NO RACING TODAY.
KAVANAGH by Tom O’Brien
SCENE 1 : EXT. STREET SCENE. DUBLIN. DAY
SFX : voice singing in the background, getting nearer
PADDY: If ever you go to Dublin town, In a hundred years or so
Inquire for me in Baggot Street, and what I was like to know
O he was a quare one, Fol del the di do
He was a quare one, I tell you
SFX : Footsteps on pavement…high heels
HILDA : Are you waiting for someone, Paddy?
PADDY: Hilda! No, no…I was just…just…looking for…
HILDA: It wasn’t for me, by any chance? It’s just that I saw you in St Stevens
Green yesterday. And the day before. And weren’t you in Riordan’s Café
the other day? You’re not stalking me now, are you?
PADDY: I was, well…I thought a shilling for the gas meter
HILDA: Why didn’t you say so?
SFX: Jangle of money
There you are. We can’t have our greatest poet without heating now, can we?
PADDY: (MUTTERING) Or food. The cigarettes keep my pocket free from cash these
days. I have to tell you, Hilda, I’m as broke as bedamned.
HILDA: What’s to become of you at all, Paddy? No money, no job. I thought all
starving writers are supposed to reside in Paris.
PADDY: You can starve just as aisy in Dublin as in Paris.
HILDA: With nothing but your poetry to sustain you. What is it now?
Clay is the word and clay is the flesh
Where the potato-gatherers move
PADDY: Like mechanized scarecrows.
PADDY: If you’re going to quote me at least do it correctly.
HILDA: It’s a long poem, Paddy
PADDY: The Great Hunger is more than just words on a bit of paper.
HILDA: I know, but –
PADDY: Maybe I should give it up – go back to Inniskeen.
HILDA: No! You mustn’t say that. A job, that’s what you need to tide you over. And someone to look after you
PADDY: Are you offering? ‘Cos I’ll only marry you if you have ten thousand
pounds in the bank. And you’ll have to show me the dockets first.
HILDA: Show you the dockets…what an odd expression!
PADDY: Ah, I’m only joken’. I’d marry you for nothing. It was
something I heard a neighbouring farmer say back home, when he came
round boasting about the great match he’d made. The wife-to-be had
tubs of money according to him, but before the night was out we’d half
convinced him otherwise. ‘Be God, she’ll have to show me the dockets
first’, he kept muttering for days afterwards. (PAUSE) Well, what would
you marry me for?
HILDA: I wouldn’t marry anyone for anything – except for love.
PADDY: I’m bet then. Shure I know you don’t love me.
HILDA: I love your mind, Paddy. And your soul. Your beautiful poetry soul.
PADDY: But not my body.. Shure who in their right mind would? Look at me .
Like an orang utan.
HILDA: Ah, go on now! Everyone knows beauty is only skin deep. It’s what’s
inside that matters. Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with you that a haircut
and some new clothes won’t cure.
PADDY: Clane outside and inside, begod!
HILDA: We’ll make you the talk of Dublin when I get back after the New Year…
PADDY: Where are you goin’?
HILDA: Home, Paddy. It’s nice to be with the family for the festivities, you know?
A big turkey, all the holly and ivy, gathering the wren…I love all that.
PADDY: Can I come with you? For the Christmas. To Dingle. Can I?
HILDA: The arrangements have been made for a long time, Paddy. And you…
PADDY: I know. I wouldn’t fit in. (PAUSE) Does your father know about you and
HILDA: You and me?
PADDY: Well, that you’re going out with me?
HILDA: A few coffees together hardly constitutes going out…
PADDY: Don’t forget the pictures.
HILDA: We went to see one film together.
PADDY: But what a picture. Gone with the Wind.
HILDA: You slept all the way through it.
PADDY: But I still enjoyed the film, none the less.
HILDA: It doesn’t matter, Paddy. We are not going steady. But you know that!
Anyway, I have my studies to think about, so I haven’t got time for a
PADDY: And when you do get the time?
HILDA: I don’t know. We are friends, I enjoy your company…your poetry…that
will have to do for now. Haven’t you anyone…a girlfriend in Inniskeen?
PADDY: Ne’r a one. Only me mother.
