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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon


“Shakespeare never has six lines together without a fault."

      Now what do you think of that? And who said it? Those words were written by Dr Samual Johnson. But my friend Pat Cavanagh, a member of Mensa and an all-round genius doesn’t agree. He has emailed me a list which is entirely made up by connecting phrases and quotes attributed to William Shakespeare, and I think it is very clever. Pat asks me to give some of the credit to Bernard Levin:

“If you cannot understand my argument, and declare "It's Greek to me", you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger; if your wish is father to the thought; if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool's paradise -why, be that as it may, the more fool you , for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then - to give the devil his due - if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then - by Jove! O Lord! Tut tut! For goodness' sake! What the dickens! But me no buts! - it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.”

      Since I saw you last I came third in the International Storytelling Competition at the Sean McCarthy Memorial Weekend and the advice I got from the adjudicator, Pat Speight was, “Keep telling.”

Pat is one of Ireland’s best known storytellers. You’ll find him at Pat

      Some time ago I wrote about how John Cassidy found an old Famine-pot in the townland of Cullinboy, in his native Donegal. Well that led to research which in turn revealed lesser known facts about the Irish potato famine. CIE Writers’ Group has now produced a historical DVD, “Famine Pot.” It is in the final stages of editing and if you have even a passing interest in Irish history this documentary is for you. Details at: irishfaminepots

       One of my former work colleagues, Christy McCabe, is a thinking and innovative man. He sent me the following;

      For those of my generation who do not and cannot comprehend why Facebook exists: I am trying to make friends outside of Facebook while applying the same principles. Therefore, every day I walk down the street and tell passersby what I have eaten, how I feel at the moment, what I have done the night before, what I will do later, and with whom. I give them pictures of my family, my dog, and of me gardening, taking things apart in the garage, watering the lawn, standing in front of landmarks, driving around town, having lunch, and doing what anybody and everybody does every day.

      I also listen to their conversations, give them the "thumbs up" and tell them I like them. And it works just like Facebook. I already have four people following me: two police officers, a private investigator, and a psychiatrist.

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