Having a conversation this morning about the enigmatic quality of Irish ‘logic’ and their general outlook on life reminded me of an instance that might serve to illustrate the point.
It was some years ago and I was enjoying the craic with a bunch of mates at the Killorglin Puck Fair in Kerry. One of said mates, whom I might identify as Jarvis, was running seriously short of cigarette papers on the last day of the festival. In a town full of shops enjoying the benefits of what one might call multiple retailing (O’Connell’s Hardware and Unisex Hairdresser – that sort of thing), Jarvis was spoilt for choice but, playing safe, picked one that had the word ‘tobacconist’ amongst the others over the door.
“Afternoon!” said Jarvis, entering the shop.
“How’s it goin’?” replied the genial shopkeeper.
“It’s goin’ well,” said Jarvis, “But it will go better if I could find some cigarette papers. Do you sell cigarette papers?”
“Ah well, yes – we do sell cigarette papers.”
“Oh good,” said Jarvis, visibly relieved.
“And what sort would you be after?” asked the shopkeeper.
“What sort have you got?” replied Jarvis.
“Ah well, we have the Rizlas. We have the red, the green, the blue, and we have the kingsize red, and the liquorice . . . . . . . normally.”
“Normally?” echoed Jarvis.
“Ah yes, we have all those normally. But not today. Today we’re all sold out. ’Tis always the same when da fair’s in town.”