Friday, August 19, 2011


Jimmy hit the stone chisel with the lump hammer. The house vibrated with the dull thumping thud of his exertions. Your man was nursing his morning after the night before hangover. He had his own personal dull thumping thud to contend with. He didn’t need any competition. Not at half eight in the morning. He was putting on a brave face but I knew he wasn’t pleased. Who would be?
I wasn’t too pleased myself. And I couldn’t find an egg cup. We had no electricity. Jimmy was punching a hole in the wall to let the spark run a new length of wire from the fuse box to replace the bit that was causing the trouble. Jimmy was a handy workman. But even a handy workman had to resort to brute strength and ignorance when it came to making holes in walls. When there was no electricity to run a drill.
Boiling eggs was easy. Even without electricity. But I like an egg cup. It’s more civilised. In fact it’s the only civilised way to eat a boiled egg.
‘Did you get those eggs of Eilis? Jimmy asked.
‘I did’ I told him.
‘The chicken that laid that egg was corn fed’ he said.
‘Do you see when you have bacon and eggs for breakfast?’
‘Aye’ I said.
Your man was listening to us intently. I could see he was relieved that Jimmy had stopped hammering when he was talking.
‘Well’ Jimmy continued’ what is the difference between the chicken who gives you the egg and the pig who gives you the bacon?’
‘I give up’ your man said after a short pause.
‘Well’ Jimmy replied with a smile, ‘The chicken who gives you the egg is making a commitment to you but the pig who gives you the bacon has given you his all’.
He chuckled away to himself. Your man muttered something obscene to himself as Jimmy returned to his hammering. I pressed my egg down on a plate with a wee thump so that it stood upright. Then I sliced the head off it.
Jimmy stopped hammering again.
‘You know we are all very spoiled these days. Hot and cold running water. Indoor toilets. And baths. Clean dry warm houses.’
‘Electricity’ your man muttered.
‘And egg cups’ I said.
‘It’s far from egg cups you were reared’ Your man replied.
‘Or Rioja wine’ I countered.
‘I’ll never drink again’ he said.
Jimmy swung his lump hammer again. Your man grimaced at the noise.
I sampled my corn fed chicken’s egg. It was delicious. A wee taste of butter on top and a sprinkle black pepper. I really appreciated that chicken’s commitment.
By the time I was finished Jimmy had the last hole punched in the wall. Your man fed the electric cable through to him.
‘People nowadays don’t appreciate what we have’. Jimmy continued. ‘Its not that long ago that most houses were damp and dark. The toilet out in the back and a cold water tap in the street. And candles or paraffin lamps. Its only when you have to do without something that you miss it’.
The two of them worked away together in silence. Eventually Jimmy gestured to me.
‘Try that light now’ he nodded.
I flicked the light switch. Nothing happened.
Jimmy shrugged.
‘The two of youse put your hands up’ he said.
‘Why?’ your man grumpted.
‘Just do what I ask’ Jimmy pleaded.
The two of us raised our hands. Jimmy adjusted the electrical fitting with his screw driver. The light came on. Jimmy chortled.
‘Many hands make light work’ he told us.


Timothy Dougherty said...

Hello Gerry ,
I think there be a little O.Henry in the Adams mind set. It amused O Henry, and no doubt many of his readers, to put 'Irish logic' in many of his stories.
"'Tis here," says he, "I will be diverted. I'll have the palm of me hand investigated by the wonderful palmist of the Nile, and see if what is to be will be." from -TOBIN'S PALM by O. Henry- O. Henry: The Four Million.
I enjoy you hand a the words Gerry,

Kate said...

Funny ! "EGGactly a good time even though it souds like ...not a bright spark in the house

James and Linda said...

Always enjoy your slice-of-life dialogue stories. First time I ever had an egg cup was in West Belfast, when I was serving as an international observer. It was so elegant I didn't want to mess it up by eating it! When I make eggs, it's a big mess scrambled in a pan. --Linda