Arse or Elbow - Or How not to re-cycle your tree.
On Good Friday in the year 2000, I can hear the echo of my own voice on the radio, whistling amongst the feedback.
"Wait till I turn this yoke down" says I - knowing the drill.
It is my own fault.
I never should have texted Ray Darcy when he asked what people had spotted still UP - that should have been DOWN long ago.
It started with Election Posters that were still smiling munificently from every pillar and post from Termonfeckin to Tominearly.
Then a texter announced there was still a crib in a window in Ennistymon and they had a bloody good laugh.
Until I texted and said I had a tree, still up, with the lights on.
The satisfying crack of the dimpled chocolate as I skelped it off the press almost drowned out the tiny tinkling bell on my phone.
It is a Dublin number.
Hello, I think...........( who the hell is this?)
"Hello" I say , except it sounds like Mer Mer.
Blah blah blah says the bright and breezy girl with the D4 accent.
Over the frantic sounds of my jaws grinding as I chew - ( Jesus, melt already ) I hear her say the following -
- researcher - Today FM - Ray Darcy - Giant Christmas Tree -
I can hear the song on the radio coming from the phone.
Hold for Ray - says She.
I wipe the dribbles away with a wet teatowel and hear the familiar dulcet tones of Darcy, asking me to tell the Nation why I am mental and have a giant tree up at Easter.
Let me take you back a little ...............
On Christmas Eve of 1999 I was the sole person left doing a small bit of work in the kitchen of "The Tookay Cafe" in the Wexford Arts Centre.
Everyone else in the town was out getting slaughtered.
I was cooking a Christmas Day Lunch for someone with more money than time and was basting the baste of a Goose that she had ordered. The tinfoil dishes and trays were collected at 5pm and I wearily took off my apron.
As I am turning out the lights I see the beautiful Gigantic Christmas Tree in the corner of the beautiful Gigantic Pillar Room.
Hmmmm the plot thickens, or in this case the thick plotens.
I took the stairs 2 at a time.
There is a light on under the office door.
Hey hun - says Denis when I pop my wild head around the door.
Hey, what's the dealio with the tree downstairs when we are closed?
Why, do you know someone who would want it?
At this juncture let me tell you a little about the tree.
This was the biggest Mofo tree I ever saw.
And it was real.
It smelt of grass and twigs and leaves and bark and the 25,000 insects and mites that were dormant, asleep in its foilage, and who would awaken with the heat and infest the house.
But that is another story.
As soon as I got the nod from Denis, I put a plan in place.
I would need men, and wheels, and in that order.
I vacated to a local hostelry in The Bullring where I presented the simple transference of the above tree from its current whereabouts into my 3rd floor apartment as a Fait Accompli.
In my defence we were very, very drunk at the time.
I have flashbacks now of that journey, and the laughing on the spiral stairs as entire men disappeared into the boughs and branches, the shouts of - To me, to me, .......Christ!
"You nearly had me bloody eye out that time, boy"
And me bringing up the rear, shouting orders and bossing people around, carrying the 437 gift wrapped boxes that had been underneath it.
The boxes were empty and were for display purposes only but I had to have them or die trying.
- Name a Jasus, why is she bringing up the empty boxes? - says one drunken man to the other, swaying on the second landing as they lit fags standing in the middle of the actual tree.
It took 7 of us, including my Spanish neighbour, todrag and bate and pull and haul it into the apartment and down the curved hall. We gouged a furrow in the white ceiling as the creaking tree bent double and we left it leaning in the middle of the room, as there were no corners left to put it in.
Did I mention it was huge?
We put the furniture in the corners and the empty boxes everywhere else, including the en-suite toilet.
Christmas that year, the whole town was gone Beloobas and we were drinking and partying like it was 1999.
Which it was.
There were Boffins on the radio arguing that computers would go batshit on the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve, that the entire systems of every technological device on the planet would try and re-set with hilarious and outrageous results, and that planes would fall out of the sky, their navigational instruments rendered useless.
It's all very well to laugh now - 14 years later - but we had a Carpe Diem mentality that Christmas and the tree was only one of the things I would Carpe, that I would come to regret in hindsight.
On New Years Eve, I had so many invitations to go to so many functions, parties and piss -ups
(that were frantically marketed almost as end-of-the-world events) that the enormity of choice saw me in a state of near collapse as I tried to make up my mind and a schedule with military precision where at 20.00 hours I would start my night with the first event on my list, and continue in this vein till Reveille @ 6am.
However, so many people called to say hi and goodbye, armed with champagne and bottles of beer, that there was a whore of a session conducted around the tree and I never got to leave the building.
One man got so drunk he came out, a woman had a spectacular screaming match with her sister and then spent the rest of the night sobbing by the empty boxes, and another man crashed spectacularly into the tree and slumbered in its branches till noon the next day.
Someone, who shall remain nameless, went for a piss, and accidently buzzed in the cops who arrived with flashlights, taking in the rugbyball shaped cartons of cans, and the heads of us, and told us we could be heard from 4 streets away.
It was a very still night, and the balcony doors onto the frosty quayside were wide open so we could see each other in the fog of smoke.
I had a Valentines Dinner lit by the tree.
We had our Paddy's Day Session with Bacon and Cabbage and Porter lit by the tree.
It became such a gargantuan task to even contemplate moving it that I decided to leave it for ever, or till I moved.
Ray Darcy is laughing a lot.
He puts a call out to the people of Ireland to beg for assistance for a delusional broad who is eating her own weight in chocolate, sitting beside the gift wrapped presents of the infamous tree.
The phone hops.
On Easter Saturday I opened the door to a gang of Lumberjacks.
Well, they were tree surgeons and landscape gardeners, and rubber neckers from Wickla Towin who had come to assist/view/laugh.
The Gaffer takes off his baseball cap and scratches his head.
He looks up at the snail trail of the giant tree along the ceiling and whistles.
-HOW ......... in the name of ................ he tails off.
They winched it over the balcony while the rubber neckers stopped traffic on the Quay, and drove off with it lashed to the back of a truck, to saw into logs to sell from Arklow to Greystones.
"Christmas or Easter, there is always either an arse or an elbow on that child!" said my Father prophetically many years ago.
I have not had a real tree since.
MDM Jan. 7th 2014