My next book, Under His Roof, to be published by Summer Palace Press in time for Christmas, is a sequence of vignettes about my late father, Barney O’Doherty. I have recorded a few pieces below and will add more later.
Keeping Yourself to Yourselfhttp://malachi.podcastpeople.com/redirect/media/35587malachi-o-doherty-35587mp3
Barney assessed the merits of a man by his ability to keep quiet about his doings.
We always knew a dog’s time was up when it started to cough. These were dry hacking coughs that disturbed the creature’s whole body. And the bounce would go out of the beast as the grip of distemper tightened. Barney would not even consider calling a vet but he had sufficient concern to try his own remedies.
Barney lived in a world in which spanners and knives and even people were not named. The yoke and the cutty and the gulpin were to be spoken of a little coyly, in case others listening in should know what you were talking about. There were other traditional language terms used around me growing up, ‘thran’, to describe a canny person of few words and dry humour, Barney never used those other words much. The beauty of those words is in their capacity to sharpen thought and refine an image. Barney was not preserving an old language so much as an old code.
Snoring was nature’s guard dog. At the ancient campfire, it was probably a warning to all dangerous animals to stay away, for the man is never more bestial and appalling than when he is shuddering from deep in his throat up to his sinuses.