Tuesday, July 19, 2005

They came on bicycles...

I was recently back in Ireland with my father and we returned to one of his old haunts for a drink. An old guy at the other end of the bar caught my Dad's eye and came over for a chat. They had been firm friends in their youth - but had not seen much of each other since. They were, nonetheless, entirely abreast of the details of each other's lives - thanks to the grapevine.

The old friend was, like my father, called Paddy. He was a dapper man in his seventies and my father later attributed his spritely disposition to the fact that he never much troubled himself with inconveniences like 'work'. They inevitably began to reminisce and recalled a police raid on the same bar some fifty years earlier. Paddy, my Dad and his brother had all been charged with underaged drinking and each fined half a crown. The guards then held them to ransom for many pints of beer for several weeks - threatening to tell parents of the crime.

My Dad tried to capture the atmosphere for me. 'They didn't have any fast cars with flashing lights, you know'. He took a sip of his pint and looked to Paddy for confirmation, 'They came on bicycles...'

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