'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006


The sun is back again, after a few grey days. The world is a nice place to be on these summer days if you ignore the bits outside the garden and the things in the garden that throw sticks at your head and say, "I was aiming for a monkey."

My cousin Alan talks a lot after a few drinks. He started talking about Robin Hood in the pub one evening, and two hours later he found himself talking about chickens. Chickens have an affinity for Germany and they say 'whoosh'. This was Alan's theory anyway. He was constantly finding out new things about how much he knew. He never knew he knew so much about chickens until he started talking about cats. So he jumped at the chance to buy forty-two chickens -- a man in the pub was selling them.

His parents were on holiday at the time, and Alan kept the chickens in their back garden. He gave them names, but he couldn't remember them all. Fido and Malley were the only two he remembered because they were always fighting.

Trying to keep the chickens in the garden was proving difficult. Fido and Malley didn't help. They kept the other chickens moving about the place. Some of them turned up in the house, and one of them found a bucket to live in.

Alan and his brother, Ronan, built a chicken coop, but they couldn't get the chickens to go in. They could put Fido in, but he'd always escape as they were trying to put Malley in.

"Maybe I should have got forty-two cats instead," Alan said.

Feeding them took ages. They had to go around to the chickens all over the garden, the ones in the house, the one in the bucket, the ones hiding under a blanket, and so on.

Ronan had a bath before meeting his girlfriend, Audrey. When he was in the bath, a lightbulb came on over his head and he said, "Aha! We should put the food in the chicken coop."

They tried this, but it didn't work. Fido would go in to get his food, but he'd come back out before Malley would go in.

Audrey was looking after her nephew, Pete. She was normally very mild-mannered and always happy, but she was losing her patience with Pete. Ronan met them on the street outside her house. She was lecturing her nephew.

Pete said, "I was only doing it to show the dog what not to do."

"Leave that bloody dog alone," Audrey said.

A group of people ran by. They were all screaming, and some looked behind them.

"He was tired," Pete said, "and I was tired, and trees sound lonely in the wind."

They watched as a turtle passed by very slowly.

"And leave that turtle alone too."

Ronan tried to think of something they could do to keep Pete occupied. They went to see The Wizard of Oz, but all he said was 'stop calling me that'.

They went for a walk on the beach, and they met a friend of theirs, Ray. He has two dogs, and they like each other, which is good. He told them so. 'I only wanted to know how many people could fit in a phone booth' is another thing he said to them.

Pete chased the dogs around the beach, but they were really manouvering him around the place. Ray kept saying things to the dogs, and Ronan wondered if he was really controlling them, like with sheep dogs. That's when he got the idea of using them on the chickens to get them into the coop.

He told Alan about his idea when he got home that night. Ray and his dogs were due to arrive in the morning.

Ronan looked dazed when Alan met him in the morning.

"What happened to you?" Alan said.

"I just had another brilliant idea about the chickens and then I got electrocuted by a lightbulb."

"What was the idea?"

"I can't remember."

"Was it the one about the dogs?"

"No. I remember that one."

"Well if that one works we won't need another idea."

The chickens all looked worried when Ray arrived with his dogs. Fido and Malley tried to look as if they didn't care, but they were inching away from Ray.

Audrey and Pete were there to see what would happen when Ray released the dogs, and it was well worth seeing. The chickens went all over the place, almost everywhere apart from the coop. A lot of them got into the house. Two of them fought over the bucket.

Things started to calm down again after Ray left with the dogs. The noise of the chickens completely ceased when a turtle walked across the lawn. One of the chickens followed the turtle, and then another one followed too. All of the chickens formed a line behind the turtle, who went through the open door of the coop. The turtle was able to get out of the coop under the wire at the other side, but the chickens were stuck. They watched the turtle slowly move away. They only turned around when they heard the door closing. Alan wagged a finger at them and said, "Ha h' ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Haaaa ha ha ha ha."

"That was my idea," Ronan said.

The moose's head over the fireplace is enjoying the World Cup. He fell asleep during England's game against Paraguay (I think he was just commenting on Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard's inability to form a partnership in the centre of midfield) but apart from that he's been wide-awake all the time. It's difficult to tell who he favours to win the competition. I'm not the only one keeping a close eye on that before placing a bet. He liked Italy after seeing them play against Ghana, but he was impressed by the Dutch too.