'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2005


All the leaves that were in the trees are on the ground, so I suppose there's more to look at on the ground now. Unless you want to look at the sky - there's more of that with the leaves on the ground. But there's only so much to see in the sky. The dog certainly prefers the ground. He spends most of his time walking around in the grass, sniffing at something. A hot air balloon passed by over the garden, and there was a man with a top hat in it. That made the sky slightly more interesting for a while, but then the dog dug up the thing he was sniffing, so the ground won out in the end.

My cousin Gary once met a man from Waterford called Dizzy, and every time he met someone from Waterford after this, he'd ask if they knew Dizzy. This went on for a few years, and he never met anyone who knew Dizzy, but he kept asking.

My cousin Hugh got a friend of his to pretend that he was from Waterford and his name was Dizzy. When he introduced this friend to Gary as Dizzy, Gary said, "You're not from Waterford by any chance, are you?"

"I am."

"No way! Do you know another Dizzy from Waterford?"

"No. But 'Dizzy' is a very common name in Waterford."

Hugh met eight rowers from a British university. They had come over here for a training camp, and they were staying near where Hugh lived. The 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar was coming up, and Hugh decided to set up an Admiral Nelson school just for the rowers. He told them they could all take part in his re-creation of the battle, and they could all be Nelson.

Hugh got the idea for the re-creation when he was talking to his cousin, Ronan, who was studying English in college. Ronan was telling him about the English classes he was giving to some French students who'd just arrived in the country, and a friend of his was giving classes to Spanish students. Hugh suggested setting up a battle between the Brits on one side and the Spanish and French on the other. Ronan was all for the idea. Neither of them were keen on celebrating a famous British victory, but they thought there was a fair chance that the Nelsons would lose this time because they could only use one arm.

So Hugh started teaching the Nelson classes in his house twice a week. He got them all coats and hats, and they kept one arm inside the coat. But then he saw how happy Gary was to meet another Dizzy from Waterford, and he got the idea of getting all the Nelsons to pretend that they were Dizzy from Waterford too. So he taught them how to speak in a Waterford accent, and he told them that this was the way Nelson would have spoken to his crew. He taught them basic phrases like 'There's a funny looking dog on the van there now', or 'It's a long way to Tipperary, thanks be to God'. He said to them, "If anyone ever asks ye a question, answer it with this phrase: 'As long as we beat Cork in the hurling, I don't care. Or those feckers from Kilkenny'. Repeat after me: As long as we beat Cork in the hurling, I don't care."

The whole class said, "As long as we beat Cork in the hurling, I don't care."

"Or those feckers from Kilkenny."

"Or those feckers from Kilkenny."

"Very good."

He taught them a story that began with the line, "I knew a man from Dungarvan who bet on a horse called 'Train Set'."

He told them that Nelson was always known by his nickname, Dizzy, and when he felt they had all mastered the Waterford accent and phrases, he took them to meet Gary. He told them that if they could fool his cousin into thinking that they were really Nelson (or Dizzy) they'd be ready for the re-enactment.

They were all wearing their hats and coats, with one arm inside the coat. Hugh said, "This is my cousin, Gary."

The first Nelson said, "My name is Dizzy and I'm from Waterford."

"No way!" Gary said. "Another one!"

Another Nelson said, "I'm also Dizzy and I'm from Waterford too."

"Y' know, I can remember someone saying that it was a very common name in Waterford alright."

When the final Nelson introduced himself, Gary said to him, "What part of Waterford do you come from?"

The Nelson looked over at Hugh, who coughed and said 'hurling' under his breath. The Nelson turned to Gary again and said, "As long as we beat Cork in the hurling, I don't care. Or those feckers from Kilkenny."

"Yeah, I'd love if ye beat Kilkenny," Gary said.

Another Nelson said, "I knew a man from Dungarvan who bet on a horse called 'Train Set' because he once set a train set on fire, but the horse fell at the first. He tried to punch someone who was dressed up as Dracula too, but I think that was because of something else."

