Saturday, 25 May 2013

Guests of the Nation, by Frank O'Connor

In a recent post, I described how I'd bought a copy of "Exploring English", the old Inter Cert English school book.  

Most of the short stories in it are really good, with the exception of Daniel Corkery's rather boring rural Ireland dirges... a bit too Dev-like for me, I'm afraid.  

The one below, by master of the short story Frank O'Connor, is - in contrast - a masterpiece.   Not bad at all for someone from Cork.

 Maybe you'll remember it?  Even as a kid it made a big impression on me.  If you're reading it for the first time, lucky you.

Frank O’Connor: Guests of the Nation (1931)

At dusk the big Englishman, Belcher, would shift his long legs out of the ashes and say " Well, chums, what about it ? " and Noble and myself would say "All right, chum " (for we had picked up some of their curious expressions), and the little Englishman, Hawkins, would light the lamp and bring out the cards. Some­times Jeremiah Donovan would come up and supervise the game, and get excited over Hawkins' cards, which he always played badly, and shout at him as if he was one of our own, "Ah, you divil, why didn't you play the tray ?"

But ordinarily Jeremiah was a sober and contented poor devil like the big Englishman, Belcher, and was looked up to only because he was a fair hand at documents, though he was slow even with them. He wore a small cloth hat and big gaiters over his long pants, and you seldom saw him with his hands out of his pockets. He reddened when you talked to him, tilting from toe to heel and back, and looking down all the time at his big farmer's feet. Noble and myself used to make fun of his broad accent, because we were both from the town.

I could not at the time see the point of myself and Noble guarding Belcher and Hawkins at all, for it was my belief that you could have planted that pair down anywhere from this to Claregalway and they'd have taken root there like a native weed. I never in my short experience saw two men take to the country as they did.

They were passed on to us by the Second Battalion when the search for them became too hot, and Noble and myself, being young, took them over with a natural feeling of responsibility, but Hawkins made us look like fools when he showed that he knew the country better than we did.
" You're the bloke they call Bonaparte," he says to me. " Mary Brigid O'Connell told me to ask what you'd done with the pair of her brother's socks you borrowed."

For it seemed, as they explained it, that the Second had little evenings, and some of the girls of the neighborhood turned up, and, seeing they were such decent chaps, our fellows could not leave the two Englishmen out. Hawkins learned to dance " The Walls of Limerick," "The Siege of Ennis " and  “The Waves of Tory " as well as any of them, though we could not return the compliment, because our lads at that time did not dance foreign dances on principle.

So whatever privileges Belcher and Hawkins had with the Second they just took naturally with us, and after the first couple of days we gave up all pretence of keeping an eye on them. Not that they could have got far, because they had accents you could cut with a knife, and wore khaki tunics and overcoats with civilian pants and boots, but I believe myself they never had any idea of escaping and were quite content to be where they were.

It was a treat to see how Belcher got off with the old woman in the house where we were staying. She was a great warrant to scold, and cranky even with us, but before ever she had a chance of giving our guests, as I may call them, a lick of her tongue, Belcher had made her his friend for life. She was breaking sticks, and Belcher, who had not been more than ten minutes in the house, jumped up and went over to her.

"Allow me, madam," he said, smiling his queer little smile. "Please allow me," and he took the hatchet from her. She was too surprised to speak, and after that, Belcher would be at her heels, carrying a bucket, a basket or a load of turf. As Noble said, he got into looking before she leapt, and hot water, or any little thing she wanted, Belcher would have ready for her. For such a huge man (and though I am five foot ten myself I had to look up at him) he had an uncommon lack of speech. It took us a little while to get used to him, walking in and out like a ghost, without speaking. Especially because Hawkins talked enough for a platoon, it was strange to hear Belcher with his toes in the ashes come out with a solitary " Excuse me, chum," or " That's right, chum." His one and only passion was cards, and he was a remarkably good card player. He could have skinned myself and Noble, but whatever we lost to him, Hawkins lost to us, and Hawkins only played with the money Belcher gave him.

Hawkins lost to us because he had too much old gab, and we probably lost to Belcher for the same reason. Hawkins and Noble argued about religion into the early hours of the morning, and Hawkins worried the life out of' Noble, who had a brother a priest, with a string of questions that would puzzle a cardinal. Even in treating of holy subjects, Hawkins had a deplorable tongue. I never met a man who could mix such a variety of cursing and bad language into any argument. He was a terrible man, and a fright to argue. He never did a stroke of work, and when he had no one else to argue with, he got stuck in the old woman.

