Auld lads

They could be a group of old men in the corner of the pub. If your particularly young, a nipper maybe, they could be teenagers, hanging about a shopping centre. You could be talking about peoples fathers. Yep, they are all auld lads, or old lads for those of you living on the southside of our capital.

For me, as a kid, as for most, auld was everyone who was even a year older. Those middle-aged people were very old and the ones that were pushing 80 or more…. well, they were just ancient, fit for a museum. Working for the family, not in a mafia sort of way, but in the family run pub, I encountered auld lads all day, every day. Some were there to meet up for pint with a friend, some wanted to read the paper and not have to buy it and some just wanted to get away from yer wan, d’aul bag back home. Each of them had their own unique trait, like a football card, but with less lofty cash and shite, and more actual shite, often on their boots. The faces, the wrinkles, the voices, the stories. The laughs, coughs, sneezes and sighs. The jackets, the hats, the wellys and sticks. The farm, the bog, the meadow and the shed.

Each one of them were just the ideal candidate for a story, each and every one. I wanted so badly to film them all, but my folks would have none of it. The fear of offending the customers was too great and it took years to understand. In those years, I’ve seen most of those characters pass away, with them, the craic and one less seat occupied by a real character. I so wish I had secretly filmed them, or recorded some of the stories or jokes. There were stories of generations fighting over land, nope, it doesn’t just happen in the movies. Jokes about some obscene stuff, things you wouldn’t imagine could come from people so polite looking and, well, old. Often the “made up” stories were true, but disguised to save embarrassment. Those were often the really good ones.

Listening to people talk about what life was like, when they were my age. How everything was much more difficult, strict and poor. How they would share a pair of shoes between siblings to walk to school. Teachers would take a dislike to someone or fall out with them, and then take it out on all their kids at school. Lashings, beatings, insults…. all part of education. In fact, I endured the same in school myself, some 50 years later. Thankfully, things have at last improved.

One story that stuck in my mind, was an incident between two neighbours. They had been chatting and buying one another drinks, reminiscing about days of yore. It was all good until one of them mentioned land. It may be an innocent topic to you and I, but in this case, was as harmless as C4, the plastic not the tv channel. Tones changed, eyes widened. They turned to face one another and the volume of the conversation began to rise. I urged them to calm down, and tried to change topic. One chap, looked at me and said “his house is on my land, my fucking land!”. The other auld lad denied this, repeatedly. He tried to explain how his father, or grandfather, I can’t recall, purchased it. “That’s a load of shite. Ye never paid for it, ye fuckin stole it. My father told me all about it. Are you callin my auld lad a fuckin liar ya bollocks?”

Now let me point out that both men were about mid 70s and barely able to move without the help of a stiff breeze, or gravity. Both wore clothes that hadn’t seen any form of detergent or soap in….. ever. The smell of both men was a mix of cow shite, tobacco and their own piss. Nice. Just setting the stage.

Bam. It was like something that should be in a ring, with a ref and being televised. I didn’t see it coming and neither did the auld lad in the corner. There was blood running from his nose before he realised what had just happened. The other fella, lets say the boxer, was about to throw another but I stepped in. It took a surprising amount of effort to move him back and get him to sit down. The bleeder was in shock, total disbelief at what had just happened. “What did ya do that for?” and began sobbing. The boxer was still shouting abuse and started to explain to me the whole land craic all over again, half expecting me to agree with him, as if I was his dad.

All in a days work, auld lads beating the living daylights out of one another, or at least one.

It wasn’t all violence though, there were plenty happy times too. Like any time another fella, lets say George, would be in the place. He would sit at the counter, on a high stool, tap the foot rail with both shoes, whistle and tap the counter with both hands, all in time with what ever was on the radio. In the numerous years he drank in the place, I never remember seeing him upset, never saw him without a smile. “Up she flew and she never lost a feather” was one of his many sayings. I know, beats me too. He would come out with the most obscure stories at times. We would be talking about famous Irish pub topics, such as the weather, when he would spot some attractive woman through the window or on tv. This would be the start of a story about his sexual exploits as a young man. The women, the adventures, the craic. Then he’d tell another story, about another sexual adventure and say it was just the other day. As a girl, closer to my age, would pass the window, he would point out that she’d be one to keep an eye on when I’d be older, as “her mother was mad for ….” then he’d whistle and make this unusual gesture with both hands, like a bird taking off. He was, in my mind, being a young, horny virgin – a true legend! I wanted to be even half that cool when I was his age.

