The Croke Park Trilogy – Part Five

I nearly forgot to mention this little episode, consumed as I was with the Croke Park thing at the weekend. On Sunday morning before we headed off to Mulligan’s, Wrinkly Paddy produced a full greasy fried breakfast for me.

There ya go, Bock. Line the stomach. Set you up for the day. He seemed a bit uneasy. A bit diffident.

What’s up, Pat?


Yes there is. What’s that behind your back?

Oh, it’s just the newspaper.

Give me a look.

No. There’s no news today. Nothing happened. Anywhere. Nothing at all.

Give me a look!


Give me a fukken look for fuksake!

He feinted to the left. I lunged to the right. Fit Paddy came up with a snarl and swung a vicious roundhouse kick in my direction, but I was too hung-over to respond and the kick overshot its mark. So much for being less drunk: there’s always a downside. He crashed through the glass door to the garden, lacerating himself badly, and a limp object fluttered to the floor at my feet.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

What’s this?

The newspaper, he groaned as he freed his arse from the giant Venus Fly-trap.

But that isn’t a newspaper, I responded. That’s —-

The Sunday Independent, Paddy completed my sentence for me. I know. But it’s all they had in the shop. I’m sorry. I’m so ashamed of myself.

Don’t be, I chuckled. Look at this headline: Top players to quit if Staunton forced out.

Suddenly, my hangover didn’t feel as bad. I was ready for Mulligans.


Part Six

Part Four

Part Three
Part Two

Part One

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The Croke Park Trilogy – Part Four

France have beaten Ireland and back here in Limerick, there’s a terrible air of dejection that will only lift when Munster beat Llanelli.

I bumped into a friend of mine. His name isn’t important, so we’ll just call him Festy.

Well, Festy, I greeted him. How’s things?

Not great, he responded glumly. Yesterday was one of the worst days of my life.

How do you mean? I replied, slightly baffled. I thought you went to the match.

I did, he said. That’s the problem.

Yeah. It was a horrible way to lose.

No, he said. It isn’t that.



Then you must mean –

Exactly! said Festy.

You brought a woman to the match?

Jesus, I said. And it wasn’t the-only-woman-we-know-who-gives-a-shit-about-rugby?

No, he confessed. It was a woman who knows absolutely nothing about rugby. Who forced me to go to Croke Park two hours before kick-off, so that we’d get our seats in time.

But they’re reserved, I said.

I know, he said. And I got no drink. She didn’t want to go to a loud pub, so we had a pint in the Gresham. The fucking Gresham! And the fucking train on the way home broke down and we were stuck in the middle of nowhere, and the bar was shut. And she wouldn’t let me shout abuse at Eddie Hobbs.

So, you knew this woman had no interest in rugby football?

He slumped visibly. It’s true, Bock. I did.

I was baffled, and a little hurt. Then why?

Well, he said, I thought I’d get a blow-job on the train.

I couldn’t believe my ears. You fucking what? I demanded. You gave your ticket to somebody with no interest, when you could have given it to one of the true rugby supporters?


But Festy, I said. Any real supporter would have given you a blow-job for the ticket.

I know, he said.

OK, I went on, they might have given you a dig afterwards, but they’d have taken an interest in the match, and they’d definitely have gone to the pub with you.

I know, he almost sobbed. Don’t you think I know that now? It was a real turning-point in my life, I can tell you.


Part Six
Part Five
Part Three
Part Two
Part One

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Limehouse Dick comes good again

The ivy on the wall outside my study window is ancient and gnarled. It offers excellent hand- and footholds and has seen the clandestine arrival and departure of Ambassadors, Heads of State, Cardinals, even a Pope once, in need of my help – a delicate matter involving a Jack Russell / Pontiff cross and a female American blogger. It is said that Josephine Baker once clambered across the entire face of the Bockschloss by clinging to the ivy, while wearing only a ring of bananas. They say that Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht, while staying at Bock Towers, smoked some of the same ivy and came up with the Threepenny Opera that very night – every word and note of it. John Lennon tore a swathe of it from the wall and used it for his bedding. The Marquis deSade, a dear friend of an early Bock ancestor, is said to to have taken away great cartloads of the stuff – for what purpose I cannot imagine.

