Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bonfire Tales

Scene: A car park in a village near Ballymena. Around one-third of it is taken up with the beginnings of an Eleventh Night Bonfire made up of wooden pallets interspersed with tyres. Near the main bonfire there is evidence that there has already been a smaller fire. The car park surface is damaged. Household furniture and other rubbish is scattered around and one of the two entrances to the car park is blocked. Several young boys are clambering over the pallets and hanging around. Most are under sixteen years of age. A vehicle pulls into the car park, inside are two young girls and their grandmother.

Six-year-old child: What is that Granny?

Granny: It's a bonfire.

Six-year-old child: What is it for?

Granny: Well, there are some people who have a special day when they like to watch marching bands, and people called Orange Men and Orange Women walk in a parade and lots of people come out to see them and the night before this special day they like to light a big fire and that's what that is.

Six-year-old child: But why is it so messy?

Granny: I'm not sure.

Six-year-old child: When is the special day?

Granny: It's the 12th of July, twelve more days. The fire will be lit on the night of the 11th of July.

Six-year-old child: So it's going to be left all messy until then!

Granny: Probably.

Six-year-old child: Will they clean it up afterwards?

Granny: (laughs) No. No they won't. It will get cleaned up afterwards but not by them. They should clean it up but they don't.

And this is a village that prides itself on being one of the best kept in the area. Apart from the annual eyesore in the car park it is a well-kept little place. Ah well. I expect the residents think it's an improvement on times gone by when the bonfire was built in the very centre of the village and they lived in fear of their homes and businesses being burnt to the ground. It's an odd thing, this culture lark.

Killing Slugs

The very minute you arrive in my yard I'll be saying,

Well! What do you think? Did the vote please you? How do you feel about it now? What about your silly oul'  Da that was for voting Leave because there was too much paperwork and regulations. What does he think? Your Ma, who was voting Leave because there were too many Eastern Europeans in the town, is she happy now? 

Or, if you're English I'll be saying,

I know you voted to Remain but what does it feel like knowing that everybody hates you? And that we're all thrilled that Iceland fucked you out of the European Championship.

And if you arrive in my yard and I know you voted to Leave I'll pretend that I don't care, mutter some banality and avoid you. It's a big yard and a big enough house so it's easy to do. And that's if I like you. If I don't like you, you're going on my list.

I thought I'd have to sort my Facebook friends but nobody that voted Leave is on there gloating so I haven't had to do that. If any of my Friends voted Brexit they must Regrexit so I'll leave that for now.

A casual friend turned up the other day with his delightful two year old. We went out to view Honey's chick,

Well Rodders, how did you vote? 
I voted Leave. 
Did you? Do you realise this means we can no longer be friends?

I mentioned my list. I kill slugs. I grow things, gardeners kill slugs. It's not a pleasant thing to do and I wish it wasn't necessary but I crush those slugs under my heel and I do it fast and hard and I only kill the sort that eat seedlings. When I kill slugs I have a mantra, it goes something like this,

Boris Johnson. Theresa Villiers, The Ballymena UKIP councillor, Michael Gove, That Unmentionable Harridan who writes for the Daily Mail, Gregory Campbell, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, Kelvin Mackenzie, The Sun, Jim Allister, William Wright, Arlene Foster, Donald Trump...

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Bad Thing That Happened To Bert Before That Other Bad Thing That Happened

Here it is. My first post since England and Wales carelessly waltzed Scotland and Northern Ireland out of the European Union. I still cannot gather my thoughts to blog about it. Maybe tomorrow. There is still so much going on.

This has been such a difficult fortnight. I'd been so agitated about the upcoming referendum results not to mention the appalling horror movie that was the endless commentary. I was fearful that the result would not be the one I wanted and even fell out with Clint because he was voting to leave.

Then, a week before the referendum Bert bashed his ribs in an accident involving a cow. He was helping Clint dose cattle and standing on a five bar gate when the big beast banged into it, causing him to lose his balance and fall on to the gate on his left side. When it happened he was winded, could hardly breathe and was very shocked. Bert never, ever expects bad things to happen to him, unlike his wife who envisages her immediate death every time she descends the stairs.

