'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, May 14, 2008


The weeds would take over the garden if you let them. There's a good case to be made for letting them. You wouldn't have to spend so much time pulling weeds out of the ground. But I keep imagining what my grandmother and great-grandmother would say if I let the weeds win. They wouldn't need to say anything -- they'd just have to look at me. When I was young my grandmother would give me a penny for spending an afternoon pulling weeds. People used to say she was a miser, but she preferred to think of herself as a coin collector.

My cousin Albert often went to the pub with his friends, George and Neil. A German man used to play the accordion there every Friday evening, and for some reason it proved the be an extremely effective way of seducing women. The women would surround him when he went to the bar after finishing his set.

Albert was convinced that the accordion had a German accent, and that this was what the women were attracted to. George and Neil listened very closely, but they couldn't hear the accent. Albert insisted he wasn't imagining it. "I play the accordion myself," he said. "Even if I didn't know that the player was German, I'd be able to tell that it was a German accordion just by listening to it. The women hear the accordion talking to them in a German accent."

"Why don't you demonstrate what an accordion would sound like when it speaks in an Irish accent," George said.

"Alright then. I'll play here tomorrow evening. I'll use it to 'talk' to Yvonne. I always get nervous when I actually talk to her, but maybe in music I'll be able to say the things I've failed to say in words."

There was definitely a different accent to Albert's accordion. No one knew for sure what he was saying, but they could guess because of the way he was looking at Yvonne as he played. She was at the bar with her friend, Ciara. She said to Ciara, "Is he trying to say something about taking me back to his caravan?"

"It's quite possible," Ciara said.

When Albert finished playing he went over to her. He said 'hi', but she slapped him across the face and said, "I'll never be drunk enough."

She walked away. Ciara explained to him that Yvonne had interpreted the music as an invitation to go back to his caravan and to do something when she's drunk enough.

George and Neil thought he'd been saying something similar to Yvonne. "I don't even have a caravan," Albert said to them. "That says a lot about her image of me if she thinks I'm the sort of man who gets women drunk and takes them back to my caravan."

"You would be that sort of man if you had a caravan," Neil said.

"You could change your image," George said.

"That would take too much time and effort."

"Maybe the Irish accent was too strong," Neil said.

"Yeah, I never thought of that. It's the accent that puts her off, and I wouldn't blame her. I should try to play with a German accent."

"My cousin Paul is obsessed with the German language," George said. "He could certainly teach you a thing or two."

They went to see Paul on the following day. He told them he first became interested in German when he saw a woman dancing in German. He became captivated by her, and he fell in love the language. He loved the sound of the words, even though he didn't understand them. His love of the language didn't diminish when he learnt it.

Neil said, "I always notice the 'man' in German when I hear German women speak."

"Claudia Schiffer is German," Paul said. "Does she make you think of men?"


"When I took up writing, German seemed like my natural language. I decided to use a typewriter because I thought the sound of it would be appropriate for German. All typewriters have German accents, and I bought mine in Germany, so the accent is very strong."

"I always thought Irish dancing sounded like a typewriter," George said.

"I suppose there is a a hint of German in Irish dancing."

"What about traditional Irish music?"

"I've written a film script in German about a traditional Irish band."

"I used to play in a trad band," Albert said. "We often played in a club called Trad Pit. It was really more of a hole than a pit. It was a bit seedy."

"It obviously still has an influence on your music," George said. "You developed your accent there. That's why Yvonne thought you wanted to take her to a caravan."

"I could type in German and you can play along," Paul said. "Maybe that way you'll take on some of the German accent."

Albert spent an hour playing the accordion, accompanying Paul as he typed. George spent the time reading through an English version of the script. Paul got someone else to translate it from German into English. George guessed that something had been lost in the translation. Phrases like 'Can you please diminish my cake' just didn't sound right.

They returned on the following evening and Albert played again while Paul typed. Albert thought he was playing with a different accent, and he felt ready to play for Yvonne again.

But he didn't have any more success the second time around. This time she threw a drink in his face and she said, "You can tell the lumberjack he's an idiot."

George showed Albert a line in the script where a character called Hans said 'If your legs could be used by a lumberjack, the lumberjack would think they belonged to the rector'.

"I got the impression you said that to her," George said.

"Mabye I need to use a different instrument," Albert said.

"Why don't you sing to her?" Neil said. "Serenade her. She can't be confused about what you're saying if you say it in song."

"Yeah, but I can't sing."

"You can whistle," George said. "Why not join The Whistlers?"

"That's not a bad idea."

The Whistlers were a club that met three times a week to practice their own whistling language, which was a bit like bird song. They met in an orchard, and their meetings were conducted entirely in whistles. One of the members wanted to sing like Cyndi Lauper as well as whistle, but the others wouldn't let her even whistle a Cyndi Lauper song. She said that the president got to whistle the theme tune to Hill Street Blues, and the others told her she should start a Cyndi Lauper club if she had a problem with the president's whistling.

So she did start a Cyndi Lauper club. About half of The Whistlers joined her in the new club. A lot of them left because they could express so many more things in song. One of them left because he had wanted to whistle the word 'subliminate' but the motion was rejected. They'd also meet in the orchard, and they'd sing Cyndi Lauper songs for hours. The Whistlers told them (by whistling) that they were effectively a choir, but the Cyndi Lauper club whistled as well. Tensions between the two groups grew when The Whistlers started throwing apples at the Cyndi Lauper Club. The Cyndi Lauper Club responded by handing out copies of The Whistlers' guidebook to their language. All Whistlers had to sign an agreement saying they'd never reveal their language to non-Whistlers. But the Cyndi Lauper club made changes to the original guidebook. In the original you'd find a whistle that represented the word 'piano', but according to the altered version, this whistle represented 'hedgehog'.

Albert joined The Whistlers and he spent a month learning their language before he felt confident enough to use it on Yvonne. When he saw her walking through the park with Ciara one evening he performed a series of whistles he'd practised in advance. She had one of the guidebooks created by the Cyndi Lauper club, so she was able to translate what he whistled.

When he finished whistling she walked over to him. She punched him in the stomach and she walked away. Before Ciara followed her, she whispered these words in Albert's ear: "I have a nurse's uniform at home. Come to my house at eleven o' clock."

The moose's head over the fireplace didn't look pleased when Manchester United won the Premier League on Sunday. Seeing Chelsea win would have been only slightly better. There isn't much to get excited about when the best you can hope for is that the lesser of two evils will win. They'll be playing each other in the Champions League final as well. It's a pity one of them has to win. The wife's uncle is supporting Man U because of a bad memory associated with Chelsea. He once met a woman in a bar in Chelsea and she agreed to go out on a date with him. She was wearing a wedding dress when she turned up for the date and this freaked him out. He wasn't wearing anything.