Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Published: Evening Herald, January 2010


South William Street, Dublin 2

It’s Saturday night in South William and my almost-long-lost school friend Gerry the Bonnet is offering crash course reminder of why we drifted apart in the first place.

Suffering mother, how had I forgotten? He’s the most boring man in Ireland. Christ, you could drive a bus through some of the gaps in those sentences.

“I told the girlfriend… Tracy…. Tracy is the girlfriend,” he drones.

I know. “I told Tracy… That’s the girlfriend… That I’d… You know… Get in shape for the New Year… Do a bit of exercise maybe… Got any… You know… New Year’s resolutions… There yourself?”

I’m staying off the cigarettes, I tell him.

He stares into space. Time passes. Empires rise and fall. Species evolve and become extinct. Then he speaks.

“But you don’t smoke,” he deadpans.

I know. So the plan is to stay off them. Healthy and achievable. As New Year’s resolution go. Don’t you think?

It’ll take Gerry an eon or so to digest that joke. While we wait, I might as well explain how Gerry’s father earned the family nickname ‘Bonnet’. As kids we assumed it related to the red Ford Corina he drove everywhere. Not so.

Apparently, when Bonnet Sr. was a young bachelor farmer, he bought a milk cow from his neighbour. After the deal was done, he was dismayed to find that the animal kicked and reared unmercifully any time he attempted to milk it. So he went back to the neighbour looking for money.

No way, said the neighbour. A deal was a deal. As for the animal’s violent reaction, the neighbour reckoned, it might have had to do with that fact that, up till now, the neighbour’s wife had done the milking. The cow had never been touched by a man before.

A couple of days later, Bonnet Sr. was spotted furtively slipping up the field behind their house dressed in his mother’s shawl. A village legend was born. It’s an old story, possibly apocryphal, and one that I certainly wouldn’t give Bonnet Jr. a hard time about. Well, not without cause anyway.

He kicks the satchel at my feet.

“Got one of those manbags… there… I see… Butler…”

I shrug.

“Bit gay… I’d have thought,” he adds.

That does it. This prick is asking for it.

Well at least it’s a man’s bag, I tell him. No cross-dressers in my family tree!

“Yeah,” he drones. “So says the man who… Answered… Uri Geller instead of Yuri Gagarin… In the… 1991 Community Games Table Quiz Final…”

I tell him to be quiet. But there’s no stopping him now.

“Uri Geller was never in space… We could have gone to Mosney… If it wasn’t for you… You bastard!”

I’m out of here. He’s an arsehole, I tell him, I don’t know why we even bothered meeting up again.

But Gerry is up from the table before me.

“We didn’t,” he says, picking his sports bag from under the table, and squirting some breath freshner in mouth.

“We didn’t.” He turns and bolts out the door.

Well I’ll be damned…