HILDA: Ah, go on now! You must have had lots. (LAUGHS) All that wonderful
poetry to woo them.
PADDY: They weren’t my type. Besides, it’s only in Hollywood films that females
flutter around the lamp of genius.
HILDA: Go on with you.
PADDY: They were okay for other fellas around, I suppose. Fellas like Jimmy
McGough. (IMITATES JIMMY) ‘ Begod, look at that one! She’s got fine load-bearing hips…’
HILDA: I think you mean child-bearing…
PADDY: No. Load-bearing. They assess a woman by how she might hump a bag
of praties across a wet ploughed field or a bundle of turf through a swampy bog. I’d love to introduce you to them…see their faces.
HILDA: I’ll pass on the invitation, I think.
PADDY: I’ll have to settle for that then, won’t I? Go on, away with you. We’ll
talk again when you get back.
SFX: Footsteps receding again. Paddy sings another verse as they recede
PADDY: On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge
Of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion’s pledge
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay
I loved too much by such by such is happiness thrown away
So long, now, Hilda Moriarty.
HILDA : (VO) Of course, Paddy being Paddy, he followed me to Dingle. And stood his own mother up for Christmas, first time ever. He had it bad all
right. Not that his time in Kerry was very productive; he had to put up
in lodgings in the town, and wasn’t invited to my family home for any of
PADDY: Still, I was near my beloved.
HILDA: Paddy was like a…beached whale. He floundered around. He didn’t
belong anywhere; not in Dublin any more than Inniskeen.
PADDY: Inniskeen is a frightful, sordid, squalid place. Cities are the only place to
be for anyone not a peasant.
HILDA: Trouble was, he had no social graces – and never felt the need to acquire
any. He just lumbered through life, leaving a trail of destruction behind
him. There was something about him and…inanimate objects. He sat on chairs and they collapsed; he swung his arms during conversations, and it went through a window or sent objects flying. And his personal habits were, well…it was said of his flat that people wiped their feet on the mat when leaving.
Oh, he could be charming especially to good-looking women, or to people he thought could be of use to him, but in general…well…you can imagine how he must have come across to those in the refined circles of literary Dublin. This big lumbering oaf of a farmer boy, with an opinion on everything – and everyone. Sean O’Faolain was…
PADDY: No fecking good
HILDA: Austin Clarke…
PADDY: Useless. Bloody useless.
PADDY: I never cared much for Mister Yeets.
HILDA: Ah, Paddy. How can you say that?
PADDY: Patrick. You know I like to be called Patrick in public.
HILDA: It’s only a name, Paddy. A term of endearment.
PADDY: I come from a family of nine children and all our names are to be found in
the calender of the saints. It was to that calender that my father went in
search of a name when a child was born and not back to some dubious
ancestor with a name like a gnarled stick. And I don’t remember there being a Paddy in that calendar! So, please,call me Patrick in public!
HILDA: But there’s no one about, Paddy!
PADDY: You’re never far from earwigs in this town. Clarke, Behan, any of them,
could be hiding under a stone.
HILDA: I can see why you have the reputation of being the most cantankerous man
PADDY: The whole world, Hilda. The whole world.
HILDA: Paddy was quite mercenary, especially in his search for a woman. And fussy. Never mind that he was no oil painting himself; his ideal woman must be dark-haired – and beautiful.
PADDY: Like yourself, Hilda.
HILDA: His ideal woman must also love him for what he was; he wasn’t going to change. He wasn’t prepared to change! Anyway, why should he? He was Dublin’s poet-about-town; he had a reputation; he was a character. He couldn’t change! It was all a far cry from Inniskeen, when he first
tentatively put pen to paper…
SFX: Classroom sounds
PADDY: (VO)I mind the time when I was thirteen – just before I left
school – and I overheard a girl in the other class reading a poem
GIRL: I walked entranced
Through a land of morn
The sun, with wondrous excess of light
Shone down and glanced
Over fields of corn
And lustrous gardens a left and right
PADDY: (VO)I knew then that I wanted to be a poet – not a shoemaker and small farmer, as had been ordained for me. Oh, I knew what lay in store… winter
spending time on the sate learning shoe-making, the rest of the year being
a trainee farmer only. But it was mother and father had the vocation – not
me. I wasn’t cut out for any of that. I was…different.
