Photograph taken from 'Ireland: Historic and Picturesque' by Charles Johnston, 1902
We have had Scruffalo staying with us all this week while the Kerry Sister and Brendan were in London. I'm afraid to say that he bullied our entire houseful of dogs and cats except Fred.
"Wagon" - Irish slang. A difficult, awkward or cantankerous woman.
The first time I ever head the expression ‘wagon’ was from a relation of mine speaking about one of her in-laws. I thought it had a quare ring to it but wasn’t sure enough of its meaning to use it myself. It seemed to be some form of derogatory term used to describe other women and, as such, would not be a very appropriate word for the likes of a well-reared, educated and kind woman such as myself.
But that is enough lies for one evening. I was reading the Swearing Lady the other day and came across the word ‘wagon’ again and I thought to myself that I’d need to get a handle on this expression so that I can slip it into conversation. For I have known many wagons in my time. I even live with one. And poor Bert, he has two oul wagons to contend with. The man is a blessed saint that he hasn’t us both poisoned.
Ugh! A light fall of snow this morning – the sort of nasty wet snow that soon turns to slush. I spared a thought for the fears of old folk, for Lizzie, Pearlie’s sister, had taken a fall last week and was very stiff and sore. I’d planned to call with her during my lunch break.
But before I could do that a woman, older than me came crashing through the office door. She was frantic. “Please help me. My husband has fallen and I can’t get him up by myself!” It was a good thing that there were two men in the boardroom engaged in a business meeting. I went straight in and told them they were needed and they sprang to their feet.
I was terribly worried as to what we were going to find but happily the gentleman appeared not to have hurt himself too badly or to have taken any sort of a turn. His first words on being helped to his feet were, “Thank God to get off that cold ground.” The poor chap was soaked to the skin so I advised his wife, now a lot calmer, to get him dry clothes and keep him warm.
I visited Lizzie as planned and found her in low spirits. Falls really knock old folk’s confidence. Added to which she was in quite a bit of discomfort. We chatted for a while and I returned to work.
But first I called in on the folks from the morning. The man appeared to have got off lightly. He told me he’d gone outside to do his few chores as normal. These usually took him an hour. When he didn’t come in at the expected time his wife went out to see what was keeping him and found him lying at the bottom of the garden. He had slipped and fallen on his side and his arthritis had prevented him from getting up. He told me he must have been lying there for 45 minutes, but that “It felt like a fortnight”. He had shouted for help but it is a long garden and no one had heard him.
One thing I noticed about the incident was afterwards when the fellows, who’d been having a rather tense meeting returned to the office, their mood seemed to have altered a little. There was less locking of horns and more of a cooperative atmosphere. That’s the effect of teamwork I suppose.