My father is a sanitation operative, and he wears the distinctive headgear of his trade.

Furthermore, he wears corblimey trousers, and he lives in an apartment provided by the local council for working class tenants.


Sitting on the pavement outside Brassey’s Victuallers, an old gaberlunzie raises his dusty head:

— ‘Any spare change, Sir?’

— ‘Certainly not! Get a job! It’s people like you….’

— ‘You speak the truth, O Wise One! I’ll reform on the instant, and be a credit to society!   A thousand thanks, you miserable fat fucker!


As soon as they moved into the Glebe, Felicity had stationery printed with the address embossed in teal on Hahnemuhle Gloss Baryata writing paper (‘Your passport to writing pleasure’), and discreetly in the corner of Heritage rag 300gsm envelopes (’For the discerning’).

Raphael & Felicity De Burca

The Glebe House

De Voeux Road


Co. Wicklow

Now… who will be first to receive such luxury missives in the mail? An invitation (hand-written) to a little house-warming, nothing fancy of course: finger buffet, Victoria sponge, Lamingtons, sherry trifle, a chance to use the willow pattern.

Time to consult the address book and, of course, her beloved Rafe:

The Hamilton-Cardews?

— Oh God, not them!

The De Courcy-Irelands?

— Not if I’m here.

Aunt Sarah, 96, now resting at St Brigid’s Hospice?

— Deaf as a post. Anyway, they wouldn’t let her out.

Professor Arland Bellhop, MA, MPhil, PhD (retired)?

— It’s a party, not a wake.

The Foxrock set?

— Jesus! The quality!

The merchant of Ennis?

— His prices are extortionate.

Your aunt Fanny, or Eileen?

— Pair of drips.

That chap with the Mercedes?

— It’s a Volvo.

That enterprising young man with the ostrich farm?

— Gets on my wick, that fella. Kill him to raise cows like a Christian.

Lee Harvey Oddball?

— Never liked him, for some reason.

Hughie and Nancy Duignan?

— Been dead for years, both of them.

Johnny, Noeleen, and the boys?

— I’m not having them here.

Sarah Sowerbutts, odious hag from the Forest of Pendle?

— Not if she brings that fella with her… what’s his name?

Abdul-Razak O’Toole, the Runt of Persia?

— Never liked him.

Big Day and Little Day?

— Now you’re really scraping the barrel.

Oh dear….. but they all speak very highly of you, Rafe.

— As they should. Anyway, it’s not up to me. You decide. I must see what’s wrong with that mare.

And so Rafe goes out, without even glancing at the new stationery. Felicity is a little dispirited, perhaps, but by no means downhearted. After twenty-five years of marriage, she knows Rafe like the inside of her sewing basket. When the day comes, he’ll be gracious and welcoming, no matter who is invited.

The teal was an excellent choice, and it shines when you hold it up to the light.