May 28 2017

Necessary Servile Work…

Published by at 10:02 am under News



There was never a Sunday went by in our house but all the shoes in the place had to be polished. “I want to see my face in them shoes…” says the Da’. And there’s me sitting on the step of our back door with more polish on my hands and face than anywhere else. I remember the priest in school telling us not to go shopping on a Sunday or to be chopping firewood because it was unnecessary servile work. Now, I didn’t really have a clue what he was talking about but I said it to the Da’ one Sunday morning when it was my turn to polish all the shoes. Of course the Da’ had an answer for everything from a boil on the back of your neck to chilblains on your heel. Says he ‘That only applies to Protestants…”. So I felt safe in the knowledge that I wasn’t committing a Mortaller and wouldn’t go to Hell. Now, I have to tell you that the Da’ wouldn’t ever step outside our Hall Door without having his shoes polished, his chin shaved, a shirt and tie on and his hair soaked in Brylcream. But that’s how people were back then, all dressed up to the nineties even if it was only to go to the shops for ten fags and a match. And sure wasn’t the Ma’ the same with her lipstick and her Powder Puff thing and especially if the Jewman was calling to our house of a Saturday morning or if she had to go around to Doctor Kirwan on Skreen Road. And do you remember all the Oul Ones and Young Ones wearing their scarfs into Mass and genuflecting and blessing themselves before they sat down. And after the Holy Communion was given out everyone had to cough. And there was I looking all around the church to see who gave the signal to start off coughing, they used to do it in three part harmony. And all the Oul Fellas at the back of the church galloping out once the Communion was over, they must have all thought they were in the Pictures and the National Anthem was about to be played, they were gas people all the same. And then there was the Ma’ spitting on the edge of her oul apron and scrubbing it into me face, “What are you like at all…” says she “…sure I can’t bring you anywhere“. And off to Mass we’d all be marched with our shiny shoes that had newspaper stuffed into the toes and a pair of knee socks that always kept slipping down…’

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