Another auld lad, who’s name I also won’t mention, as he is a living legend, told me many stories. Still does. This is just one of many I’ll hopefully get to share with you all in time.

Across from the pub was a wall, near the centre of our mighty village. On a Sunday, people would travel from miles around, some on bicycles, some by donkey and cart, to come to mass. They would tie the donkeys up at said wall. Handily, some cute hoor had thought of cementing in some horseshoes, into the top of the wall. Ideal for tying up ones donkey. So, these people would then head off to mass. Back in those days, mass was only a “good mass” if it went on for more than an hour. During that hour, this auld lad I mentioned earlier, and his brother, would begin the mischief. Like the rest of the parish, they were expected to be at mass, but they had other plans.

They would each pick a donkey, untie it and point it up the road. Then race. Yes, feckin racing a donkey during mass. Once the race was over, they would return the donkey to the wall, tie it up, give it a drink and stroll in home as if they were in the church with the rest. The look on the faces of the donkeys owners was priceless apparently. When they returned, found the donkey lathered in sweat, just presumed it was too hot and gave it more water. The funny thing is both of those guys both grew up to be highly talented drivers. Top tip, race donkeys every Sunday as a kid, it’ll get you into F1 quicker than spending your youth racing karts.

I could probably fill the internet with stories, many about or somehow involving auld lads, but another time. If I did, I’d be an auld lad myself by the time I’d be finished.

Good luck to ye now, safe home.

 

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Being Irish

So, my first proper post, intro didn’t count. No pressure…… as a lad once said “pressure is for tyres”.

I’ve been lucky enough to have done a little travelling. Not in the pikey sense, not in the global jetsetting sense either. Ya know, just travel, with my backpack and herself, mostly.

This has probably been said numerous times before, all over the net, but Irish people are well liked. Thank God for that or I’d be in serious bother. I’ve had people refuse to talk to me or give directions, ignore me or just be plain rude. Why? because they thought I was English! Now personally, I like English people. I have a lot of very good friends from England and the majority are among the nicest people I know. Yes, really. But for some reason, people in other places don’t seem to like them as much. Anyway, thats one for another time, back to being Irish. Yeah, people like us. Whether its the way we as a nation are portrayed in movies, plays, novels or tv, who knows. I’ve chatted a taxi driver in Dublin who collected people from Dublin airport to bring them into the city. Quickly they expressed their dissapointment at not seeing white washed cottages, stone walls, horses and carts and extras from the Quiet Man, just roaming about the place. I won’t say what country they were from, but I have met plenty more from the same country who think similarly about Ireland. I blame Hollywood.

OK, they were American!

So many think of us as a nation of raving alcoholics. (goes off to check the net for accurate stats….. finds out we are pretty high up on list. Damn) So, maybe we like the odd drink, and maybe we are closer to the top of the consumption scale in Europe than the bottom. But, does that explain why we are thought of as alcos? No. I think it has more to do with stories like this.

A lad started a job in Oz, back in the day. The boss told him that if he missed a single Monday or Friday he would be fired. He had employed Irish people before and heard every excuse under the sun for not making it to work on a Monday, but never the honest “I’m dying from a hangover”. Similarly, nobody ever said “I’m hitting the tiles tonight now that I got paid, so I won’t be in tomorrow”(Friday).

It was often said that a foot of counter in a bar was more valuable than an acre of land. The TV pummels us with ads about a huge variety of drinks, mostly alcoholic ones. The government makes a fortune from the taxes on drinks. The companies making the drinks aren’t exactly about to close either. When Irish people talk about socialising, they mean drinking. Its kinda sad that we think the only way to meet up with people is to go to the pub or club, but hey.

