Celtic Illumination, part 323, For better or worse.
I often wonder how many of you, The Illuminati, actually understand what you put me through each morning when I sit down to produce this blog. For example this morning, on one platform, I was greeted with eight e-mails all introducing new members of The Illuminati, and by the way welcome. You may think that’s great, soon the ranks of The Illuminati will be sufficient that I can take back the throne of Ireland and then move on to world domination. But no, that’s not what I think. You will all have noticed that some of The Illuminati are more vocal than others; some feel obliged to register their comments publicly, some, on the other hand, feel a need to communicate through solicitors and legal practitioners. Some however, like the poet K A Brace, over there in Nashville, Tennessee, haunt me with their imposing silence, demanding, without uttering the slightest sound, that I deliver again, and again, and again.
If you think I can’t hear you in the shadows K A Brace, you are wrong. I know that even the three dogs and four cats are watching me, but I welcome the pressure. The secret about good writing is that it should be easy to read, so easy that the reader should think, I could do that, and to achieve that takes skill. One day I might be lucky enough to get some. When I saw those eight names this morning, I thought, ‘Oh no,’ another eight people that I must regale with the stories of reprobates and rogues I have met. I worried as I wondered if I could produce, again, I had my blank pages; all I needed was the fifteen hundred words to fill them. I have sick people, like Ken Clare, who at the moment is having French sea shanties chanted at him by John Clancey. Clancey is also probably drunk on Pernod, stinking of Garlic and wearing a short leather skirt. He didn’t have to wear the skirt but he said it makes him feel like a real man.
I suppose if we are talking about Clancy it’s as good a time as any to tell you about the day he got married, Saturday the fifth of August at Kirk Maughold Parish Church, on a bit of rock in the middle of the Irish Sea. It is the sort of date that would have people on the Isle of Man bless themselves, if they weren’t too busy spitting at rats and dreaming of birching gay people. Some of us had been warriors, some answered telephones and wrote things down, and some were still warriors dispersed all over the world. Clancy knew that most people only pretended to like him, I didn’t, I just felt sorry for him. He knew that by offering free food and booze there would be a good chance some of us might turn up. It’s sort of like that Kevin Costner film where he has the ghosts in his field next to his farm and he hears the voice saying, “If you build it they will come.” We were not ghosts but people like Tim Lort would certainly scare the shit out of you if you met him down a dark alley one night, especially in Amsterdam.
Clancey knew I was living the high life on the Isle of Man and, perhaps through jealousy, wanted to disrupt my peace and quiet. He asked, well pleaded if the truth be told, if I would help prepare the venue where the reception was to be held. It was so sad to hear that he had to work in the restaurant where he was holding his reception. He probably couldn’t afford to hire the place, and so was having to work off the bill, washing dishes and taking customer’s dogs for long romantic walks. He would never admit this so, being a young gentleman, I went to the Glenduff Restaurant, to see what help I could give. It was just as well that I did as Clancy had indulged in another cost cutting exercise which was to hire a tent for the occasion. It was a big tent, some people may have called it a marquee, but then some people call BMW’s, motorcars. The tent had been dumped in the car park of the restaurant, so I was able to organise the local labour and erect the thing in double quick time.
Crates of beer had to be moved about, crates of wine stored, floors washed and then washed again, I can tell you they needed it. When finished, the place, the Glenduff Restaurant, looked almost presentable. This is where I saw that Clancy had planned the wedding to happen at three in the afternoon so that by the time people were arriving at the restaurant, it would be getting dark and they wouldn’t notice how dilapidated the place was. The tent had been filled with tables and chairs and once they managed to get the sheep out, I was sure we could fit at least twenty people in, standing room only of course. It had been a long hard day for many of the people there, I could tell, as the sweat stained their clothing as if a colour blind person had attempted to Tie Dye their outfits. Clancey thought that as a reward we should all have grilled steak with baskets of warm, fresh, garlic bread and pints of beer. I have to admit it was very nice, but I would hate to think how many dishes he had to wash to pay for that lot.
The following morning, the day of the wedding, one of the strangest things ever, happened to me. They say that military men who have served together form a very strong bond, well; you form a bond with those you like. I had woken up very early, it was six o clock in the morning, it was dawn and the air had a crispness to it that made you feel excited and alive. I crept downstairs, so that I wouldn’t disturb Tony and Mary, and made myself a cup of tea. I just stood in the kitchen dreading what I would have to face during the following day. I decided to go for a drive, there was not much traffic about, so I was tempted to take Tony’s little sports type car and zip along the winding country lanes for a bit of an early morning thrill. Instead I took the large car, the saloon, lots of leather, lots of room and lots of power. I set off and decided to drive to the front at Douglas.