But maybe I wasn’t that different after all. Talk on the farm had the
romantic beauty of reality. We were as close to life and death as we could
be. And I was part of that existence. I lived within the protecting fog of
family life. Although i had been writing verse for some time, I felt I had
not become a denizen of the literary world where only spectres flit. I was
never more than half a poet. A true poet is pushed up by the under drive of
a nation. Yet having knocked and knocked at the door of literature, it was
eventually opened to me. But by then I was reluctant to enter. The clay
of wet fields was about my feet and on my trouser-bottoms. But I wasn’t a
literary man, more a country gobshite and poetry is not literature. Poetry is
the breath of young life and the cry of elemental beings. Literature is a
cold ghost-wind blowing through Death’s dark chapel.
But listening to that poem when I was a mere boy of thirteen, I was rapt to
that golden time in which poets are born. I felt as though I was in the
presence of a magician, and I was. There was witchery in that poem.
In those days I had vision. I saw upon the little hills and in the eyes of
small flowers beauty too delicately rare for carnal words. If a man loves
nature then he can see beauty in everything. He can see the finger of God,
even in a nettle
You do not come down the road anymore
Past the ash trees where the gap in the hedge revealed
Your blue dress the trimming to the bottom of Callan’s field.
And the free-wheel of your bicycle like the whirr
Off the breeze in the black sallies. If you could see
The clay of time falling away from my feet
When you appeared this side of Callan’s gate,
THE SCENE NOW IS IN PATRICK’S MIND – BACK IN THE LOFT ABOVE THE KITCHEN OF THE FAMILY HOME, WHERE HE USED TO WRITE HIS POETRY
MOTHER: Patrick, Patrick! The cows are broke into the oats you lazy robber, and you
lying here like a churn a-drying…and you broke every tool about the place
except the crowbar, and you bent that…I’d be in pocket if I paid you to
stay at home. You should have been a preacher.
PADDY: I tried to be a good son, a good farmer. For more than twenty years I
tried. (A SUDDEN PAUSE) Shhh…do you hear the corncrake? And that’s a cricket…d’you hear it? It lives at the back of the fireplace. Or so
my father was fond of telling us when we were young…
And this is my hideaway. Where I like to get away from it all. After a hard
day in the fields. Cutting the oats…stooking it, drawing it in…saving the
hay. Milking the cows…feeding the hins…Ah, it’s only an auld loft, I
know. But it’s mine. Where I can be…
I am sitting on a bag of oats in the loft. The moon is shining most bright
on me. Look! See? It’s a grand starry night for a ramble…
SFX: He lights up s cigarette and enjoys the sensation
(sings) Oh, to be in Doonaree
With the sweetheart I once knew…
MOTHER: Patrick, Patrick, what did I tell you about smoking up there? You won’t
be content till you burn us out of house and home. And don’t forget, you
have to take them calves to Carrickmacross in the morn. And there’s that
field of turnips to be thinned…
PADDY: And if I stick a shovel up me backside I can clane out the cowhouse at the
same time! Work, work, work, that’s my life. When do I get a chance to
write anything? (LOUDER) Ma, where’s the thirty bob you promised me?
MOTHER: Money doesn’t grow on trees, son. And you only waste what I give you.
Smoking, gambling, and maybe drinking too for all I know.
PADDY: There’s nothing wrong with a bit of gambling. Gambling is living by the
MOTHER: If your poor father was here…
PADDY: But he’s not! He’s buried the last six month. And I’m the eejit trying to keep the place goin’. It’s too much for any one man. And she’s goin’ on
about smoking, the only bit of comfort I have. And gambling! A few pennies down at the cross at the pitch and toss… Tis enough to drive a man to drink. There’s a dance over at Billy Brennan’s barn Sunday night. I hope she comes up with the few shillings before then. May Crawley said she’d be goin’. I think I’m well in there. I might try her out. Oh aye, May could be hot stuff…not pretty to objective eyes but young and gay and innocent – a butterfly with not the slightest interest in poetry. Not that it matters
Oh woman shapely as the swan
on your account I shall not die!
