Ok – 2 words for you:
these words send a shiver down my spine and were the start of my life as the only-man-in-Ireland -who-hates-floury-spuds.
I was 5 1/2 when Dan appeared on the scene. Dan was in the caravan next to us in Lahinch and came from Ennis in Co. Clare. He was the sort of kid I was not. He was the sort of kid with ‘hard muscles’ and could solo a sliotar on a hurley. I was the sort of kid who was picky with his food and wanted nothing more than to spend all day watching the six million dollar man on TV.
He could also eat 6 ‘poppies’ for his dinner.
I wasn’t able to eat one. (Although easier to count)
My parents tried to use the persuasion strategy of comparing me to Dan. I was not going to be moved by this. they tried the ‘slapping the table with the wooden spoon’ strategy but I would not be stirred by cold mashed potatoes.
So I spent the whole summer, eight long weeks, in a caravan in Lahinch with Dan Duggan eating his poppies and me, the only boy in Ireland who wanted rice and pasta slowly starving to death.
I survived on white bread and sugar sandwiches while working on my arguments in favour of other forms of complex carbohydrates.
I might as well as have been trying to convince them (my parents) that being gay was OK.
That said, in 1970’s Ireland you had to go to a chemist shop to buy olive oil and spaghetti came in a tin and was hoop shaped.
Apart from the ‘potato incident’ the summer was one of the best of my life. It was the sort of summer you can’t do any more because of an irrational fear of child abductions .
We were chucked out of the caravan along with all the other kids in the caravan park just after breakfast and were told not to come back until dinner time. We’d then spend the day wandering around the amusement arcades and wandering the beach. If it was a particularly fine day we’d get to go to the beach with our mother. (fathers seemed to be doing something else as they were never around). She’d eat steamed periwinkles with a sewing pin and we’d eat white bread and jam sandwiches.Then, as the tide came in we’d defend our sand forts like juvenile King Canutes.
After lunch you’d be chucked out again and, on fear of death, you would not come back again until tea time. For a conscientious objector to the great potato event that was dinner (middle of the day was the time for dinner back then) the arrival of tea time heralded the end of the Ramadan-like fast and heralded the promise of bread and jam.
On a really good day you might get to go for a spin to the Cliffs of Moher and later have a ’99 back in Lahinch.
It did help that 1976 was one of the best summers we ever had in this part of the world.
The rest of 1976 was school (senior infants), hanging around and generally growing more aware of my surroundings. The big family death was my Aunty Betty. She lived in England and had a family of girls. they all came home for her funeral and their kids were my age and younger. These exotic creatures with their English accents and sallow skin were our first taste of life outside the Catholic gulag that was Ireland.
1976 was also the start of my parents’ vicarious existence through our various extra-curricular activities. Some of these stayed with me for ever (running) while others didn’t really get make the cut (learning the bag pipes).
On the running front I cranked out a wet, slow 8 miles yesterday that made me think I should have held back on the Christmas celebrations.
Still at middle aged runner stage.
If it lasts, and the wife is leading the charge against it, it will be at early vagrant stage in 2 weeks.