What I didn’t know was that three fellows had missed the ferry. Tim Lort, Rick Stocks and Aggie Milne. There is no need for me to go in to detail but I am sure you can work out that it had something to do with female women and the demon drink. Tim of course was in the Royal Navy, well he was a Royal Marine Commando type officer fellow so he was sort of sailor and he managed to scrounge a lift for the three of them on a fishing trawler to Douglas. I understand the three of them were stood standing on a dock in Heysham in England, wondering if they would actually make it to the wedding, but more importantly how they would move, from wherever they landed on the Isle of Man, to the actual event. It was Rick Stocks who turned around and said, “Don’t worry about it, Paddy Morris will be waiting for us.” Who needs mobile telephones when you are teleg, telepateh, when you use Vulcan mind control, ah, telepathetic, that’s it.
Another excuse that Clancy used to hide his financial destitution was to say that the wedding was to be held in the oldest church on the Isle of Man, Kirk Maughold Parish Church. I think he hoped to pass it off as culturally significant, which it may have been if the church had been in use, by people and not livestock. Luckily, it was a small church, so it appeared to be full. We had decided not to play about with any explosives in, or near, the church as I don’t think it would have survived. Rick Stocks, and myself, being the only two people there who had received proper educations, knew how to belt out a hymn and boy did we. You could tell some people were jealous of our education as they shot looks at us suggesting we were either too loud, or out of tune and drunk, as if they would know. Luckily the whole thing was captured on video so it can always be proved that Rick and myself were in fine voice that day, and although the others, Lort, Milne, Mick Hughes, Wilcox and Shag Sabin, were slugging their way through a couple of bottles of whiskey, Rick and I abstained, well; at least during the hymns, we had been educated to a very high standard don’t you know.
Thankfully with the service over we allowed nature and the local livestock to resume their grazing and went off to the Glenduff. Normally we were all used to the highest of standards but we found the reception embarrassing, there was no one to greet us, there wasn’t even anyone to announce us. Rick found this terribly annoying but told me that he wouldn’t mention it, he would bite his tongue, which is just as well as the food was, well; to call it bland would be giving it far too much praise indeed. Being a London lad, Clancey thought that jellied eels followed by pie and peas, was the epitome of haute cuisine. He thought he would add a little French sophistication to the main course by adding Pommes Frites. Eating comfort food, in a tent, on a lawn on a Saturday evening, is perhaps not how many cultured people might imagine spending their weekend. There wasn’t even a string quartet for the hors d’oeuvre!
The dishes had been washed and dried, by Clancey, and there was a second sitting, for food, so we hung around the bar and waited. Eventually the tent was given over to drinking and dancing. There’s only one thing missing when you are in a tent, dancing, on grass, and that is rain. And as this was the Isle of Man, a little bit of rock in the Irish Sea, it didn’t half rain. It was lashing it down and the locals huddled together as if the very Gods themselves were angry at the pomposity of the situation. We of course were all smiling, for there’s only one thing to do when you are in a big tent and its starts raining, correct, marquee sliding. I think the locals were surprised to see all the military guys run outside and begin to climb up on to the roof of the marquee. You need a good, decent, heavy, rain shower for this. You climb your way to the top ridge of the marquee and then slide off. The bigger the marquee the better, Clancey knew this, he just didn’t know that it was going to rain and him claiming to be the only officially trained meteorologist on the island.
Inside all you can see and hear are these bottom shaped indentations scraping along and down the roof of the tent, till they depart at the edge, a slight yelp and then a thump, followed by hysterical giggling, before the person races back to the top to do it all again. The police were not called, well; not to the reception, so it must have been a good night. They were called however to the bed and breakfast where Aggie Milne had climbed through the window as he couldn’t find his key, couldn’t find his key!! He was so drunk he couldn’t find his hands, never mind his trouser pockets. He had climbed into a landlady’s bedroom and she had telephoned the local constabulary. If it had been the landlady of the digs he had been staying at, he may had gotten away with it, but the police just gave him a cuff around the ear and took him to when he should have been trying to break in to. As for the rest of us, well; we don’t speak about Clancey’s wedding, it might just embarrass Clancey and we can’t have that now, can we?