Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Guts by Roddy Doyle (Jonathan Cape 2013)

—It wasn't too bad so?

—No, said Jimmy.—No.


—Not so far anyway.

—Fingers crossed so.

—Yeah, said Jimmy.—Yeah. When were yeh born?

—Jesus, said his da.—1941. I think. Yeah, 1941. Why?

—Was there much talk about the Eucharistic Congress when you were a kid?

—God, yeah - Jesus. Big time.

—Wha' was it?

—Big mass, all sorts of processions.

—No pope.

—No, said Jimmy Sr.—No. A raft o' fuckin' cardinals. My parents talked about it all the time. I think it was kind o' like 1990, for their generation.

—Wha' d'yeh mean?

—Well, 1990 was unbelievable - remember?

—I do, yeah.

—It was just the football to start with. But then, when it took off. The penalty shoot-out an' tha'. The country was never the same again. It was the beginnin' of the boom.

—D'yeh think?

—Yeah - I do. I mean, I had tha' chipper van at the time. With Bimbo, d'you remember?


—An' it was a bit of a disaster, tha'. But I was never unemployed again - after Italia '90. I wouldn't let myself be. I was always doin' somethin', even before the buildin' took off. Because - an' this is true. We felt great about ourselves. For years after. An' tha' only changed a few years back. Now we're useless cunts again.

—Thanks for the analysis.

—Fuck off. You asked.

—An' 1932 was like tha', was it?

—Yeah, said Jimmy's da.—A bit. The country was only ten years old, remember. An' dirt poor. Then, like, the man in the flat next door to my mother's gets a radio - a big fuckin' deal. An' everyone bails in to hear it. She always spoke about hearin' your man, John McCormack, singin' live on the wireless. At the mass. Like he was Sinatra or - I don't know - some huge star today. The Bublé fucker or someone. My father said it was like the whole world was listenin' to somethin' tha' was happenin' here in Dublin. An' it probably was as well. Why did you ask

Jimmy told him.

—An' you came up with that idea, did yeh?

—I did, said Jimmy.—Yeah.

—It's a winner.

—D'yeh think?

—Fuckin' sure. If you do it properly.

—I will.

—Oh, I know, said his da.—D'you remember my cousin Norman?

—No, said Jimmy.—I don't think so.

—He'd be your cousin as well, I suppose. Second cousin, or first cousin twice removed or tha' shite. Anyway, he has a huge collection of old 78s an' stuff.

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