CHAPTER THREE: MY MOTHER AND MY FATHER, A GENERAL ROUND-UP OF BEFORE THEY DID DIE (PART TWO)

“An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan” is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictitious Irish television and radio personality. It parodies misery memoirs (such as Angela’s Ashes by the late great Frank McCourt) and cannibalises from various sources.
 
The first part of Chapter 2 is here.
The second part of Chapter 2 is here.
The first part of Chapter Three is here.
The continuation of Chapter Three is below.

CHAPTER THREE: MY MOTHER AND MY FATHER, A GENERAL ROUND-UP OF BEFORE THEY DID DIE

(PART TWO)


                This next account will prove to you, if not already proven with incidental anecdotes, the fierceness of Father’s temper. Cousin Barney had been serving in a tedious war in South Africa, only at this stage, when I was about five, he had done so well for himself in the army that he had been promoted to Colonel Cousin Barney. Thus, through much saving, and investment in the Dutch East India Company, he had managed to scrape together enough collateral to send home to the family a biscuit by gourrier service.
                Now, we didn’t have biscuits in Ireland at this stage, and the amount of excitement in Main Square with the rumours floating around that there was a biscuit arriving was startling. The gourrier arrived to the door and Father opened it and solemnly took the package from him, neglecting to give him a tip (the gourrier was, after all, a member of the Itinerary, and to give money to a Tinkerman for work that he’d actually performed was not considered at the time to be culturally honourable).
                So Father closed the door behind him after spitting in his face, and he turned to the family with a twinkly eye, and had we caught his face on camera, I’m sure we would have won awards for the photo from the Royal Dental Hygiene Association to have Father’s teeth fixed. He was, of course, delighted that the much anticipated biscuit had arrived from Sith Ifrica, and he removed the brown parcel wrap as we all looked on vicariously, while Mother moved around the room wiping the drool from the furniture and the carpet. She’d save it, to be sure, in order to make the gravy later in the week.
                “Go and put on the kittle,” Father instructed, and off with Mother to her proper place in the kitchen, and Father pulled open the box, and lo and behold was that digestive biscuit the best thing we’d ever seen in our lives, sitting there in the box like a king on its velvet cushion, and all of us oohed and aahed like we’d never seen a biscuit before in our lives, as it glittered and shone in the light from the fire. And Father withdrew the biscuit from the box and held it up before us with both hands, and – at the same time, as a coincidence, in a kind of sacrilegious serendipitous and felicitous mockery, as it were – the local church bells tolled to inform us that the Angeles was taking place, and we wept for the love of God Himself, we wept as if it were pure gold, that biscuit, even though it looked more like silver; a big, shiny, silver coin. It looked bigger than a sovereign, and with its own intrinsic richness of grainy fibre.
                And then Father peeled off the tinfoil, and I have to say, we were a little bit disappointed.
                But we started re-drooling once he wolfed into that biscuit, and his eyes opened wide almost in fear at the enjoyment he received when that thing touched his tongue, and he broke wind in delight, and each and every one of his children, all seventeen of us, broke wind in response, as if undergoing a ritualistic rite of passage with our Father. Father made sure to save half of it for the dunking in his tea, and when that jar of tea arrived freshly brewed with a quite recently used decade-old tea-bag, the family gathered around in awe as Father dipped the remaining half of the biscuit into the warm drink and we watched the milky brew soak up into the structure of that digestive. As Father lifted the sweet out of his drink, there was too much weight in it, agus, A Thiarcais! most of the remaining cookie plopped back into the jar. Father let a shriek out of