Nothing personal; just business.

Family_evicted_by_their_landlord_during_the_Irish_Land_War_c1879

There is some nice ‘artisan’ furniture there at a cursory glance. We could strip it down or repaint it to our taste. It would would add an authentic touch to the refitted cottage. That would make a nice holiday home, with ‘stunning views’ of the wild Irish scenery. We’ll keep the thatch of course, if the bailiffs don’t tear it all off to discourage the former occupants from sneaking back in. Delightful, colourful peasants indeed, but it will be better if they beetle off to America. They could possibly get a job with Henry Ford in Detroit. What was it Henry said about history? Ah, yes. “History is bunk.” Now there’s a thought–bunk beds for the boys when we come down for the weekend. We feel sorry for the people of course, but they shouldn’t have got themselves into this situation. Thank God there was no wailing mother with a baby in her shawl. That can be terribly distressing. It can almost put you off snapping up a bargain. All strictly legal as you can see from the constabulary in attendance. I love those old whitewashed walls. I hope there’s no woodworm in that chest or whatever it is, on the right. You can find some unexpected treasures in these old cottages.

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There is an insatiable appetite nowadays for ‘Nordic noir’ fiction and films. I imagine that the tourist bodies (unhappy choice of words there) tear their hair out when yet another film or novel emerges telling us that the neighbours in some bleak and windswept part of the country are in fact, incorrigible serial killers. Poor Inspector Wallender  bought a small house in the country to get away from it all. The gardener unearthed a decomposed body in his back garden. The beetles always give the game away. As we all know from forensic pathology books and films, the beetles are the first responders to a corpse. Actually, that one is colymbetes, the swimmer, oarsman and aviator all in one. Nothing sinister there; not one of the ghoulish ones to delight the forensic sleuth. I shared a dinner table once with a forensic pathologist. I admired how he dissected his meat into neat little squares, (all of them numbered. No that’s a lie.) They tell me that he has a great slab-side manner. Perhaps I’m totally wrong about the tourists. Perhaps we all want to see where Wallender found the corpse. The garden consisted of dark, wet clay, adjacent to a field of dark, wet clay with a dark, sinister tractor ploughing back and forth in the gloom. Like the shuttle in some doom-laden loom. Hey, some assonance there. I should write this noir stuff.

We learned a lot of bunk in school but there were some bright episodes. During the Land War people did not, by common consent, take over the property of an evicted tenant. Captain Boycott gave the language a new word. There was a sense of solidarity, reinforced by anathema, public disdain and the explicit threat of violence. “If he’s a good man I’ll shoot him for five shillin’s. If he’s a bad man, I’ll shoot him for nothin’.” The “Grabber” and the “Gombeen Man” (the profiteer)were the lowest forms of life. The campaign changed the agrarian landscape. The Absentee Landlord and his Agent were the villains of the piece. The estates of the Ascendancy, generally seen as dastardly foreign oppressors, were gradually broken up by acts of parliament. The ownership of the land passed to those who worked it.

So that was that and they all lived happily ever afterwards. Except that the papers tell a different story.

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 This man’s prize herd was sold to meet a debt. ‘Shouldn’t have got himself  etc’. Purchasers, home-grown, not dastardly foreign oppressors, came from far and wide, smelling a bargain. There is an Amazonian vulture with nostrils as wide a jet engine air intakes, that can smell a corpse from twenty miles away. He cruises over the canopy, always on the alert. His sight is poor but boy! does he smell! They came in darkness and fog. They made a killing and beetled off with their loot. Some neighbours appealed  for decency and patience. To no avail. He looks like a boxer on the ropes or even, at a stretch, a man crucified. It’s all strictly legal. The Sheriff said that she must execute (sic) any orders that come to her office. A distant relative of mine lost a farm  that had been in his family for centuries..’Shouldn’t have got …etc.’  He was driven to despair and violence by the experience. What happened to all that solidarity? Was that all bunk too? I heard an Irish artist explaining that although he lived and worked in Budapest, he would not snap up a few bargain apartments to rent out to Hungarians. He had no desire to become an Absentee Landlord. ‘We have a long enough tradition of those lads in Ireland.’ He missed a trick there. No doubt the vulture fund managers are on the case.

Human nature is a complex business. We learned that the last public hanging in Ireland took place in 1829, at Stephen’s Green. A good day was had by almost all. The practice was discontinued to spare public sensibilities. It was described as barbaric. It was moved indoors. There would be no point in having public hangings nowadays as nobody would go to watch. Our innate sense of decency would be outraged. Anyway, we could watch it on Youtube and we have other entertainments (strictly legal) to provide thrills and enjoyment, even for the kiddies, like bus tours of sites made famous by terrorist bombs. I read that in the run-down areas of American cities, evictees are offered a choice,’Truck or kerb?’ If you can pay for storage the bailiffs will arrange to move you effects.  If not, your property stays on the kerb. They would say ‘curb’. I hope that history does not repeat itself for the descendants of those poor Irish emigrants. With luck it will only happen to somebody else. They shouldn’t have….etc. etc.

I really shouldn’t read the paper.

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