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In Grogan’s Front room stuffed with the people who don’t mind the couple of extra pennies laid on the cost of the drink for the privilege of being in a carpeted room. Briefly sunlight comes in through the smokestained windows, and the bright effect is too much for those of us heading back there beyond the swinging door to be among people who . . . Tommy’s behind the bar and placing bottle and glass on the bar. A cold one for Mr. T., he’s supposed to say, resting his hand palm up on the bar top. That’s what I need. Right you are. Tommy counts out the change for the ten pound note very slowly. Giving the lads a chance to see: how can they get a taste of it. Liam’s got himself sitting snugly into the corner seat where I want to sit. The seat down from him is empty. Ah, the American delegation arrives. He does. And in what mood? Not talking. Liam sips expertly at the pint bought with his own money. A tailor without a shop. I turn to the foreign exchange table in the paper. Liam looks around the pub. His fingers are yellow. He was interned with the boys, you know, the boys, during the war and learned Russian through Irish. I don’t keep up the language because there just isn’t the interest in things Russian, but with the Russians in Rathgar I expect I’ll get out the language and give it a run for the money. I’ve gained a penny on the pound and go up to the bar and order a pint. St. Patrick’s Day ———— ———— 15 You going to the commemoration? Liam asks. What one? For Kavanagh. He’s been dead for years. True, right you are there. But every year his friends get together and read some of his poems and remember him around the bench by the canal. He didn’t like me. You’re an American. I even bought his collected poems. And you wonder why? Americans are thick . . . not you in particular, just thick. That’s what Kavanagh knew. . . . you are the brother of Barbara. Now many years ago I was friends with Barbara and lost track of her. I saw her from the distance, I think in 1968 when I came back there from Sofia, and I might have seen her in London in 1978 getting off a bus in Notting Hill. Back then she lived just off the Rathgar Road, worked for an insurance company and had a sister who was going back/forth to England. If I remember correctly your father lived in Kinsale and had been in the British Army. Can I ask you to forward this letter? I remember she said you had gone to Trinity but she had not gone to university and I believe she eventually married a night student who was going to UCD In the corner Mr. J. sits for easy access to the end of the bar, and against the wall a padded bench broken by shoulder-high partitions and five round tables with stools scattered about. Liam and I are sitting near the swinging door so we get first sight of anyone coming in from the front room or coming in by the back door. Not to be caught unawares. Mr. J. is talking to himself. His hand is a claw about the glass of vodka and one ice cube. Should we say all the sad woe of his life and all the busted potential down the drain? Jocelyn has arrived with a half pint of Harp and is sitting between Liam and myself. Liam has nothing to say to her. As before, I see, Jocelyn says, reading the paper. I am. St. Patrick’s Day ———— Didn’t I explain to you when you are in a pub you’re here to talk and carry it all on. You did. I just didn’t feel like it. That’s just it. None of us really feel like it as you so quaintly put it. If any of us felt like it none of us would be here in the first place but we can’t stand the fucking walls we got ourselves stuck between at home. Get it! I do but some days. Then you should stay at home with the sheets up about your head. The parade woke me up. We all have excuses. I have three...


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Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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