Wednesday 28 September 2016

Every moment in life - and every dollop of ice cream - is special

Published 21/09/2015 | 02:30

Traditional Irish holidays involved trips to the beach and ice cream cones.
Traditional Irish holidays involved trips to the beach and ice cream cones.

A strange thing happened recently on Grafton Street. I saw a man drop an ice cream. The day was balmy and he took a call on his mobile. The ice cream melted, as it does in warm weather.

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It was one of those ice creams that comes out of a machine and that type is very quick to soften out. I was going to warn the man on the phone that his ice cream was slipping but I didn't.

We are only too willing to become passive bystanders. Still though, it wasn't exactly a snow avalanche tumbling down a mountain in the direction of an alpine village.

The top-end ice cream fell on the pavement but slowly, like one of those images of bits falling off icebergs in the Arctic from the global warming.

So what does the man do? He finishes up his call, takes a wooden spatula out of his pocket and spoons up the ice cream back in to the cone, like as if it was a scoop for dogs.

To be fair to the man, he only scooped up the top part of the ice cream. He ate away without a care in the world. He was as happy as a mongrel dog licking himself.

The man must have been an accountant and they hate waste. It wouldn't have surprised me in the least if he got down on his hands and knees and licked the pavement clean.

This was a scoop. I knew that immediately, with the unerring instinct that has brought me one page-one story in 15 years of writing for this newspaper.

And yes, I know the scoop joke is a terrible pun but sometimes bad jokes are so bad they actually become good. I hope.

Anyway I'm not that much in the mood for rewriting today. We're too busy getting over the Listowel Races. And getting ready for the All Ireland. My mother used to mind the pub while we went off to the game

It's tough going for sure. Very tough. We miss her so much.

Which reminds me of a really good joke. The mother didn't fit into the category of the old Irish mother whingeing away wearily by the spinning wheel.

So here's the joke. How many old Irish mothers does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is none.

"I'll sit here in the dark all by myself."

The licking accountant could be dead by now. From some terrible pigeon disease. And there would be loads of tests trying to figure out exactly what was wrong with him. Doctors would be baffled as they have never treated pigeons.

The licking accountant could have died on the spot and no one would have noticed or he could've infected the whole of Dublin with bird flu or seagull sicknesses.

Seagulls would ate the leg of the Lamb of God. I could be wronging seagulls but I'd say they carry all sorts of deadly diseases.

So by now I'm sure you're just as blown away by the scoop as I am. Not only might a licking accountant have died but he could have passed the virus on to millions. He might not even have died himself. The licking accountant might have been a carrier and possibly he would survive himself and kill half of Dublin. Which would be every unfair.

But did only me see the man in the blue suit bending over to scoop melting ice cream off the well-trodden ground of Grafton Street?

One of the blonde flower sellers on the way up to the Westbury was eating a feed of noodles. Her friend, also blonde, was talking to her and usually you could take it as a given that these ladies would spot everything on the street as they are very brainy and sharp. All the flower sellers in Grafton Street are blonde.

But the girls by the Westbury didn't notice the licking accountant as they were talking animatedly, which is no bad thing. But I wanted people to see the licking accountant. I desperately needed to talk to another human being about this extraordinary moment but no one was looking.

And the reason no one spotted anything was because they were all plugged in to something. It was all wires sticking out of their ears and so the throng missed the sounds and sights of the teeming street scape.

Most looked straight ahead like an army on a parade ground. People walked so fast even though there was a sense that they weren't going anywhere and if they were, well then they had plenty of time to get there. Going nowhere in a big hurry.

The selfless intimacies of city living and being part of it all were lost in the selfish cocoon of the me channel. Life was slipping by and no one noticed.

We passed by The Gaiety but oh so slowly. It was here just a few months ago the mother came up for 'The Field'. She was so proud of Dad and all dressed up in her opening-night best.

The tears came then and I couldn't stop. Life passed by without noticing but a young lad stopped and asked if I was okay. I told him my story and he said: "She must have been a lovely lady."

"She was," I said, "she was all that." This is the last sad piece about the mother. I don't want to be known as a professional mourner, like those keeners unpopular people hired to cry at their wakes in days gone by.

And it was only after the young Dub left that the glory of the moment came to me.

He was there, that young lad, and he was there in the now. Part of his time and part of his place, he was. A noticer and a participant, unplugged and acoustic.

Irish Independent

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