Do you remember this old song?

Come single belle and beau, onto me pay attention -
Don't ever fall in love, it's the devil's own invention.
For once I fell in love with a maiden so bewitching
Miss Henrietta Bell out of Captain Kelly's kitchen -
With me toora loora la, toora loora laddie,
Toora loora la, toora loora laddie.

Well, I've updated that song and changed it into a novel. This explains my many months of absence from posting blogs.

I was wrapped up in the story of Lexie Cheddy and Henrietta Bell; how they got married and how poor Lexie had grown up from being an unwanted child to a (kind of) unwanted adult.

A short excerpt from my novel should shed some light on his unfortunate pairing with the bewitching maiden Henrietta Bell.

I wanted to explain to you about my parents. None of the two of them wanted me. Momma was expecting a girl – expecting in the sense of expectation I should add – and Pappa didn’t want a child of any description. So I grew up feeling very unwelcome indeed. Therefore you won’t be surprised to be told that their deaths had little impact on me. Especially as I’d just got married to Henrietta Bell.

Yes. Henrietta Bell. The devil’s own invention. The day she wiggled onto the green wearing those blinding white hot pants and twirling her yellow polka-dot parasol was the day that finished me. To say I got married in a fever would be to greatly understate the situation.

But I’m wandering off. I was telling you about my parents. Pappa went tits up first Wednesday of the month. Don’t ask me what month but I know it was the first Wednesday because that’s when I got my bonus in Mulroney’s butcher’s where I worked part-time and I remember being given it just before I heard the news. We got a bonus if the turnover was above a certain amount for the thirty days before that unless we were absent from work without good reason. I remember my boss Johnny Pat McGroin gave me the five shillings and I went away and got slaughtered in Tracy’s Nook that evening to the accompaniment of this drunken hag singing Love is Teasin’. Funny how some things stick in your head.

Momma died not long after Henry and I tied the knot. I’m not sure of the date but I know we buried her on a Friday. I remember this because I had bacon, two fried eggs, black pudding, white pudding, three Denny’s pork sausages and fried bread when we got back home from the funeral and Henrietta told me that that was a mortal sin because it was a day of abstinence and this meant I shouldn’t be eating meat. I wasn’t on very good terms with her that particular day because in bed the night before when we’d got finished and we were lying there looking up at the ceiling I turned to her and said “Was that OK?” and she said back to me “To tell you the truth Alexis I’d far rather have had a cup of tea and a piece of toast.” So when she started going on about the mortal sin thing I said “Do you really mean to say if I died now I’d go to hell for all eternity just for eating a fry? What’s the big deal about a Friday anyway?” and she said “Jesus was crucified on a Friday.”

And I said “And?”

And she said “Because Jesus was crucified for our salvation on a Friday.”

And I said “And?”

And she said “Because we should do penance for that.”

And I said “For what? Sure I didn’t crucify him.”

And she said “Ah, but you did.”

And I said “I wasn’t even there. I’ve got an alibi. I swear. I was in Dirty Nelly’s along with Johnny Pat McGroin’s brother Grip. But tell me this now Henry. What sort of a religion is it anyway that stitches you up for something that happened two thousand years ago? I doubt even Perry Mason could get a guilty verdict there.”

And apart from reminding me that Perry Mason was a defense lawyer she didn’t talk to me for a week after that. I kept saying to her that a God who’s bigger and smarter than anybody or anything wouldn’t give a damn if we ate pig meat or cow meat or fish meat or bird shit on a Friday when he has more to think about, like the millions dying of unemployment and poverty and depression and torture and persecution and war and starvation and disease and domestic violence but she wouldn’t listen and wouldn’t let me near her in or out of bed. A full week I had to do without. Now that’s what I call penance. My entire inside was thrown out of kilter. The heartburn was killing me, I took a rash on my backside, I couldn’t sleep, my bowels wouldn’t work. God, I wouldn’t wish that state of affairs on any man, not even Donald Trump. Well, maybe Donald Trump. 

Buy "A Maiden So Bewitching."

Views: 706

Tags: Arts, Commentary, Novels

Comment by Geraldine Callaghan on January 27, 2019 at 7:28am

I remember this song well: after reading your Preview, I know for sure I won’t be purchasing it .

Comment by Colm Herron on January 27, 2019 at 7:48am

Thanks for your comment Geraldine. Back in holy Ireland we've moved on a bit since girls were left to rot in laundries and priests were bowed and scraped to and Catholic teachings were accepted without question.

Comment by Geraldine Callaghan on January 27, 2019 at 8:10am

I  do not reside in Ireland. I visit frequently and over the years I have observed the advancement; some for the better, some to it’s detriment. Your use of the words “Holy Ireland” is a stretch. I’m sure your book will sell as people, especially the Irish, love stories about misery, and Clergy bashing.  I am speaking for myself and wiould not buy it: just saying! 

Comment by Colm Herron on January 27, 2019 at 11:41am

The term 'holy ireland' was ironic Geraldine. The major government and spiritual figures in my country have, since so-called independence, managed to foist the grossest injustices imaginable on our suffering masses. From independence on, by far our biggest export was people, people who couldn't endure the poverty that was foisted on them and simply had to emigrate. Emigration was crucial to Ireland for the purpose of staying barely afloat economically. Government efforts to invest for its people were derisory. A mere scan of the 2 links below will,I think, give you pause. I'd appreciate if you'd get back to me after you've read them. If you're truly interested in our beautiful and tragic country it might be worth studying them.

Heritage Partner
Comment by Against The Wind on January 30, 2019 at 6:10pm

Keep writing Colm,

May your pen never run dry.

James O'Brien.

Comment by Patrick Francis Deady on January 31, 2019 at 1:47am

I remembered it so I sang it. Then I read your story. 

Bless you, Colm.

Comment by Colm Herron on January 31, 2019 at 5:49am

Thanks Patrick. I thought the old song wouldn't mind a bit of tampering.

Comment by Colm Herron on January 31, 2019 at 6:06am

Thanks James. I see you were through the mill here away back. I suppose Ireland has come on in some ways since those dark days but the acquisitiveness and mutual back-scratching are still a bloody millstone. And don't get me started on the Church. I'm sure you know that in the 50s the Irish bishops were unanimous that Pius X11 was too left wing! But they've come on since. By about a millimetre. (There, I've already started!)

Comment by Colm Herron on February 1, 2019 at 4:27am

Patrick, I received one of your comments this morning but the other one which began with "I go to Mass weekly but wonder about the CEO of this outfit which has hardly  any staff. Here's how I survive it.  The only thing that exists for me on that day is the church I'm in, my wife who is w..." won't come up. Would you please send it again? I'd love to read it.


Comment by Patrick Francis Deady on February 1, 2019 at 9:57pm

I go to Mass weekly but wonder about the CEO of this outfit which has hardly any staff.  Here's how I survive it. The only thing that exists for me on that day is the Church I'm in, my Wife who is with me along with the Priest and the congregation. Nothing of their church problems exist for me. I am Celtic in my beliefs, never Roman.. IMHO, nothing Roman has ever done any good for the Irish people.


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