'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, September 06, 2006


The grass is looking greener after the recent rain. I found some old pieces of timber in the shed and I decided to make them into a garden seat. At least it started as a seat. It might turn out to be something else entirely. My grandfather once started making a table and the finished product was a kettle

My cousin Gary worked in a radio station. One year the station bosses decided to send eight of their DJs on a summer tour. Gary was given the job of driving the DJs and producers around in a mini-bus. Gary could just about manage to listen to one of them on the radio, but he dreaded being stuck with eight of them.

After hours of driving on a hot summer day, Gary just wanted to chase down an ice cream van, and make the ice cream van man give them free ice creams, and one for the fox as well. The fox wasn't real.

That night he sat in the bar at the hotel. He was depressed because he hadn't seen a single ice cream van that day. He told the bar man about it. "Not even one," he said. "You'd think it'd be easy to find an ice cream van on a summer day, but not even one."

"If you were interested in tracking down penguins you'd feel as if you'd just hit the jackpot. There are thirty penguins in the car park."

Gary went outside to see the penguins. He tried to convince himself that he was happier seeing thirty penguins rather than one ice cream van. That was the logical way to look at it. He looked at the penguins walking around the car park. No ice cream man could do that. Thirty of them might be able to do it, but even then they wouldn't have the same appeal as the penguins.

Small villagers from a small village looked on. They seemed to be jealous of all the attention the penguins were getting. One of them played the trumpet, which got the attention of all the penguins.

Gary went back inside to the bar. He still felt empty. He couldn't convince himself that thirty penguins looking at a man play the trumpet was worth seeing.

He met a woman at the bar. Her name was Lucy. He told her about the ice cream van, or the lack of one, and she told him that she had been following a piece of string, but it only led to some chalk. "I'd have been much happier if it led to an ice cream van," she said, "so I can sympathise with your plight."

A man came over to them, and he offered to sell Gary a suit. "It smells of penguins, but it's in perfect condition."

Gary tried on the jacket, and he looked at himself in the mirror in the lobby.

"You look sharp in it," Lucy said. "As long as you ignore the smell."

"I don't know. Suits aren't really my thing."

"Why don't you come with me to a party, and you can wear that suit."

"What about the fox?"

She looked around. "He can come too."

Gary was hoping to relax at the party, and forget about his day, but people were singing karaoke songs and this made him nervous. He had a fear of singing in front of other people, of pulling the strings of a song but getting it hopelessly wrong. He thought she'd try to convince him to sing, and she did. He eventually agreed when she said she'd sing with him.

Lucy had been going out with a man called Robert. When he was getting new glasses he chose the ones with the biggest frames. He met Lucy in a shop. She couldn't stop staring at the glasses. They arranged to meet again on the following evening.

Lucy brought some biscuits when they met again because she wanted to see if the biscuits were bigger than the lenses on his glasses, but they weren't. Throughout their relationship she kept searching for a biscuit that was bigger than the lenses. He didn't think there was anything wrong with this, but she seemed to lose interest after she found a big enough biscuit. He was determined to win her over again. He thought about getting bigger glasses, but she'd just find a bigger biscuit.

When Gary and Lucy were in the middle of their song, Robert arrived at the party. He was wearing the biggest hat she'd ever seen in her life. The hat would sway from side to side at the slightest movement of his head. She stopped singing, and Gary continued the song in a nervous voice. The nerves were clearly audible in his voice when Lucy ran to Robert and started kissing him. Everyone looked at them for a while, until they all simultaneously looked at Gary. His voice faded away to silence. Lucy and Robert took no notice. Gary felt humiliated because of the song, and because the woman he arrived with was now kissing a man in a huge hat. He felt a need to see thirty penguins.

He left the party and returned to the car park outside the hotel. The penguins liked him in his suit, and he liked that. The sight of all those eyes, looking up at him in admiration, erased the memory of the eyes at the party. He forgot about the ice cream van too.

The moose's head over the fireplace has somehow made friends with a barn owl. They're normally very reclusive. The owl often comes to the window. If they could speak to each other they probably wouldn't have much to say. The owl spends most of his time catching and eating mice, which makes the moose's life on the wall seem more appealing. Maybe they can communicate in some way. The moose's head could have deciphered the sounds of an owl when he had a body and lived outdoors. He seems to know German.