'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Garden Rock

Summer is blossoming. The hurling and football championships are well underway and we're on the eve of another World Cup. The sun is shining in all of my memories of past World Cups. Without the Irish team it's never going to be as exciting as the glory days of Italy in 1990, but I'm still looking forward to it. I've decided to support the Ivory Coast because their national flag is the Irish flag backwards. The wife's uncle says it's a good idea to support the inverse of the thing you have a natural affinity for. It's what made so many of his friends turn to God.

My cousin Albert formed a band with his friends, George and Neil. They had very different tastes in music, but they were able to put their musical differences aside for the sake of a higher goal: to attract women. The one major obstacle preventing them from achieving their goal was that none of them had the confidence to be the front man. If they had this confidence they wouldn't have needed a band to achieve their goal. Albert was on drums, Neil played guitar and George tried to do something barely audible with the bass. They needed a lead singer. They thought it was much more important to find someone with the right attitude rather than the best singer, and this is why they hired Wayne. They'd known him since their school days. He always had an abundance of attitude. In almost all walks of life it would have been the wrong attitude. It got him suspended from school and fired from jobs on a regular basis. He abhorred the very concept of authority, unless he got to tell people what to do. It was inevitable that he'd clash with teachers and bosses, especially the bosses who took great delight in making him clean up messes made by people who'd been drinking for most of the day and had then eaten something they wouldn't give to a dog if they could see it when they were sober. Wayne worked in the places that served food not fit for a dog, but he never lasted long in any job.

He agreed to join the band, as long as he got to write his own lyrics. Albert, George and Neil agreed because they believed that lyrics were even less important than having a lead singer who could sing. The lyrics he came up with were terrible, but they conveyed the right attitude. What he lacked in talent, he made up for in ego. He seemed to regard himself as a cross between Bono and Stephen Hawking, and this wasn't just when he was incapacitated by drink. He always sounded as if he was preaching some great truth, even in his songs about ice cubes or paper.

The band's first gig was in a pub. They excelled at avoiding the bottles thrown at them, but they were only partially successful in their aim of attracting women. A middle-aged woman called Hazel came up to them after the gig and she asked them to play for an audience in her garden. Wayne agreed without consulting the rest of the band. And so they played their second gig on the following afternoon in Hazel's garden, before an audience of Hazel and her friends. It was a nice setting on a nice summer day with nice people, but Albert, George and Neil didn't want nice. They wanted 'euphoric' and 'grandiose' and 'stupid'.

Albert was surprised to find that Hazel and her friends enjoyed the songs, despite the fact that they were actually paying attention to the lyrics. Obviously they'd never been shown how to use a rock song. Hazel would discuss the lyrics with Wayne at the end of each song. She listened attentively to all of his theories on war, ice cubes and clouds, and he seemed genuinely interested in what she had to say about her hobbies, which included badminton and tea. His enjoyment of the gig probably stemmed from the fact that the audience were so appreciative. He readily agreed to do a second gig. He made no effort to consult his band mates on this. He acted as if it was his band, and the musicians were his disciples.

It took another seven gigs in the garden before Albert, George and Neil came to the conclusion that Wayne wasn't the right singer for the band. When they broke the news to him they put it down to musical differences. He said he'd been thinking of going solo anyway. They suspected that he was lying when he told them he'd been offered a record deal as a solo artist. They knew he was dreaming when he spoke of the fame and wealth that were in his reach.

Without Wayne, the band failed to fulfil its purpose. Albert, George and Neil were afraid that Wayne really would become a successful solo artist and they'd spend the rest of their lives regretting their decision to fire him. They didn't need to worry about this. He abandoned his music career shortly after Albert, George and Neil disbanded the band, but he was considerably more successful in the area of attracting women. The first Albert learnt of this was when he got an invitation to the wedding of Wayne and Hazel. She was old enough to be his mother, and his mother was only barely old enough to be his mother. The band re-united for one final performance at the wedding. They played some of Wayne's songs at the reception. After their performance, Albert, George and Neil finally found some success in their goal of attracting women, but only by pretending to be disciples of Wayne.

The moose's head over the fireplace is looking forward to the World Cup as well. He's decided to support Honduras. Most of my friends and neighbours are supporting countries they know very little about because of the long list of countries they despise. One of the neighbours hates Germany because when he was on holiday there with his girlfriend he fell into a pond. She took photos and made sure that all of his friends and family saw him emerging from the water, covered in what could best be described as slime. He could blame himself for not tying his shoelaces, and he could attach some blame to his girlfriend for taking the photos, but it's easier to blame Germany. If he blames his girlfriend for anything she'll become as intimidating as Germany in the 1930s.