him like a wounded but quite effeminate animal, and he picked the ornamental scimitar off the hook on the wall and deheaded one child before becapitating another was the anger so fierce inside of him like a big healthy lump into the tylet. He turned to face me, raised the sword, and I could see in his eyes that he wanted to take action against me, to end my mortal existence just as sure as he’d just ended two of my siblings’. I closed my eyes in anticipation of the mortal blow, knowing full well it was coming. But he paused, and as I opened my eyes and looked into his, I saw that he realised that I was the only child he had who was yet earning money, and he couldn’t kill me, working as I was at the time in Veracci’s Garage and sustaining the rest of the family.
                And as he ended indulging his murderous instincts because of my employment status, and the pent-up rage inside of him caused fire to shoot from his eyes and ears for two days and two nights straight, during which time the locals made the most of it by holding a makeshift barbecue powered by the fire until the conflagration ended. Father survived his apoplexy. But we got a nice stew out of the two babies.
                And as Mother always said to us when Father finally did pass on:
                “Childer, childer, never speak ill of the dead.”
                But she wasn’t talking about Father; on the contrary, he survived for many more years. He moved to the North of England for the work. He got the benefit of the gout, which was a pension he received after winning a long-standing legal action against St James’s Fence, and he couldn’t resist not letting Mother having that money, so he took off for Lancashire, and then finally to Newcastle, before eventually going to London where he was employed as a child-replacer during the Blitz. He was a hundred and seven years old at that stage, and the only bad thing about his employment, he told me years later, was that he had to wear nappies that he would’ve been wearing an’ annyway, nor so he claimed.
                But Mother, she wasn’t a saint, I have to stress. It’s like this, is the way I see it: A virgin among the chaste is not that big of a deal, but a virgin surroundered by whores is a very different story entirely, and before my Mother was even married, she’d already given birth by immaculate conception seven and a half times (to not omit Larry) so morally calibrated she was. So she just looked good in comparison to the more iniquitous nephron abusing reprobates in our particular parish, with their drinking and carousing. And it was without doubt Mother who was the most formative influence on my early childhood. These days, of course, it’s the television which acts as the didactic tool for the kids, what with their Power Ranger Mutant Turtles and their Telepokemons and what not and so forth. But my Mother did all of that off her own bat.
                She did the puppet shows for us and everything, watched by all the children. She had whittled a number of puppets out of polyester and nylon, sometimes even years before those particular fabrics had been invented. And she had stock puppets (meaning pretty conventional ones) and sock puppets (meaning ones made out of her stockings), and string puppets, and puppet dictators that the United States took an interest in and brought to power provided they were of an extremely right-wing bent.
                And it was great, she’d do the rounds of all the Protestant community’s houses, “stealing and robbing” whenever she could and getting paid for her puppetry into the bargain. And it was a long time before she realised her puppet show could have been world famous, but sure, aren’t I making it famous now, just as Keats immortalised the Grecian Urn and like when Shakespeare wrote the kinds of sonnets that did much the same as what I’m doing now with Mother’s puppet show? She would have been proud of me were she still alive today, of course, not knowing how successful I am because she’s gone to Hivin. And they say that Hivin is like being a fly that has pupated from some pond inhabitatitating maggot. But Father Rorty elucidated that point, and I’ll explain it to you all in a later account.

