A father for us all
‘You’ve got a bum and a tum now!’ Remarked an old flame,
who’d changed her profession from social worker to children’s magician.
‘You might be greyer of hair,’ she said with a wink,
‘but I remember when you were as thin as a lath,
and though your raggedy existence has aged you somewhat,
you’re now strong, like a put-out-to-grass ox,
if you’ll forgive my back-handed compliment.’
She laughed, did this former refugee gypsy girl from Bosnia Heznovogia,
then, noticing my stiff calf muscles, massaged my anterior ligament.
I’d hurt myself while riding an ostrich in South Africa, but ironically,
the week before in Durban city,
I’d escaped without a scratch after an altercation
with knife-wielding assailants in a public toilet.
So when that flightless bird ran off, I’d toppled arse over posterior.
When I told my lady friend about my brush with death, she was sympathetic,
then told stories of war which made my experience pale.
But when I vowed revenge on my assailants, after a glance at my unmanly body,
her laughter rang around the bar.
Her parents had settled in the Irish fishing port of Killybegs,
where, as a young girl, working in a grocery shop,
boatman Fergus Fontflitt saw her juggling potatoes,
while drop-kicking lemons into a sack.
So, he recruited her to his on-board entertainment crew,
along with fiddler Fred and Barney on banjo, playing Irish tunes,
Boulavouge and Macaverty’s Retreat From Magherafail,
while my love performed incredible tricks with herring and skate.
But she was shocked to see her captain – whose real name
was Timothy Titmite – break down in tears, after admitting he’d been a deserter in the war.
‘This made me think,’ my old love said, ‘for you never know people’s back story.
they do not always conform to stereotype,
which I discovered after I journeying east over the border,
where killers are revered and old military chiefs still talk rot,
when faced with their mistakes of the past,
and I learned that heroes can be those who don’t wish to fight.
‘I returned feeling an overwhelming sense of peace,
for I’d met a mysterious cleric called Father Hindelbrand,
on top of Belfast’s Cave Hill, gazing out to sea.
‘Do not give up on this divided island,’ he said.
‘You came from a war-ravaged country and have made a life here.
‘But Orange men, green-tinged activists and old men wearing khaki
are all different colours of a rainbow, which always has the last laugh.
‘For colours do not define man or woman, and when the heavens
disapprove of their behaviour, they are all equally rained upon.’
I was curious, ‘Do you still keep in touch with this wise fellow?’
‘That’s the strange thing, it seems a priest of that name was murdered in Sarajevo.’
So, I left my old flame feeling rather chastened.
You see, I realised I’d hardly knew her and wondered about this priest.
For I needed someone to restore my faith and, like Christ,
hoped the cleric would resurrect himself.
So, on a whim I popped over to Belfast, where,
on top of that very hill where my old love had stood,
I met a man of the cloth who seemed to knew exactly who I was.
Seeing me gaze out to sea, he said, ‘Don’t look east.’
‘Why not?’ I said startled out of my reverie.
‘Theres a border out there in the sea.’
I laughed, ‘Sounds like an Irish joke... oh, sorry.’
He smiled, ‘I’m not from this little island.’
Then suddenly clapping his hands, he cried,
'It's time to dispel this mood,
which has come over me like a deathly pall.
I shall take you to a bar which I’ve just bought, it’s called A Glass Half Full.'
Walking together I asked him, ‘Where are you from then?’
‘Oh, places where I’ve seen armies invade,
and put back the progress that fellow who was nailed to a cross made.’
Before I could enquire further, he added, ‘I’ve invited your old
flame to do magic tricks for the children, along with a band from Killybegs,
with Fergus Fontflitt to sing vocals, who’ll get us all up to dance.
We might even get your old love to drop-kick lemons into a sack.
‘To finish the evening, we’ll sing that song by a man who
met his end at the barrel of a gun, like so many from this place.
It’s called Give Peace A Chance.
‘The guy who wrote it is from Liverpool, which welcomed emigrants – like me.
I believe he had a hit single – I refer of course to John Lennon.’
I smiled, ‘Should be great craic.’
‘Yes.’ Smiled the cleric. ‘By the way, I didn’t get your name.’
‘My parents christened me Kevin, after a little-known Irish saint.
It’s annoying that everyone celebrates the other chap,
the one who rid this land of snakes, and not my namesake,
even though the snake banisher was born in England.
‘That’s very true,’ he sympathised. ‘Pleased to meet you.
I’m Father Hindelbrand.’
Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh
Thu 1st Dec 2022 09:24
Ah yes, the border in the Irish sea.
I wonder which set of Onanists dreamt that one up?😕
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