He met his match in her, for when he tried to get her to complain profanely of the drought she gave him a great come­down by blaming it entirely on Jupiter Pluvius (a deity neither Hawkins nor I had ever heard of, though Noble said that among the pagans it was believed that he had something to do with the rain). Another day he was swearing at the capitalists for starting the German war when the old lady laid down her iron, puckered up her little crab's mouth and said:
"Mr. Hawkins, you can say what you like about the war, and think you'll deceive me because I'm only a simple poor countrywoman, but I know what started the war. It was the Italian Count that stole the heathen divinity out of the temple of Japan. Believe me, Mr. Hawkins, nothing but sorrow and want can follow people who disturb the hidden powers."
A queer old girl, all right.    

One evening we had our tea and Hawkins lit the lamp and we all sat into cards. Jeremiah Donovan came in too, and sat and watched us for a while, and it suddenly struck me that he had no great love for the two Englishmen. It came as a surprise to me because I had noticed nothing of it before.
Late in the evening a really terrible argument blew up between Hawkins and Noble about capitalists and priests and love of country.

"The capitalists pay the priests to tell you about the next world so that you won't notice what the bastards are up to in this," said Hawkins
"Nonsense, man ! " said Noble, losing his temper.        
"Before ever a capitalist was thought of people believed in the next world."
Hawkins stood up as though he was preaching.
"Oh, they did, did they? " he said with a sneer. "They believed all the things you believe---isn't that what you mean? And you believe God created Adam, and Adam created Shem, and Shem created Jehoshophat. You believe all that silly old fairytale about Eve and Eden and the apple. Well listen to me, chum! If you're entitled to a silly belief like that, I'm entitled to my own silly belief - which is that the first thing your God created was a bleeding capitalist, with morality and Rolls-Royce complete. Am I right, chum?" he says to Belcher.

"You're right, chum," says Belcher with a smile, and he got up from the table to stretch his long legs into the fire and stroke his moustache. So, seeing that Jeremiah Donovan was going, and that there was no knowing when the argument about religion would be over, I went out with him. We strolled down to the village together, and then he stopped, blushing and mumbling, and said I should be behind, keeping guard. I didn't like the tone he took with me, and anyway I was bored with life in the cottage, so I replied by asking what the hell we wanted to guard them for at all.
He looked at me in surprise and said: "I thought you knew we were keeping them as hostages."
"Hostages? " I said.

"The enemy have prisoners belonging to us, and now they're talking of shooting them," he said. " If they shoot our prisoners, we'll shoot theirs."
"Shoot Belcher and Hawkins?" I said.

"What else did you think we were keeping them for? " he said. " Wasn't it very unforeseen of you not to warn Noble and myself of that in the beginning?" I said.
"How was it? "he said. "You might have known that much."
"We could not know it, Jeremiah Donovan," I said.     " How could we when they were on our hands so long?"
"The enemy have our prisoners as long and longer," he said.
"That's not the same thing at all," said I.
"What difference is there? " said he.

I couldn’t tell him, because I knew he wouldn't understand. If it was only an old dog that you had to take to the vet's, you'd try and not get too fond of him, but Jeremiah Donovan was not a man who would ever be in danger of that.

"And when is this to be decided?" I said.
"We might hear tonight," he said. "Or tomorrow or the next day at latest. So if it's only hanging round that's a trouble to you, you'll be free soon enough."

It was not the hanging round that was a trouble to me at all by this time. I had worse things to worry about. When I got back to the cottage the argument was still on. Hawkins was holding forth in his best style, maintaining that there was no next world, and Noble saying that there was; but I could see that Hawkins had had the best of it.

"Do you know what, chum?" he was saying with a saucy smile." I think you're just as big a bleeding unbeliever as I am. You say you believe in the next world, and you know just as much about the next world as I do, which is sweet damn-all. What's heaven? You don't know. Where's heaven? You don't know. You know sweet damn-all ! I ask you again, do they wear wings? "
"Very well, then," said Noble. "They do. Is that enough for you? They do wear wings."
"Where do they get them then? Who makes them? Have they a factory for wings? Have they a sort of store where you hand in, your chit and take your bleeding wings? "
"You're an impossible man to argue with," said Noble. " Now, listen to me ---" And they were off again.

