Saturday 27 December 2014

How I lost my mind - and a month - to the drugs and drink

Published 01/09/2014 | 02:30

Many Irish patients take their medication incorrectly
Many Irish patients take their medication incorrectly

I went missing for a while, from the column that is. For a month. I was getting a bit worn out from trying to think up smart stuff, and so I took a little break. The fact is, I was also doped up off my head from drugs, but I had an excuse.

The back was bad and I was on painkillers, muscle relaxants and ant-inflammatory pills, three times a day. Then, one night, I chanced two pints. Those painkillers steal away your thought processes and so it was I went a bit gaga in our pub.

We were doing our summer theatre and, from nowhere, I lost the run of myself. The local council put a beautiful commemoration shield up outside on the wall of the pub. It was on the lines of "John B Keane lived here and he was a very good writer". This is the second shield that has been stuck over the door, and very tasty it is too. The father hasn't done too badly, in fairness to him. There's the John B Keane Road, John B Keane Grove, two statues and a terrier.

In my loopy state, I told the audience that Kerry County Council were erecting a brass plate upstairs, in the master bedroom, and it was going to read "Billy Keane was conceived here".

The mother was listening. She had no cause to be mortified. I had to be conceived somewhere. I didn't just arrive out of the blue in the post. Later that night, when the drugs wore off, the mother explained that she was only too well aware where it was that I had been conceived, as she had been present at the time. But what, she wanted to know, were the council up to, putting up a brass plate in her bedroom, telling the whole world her private business. I had to tell her it was only a joke. Pity we didn't knock another few weeks out of it, but I was still recovering and wasn't too sharp.

Tourists came in that night from all over for a touch of culture and refinement. Poems were to be recited, songs sung and parts from plays performed. Then, after the story of the brass plate in the bedroom, I went on to tell the audience the difference between Woman's Way, Cosmopolitan and Elle.

Now, let me explain. I took the wrong tablets. The doctor had me on three anti-inflammatory tablets per day, but I accidentally took three painkillers. I'm pretty sure I swallowed the last two painkillers at the same time. Just before the show, I drank two fast pints, in the mistaken belief the small dosage of beer wouldn't do me any great harm. The cocktail of drugs and drink would have killed an ordinary man. The painkillers on their own were strong enough to cure a throbbing migraine in a buck elephant.

There were two elderly Irish-American women sitting right opposite me. They were in shock. You could have dropped a baked potato into one of their mouths when I told them the terrible joke. I think it might well have been the first time they heard the word orgasm used in public, or maybe even in private. Irish America, or parts thereof, can be very conservative. These were the kind of ladies who would be praying to St Patrick to banish gays from Ireland.

Ah, but the joke was harmless enough. It was the use of the word orgasm that caused the problem. Maybe it was how they never had much luck in that direction. Their husbands were dead, thankfully, or I would have been in even more trouble. These matrons could well have been married to someone like Whitey Bolger, until he was forced to take out a barring order against them

This lad came up to me in the bar when I was waddling around with the bad back, doped up with the killers, and taking a pint. He said: "Ah Billy... ha ha ha ha..." People think walking funny is hilarious. "Ha ha ha," he guffawed, "from now on it's the missionary position for you. It's all you're fit for. Ha ha ha."

And he goes on to tell the gag about the man who asks his wife "what's this missionary position thing I'm reading about here?''

"I'll tell you what the missionary position is," she said. "I'll stay here and you feck off to Africa."

It was my gag and I told it to him, so I repossessed the joke and gave it to the audience. It's harmless enough, but the two Boston ladies thought I was insulting the missionaries who were out in foreign parts doing wonderful work. There was other stuff too but, thankfully, I've forgotten most of that, but I do remember the second magazine joke.

If you can't remember it then it never happened is my motto. First of all, let me say how much I love Woman's Way and, secondly, let me remind you I was off my head.

So much so that I went upstairs after the on-stage rant that will be remembered as the installation in the bedroom and fell asleep for five hours, which is the longest I've slept since I was in the womb. I was just thinking wouldn't the council be in some state trying to figure out where the famous people were conceived and you could hardly put up a plaque in the rear seat of a Ford Escort, or up against the wall at the back of a dance hall.

So here's the joke. What's the difference between Elle, Cosmo and Woman's Way? Elle explains to a woman the biology of an orgasm, Cosmo teaches her how to have one and Woman's Way teaches her how to knit one.

Like I said, it was all down to the drugs and the drink.

Billy Keane

Irish Independent

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