'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Feel Mahogany.

It’s nice to have proper evenings again, not just afternoons that go straight into night. I cut the grass yesterday ‘evening’.

My aunt Bridget was due to appear on a TV show called ‘Feel Mahogany’. Members of the public would bring antique furniture onto this show and experts would feel it. The piece of furniture didn’t necessarily have to be made out of mahogany, but it was preferred. The experts would talk about the texture and workmanship, and then they’d say what it would be worth if it was owned by a historically important figure, normally William Gladstone. And then the owner of the furniture would say, “Ooh.” The show was visiting a town near where Aunt Bridget lived, so she was going to take a chair for the experts to feel. Her friend, Hilary, was entering it too, and Bridget knew that she’d never hear the end of it if her chair got a lower valuation than Hilary’s chest of drawers. She was nervous about appearing on TV too, and on the day of the filming she had a few small glasses of brandy, which added up would have been one huge glass of brandy. Her grandchildren, Daisy and Graham, were going to appear on the show with her. They called around with their father, who was trying to get the chair into the back of the car. This was proving difficult because Bridget was directing the operation, and the brandy wasn’t improving her getting-an-antique-chair-in-a-car skills. There was an owl in Bridget’s garden who used to hide in a bucket. Daisy and Graham were looking at him as their father and grandmother tried to get the chair in the car. The owl stayed as still as possible in the bucket when the kids were around. Sometimes he moved his head around a bit. Daisy wanted to see the bird in flight, so she went to the kitchen and got some ham from the fridge. She hung a piece of string over a metal arch in the garden, and as she tied the ham to one end of the string she told Graham to tie the other end to something. With the piece of ham hanging in mid air, they stood back and waited. After a few minutes the owl raised his head, and when he saw the piece of ham he left the bucket and flew towards it. He caught the ham in mid air and flew away with it, pulling the piece of string behind him, which pulled the chair attached to the other end of the string. The chair was dragged across the concrete for a few yards, until the ham came out of the string. Daisy said to her brother, “Did you attach the other end of the string to the chair?” “No,” Graham said. The chair was badly scratched. Daisy felt the texture, and she had no idea who William Gladstone was, but she thought he’d probably throw out a chair that felt so rough. She said to her grandmother, “Is there something else you could take on the show instead of the chair?” “Hm?” Bridget said. The brandy was impairing her ability to understand the situation, and she had another glass before the show too. During the filming she smiled at the camera all the time, and the kids did all of the talking to the expert from the show. He said, “Now then, what have ye got to show us?” “It’s an owl hiding in a bucket,” Daisy said, and Graham said, “He thinks we can’t see him.” The expert reached down to feel the owl, but Daisy said, “You do know how sharp their beaks are?” He pulled his hand away and said, “I think this piece would be worth… a million euro if it was owned by Evel Knievel.” Everyone there said ‘ooh’ - a valuation on the assumption that Evel Knievel owned it had never been attempted before. Bridget didn’t really know what was going on, but when she heard the ‘ooh’s, she turned towards Hilary and smiled.

The moose’s head over the fireplace still looks confused after the clocks went forward. We used to have a clock on the opposite wall and we’d put it forward by a few minutes every day to ease the transition for him, but when he’d hear the nine o’ clock news on the TV at half-eight he’d be more confused than ever. We replaced the clock with a painting of a goose, but he spent most of his time glaring at the goose. We replaced that with a barometer, and that has eased the confusion a little bit.