Read Chapter Four: My First Holies and the Bubonics here.

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Chapter Three (Part One) of An Early Childhood



“An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan” is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictitious Irish television and radio personality. It parodies misery memoirs (such as Angela’s Ashes by the late great Frank McCourt) and cannibalises from various sources.
 
The first part of Chapter 2 is here.
The second part of Chapter 2 is here.


CHAPTER THREE: MY MOTHER AND MY FATHER, A GENERAL ROUND-UP OF BEFORE THEY DID DIE

(PART ONE)

                Mother, apart from the stealery in the orphanage-cum-convent, could more often than not be regardered as the most decent and honourable woman this side of the River Shandy, as well as the other side. And she was seen as such, even in fierce times when people would call to the house and they’d see the holy chalice from Chapel No. 5 sitting on the mantelpiece. People wouldn’t believe her when she told them she had stolen it from the orphanage. Despite her blatant honesty when it came to her own kleptomania, nobody believed her because she was that good of a person.
                She was known as the Lady of the Light because, before she married, she worked as a housemaid abroad for a married couple who were both scientists, name of Curie, and ever since then she’d had the unwitting capacity of being able to glow in the dark. Alas, the Curies passed away untimelyly, and Mother returned to her native land to shack up with Billy Flanagan, who was my father. Now, Billy and Patricia, as my Mother was known, ended up in the family way, in that they were not long courting together before they were married. And Mother insisted on doing it that way, because she had met a fellow while she was abroad, Jude Fawley was his name, and he hadn’t gotten married and he was living in sin with his lover and he’d never got a chance in life because of it. His story was a tragic tale, a veritable critique on the nihilism of a Darwinistic universe. Or something.
                And Mother’s generosity of spirit and healing qualities were known to all and sundry. I remember one occasion when she was summoned out in the middle of the night because Mrs O’Meara had delivered herself a backwards baby. And Mother had to take me with her as the proper example of what a baby was. I served, I suppose, as the template for a real baby, not the made-up mess of a thing that Mrs O’Meara had given birth to. And Mrs O’Meara saw me, and she agreed that her baby had been born inside out, even though she had been in denial about it. So with a deft flick of the wrist, Mother turned Mrs O’Meara’s reverse baby back to front and saved its life.
                And Mother used to go down to the shops and ask for credit, and she always got it, irregardless of the fact that she owed more money in that shop than small South American countries produced coca, from which a certain illicit substance is derived, which we may go into later. And so, she’d get gobsmackers for all the family, and aniseed spheres, and bitter monkey pennies and toffers and scoffers and spsirc and Jim Larkin’s cooking oil and liquorice whips and sour lemon protestant jew balls that could only be looked at but not sucked because “eating them was akin to tupping a lady of the night”, as Mother insisted.
                And although I’d never met a vampire, much less a female one, I always got the impression Mother was actually alluding obliquely to sex with prostitutes rather than anything en vogue today, with the Wampyric Wenaissance.
                She’d also pick up some tylet roll, if she could afford it, but we usually used old newspapers and books and babies to wipe Father’s bum. And she would always, always, always, buy an economy container of Blue Steam, because she insisted on keeping a germ-free household.
                Every morning, Mother would travel the twenty-one miles down to the well next to the copper tylet in Main Square to fill up a large bucket with water for the family for the day. And she would carry the bucket on her head, two babies suckling off her teats as she trotted down to the forum. And Mother would lower the bucket into the well, often flicking the babies ‘accidentally’ into the water with some sudden action. And she would pretend not to notice their cries; she had enough children already, and only one of them a millionaire, and him dead now, what with his mystoperia and his tuberculosis and his musical career and Mad Leopold Cassidy That Jewish Bastard.
                And then she would return to the house, or sometimes she would take a detour down to the strand to pick up her hoard of orphanage goods, and she’d come back to the house with her fresh water and her stash of stolen goods which had been buried near the seawater. There’s some kind of symbolism in that kind of banter, but I’m not entirely sure where. And then she’d wash the remaining infants in our own tylet and hang them out on the line and talk to me, teaching me such words as iniquitous and nephron.

The continuation is here.

Further Chik Fil-A abuse revealed

Abuse against Chik Fil-A - also known as "Capuchin Chicken" in regions as far afield as Europe - seems to continue unabated: A sickening level of hatred is prevalent among the general populace worldwide. However, despite the reaction to expressing opinion in the United States, nothing quite as bad as the latest revelation was believed possible until yesterday.


A number of UK newspapers have gone to press - having had fair comment and opinion imposed on them due to recent inquiries - with the story of a Chik Fil-A or "Capuchin" monk, caged by the Protestant Trevellyan family from Leeds in the UK at their home, for almost two decades. The monk was permitted out of his cage for no more than an hour each day. Disgustingly, the priest was reportedly fed on a diet of nuts, fruit, insects, seeds - and as a "special treat" now and then, according to the sadistic family - an egg.

Rendering of what the Trevellyan's monk may have possibly looked like, were he capable

Members of the Trevellyan family - who declare themselves to be "bordering on agnostic" - have declined to comment on their treatment of the monk, other than father of four Luke Trevellyan's statement that "we did what we could for the little guy, but he got too much to handle. I think what we did now was probably wrong, and they shouldn't be kept as pets. We don't think it's right - or fair - to keep him any more."

