And good day to you Sir.

Quick, I shouted after him, as I shoved him in the back to get him moving.  It’s getting dark.

‘Tis but an accretion of black air, his words floated back on the breeze as he strode away.





Ampersand Seven  on the demise of Myles

Brian O’Nolan




5 thoughts on “Is It About a Birthday?

  1. Excellent!

    ‘Tis a celebration of a combination of human atoms with crossbars and the poor people of Ireland who have not so much as an atom to their name.

  2. Happy birthday Flann, Of the hundred years you have existed in one form or the other your books have been a solace in times of troubles which is a permanent state . Can’t help studying push bikes and seeing the transfer of atoms from bike to man . Here in my mountain cabin your books have found an honoured place and when the snow storms do their worst to living and dead I find myself tucked up in bed by a roaring fire deeply involved in the fate of the Pooka and Mr Trellis . I have even gone to the extent of postulating to my friends on the other side of the mountain that night is black air.They have since then hesitated to visit me . Thanks Flann .

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