Go to any tourist destination, look for a pub. There is a damn good chance its an Irish Bar. I once went to work in a certain town in Northern Spain for the summer, along with some college buddies. We were a couple of weeks early for the big tourist boom, so work was thin on the ground. I spotted an Irish Bar, surprise, surprise. They had a notice looking for staff – Nice one. When I met the owner, a Pakistani gentleman, and told him I was Irish and would like a job. He nearly passed out with excitement. I was the FIRST, yes, first, Irish person to ever set foot in the place. Well, I was as surprised as you are. There were staff from Scotland, France and the Netherlands. It had a very Irish sounding name, no, I won’t say it. I just thought that was gas.

I’m going off course here, sorry. Where was I? Oh ya – pubs.

Why do Irish people seem to only want to visit Irish bars and eat in Irish restaurants when on holiday? Maybe other nationalities are the same? Are ye? Maybe its because the craic that can be had in an Irish bar in Ireland is too good to miss out on when abroad?

 

We are a funny nation. A gang of gobshites & eejits, messers and foolers but at the same time, some of the most brilliant minds in the world. Believe it or not, you’ll often find that the smart ones are the funniest. I could go on about the history of our scholars and world leading scientific, business and creative minds, but I’d fall asleep telling it, so you may do the same if you had to read it. I’ll stick to the funny business.

If you see more than 2 Irish people together, chances are, one is telling a story. We like to entertain one another. If we stopped doing this, and got on with our day to do work, we’d possibly be a super-power. But we’d be boring and that won’t do. Having the craic is something most of us like to do. Whether its telling a joke, taking the piss out of ourselves, watching others do something daft or just finding something to smile about in our day. Life is too short not to laugh.

Aon sceal? / Any story?                                                                                                           This was something I heard from people on a daily basis. Some were looking for gossip, nosey shites, some were saying it almost as a way to start a conversation, in a similar fashion to saying – hello, how are you?   Many were hoping you’d say no and then ask them the same, as they had something juicy to tell you. We all love to chat, bitch, moan, gossip and have a laugh. Whether it was something vital like who was late for mass on Sunday or perhaps what time Mr. X was seen leaving the pub the other night, there would be something to tell. I know a couple of guys, old guys, who will hold peoples attention in the palm of their hands. Those nearby wait on the next word with eagerness and just know the story will be a funny one. In the past, before the days of television, radio and “that feckin internet!” people would call round to the neighbours place. The door was always open, the kettle always on the boil on the open, turffuelled fire and the craic was only a moment away. Stories were told, songs sang, music played, grub eaten and either tay or something harder was drank. Some stories were total utter fibs. Some were so scary, that the babi childer of the house, who may have been secretly listening in the background, wouldn’t be able to sleep that night. Stories were told about previous generations and what they got up to, often not good stuff. All those fireside gatherings had one thing in common – entertainment.

 

A smart guy, great writer and fantastic source of literary inspiration, told me just the other day, that we shouldn’t filter or censor what we write. Jaysus, really? He reckoned that the bit you think will upset your auld pair or annoy somebody, somewhere, is exactly the bit you should include. And you know what? He’s right. Its feckin liberating to be able to say what you really think. If I offend anyone, I’m sorry, but the internet is a big place…..move on. You won’t need to put on your winter woolies, wellies and hat and brave the crappy weather to visit the neighbour. No, I’ll try to bring those stories to you.

So, to those that stay here for a little longer, I’ll start to share some myths, tales, stories and things I’ve been part of through the years, so call back, I’ll have the kettle on.

 

 

 

 

Well…how ya!

So, you found the place! Fair play boss.

“What am I in for here?” you might rightly ask. Well, stories, lots of them…..maybe.

Quick bit of info on myself for ya:

I’m Irish. I’m quite hairy(well, it helps keep me warm, Ireland isn’t always the warmest of places). I spent much of my life meeting people, different people, everyday. Those people, like me, had stories to tell. I don’t claim to be the best story teller or writer, but bejaysus I’ll give it a shot. I have an accent, I have strange sayings and a strange way of saying them! I’m hoping that someone out there would like to hear the odd story, or bit of news or even just be taken in by a little fib. Sure its only a bit a craic. In order to protect those involved, I’ll change names, places etc. I won’t say if something is true or a bit of fiction, thats for you to guess. So, let the story telling begin…..