The chicken outlet employee - who, it has been determined, after scanning a number of reports describing the ill treated priest as a "Capuchin monk or monkey" - is believed to have been working as a missionary in the Amazon in the mid 90s in a "social group of thirty members". Clearly enjoying an idyllic lifestyle, living off the land, he was tranquilised, captured and ultimately shipped to the United Kingdom, where he was subjected to the whims of the Trevellyans.

Today, the monk is so scarred by treatment at the hands of his captors that when confronted with his own reflection in a mirror, he screeches in horror at his appearance before curling into a ball, rocking himself back and forth. Shockingly - after the monk's condition was reported anonymously to the authorities by a concerned third party - it has been determined in a court ruling that the Trevellyans actually did nothing illegal. The lawyer representing the Trevellyans somehow managed to convince prosecutors that keeping the monk in the manner which they did falls under animal welfare legislation. The judge hearing the case was given a number of Dixie Chicks CDs for precedent - to which he was listening at the time - and therefore unavailable for interview.

The Chik Fil-A employee has suffered bone damage as the result of rickets due to a lack of exposure to sunlight. Incapable of social interaction, he has made a new home at an animal sanctuary in Wales, where he has the space to roam freely in an enclosure far larger than the prison that he called home for twenty years. Surrounded by frogs, he now divides most of his time between a tyre and a log. The future for this man of God - pejoratively described by Luke Trevellyan as "one of nature's little butlers" - is bleak.

Chapter Two (Part Two) of An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan

“An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan” is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictitious Irish television and radio personality. It parodies misery memoirs (such as Angela’s Ashes by the late great Frank McCourt) and cannibalises and plagiarises from various sources.
Please check out the first part of the first chapter here. The second part of chapter one is here.

The first part of Chapter 2 (this chapter) is here. See the second part below.

  

