'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A long, long way to run.

It’s nice to have a bit more daylight in the early evenings. It’s nice to notice the extra light every day too. It gives the dog more time to chase birds and bury things. That’s not nice, but you might as well be talking to the wall when you try to explain to the dog that it’s not nice to frighten and bury things, although in fairness, he’s never buried anything capable of being frightened.

My cousin Hugh had to look after Aunt Bridget’s cat on one Saturday when Bridget and Uncle Harry had to visit someone, and their son, Ronan, was busy. When she asked Hugh to look after her cat he agreed because he didn’t think it was a real job. He didn’t know what it was, but it didn’t sound real. Then it gradually dawned on him that she really did want him to look after her cat because the cat just had an operation. Before she left, she held the cat in her arms and said to Hugh, “You’ll have your work cut out with this little fella. He’s a little rascal. You are, aren’t ya? You’re a little rascal. You’ll need nerves of steel, Hugh.” The cat spent most of the day asleep in its basket in the kitchen. Hugh was bored out of his mind. He even tried waking the cat a few times by poking it with an umbrella, just for something to do, but the cat always went back to sleep again. At three o’ clock, Hugh stood in the hall, looking at a painting. It was a huge hall, with the ceiling way above. He stood there for nearly half an hour in complete silence, but then he heard the sound of someone running towards the front door. The door opened and his cousin Ronan ran in, said ‘hello’ to Hugh, and ran on. Hugh said, “Oh, hello, ah…” But Ronan kept going and ran out the back door. There was silence again, but then about ten seconds later Hugh heard the sound of more footsteps. Many more footsteps. A man in a Nazi uniform came in through the front door and ran down the hall towards the back door. He was followed by about thirty others, some dressed as Nazis, some as nuns. When the last of them had left through the back door there was complete silence in the house again. Hugh couldn’t face the prospect of another hour of this, so he ran out the back door too. Ronan had run through the fields behind the house, and the others were following them. Hugh was a cross-country runner, so he was able to overtake the chasing pack and catch up with his cousin. He asked him about the chase and Ronan said, “Do you know that song ‘Doe a deer’?” “Yeah.” “Well I threw a lampshade at a deer.” “Why?” “I thought it was going to attack me.” “And how did all those people see you throw a lampshade at a deer?” “They were on the stage. So was the deer.” “How did they get a deer onto the stage?” “It wasn’t really a deer. Jumpy Mahon was playing the deer.” “Why are all those people angry with you for throwing a lampshade at Jumpy Mahon?” “Because it wasn’t really Jumpy Mahon either. It was a Shetland pony in antlers.” “Why did you throw a lampshade at a Shetland pony?” “Because I thought it was Jumpy Mahon.” And before Hugh asked the next question, Ronan said, “Because I wasn’t wearing my glasses.” “Well why did you think Jumpy Mahon was going to attack you?” “He used to be playing the deer and I suggested that he play Mary Poppins because of the song ‘Doe a deer’.” “But that’s from The Sound of Music, not Mary Poppins.” “I know that now.” “Well what musical are ye doing?” “The Sound of Music.” “But…” “I forgot.” “But… But why would he get so upset about you suggesting he play Mary Poppins?” “Because his brother once had an affair with a German au pair. And then in the rehearsal today I said the words ‘Mary a name I call myself’, and then Jumpy looked at me and made a very threatening noise, so I threw the lampshade at him. And then I realised it was the pony.” “But didn’t you know that the Shetland pony…” “I forgot.” The chasing pack were starting to close in, and Ronan said, “Our best chance is if we split up.” “But they’re not chasing me.” “They are now,” Ronan said, and then he ran to his right. Hugh ran down a hill, and some of the chasing pack followed him. He was getting tired but he wasn’t worried about being caught because his pursuers looked on the point of collapse, but then he tripped on a stone and when he looked up he was surrounded by them. They took his clothes and they debated whether to dress him as a nun or a Nazi. If they’d known that he was a candidate in an upcoming local election they’d have dressed him as a Nazi, but they went for the nun. Hugh got back to the house just before his aunt. She saw him in the nun costume, covered in sweat with dirt on his face, and completely out of breath. The cat woke up and ran towards her. She picked him up and said to Hugh, “I told ya, didn’t I.”

The moose’s head over the fireplace always looks suspicious when he sees cows on the TV. He just doesn’t like horses, but he doesn’t know what to make of cows. The wife’s niece was in the room the other day and she had a pop-up book with cows in it. I think the moose was suspicious of the pop-up book too. He certainly doesn’t know what to make of the wife’s niece. She once asked him if he’d ever been to the Olympics.