Sunday, 18 November 2018


 Andrew steps out to escape the stink...

There is no finer way to start a day than to wake laughing, which this morning I did for the first time in many years.

A prolific dreamer, I enjoy or endure three every night. For the last few months my dreams have been tamed by the medication I’m on, which emphatically delivers me into deep sleep.

I think those pills have been keeping my nightmares at bay, and last night I dreamed about something that actually happened, which I’ve never done before.

The reason I woke up smiling was because, while I was asleep, I’d spent some time with my friend Andrew, who I haven’t seen for years.

We first met decades ago, in the early morning queue outside the Mad Dog In The Fog, an Irish/English pub in San Francisco’s Lower Haight. 

England were playing Holland in Euro 96, and although Andrew is of Scottish descent, he’s a lover of the Beautiful Game and allergic to neither the craic nor (back in those days) the odd pint or five.

Tall and thin with bright white hair, piercing blue eyes, strong cheekbones and a chin to match, Andrew is a warm charismatic man. Raised in Clapham, he has a cockney accent that makes Del Boy sound like an imposter, and better yet, he’s an old school Chelsea fan.

Must confess that when I first heard his hardcore accent, I imagined Andrew to be working class through and through, so when after the match we went back to his gaff, I was shocked to find myself in a mansion in the city’s fashionable Marina district.

“Blimey! So what do you do for a living then, mate?”

“I’m the Senior Vice President of a marine insurance company, Charlie.”

Oh god, what a prejudiced fool I can be!

Let’s blame the English class system and move on to several years later, when I was living near the wonderful village of Killala, Co. Mayo.

Andrew called to say he was flying from California to Dublin for his friend Deirdre’s wedding.

I’d met her over there, and was delighted to be invited too. Then Andrew told me he’d booked us both into the Shelbourne Hotel the night before the nuptials, his treat. 

We’d have a friends’ reunion, a lad’s night out and from where I was standing, in my wellies, in a muddy puddle in a farmyard, it all sounded very exciting; very grand and posh altogether.


Right - time to get cracking. I needed to turn myself and my car into respectable beasts. Living alone in the countryside I let my standards slip quite considerably. 

My house will be clean, but my clothes might not. I mean really, what’s the point of putting on a clean sweatshirt when you know that nobody is coming to your house?

Last night’s dream started with me packing my suitcase for a five star hotel and wedding. The all-purpose grey suit was still in its dry cleaning cellophane, so that’d be fine for the wedding, and a pair of chinos and an ironed shirt for the Shelbourne bar.

Perfect, but before I set off I needed to clean my car, Betsy the Blue Bubble.

Opposite my house was the Cooperative’s creamery, outside which lay a massive hose, with a girth of several inches. I drove over there and let Betsy have it, blasting her paintwork with a high pressure flood.

Then I chamois leathered her dry and she was sparkling, ready to escort us from our grand hotel to the wedding. 

Setting off I felt thrilled at the prospect of seeing my mate and having a couple of days craic in a completely different world to my solitary rural existence.

As I passed Longford I started to smell something. They must be spreading slurry, I thought to myself, but the smell gradually became a noxious overwhelming reek, even as I entered the urban Dublin area.

Winding down the windows I gasped lungfulls of fresh air, as I realised with horror that this inescapable unmistakeable stink of animal shit was coming not from far away, but right underneath my feet.

Evidently, as I’d pootled the backroads of north Mayo, Betsy had picked up a carpet of dung on her underside. The power shower I’d delivered earlier served only to dampen it, and now it was delivering its revenge,

I tried my best to deter the valet parker outside the Shelbourne. Honestly mate, I’ll park her myself, you just show me where, but no, he insisted.

I turned away rather than see his face grimace in shock.

Poor sod. Seriously, it was hard to breathe in Betsy without gagging.

I said nothing to Andrew about Betsy’s aroma, hoping that the wretched stench might dissipate overnight.

Sadly no. Standing outside the hotel in our wedding finery the next morning, I saw the valet parker was holding his breath and screwing up his face as he returned my car.

Time to come clean about the pooh. Andrew was unimpressed, justifiably worried that he’d stink like the backside of a friendly Friesian all day, but we did manage a laugh.

Well, you have to, so we did, uproariously, and that’s why I awoke with a chuckle on my breath: I’d relived that whole episode, enjoyed Andrew’s company all over again and started the day in the best possible way.

(Then I received an email that left that smile on my face all day. Each year at this time a loving and lovely daughter informs me of her mother’s birthday. A loyal colyoomista for many years, the very wonderful Catherine Wade recently celebrated her 95th birthday. It is my absolute pleasure to wish her many more, and thank her for all the years she has read my blather.)

©Charlie Adley

No comments: