The Flying Column #20 – The Cruiskeen Prawn

By Faustus O’Ceallaigh

Myles na gCopaleen imbibed himself on a pint of plain, irritated by the realisation of the fact that he was dead. More irritating still was the fact that his body had the discourtesy to give up on April Fool’s Day, trying to make a joke out of it all. He thought it all rather unfunny himself. Sitting at his desk, he continued scribbling on his unfinished masterpiece, “The Moveable Feast,” a play about the Easter Rising of 1916.

PEARSE: Past humanity is not only implicit in each new man born but is contained in him. Humanity is an ever-widening spiral and life is the beam that plays briefly on each succeeding ring. All humanity from its beginning to its end is already present but the beam has not yet played beyond you.

CONNOLLY: Strange enlightenments are vouchsafed to those who seek the higher places.

PEARSE: Indeed.

(ENTER THE COUNTESS MARKIEVICZ STAGE RIGHT)

CONNOLLY: Ah, Countess, we have some good news.

MARKIEVICZ:  Is it about a bicycle?

CONNOLLY: It is not.

MARKIEVICZ: Ah, I thought it might be, this time. What’s the news then?

CONNOLLY: I’ve forgotten it.

MARKIEVICZ: Not to worry. But lads, to business. I came across this text at Lisadell last week. Perhaps we could use it in the proclamation? It’s from the Tain Bo Culaigne, the oldest epic in Europe. This part is a discussion between Cuchullain and the Raven. (SHE READS) I cannot say whether there is fur on my wife’s legs for I have never seen them nor do I intend to commit myself to the folly of looking at them. In any event and in all politeness -nothing would be further from me than to insult a raven- I deem the point you have made as unimportant because there is surely nothing in the old world to prevent a deceitful kangaroo from shaving the fur from her legs, assuming she is a woman?

PEARSE: Perfect.

CONNOLLY: Agreed.

MARKIEVICZ:  I’ll draft it in presently.

CONNOLLY: And what news of Casement, Pat, and the German mission?

PEARSE: Casement is the third of us but we never see him or hear tell of him at because he is always on his beat and never off it and he signs the proclamation in middle of the night when even a badger is asleep. He is as mad as a hare, he never deals with the public and he is always taking notes.

CONNOLLY: Answers do not matter so much as questions. A good question is very hard to answer. The better the question the harder the answer. There is no answer at all to a very good question.

MARKIEVICZ: Is it about a bicycle?

Myles was unsatisfied with the text. It lacked something, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. So he telephoned his good friend Brian O’Nolan, who, miraculously, had died on the same day, and the same hour at exactly 3 minutes past 3 in the morning, as had Myles.

“Is that Brian there? It’s Myles.”

“Tis me, I think.”

“How’s hell treating you then?”

“Terribly, truth be told, but the stout’s ok. And you?”

“Much the same. Now, listen, I’m having some trouble with my play…”

O’Nolan advised him to write in another character, a representation of death. Myles thought the plan was a good one, and so he wrote in a new character, a portend of death, and called him Fidget.

MARKIEVICZ: Is it about a bicycle?

CONNOLLY: It is not.

FIDGET: Well-known, alas, is the case of the poor German who was very fond of three and who made each aspect of his life a thing of triads. He went home one evening and drank three cups of tea with three lumps of sugar in each cup, cut his jugular with a razor three times and scrawled with a dying hand on a picture of his wife good-bye, good-bye, good-bye.

PEARSE: Rumpelstiltskin.

Yes, that will work, thought Myles, but still there was something missing. It lacked something, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. So he telephoned his good friend Flann O’Brien, who, miraculously, had died on the same day, and the same hour at exactly 3 minutes past 3 in the morning, as had Myles, and O’Nolan.

“Is that Flann there? It’s Myles.”

“Tis me, I think.”

“How’s hell treating you then?”

“Terribly, truth be told, but the stout’s ok. And you?”

“Much the same. Now, listen, I’m having some trouble with my play…”

O’Brien advised him that the play was much too serious, and that he should make a comedy out of it, and change the title. Myles thought the plan was a good one, and so he wrote it as a comedy and changed the title to Carry On Countess.

PEARSE: The rising must go ahead tomorrow.

MARKIEVICZ: Rising! Oh, you are naughty!

PEARSE:  But what about your husband?

MARKIEVICZ:  Oh, we don’t want him!

PEARSE: Will he not be displeased that you come away with me?

MARKIEVICZ:  Oh, of course (TEARFUL) My poor Casimir will be ever so upset!

PEARSE: Oh, do not worry unduly, before many days he and the others will all be dead.

MARKIEVICZ:  [happy] Oh well, that’s alright then, innit!

 

This will definitely sell, thought Myles, better than Faustus Kelly at any rate. He finished his pint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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