It was long after midnight when we locked up and went to bed. As I blew out the candle I told Noble. He took it very quietly. When we'd been in bed about an hour he asked if I thought we should tell the Englishmen. I didn't, because I doubted if the English would shoot our men. Even if they did, the Brigade officers, who were always up and down to the Second Battalion and knew the Englishmen well, would hardly want to see them plugged. "I think so too," said Noble. " It would be great cruelty to put the wind up them now."

"It was very unforeseen of Jeremiah Donovan, anyhow," said I. It was next morning that we found it so hard to face Belcher and Hawkins. We went about the house all day, scarcely saying a word. Belcher didn't seem to notice; he was stretched into the ashes as usual, with his usual look of waiting in quietness for something unforeseen to happen, but Hawkins noticed it and put it down to Noble's being beaten in the argument of the night before.

"Why can't you take the discussion in the proper spirit? "he said severely. "You and your Adam and Eve ! I'm a Communist, that's what I am. Communist or Anarchist, it all comes to much the same thing." And he went round the house, muttering when the fit took him : "Adam and Eve! Adam and Eve! Nothing better to do with their time than pick bleeding apples ! "

I don't know how we got through that day, but I was very glad when it was over, the tea things were cleared away, and Belcher said in his peaceable way: "Well, chums, what about it? "We sat round the table and Hawkins took out the cards, and just then I heard Jeremiah Donovan's footsteps on the path and a dark presentiment crossed my mind. I rose from the table and caught him before he reached the door.
"What do you want?" I asked.

"I want those two soldier friends of yours," he said, getting red. "Is that the way, Jeremiah Donovan?" I asked.

"That's the way. There were four of our lads shot this morning, one of them a boy of sixteen."
"That's bad," I said.

At that moment Noble followed me out, and the three of us walked down the path together, talking in whispers. Feeney, the local intelligence officer, was standing by the gate.

"What are you going to do about it?" I asked Jeremiah Donovan.

"I want you and Noble to get them out; tell them they're being shifted again; that'll be the quietest way."

"Leave me out of that," said Noble, under his breath. Jeremiah Donovan looked at him hard.

"All right," he says. " You and Feeney get a few tools from the shed and dig a hole by the far end of the bog. Bonaparte and myself will he after you. Don't let anyone see you with the tools. I wouldn't like it to go beyond ourselves."

We saw Feeney and Noble go round to the shed and went in ourselves. I left Jeremiah Donovan to do the explanations. He told them that he had orders to send them back to the Second Battalion. Hawkins let out a mouthful of curses, and you could see that though Belcher didn't say anything, he was a bit upset too. 

The old woman was for having them stay in spite of us, and she didn't stop advising them until Jeremiah Donovan lost his temper and turned on her. He had a nasty temper, I noticed. It was pitch-dark in the cottage by this time, but no one thought of lighting the lamp, and in the darkness the two Englishmen fetched their topcoats and said good-bye to the old woman.

"Just as a man makes a home of a bleeding place, some bastard at headquarters thinks you're too cushy and shunts you off," said Hawkins shaking her hand,
"A thousand thanks, madam," said Belcher, "A thousand thanks for everything "---as though he'd made it up.

We went round to the back of' the house and down towards the bog. It was only then that Jererniah Donovan told them. He was shaking with excitement.

"There were four of our fellows shot in Cork this morning and now you're to be shot as a reprisal."

"What are you talking about?" snaps Hawkins. "It's bad enough being mucked about as we are without having to put up with your funny jokes."

"It isn't a joke," says Donovan. "I'm sorry, Hawkins, but it's true," and begins on the usual rigmarole about duty and how unpleasant it is. I never noticed that people who talk a lot about duty find it much of a trouble to them.

"Oh, cut it out!" said Hawkins.
"Ask Bonaparte," said Donovan, seeing that Hawkins wasn't taking him seriously. "Isn't it true, Bonaparte?"

"It is," I said, and Hawkins stopped. "Ah, for Christ's sake, chum!"

"I mean it, chum," I said.

"You don't sound as if you meant it."

"If he doesn't mean it, I do," said Donovan, working himself up.

"What have you against me, Jeremiah Donovan?"

"I never said I had anything against you. But why did your people take out four of your prisoners and shoot them in cold blood?"