They’ll all be down at the Cross now, laughing and joking…(LOUDER – SO MOTHER CAN HEAR) Spendin’ their money!
(sings) The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay.
Oh stony grey soil of Monaghan
The laugh from my love you thieved
You took the gay child of my passion
And gave me your love conceived
You told me the plough was immortal
O green-life conquering plough!
The mandril stained, your coulter blunted
In the smooth lea-field of my brow
You flung a ditch on my vision
Of beauty, love and truth
O stony grey soil of Monaghan
You burgled my bank of youth
MOTHER: Patrick, Patrick, are you comin’ down, there’s a man here wants a heel on
PADDY: My purpose in life was to have no purpose in life. Well,
maybe it was to write pomes. But that wasn’t anything tangible, like being a carpenter, or a farmer, or a…bishop. And besides, I didn’t even
have to write it. I could make it up in my head…when I was ploughing a
field, or digging the praties…
MOTHER: Patrick, come down, we’re goin’ to say the rosary…
PADDY: And as for my mis-spent youth, I count that time as the lost years of my
growing up. Once I had left school, I squandered the precious coin of life
on the roulette table of fate. There was no deep thought then, no profound
spirituality – just an emotional moment that left no dregs of beauty when
the flood had passed.
MOTHER: Patrick, Patrick, the cows are after breaking into the turnips.
PADDY: Ah, Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Will I ever get any peace!
At that very moment the last line of a poem was dangling within my reach and now it was gone into the limbo of all unwritten things.
I turn the lea-green down
and paint the meadow brown
with my plough.
I dream with silver gull
and brazen crow
a thing that is beautiful
I may know.
Tranquility walks with me
and no care
oh the quiet ecstasy
like a prayer
I find a star-lit art
in a darkened sod
oh joy that is timeless! Oh heart
that knows God!
(TO HIMSELF) Shall I leave out the word ‘darkened’, I wonder?
SFX: Paddy opening a letter
PADDY: I’ve done it! I’ve done it! Macmillan in London are goin’ to publish. It’s after being called Ploughman and Other Poems.
MOTHER: How much?
PADDY: Five pound down and ten per cent royalty.
MOTHER: It’s a start, anyway. It’ll pay for that plough you broke on the high field the other week.
PADDY: It’ll pay for my keep in Dublin. That’s where I must go nw, mix among the rale poets. I know I can do it. My poetry can burst the road.
MOTHER: And who’s goin’ to set them praties while you’re away gallivantin’?
PADDY: You wait, I’ll be rich yet. It may take twenty year of apprenticeship –
MOTHER: I’m not against you writin’ if I could see you makin’ anything of it.
PADDY: Christ, I’m only at it a year or two. Shaw only made ten pounds before he
was forty and now he’s a millionaire.
MOTHER: The next thing is the people will be callin’ you ‘the bard’, if yer not
PADDY: Shakespeare was called the Bard of Avon.
MOTHER: You and yer Shakespeare!
PADDY: To be a poet and not know the trade
to be a lover and repel all women
twin ironies by which great saints are made
the agonising pincer jaws of Heaven
HILDA: (VO) It was now nearly ten years since his father’s death, and his poetry had
taken second place to his farming. The publication of Ploughman, was his
first real breakthrough, the first intimation to the larger world that he had
arrived. Oh., he had a name as a poet back home in Inniskeen, but that was
a derogatory term more than anything else. It was –
FARMER: (VO) Ah, shure that fella is a bit of a gom, a class of an eejit who dreams and idles the day away. If it was left to him the cows would be bullin’ still.
PADDY: My father loved me and I loved my father, but he didn’t like my day- dreaming way of living. He said I’d end my days in the workhouse if I
didn’t change my gait of going. There’s no love of beauty
where I come from. We’re no better than barbarians just emerged from the
Penal days. The hunger had killed our poetry, making us mere animals
grabbing at the leavings of the dogs of war. And as for my neighbours, they saw me as a stranger within the gates. Some of them were afraid of me. In the
country places of Ireland, writing is held in a certain awe. A writer was a
desperate man from which people recoiled. Well, I was going to change all that; I was off to Dublin, where I was sure to be appreciated.
