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No more Mr Nice Guy

After his run-in with a guy over a picnic bench, Pat Fitzpatrick decides it's time for him to man up, and start being a bit more nasty to rude people


Doneraile Park - a haven of peace and tranquility.

Doneraile Park - a haven of peace and tranquility.

Doneraile Park - a haven of peace and tranquility.

I could have murdered a man last weekend. And not in the way you'd murder an ice cream. I mean a body, cops, a trial, jail, my mother too embarrassed to go to the bridge club.

We were in Doneraile Park near Mallow - the wife, her mother, the kids and myself. It was the first hot day of the year and the place was buzzing with optimism, laughter and kids off the leash after a long winter. A spot of sinus congestion I had battled with for months, suddenly disappeared after an hour in the sun. I relaxed and agreed with the wife there is a gentleness in rural people that you just don't get in built-up areas, like Dublin and Cork. It was a perfect day.

Plain Ignorant

And then we went for lunch. Just below the playground, there is a wooded picnic area overlooking the small river that flows through the park. The wife headed down there to grab a table as I tried to herd everyone together and get our picnic stuff out of the car.

She isn't backward at coming forward and spotted a man who was just about to leave one of the tables. I caught a glimpse of her having a laugh with him about something as we approached down the hill. Suddenly, this other guy arrived from nowhere pushing a buggy, edged past my wife and the departing guy and took his place at our table. I could see from his shoulders he was up for a fight.

The wife is a reasonable person, quite a lot of the time, and set about explaining that she was there first, and had just stepped back to give the original occupant space to clear up. The intruder didn't engage; he just stayed speaking on the phone, his big fat arse planked down on the bench.

If I went over there, I probably would have had to hit him, because this guy was going nowhere. I've never really hit anyone in my life. It didn't help that he was a thickset farmer type who would probably have pounded me into the ground, cartoon-style. There isn't a whole lot of dignity in that. So, I shouted over at my wife to walk away.

I feel lame just writing it. Mind you, it could have been worse. I was toying with the idea of playing the mother-in-law card and shouting over, "We need that seat for an elderly lady, you ignorant gobshite." Except then my kids would get to see me being beaten up by a bogman and their grandmother, which is the just kind of thing that could scar a child for life.

We wandered away and found a spot under a tree, looking down over the river and across the glen to some deer on a hillside. It was miles better than the spot we lost to Mr Angry. But I couldn't enjoy it. I was the angry one now, entertaining genuinely murderous thoughts about the eejit who had intruded on my perfect day. At one stage, I had to go back to the car to get something, on a path that would take me close to your man. I contemplated taking a detour to sort it out, and ran the scenario over in my mind. I'm not kidding, the best I could come up with was to march over there, take a photo of him and threaten to post it up on Facebook. Because that's the kind of thing that will hurt a bolshie bogman.

The day got better and even warmer after that and I forgot about him as we set about looking for dinosaurs down by the pond. It was later that night, over a glass of wine in the back garden, that I figured out what had really happened to me in Doneraile.

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The problem is, I'm not as nice as I appear. I like to come across as an affable, reasonable type of person. That's not quite me, and I reckon it's leading to some pent-up rage. There's no point taking up boxing, because I'm what's known in Cork as slapless. So, I've decided to become a bit more of a prick. Not a lot, just a bit. Put it this way, I wouldn't jump a queue that has me in it. Not unless you want a photo of you to appear on Twitter.

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