The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Thursday, October 08, 2009

eight graces

In the afternoon stepped smartly from the front door of the chateau.
Paused to savour the garden in bright September sunshine.
Racing away to Dublin for an appointment.
But paused.
My nephew Tom beetled in the front gate.
"Snakes and ladders," he cried when he saw me.
"I'm going to Dublin Tom," I told him firmly.
Best to be firm if you've got to be firm so they know no means no.
"Snakes and ladders, just one game," he persisted.
"No," said I.
The neighbour's child Hannah beetled in the gate.
She ran up to us.
"Will you show me Hammy?" she gasped breathlessly.
"No children, I can't stay, I'm going now," I said.
Another nephew arrived fleet of foot.
His name is John.
He is older than the others and an advocate, indeed master, of the wisdom summed up in the phrase: Softly softly catchee monkey.
He discreetly indicated that he thought I should be able to make time for one game of Snakes and Ladders.
He suggested it wasn't a lot to ask.
I uttered a rather vascillatory no.
The weakness of my answer succeeded only in provoking a storm of renewed lobbying involving hamsters, Snakes and Ladders, orange juice and climbing in trees.
We went inside with the three swinging out of me.
Tom fetched the Snakes and Ladders board.
We began playing on the floor in the sitting room.
Hannah with Hammy on her knee.
Paddy Pup on the couch with his snout resting on my shoulder.
The games blurred into one another.
Diarmuid the child of my cousin Frances entered in the midst of it all and took over stewardship of the hamster.
He asked: "Why don't hamsters have proper tails?"
I said: "God probably thought they'd look cuter with just the little stumpy thing you see there. He's very good at making animals. He sometimes adds distinctive little flourishes just for fun. He'd made rats and mice with long tails. He probably knew he was on to a good thing with hamsters. That they were really nice looking animals. That people were going to really love them. So this was the way he finished them off. When God makes something, there's always something glorious and beautiful in it. Even the rats and mice. It sometimes takes us a little time to see the beauty. That's all. I heard of a man who'd trained rats to sniff out land mines in Africa. And he had his rats on a leash. They were like pet dogs. And I thought, ah now I can see that there's something really good even about rats."
I glanced up from this keenly scientific discourse to see my cousin Frances watching me from the doorway.
Frances the teacher.
She who can stop a charging joyrider (and religionist) at fifty paces with a blow of her tongue.
Had it been Richard Dawkins himself listening in, I could hardly have looked more guilty.
There came a sound of pounding footsteps outside.
It was another company of neighbours kids.
Simon, Roger and Lisa entered stage left.

Simon disentangled me from the menagerie and took me by the hand to the computer room where he asked for a computer lesson.
This ended only when Lisa arrived with a book called I Love Mum, and indicated by dint of repeated tuggings and proddings that I should read it to her.
I hadn't had time with the toddler before and was rather pleased that she would seek me out.
Roger peeped in the door, took some paper from the printer and settled beside us on the floor to draw pictures.
I glanced up.
Dusk was falling on the garden.
I'd quite forgotten about my appointment in Dublin.
Ah well.
If I'd been meant to be there I would have been there.
I slipped away from the children and brought Paddy Pup outside for a walk.
Robin was singing his evensong in the Dad's plum tree.
A lovely flighting lyric.
I sang with him: "I know your song means that Jesus is true."
Robin paused while I sang a new line.
"The God who gave me life gave life to you."
Then he sang again.
Then he paused as I sang: "We rejoice in praise of Christ we two."
Then he sang some more himself.
Then stopped.
"Every animal, every man, every child, every nation,
We are creatures praising the creator in his creation."
And it was Robin's turn again.
The ghost of Charlie Darwin appeared.
"The robin is marking his territory," said the ghost of Charlie Darwin.
I shook my head.
"He's praising God," I insisted. "By his very being he's praising God. The idea that he's marking territory seems quite unscientific to me. Why it's not even good Darwinism. If the birds in the hedge were really marking territory, by singing like this, it wouldn't help them to survive at all. My cousin Emma's cats would be out there picking them off one by one. It's nothing to do with survival. They're singing to the God that made them. And the cats don't pick them off one by one because the cats also praise the same God. And if it's so important for the birds to mark territory by singing like this, why aren't there other birds stalking up and down the hedgerows mugging birds that don't quite sing loud enough. Pshaww Darwin. You can do better."
His bushy eyebrows bushed bushily.
"Do better? How?"
"Jubilate agno Mr Darwin. Jubilate agno."
"But what does that mean Mr Healy?"
"It means rejoice in the lamb."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this



2:24 PM  
Blogger heelers said...

I really enjoy you Mary.

3:27 AM  

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