Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


“Sure, he dresses like a hobo. But that only shows how secure he is in his own domesticity…”

“Why are you dressed like a tramp?” is a question regularly put to my friend Jarlath by girlfriends, doormen and prospective employers. It’s a legitimate inquiry, but one to which he can offer no satisfactory reply. You might as well ask why his hair looks stupid or his car smells so bad. It is as much a mystery to him as it is to anyone else. As one of Jarlath’s oldest friends, I offer this response on his behalf: Yes, Jarlath’s appearance is unkempt, I concede. Yes, he could easily be mistaken for a vagrant. No, he was not one of the original kids from Into The West. He lives in a house. He has curtains. I’ve been there and I’ve seen them.

Sure, the guy looks like a hobo. That’s undeniable. But perhaps this only proves that he has nothing to hide. That he is secure in his own domesticity. Think about it for a second. If we should be suspicious of anyone here, it is the immaculately groomed. What are they compensating for?

Do they collect aluminium cans, or jump railroad cars on weekends? They probably do. It stands to reason. Or, at the very least, it changes the subject.

All of which is my longwinded way of explaining that Jarlath is not the most dapper of gentleman. And my stockpile of inventive excuses for his appearance is rapidly depleting. It’s Wednesday. Jarlath has been crashing on my couch since Friday. He had originally planned to be in Dublin for one night only. And he didn’t bring a change of clothes.

His body odour permeates the ground floor of my house. It’s now creeping up the stairs.

Still, I’m not going to let that get in the way of a decent session. We swing by my local. It’s a big old place, with lots of dark corners in which to hide. (Quite frankly, the cowboy hat is not helping our cause at this point.) We locate a table and I try to keep him there, but he insists on getting in a round. I can hear the conversation at the bar.

“Could I have a pint of Guinness and a pint of Buwawawa, please.”

“Excuse me?”

“Buvavava… Sorry, Burarara…”

Back at the table, Jarlath’s mobile phone is ringing. I answer it. “Hey Julie, how are you keeping… No… I haven’t seen him… We grew apart, I suppose… Fell in with different crowds… Wanted different things from life… It’s (hic) symptomatic of the times, I suppose…” I quote Tennyson. “The old order changeth, Julie, yielding place to new. And God fulfils himself in many ways…

She isn’t impressed. If I haven’t seen her boyfriend, she asks, then how come I just answered his phone? It’s a good point.

“He must have left it in my house Friday night,” I explain. “He stayed with me Friday… We grew apart over the weekend…” Julie starts banging on about their rent being overdue. I’m sympathetic of course. “Actually Julie, I’m about to go into a very long tunnel here… [fake static] Gotta go… byee!”

Jarlath plonks two pint glasses of MiWadi Orange on the table. “We’re to drink these and leave,” he says. We clink glasses. All things considered, it’s a result.

June 17th, 2010.

10 Responses to ““Sure, he dresses like a hobo. But that only shows how secure he is in his own domesticity…””

  1. Lisa Says:

    I hate myself for being so pedantic but what’s a ‘tamp’?

  2. Dan Says:

    Short for tampon!?

  3. rolf Says:

    a lot of them are in the tidy towns.(a mea).theres a smell passed down from my father and his grandfather before him-the smell of twelve year old aftershave,live jazz i have and id be slow to go to town on it(a gamee).i got fcuk shampoo and bodywash there a few years ago for christmas little vials and i still have them like.little vials someone’d want to ask david simon about the little vials.Im more rolf harris than david simon.verily.along with two pairs of brown socks, I received a one dollar bill from my wonderful parents. Boy, what gift givers they were.

  4. Ger Says:

    I reckon I know that guy…

  5. Eoin Says:

    @ Lisa – Tamp? Sorry, but I think you must be mistaken. 😉

  6. Dan Says:

    Mysteriously changed Eoin – how very ‘1984’

  7. Lisa Says:

    Oh silly me! I really must read things more carefully in future…

  8. Lisa Says:

    Here’s one for your Faith Alive column by the way…


  9. Eoin Says:

    @ Dan – this is what Jim Corr would call tip-toe totalitarianism. Get used to it.

    @ Lisa – I accept your apology!

  10. Dan Says:

    It’s pretty sinister alright

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