If there’s one thing that irritates my bladder it’s when I hear young fellas talking about cooking and baking! Instead of hearing lusty young stallions talking about women below at the Cross, all I hear is one saying to the other “Oh, I use a sprinkle of farta-varta when I marinate the Spanish onions and it gives a lovely flavour to the sirloin!” I saw a fella on the tv the other evening winning the chef of the year competition with a concoction that looked like a doc leaf on a fresh cowdung! In the name of God and the baby in the manger without pyjamas, what kind of talk is that for young men to be going on with! Did your grandfather ever marinate the mangles! Did he carmelise the kale! Sure cooking is women’s work anyway!

In my day, men ate food like hairy bacon and greyhound cabbage with pandy and lashings of salt and butter…but they never talked about it! Whose idea was it to turn young men into lady-boys with their “I did a really nice dish last night with a lovely bit of stuff I bought over the net and I made added the wow factor with a dash of urinated kagasaki”.
Jesus, it’s enough to give one the runs!
Talking about the runs, when I was a young caffler above in the Hill, there was a neighbouring woman called Nora and her husband Patsy. Patsy had the grass of one cow and the water for a hundred! Now, it was the custom for Nora to make gruel for her Patsy once a week. What’s gruel I hear the young fellas asking! Well, gruel was a man’s food, and we didn’t go around boasting about making it. No, we ate it and farted and that was that! Gruel was yella meal boiled with milk and a dash of…there I am talking about cooking and I won’t do that now!
Anyway, around the time of night that Din Joe was finishing his dancing show “Take The Floor” on the radio, Patsy would say, looking out the dark sash window as if talking to nobody in particular, “I’d like a bit of gruel”. Nora would oblige. Anything for a bit of peace, and sure women are great that way. He would ate it down and put it inside his shirt and let out a few burps to show it was winding its way to the nether regions. One particular winter, after a few gruel sessions, Nora began to notice that Patsy would get an oul gleam in his eye and get a rosy colour in his cheeks and become very frisky. She knew that men as they got older got notions that went against a woman’s logic. And she, being a woman, decided to do something about it.
Things rested so until the next night, about a week later, when “Take The Floor” finished. Patsy looked out the dark sash window and declared to the world that he would like a bit of gruel. Nora smiled (be careful when a woman smiles…she is sucking your blood) and rose without a word to do as her husband requested. (Be careful when a woman does as you ask, it comes at a heavy price!)
The poor oul husband smiled to himself at his power in the world. His heart lifted when he thought of the gruel going down like sweet súlach and then a bit of the other thing later. A double thrill that made him believe in a male God in heaven and a woman’s place on earth.
So she got the ingredients from the press under the dresser and scooped a crúiscín of fresh milk from the white enamel bucket that was covered with an old pillow case. She got the muller and put it on the coals and did her female magic. As the concoction began to simmer, she turned to Patsy as he finished picking a ball of hardened snot from his left nostril and said “You’d better have an oul look at the heifer out in the cow-house. I’d say her time is up”.

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Reluctantly he put on his turned-down Wellingtons and lit the carbide lamp and headed out. He was putty in her hands. She had the power of the food. The minute he was gone, the real woman set to work. What did the bitch do but take down the tin of Andrews from behind the tea canister in the dresser and put in three big spoons of it in the gruel. Now if you don’t know what Andrews is, ask your granny. She did it with a light in her eye like Eve after eating God’s apple in the Garden. You can’t be up to women! They get a great thrill out of avoiding sex!
When Patsy came in and settled down to the gruel and emitted the kind of sound that a young bog-pony makes when he smells a mare of any description a mile away in the prevailing wind. He took a big spoon of it. He let it slide down his throat, allowing it to percolate the hinterland at will with a lateral thrill. He sensed that it had a richer texture than ever. It seemed full of jizz. He put it down to the expectations he had for later, and hadn’t he noticed a curious light in her eye as she served him the gruel in the blue bowl. “T’anam on diabhal,” he thought to himself, “she still has that oul grá for me and she isn’t having any herself. She is giving it all to me!”
He finished the rest of the gruel and scraped the arse of the muller in a manly way just to get her going more. He had that Fifteenth of August feeling from his youth as he took out his false teeth and put them safely into the old snuff box that his beloved grandmother used to get her thrills from.
Well, when they got to bed, he felt his expectations building up as he let his galloses drop and soon he felt the pounding of her heart against his bare chest. He had built up a head of steam and was ploughing a good furrow when suddenly he felt a small but foreign rumbling in the pit of his stomach. He ignored it for a while in his state of fiery desire, but then quite suddenly it became a bubbling volcano! Well as quick as you could say gruel, he pulled up his drawers and shot out of the bed like a rocket and hit the west haggard firing on all cylinders! Oul John across the fields said the next day that he heard a fierce thunder that night, but saw no lightening! Neighbours say still that there was a fierce growth of grass in that west haggard the following spring. Patsy’s drawers were never found.
When he came back in, a good tamaillín afterwards, Nora could see that he was the colour of new milk from head to toe. “What’s after happening you at all?” she inquired with a light in her eye that he did not see, and she lying naked on the bed to rub salt in the wound.
“Oh, Nora, I’m afraid my passion for you is too great” he said in a vain attempt to restore his manhood. He buried his head in the bolster as a confused fog enveloped him and he couldn’t make hog, dog nor devil of this life. He fell into a deep sleep where he subconsciously rethought the nature and role of man.
Every night after that Nora would purr like a puisín with a longing, mar dhea, in her thieving eye, while “Take The Floor” was on the old Pye Radio. Then, as the programme ended and the dancing died away, she would almost moan “Would you like a bit of gruel…you know!”
But poor oul Patsy would remember the volcanic rumbling and the quick run out and the long stay abroad and the burning in his tóin and say, in a low voice, “No, a ghrá, I’d sooner say the rosary!”
Of course, some of the boyos now are trying to impress the women with food. Forget it lads. Grub is for eating. Don’t make a religion of the bloody thing. You’ll all end up in the west haggard!
By the way I was going to tell you last year about the craic we used to have at the carnivals. Well, one night in Ballyduff…what! The deadline is gone! Them hoors of ghosts in the Magazine are cutting me off again! If I could stuff them with Nora’s gruel, that would sort them out. That would send the rips out to the west haggard and…