Rottweiler Soup: I’m Not Here
The walk back to Herbert Place from Maggie’s gave me time to try to piece together what I thought I knew. Cui bono? That’s the first question you’re supposed to ask when attempting political analysis. Who benefits? Who benefits from blowing up Connolly Station? Where do the cards fall when the dust has settled?
Well, where do you want to start? The construction industry. Car and bicycle manufacturers. Bus Éireann. Architects. Inner-city Dubs. Radio talk show hosts. Terry Prone. About the only people not likely to benefit from this explosion were the winos and bums who sleep in Connolly every night amidst the piss and shit and rubble and noise. The ones least likely to notice the place has been blown up. And the ones most likely who’ll be rounded up and shot.
But most importantly of all. Did I get to fuck Maggie or not?
A vague memory persisted of having my fingers buried in something hot and moist. Unless Maggie got up in the middle of the night and decided to use my hands to make a casserole, I have no way of explaining the enduring sensation. Unless maybe I dreamt it. That would be just my fucking luck.
When I arrived back home I dug out attire more suitable for visiting bomb-blast victims and a mortuary, only I didn’t have a decent tie other than the silk one Ellie bought me from the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. It featured a print of his weeping woman, you know the one. The one who looks like she’s been disfigured in a bomb blast at a railway station. Couldn’t have been more appropriate, really. Though, now I stop and think about it, what the fuck was Ellie doing buying me that as a present? Sending me a message of some sort?
Too late now, I guess.
Besides, I didn’t have another tie to go with the clean shirts in the apartment, so it would have to do. And at least it drew the eye away from the shaving cut on my neck that I acquired during my efforts to look respectable.
I trotted down the steps at the front of the apartment, still adjusting my tie, and was about to open the front gate when I was accosted by a gabardine-clad weirdo with hunched shoulders and a baseball cap trying his best to look inconspicuous but failing conspicuously as a result of the sartorial mismanagement that had matched a gabardine and a baseball cap. He also had what I took to be a false beard, but I didn’t try pulling it because it looked so ridiculous it could only be genuine.
Bugger me sideways. It was Delia.
‘Let me guess. Fidel Castro. No. Columbo. Jimmy Saville.’
‘Your fancy dress costume. It’s Jackie Healy Rae, isn’t it?’
He spat on the pavement. I was right.
‘Will you ever feck off, Joe. This is serious. Haven’t you seen the news?’
‘Of course I have. I’m on the way to the hospital now.’
An army chopper flew overhead. Delia glanced skyward, furtively, and paused before replying, like he didn’t want to shout his reply.
‘You’d do well to keep your head down. This . . . the bomb . . . it’s a set-up. An excuse. Next thing is comes the clampdown. The backlash. You know. The roundups.’
Jesus, a conspiracy nut. He could be right, of course.
‘What’s that to you, Del?’
His look said he thought I was an utter moron. He could be right, of course.
‘Come on, Joe. Wake up, will you? This is a chance for them to tighten their grip, to squeeze out the last drops. You don’t imagine all this—’ he waved his arms around generally but I think he meant the helicopter, ‘this security is out of fear of what Travellers can do? Jesus. It’s about control, man. Control. They reserve the right to have a finger in every pie and know everything you’re doing. And they’re running out of things to cannibalize. I hope you’ve made plans to drink all that Scotch.’
‘Of course I’ve made plans. Most of my waking hours are spent planning how I’m going to drink it. But why the disguise?’
‘Joe, they’ll be doing door-to-door within 24 hours. Don’t you listen to the radio? There’re already roadblocks on every route out of the city centre. You won’t believe the trouble I had just getting here to find you.’
‘Me? What for?’
‘Because I don’t trust the phone network. Not mobiles, not landlines. I just had to warn you to get rid of that booze. They’ll want to know where it came from if you don’t, and I don’t want you having to go through interrogation.’
‘Thanks, Del. Your concern is touching.’
‘ . . . only because I know you’d snap like a Twiglet and spill the beans, you fecker.’
‘Don’t be daft, Del. You’re being melodramatic. I’m sure you could have phoned.’
‘Never heard of Echelon, Joe? Every bloody phone call is monitored. They’d’ve picked us both up straight away using GPS.’
He was hopping from foot to foot like Rafa Nadal. The only thing they have in common. He needed to calm down.
‘Look, Del. Relax. It isn’t going to be a problem . . . Do you genuinely not know what it is I do for a living?’
He scanned the street impatientily.
‘Course I know. Publishing.’
Hah. The poor sap. Still, why disabuse him now? Why shatter his illusions?
‘Yes, publishing. That’s right. But for an American company. And, you forget. I have contacts there. And here. Nothing’s going to happen to us, Del. Nobody’s going to come snooping around my place if they know what’s good for their careers, believe me. I know some very highly placed, very important people.’
He eyed me skeptically. That same army chopper returned, back from the direction of the Burlington. Delia took it as a bad omen. It was time for him to head off.
‘I hope you do, Joe. I hope you do. But keep an eye out all the same. I’ll see you again when this has all blown over.’
‘Where’re you going?’
He tapped his nose.
‘Underground . . . like Jimmy Saville.’
‘Can’t tell you. You’re a Twiglet. But you know what they say: spare the rod and spoil the broth.’
The chopper began to circle. I shielded my eyes from the afternoon rain to check it out. By the time I looked back down, Delia was at Baggot Street Bridge.
The latest edition of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable features several new additions to its Collective Nouns section:
- An absence of epileptics
- A congress of rabbits
- A coterie of painters
- An abomination of Zionists
- A dearth of Irish ecologists
- A pile of batteries
- A shortage of midgets
- A crew of trainspotters
- A battery of chip shops
- A bevy of barmaids
- A blur of mockneys
- A kermode of philistines
- A dysfunction of Goths
- A division of spectacle wearers
- A knot of pessimists
- A shitload of nappies
- A mass of Latin Lovers
- A meeting of butchers
- A string of crusties
- A big pollock of Spoonerists
- A drove of joyriders
- A horde of syphilitics
- A flight of Japanese Horror movies
- A Quorum of tribute bands
- An embarrassment of crabs
- An ambush of sows
- A gunch of ventriloquists
- An armery of amputees
- A flourish of bakers
- A phalanx of penises
- A murder of lorry drivers
- A thimble of lispers
- A minion of shallots
- A gaggle of masochists
- A wrap of black directors
- A livery of pubs
- A tribe of wankers