I guess my last post - "Lard" - surfaced from my memory sump because I have been reading "Round Ireland With A Fridge" by Tony Hawks. Back in 1997, Hawks took on a £100 bet and found himself hitch-hiking round Ireland with a small fridge on a porter's trolley. His circumnavigation of the Emerald Isle saw him in various bizarre situations and he met a host of random Irish people as well as appearing regularly on the Gerry Ryan morning radio show. Entertainingly, the book charts that journey but it also acts as a vehicle for reflections on Irish life and life in general.
In chapter twelve - "Roisin" - I noticed this aphorism - "Sometimes in life you've got to dance like nobody's watching". That sentiment has been hanging about in my mind the last few days. So often we "dance" or live as if controlled by and subservient to the watching society around us but sometimes we need to be true to ourselves and make the moves that come naturally to us without reference to that controlling audience. Perhaps only through such "free" unfettered "dance" steps will we come to truly be ourselves.
After the "lard" incident at the airport, there were other extraordinary happenings that are vivid in my memory thirty five years later. On my second day in Ireland I was out on Lough Ree in a rowing boat, fishing with a flat-capped bachelor farmer of seventy plus. We took the fish back to his humble cottage and fried them over a turf fire while an image of Jesus stared down from above the mantelpiece.
Near Bantry I met Ronald who was in Europe for the first time. A white orphan, he had grown up in a bush village in Tanzania partly watched over by an Irish priest who had brought him back to the old country and lent him his old Datsun car. Ronald spoke like a black East African and drove at approximately fifteen miles an hour. We got drunk together in Bantry after I had pitched my tent. I was naturally perturbed when he repeatedly asked if I liked to "rub the rhino horn" or "play with the banana".
A couple of days later, after a long wait on a remote County Kerry lane, I got a lift from an artificial inseminator. We made several farm stops where large buckets of scalding water were waiting by the rear hooves of bovine mums to be. At one farm, I was invited to slide my arm into a long polythene glove and then push it inside the moaning cow while he - the inseminator - prepared a long glass pipette half filled with best bull's semen. He laughed at the agonised expression on my face - for this was certainly not what I meant about dancing in Kerry with a green-eyed colleen.
This may be my last post for a little while as tomorrow Shirley and I are heading south to England's rich underbelly for a ten day break in Sussex but if I spot an opportunity, I will blog again before returning to the grim reality that is "Up North".