But never has the ivy on the wall of my study borne a more welcome weight than it did last night.

Let me tell you. I was up late, contrary to my usual custom, though of course you know this already. I was completing a monograph on the curious probity of chicken-legs when viewed through a shotgun wound, and though it had led me a merry dance, I was at last done with the damned thing. The police would be grateful. My pipe was filled, and Scrotum, my wrinkled old retainer, had laid a fine fire and poured me a glass of the best madeira. Suddenly, there came the rat-tat-tat upon my window and as I glanced up from my escritoire, I could vaguely discern the familiar simian features and frantic terrified waving of an old acquaintance. He was swinging from the ivy, oscillating slowly in the late evening breeze, the moonlight picking out the beads of terrified sweat on his ape-like brow.

Why, I started, is it – can it be -?

The unexpected arrival of this ruffian meant only one thing. The disreputable old footpad had somehow contrived to purloin a pair of tickets for the forthcoming football game. The one at Flintstone Park, between the blasted garlic-stinking Frogs and our own fine warriors. I flung open the casement, forgetting that Limehouse Dick had, at best, a tenuous hold on the foliage, and he fell with a dull Phrrlakk! onto the flagstones three storeys beneath.

Dammit I muttered. What a bind!

Returning to my escritoire, I drew down the speaking-horn and blew into it. Scrotum’s ancient voice instantly responded.


Ah, Scrotum, I entreated him. Be a good chap and take a look outside, will you? I think you’ll find our old chum Limehouse Dick lying in a state of disarray by the library window.

Very good, Sir.

And, Scrotum?

Yes Sir.

Scrotum, would you reach inside his greatcoat and remove what I believe will prove to be a fine brace of tickets to the forthcoming rugby football game at Flintstone Park? There’s a good chap.

Very well, Sir.

And, one last thing, Scrotum.


Call a hansom cab, would you, and sent the poor beggar to the hospital. Make sure to put a bag of sovereigns in his pocket would you, and if he’s conscious, tell him I send my thanks. Chop chop!


Previously: Limehouse Dick


Training a dog

That’s a remarkably well-trained hound you have there, Bock.

It was Jim, my neighbour.

Bock, if you don’t mind my asking, what training method did you use? I’ve never seen such obedience.

Not at all, Jim, I replied. I use the carrot-and-stick method. When he behaves himself, I throw a stick for him, and when he doesn’t, I shove a carrot up his arse.

kick it on

NAMA Stories

The Translator

A few years ago – a good few years, now that I think of it – Wrinkly Paddy and myself wrote a heap of children’s stories. Fairy tales, so to speak, for our children. It was great. We had great fun heading off to the pub, getting drunk and thinking up new stories to frighten delight the little ones.

I thought it was great to tell really young kids about the Bad Tooth Fairy, who comes to your bedroom at night, takes all your money and leaves teeth. I also loved telling them how Santa laughs: Nyaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa!!!

No, says Paddy. We’ll have to do proper fairy tales, with knights and castles and beautiful maidens.

We will? I said. No Nyaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa?

Certainly not says Paddy. We’ll have traditional fairy tales, but they’ll address contemporary themes. And another thing: we’ll keep the hard words. Let’s not patronise the kids.

OK, I said. But the adults won’t be able to understand them.

Fuck the adults!, Paddy barked. And that’s how we came to write a book of fairy tales, which, as I said, we did, and got hammered many a night in the pub as a result.

After a while, we began to wonder if maybe we could get them published, but the problem is that we’re both too lazy and incompetent for all that hard work, until one day I had a brilliant idea. Do you know what we’ll do? I said.

No, says Paddy. I don’t. What will we do?

