The Coptic Pope
23 May Tuesday
The young man was shouting over the road at someone who was walking away from him. He cursed and swore. His language got more and more obscene the further the first man went from him. A woman who came out of the shop in the middle of his rant announced. “Now there’s a lad who wants manners put on him.”
22 May Monday
There is a fine straight line marked into a field where cows have been grazing. They stick their heads under the fence and reach out as far as they can to get at every single bit of fresh long grass that they can. The resulting line is always a surprise. It is as straight and even as if it has been drawn. From afar it looks like there might be a different crop being grown in one field exactly beside another. It is all grass and it is all the same grass but one batch has been eaten as low as the cows can get it before the herd are moved to another field.
21 May Sunday
Do not sweep around a chair with an unmarried woman sitting in it. If you do, she will never marry. She should move before you start sweeping.
20 May Saturday
The Coptic Pope was to arrive in Cahir today at 1.15. It was planned that he was to perform a Mass and do other pope-like things for the order of Egyptian Coptics who now reside in the former Catholic school and convent. As early as 10 am, there were two Garda and one man in a reflective vest directing any cars away from the convent which I am not certain the Egyptian Coptics still call the convent but everyone else calls the convent because that is what the building has always been and that is what the building has always been called. Apparently there had been a threat on the life of the Coptic Pope recently which explained the police presence. We left town before he arrived and I have not heard of any trouble so I guess it all went well. I sort of wish I had stayed to see what he looked like and what the congregation who greeted him was like. It is difficult to imagine how and why this Egyptian order ended up in County Tipperary. John Joe said they first came here because they got jobs in the slaughterhouse.
19 May Friday
Every car is covered with bird droppings. Every house is covered with bird droppings. Windows are covered. Outside tables and outside chairs are covered with bird droppings. There are long huge white splashes. There are lashings of excrement. The excrement is thick as well as white. Where it is on the windows it is not possible to see through it, which can make driving difficult. It is a seasonal problem but every year it is a surprise. We had hoped the rain would clean it off or at least in a few places but I fear it is hardened on and really will need scrubbing.
18 May Thursday
A sanctuary up in Kildare rescued the chickens. They had been resident in a battery farm. After 18 months the chickens are no longer considered reliable as good egg layers. The next step for them is death and a future in a goujon or curry or some other fast food. There was an announcement on Facebook saying that a truckload of the rescued chickens were being driven down to Clonmel. People were waiting in a car park for the truck. Some people took a lot of the chickens. Some took a few. I met four of the confused birds this morning. They were walking about tentatively. They kept returning to the darkness of their new house which is made of stone. I think so much space both indoors and out and all of the new and never before tasted greenery to eat makes them nervous. They looked terrible. The bone structure of their wings was completely exposed. The bones should have been covered with feathers. There is no chance that these chickens can fly as they are now. I wonder if the feathers will grow back after exposure to sunlight and space and fresh green things to eat. Even the red of their wattles was a pale unhealthy looking pink.
15 May Monday
The path is completely closed in with cow parsley. It is impossible to see the path. There is just the sense of knowing where it goes and where it usually goes so I walk and assume I am in the right places but sometimes I am not and I stagger and stumble into the tangle. This morning I fell down and startled a pheasant who was running from me in the undergrowth and I think he thought I could not see him and indeed I would not have seen him except that I dropped down to his level. Not only is the undergrowth thick but it is wet. Today I got soaked and slapped with all of the blossoms and branches. I wore full waterproofs for the rainy drizzle which was falling and against the rainy drizzle which had already fallen. I ended up soaked anyway because my rain jacket is old and now un-waterproof and because the water off the plants went down my neck and the water went through the hole in my boots. I could have been wetter when I reached home but not much wetter.
14 May Sunday
I was surprised to realize that my cow book (I Always Have An Audience For My Work) is now out of print. The Butter Museum had had ten copies of it. I wrote to ask Peter if he had any copies left. He said “I think I still have some copies of the cow book. I was reluctant to sell them as they are so wonderful.” Since the purpose of him having the books was to sell the books, I am not sure what was accomplished by them being too wonderful to sell.