The poor auld Bunty Mac was a great friend of mine back in the late 70s and early 80s. We being young men taken to the sup, what you might call drink. Bunty Mac was the Doc Holliday of Longford and well, I was the Wyatt Earp of Westmeath. The Bunty was a poker shark and every one knew he cheated, but no one could ever catch him out. Not even meself. It wasn’t quite like the film, but it wasn’t far off it, and we always came out on top, or on top more times than not. It funded the lifestyle we choose to live at that time.
At the poker schools, we took large sums in winnings off the lads. I’d have the Bunty run out a door or window, any exit he could get through. Carrying the cash. That’s when the lads would get mad and start a row. No matter what, Bunty never looked back, because the wad of cash was more important than me. Sure manys the swinging match I had to face while the Bunty made his escape. It was the toss of a coin if you boxed the heads off a lad or two, or they boxed the head off of me. Sure, I didn’t care about them things. I saw it as part of the game.
One time and we lodging in Harlesdon North London. Big Phil from Cork was our landlord, and a real gentleman he was. Came from money and wealth, and had grown up in a very different situation to the Bunty Mac and meself. But we were great friends in those days and Big Phil would love to come around for the chat and the craic.
“Bejaysus Lads,” Big Phil would say, “Never a mad pair of hoors like yous pair did ever I see. But yous are great craic, the happy madness.” Poor auld big Phil talked us into giving up the drink for Lent, and he a religious man. Sure the Bunty looked over at me, and says he,
“We have as much chance of climbing mount Everest in our bare feet, as give up the porter and poker for Lent.”
It so happens in those days neira mobile phone or social media was come about.
“What yous boys should do is find two nice girls to straighten yous out. Sure, I looked at the Bunty Mac and says I,
“There as much chance of that, as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, in a pair a high heels and suspenders.” After a lot of persuasion, he got us to write to the pen pal club and find ourselves two dacent women to straighten us out.
As the weeks passed and we climbing the walls for a pint, their letters began to land on the mat. Two fine dacent young ladys began to correspond, and with pictures we got to see what they looked like. After a round of letter correspondence, we made the phone call, and arrangements be made for to meet a first date.
The Bunty Mac had lied to impress herself, saying he was a business man from Piccadilly instead of a wild hoor from Harlesden, a working class spot. We met them the same night and mine was at Northwood station. His at Piccadilly.
When she turned up I got the shock of my life, and she had aged 30 years since she sent me her picture three weeks before.
“Be Jaysus says I. You’re auld enough to be me mammy. What happened to you in the three weeks since past?” She lit me a smile, and asked,
“Am I still staying at yours?”
“Be Jaysus, you’re not, Missus!” and I ran like a blue hoor.
No sooner I be home, and who lands in the door but himself. On his lonesome. Surprised, says I, “Well where is herself, Bunty Mac?
“Be God, Nicky Feery, You never guess what! A grand posh wan she was, and as she landed on the platform. And me stood there, grinning with a bunch of roses. Says I, to herself, ‘Well Hello Sweetheart, and welcome to Pickladdiki.’ The word came out all wrong. Be Jaysus, if she only walked by me. Her head in the air, like I wasn’t even there. An over she goes to the next platform. Boards a train back, from the direction she came.”
“Sure,” says I, “I faired no better. T’was the auld mammy she sent, or by Jaysus, she aged shocking in the three weeks since.”
So, that was the last time we gave up the porter for the duration of Lent.