We’ll get them translated into Irish. That way, it will be culture and heritage. We’ll get a huge government grant that we can spend on cocaine and Latvian hookers. We’ll be national heroes and they’ll build a statue to us, like they did for Paddy Kavanagh.

They built a bench for Paddy Kavanagh.

Well, whatever, I replied. Who can we get to translate them?

It has to be authentic, says Paddy. It has to be the real thing. It has to be almost completely incomprehensible.

You’re right, I agreed. Maybe the Rockhopper could do it.

No, says Paddy. He’d be too drunk most of the time. We’d never get it finished.

I’ll call him, I suggested.

Ring. Ring.

Rockhopper ag caint. Bhuel, a mhaicín. Cé chaoi a bhfuil tú?

Oh shut up and stop talking that fucking gibberish. Listen, we have a paying job for you.

Jobín, an ea? Agus, gan amhras, roinnt mór airgid freisin, b’fhéidir?

A bit of money. And a Latvian hooker for half an hour.

Ceart go leor, gan dabhat!!

So I went on to explain the job but it was obvious from the loud snoring that Rockhopper had fallen back into an alcohol-induced coma characteristic of the islandmen at this time of day: the hours between sunrise and sunset.

Fuck it. I phoned his brother, the Old Grey Fella.

Ring Ring

An duine liath aosta ag caint.

Listen do you want money or not?

I sure do. Phwhat you want?

I want you to translate a book of fairy tales into Irish for me. I’ll pay you with ten minutes of Latvian hookers and the price of a morning’s shite-talk leaning against a wall. I’ll pay your going rate for that.

Normally I’d jump at it, he said, but I have to demolish a light-house and then I have to drag fourteen thousand tons of seaweed up the beach to the traditional Aran seaweed anti-impotence medicine factory (Teo). Why don’t you try Micilín Paidí­ Aindí­?

Who’s he? I said.

He’s an old fella over there in Conamara. Always drinks in Tí Johnny Sheáin, out there at Indreabhán. You know, near the TG4 studios?

Oh yeah, I said. And you think he’d do it?

Oh, he would. The only thing is, he’s a bit elderly now. He’s well into his eighties, you know, and he’s a bit slower than he used to be. And one other thing.


He might think your stories are shite and tell you to fuck off. But I’ll ask him anyway.

That was how Wrinkly Paddy and I found ourselves in Tí Johnny Sheáin. It was early. We’d get this finished, hand over the manuscript, head on to Ros a’Mhí­l and grab the ferry to Inis Mór for yet another weekend on the piss with the Rockhopper.

Hello, said the bar-person.

Dhá phionta, I said. Le do thoil.

Ceart go leor, he said. Are you visiting?

Well, actually, I said, we were hoping to bump into someone.

He looked up from the taps, the way bar-people the world over do, and studied us. Maybe I could help?

Well, the man’s name is Micilín Paidí­ Aindí­, and we made an arrangement to meet him here.

The barman stiffened at the name. Micilín Paidí­ Aindí­?

We nodded.

You won’t find him here. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not next week.

We glanced at each other, aghast.

You mean he’s . . .?

The barman handed over our two creamy pints. It was very sudden, he said. Nobody expected it. There was no warning.

Oh, that’s good at least, I said. He didn’t . . ?

No, said the barman. It came out of the blue. One minute, Micilín Paidí­ Aindí­ was standing there where you are, leaning on his old walking stick. The next minute he was gone.

Dead! gasped Paddy and myself together.

Not dead,
said the bar-man. Off to the World Surfing Championships. He’ll be back the week after next.



Same as it ever was . . .

You know that thing that happens in science-fiction, where somebody goes through a portal and ends up in a parallel universe? It happens in Stargate all the time. You walk through a wall of blue jelly and there you are, back home, except it’s not really back home at all, is it? You may find yourself behind the wheel of your large automobile, outside your beautiful house. There’s your beautiful wife, the very same as when you left, but something isn’t quite right. Your stereo is a little different and you ask yourself, How do I work this? Your garage seems to be in the wrong place and you may ask yourself, Where is that large automobile? Or the colour of the kitchen wall is a little off, a little different than when you left, and you say to your beautiful wife, Honey, did you paint this? Your beautiful wife says, Why no, Honey, I didn’t. And you may tell yourself, This is not my beautiful house!