HILDA: (VO) He realized that as long as he remained in Inniskeen he
would be primarily a farmer, only a part-time poet. It had to be Dublin
PADDY: Art, music, and letters were the rale thing. I’m thirty three today. They crucified Christ at thirty three, and I haven’t even got a job
yet. Oh, the Parish Priests Gazette offered me reviews at ten bob a go.
And how many have they sent me in the last two months? Two. I won’t
get fat on that. No, I had to be off, I had to journey down the road of my
HILDA: The Irish Independent – known colloquially as the Parish Priests’ Gazette – and The Irish Times, both tried to put bits of work Patrick’s way – reviews and the odd article – but his reviews were generally so savage that they became wary. And an article he wrote about a pilgrimage to Loch Derg turned out to be such a sneering dismissal of the event that The Independent declined to publish it.
PADDY: I thought I would have no trouble getting a job in Dublin. A dacent job
that would lave me free to write, not the back-breaking, never-ending
drudgery that was farming. But I soon found out that though Dublin is
overrun by patrons of poetry, all they do is praise the poets and give the
jobs to their own fecken relations! True patronage is the art of keeping the
wrong kind down rather than assist the right kind up.
HILDA: As you might guess, Paddy was met with indifference and scorn because he came from the country and wasn’t considered intellectual enough – whatever that meant!
PADDY: It meant I was unlearned. But I grew up to despise learning. What good is grammar to a man who had to work a spade and a shovel? Working in a field is not the stuff of muses. When the tide in the affairs of most men is at the full, I missed the tide. But a man is what he is. Under the skin – we’re all ninety-eight per-cent chimp – and if there is some mystical quality in the nation or the race it will ooze through his skin.
HILDA: However, Paddy did have the support of one John Betjeman. Much to the annoyance of fellow writers such as Brendan Behan.
PADDY: John Betjeman appreciates my talent. He thinks The Great Hunger is the best poem since The Waste Land. You wont find any trace of ‘the mean Dub’ in John Betjeman.
HILDA: Paddy had been writing an autobiography off and on for years, and it was now being published by Michael Joseph, who titled it The Green Fool, despite Paddy’s reservations. It was an instant success; the critics loved it. It was going to be published in America too, and Paddy was rubbing his big hands in glee at all the money he was going to make. No more scrimping and scraping; he had hit the big-time; he was going to be internationally famous. And then disaster struck
PADDY: Looking back, The Green Fool was a ridiculous book, written by a bollix.
A bollix who knew nothing about himself, let alone anybody else. A man
who writes a book libeling his own people is burning his bed. And sure,
the fragments cannot be put together again.
HILDA: And Paddy didn’t intend this to happen to him, so he made sure there was nothing derogatory in the book about his neighbors, who, he knew, wouldn’t be slow in coming forward if they thought they could make a few shillings out of suing him for libel.
PADDY: Although I have to say, I was sailing a bit close to the wind at times. The people of the locality weren’t too particular about morals. There were six pubs in the parish and the illegitimate children equalled all the others.
HILDA: I think you’ll find that in most Irish villages, Paddy.
PADDY: And as for the market women, I began then to realise that women are cruder, more of the earth, then men.
HILDA: But in the end, his neighbours were fine about it; it was Oliver St John Gogarty who took umbrage…
PADDY: Did you see what that pox-doctor Gogarty is after doing? He’s after suing
me for libel in the High Court in London. Well, not me; Michael Joseph.
That’s the book banjaxed now.
HILDA: The passage Gogarty objected to was where Patrick described arriving at
Gogarty’s house in Dublin and the door –
PADDY: ‘Being opened by a white-robed maid, who I mistook for his wife or
mistress, expecting every poet to have a spare wife’.
HILDA: It was meant to be a humorous couple of lines. Paddy never even visited
PADDY: Gogarty wasn’t a rale poet; no sense of humour. Anyway, that wasn’t what
really upset him. What happened was when I first came to live in Dublin I
went to the National Library looking for the addresses of any Dublin poets, and I was given Gogarty’s. I said ‘Is Gogarty the fecken’ best you can do?’ I suppose he got to hear about it. (PAUSE) I got a forty pound advance for the book, losing the case in the High Court cost me four hundred pounds.
