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Reading Aloud

An Irishman

He said to my daughter that he was “getting on a treat” with her Mum. I was pleased to hear it. It’s nice to get on well with one’s neighbours. I have no sympathy with people who claim to have problems with their neighbours. We did have one tiny little incident years ago when I found out that they had been feeding our dog against my wishes. His wife had caused the problem, and of course he had to stick up for her. However, we managed to settle things and have been on the most friendly terms ever since.

He called round yesterday, having seen a lorry in our drive which he thought might have been destined for him. It wasn’t, but we took the opportunity for a little chat. I asked him to put me in the picture about his family, how everybody was getting on and how the horses were. I heard he had something like an accident that had caused him bruises all over his body, nothing broken fortunately: he had fallen off his horse, the animal wanting to go past a tree on one side and he on the other. He readily admitted it wasn’t the horse’s fault. His wife had kindly suggested to wrap foam rubber round all the trees he was passing in the future. She is a lovely person who believes in feeding everybody well.

He had another accident, stepping onto a nail in solid shoes and the nail penetrating his foot! He has a firm step. An energetic man. A good family man who believes in traditional values. Like marriage. It cannot and never should be dissolved! He was glad the referendum in Ireland had confirmed this. Anybody getting married should think twice! All the people advocating divorce had a vested interest. Didn’t the Church have a vested interest, too, I wondered. Yes, it did, he said, but then, it’s been like that for centuries. Why should religion be watered down by politics? I remarked the Church must be pleased to have asserted its power. Very pleased, he said. Divorce shouldn’t be allowed – it’s immoral or something to that effect. Should people not be allowed to make up their own minds, I wondered. “Well,” he said, “you have to follow the right teaching. Why give it up?” The priests bring pressure to bear, of course, to ensure we do the right things. Pressure…I insisted: how about people making up their own minds? “Oh yes,” he said, “you can vote what you like – nobody sees you.” And then jokingly “Anyway, who would be in favour of divorce. It makes a fellow poor in this country. Fancy, having to pay for two women!”. I reminded him that he had spoken of pressure, people were voting under pressure. He didn’t follow me, and I changed the subject, having heard enough to write about. We turned to a lighter topic, horse-riding, and he inquired when “this pretty daughter” of mine was coming back from holiday. I understand she is excellent company when they ride out together, not like that other girl who is altogether shallow with “nothing but horses in her life”. He looked bored. He informed me that he could have jokes with my daughter about all sorts of things. He cautiously said “I even wind her up about her Mum sometimes!”. I took it with a laugh and he was satisfied. I had to return to my cooking and he left me not without taking regards for his wife back with him. My husband was dismayed I was so far behind with the cooking. I told him it was a good idea to keep up good neighbourly relations. We might want his builder’s services some time…
Our neighbour seemed to be in raptures. I don’t know what he was looking at. It was only me passing on my bicycle. Perhaps it was my skirt and matching sandals.