Bill and me stood on the plateau about a hundred metres from the summit of Croagh Patrick.
Bill was wearing mountain boots, an anorak and a water proof hat.
He also had a back pack and a walking stick.
I was wearing an open necked short sleeved shirt, regular trews, and city shoes.
I carried no stick or baggage.
The wind was howling around the side of the mountain.
Rain was pouring through existence.
I gotta tell ya.
Drowned rats had nothing on me.
I was so wet I was dry.
The wind was ballooning in my tee shirt with a special effect that made the tee shirt look like nothing so much as a parachute trying determinedly to inflate.
I was so cold I was warm.
But you get the picture.
The wind died suddenly.
To our left a thick mist began to advance billowingly over the rocks.
That was a pretty good special effect too, I thought with calm terror.
Night was falling.
The bits of the mystic mountain not yet covered in mist, veritably glistened in the drenching rain.
We were so near the top I could smell it.
Ahead of us the slope steepened.
Bill spoke gently through the downpour.
"James," he said softly. "I think we'd better turn back."
Instantly I rounded on him.
"Noooo!" I roared fiercely. "All my life I've turned back. At school I turned back. In adult life I turned back. Got a job in journalism and turned back. Set up my own business, turned back. Had a job in government, turned back. Highlighted on my website the Al Qaeda infiltration of Ireland through an infernal alliance with people traffickers and drug dealers, but turned back. Endeavoured to expose the IRA/Russian Mafia connection to Sean Fitzpatrick, David Drumm, Sean Quinn and Peter Quinn, and the Quinn Family generally, and their brazzer wives, and their mistresses, and their cats Tiddles, in the institutionalised burglarisation of the IRA shell bank romantically styled Anglo Irish Bank, and the Irish government's ongoing cosmically invidious looting of the treasury and permanent Third World style indebting of the citizenry to bail out ye aforementioned IRA/Russian Mafia, Fitzpatricks, Quinns, brazzers, mistresses, cats Tiddles, et al; (particularly Al; I hate him.)... to bail out all these mafia scumbags and skanks, I say, and their shell gangster bank... And I turned back from that too. I've always turned back. But not today. I'm sick of turning back. I'm doing this, Bill. This is Saint Patrick's mountain. This is where Saint Patrick brought the ancient faith to Ireland. This is where Saint Patrick cast the snakes of Ireland into the sea. Here. On this mountain. This is what Irish people do, Bill. Irish people climb this mountain. Today we become Irish, Bill. You do what you want to. But I am climbing this mountain."
So saying I took another step up the rock face.
A moment later I turned.
"Bill," I said with infinite old world valour and no smidgen of negotiation left. "I've had enough. I'm going down."
Bill stared at me wild eyed.
I began picking my way past him back down the mountain.
"Well," sniffed Bill somewhat reluctantly following me through the rain, mist, gale, dark and attendant ghosts of Al Qaeda, the IRA and the Quinns, "you're after getting me all fired up."