Dancehalls, minerals and romance

They were great times back then. Sure we had no money but we didn’t need it. There was no mobile phone to pay for, no CDs or DVDs to buy and we were happy if we had clothes that kept us warm. We only drank minerals so there was no money needed for shots or fat frogs. Fat frogs — I kissed enough of them in my time and none of them turned into princes. We didn’t need money for contraceptives either, sure it cost nothing to say no and all that happened back then was a bit of slap and tickle.

Well anyway after all the slapping and tickling I ended up with Marty McGudgen. I knew him to say hello to for years. His loud laugh used to irritate me and it still did after we were married and even when I think of it now I feel my pulse quickening. Anyway one night at the dance didn’t I find myself staring at him across the dance floor and for the first time I saw something in his eyes — a kindness. It could have been all the Fanta I’d drank but I immediately found myself thinking: Marty McGudgen is the man for me. I said a quick prayer to St Jude and before long wasn’t he over asking me out to dance. We had a good aul’ dance that night and I let him drop the hand once to keep him keen. Then didn’t he ask me if I would go with him? Well I did go with him but there was none of the other business for a long time. The first time was in the back of his green Morris Minor and there was nothing minor about it I can tell ye. The creaking of the car springs was music to my ears and I felt like I was in heaven, an organism as they call it now.

We were married the following spring and he had me pregnant within two months God bless him.

He did have a great fondness for the drink but he kept it under control most of the time. Sure every man has to have an aul’ blow out once in a while. The young girls going now don’t understand that. They keep nagging. Cut him loose an odd time girls and he’ll come back far more relaxed.

Anyway we had five children. I would have been happy enough with three but sure with no contraception, I was defenceless. He’d come home from the pub and if the kids were in bed, he’d wink over at me. I knew then it was time to throw aside the Ireland’s Own and The Messenger. There were times I kept the kids up late telling him they were teething. Some of our children were still teething at four years of age. After drink sure there was no stopping him unless Mary Jane was visiting. I spent enough of my time looking at the ceiling and thinking of Ireland, not that it did me much good, but I always found that afterwards was a great time for getting agreement about repainting the house and buying new things.

The children are all settled now and the days of dance halls and minerals are long gone. Marty died two years ago and I gave up minerals shortly afterwards for the brandy and ginger. I broke out last bonfire night with Francey Grady. We had a great dance and afterwards spent a while in his Ford Fiesta after he pulled up outside my house.

He’s a bit set in his ways from living on his own but sure good feeding and a bit of kindness can change a man. Marty never liked him but sure those of us that are left have to get on with the business of living. I still have an odd dance. Mossy Hayes and the Henry sisters are in Pa’s tomorrow night so Francey will be giving me a lift to town in the morning: Bernie has me booked in for a wash and set at half eleven.

So let ye all have a happy Christmas and a million thanks to the one and only Larry Lawless for the chance to write a few lines on the good aul days


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