The brother can’t look at an egg

This article first appeared in the Donegal Democrat

So there’s myself, an Englishman, and a Scotsman, and we’re discussing the good old days. The Scotsman is relating how when he was a “bairn”, the teachers would give him a whack for speaking Scots Gaelic.

Worse, having got the whack for speaking Gaelic, he then switched to the other language he knew. Scots, the language of Robbie Burns. For his troubles, he got another whack, and had “correct” English beaten into him.

Then the Englishman, vaguely aware of stories of tallysticks in times gone by, says people got beaten here too for speaking the wrong language. Not a bit of it, says I. Maybe in times long gone by they did, but that never happened to me, or anyone I knew.

I take it back. Well, sort of.

One of my kid brothers once got a lecture from a teacher for being asked the Irish for egg, and answering “guggy” instead of “uibh”.

Guggy is one of those words from my childhood, which I didn’t find out the meaning of until recently. Some of them, like sheuch and we’uns, are from Scots (or Ulster-Scots / Ullans), and some are Irish. Some are just words you find in Glen that no one uses anywhere else.

It turns out though, that guggy isn’t just a local Glen term for an egg, but has the authority of the printed word. Dinneen records it as “gugaidh, a childish name for an egg.”

So there you are. I know someone who was in the wrong for speaking the right language.

Tired and Emotional

In a kind-of-sort-of-apology after being suspended from driving for ten years last month, Eamon Dunphy wrote in The Irish Star that his repeated drunk driving was “a generational thing”.

Which is fair enough I suppose, in that older people seem more likely to drink and drive, while speed is the top vice for younger drivers.

Still, I can never get my head around this as an excuse. Maybe twenty years ago, drink driving might have been seen as a minor peccadillo, as criminal as taking a pen home from work or the like. But lets face it, its not like the message hasn’t got through by this stage.

If anything, the boy racers who don’t realise they’re a danger to everyone flying along country roads might be able to use the “generational thing” excuse.

After all, they’re young, dumb, and full of the self-assured cockiness of youth, sure they’ll live forever. It takes time to get through to them. The older guys though have no excuse. They’ve lived long enough to know they won’t live forever.

So why do they do something that might bring their final moment – or God forbid, someone else’s- that much closer?

I really shouldn’t allow myself to get so worked up about this. Plenty of other people do what Dunphy did, and they offer excuses that are just as mealy-mouthed. It’s Eamo’s neck gets to me.

In his front page mea cupla, he wrote: “I’ve paid the price and it’s right that I pay it.” So why didn’t he do that two years ago when his team of high-priced lawyers went all the way to the Supreme Court to overturn a previous District Court verdict?

Drive carefully in the New Year…