Wednesday 21 August 2019

Billy Keane: 'How The Badly Wronged Man's never-ending tale of woe made me flee with barman's burnout'

Keane's Kingdom

'And as for Trump, the people in Doonbeg are as entitled to live in their own place and work in their own place as anyone else' Photo: Reuters
'And as for Trump, the people in Doonbeg are as entitled to live in their own place and work in their own place as anyone else' Photo: Reuters
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

The man at the bar told me his life story. He is The Badly Wronged Man.

Never has a man been so badly wronged. On he went through the catalogue of the wrongs that had been perpetrated against him.

He was well prepared, was the man who was badly wronged, and he projected each and every wrong on the white wall of my mind.

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His wife Annabella hated him and ran off with another man.

AIB sent The Badly Wronged Man a cross letter about his credit card.

His best friend went to Australia and never paid him back a cent of the loan The Badly Wronged Man gave him to get started down under.

The pal was surfing, shifting and drinking cold beer at barbeques while The Badly Wronged Man was suffering from severe abdominal pain and had to get his appendix taken out.

After an hour or so I began to realise this was only the beginning of the beginning. I got to wondering then if I would ever reclaim the happinesses that sustained and nourished me. I was a prisoner and my cell was no more than 10 metres by six metres. I was incarcerated behind my own counter.

The Badly Wronged Man spoke of AIB, Annabella, appendix and Australia. I realised this was just part of The Badly Wronged Man's list of applied misfortunes. He was going through his list of his woes in alphabetical order.

By Z, or even B, I would be as drained as the victim who was bitten by the Brides of Dracula on the day the butcher ran out of black puddings. The life would leave my body, never to return. I decided there and then to make my escape.

I said I would be back shortly.

I never saw the man again. If he had bar stool sores on his arse from all the waiting I would have cared not a whit. I never came back. I was suffering from barman's burnout and brain drain. I'm only on B. I can take no more.

There is a limit and I am well over it. I am sick of listening to myself most of all. I have a surfeit of me. I find myself going in to what I call default speech mode.

My responses to The Badly Wronged Man were aha, or mmmm, or you don't say, or well, well, well, or dear, dear, dear, or my goodness, or my goodness me, or sure wisha, or sure yerra, or cut my legs off and call me Shorty, or isn't that a hoor all the same, and many, many more meaningless empty responses.

There are 16 commas in the last sentence. This is what I have turned in to.

And I didn't even mention right so, or go on, or I know what you're saying, or got you, or I have you, or I know, I know, I know.

I should be put teaching the art of saying nothing to the poor misfortunates who have to appear before Dáil committees.

My favourite response is "the old triangle goes jingle jangle" which is a line from the song in 'The Quare Fella'.

The line stumps the vast majority of the ones who come in to John B's for an intellectual debate. Most are afraid to ask what it means as it might convey the impression they are in some way lacking in their powers of comprehension. The line means nothing in the context of the Trump discussions or the Maria Bailey controversy or Brexit or who shot Michael Collins.

And as for Trump, the people in Doonbeg are as entitled to live in their own place and work in their own place as anyone else. As you may have gathered I have not decided to ban politics from the column.

But I have decided to ban all mention of politics in the pub.

This was always the old rule in pubs. For good measure, throw in sex and religion as well. I know what you're saying, well then what else is there to talk about?

Dick Mack's is a famous Dingle hostelry and they have a sign behind the bar that reads "No Trump Talk". The Americans are either mad about Trump, or mad at him. The very mention of his name sets off arguments.

We had to ban all Dev talk in our pub after the Pat the Pet problem.

Dev is short for de Valera, who was a leader in the old days. When I was a boy barman, you were either for him or agin him. Pat the Pet was only a small man but he jumped 10 metres in to the air when a man said Dev was under the bed during the Troubles. Pat the Pet left in a huff for Mike The Pies and he never came back to John B's ever again.

So I have banned all Trump Talk forthwith, forever.

And if some recidivist historian decides he wants to revisit the Dev days, I will ban him too.

Politics starts with P. We haven't even come to religion or sex, which start with R and S.

I left The Badly Wronged Man in the care of my nephew Bill, who is patient and kind.

Pubs close at midnight on week nights. I escaped at 8.

By 12, The Badly Wronged Man was only as far as D. He spoke of death and how it was several close relatives died just to spite him. The day they passed away must have been a happy day.

I'm fairly sure he was a hypochondriac. I know hypochondriac starts with H but some of the symptoms and diseases he didn't have go under D, such as diarrhoea, deafness, deep vein thrombosis, dengue fever and dyspepsia, which is another word for a bad stomach.

Then there was the fear of Dublin winning five in a row, and Dentist's drills. A bad Driver crashed in to him and nearly killed him. His back was ruined but the judge ruled against him. He was done for Dangerous driving.

By the end of the night Bill was exhausted but I gave him a handsome bonus for taking a bullet for his uncle.

When midnight came, Bill had him out the door on the very dot. The Badly Wronged Man complained bitterly. "Ye must think I'm Cinderella, sending me home at midnight. I should be left here until I finish what I was going to say."

Yes I know Cinderella starts with C. The terrifying prospect of his going back to earlier letters when he was advancing up the alphabet came in to my head.

The good news is we wronged The Badly Wronged Man. He will never darken our door again. C is for closing time - the barman's lifeboat.

Irish Independent

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