He took Hawkins by the arm and dragged him on, but it was impossible to make him understand that we were in earnest. I had the Smith and Wesson in my pocket and I kept fingering it and wondering what I'd do if they put up a fight for it or ran, and wishing to God they'd do one or the other. I knew if they did run for it, that I'd never fire on them. Hawkins wanted to know was Noble in it, and when we said yes, he asked us why Noble wanted to plug him. Why did any of us want to plug him? What had he done to us? Weren't we all chums? Didn't we understand him and didn't he understand us? Did we imagine for an instant that he'd shoot us for all the so-and-so officers in the so-and-so British Army?

By this time we'd reached the bog, and I was so sick I couldn't even answer him. We walked along the edge of it in the darkness, and every now and then Hawkins would call a halt and begin all over again, as if he was wound up, about our being chums, and I knew that nothing but the sight of the grave would convince him that we had to do it. And all the time I was hoping that something would happen; that they'd run for it or that Noble would take over the responsibility from me. I had the feeling that it was worse on Noble than on me.

At last we saw the lantern in the distance and made towards it. Noble was carrying it, and Feeney was standing somewhere in the darkness behind him, and the picture of them so still and silent in the bogland brought it home to me that we were in earnest, and banished the last bit of hope I had.
Belcher, on recognising Noble, said: "Hallo, chum," in his quiet way, but Hawkins flew at him at once, and the argument began all over again, only this time Noble had nothing to say for himself and stood with his head down, holding the lantern between his legs.

It was Jeremiah Donovan who did the answering. For the twentieth time, as though it was haunting his mind, Hawkins asked if anybody thought he'd shoot Noble.
"Yes, you would," said Jeremiah Donovan. "No, I wouldn't, damn you!"
"You would, because you'd know you'd be shot for not doing it.”

"I wouldn't, not if I was to be shot twenty times over. I wouldn't shoot a pal. And Belcher wouldn't - isn't that right, Belcher? "  "That's right, chum," Belcher said, but more by way of answer­ing the question than of joining in the argument. Belcher sounded as though whatever unforeseen thing he'd always been waiting for had come at last.

"Anyway, who says Noble would be shot if I wasn't ? What do you think I'd do if I was in his place, out in the middle of a blasted bog?"

"What would you do?" asked Donovan.

"I'd go with him wherever he was going, of course. Share my last bob with him and stick by him through thick and thin. No one can ever say of me that I let down a pal."
"We had enough of this," said Jeremiah Donovan, cocking his revolver. "Is there any message you want to send? "

"No, there isn't."

"Do you want to say your prayers?"

Hawkins came out with a cold-blooded remark that even shocked me and turned on Noble again.

"Listen to me, Noble," he said. "You and me are chums. You can't come over to my side, so I'll come over to your side. That show you I mean what I say? Give me a rifle and I'll go along with you and the other lads."  Nobody answered him. We knew that was no way out.

"Hear what I'm saying?" he said.  "I'm through with it. I'm a deserter or anything else you like. I don't believe in your stuff, but it's no worse than mine. That satisfy you?"

Noble raised his head, but Donovan began to speak and he lowered it again without replying.
"For the last time, have you any messages to send?" said Donovan in a cold, excited sort of voice.

"Shut up, Donovan! You don't understand me, but these lads do. They're not the sort to make a pal and kill a pal. They're not the tools of any capitalist.”

I alone of the crowd saw Donovan raise his Webley to the back of Hawkins's neck, and as he did so I shut my eyes and tried to pray. Hawkins had begun to say something else when Donovan fired, and as I opened my eyes at the bang, I saw Hawkins stagger at the knees and lie out flat at Noble's feet, slowly and as quiet as a kid falling asleep, with the lantern-light on his lean legs and bright farmer's boots. We all stood very still, watching him settle out in the last agony.

Then Belcher took out a handkerchief and began to tie it about his own eyes (in our excitement we'd forgot ten to do the same for Hawkins), and, seeing it wasn't big enough, turned and asked for the loan of mine. I gave it to him and he knotted the two together and pointed with his foot at Hawkins,

"He's not quite dead." he said. "Better give him another," Sure enough, Hawkins's left knee was beginning to rise. I bent down and put my gun to his head; then, recollecting myself, I got up again. Belcher understood what was in my mind.

"Give him his first," he said, "I don't mind. Poor bastard, we don't know what's happening to him now."

