Just To Be So Fine

“He’s just very ridiculed
And it’s coming from the back row, side row, never-even-tried row
Nice man if you knew him well
I heard he owned a place called the Liberty Belle, yeah

Well is it easy?
I think I’ll try it
‘Cause it’s the same old lie
I find it liberating
Just to be so fine
Happens all the time”


After last week’s Parkrun, Ireland’s most gorgeous Parkrun,  in Rossmore Park , Ray and I were accosted by another runner and asked why we always seemed to be smiling and enjoying ourselves when we ran. Our answer was very simple.

“Because we’re not trying to beat anyone. We’re just lollygagging around, taking selfies, breathing deeply, marvelling,  and wondering.”

Our accoster walked away , shaking his head and muttering about not doing it properly…

We also chat about everything and nothing. Lots of times Ray tells me things and I make him promise that he never says those things out loud to anyone else. Sometimes we talk about politics and tell each other why the other one is wrong. We reminisce. We make plans. But mostly we just chit chat about that day.

“We’re building three new Giants before Christmas.” I said.

“I know.” Ray said…he says this a lot.

“We’re going to involve the schools again in helping make parts of them.”

“What schools ?”

“St.Mary’s, St.Louis, Urbleshanney, Gaelscoil, and The Model.”

“What about Ardaghey ?”

“There’s a primary school in Ardaghey ?”

“Great school , Ardaghey. Haven’t you heard of Mr.Grundy ?”


“Great teacher, he taught Ryan, he’d be into all that stuff you like.”

“What stuff ?”

“History, stories and all that arty malarkey.”

“Why did Ryan go to school in Ardaghey ?”

“He didn’t.”

“How does he know Mr.Grundy then ?”

“He taught him in town, he only moved to Ardaghey a few years ago. How did you not know that ?”

“The same way that I didn’t know about our new way of marathon training, despite having trained with you for 5 previous marathons, because you never told me.”

“Make sure you involve Ardaghey.”

“Oh look….ponies !!! Time for a selfie.”

As you can see, the miles just evaporate into our riveting conversations.

I contacted Mr.Grundy and arranged to call out to the school on Wednesday this week to give their senior group of 19 a presentation on the Drumlin Giants and explain what and where the new ones would be , and how they could help.

Mr.Grundy met me at the school door wearing a rather fetching green jumper and glasses that were almost as cool as mine,  and taking me to meet the kids he said “I believe you go running with the mother of one of our students ?”

“Oh ?” I replied.

“Yes, Stella Murphy.”

I smiled to myself. I went ‘running’ with Stella in the same way that I’ve been to football matches with Eric Cantona, I watched from the stand while Eric played on the pitch.

I was greeted warmly and Mr.Grundy wearing a rather fetching green jumper and glasses that were almost as cool as mine, and I performed the ritual that all adults of our vintage begin all modern day presentations…trying to get my USB key to run on his laptop and then getting his laptop to communicate with the large touchscreen. I was about to contact “our Gerry” for remote assistance when it all seemed to start working of it’s own accord.

I began by placing a large bag of Haribo on the desk beside me and saying that there would be prizes… the crescendo of “Ooooh Haribos” indicated that my audience and I would get along just fine.

I began with a quiz of various things that had something in common. Before I showed them the fifth clue I asked them all to stand up , hold their arms up, make the rock salute, index finger up, pinky up, middle fingers curled in to palm, thumb in, and to start bobbing their heads…I also said that there would be a prize for the best/most enthusiastic dancer.

And then I clicked the laptop and Fontaines DC launched into a foot stomping, head bobbing version of ‘Liberty Belle’. The kids laughed , danced enthusiastically , and so did I …and so did Mr.Grundy wearing a rather fetching green jumper and glasses that were almost as cool as mine. I asked after wards if anyone knew who the band were.

“The Beatles ?”


A packet of Haribo was duly awarded, and we carried on with a potted history of The Drumlin Giants and some clues as to why Monaghan is indeed the True Centre Of The Universe, and also introduced them to Fatboy Slim’s ‘Right Here Right Now’. I again asked if anyone knew who that song was by, and offered three bags of Haribo as a prize.

“The Beatles ?”


I’d told them from the start to ask questions at any stage, and boy did they take me up on it !

I asked a few questions too, questions that I’m always quite sure they don’t know the answers to and which make me seem awfully clever, and this Ardaghey bunch answered ALL of them !!!  Other than their appalling lack of knowledge about decent music, they were an incredibly clever and lovely, lively bunch.

I was trying to keep an eye on the time and hurried through the existing Giants stories so that we could get on to their Giants and their participation.

One of the new Giants , Thoth, is incredibly clever , and thinks a lot about lots of things. I showed them a picture of what he’ll look like and where he’ll be, and that you will be able to sit in his mouth. I told them about Richard Pockrich, an early 18th century Monaghan inventor, who as a child had got lost in Rossmore Park and took shelter in what he thought was a cave, but was actually Thoth’s open mouth. Thoth , like all clever people , sleeps with his mouth open sometimes. Young Pockrich fell asleep and his dreams became entangled with Thoth’s and he saw into the future, he saw inventions, he heard music.

Pockrich was considered to be mad later in life and no one gave his ideas for canals, blood transfusions, electricity, iron ships, immortality , lifeboats, glass armonica, or even sandwiches much credence.

“Sorry Paul, did you say sandwiches ?”

Yes, Pockrich invented the sandwich.

“Then why is it named after the Earl of Sandwich ?”

This is why……….

