May 01 2009

May Day

Published by at 9:46 pm under Blog,Story

Greystones DART StationOn a crowded rush hour DART an elderly man sits opposite me, head hung, nursing an old photograph.

I stare into space, as I am wont to do. The bearded guy beside me is buried in The Watchmen graphic novel. There is a young blond woman beside the old man reading Elle.

The old man sighs loudly and there is a distinct stench of last night’s Jameson coming from him. He wants attention.

I stare on. Beardy guy turns the page of his comic. Blondie lifts her hand to cover her nose, but her head stays in her glossy rag.

“I met her sixty years ago today”, he begins.

Beardy doesn’t seem to notice. I smirk slightly at Blondie’s obvious discomfort. She glances away from him, perhaps seeking another seat. There are none to spare.

“She did the washup and looked after the babbies in one of the English houses and I was working with their man in the house.

“We had eight children. Nine actually. And we fought like eejits on that first day.”

I am not sure where to look. It’s clear he is going to keep talking. I’m not sure if he’s addressing one of the other two, but I sure as hell am not about to make eye contact.

“Every few years we would talk about that May Day. I always forgot what we fought over, but she never forgot. She had a divil of a memory,” he says with a slight chirp in his tone. Without looking at him, I can hear the smile in his voice.

“I think she changed the story a bit over the years.

“I was doing some work in the yard and went into the little downstairs kitchen to get a cup. I’d swear I never saw the dog. I wouldn’t have let a muddy dog into the house.

“But out she comes after me. Effin’ and blindin’. She looked like a lady but she had a mouth like a sailor. She was hitting me, telling me I had let the dog loose in the house and he was after jumping up on one of the babbies’ baptism dresses. Big expensive white yoke.”

He’s not looking at any of us. We are all looking at him, with alternating glances at each other exchanging silent “should we say somethings” and “is he for reals“.

“She wouldn’t even let me speak. I was guarding myself from her slaps while laughing me head off – go away, you mad woman, I says.

“Sixty years ago.

“That’s her there”, he says nudging Blondie and showing her the old photo.

She smiles a genuine smile and looks intently at the picture. She presents it to Beardy and me too.

I’d say it was taken in the early eighties. There’s an old woman standing beside a brown car. Her frumpy, flowery dress was probably fashionable about ten years previous, but she carried it well. Quite glamourous, I would say. In fact I do say it.

“Oh, she always dressed well. We never had nothing but she made sure none of us left the house with a rip in our clothes or a hole in our shoes.”

Blondie took the picture back and in her big D4 accent she asked, “So, like, what happened then?”

“Ah, yer man I was working with let the animal in. She never once apologised, but I said she could make up for it by coming with me to the dance that night. We were together from that day on.

“And you know, she had a boyfriend at the time and I was seeing this young one too. There was war.”

Beardy finally pipes up – “That’s lovely, man”.

Then we pull into Killiney and he moves to get up. Blondie stands respectfully. I tell him that it was absolute pleasure to meet him and Beardy agrees.

The three of us chat about our wonderful shared moment as far as Bray where Blondie and Beardy both get off.

I should have spent more time talking to my Granny about her life while she was still around.

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “May Day”

  1. DermotBuckleyon 01 May 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Superbly intense Darren.
    Fine read.
    You should do more of these you have a talent for it for sure 🙂

  2. demure lemuron 02 May 2009 at 10:08 am

    What a beautiful post Darren.

  3. Grannymaron 02 May 2009 at 11:27 am

    You might be the only people who took any notice of or spoke to him that day!

    Nice post with a lesson for all of us.

  4. peter doneganon 02 May 2009 at 5:49 pm

    A Chara Darran,

    enjoyed that. You should consider writing a book mate…. or getting on the Dart next may… i’d like to hear the end of that story.

    Sincere. Genuine. Love it. Life. Amazing.

  5. Seanblueyon 02 May 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Wow, that was really great. Heartwarming too.

    I agree with Peter and Dermo you’re a great writer, and the fact you manged to remeber the whole story is also pretty cool!

    Hopefully we’ll be seeing more ‘Deep Dart’ posts!!

  6. Ciaraon 04 May 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Wow, Darren that’s just wonderful. I know that some of my regular (and favourite) customers in the shop come in to chat just to ensure a 24 hour period passes and they’ve chatted to someone. It’s sometimes over a scone, more often than not a cuppa on a wet Monday, but always sincere and genuine. There are so many stories to hear, make sure they are told. It’s up to us to give these wonderful warriors a chance. I miss my Nanny every day, there is little I wouldn’t do to hear one more story and see her grip another ‘cup of strong’ through her sun speckled and hard working hands. I’d give it all in truth.

    I bet you made his day. I bet his (probable) grandchildren would thank you for your time.


  7. Darrenon 04 May 2009 at 10:31 pm

    @Dermot Aw shucks. Feck off. Intense? Me? Never!

    @Miss Lemur Coming from you that truly means a lot. You durty mare.

    @Grannymar Oh, I hope not. But that’s the worry. We were driving past Christchurch the other day and we were stuck in traffic. We watched an elderly gent walk about 10 feet in the space of three or four minutes. I felt so sad watching. Liz had a more positive outlook – perhaps this short walk was something he enjoyed doing. He maybe pushes himself to make this journey because he wants to get out into the big wide world. I don’t know. Still seems sad to me.

    @Peter A book? That’ll be the day. I’ve penciled in next May first to be on the same DART.

    @Sean My memory is pure crap. I definitely took some artistic license.

    @Ciara I have so many wonderful stories from my Granny. I’d love to share them but unfortunately I no longer feel I can on my own blog. I’ll find another outlet I’m sure.

  8. PaddyInEnglandon 05 May 2009 at 11:02 am

    I have a close friend in RTE and that old man was actually PJ Gallagher pulling your leg. This character where an old nice man rambles on is replacing the dirty auld one after user complaints.

  9. Darrenon 05 May 2009 at 11:05 am

    @Paddy Don’t ruin this!! I half believe you – he did keep his face fairly well hidden.

  10. Peteron 05 May 2009 at 11:17 am

    Wonderful post. I admire your writing skill Darren. Pity you have so many fingers in so many pies as I could see this format working quite well – Dart Diaries!

  11. Jenniferon 08 May 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Great post Darren. You never know who your going to meet or what kind of conversation you’re going to have on public transport. Its one of the reasons I’m glad I can’t drive.
    If I started writing stories about it I could write forever.

  12. Darrenon 11 May 2009 at 10:41 am

    @Peter Ah, it keeps me off the streets. But yeah, I need to organise myself a little better.

    @Jennifer I actually love my DART journeys. I would happily sit and watch people all day long.

  13. Stephon 11 May 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Sweet post.

  14. Annieon 11 May 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Ah Darren, it’s great to see you back and in such fine fettle! I really enjoyed this post 🙂

  15. Sinful Origami Paperon 11 May 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Darren, I think we share the same love of observation. Most people would just simply turn up their mp3 players louder, not you. Really like this.

  16. Darrenon 12 May 2009 at 11:07 am

    @Steph @Annie Thank yous!

    @Gray I’ve said it many times – people fascinate me.

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