'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Joyce's Party

My brain keeps telling me I should sit on the wooden chair in the shade of the oak tree and say, "What fridge?" People keep telling me I've been in the sun for too long. I can't repeat what my brain says about them.

My cousin Hugh went to Spain on his holidays. And then he came back again. And then he put on his reading glasses to look at the dog, but the dog looked more-or-less the same as he did before. Hugh wondered what else he could look at through the glasses, seeing as he already had them on.

He opened a letter that had come in the post. It was an invitation to a party at his Aunt Joyce's house on the following evening. He hated Joyce's parties. Things always went wrong, mainly for him. He thought that was why she kept inviting him. People could see things going wrong for him and say, "I'm glad that's not me." He often got his foot stuck in things, and sometimes he had to take those things home with him. He was always humiliated. So he was angry when he read the invitation. He blamed the dog for it.

He told his fiancee, Annabel, that he wasn't going to go to the party. She said to him, "Would you rather be stuck somewhere with your own hair, and your hair keeps moving about, and you tell it to stop moving but it doesn't?"

She had been coming up with questions like that ever since she read a book about logic. He's never been able to answer them. "Okay, I'll go," he said.

So he went to the party and there was a small explosion and people blamed him for it, and he said, "That bloody dog."

Small people laughed at him. He was going to laugh at them for being small, but he knew that wouldn't go down well. He laughed at a blackbird instead, for being small. That didn't go down well.

He went into the back garden and tried to avoid the other guests. It was a beautiful summer evening. The dogs were forming a plan to do something about the flies, but they ended up doing something about the flower bed instead because it was easier.

Joyce came out to talk to Hugh. She said, "Wouldn't you like to come inside to talk to the others? That man who climbed the mountain is here."

"No, I'm grand here."

"I thought you liked him."

"No. He called me a flower pot."

"He meant it as a compliment."

"No he didn't."

"Will you talk to some of your cousins anyway?"

"No." Hugh walked away, but he didn't get far. He tripped on a pipe sticking out of the ground. "The dogs have been working on a plan to do something about that," Joyce said.

Hugh's cousin, Ted, was at the party with his wife, Anne. Accidents always happen to Anne at these parties too. She just lets things happen and says, "Hooray, I'm really glad that happened." Or else she hides in a tree. That's where she was when Hugh met her. She told him it was the ideal place to be to avoid being humiliated, so Hugh joined her in the tree.

She'd been reading 'The Castle' by Kafka, and she spoke about that. Hugh didn't have any interest in Kafka, but being with her in the tree was still much better than being on the ground with things to trip over or get stuck in. He wondered why he had never thought of this before.

My cousin June's kids, Daisy and Graham, were playing in the garden with their cousin, Scott. They saw Hugh and Anne in the tree, and Daisy asked them what they were doing up there. Anne said, "We're discussing Kafka."

Annabel was talking to the man who climbed the mountain. He called her a flower, and she thought he was fascinating. But she stopped listening to him when she heard the kids say, "Anne and Hugh, sitting in a tree, D I S S S I C C I E B S S C who G I I S S..."

It went on like this for about a minute. None of them knew how to spell 'discussing', let alone 'Kafka'. Daisy thought she could spell 'discussing', but Graham and Scott put her off. Scott's attempt to spell it included the letters 'X Y Z' and his parents' phone number.

It ended with Daisy saying the letters 'I N G'. Annabel was shocked when she heard it. She couldn't say exactly what Anne and Hugh were up to in the tree, but she knew it was something they shouldn't be doing.

She went to the tree and threw a stone at Hugh. She missed with that, but she hit him with a garden gnome, and she had a very high hit-rate with the watering can.

All the guests from the party gathered around the tree to see her throwing things at Hugh. Someone said, "I'm glad it's not me." Joyce smiled at that.

The moose's head over the fireplace still hasn't given any hints as to who he thinks will win the World Cup. He normally gets these things right. The wife's uncle says he knew a woman who had a habit of saying 'my eyes are awake'. He thought she was doing it to frighten her knees. But she was very perceptive. She had an excellent record when it came to predicting the outcomes of sporting events, even though she didn't like sport. He says he can't ask her about the World Cup because they're no longer on speaking terms. As with so many of his relationships with women, it ended when he told her she was too good for him and he left for someone better than her. If she didn't see that one coming, I wouldn't trust her opinion on the World Cup.