CHAPTER TWO: GARAGE DAYS REVISITED (PART TWO)
                The second time Bully-Boy Breathanach pulled a stunt on me, I was still unaware of his evil intent, and I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He told me that Mister Veracci wanted me to go out and pull the legs off the guard dog. Now, the guard dog was more of a blackguard dog in all honesty, and, unlike the Homosexual Lion, his predilections for human flesh weren’t confined only to penguins. Or the penguins that migrated from Antarctica for that matther. He had huge, almost comical jaws on a small head, a big, woolly fur coat which he’d stolen from the previous garage owner, and he had a kind of androgyny about him whereby he had not only male but female genitalia as well as autoreproductive propensities that would put the fear in any man. So out I went into the fhreezing weadder, and I called out the hound’s name.
                “Coo, Colin!” I says, “Coo, Colin!”
                And the great wolf appeared in the forecourt, expecting his meal, so he sees me, a young child, and I could see in his eyes that he wanted me for lunch, and I don’t mean a dinner date, I mean eating me. And he charged at me full speed, and I didn’t know what to do, but it was just as well I had my hurling shtick with me, what was known as a hurley, or a big spoon as it’s called nowadays, and I withdrew the shliothar out of my pocket and tossed it into the air and whacked it with a force unbeknownst to man, so fast, indeed, that wasn’t there a great big wake of Cherenkov radiation following after it? Only the ball missed the dog entirely, my aim wasn’t what it should have been, and the ball went crashing through the window of Mister Veracci’s office, and didn’t it only lodge in the boss’s head, the removal of which we were told later, would ultimately result in his death. So there the shliothar remained, stuck in the Italian immigrant’s skull, until years later, when in a vision - or so I was told - Mister Veracci saw Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci being hung upside down on tenterhooks, and Veracci was so angered by what he saw that didn’t he only fall into a rage, and the shliothar pop out of his skull and he died on the spot?
Anyway, the wolfdog was still bounding towards me, tongue lolling out of his mouth and the spittle flickering off the tongue in slow motion and landing in huge drops on the ice, where dirty big holes would be burnt and didn’t I only take the spare shliothar out of my pocket and toss it into the air and WHACK! The ball soared into the jaws of the leaping mutt and plunged into the gaping cavernous mouth and went right through him and out his anus and he collapsed on the spot, much like Mister Veracci years later? Except, of course, with an entirely bursted out rectum. So I took the legs off the dog and returned to the factory floor and I threw the legs down before Pat Breathanach and all stared at me in awe and my Father was so proud of me he bought me a pint and a glass of Kelly’s cola and four ground up, soluble pillules of morphia and we went clubbing all night, and that’s where I picked up my love of the thumping beat of the bodhrán with the ‘visual’ sounds. And when people talk, green and red comes out of their mouths and the beautiful butterflies and the tangible shenanigans and the tactile tomfoolery. Just three or four times a week and not as often now, mind, and it’s never done me any harm, but I did look after mysel’, going to Switzerland to have all the pysened blood drained out of me in the clinic to be replaced by fresh blood.
                But anyhow, back to the garage days. The third trick that evil man Pat Breathanach played on me was the one that ended his life, for God help him, he messed with the wrong four-year-old child. Pat came up to me one morning a fortnight later and he says to me, he says,
                “Would you go and get me a bucket of blue steam?”
                “What’s blue steam?” says I in response, knowing full well he was setting me up for another murther attempt.
                “Sure, isn’t it a kind of dethergent?” says he.
                Now, I knew full well there was no such a detergent as blue steam, and that Pat Breathanach was out for my blood. I made the decision there and then that it was him or me, dead and alive, and that was perfectly logical when you put it into an equation of logic.
                “I’ll get it for you indeed, Walshy,” says I, sourpuss on me, and everyone gave loud whispers and took a step back, because they knew full well from the way that I’d called Pat Breathanach by his Proddy name that one of us would be gone to Hivin by the nightfall. So I promptly made my way over to the furnace and didn’t I only put on the rubber glove and I opened the carbon-14 cubicle in the furnace and re-aligned the molecular field so that the matrix wouldn’t be so stable. And everyone except Pat Breathanach knew what was going to happen, but Pat Breathanach didn’t know, bereft as he was of any kind of technical acumen. And all the lads hit the deck, and quick as the wind through the cheeks of God I swung the furnace door open, and pulled the door off its hinges so that it hung free in my arms, and charged at Pat Breathanach with all my might, swinging the furnace door down onto his skull, smashing his nose into his brains and his eyes into his shtomach. He collapsed on the factory floor, shtone dead, and I pointed at the furnace doorway, where the door had been moments before and a little wisp of blue steam came out of the furnace and I says to Pat Breathanach’s broken body, I says:
                “There’s your blue steam, baby.”
             And I got a round of applause, applause almost as cogent as the time, years later, when I told a woman on the train that she was ugly in the extreme and I was totally drunk, but I wasn’t so drunk that I couldn’t see that she was very ugly. And so as you can see, I developed my wit early on in life. And from that day to this I’ve encountered a great deal more respect from people, be they young, old, indifferent, highly intelligent, or stupid females. Sometimes I’ll be giving a talk, and I’ll look into the crowd, and won’t there only be a young man or an old woman there, and I’ll see from their manner that they’re hanging on my every word. Sometimes I’ll even see them mouthing my own words back at me in silence, and I’ll point to that particular disciple, and I’ll say:

“Look at that gimp, mouthing my words back at me just two seconds after I’ve said them!” And everyone will point at that particular individual and roar with a kind of teasing, mocking laughter that isn’t real laughter at all, but merely the kind of ostracising behaviour typical of a mob’s group disfunction. Or dysfunction. Or what have you.

Chapter Three begins here.

Chapter Two (Part One) of An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan

“An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan” is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictitious Irish television and radio personality. It parodies misery memoirs (such as Angela’s Ashes by the late great Frank McCourt) and cannibalises and plagiarises from various sources. (People call that "pastiche" when it's on The Simpsons.)


Please check out the first part of the first chapter here.

A later chapter (Chapter 7) is found in a previous post here. I will post more of this work, and I would love to hear opinions and feedback. Thanks.