I knelt and fired. By this time I didn't seem to know what I was doing. Belcher, who was fumbling a bit awkwardly with the handkerchiefs, came out with a laugh as he heard the shot. It was the first time I had heard him laugh and it sent a shudder down my back; it sounded so unnatural.

"Poor bugger!" he said quietly. "And last night he was so curious about it all. It's very queer, chums, I always think. Now he knows as much about it as they'll ever let him know, and last night he was all in the dark."

Donovan helped him to tie the handkerchiefs about his eyes.

"Thanks, chum," he said. Donovan asked if there were any messages he wanted sent.

"No, chum," he said. "Not for me. If any of you would like to write to Hawkins's mother, you'll find a letter from her in his pocket. He and his mother were great chums. But my missus left me eight years ago. Went away with another fellow and took the kid with her. I like the feeling of a home, as you may have noticed, but I couldn't start another again after that."

It was an extraordinary thing, but in those few minutes Belcher said more than in all the weeks before. It was just as if the sound of the shot had started a flood of tall in him and he could go on the whole night like that, quite happily, talking about himself. We stood around like fools now that he couldn't see us any longer. Donovan looked at Noble, and Noble shook his head. Then Donovan raised his Webley, and at that moment Belcher gave his queer laugh again, He may have thought we were talking about him, or perhaps he noticed the same thing I'd noticed and couldn't understand it.

"Excuse me, chums," he said. "I feel I'm talking the hell of a lot, and so silly, about my being so handy about a house and things like that. But this thing came on me suddenly. You'll forgive me, I'm sure."
''You don't want to say a prayer?" asked Donovan.

"No, churn," he said. "I don't think it would help. I'm ready, and you boys want to get it over."
"You understand that we're only doing our duty?said Donovan.
Belcher's head was raised like a blind man's, so that you could only see his chin and the top of his nose in the lantern-light.

"I never could make out what duty was myself," he said.   "I think you're all good lads, if that's what you mean. I'm not complaining."

Noble, just as if he couldn't bear any more of it, raised his fist at Donovan, and in a flash Donovan raised his gun and fired. The big man went over like a sack of meal, and this time there was no need of a second shot.

I don't remember much about the burying, but that it was worse than all the rest because we had to carry them to the grave. It was all mad lonely with nothing but a patch of lantern-­light between ourselves and the dark, and birds hooting and screeching all round, disturbed by the guns. Noble went through Hawkins's belongings to find the letter from his mother, and then joined his hands together. He did the same with Belcher. Then, when we'd filled in the grave, we separated from Jeremiah Donovan and Feeney and took our tools back to the shed. All the way we didn't speak a word. The kitchen was dark and as we'd left it, and the old woman was sitting over the hearth, saying her beads. We walked past her into the room, and Noble struck a match to light the lamp. She rose quietly and came to the doorway with all her cantankerousness gone.

"What did ye do with them?" she asked in a whisper, and Noble started so that the match went out in his hand.

"What's that?" he asked without turning round.

"I heard ye, she said.

"What did you hear?" asked Noble.

"I heard ye. Do ye think I didn't hear ye, putting the spade back in the houseen?"

Noble struck another match and this time the lamp lit for him.

"Was that what ye did to them?" she asked.

Then, by God, in the very doorway, she fell on her knees and began praying, and after looking at her for a minute or two Noble did the same by the fireplace. I pushed my way out past her and left them at it. I stood at the door, watching the stars and listening to the shrieking of the birds dying out over the bogs. It is so strange what you feel at times like that that you can't describe it. 

Noble says he saw everything ten times the size, as though there were nothing in the whole world but that little patch of bog with the two Englishmen stiffening into it, but with me it was as if the patch of bog where the Englishmen were was a million miles away, and even Noble and the old woman, mumbling behind me, and the birds and the bloody stars were all far away, and I was somehow very small and very lost and lonely like a child astray in the snow. And anything that hap­pened to me afterwards, I never felt the same about again.


Pony O Boy said...

This is the one story that haunts me from that book GM. I've sent it on to many people over th years and always the feedback is that stunned mullet reaction. Mrs Ponyboy says that it shocked her on reading it and she counts it as probably the best short story she's ever read. He had a way with the language, didn't he? Imagine popping in to the local for a pint or two with him and Myles, jesus that'd be worth a visit back to Ireland for.

Anonymous said...

