'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Summer has certainly arrived now. Of course, it’d be nice if it was a little bit cooler, and it probably will be soon enough. You can’t do much in this weather.

My cousin June got her husband, Dan, to paint their shed one summer day. It turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year, and Dan would have been much happier in the shade with a cold drink. Then the dog attacked the shed door just after it was painted. Dan had to hold him back for a while, and then he spent the next half-hour chasing the dog, following the trail of blue paint. That evening, they went to visit June’s parents, my Aunt Bridget and Uncle Harry. They played Scrabble, and June noticed that most of the words Dan formed were related to the shed, like ‘blue’ or ‘paint’. So ever since then she’s used Scrabble to determine what’s on his mind. She was organising a party one Saturday and she noticed that Dan was acting strangely early in the day, so when Aunt Bridget and Uncle Harry arrived, she suggested a game of Scrabble to see what he was up to. But he came up with words like ‘gold’ and ‘Mini’, and she couldn’t read anything into them. She tried to figure out what they meant, but she forgot about that when she met her kids, Daisy and Graham, in the kitchen. Graham had his hand in an empty jam jar, and there was a piece of rope and a pea on the kitchen table. She asked them what they were up to and Daisy said, “I found a piece of rope and a pea, but I couldn’t find the measuring tape.” June asked them if they’d seen her necklace while they were looking for the measuring tape, but they hadn’t, and then she asked why they were looking for the measuring tape. Daisy said, “We thought it was in the jam jar, but it wasn’t.” Then Graham held up his hand with the jam jar and said, “I checked.” June thought about this and said, “Well why would the measuring tape be in the jam jar?” Daisy said, “The dog ran off with the measuring, and to get that back off him we gave him the bell, and then we put the measuring tape into the jam jar so the dog couldn’t get it.” June heard the dog running by outside with the bell, and she remembered the last time he got hold of it. It took days to get it back off him, and he spent those days running around with the bell in his mouth, often shaking his head from side to side. That was a nightmare. Daisy said, “And then we remembered the last time he got the bell. When it took days to get it back. And he kept ringing it over and over and over again. That was a nightmare. So we decided he’d be better off with the measuring tape, but when we went to get that from the jam jar it was gone.” Graham held up his hand again. June was desperate to get the bell back from the dog, so she looked around the house for the measuring tape. Daisy helped her while Graham tried to get the jam jar off his hand. They looked in every room for it, but they couldn’t find it anywhere. And then when they got back to the kitchen they looked in a cupboard and the measuring tape was there in another jam jar. Daisy said, “It was in another jam jar. We never thought of that.” So they went into the back garden where the dog was ringing the bell, and June held the measuring tape up in front of him. He looked at it for a few seconds, but then he started ringing the bell again. June went inside and got a wooden spoon. She left the wooden spoon and the measuring tape on the grass in front of the dog, and this seemed to swing the deal. He dropped the bell and took the wooden spoon. He left that a few yards away and went back for the measuring tape. He took the tape over to the spoon and lay down on the grass, guarding them. June looked up and saw Dan at the end of the garden. He was following their pet duck, Sleepy. June’s gold necklace was around Sleepy. Every time Dan moved forward, the duck would move forward too. Graham, Uncle Harry, Aunt Bridget, some more of the relatives and Dan’s friends were a few feet behind Dan. He took a step forward, and so did Sleepy. Dan lay down on the grass very slowly, reaching forward towards Sleepy. His fingers were just a few inches away from the duck, but then Sleepy took a small step away from Dan, and Dan stopped moving. “Hang on a minute lads. I’ve got a great idea,” he said.

The moose’s head over the fireplace has started wearing sunglasses. The wife puts them on when the sun shines in. He looks very laid back, as if nothing would bother him, and I think he likes looking like that in front of the hen, because the hen still looks surprised. It looks as if nothing in the world could surprise the moose’s head. Even when I fell over a stuffed swan with a pipe he took no notice.