independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

'Tis the season to toast true legends of the 23rd

The Fielder

The opposition's star man plucked the throw-in, soloed the length of the pitch and lifted the net out of it
The opposition's star man plucked the throw-in, soloed the length of the pitch and lifted the net out of it

‘What's that Georgia, you want a spin on the tractor? Step right this way my little Greek Goddess.”

Beep beep beep beep!

The shrill echo of my alarm clock violently shook me out of dreamland. I sprang up in my bed yawning, before suddenly realising something.

It couldn't be, could it?

I leapt up like a kangaroo on jaegerbombs and swung open my bedroom window. “What day is it?” I shouted as loud as I could.

Down below, my mother, who was hanging out the clothes, dropped her drawers with the fright.

“Jesus gosson. What the feck are you at?” she replied, panting loudly; her hand on her heart.

“What day is it Ma?”

“The 23rd of December! Close that window and get downstairs. Your dog is after shitin' on the DVD player again!”

“Wahooo!” I roared; my fists clenched in triumph.

You may at this point be puzzled. Doesn't he mean the 25th? Wrong. To me, Christmas was all about the 23rd. Think Paddy's Day, Leaving Cert results, the dinner dance, the Loreto debs and Holy Thursday/Good Friday all rolled into one. Every year, the 23rd was the session to end all sessions. The world and his mother ventured out (literally — the pubs were always full of oul’ wans looking for the shift).

But there was a problem. A major problem.

Irving Berlin, the gentleman who wrote the song White Christmas, obviously didn't have two sheds of cattle to feed at the back of his house. Nor, I assume, did he annually don his crimson snowman jumper on the 23rd and head off slaughtering pints.

There was a foot of snow on the ground and still it pelted down quicker than a man's standards at closing time in Coppers. I'd been housebound for over a week. Pre-season training had been called off due to the bad roads (every cloud). Each and every DVD in the house had been watched and the situation was so bad that I was halfway through the first series of Downton Abbey and had even watched half an episode of Fair City the previous evening. Oh the shame.

It'd been two days since I'd had a cup of tea too. Dad had taken the kettle over to the shed to defrost the pipes on the drinking troughs and subsequently dropped it in shite. I'd begged Mam to let us bring it back into the house, even going as far as to power-wash it. But she'd flatly refused.

Looking back, it was the one day I watched the forecast to actually hear the weather and not check out the weather-wan.

“I'm afraid the bad weather is set to continue folks. Motorists are being urged to avoid travelling completely . . .”

“Ah Jesus Jean, you're killing me here!!” I muttered to myself, just as Dad walked in.

“You won't be going anywhere tonight chap. Not when the roads are in the shape.”

I cursed loudly and headed off to say a prayer.

* * * * *

The clock was ticking too fast for my liking. It was half nine. I was sitting watching The Santa Clause with my mother and father, a new low. Dad had conked out half an hour previously and, thankfully, Mam wasn't far behind.

It was nearly time for ‘Operation JD'. Myself and five other stranded parishioners had given this codename to our meticulously-planned ruse and the wheels would be in motion as soon as my mother's eyelids met.

“Come ooon!” I whispered quietly as her head began to nod.

Then it happened. A snore like a two-litre diesel Ford Mondeo dropping a gear reverberated around the sitting room. Bingo.

I grabbed my phone and sent a group text to the lads, before sprinting out the back door.

‘Operation JD is a go'

* * * * *

‘I'm outside, c'mon!'

I pressed send and anxiously glanced at the clock. We were losing valuable pint-skulling time.

“Watch your fecking elbow lad.”

“I'm sorry, there isn't exactly oceans of room in here.”

“Make sure to bring those empty bottles with you. The father will have a feckin' fit if he sees them,” I exclaimed.

“Man, I think a few bottles in here will be the least of your worries.”

He had a point. In the grand scheme of things, the fact that there'd be a few bottles strewn around the cab wouldn't pose too big a problem. I had committed Grand Theft Tractor and commandeered my father's John Deere with a view to leaving her parked up on the fair green for collection at some stage the following day.

I knew he was going to blow the head gasket when he found out; plus the cattle would have to have a late breakfast but this was too big an occasion to let fall by the wayside. We collected our last passenger and I gave her Sally towards|town. The voyage would've been|

The place went mental when they realised what they were seeing next to impossible in a car, so the way I saw it I was being safety-conscious. I turned the corner and we|roared down the main street. The place went mental when they realised what they were seeing. I hammered repeatedly on the horn, to the delight of the punters.

We were sure to go down as legends for this. We cranked the radio up, opened the back window and hit the plough lights, illuminating the whole street ahead of me. My passengers sang along loudly with the radio as the thick snow caressed the cobbles below. “Feeeeeed the wooooorrld. Let them know it's Christmas time.”

Overcome by thirst, I parallel parked the Deere along the main street instead of holding out for the fair green. Not only would I get the sweet taste of a Christmas ale sooner, but I'd also get to show off my God-given reversing skills. It was a sure thing to get the town's budgies excited.

I managed to get her parked amidst a barrage of snowballs, only tipping the Nissan Micra in front of me the once (probably should've removed the front weights). I stepped down from the cab triumphantly to a loud chorus of cheers.

“Santy has arrived lads and ladies . . . to the pub!”

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