Let Me In

“Yeah, all those stars drip down like butter
Promises are sweet
We hold out our pans, lift our hands to catch them
We eat them up, drink them up, up, up, up”

  • Michael Mills

This has been some week, hasn’t it ?

The Covid-19 malarkey ?

No, not that , it was a hell of a week by Tuesday morning.

I’ll work backwards. On Tuesday morning I got up later than usual, having arrived back from Dublin the night before after 11pm and then not being able to sleep until 2-ish. As I was getting up I heard a car arrive in our yard, yes we have a yard, we live in the country, everyone has a yard, you’d probably call it a driveway. The reason I could hear the car arrive into our yard from our bedroom is that we have a rather large pothole at our gateway, that….Sorry? Yes I must to something about, it’s on the list, YES I have a list, technically it’s not my list, insofar as I didn’t write it, dream of it, want to do it, really feel that any of the things on the list necessarily need attention, but it was handed to me with a look that implied my future health depended on it’s completion. Anyway, unsuspecting visitors usually drive into our water filled pothole without realising just how deep it is, and are simultaneously  shocked by the Titanic/iceberg scraping sound their cars’ undercarriage is making while they bang their heads off the roof of the aforementioned car. So we’re usually alerted inside by either the metal shearing sound or the loud expletives.

So, I heard this car arrive and then heard two car doors open and close and then heard their squelching footprints as they approached the front door.

The squelching ? Yes, that would be the..the..earth I guess you’d call it ,that currently occupies the space in front of our house where normally you’d expect tarmac, cobbles, paving stones, or at least something dry. And yes, that too is on that list. Jeez I hate that list.

Yes, anyway,they approached the front door, rang the bell, no, of course it doesn’t work, yes it’s on that list, then knocked the door. I made my way downstairs expecting to see my neighbour Kieran looking for a cup of tea, or a pressgang from a GAA club within a 100k radius of our house looking to sell tickets, but no, it was two nice ladies dressed like they’d just arrived from 1977. Yes, they were each carrying a copy of the Watchtower.

My policy with these people is generally a sympathetic one, certainly more sympathetic than it is towards the GAA shakedown squads, especially the ones from Tyrone. I’m always civil, I always smile, I thank them for calling, and quickly interrupt their pitch, by wishing them well, and then as I close the door tell them that my neighbours Hilda & Kieran are really in dire need of spiritual healing. But this time , as soon as I opened the door , both of the ladies looked at each other, one shook her head and the started to retreat nervously. As I said ‘Hello’ I could see that they were both staring at my chest, which , lovely as I think it is, rarely garners much attention. Then I looked down and realised that I was wearing one of my favourite St.Pauli F.C. tees, a black one with a large white print of a clenched fist and surrounded by the four words “ No Gods, No Masters !”.

The ladies simply said “Sorry to have troubled you” and hurriedly got back in their car. I tried to explain that they were a German football team, and I’m nice , usually. As they reversed in the yard, I held up a tea pot through the kitchen window to signal that they were welcome to have a cup of tea. The look of new horror on both their faces alerted me that not everyone knows at first glance that our teapot, a plain white Spitting Image portrayal of Margaret Thatcher with an elephant snout as a spout , is , in fact a tea pot, and that through their car window and our dusty kitchen window, yes that’s on the list too, my offer of a cup of tea may have looked like I has holding the perished ,severed head of the last lady caller.

They thumped their way through our pothole at high speed as they escaped.

I made myself a cup of tea, got ready and about 15 minutes later headed to work. About half a mile away , after you pass Kieran & Hilda’s, I saw the two 1977  ladies coming down the drive of another neighbours house. I waved at them and they immediately broke into a sprint for their car. One lady started to look back at me as she frantically tried to open the car door. They appeared to be either calling out loudly for divine assistance, or simply cursing me, or each other. I started to laugh, which seemed to terrify them even further. They jumped into the car and sped off toward Kilmore Church. As I said, I live in the country, real country, with lanes rather than roads, so they tore off and I followed , as this was my way to work , and before they got to the church they were met with a large tractor. They were now blocked. Normal country etiquette , and common sense is that the smaller vehicle reverses. The only exception to this rule is our neighbour Maureen, who doesn’t like to reverse, has lived around here longer than anyone, doesn’t feel she has to ,isn’t in a hurry and therefore simply refuses to.

Anyway, there was no way in hell, or their heaven, that these two 1977 ladies were reversing, as that would have meant getting closer to me, so they started gesticulating wildly and roaring in tongues at the poor chap in the tractor to reverse. Which, kind chap that he is, did. They almost became airborne with the speed with which they went past him when he got to the top of McKenna’s lane and could pull in.

“What was all that about ?” his face asked by making that scrunched up look when I got up as far as him.

“Jehovahs” I answered raising my eyes to their heaven. He simply nodded and drove on.

I don’t think they’ll be back.

And that wasn’t even the most exciting thing that week so far !

Even before that, on Monday we had our final class of Module 1 of our course, which was a pitch of our project by our group , in front of our other class mates AND actual judges !

We all arrived early to run through our pitch together a last time before the class started. Before that I felt nauseous , or hungry , or scared , or all three. We loaded our Prezi onto Joannes’ laptop and clicked through everything to make sure it worked. It did.  Had all of our props ready and then, well, then we had to sit through three other teams’ pitches before we got to do ours. I can hardly remember a single thing about any of them, I was just thinking about ours.

We had the luxury of a 10 minute halftime break to take advantage of , setting up our wares and getting ready. Everyone put props, notes , ukeles even, where they needed them and then….

Our pitch was by no means flawless, but it was damn good. People laughed where we thought they would, and once or twice when we weren’t expecting it , but it went well. We covered all the points, and everyone spoke. Anne sang.

I vaguely remember being aware of questions being asked and answered breathlessly, but not by me, I had a loud humming noise in my ears as if something had exploded nearby. It had,us.
And before we knew it we were back in our seats, trying to pay attention to the next two pitches. If I’d stretched out I’d have slept.

The judges went out to confer and they came back to say a few words. That was the first point at which I realised it had been a competition. I thought we were pitching for marks for our assignment, not against each other. Several classmates turned around or tapped my shoulder, “Yous have it”.

And we did. We were beyond thrilled.

My only regret was that I didn’t know we were due to go for pints after. I’d have arranged to stay over. I walked out part of the way with my teammate Seamus, mostly in silence, we were happy and stunned. We said our farewells and  I made my lonely way out through the front gates of Trinity , heading towards my car, and my 2 hour drive home. I stopped outside the main gate and looked back. “I do belong here” I said to myself. Eddie and Ollie looked down from their plinths, they both winked at me.

“Cheers lads !”

As you may have gathered I generally say things lightly. Very, very lightly. This , I do not. These last few weeks have changed my life and I wish to acknowledge that publicly. This course is unlike anything I’ve ever done and the people on it are unlike most I’ve ever met, all wonderful…even Denis. Gillian is a force of  nature, a good one, not something given a Christian name by Met Eireann, more like a Celtic goddess.Joanne is God’s own glue and Karl is…

That’s it ,Karl is.

Thanks Karl.

P.S. And then it all started again on Wednesday. What happened ? Well I’m a Bradleyist now, “All Hail  The Finbarr!”….I’ll explain next week……

P.P.S For Gillian, Joanne and Karl – Let Me In – REM

Author: paul

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