There is a lovely expression in Irish, amadán críochnaithe, an utter fool. Many times during the course of my life I have resigned myself to the fact that I fit comfortably into that category. It gives me no pleasure to admit this, although my foolishness is somewhat mitigated by some of the good decisions I have made during my better moments.
Many years ago I was a heavy drinker, but we won’t go into that as the wasp said looking into the pint of stout. One morning I awoke with the mother and father of hangovers, my head pounding, my stomach heaving, but I had to go to work, so I got out of bed, showered, had a cup of instant coffee and a cigarette and headed for work; delicate doesn’t begin to describe it, I put on my sunglasses and minced my way to the bus stop.
The conductor smiled broadly as he gave me my change, ( yes it’s that long ago). I noticed his smile lingered as he made his way back to his post beside the driver’s cab. It was still there as I approached the door to get off. I attributed his good humour to a naturally sunny disposition.
I stopped at a newsagents near the Abbey Theatre to buy my Irish Times. The woman behind the counter gave me a warm, beaming smile when I paid her. Two happy people, not bad I thought, and the day is still young.
The usher on duty in the foyer greeted me warmly, a man not noted for his amiability. I was hoping that our director wouldn’t be too nitpicky today, all I wanted was a quiet, stress-free session to get me through to the break, when I could have a ham sandwich and a pint.
On my way to the toilet I popped my head into the kitchen and asked Margaret, our lovely tea lady if she could make me a coffee. She didn’t say a word but acknowledged the request with a winning smile.
As I was washing my hands in the toilet I was startled when I looked in the mirror and saw someone odd looking back at me. There was one bloodshot eye staring menacingly back at me, the other one was still concealed behind the darkened lens; there was only one lens in my sunglasses.
I was slightly disappointed to realise that the friendly demeanour I had encountered all morning during my trip to work had been caused, not by a sudden improvement in the general feeling of goodwill in the Irish people, but by my own bizarre appearance.