‘T’was a grand life indeed’. Special Brew for breakfast and a diet of potatoes three times a day. What more could you want? Occasionally we’d feast on the shopping that someone had ‘forgot’ to pay for and happily roam around Thurles drunk as fish without a care in the world and oblivious to the people around us. ‘It’s great here, nobody cares’, we used to say to ourselves. Even when we were pissed up and we stormed the local Gaurda station to release a mate who’d been arrested for drunkenly pissing up the side of a church, nobody seemed to mind. The fact that he’d been released the hour before only went to show what a great place it was we were living in.
One glorious giros afternoon as we were relieving the pre-giro tension by quaffing as much brew down us (on-tick) as possible I decided for some weird reason to rush out the door of the pub and stick my boot through the window of the shoe shop across the road. As soon as I’d done so a moment of clarity came across me in a ‘religiously epic’ kind of a way. I collapsed on the floor thinking ‘mmmmm, something isn’t right here’. I remember calling out to the Gaurds who were trying to grab my fellow ‘hero’s’ to leave them alone as it was me who’d committed the crime. Graciously they let them go and off I went to sleep it off in the local barracks.
The next day to my dismay(?) I was before the local circuit judge. The friendly Gaurd I was hand-cuffed to was telling me not to worry about the judge whose nickname was ‘six-month Reilly’. And somehow true to his word I was then pushed into a Gaurda car and being driven off to Limerick gaol to serve my six month sentence. I remember moaning in the back of the cop car about what the judge had said. I had shown him my Irish passport and told him I wanted to be treated like an Irishman. He’d replied ‘Oh, I thought you were English and was going to stick you on the boat home, but as you’re Irish you’ve six months!’ Ooops, what a prat!
Whoa the pity! Why me? What had I done?!
Several years later I returned to Thurles and to the ‘pub I used to frequent’. The people remembered me straight away and were brilliant. The man who told me he’d offered a few of us work but we’d declined, another who’d driven one of us to Cork because a relative was sick. Another who’d caught us shoplifting from his little corner shop several times and never reported us to the Guards, but instead had offered us ‘tick’ if we were skint. In fact a whole community of hard working people opened their arms to us numerous times, only to get a slap in the face. The shame of it.
Today I don’t live like that anymore and have no problem with travellers, only the ones like me. I was a prat , the rest of my mates, I can’t speak for them. What I thought was ‘living anarchy’ was a pile of shit and nothing but sponging and taking and upsetting those around me. I gave nothing to that Irish community so how was I ‘living anarchy’? If anarchy doesn’t embrace the community it’s not anarchy. If anarchy is shutting yourself away from people and trying to live ‘alternative’, that’s not anarchy. Likewise if anarchy doesn’t address the issues that affect people on your own back doorstep and is just activist ‘happenings’ about the next big cause, completely unrelated to your community, it’s not anarchy. It’s nothing but ‘hobby-horse’ politics in my opinion. My views on what ‘anarchy’ was had more to do with a golden can and lounging around pissed up. I was shall we say...’confused’! I could blame my views on getting my head whacked in by police in 1985, but that would be a cop out wouldn’t it.
One thing did make us all laugh on my visit back as we told jokes and stories around our pints of Guinness,
‘Remember the time you lot raided the barracks to free ya man, but he had already been released? That was grand! You should have seen the face on the Guard when he came to the pub, white as a sheet he was….he’s still a fucking gobshite! Bloody Gaurda!’
The police….isn’t it funny? No matter where you go, and in what community you find yourself in, doesn’t everyone just love em?!