Letting the days go by, it all seems so idyllic, yet you can’t escape that nagging feeling. Letting the days go by, sometimes you wonder, Am I right, am I wrong? You begin to wonder where that highway goes. You stroll out to your beautiful fish-pond with its thousand-year-old Koi carp, and you stare into the silent water under the rocks and stones.

The little clue that gives the game away is when you see your brother, Gronk, reflected in the water and now you remember. You don’t have a brother called Gronk. You don’t have a brother at all, and certainly not one who is half man, half turnip.

My God, you cry, what have I done?

I’m having that sort of experience lately. I seem to have arrived in a strangely familiar, but unnervingly different reality, and I think I might have wondered through one of those jelly portal things without realising it. In my home world, you couldn’t imagine the Provos voting to support the Peelers. The Flintstones would never tolerate anyone singing God Save the Queen in Croke Park. But here’s the real clincher for me: in this ludicrous universe I’ve blundered into, Scunthorpe United are at the top of League One.

Ah, come on now. Gimme a break!



Traditional fish-net tights

I wandered into town this morning, as is my habit. I like to stroll around the market, buy a dozen eggs, a few bunches of daffodils this time of year, maybe some cocaine from the Irish Hand-Grown Narcotics stall. The market is great. It has a really nice old-town feel to it, as if nothing has altered there in a thousand years. Sometimes, after a particularly violent week, I’ll stop off at Nederlande Bullets to buy a thousand or two Hydro-Shoks from Henk, the traditional Dutch weapons-seller. Good old Henk always has a kind word for everyone, and he’ll always throw in a bit extra. Perhaps a couple of grenades or a bag of skunk-weed – a small thing, maybe, but important in this rushing-around world we live in. Years ago, I bought my young son his first kukri from an old trader who travelled there every week from Bhutan. Tong Au, his name was and I can still remember him on his huge, brick-sized traditional Bhutanese mobile phone:

No, you fool. The name is Au! Au!! A for apple, U for uncle! Au!!

Ah, what a good old soul he was. Well I remember how, every Saturday afternoon, he’d begin his trek back to the Himalayas.

Mind how you go there, Tong, we’d say.

And he’d reply, See you next week!

It’s great. After buying weapons or an exotic animal for slaughter, I might stop in to Nancy Blake’s pub, for a coffee, or a dozen pints of Guinness, or maybe three bottles of whiskey.

Hello, I might say. Can I have a coffee, a dozen pints of Guinness and three bottles of whiskey, please?

Certainly, they’ll reply. Anything else with that?

And I’ll say, Ah, no thanks, Love. Sure, aren’t I driving home in a while?

That’s where I went today, to examine my latest purchase: a Barrett Light Fifty rifle that I picked up at Dave’s second-hand sniper-weapons stall. It was missing its stand, so I got it cheap. Dave didn’t want to take it all the way back to the Kerry Gaeltacht again in case his brother Festy shoots down another aeroplane and you could understand his concern. I bought the rifle and a DeWalt drill from him for two hundred, which wasn’t bad, I thought.

Gerry the axe-murderer was in Nancy’s, finishing the sudoku.

Howya, Gerry, I greeted him.

Not great, he replied. I can’t finish this fuckin puzzle and I don’t know where to buy fish-net tights.

Jesus, Gerry, I can’t help you there, I replied. If it isn’t prying too much, could I, would it be possible, can you, ah – why are you – ?

Buying fish-net tights? he asked.

Precisely, I said.

Simple, he said. The Rocky Horror Show is in the Belltable tonight, and I want to fit in with the crowd.

