Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Published: Evening Herald, September 2008


My phone is ringing. It’s Aidan. I might have guessed. “You know the way life isn’t fair..?” he begins. As opening gambits go, this is one of his better efforts. (The last time he rang with bad news, he went with “You were never too fond of that coffee table, were you?”)

Immediately, my mind races through all sorts of horrific possibilities. Aidan has run over my dog. Aidan has impregnated my sister. Aidan has just murdered my pregnant sister and run over my dog while fleeing from the cops… It’s almost a relief when he coughs up the truth.

“I’m probably not gonna make it to Rody’s for 8 o’clock. I’ll be five minutes late… ten minutes tops.”

“But it’s already five past” I spit, feigning outrage. “I’m already here.”

Actually, I’m still at least ten minutes away myself. But he doesn’t need to know that.

“Relax man” he says. “I’ll be five minutes late, no more.”

“You’re already five minutes late!”

“Fifteen minutes then… Twenty minutes tops.”

That could mean pretty much anything from half an hour to two weeks. One thing is for certain: he wouldn’t think twice about leaving me alone in a strange pub for an hour or more, waiting for him to arrive.

“Where are you Aidan?” I ask him. “Just tell me.”

“I’m around the corner” he pleads. “I’ll be there in no time, honestly.”

“Well, let me put it this way then,” I try another tack. “Should I buy a newspaper to read while I’m waiting… or a set of Encyclopaedias?”

He considers the question for a second.

“A newspaper might not be a bad idea” he reckons. “The encyclopaedias might be pushing it.”

“Fair enough. But just be aware of something here, man… I’ve just walked all the way over to your side of town. To your local. To lend you money… You’re on thin ice, my friend. If you’re not here by half past, I’m walking.”

There’s silence on the other end of the phone.

“To be absolutely honest with you, Eoin,” he says. “I’m in Mullingar at the minute.”

“You’re joking me…”

“Look, it’s practically all motorway from here on in. I’ll be an hour… Ninety minutes tops!”