Saturday, February 14, 2009

This Week's Blinding Thought (VI)

The following is less a thought than an anecdote, but as I found it utterly hilarious I felt it worth passing on. It comes from Ireland Sixty Years Ago, a compendium of rambunctious, disreputable, and criminal activity in Dublin and beyond, written by John Edward Walsh and published in 1847. It's well worth seeking out; Four Courts reprinted it as Rakes and Ruffians: The Underworld of Georgian Ireland, in 1979, and their edition is the one I have. This extract is from Chapter 5 (Drunkenness-Notions of Conviviality). I imagine it would take more than a fistful of Solpadeine to remove these gentlemen's particular hangover...
"[There was] a party given in an unfinished room, the walls of which were recently plastered, and the mortar soft. At ten, on the following morning, some friends entered to pay a visit, and they found the company fast asleep, in various positions, some on chairs, and some on the floor among empty bottles, broken plates and dishes, bones and fragments of meat floated in claret, with a kennel of dogs devouring them. On the floor lay the piper, apparently dead, with the tablecloth thrown over him for a shroud, and six candles placed around him, burned down to the sockets. Two of the company had fallen asleep with their heads close to the soft wall; the heat and light of the room, after eighteen hours' carousal, had caused the plaster to set and harden, so that the heads of the men were firmly incorporated into it. It was necessary, with considerable difficulty, to punch out the mass with an oyster-knife, giving much pain to the parties, by the loss of half their hair and a part of the scalp. Allowing all license for the author's colouring, in what other country on the face of the
earth could anything like such scenes have occurred?"

3 comments:

Claudia said...

Slàinte! À la votre!

A Doubtful Egg said...

Thanks! I remember a few years back I had a group of Albanians I worked with in hysterics because I mixed up the words "gazur!" with "gamor!" (my spellings are phonetic, by the way). The first is equivalent to "cheers!" or "slainte!", the second means "donkey!". Not the ideal toast, as you'd imagine...

Claudia said...

My ex (the British-Irish) had many fun sides. At his first visit with my very traditional family, he raised a few eyebrows, when he said: "To your bloody good health, and your healthy good blood!" I thought it was hilarious...I never dared try it in formal occasions.