Well, Gerry, I said, I don’t know about you fitting in with the Rocky Horror crowd. You’re a bit weird.

True, he agreed.

Tell you what, though, I offered. I have this sniper rifle and a thousand bullets. That any good?

Grand, said Gerry. Thanks. Pint?



Munster vs Leicester (2)

Me: Well, I suppose you have to hand it to them.

Him: Yeah, they beat us all right.

Me: Yeah, they did.

Him: They killed us in the scrum.

Me: And in the lineout.

Him: Yeah. And they murdered our centres.

Me: Yeah. Halstead is a big loss.

Him: Yeah. And Quinlan.

Me: Oh yeah. Huge loss.

Him: Still, I suppose you have to hand it to Leicester.

Me: Yeah. Fair play to them. They beat us fair and square.

Him: Yeah. Fair play to them. No resentment. Fair play.

Me: Yeah. Respect.

Him: Yeah.

Me: Yeah.

Us: Bastards.

kick it on


Terrible news

It seems I did not win the Dutch lottery after all and even worse, it seems that Mr Jeffery Buuren (Advocaten) is a chimera, a mere bagatelle, an ephemeral conceit. In short, a fraud.

I am wounded to the quick by this affair and will not soon recover my faith in humankind. I placed my belief in this man – if man such a creature could be, damn him! – and I’ll not lightly trust again.

I shall now retire to the drinking room of the Bockschloss to consider this affront, this betrayal, this heartless breach of confidence.

I am all undone.


The Christmas Crib

I bumped into my lawyer, Gonad the Ballbearian recently on the street. He was talking earnestly to a small plaster effigy of General Franco and sweating like a criminal.

Aha! I said. Gonad! The very man. There’s a few fuckers I want you to sue for me. I have the list here somewhere.

No, he shouted. Stop. I can’t sue anyone after the hellish experience I’ve just had.

I could tell he was serious. His recessed eyeballs had sunk even deeper beneath his ape-like brow and the twitch was more obvious than I’ve seen it in a long time. Gonad was clearly troubled.

Clearly, you’re troubled, I told him.

I am, he agreed. And if you saw what I saw, you’d be fuckin troubled too.

This was serious. Gonad never swears in the presence of Franco.

Pray tell, I invited him.

Exactly, he said.


Precisely, said Gonad, like a madman. I was on my way back to work and I took a quick tour of the block to have a smoke. It’s my habit.

It is indeed, I assured him.

Anyway, he said, things were on my mind so I decided to slip into the church for a few minutes.

The church? I demanded. Are you mad? What the fuck were you doing in a church? Did anyone see you?

Ah, he said, I just wanted to sit down in the peace and quiet and maybe reflect for a few minutes ponder over all the shit and do a bit of reflection a small bit of contemplation evaluate the coming year and see if I can find a little bit more space for myself in the face of all the conflicting demands of other people.

When Gonad speaks without commas, I know there’s trouble.

Go on, I encouraged him.

Well, he said, I sat down in a seat next to the Christmas crib and I was looking up at the ceiling with all the holy angels painted on it, thinking to myself Jesus I bet it cost a fortune to get that painted. And then I was looking up at the altar with the candles and stuff and kind of starting to contemplate when suddenly a movement in the corner of my eye distracted me.

What? I said.

It was the crib, he said. I had a hallucination that a giant rabbit was waving at me from the crib.

Now I was certain he was losing the plot.

Gonad, I said, do you know fucking anything? Of course you saw a giant rabbit in the crib. And tell me, did you also see a giant owl, a giant armadillo, an aardvark chasing an army of killer ants and a water buffalo next to the three wise-guys?

He nodded.

Well, I told him, there you go then. Those are the animals listed in the Bible. The giant rabbit went on later that same day to crucify Santa Claus and was shot by the Romans as he tried to escape from custody.

Oh, said Gonad. I see. He began to sob. I’ve been such a fool.

Feel better? I asked.

Gonad nodded again. Thanks, Bock. You’re a real friend.