Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Down But Not Out In Norn Iron

The man at the Braeside Nursery taught me a new word this week. (I love Mr Braeside: ‘£4.50, £2.99, £8.00’ – adding it up on a bit of paper – ‘That’s £15.49. £16.00 to you.’ Then he gives you a fiver change from £20) Anyway, the word he taught me was ‘kipe’. Now it’s entirely possible he makes a new one up every time he sees me coming, but here’s what he said: ‘You want to plant that against a wall or the wind will kipe it over.’

I’ve been adding new Norn Iron terms to my vocabulary ever since I got here, and I’m very pleased with ‘kipe’. Or possibly ‘kype’. At my advanced age I already trip, stumble, totter, fall flat on my face, now I can ring the changes with a bit of kiping.

The wind of change has kiped us all over this week, as a hideous groan from Professor Gloom in the room next door has just reminded me: he must be listening to the news. The news in Northern Ireland has often been more bad than good, but here’s the thing about the people in this particular corner of the planet: however many largely self-inflicted injuries they suffer, how ever often they knock each other over, they always scramble back up again, make a few concessions, and stagger on. So, despite the fact that we’ve been kiped over by Brexit, my money is on us getting back up and fighting on.

Humour helps. In times of trial some people turn to inspirational writing; I read Wodehouse (the English may be rubbish at referenda and football but they’re brilliant at humour) Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love, and Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons – the book I most frequently take on planes so that in the event of a disaster, I’ll go down laughing. I could name a hundred other novels, a lot of them Irish, but these are my stand-bys.

So cheer up, my friends. It may have happened, but it’s never the end. To quote the late, great Canadian novelist, Robertson Davies (from ‘A Cunning Man’ but read ‘What’s Bred in the Bone’ if you haven’t tried him before) -

 ‘This is the great Theatre of Life. Admission is free but the taxation is mortal. You come when you can, and leave when you must. The show is continuous.’

I don’t know exactly why I find that comforting, but I do.

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