Clint was his usual unsympathetic self and carried on dosing the beasts. What else would you expect of a stoic?

Poor Bert. He was in so much pain and discomfort but all his friends rallied round and soon the painkillers were rolling in for it is a tradition among country folk to use up all the old medications before new ones are sought. He was even given Tramadol that had been subscribed for a dog but, I’m glad to say, he did not try it.

He seems to be recovering but it is such a slow process. When all his decent pain relief ran low he went to see his GP and she pronounced the ribs badly bruised. One of our friends is in the farm supplies and animal feeds business and he told Bert that there is hardly a week goes by that he does find one or two of his customers nursing bashed ribs because of rampaging beasts. See Bert! Now you know why I am timorous around cattle. You can never mock me again.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Message From My Father

Sorry Reader. I cannot settle myself to properly update Nelly's Garden until this bloody referendum is over. Who cares about Trump? Even though I have detested him since first becoming aware of him. He'll be a disaster for the world and the USA if he gains the presidency but, at worst, it's only eight years. For us, leaving the EU will be irrevocable. I just can't understand why anyone, anyone with a grain of intelligence would think leaving would be a good thing to do. I hate what the debate has become, the exaggeration, the lies, the fear of  'the other'. I also hate that Northern Ireland's particular position has been almost totally ignored.

And another thing, you people, you otherwise good people who do not exercise your right to vote - it is time to grow up. Opting out is Not An Option. Opting out is not you being too fine a person to get involved in ugly old politics. Opting out is letting the bad guys win. It's Father's Day today and my father Seamus Byrne would metaphorically kick your arse. He always said that those who don't vote are like beasts in a field. Think about it.

Seamus and Bert. They always voted.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Another Only Child

One egg hatched. The rest, major disappointment. We have a two-day-old chicklet born on Sunday, probably half-Silky. He/she is very tiny. More learning. Flour is sitting on three, due to hatch in just over a fortnight. She is isolated from the flock, seems contented and I intend to - Let. Her. Be.

No interference, no moving, no disturbances. Every broody period is a learning experience.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

On Eggs

I'm on eggs.

That was an expression I often heard my mother and aunts use when they were nervous or apprehensive about something. Well. I'm on eggs and I'm on eggs because Honey the bantam is on eggs. There were six, now only five and they are due (I think) to hatch this weekend. One broke on Friday, inside one rotten little embryo roughly 10-12 days developed. That is when I went on eggs. There was also a thunderstorm and Bert, teller of old wive's tales, informed me that electrical storms play havoc with developing eggs.

Who told you that?
Pearlie. But everyone knows that. It's been well-known for fourteen million years.
Rubbish. There were no chickens or people fourteen million years ago.

I know. I'm a pedant.

But it worried me enough to go on the internet and there I found that half the folk there believed it to be nonsense and the other half said it was true. I was unnerved. And when the little rotten egg was found next day I started to fret that poor Honey was wasting her time and energy sitting on a clutch of dead chicks.

I've been in and out of the hen house a dozen times today. Bert said I might hear tapping or cheeping but the country is so noisy you could hardly hear a thing. The songbirds are the noisiest, then the traffic on the road. At one point I thought I heard tapping but I might have been imagining it. I'd like to move her to the other house where she can have peace and quiet but I'm worried it would put her off. She is very easily put out, unlike Flour who is already in the spare house sitting on three eggs. I'll be up tomorrow at daybreak to see if anything has happened. So, on eggs, Honey, Flour and Nelly.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Eleven Years

Eleven years ago today we lost the kindest, funniest and most decent man ever. He was a much loved husband, father, grandfather, father-in-law, uncle, brother, friend and neighbour. Seamus, still very much missed today. Grateful to have had you in my life for fifty one years and sorry about that rough patch between 1968 and 1973 when I didn't appreciate you enough.