I like your taste GM. This has long been among my favourite short stories. Up there with Flannery O'Connor and Dubliners. Why it's so little known I can't fathom. Actually, the whole collection (same title) is ecxellent.


pp said...

i hope that traitor was run the f**k outa this country with his west brit simpatys, its no thanks to the likes a him that were a free and soverin republic

The Gombeen Man said...

Stunning analysis.

ponyboy said...

Agree with you there GM - absolutely stunning analysis, and such depth. Nice of you PP (doesn't stand for pisspot by any chance) to take time out from your parliamentary schedule to lecture us on your preferred methodology for dealing with those who shine a light on the petrie dish that is Ireland.
PB (no relation to PP)

The Gombeen Man said...

I can't imagine this gobshite actually read the story as literacy does not seem to be a strong point.

The irony is that O'Connor was in the IRA, and fought in the civil war.

Amazing ignorance.

ponyboy said...

I didn't know THAT - Jesus pp you'd better dig yourself a big big hole to bury yourself in ha ha

mick said...

hang on a minute, i think "pp" may have a point in his own twisted way, if the proper ira had won the civil war... (and obviously people like o'connors heart was'nt really in it) we would now be living in a republican socialist utopia!, just look at what the free state bastards have done to us with their anti catholic dole cutting policies, they are destroying a proud country at the behest of their ahtiestic overlords in europe.

HQ said...

Remember this story (and the book) very well. It leapt off the page for me the very first time I read it. Even as a sprog I knew I was 'learning something' with this tale. Brilliant choice and thanks for the reminder that school wasn't entirely awful.

Bulwark said...

"(...) we would now be living in a republican socialist utopia"

Dealing with some people in Ireland means never quite knowing whether it's sarcasm or it's genuinely meant to be serious.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Mick. You're a wind-up merchant, I hope! Delaney for president!

@ HQ. Yes, great story.

@ Bulwark. I was thinking the same thing...

anna said...

I am just responding to this and few comments Bulwark made on a previous post: I am from NI- still Ireland you think- but yet people down here are very different: I am always amazed by the back stabbing- IE if faced with a bully and victim- as in many workplaces, the correct etiquette OF course is toady to the bully- and stab the victim in the back- NO I never saw this in all the yrs I lived in NI, channel islands and England.
NO One complains if they are badly treated at work- and god awful managers get away with it- especially in public service. I see national characteristics of toadyism, cowardice, and back stabbing and lying –WHY? It almost seems like a former Eastern Europe state- where people feared imprisonment- for speaking out- or worse. YET that didn’t happen here- BUT people behave as though they were under a dictatorship- WHY???? I often ask. Answer ( partly) is although I am 52 I meet lot of people even in their mid 40’s who were Battered at school- in way I Never heard of in NI.( I was slapped Once at primary and Never at secondary school- in fact I Never knew a girl who was slapped at secondary school- though that was common here)
Recently my workmate, Jim (age 32) said he saw a child Walloped across the Face at primary school in a way that frightened him!!- something I’d Never seen in 1960’s NI.( we had 2 teachers at my tiny primary school- one lovely- the other could be nasty. The nasty one hit the local gentle giant’s son so hard his hand was bleeding. My neighbour ( who resembled Finn Mc Cools grandson) went to the school, confronted Mrs Ruler, said he was taking his son to another little country school, how dare she hit him like that- and if she’d been a man he’d have thrown her into the nearby by lake. And that was in 1964, in NI- a courageous attitude that is sadly lacking in this country even today

anna said...

Yes – this was rated one of the best stories ever written in English- a powerful punch in the last few lines.
Speaking of West Brits and identity; in the last month a English paper reported that the Irish ( even after generations) assimilate LESS than other people s of the former empire , IE 2nd generation Indian /Pakistani people will say they are British, but 3rd generation Irish descendants Won’t.
Why- because Irish culture and language is so ‘distinctive’?? Well I don't know any Asian people in Britain directly- but from what I see in the media, culture wise, often they don’t Totally assimilate: IE they don’t totally switch to western food/ religions/ language etc- 2nd generation often still understanding some of their language, they Don’t totally switch to chipper food but will still have preference for halal or vegetarian food. Even without arranged marriages they will often marry within their culture without changing to western traditions of Christianity/ Atheism. IE- still carrying on with broad strands of a Distinctive culture, still clinging to their roots-and No problem with the dichotomy of also being British. I have met many English in NI who say they don’t find the North much different from England culture wise, i.e. food, pubs, TV, etc. But many English who live down here in ROI say to me, they are amazed when things go wrong, no one takes responsibility to put them right- and that seem s to be what most people see as different between ROI and NI& UK.
SIGH- all the above news item made me feel was that a lot of brain washing had to have gone on- if 3rd generation Irish in England can't also believe they are British. After all why would they feel antagonism towards Britain- the country that helped their families so often when this one let them down?

mick said...

sure, a few slaps never hurt anyone. it knocked some sense into me anyway.cola

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Anna. No, not too good at taking responsibility here. Always someone else's fault. The Normans, the Tudors, the 800 years, the bank manager who forced them to take mortgages on 20 investment properties, the famine.

