Friday, 3 Feb 2023

Billy Keane: 'All small towns have a local bore but we're unlucky to have two… and they'd drive you Demented'

The weather, as expected, has turned wintry. Then again, this is winter.

This change has given justification to those who always expect the worst.

Like, for example, The Man Who Knows Everything (TMWKE), who is a native of hereabouts but knows all there is to be known about thereabouts.

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The daffodils were conned into appearing early and TMWKE told anyone who took time to listen, which was no one, except me.

The reason for the bursting out was because there was a volcano under Listowel which was bubbling away and heated up the soil.

The volcano was also the reason why so many people have athlete’s foot in the winter.

“It’s because of the heat getting in between the toes from the volcano.”

He took a deep breath as men of some substance often do when discussing weighty matters.

“Did you ever notice how the young lads aren’t wearing socks anymore, even in the winter time?”

I didn’t get time to say I did.

“Well,” said TMWKE, “that’s more proof the global warming is coming from below and not above.”

There are so many theories about global warming around here. One man told me Listowel would be a seaside town in no time at all even though we are 14km from the beaches of Ballybunion.

There are more who say there is no such thing at all as global warming.

Here’s what one man says: “It’s all made up by the Greens who have shares in the cow nappy companies. Lads selling ladders, life jackets, sand bags and dinghies are stuck in it too. It’s a conspiracy.”

He read it on the internet, which means it must be true.

This other man is known locally as The Drainer. He sucks out every last drop of energy and leaves you drained. Ten minutes in his company finishes me off for the day.

The Drainer’s neighbours have to keep the curtains permanently drawn so he can’t see if they are in or out. Everyone on his road has disconnected the door bells. The neighbours keep vicious guard dogs. Property prices in Drainerland dipped considerably when all around were going up.

One of The Drainer’s neighbours went to extreme extremes and I suspect he is in need of professional help. The Demented robbed one of The Drainer’s smelly socks (the volcano?) from the laundry basket. The Demented has his Doberman smelling the socks and he shouts out “kill, kill” so that when The Drainer comes anywhere near the house the Doberman goes out of his mind.

The Drainer and TMWKE do not get on. They avoid each other and it is not uncommon for one of them to take up a position on the left-hand side of the Main Street and the other to take up a position on the right-hand side. There’s no escaping for passers-by.

Most towns have one bore, but we have two, which is very hard luck.

I had the misfortune to have the two of them in the bar one night so I came up with a plan to keep them away from me.

“Here,” I said, “Drainer, do you know what TMWKE is after saying? He said the methane from the cows’ bottoms is melting the ice caps and he will only eat meat four days a week from now on. Hey, what do you think of that?”

“Not much,” he says and he turns his back on the both of us to torment some other poor unfortunate who finishes his all-but-full pint in one slug and leaves.

I tried to duck TMWKE this morning while I was out walking in the park known as the Cow’s Lawn. The last time I hid he got me here in my haven of earthly delight. I hid behind a tree. Either the tree was too narrow, or I was too wide, and he caught me.

I was day-dreaming this morning and he got me again. I was going to pretend I was getting a heart attack but the saying ‘mocking is catching’ entered my mind. I didn’t run away.

I figured that if I ran away, well, then the piece of news he had for me would bubble out of him like the athlete’s foot volcano and he would follow me in to the pub where I would be stuck listening to him for hours.

So on he goes about how Brexit is a plan by Trump to make Ireland part of America, seeing as we are practically next door to America here on the south-west coast.

There’s no better man to clear a pub. His every visit diminishes turnover.

I’m a bit of pleaser and he recognises that trait in me. I am a victim.

TMWKE is a blight worse than athlete’s foot or even the one that started the potato famine back in 1845.

I know what you are saying – “Why don’t you tell him to feck off outta dat for himself?”

But I can’t. The Drainer’s former missus and TMWKE’s ex-wife are very nice. They still love their exes even though they couldn’t live with them. Their kids are the finest. If you hurt them, then you hurt all belonging to them.

The Drainer and TMWKE are devoid of any malice. Tolerance is very much a part of small town living, but there are times when I wish the volcano would erupt.

I’m not sure though if Demented is able for much more. For some reason, the Doberman is mad about The Drainer. He walks straight in. The sock training has had the opposite effect.

Demented had a black notice pinned up on the door last week. It was from the undertaker and said his Uncle Mikey died in America. Uncle Mikey wasn’t dead at all. There isn’t even an Uncle Mikey. He does not exist.

Demented was hoping The Drainer would stay away. But The Drainer came to the Demented’s home to comfort the Dementeds in their hour of need.

They did not answer the knocks when they saw on the specially-installed camera who was at the door.

The Drainer considered himself to be a great neighbour and he stayed on anyway until The Demented would return, even though they were there the whole time, prisoners in their own home.

The Drainer passed the time playing throw ball with The Doberman.

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