Hugh had such fun teaching them to be Dizzy from Waterford that he completely forgot about the re-enactment. He was planning to stage the battle outside a pub, which was near a small stone bridge over a stream. On the day of the battle he remembered that they were supposed to be Nelson rather than Dizzy, and he tried to get them to say things like 'Look, a ship', but they kept reverting to their Waterford accents and the phrases they'd already learnt.

Ronan thought they could still instigate a battle, even if all the Nelsons thought they were from Waterford. He taught his French students phrases like 'Waterford couldn't beat Kilkenny if half of the Kilkenny team were dachshunds'. His friend who was teaching the Spanish students taught them to say things like 'I only wish Waterford was further away from Tipperary'.

Ronan had told the two groups of students that they were going to watch a re-creation of the battle of Trafalgar, but he never mentioned that they'd be part of the battle. He took them to the pub near the stream, and Hugh arrived shortly afterwards with his Nelsons. They were wearing the hats and coats. A big crowd had gathered there, and a lot of money was riding on the battle. Some people bet on the Nelsons, despite the fact that they could only use one arm. They thought the Brits would come up with some unexpected strategy. Hugh didn't think that was very likely.

My cousin Jane and her friend, Claudia, were there too. Claudia plays the keyboard, and Hugh had asked her to play a piece of music at the battle. She said she knew a piece about Napoleon, and Hugh said that'd be perfect. He also got Jane involved. He asked her to announce the start of the battle.

Before they went to the pub, Claudia played the piece for Jane, who said, "How was that about Napoleon?"

"It just was."

"That had nothing to do with Napoleon."

"Well how would a piece of music have something to do with Napoleon?"

"You're the one who says it was about Napoleon. You tell me."

"I don't know enough about Napoleon to see the connection."

"He wasn't very tall. A piece of music about Napoleon would be quiet. Or quieter than music about someone taller."

"That's ridiculous. If the only thing you know about Napoleon is that he wasn't very tall, then you don't know enough about him either. This next piece of music is about someone who knows lots of things about lots of different things." Claudia played a very quick piece of music, then she said, "And this one is about you." She played a very slow piece.

When Hugh arrived at the pub with his Nelson class, he pointed at the French students and said, "They're from Kilkenny." Then he pointed at the Spanish and said, "And they're from Tipperary."

The Nelsons went over to the students and said, "It's a long way to Tipperary, thanks be to God."

One of the Spanish students said, "I only wish Waterford was further away from Tipperary."

The Nelson said, "There's a funny looking dog on the van there now."

And then one of the French students said, "Waterford couldn't beat Kilkenny if half of the Kilkenny team were dachshunds."

"I knew a man from Dungarvan," the Nelson said in a very threatening voice, and he poked the French student in the shoulder when he said 'garvan'. "He once bet on a horse called 'Train Set' because he once set a train set on fire, but the horse fell at the first. He tried to punch someone who was dressed up as Dracula too, but I think that was because of something else."

Hugh thought that if Jane announced the commencement of the battle now, it would surely start a fight, so he made the signal to her. She stood up, and Claudia started playing her keyboard, but she was playing the slow piece of music that supposedly represented Jane, and she was playing it very slowly. Jane recognised the music, and she stopped just as she was about to speak, with her mouth slightly open. She remained in that position, and Claudia kept playing the same note. Everone looked at Jane. She remained frozen in that position for about thirty seconds, with the same note playing all the time.

She sat down again, and there was silence. Neither the Nelsons nor the students knew what to say then. One of the Nelsons eventually broke the silence. He said, "We've won! Hooray!"

All of the other Nelsons cheered, and the students looked dejected, but not as dejected as Ronan and Hugh. They had both bet a lot of money on the French and Spanish.

The moose's head over the fireplace doesn't like most TV programs, especially 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of here'. We bought an ipod for him so he can ignore what's on TV. Sometimes it's more interesting to look at his facial expression and try to figure out what he's listening to, rather than watch what's on TV. His facial expression remains pretty much the same all the time, but it's still more interesting. Even looking at the surprised hen in the painting is more interesting than TV, and that expression never changes. It'd take a lot more than a hot air balloon to make me look away from that.