The Sandwich

It was in his pursuit of making his idea for metal hulled ships and lifeboats a reality that he came into contact with John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich.  Despite being a genius inventor , Richard was a simply awful business man and had a string of failed ventures behind him,  and was always trying to stay one step ahead of the bailiffs. This led him to alter his name every so often and it was as Captain Poekrich that he presented himself to John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich and  First Lord of the Admiralty  in 1751 at the Ripley Building in London.

The Royal Navy was the largest in the world and the Admiralty controlled it tightly.

By all accounts Montagu thought this Irish ‘inventor’ was quite mad. He couldn’t fathom how a metal ship wouldn’t rust, let alone float. And as for the idea of lifeboats, what was the point of ‘saving’ sailors? They had usually become sailors to avoid the hangman’s noose or gaol, so the thought of spending good money on saving them if they’d been incompetent enough to sink one of His Majesty’s  magnificent vessels was abhorrent to him. They deserved to be flogged , not saved.

“But perhaps, My Lord, the officers would deserve redemption ? “ Pockrich bravely interrupted the Earl’s tirade on the calibre and pedigree of sailors. “ One lifeboat could save the lives of all of the officers and the captain ?”

“ THE CAPTAIN ??? “ the Earl spat “ The captain goes down with his ship ! It spares the bugger the humiliation of explaining to me how he buggered up the simple task of floating our boat from A to B. Save the captain indeed, the very idea….” He calmed down a little and seeing how forlorn the Irish chap was, rang the bell summoning his butler. The butler appeared within seconds, the Earl was not one to be kept waiting. “ Tea and meat for two , now!”. The butler bowed and went out to fetch the tea.

While they waited a thought occurred to the Earl “ But surely ,Captain Poekrich , as a naval man yourself you would know this protocol ?”

“Ah yes, well ,My Lord, I’m not actually a captain in the naval sense. Captain is my…emm.. Christian name ….emm…after St.Captain of…emm..Antioch, the patron saint of….soft furnishing.” Pockrich was grasping at straws and was delighted to see the butler come back with a tray of tea and two plates of meat. The butler  poured the tea and left the room. The Earl immediately picked up a slice of beef and a leg of chicken and ate them greedily. He then bemoaned the fact that his fingers were greasy wiping them on his britches.

“If I may, My Lord” Pockrich reached down to his satchel and took out a paper package which he placed on the Earl’s desk before unwrapping it to reveal two slices of bread with some ham in between. He hadn’t known how long he would be kept waiting to see one of the most powerful men in the realm and had packed a lunch. He produced a knife , cut the bread ensemble in two and lifted one half, took a bite and then picked up a piece of paper from the Earls desk with his fingers before showing it to the Earl to demonstrate that there were no greasy fingerprints.

The Earl looked at the paper, Pockrich, the bread and back to Pockrich before asking “May I ?” nodding down to the other half of the bread, Pockrich nodded enthusiastically. The Earl picked up the meat filled bread slices, took a bite and chewed as the smile on his face widened. He looked at his fingers , marvelling at their non-greasy state, and then  took a slurp of tea before speaking “ Brilliant ! Marvellous ! You Sir are a genius ! What is this magnificent creation called ?”

“We call it a Leslie, Sir” Pockrich replied “ It’s a common diet staple in Monaghan and we named it after Bishop Leslie, the fighting bishop of Glaslough “

“A Leslie ??? I can’t ask for a round of Leslies ? How could I maintain control of His Majesty’s Royal Navy if word got out the First Lord of The Admiralty was very partial to a Leslie ? No, that won’t do” he rose as he spoke standing at the large window behind his grand desk “ We need a name that is grander, regal almost, something  as magnificent as this meal itself.”

“Why don’t we call it a…Sandwich ?” Pockrich proffered hesitantly.

“My dear boy” the Earl grinned as he replied “ from the very moment you walked in here I said to myself ‘ This man has the bearing of a genius’ and by God Sir, I was right ! By God I was Sir! A Sandwich shall yet again sustain His Majesty’s kingdom”

Pockrich decided now was the time to press his luck “ And the lifeboat My Lord ? Would there be merit in it “

“Absolutely not” the Earl snapped “ that’s nearly as ridiculous as your metal ship idea. No, Master Poekrich, your future lies in the ‘Sandwich’ business, unless you have some other wonder in that satchel of yours ?”

Pockrich reached down and opened his satchel to reveal………. But perhaps that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, I didn’t have time to tell them about the sandwich. But I did have time to say that today he’s only really known for his glass armonica, a series of glasses with various levels of water which when rubbed produce notes. Bach and Mozart both composed pieces for his glass armonica. But he died in a mysterious fire in London in 1752. It was mysterious in that it only burnt down the room in the house he lived in and they found no identifiable remains.

I suggested two things to the class.

Firstly that maybe he had discovered immortality and was still alive today.

And secondly that if had been able to see into the future and future inventions he could have made a lot of money. I told them that if they’d bought $1,000 worth of Apple shares in 1980 that they would be worth $1.6m now, and if he’d know about trains, cars , coal, oil, before others he’d have been an incredibly wealthy man.

“Where would he be now ?” they asked

Maybe, just maybe , I said, he’s teaching kids somewhere wearing a rather fetching green jumper and glasses that were almost as cool as mine.

En masse they all turned around and looked at Mr.Grundy.

He just winked and tapped the side of his nose.

We chatted about other great plans, but, as they say, what happens in Ardaghey, stays in Ardaghey.

A great day.

Just to be so fine.



P.S. A HUGE thank you to everyone that’s contributed to our Crocus Cancer Care fundraiser , we’re truly humbled by your generosity. Click here for details . One week to go now to the marathon itself.

Author: paul

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