'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Pig

The tail-end of a hurricane is passing over the country. It's nice to have proper wind and rain again. Of course, not having any wind and rain would be nice too. There's a time and a place for everything. Ireland at the end of September isn't the ideal place and time for the Ryder Cup. The rain is inevitable. Some would say that this weekend in Kildare is the perfect time and place for wind and rain.

My cousin Craig went to see a play, and then he saw a bus, and then he thought about things for a long time. Whenever he thought about things for a long time he always thought about serious issues, like the meaning of life or things that would come under that heading, but the only conclusion he needed to reach was that he needed to be on the bus.

He really needed to come to that conclusion before he started thinking, and he was unlikely to arrive at it through thinking about the meaning of life. When the bus arrived at its destination his train of thought was still nowhere near arriving at anything. He was still standing on the street. He went to a cafe to continue his thoughts in a more comfortable setting.

He drank his coffee at a small table near the wall. The woman in the next table asked him what he was thinking about. He was going to say 'the bus' but when he thought about it he realised that he wasn't thinking about the bus at all. "It's difficult to put into words," he said. "I suppose it would come under the heading 'the meaning of life' and it involves an apple and someone tangled up in curtains."

"The play I'm performing in would come under that heading too, and it involves a table tennis ball and someone in a bath."

"I thought you looked familiar. I was at that play."

"I thought you looked familiar too. There were only about ten people in the audience."

"You were very good."

"You're just saying that. You were very good to sit through that rubbish."

Her name was Eve, and they spoke about other things that just about came under the 'meaning of life' heading, like why some cats are fat, or what they have for breakfast. She told him about the time she saw a cloud shaped like a spoon, and by the time she had photographed the cloud it was shaped like a pig. That seemed like an anti-climax after expecting a spoon.

He told her he could show her a car shaped like a spoon, and she said she'd love to see that. His friend Eric owned it. Eric lived a few streets away, so they walked there. Craig thought she'd never speak to him again if the car turned out to be shaped like a pig, but clouds were much more changeable than cars.

Eric was outside looking at his car when they got there. The driver's seat was at the business end of the spoon, in the hollow. There was a glass dome over it. Someone had poured twenty-eight jars of strawberry jam into the car as a joke, but Eric didn't find it very funny. He knew who had done it too. It was a friend of his called Daniel, but he was known as 'An Daingean'. They used to call him 'Dingle', after the town in Kerry, because he thought it was a stupid name. When they changed the name of Dingle to An Daingean he said that was stupid too, even though he thought 'An Daingean' sounded less stupid than 'Dingle'. They thought this made him more stupid than he seemed before, so they started calling him 'An Daingean', even though it was less stupid than 'Dingle'. As revenge for the jam, Eric was going to write 'An Daingean' on the roof of Daniel's car.

Craig and Eve accompanied Eric on his mission. They walked past the shops. They were all closed, but the windows were brightly lit. They stopped in front of one shop window because a pig was sleeping inside. Craig tapped on the glass to wake the pig, who looked up at them. They saw a woman inside the shop. She approached the window, and she held up a sign that said 'Don't bother the pig'.

Eric got out the black marker he was going to use on the roof of Daniel's car, and he wrote 'why?' on the glass in backwards letters.

She got out a pen and wrote on the back of the sign: 'Because he wants to be left alone'.

Eric wrote: 'He doesn't look as if he wants to be left alone'.

She wrote: 'How would you know when a pig doesn't want to be left alone? And stop writing on the glass'.

He couldn't answer that question, so he didn't have anything to write on the glass anyway, but he felt he couldn't just walk away. It didn't seem like an appropriate way to end their conversation. He rolled up his sleeve and wrote on his arm: 'You look as if you want to come with us to write something on a car.'

Craig thought she didn't look like that at all, so he was surprised when she wrote 'okay' on the sign. She brought the pig on a lead.

Her name was Greta. The four of them went to Daniel's car, and while Eric wrote on the roof, they kept a lookout, but there was really no need when they had the pig to distract anyone who came along.

When the job was done they went to get some ice creams. They got one for the pig too. They walked through the streets, and they looked in shop windows, but they saw nothing as exciting as a pig. The pig wasn't excited by anything. They spoke about this and that, and 'that' strayed out from under the 'meaning of life' heading and into the shelter of 'why is my left big toe bigger than my right big toe?'. It was Greta who spoke about this.

They went to see Eric's spoon car, but when they got there they saw that Daniel had returned, and he had added cream to the strawberry jam. "I don't know what I'm going to write on his roof to get revenge for this one," Eric said.

Craig had been thinking about cars turning into pigs earlier in the night, so an idea fell into place in his head after very little thought. He suggested that they remove Daniel's car and replace it with the pig. Eric loved the idea, and he knew someone with years of experience at 'removing' cars.

He called up this removal man, who got into the car, started it, moved it to a nearby street and was gone within a minute. Greta tied the pig's lead to a streetlight near where the car had been, and she left the sign that said 'Don't bother the pig'. Then Eric rang the doorbell and they hid around the corner.

Daniel looked confused when he saw the pig. He was disappointed when he saw the sign, because he wanted to bother the pig.

He eventually heard the laughter, and he found Eric with the others around the corner. He demanded to know where his car was, and Eric said that only the pig would know. Greta said, "And asking the pig where your car is would count as bothering him."

"What wouldn't count as bothering him?" Daniel said.

"Following him around. Maybe he'll lead you to your car."

Daniel didn't question the fact that he was being led by a pig on a lead. They walked in the opposite direction to where his car was.

They met a woman who had purple hair, and Greta wondered if she knew she had purple hair because she didn't seem to know where she was and she thought the pig was a dog. Her hair was pointing in lots of different directions, and the style didn't come under any one heading.

Greta said to her, "I know where you could see a pig in a shop window." She just wanted the purple-haired woman to look at her reflection in the glass.

They all went back to the shop. A crowd of people were looking at the words written on the glass. Greta scared them away with the pig and the 'Don't bother the pig' sign. The woman with the hair looked in the window, but she just looked at the words too. She said, "In these words I see the absence of a pig, which is just as exciting as seeing a pig."

The pig was starting to fall asleep. He obviously wasn't excited by being a pig.

Daniel said, "When I look at the pig I see the absence of my car, and I can see something exciting about that, but I'd still rather see my car."

"I can think of nothing more wondrous than seeing the absence of a car in a pig, and seeing the presence of a pig in a dog."

"Really?" Daniel said. He noticed that she seemed impressed by what he had done with the absences and the presences. "Well, I can see something wondrous in it myself. I've always been keen on seeing wonder in things, especially in things that aren't there."

"I could show you the absence of a folk band in a pool of water."

"Lead the way," Daniel said, and he left with the purple-haired woman.

Greta said to Eric, "If you're looking for a way to clean your car, the pig could consume any amount of cream and strawberry jam."

The pig was wide-awake after hearing the words 'pig', 'cream' and 'jam'. Eric left with Greta and the pig.

Craig and Eve looked at a billboard on the other side of the street. There was an image of an elephant on it. A bus stopped at the edge of the footpath, and it blocked their view of the billboard. He remembered the bus he was supposed to get earlier. This one wasn't his bus, but it was hers, and she invited him back to her place to see her photos of clouds.

The moose's head over the fireplace is looking forward to the golf. We got him a green golf visor. It was either green or the blue and gold of the European Union flag. It's difficult to think of the EU without thinking of all those men in suits in Brussels, which isn't too far away from what I see when I think about golf.