CHAPTER TWO: GARAGE DAYS REVISITED (PART ONE)
                I remember the first day at the factory like it was when I was four years old, and I was four years of age at the time, believe it or no. Father couldn’t afford a razor all the time, and when his blade went blunt or Mother had sold it, he often used one of the nippers to shave. We always tried to forget those days, and you could often tell his blade was gone by the ominous change of kilter in his whistle. There he was, in the bathroom, whistling away, and then the whistling would cease, and he would seem a little vexed. He’d come bursting through the wall into the living area covered in plaster, mortar and grey brick, stubbly and irate, and he would turn to Mother.
                “WHERE’SH ME RAZOR?” he’d demand to know.
                “I had tee pawn ’er in the town,” Mother would reply, and there’d be a silence cuttable with a knife through butther, and Father would stare at the wall, the veins shticking out of his temples, expression full of concentration, and teeth gritted, and a long spout of blood would spray out of his tear duct and a focused burst of energy would send him charging at full speed into the wall, and he’d come out the other side of the wall, and we’d look through the hole he’d just created, and there’d be another hole beyond that one, and another, and another, and so on, ad infinitum, until we could see Father in the distance, standing in the middle of the rafters’ dying room (they couldn’t afford a living room). And Father would eventually return to the house the proper way through doors and streets and so on and so forth. And that would be the end of it most days. But not on my first day of work. O no! On my first day of work he came back and he was still filled with the anger. There was a crack across my Mother’s face, and another, and Father got his shnooker cue out from the corner. In those days, of course, the ‘rule of thumb’ was still in effect, wherein a husband could punish his wife for misbehaviour with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Now, Father took advantage of this particular law by first hammering his thumbs until they were swollen every morn, and secondly sharpening his snooker cue until the end point collapsed in on itself to become what was known in those days as a quantum singularity. Father would spend two hours stabbing Mother in the legs with this sharp implement while he danced the hornpipe for the fun; often, the great big holes in Mother’s legs resulted in the view by the neighbours that Father had fierce bad aim sexually speaking. A condition I’ve inherited, God bless us. But enough about my confusing times in South East Asia, not knowing what to do with myself. After two hours of his jiggery pokery, he snatched me up in his arms and took me into the bath area, cleaned my head in the tylet, and squeezed the back of my neck until my mouth was open. Then he shaved with my teeth.
                Well, it wasn’t a serendipitous start to my first day of work, I’ll tell you for nowt as they say in the North of England.
                Then Father scooped me under his arm, slipped me surreptitiously into his lunch satchel bereft of the lunch which he never received so poor we were half shtarved with the cold, and headed off to the factory. Sure Father was as sure to eat me as he was to work with me, be me his lunch or not.
                “Sshhhh…” he insisted, “Sure, aredn’t we headin’ dooon t’ th’ facthreee.”
                In order for the next apocryphal anecdote (memory being such a pliable and arbitrary mechanism at the age of four) to be granted its full impact, I must detail the factory layout and the general vibe of the workers yo whassup if yanowaddumsayin’. The factory floor was an open plan, which meant that the workers were prone to the elements, such as the sulphur in the sulphuric acid rain which peculiarly localised itself in the incandescent, throbbing, red-green clouds where the strange three-winged birds with whiskers resided, perched atop the factory’s two chimney stacks. It also left the floor workers exposed to the carbon monoxide emissions which were pumped out of one of the two vast contraptions protruding from the west annex of the factory block (the other contraption being in the east annex), the carbon monoxide which was, by the way, a far more pernicious toxin than its carbon dioxide cousin, as well as the carbon dioxide emissions which were pumped out of the other of the two vast contraptions protruding from the west annex of the factory block (the other contraption being in the east annex) and which was almost as lethal to a man’s health as the carbon monoxide. The other contraption, in the east annex, sucked in oxygen. Huge blades swung overhead, abetting in the creation of products. Turbines hummed and engines sputtered. Men wore clothes on the factory floor. Some men had a full head of hair, others had receding hairlines, and still more, there were a few who were utterly bereft of follicles. Some of them had liver spots and some of them had skin cancer and some had high temperatures and some were dead, because the safety standards were not what they should have been. There were times, for example, when those great big propellers would overstep their mark and somebody would lose a head. Not in anger, now. Literally. And then for a few weeks we could play football on our lunchbreak until the ball started going smelly, and I was reminded of my earliest memories whenever we played, when as a tiny infant unable to stand I was playing with my sister Aoibhinn’s shliothar-head as a kind of microphone.
