'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2005


One of our neighbours was in the garden the other day and he asked about the origins of the four stone steps. I’m glad someone finally asked about them. My grandfather built them rather than go to his cousin’s wedding. It was a very funny story.

My cousin Jane was in a small art gallery one day and she saw a version of the Mona Lisa that looked slightly different to the original. The title was ‘Mona Lisa with a toothache’. The owner of the gallery saw her looking at it and he came over to her. He said, “As you can see by the expression on her face, this is Mona Lisa with a toothache.” Jane said, “Oh,” but she didn’t sound convinced. The gallery owner said, “It’s enigmatic,” and he moved his hand around as he said it. Jane smiled and said, “Ohhhh. Yeah.” She nodded at the painting. She took her friend, Claudia, to see it a few days later. She told her about the toothache, but Claudia wasn’t convinced at all, so Jane said, “It’s enigmatic,” and moved her hand about. Claudia was even sceptical after this. She said, “What’s enigmatic about it?” Jane tried her best to explain it, but she wasn’t entirely sure of what she was explaining, and it didn’t work on Claudia. Later that day they were walking in the fields behind Uncle Harry and Aunt Bridget’s house and they came across a fence post with a pencil hanging from the top on a piece of string. They looked at it for a while and then Claudia said, “What’s that for?” Jane clicked her tongue, shook her head and said, “Well obviously it’s there to write things.” Jane picked up the pencil and wrote the word ‘sheep’ on the fence post. Claudia asked her why she’d written that. Jane looked around, but there were no sheep in the fields. She said, “Because there are sheep here.” Claudia looked around too, and she said she couldn’t see any. Jane said, “Well there should be… It’s enigmatic.” “What’s enigmatic about it?” “I wrote the word ‘sheep’ on a fence post and there aren’t any sheep at all.” “‘Stupid’ is the word for that, not 'enigmatic'.” Jane was going to suggest that Claudia didn’t know what ‘enigmatic’ means, but she wasn’t entirely sure of the meaning herself, so she said nothing. They continued their walk around the fields, and when they got back to the house they met Uncle Harry. My cousin Ronan was there too. He had taken up painting, and a few days before this he painted the back garden at Uncle Ben and Aunt Greta’s house. When they saw it they were very impressed, but Greta said, “Why did you add in a clothesline?” Ronan said, “I didn’t add in a clothesline. It was already there.” Greta said that they never had a clothesline in that spot. Ronan found this difficult to believe, so they went out in the back garden, and there definitely wasn’t a clothesline in the place Ronan thought there was. He couldn’t understand how he came to believe that there was a clothesline there. He had made a sketch of the garden, and he was sure he saw the line then. He even added in some clothes. He had been thinking about this for days, but he couldn’t figure it out, and this made him very nervous. Uncle Harry said to Jane and Claudia, “I was just walking in the fields there, and someone has written the word ‘sheep’ on a fence post.” Claudia smiled, said, “It’s enigmatic,” and winked a few times. Ronan stared at her, wondering what she meant by that, and then Harry said, “It’s funny that the word ‘sheep’ was on the fence post, because I was talking to Billy earlier - he owns those fields - and he was telling me that one of his sheep has gone missing. His son once called this sheep ‘Dorothy’ and he’s been acting strangely ever since. That’s the sheep who’s been acting strangely, not his son. His son must have been acting strangely before that if he calls sheep ‘Dorothy’.” Claudia wanted to say that it was enigmatic, but she wasn’t sure if this was the appropriate word. Ronan was still staring at her. My cousin Hector called around to see Harry and Bridget, and he brought his twin daughters, Alice and Grace. That morning, they had been watching a TV show about the life of a lamb, and the lamb was played by an ostrich. Grace said, “You’d probably need a giraffe or something to play a fully grown sheep.” Alice said that was ridiculous - that a cow would do. They were still arguing about this at Harry and Bridget’s house. They were in the back garden with Ronan in the evening, as he was sitting on a deck chair, trying to paint the rockery. He found it difficult to focus on the painting when Jane and Claudia joined them, because he was convinced that Claudia was up to something. He tried to ignore them, and after a few minutes he was able to focus on the rockery again. His face was very close to the canvas as he painted the moss. A sheep walked across the garden and stood on top of the rockery. Alice pointed at it and said, “That’s probably just a horse.” Ronan looked up and saw the sheep, then he pushed over the easel and ran away screaming. “Now that’s enigmatic,” Claudia said.

The moose’s head over the fireplace finds it very difficult to stay awake in the heat. I don’t know if he has trouble sleeping at night. I’m not sure if he sleeps at all. I came down in the middle of the night once and he was wide awake, but he seemed quite happy. The wife has already given him sunglasses, and the other day she suggested putting sun cream on him. She said she was joking, and that it was me who suffered the lapse in mental faculties because I thought she was being serious, but I don’t believe her.