HILDA: Michael Joseph was the one who had to foot the bill, not Paddy. The book
was withdrawn immediately after the case, so what it cost Paddy in unsold
copies is anybodies guess. Probably a lot more than four hundred. The
immediate result was that Paddy was back among the poor of Dublin for
PADDY: I knew nothing about the new poets of Ireland. There was not a word in
our school books about the writers who were bringing about a renaissance
in Irish letters.
And as for my own verse making, as soon as I began to dabble and my
dabbling became a deep involvement. I began to warble my native wood
notes wild. There was nothing deliberate or conscious about my poetry
except in time I began to study iambics, rhyme and stanzas. I counted the
feet in the verses I read, I wrote verses myself but the number of feet per
line varied to break my heart. But for all that, verse-making was getting a
grip on me. It grew unawares like an insidious disease. But I had imagination and a poet without imagination is like a blind man in an art gallery.
And of my art, I soon learned that simplicity is the ultimate in poetic
sophistication. My poetic roots were within my schoolbooks and from the
age of twelve I took to the poeming. My poetry had a meaning and a
message that had come from the hills of imagination far beyond the flat
fields of common sense.
I wrote of the excitement of primrose time, the music-filled silence of little
fields in March and April.
And I wrote about other matters too…
PADDY: O he loved his mother
Above all others
O he loved his ploughs
And he loved his cows
And his happiest dream
Was to clean his arse
With perennial grass
On the back of some summer stream:
To smoke his pipe
In a sheltered gripe
In the middle of July.
His face in a mist
His two stones in his fist
And an impotent worm on his thigh
But his passion became a plague
For he grew feeble bringing the vague
Women of his mind to lust-nearness,
Once a week at least flesh must make an
So Maguire got tired
Of the no-target gun fired
And returned to his headland of carrots and cabbage
To the fields once again
Where eunuchs can be men
And life is more lousy than savage.
The Great Hunger isn’t about the Famine. It’s about the hunger for…love, food, land, life…everything. But mostly it’s about the hunger for sex…
SFX: The voice of a priest on a pulpit
PRIEST: The Great Hunger is a filthy poem and we call for it to be banned. The
Bishops of Ireland urge all good Catholics to have nothing to do with this
scabrous book. And to pray for strength from our Holy Mother the Blessed Virgin…
PADDY: Paddy opened his trousers wide over the ashes
And dreamt himself to lewd sleepiness.
The clock ticked on. Time passes.
PRIEST: What’s that all about, Mr Kavanagh?
PADDY: Masturbatin’ in the fireplace, what d’you think!
PRIEST: And ‘sitting on a wooden gate’…’sitting on a wooden gate’…What
was… Maguire doing sitting on a wooden gate?
PADDY: Masturbatin’, what else!
PRIEST: And this? ‘he sinned over the warm ashes again…’
PADDY: More masturbatin’ in the kitchen…
PRIEST: You’ll be hearing from us, Mr Kavanagh!
PADDY: (SHOUTS) The bad things is aisy remembered! By the Grace of God the experiences of sexual perversion passes us by as an idle wind. Through the filter of innocence no tainted water passes!
HILDA: (VO) The Great Hunger was never banned. Well, not
officially anyway. It had been championed by John Betjeman, which may
have had a bearing on the fact. Paddy had shown it first to Betjeman, who
immediately recognized it as a major work, and set about helping to get it
published. The ‘banning’ came in the form of seizing copies at Easons,
and ‘visiting’ several more bookshops, which frightened them away from
stocking it. It was probably more of a political act than anything to do
with obscenity; Paddy’s vision of Ireland was slightly at odds with that of
Mr. De Valera – and Dev was pretty thin-skinned about things like that.
PADDY: Up Dev, me arse! He’s made paupers of all the small farmers in the land.
And drove all the young people across the water to find work. Someone
once described England as ‘the land of small shovels and big money’.
Well, it’s better than the land of big shovels and no fecken’ money. Are
You listenin’, Mr. De Val-uer?
SCENE 2 EXT. STREET SCENE. DUBLIN. DAY
PADDY: Hilda! Let your hair down.
PADDY: I like it down.
HILDA: I like it up.
