I was idly chatting with a friend, as one does, when I remembered a story someone else told me recently.
Two stories, actually, but related to each other. Three, for all I know, or four, or twenty, but let’s keep it down to two for the sake of story-telling.
Last week, I cooked what I can only call an utterly delicious meal worthy of the finest chefs in the land, and I did it for some friends visiting my home.
Here. Have some of this delicious grub, why don’t you? Eat more. More. Eat more.
They seemed to like it and I was glad of that because there’s nothing more dispiriting than cooking stuff that people don’t eat. Luckily, my visitors were not only willing to scoff the grub, but happy to take away extra servings which is always a good thing.
What did I make? I’m glad you asked me that.
I made a delicious barbecue sauce for the shoulder of pork we’d been keeping in the freezer, along with baked potatoes in butter and egg-fried rice with shallots. But at the last minute I learned that one of our guests doesn’t eat meat, so I had to cobble together an emergency vegetarian lasagne. I never made a vegetarian lasagne before, but it was good to see how quickly they hoovered it up and even though I made enough to feed the 5th Panzer Division, I handed it out to friends and family, all of whom happily hoovered up the available grub.
I promise to put up a recipe here soon, although to be honest with you, it’s just a regular lasagne without the meat. With added aubergine, peppers and stuff. And leaves from the bay tree in the garden, bless it. And garden garlic.
As it turns out, the lasagne was extremely tasty, but so was the barbecued pork, gobbled in equal measure by the visitors as we’d like it to be. Why wouldn’t it be?
One of the visitors told us about when he had a flat over the old Eircom building in Henry Street. There was a plant room on the roof and so they lined the walls with shiny fabric, set up some decks and wired it for sound. As one does.
In due course, Eircom sold the building to the Department of Justice and that was how, one night, there came a bang-bang-bang on the door of the plant room as three burly guards stood outside.
Could ye keep it down lads?
Well, you see, the prisoners in the cells are complaining about the noise.
Now, I know you’re thinking exactly the same thing as me. The prisoners in the cells were convicted of nothing and therefore deserved every consideration. I might easily end up a prisoner in one of those cells, should a policeman take a dislike to me.
Be quiet, lads.
Later on, I was telling this story to another friend who wasn’t so forgiving. One time, he said, we were in Jerry O’Dea’s after a funeral, giving it socks, when a prison officer arrived and asked us to keep it down. The lads in the cells were complaining.
Were they now? I thought to myself. Were the poor oppressed skobes upset by people singing? Good.
Yep, he said. We told them to fuck off.
But then it occurred to me that not everyone in prison is a skobe. Some of them are only white-collar criminals.
No, I thought. They’re skobes. Fuck them.
With such ferment going through my mind, I found myself sitting on a bus with an acquaintance who might have more experience of skobes than many of us.
Why was I relying on the bus? Because I was meeting a friend and I calculated, correctly, that there would be a number of beers involved. No driving for Bock.
As we passed the prison, I remarked to my companion that there were worse criminals than skobes.
What? he replied. Are you mad?
Well, I said, the white collar criminals have destroyed the country.
Come here, he said. What would you prefer in the middle of the night? A gang of skobes or a gang of white-collar criminals breaking into your house?
I don’t follow you.
No? If you charge downstairs, would you prefer to meet a skobe in a tracksuit robbing your house or some fucker in expensive loafers?
I paused. Nonplussed.
Where’s loafer-man gone? Straight out the door he came in, leaving a trail of quinoa, gluten-free bread and low-fat milk products stolen from your fridge.
Stuck for words, I uttered the only question possible.
What is your point?
My point, young man, he said, is that we need effective gluten-free policing.
I was grateful that he said young.