                And we knew it was a group effort to make our product on the factory floor, which was actually called Veracci’s Garage, and the morale was always high, because we were getting paid money for our work, but Mister Veracci, he was an Italian immigrant, and he had little appreciation for the needs of the working man in Ireland. Sometimes he would go so far as to walk across the factory floor, bawling at anyone below the age of eight years, and, more often than not, I, being the youngest man under his employ, would bear the brunt of it. He would grab me by the nethers, shake me violently doing all sorts of irreparable damage, and he would smile, and then he would burst out of him:
                “You-a kids-a—you-a come in a-here and you-a run around like a chicken with-a no head!”
                 Then he would toss me like a pebble into the main reactor, but I grabbed onto the ledge each time, and waited patiently until he departed off the factory floor before somersaulting back out of the reactor like an acrobat. Then I would instinctively make to attack Mister Veracci, but he would be gone already, one of the pure electricity fields stretching across the corridor blocking my path. Little did Mister Veracci realise that it was the same young fellow that he threw into the main reactor’s pit every morning!
                As I said, morale was high all the same, and the lads had a great sense of humour. I recall days when Peadar O’Jones would wave across the factory floor at the five chippers at the industrial furnace and two fingers would be lost to him on the propellers. And he’d shout out
                “Oi!” and with the bloody stumps remaining of the digits on his hand, he’d point at his eye.
                Then one of the chippers, Patsy Kensitt, would wave back, losing a handful of his own fingers in the process, and then with the stub of an arm left to him, he would point at his ear, and in response he would shout:
                “Ere!”
                And it was all fiercely entertaining, and we made our own fun really, when we had to, like when we locked the Protestant foreman in the Masturbation Chamber and us refusing to let him out until he’d excited himself to death. We only did that twice, though, and we had to stop when the Bill was passed as an Act in London banning murther. And my first few weeks on the factory floor saw the whole workforce “jiving” me, “taking the piss”, some of the more sexually licentious fellows were even “getting it up against me”. I remember one November morn, and it was a cold and chilly day, so cold in fact that the penguins had come up from Antarctica because it was even colder than that southern continent, and besides, the Empires were staking their claim to that unexplored region and the penguins had to move house at any rate until the law came in whereby the Empires couldn’t claim any land until the arse-end of the twentieth century. And everyone felt the intense cold sure enough, but one of the younger lads, Pat Breathanach, known as Walshy to the Protestants, he piped up out of him to me:
                “Paddy, would you ever go out there into the coal bunker and fetch the long stand for me?”
                So out I went, not knowing what the long stand was, little realising it was all just a made up thing used on the greenies and the rookie workers to jive them. So out I went into the freezing cold, stepping through the door, and pushed off from the railing at the door, and I slid across the garage forecourt to the coal shed. And I went into the coal shed and looked around for any kind of stand at all, but sure, there was nothing but coal in that shed. Then I heard the key turn in the lock behind me, and wasn’t I only locked into the coal shed, no coat on me ar chor ar bith, with the freezing cold and the laughter emanating from beyond the shed door and those eejit co-workers thinking it would be the craic if I froze to death?
                Let me tell you now, that’s when I started using my wits, because, as I’m sure you well know at this stage in my career as a television presenter, literary figurehead and champion bodhrán player, I am, if I would allow my intellectual brilliance to shroud my modesty for a moment, I am one of the mostest shrewdest, most cunning divils this little island has ever produced, and believe you me this fair isle has produced a few cunning divils in its time. So I ground up four lumps of coal with my hands trembling with the cold, and using the near-frozen sweat from my palms, I turned the powder into a doughy mixture and I stuck it into the keyhole. Then I pulled at the light bulb wire above my head and I unscrewed the light bulb, and I tore out the light fitting and didn’t I only stick the live wire into the doughy mixture and blow the door lock off the door? And I made good my escape.

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