PADDY: Women who pin their hair up are sending a signal.
HILDA: What signal is that?
PADDY: They have found whatever it is they are looking for.
HILDA: What nonsense! It feels better up…much more refreshing on hot days
PADDY: (sings) And eer dark hair would weave a snare –
that I would one day rue…
Hilda, let your hair down, please.
HILDA: If you are going to be like that I’m going…
PADDY: No! Stay, please. I’ll shut up. (PAUSE) I haven’t seen you for ages.
HILDA: I’ve been busy. So have you. (LAUGHS) Did the Guards really come round to see you?
PADDY: Two Special Branch boyos!
HILDA: Go on or that!
PADDY: I’m telling ya. ‘Kavanagh’, says the big ugly one, ‘we’ve come to burn that filthy pome of yours’. ‘You’re too late’, sez I, ‘Dev has already called with his box of Solus’.
HILDA: And what did they do then?
PADDY: Well, one of them asked me to sign a copy for him.His grandparents came from just outside Inniskeen. Small farmers like ourselves.
HILDA: I read it all. Every line. It’s your best work by far.
PADDY: You didn’t think it ‘obscene’ then?
HILDA: Ah no. Ripe, raucous…but not that. I thought it was about yourself.
PADDY: Is that how you see me? Paralyzed from the waist up…Or is it from the waist down? Half-vegetable, half-man…(LAUGHS) A human scarecrow…
HILDA: It’s how you see yourself that matters.
PADDY: I see myself chatting to the most beautiful girl in the whole of Dublin, and
her big smile gives me hope that she’s as delighted to see me as I am her.
So delighted in fact that she’ll do me the honour of coming to the pictures
with me tonight.
HILDA: I can’t, Paddy. I really can’t.
PADDY: Why not?
HILDA: I’m…dining out with somebody…
PADDY: I knew it! That’s why you have your hair up. The ‘Not available anymore’ sign.
HILDA: How dare you! Here’s another sign. ‘The feck off Patrick’ sign
SFX: Sounds of Hilda walking away.
PADDY: Hilda, no – please – I’m under – my mother died a few weeks back
SFX: Sounds of Hilda returning
HILDA: I am sorry, Patrick. I really am. She meant a lot to you.
PADDY: She did. Among her earthiest words the angels strayed.
HILDA: Is that where you were? In Inniskeen?
PADDY: Yes. We gave her a good send-off. She loved me, Hilda. You can’t beat a
Oh, you are not lying in the wet clay
for it is harvest evening now and we
are piling up the ricks against the moonlight
and you smile up at us – eternally.
HILDA: But it still doesn’t give you the right to speak to me like that…
PADDY: I know. You’re right….
HILDA: (PAUSES) If you must know, I am seeing someone. And it is serious. But you and I can still be friends. We’ll always be friends…
PADDY: (REFLECTIVE) I ‘member the times I’d be goin’ to the market in Dundalk in the cart with a load of turkeys or hins, and my ma’d come out and sprinkle holy water everywhere. Or when we were sick, and she’d make us drink three sips from a bottle of water from the Holy Well at Kednaminsha. She was never sick a day in her life. (PAUSE) She was at the fair that morning. She came home and went to bed. Just went to bed. And never got up again…
HILDA: At least she didn’t suffer. (SILENCE) Did you hear what I said about seeing someone…?
PADDY: You have only one mother…
HILDA: Maybe you should go back there altogether…
PADDY: No. There’s nothing left to go back to now. Nothing.
HILDA: It’s where you grew up Paddy.
PADDY: Ah, the country’s a great place to write about but a dreadful place to live in
HILDA: I really must go…
PADDY: I know. I heard you. You’d better not keep him waiting. The grey dawn is
breaking and it is almost noon.
SFX: Hilda walks slowly away
PADDY: So long now. (SILENCE)
Deep down I knew it was over, but I kept telling myself that
where there was life there was hope. The feller she’s seeing might break
his neck, or fall under a train, or something like that .And if I could get
close to him I might even help him on his way!
(sings) I gave her gifts of the mind I gave her secret signs
That’s known to artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And words and tint without stint, I gave her poems to say
With her name there and her own dark hair
like clouds over fields of May