Social Distancing

Day 21

Despite my valiant efforts to keep it country, this site is on the up and up, it appears. Having cracked both the US of A and what is left of the USS of R in recent weeks, another milestone was reached yesterday when our first complaint flooded in. Not so much flooded in though as raked up the country lane at an illegal and, frankly, dangerous speed, pulled a noisy handbraker on the horizontal part of the manicured tarmac outside the tricky front door of the home place (remind me to tell you that one about the taxi driver and the opening night of the Heaney HomePlace some time) and burned its way, metaphorically, through the broken letterbox to land, smoking, on the hand-made wicker mat resting unevenly on the stone tiles of the front vestibule. For clarity’s sake, there is no back vestibule in the estate; one accesses the private wood and the semi-private lough directly through the door of the mutility room off the galley kitchen section of the country-kitchen style country kitchen. But I like to be precise in the location of my vestibules, so I prefer to give it its full title any time it is mentioned.

Yes, so while amassing a total of 12 followers to date (hi guys, and thanks, now please tell all your mate(s) about the blog too) and attracting a total of comments rapidly approaching double figures are, without doubt, achievements worth celebrating, it is only when you pass the complaint threshold that you really start to hit pay-dirt. So lashings of ginger pop and biscuits all round to the team behind the blog, and take the rest of the day off (after you have completed all your duties). And this was no ordinary complaint either. It whizzed its way through the information highway – albeit second-hand – from a member of the Irish language community. In other words, from a professional source. Heady days, indeed.

Of all the minority-hobby groups that I have come across on my evening walks, the Irish language community is head and shoulders above all others, including fresh-water salmon fishermen, in terms of whingeing and complaining. I should point out here that, although I speak Irish as well as the next man (and the next man happens to be Máirtín Ó Cadhain), I am not myself a member of the Irish language community; although I have been known to complain the odd time about various matters, it has been on a strictly amateur basis. I speak French as well as the next man too, but no one has ever presumed because of that fact that I am a member of any class of French language community. In fact, a Frenchman in a café (redundant – Ed.] one time expressed the opinion that I spoke better French than him and his mates. I explained to him – in simple French – that he was incorrect in that assertion: I spoke French that was more grammatically correct than his, but that was not the same thing as speaking better French than him. He accepted my back-handed compliment with a shrug, but he still did not sign me up to be part of any French language community, if there even is one.

That’s not the way it works with Irish, though, and people will tick all sorts of boxes for you if they hear you utter the cúpla míle focal. Before you know it, they will have you down as a lover of all sorts of diddly-dee music and endless, dirge-like songs designed, obviously, to pass the whole of the winter in deepest Donegal in one performance, as an aficionado (or preferably an actual, certifiable fanatic) of all known Gaelic sports, including rounders (could someone please ask the GAA where they came up with that one from in their rule book), as a fervent hater of all things English (but especially their very useful, and beautiful, language) and as a part-time IRA man, or at least a bar-stool Republican, faute de mieux. Ballacks to all that, is what I say. And, like Groucho Marx, I pointblank refuse to be a member of any organisation that would allow the likes of me into it.

As for the substance of the complaint, who knows? I did not have the time, the inclination or the interest to read it: the very fact of its existence is what counts, and may it prove to be one of many. Let the Games Begin!


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