@ Mick. No, never harmed me either.

Now, where I can I hide the latest body?...

dirtybertie said...

im pretty sure tne bible sez somewhere its ok to beat kids,and ye cant have a higher authority than that.

pp said...

its great to see a few decent real irishmen standing up for common sense and decency. well done mick for your comments about corporel punishment, theirs a few boyos on this so called blog that a few digs woudent do any harm to.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Dirty Bertie. That's right... can't be wrong.

@ PP. Spoken like the thick gobshite you are. The kind that has this country in the state it's in. "Common sense and decency" indeed. Another great product of our educational system.

It's "corporal" by the way.

Now go away.

Bulwark said...

Anna I'm pretty sure corporal punishment has nothing to do with the current state of Ireland. Most of us here got smacked around thoroughly while growing up (and mostly deserved it). It's only a recent event (in the West anyway) that teachers can't physically discipline their pupils. I don't think it's as simply explained as with one custom in country.

Take for example our man "pp" (I wonder how long he thought about a nickname that, when pronounced, sounds like a slang word for a type of malodorous bodily waste fluid). His posts are a mixture of extreme carelessness with regards to the use of his so-called native language (clocking in at 7.4 words per spelling error, even with due charity and not double-counting instances of multiple errors in a single word), numerous appeals to "irishness" and the defense of Eire at all costs, the obvious ignorance of his own national history, and the appeal to violence directed to those who disagree with him. Such is a prime example of what we're talking about. Do you think the sheer idiocy of his remarks -- and the incompetence of its delivery -- are the result of corporal punishment?

I can't explain who is behind it or why (though I have a few theories) but I do think it's far more consistent with systematic brainwashing. It's like trying to debate history with Klansmen, you're just not going to get anywhere with them. People like "pp" think that defending their country is virulently attacking anyone who dares criticise any aspect of it, even if those people he attacks might be doing it out of a sense of democratic duty. Like the fact that it's a really dumb idea to spend a billion euro on two *tramway* lines that didn't connect. Or that it's dumb to finally build ten years later said connection on-grade through the city centre of one of the most congested cities in Europe, along its most congested street (especially when strange non-Irish people already found a solution for that way back in the 19th century and it's been applied dozens of times since then all over the world). Or to finish building a ring highway only to demolish it on completion to add an extra lane. And this barely even touches the sheer lunacy of the transport policy in Dublin. This is Ireland. The concept makes no sense, someone connected but utterly incompetent will be hired to build it, it will cost more than anywhere else to build it, and when complete it will barely function, after which an inquiry will be called and a 1700 page report will be issued that nobody important will ever read, thus allowing the cycle to continue, but anyone daring to say a word about this needs to be attacked. And we're the traitors apparently.

Attacking any and all is a learned mental sickness, and a contagious one at that, but I'm sure some day someone with a passion for sociology and train wrecks will find an answer to the question as to why things are the way they are in Ireland. Though I will say that breeding an army of worker bees to attack anyone who dares speak out certainly plays right into the hands of certain interests here. Sure even 100 years later it's still always the fault of the English, even though the only things that will still be standing in 2113 Dublin will be what the English had built... and maybe also Anglo's skeleton.

HQ said...

From time to time I wonder about how raising my kids in Ireland might work out. It's usually right before my meds get adjusted and reality comes flooding back in great gales of laughter.


Grim,grey,poverty stricken,kleptocracy that stumbles from one embarrassing episode to the next. Can some adults please take over there sometime soon?

We'll stay in the US and keep on enjoying a decent life. It's far from perfect in our little corner of it but responsibility is taken, action occurs and shit gets sorted. My lads are American and I'm so happy that all they know of Ireland are the semi coherent mumblings that escape me when I twitch and spill my tea.