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


We've had rain and strong winds every day so far in December. Even when the rain stops, the garden isn't the most peaceful of places to be. The wife's aunt has become obsessed with bingo. She walks around the garden, pointing at things and calling out numbers. "A dog in a bucket, thirty-four."

My cousin Hugh never paid a great deal of attention to his own appearance, let alone the appearances of others, but his fiancee, Annabel, expected him to show a much greater interest in hers. She often used to ask him if her make-up was okay. He always said it was fine, and she got the impression that he wasn't even looking. On one Saturday she went for the 'prostitute' look in her make-up. She asked Hugh for his opinion and he said, "It's fine. Have you seen my sun glasses?"

She was just about to complain when her phone rang. It was a friend of hers who spoke about organising a party in her aunt's summer house over a bank-holiday weekend. Annabel was delighted to hear about the party, and she completely forgot about the make-up.

She went shopping with Hugh and she met some friends of hers. She was in a great mood because of the party. People stared at her, and no one said very much.

My cousin Jane met a sailor. She didn't know what to say to him so she whistled. He did a tap dance and it scared her.

She met Annabel and Hugh in a pub on that afternoon. The sailor was still with her, but she wanted to get rid of him. She saw Annabel's new look and she thought it would be the sort of thing a sailor would go for. Hugh was talking to the bar man, so Jane introduced the sailor to Annabel and left them alone.

Annabel got on very well with him, and Jane started to feel guilty about bringing them together. She thought of Claudia, her best friend. Claudia had started saying 'blink' when she blinked. She got into the habit of saying it every time she blinked, so she tried to get out of the habit of blinking. She tended to stare with wide eyes, and this frightened most people, but one man thought she was trying to seduce him. Jane got the idea of introducing Claudia to the sailor in the hope that the staring would be effective as a seduction technique.

She phoned Claudia and asked her to come to the pub.
Claudia had forgotten about her tendency to say 'blink' and she had stopped staring, but she just needed a reminder. Jane said to her, "And remember, don't say 'blink'."

Claudia's eyes widened.

Jane told Annabel about the make-up. Annabel's eyes widened too, and she left them. Then Jane introduced Claudia to the sailor, and she stared at him. It scared him, and he started whistling.

Annabel took off the make-up and she realised that Hugh had seen her looking like that when she was deep in a warm conversation with a sailor, and still he took no notice. She wanted to make him jealous.

She went back to the sailor. Claudia left to rest her eyes. The sailor was delighted to be back with Annabel and out of Claudia's company. Their conversation resumed.

Jane saw this and she tried to think of another way to split them up. So she got Claudia to stare at Hugh instead and then she went to Annabel and said, "I think Claudia is trying to seduce Hugh. It looks as if she's wearing him down too. He's staring back at her."

So Annabel went to Hugh and Claudia, and this left Jane alone with the sailor again.

The silence made her feel uncomfortable. She tried to think of something to say. She looked around the pub and she saw a painting of a mountain on the wall. "I've often wondered about mountains," she said. "It's not something I think about all the time. But occasionally I think about them and say 'hm'. Once I thought about something and said 'pancakes!'. And everyone looked at me, and that's why I forgot what I was thinking. I know I wasn't thinking about pancakes. Another time I said 'Richard Burton!' when I was looking at someone's carpet."

"I once said 'cheese' when I meant to say 'shoes'," the sailor said. "'I'll throw your effing cheese at the turkey.' That had an effect, but not quite the effect I was hoping for."

"I once threw cheese at someone. That had exactly the effect I was hoping for, but in hindsight I think I might have been better off choosing some other effect. I could have thrown her shoes at a turkey, but I liked the turkey. I could have just taken her shoes off and thrown them at something else I didn't like. Or I could have said, 'I'm only talking to the turkey from now on.' And then I could have told the turkey about how she can't sing and her head goes red when she tries, and given him the cheese."

"I once spoke to a doorbell. I told it exactly what I thought of it, but I thought I was talking to a man who laughed at my tie. I said, 'You think you're so big just because you met Boris Becker.' I did wonder why he was so small and why he emitted light."

"I once made a tie..."

Annabel had gone over to Hugh and Claudia. He looked at her instead of at Claudia, and he found the view more appealing. He said, "You look much better without make-up."

She smiled and said, "I knew you'd notice."

The three of them went back to Jane and the sailor, who were were kissing by then. When Claudia saw them she said, "Blink blink blink blink blink."

The moose's head over the fireplace has been to rehearsals for the Christmas pageant. He's playing Santa Claus. They managed to work the crew of a submarine into the story. The fact that Santa is a moose's head seems less odd when he's surrounded by submariners.