It's the most refreshing thing in the world to gallop away from the city when all you want is to run like a pack of wolves in the wilderness. My dear friends Fink and Alice and I had one such giant hooley just as January was giving up the ghost and coming to a close.
The whipping wind dance
We raced down to The Burren in County Clare for some of the most beautiful holidaying I've had in a long time. We drove like lunatics, cruising around corners to see pearly moss mountains open up before us, up so high that we landed right in the hearts of clouds, ears popping, cows lowing, gasping at trees knotted and twisted by the same cranky old prevailing wind.
We drove on. Lines of laundry billowing and snapping in the Atlantic winds were propped even higher with yard sticks. "Must be great drying out", we said. Daft pillar posts raced past, thrilled dogs barked at the heels of our car and then the great hillock of a lovely old badger loomed up by the side of the road, not a mark on him, soft and plump and still. Although protesting from the back seat meant we couldn't add him as a fourth passenger.
Maps were spreadeagled around the car and when not even they could help us we nipped into friendly looking houses and pubs to gobble up local knowledge about secret high roads and by roads. On one such occasion, we hesitated about darkening the doors of a pretty rough looking pub but the thoughts of driving around til midnight trying to hit upon the elusive Doonbeg propelled us through the lemon-frosted door.
There were giants of old men inside. Huge farming men leaning at a great tilt to the counter, slouching on bar stools and generally having a cosy evening. They turned out to be very friendly and enormously helpful and while Fiona, our savvy navigator, memorised directions about roads that ran parallel to G.A.A. pitches and through fairy forts, Alice and I marvelled at an absolutely ENORMOUS jigsaw over the fireplace of a ship caught in a storm.
Lenten Jigsaw 2007
I asked one of the men at the bar about the jigsaw and he told us that during one particularly ferocious Lent, where all the men had given up drink, they would gather together in the evenings and make the jigsaw in the pub. Then when the great monstrosity was finished they got it specially framed and hung it with pride of place over the fire.
This drawing is about when Lenten jigsaw camaraderie turns stern and violent.
Each piece of the jigsaw being played out like a poker game.
I'll admit I went a bit bananas doing this drawing. I got stuck on patterns that day. I couldn't help myself. First the jigsaw patterns, then his daft cardigan and if you weren't feeling seasick enough...wallpaper patterns. Sorry chaps.