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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

I’m Retired

Here comes February, a little girl with her first valentine, a red bow in her windblown hair, a kiss waiting on her lips, a tantrum just back of her laughter. _Hal Borland.

As promised last month I’M RETIRED. On my last day in gainful employment 31st January I sort of took a look at “significant” Januaries in my life. The first one was January 10th in 1946; of course I don’t remember that.

14th January 1949 was my first recordable day. I remember my father bringing out a Whitehead cow to the fair of Blessington.

January 1957 I was in a Dublin hospital much closer to death than I realised.

January 1963 the country was in the grip of the biggest freeze up for decades. I was foddering cattle in Kylebeg. The Blessington Lake was frozen over for weeks and as one local put it “if you spat against the wind you’d be hit in the face with a lump of ice.”

On the 10th January 1979 I learned (or should have learned) a valuable lesson about the futility of projecting. My mother was in a coma in Naas hospital and I was driving along a country road to visit her. Of course I embarked on a line of “intelligent “thinking. “My mother is going to die. I’ll be in bits at the funereal and not able to drive my car. Who will I get to drive it?” So that I could concentrate without interruption and do some serious planning I turned off the car radio. Very soon I went in on a patch of frozen snow, skidded, collided with a brand-new, oncoming BMW, turned it over and almost wrote off my own car. Thank God there were no injuries. My mother liver for another twelve years and there wasn’t a bother on me at her funereal.

On 14th January 1980 I got married. It was snowing. And the scene in the video where my late father’s hat blows off is rather entertaining.

And then of course there was January 2011. Our government was in chaos, we have a general election in February and I was told the following story in Lacken:

A Wicklow farmer finally decided to buy a TV. The store in Blessington assured him that they would install the antenna and TV the next day. The next evening the farmer turned on his new TV and found only political adverts, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, the whole lot, on every channel. The next morning he turned the TV on and found only political adverts again. When he came in to eat dinner he tried the TV again but still only found political adverts. The next day when he still found only political adverts he called the store to complain. The owner said that it was impossible for every channel to only have political adverts, but agreed to send their repairman to check the TV. When the TV repairman turned on the TV he found that the farmer was right. After looking at the TV for a while he went outside to check the antenna. In a few minutes he returned and told the farmer he had found the problem. The antenna had been installed on top of the windmill and grounded to the manure spreader.

I went to see John B. Keane’s masterpiece The Field starring Brian Dennehy. And while it takes a bit of getting used to the Bull McCabe with an American accent, it was a great production and one that I’m sure the late John B. would be well pleased with.

I’m only a few hours retired and I’m already getting plenty of slagging. But it’s great crack.

Last month I was going on about what Charles Lamb had to say about retirement but . . .you know . . .I kind of prefer what James Thomson had to say about it:

An elegant sufficiency, content,
Retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books,
Ease and alternate labour, useful life,
Progressive virtue, and approving Heaven!

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