THE PAT AND LIL’LIAD (Paul O’Brien)

 

Once again I sat to write

A tale from long ago

It started as per usual

Shifting verses to and fro

I tried to keep it short and sweet

Three verses and a hook

But it turned into a litany

Enough to fill a book

 

By times I had my doubts about

The wisdom of my toil

Working long and lonely hours

Burning midnight oil

With doubts about my plan to write

What soon was clear to me

A tale that none would understand

Outside our family

 

I tried to tell the story

About when Paddy, long ago

Uprooted wife and kids

And to the wilds did go

And left the place they grew up

Family friends and all

The day that Pat and Lily went

To leave the old East Wall

 

Tears they sprung in Paddy’s eyes

As he went to make a start

Loading acquisitions

Onto Bimbo’s horse and cart

Potato peels and old pram wheels

Were shifted to one side

And they slipped the lad a half-a-crown

For the pleasure of the ride

 

The milkman read his farewell note

And lightly whipped his dray

“We won’t need bainne any more

Just one last pint, today”

And the morning sun, low in the east

Despite the factory smoke

Reflected trains on window panes

The B***ards once had broke

 

Stacks of books of Green Shield Stamps

Licked ‘till your tongue went dry

And bags and bags of chocolate

With flakes and broken Fry

No pipe band came to play them out

No cleric came to call

On the day that Pat and Lily went

To leave the old East Wall

 

The cart was loaded up

With nearly all the delf

A sewing machine, some curtain rail

And half a kitchen shelf

The kids and then the mammy

Were hoisted up on top

And they said goodbye to

Maureen's wee red shop.

 

And goodbye to things we won't forget

Although we try so hard

Like the day they chased the bullocks

All around our little yard

It was like a rodeo

Battling beast and man

While I watched through the window

Eating bread and jam

 

Or the day the burglars came

And tried to grab some swag

Who when having scoured the house

Still had an empty bag

And left with just five shillings

From the meter in the hall

And they swore it was the last time

They’d rob in old East Wall

 

And Gerry thought of other things

Like Halloween just gone

Standing in McArthur’s

Singing “Sliabh na mBan”

Or when they’d gone to see the lights

One Christmas long ago

And Pat had left poor Ger behind

Outside the G.P.O.

 

And Paul he cried for Rusty

Who he hadn’t seen for years

“Where did he ever go to?”

Choking back his tears

“I’m going to miss the road Leagues

And playing kick the can,

And going for jaunts out to the aunts

In that old Escort van”

 

When he ran off to Dollymount

With dreams to stay the night

They picked him up along Clontarf

The family sick with fright

Then being tucked granny’s bed

Holy pictures on the wall

That’s the first time that he went

To leave the old East Wall

 

As the cart began to rumble off

The memories did flood

And some of them were hard and sad

But most of them were good

And waving at the crowd

That queued along the Strand

They started to get anxious

About the home they’d planned.

 

Twelve years on the West Road

The extension just complete

Renovations, complications

And painting half the street

The dividing wall demolished

And the neighbor in his bath

Nearly killed by falling bricks

Then him, almost killing Pat

 

The shop fronts on the Church Road

Lettered once so neat

Until the Lego fire that night

Had wiped out half the street

So as they walked behind the cart

They started to recall

The day that Pat and Lily went

To leave the old East Wall

 

Paddy sitting down in Byrnes

With Lily on his lap

Drinking stout from bottles

‘Cos they had no bloody tap

Recalling all the cycle trips

And summers in Greenane

And the Anglia he’d bought before

That old grey Escort van

 

Lily talked of trips to France

And the people she had cured

With gallons of holy water

Carried all the way from Lourdes

And ice-creams in her mammies

Enjoying them in the sun

Her brother bought with winners

When the horses’ race was run

 

These and other little things kept

Running through their minds

Filled with anticipation

For what they were to find

But they kept hart on Bimbo’s cart

And they faced destiny’s call

On the day that Pat and Lily went

To leave the old East Wall

 

Paddy worked in Cadburys

He’d started in his prime

For nearly eighty years

If you count the overtime

He’d bring home bags of chocolate

Straight from the factory

We’d have whole nuts for breakfast

And crunchies for our tea

 

And weekends down at nana Brien’s

Drawing in the Book

Never daring for to taste

The tripe she used to cook

And the papers bound for Paisley

Folded in a special way

And listening to the radio

For the pools on Saturday

 

And the Beezer and the Topper

That granny used to bring

On Friday nights when they went

To hear Joe Cuddy sing

Summers we’d get ice-creams

And lemonade and all

Ah! Friday nights were great for kids

Down in old East Wall

 

They traveled through uncharted lands

And left behind their hearts

With the pile of their possessions, high

On the back of Bimbo’s cart

The boxes full of china and

And the telly in between

With it’s seven ten inch speakers

And it’s lousy four inch screen

 

Their journey’s end lay in the fields

Once ploughed by children’s hands

Where boys were taught to cobble shoes

And play in marching bands

Living in a prison

Ruled by men in black

Thanks be to God their time is gone

And I hope not coming back

 

Then Bimbo’s horse did falter

At the top of that long hill

And stopped at a foundation ditch

So he could drink his fill

Pat called the clan assembled

Announcing to them all

This is the day, we’re here to stay

We’ve left the old East Wall

 

Arriving at site two, two nine

Pat took inventory

Food and water was all used up

And Declan had to pee

Now Lily she had lived for years

Beside a grocery shop

And had forgotten in her haste

To buy some stuff in stock

 

So she sent Ger on an errand

And he went without a fuss

To see if friendly neighbors

Could spare some Buttercrust

He returned quite pronto

Four slices in his hand

And Pat produced a tin of beans

The meal was easily planned

 

Next morning bright and early

A knock came to the door

A little girl demanding bread

Stuck Lily to the floor

Gob smacked by the manginess

She let the Hoover fall

And rued the day that they went

To leave the old East Wall

 

But soon the family settled in

Despite hostility

And the Corpo sorted sewers

And even planted trees

And grass soon grew on muddy fields

The paths were straight and good

And apart from nightly joy rides

Peace reigned in the ‘hood

 

Then came doggy scamp

The terror of the street

Fed on scraps of spuds and bread

And the best of sirloin meat

He used to hide behind the bins

Pretending to be shy

And then he’d whip the hubcaps off

The cars as they passed by

 

But how he loved to ramble

Mostly on his own

Looking for some action

Or a place to hide a bone

He reminded me of days gone by

When he’d go chase a ball

Sure Rusty used to do the same

Way back in old East Wall

 

And Lily went to Northside

For the once weekly trawl

Through rows of cardboard boxes

And then the homeward haul

Four stone of potatoes

Tins of peas and beans

And lots and lots of jacks-rolls

The likes you’ve never seen

 

The pram was burdend down

With heavy Yellow Packs

And we were just as laden

With the spuds upon our backs

The washing powder, bacon

And even a few chops

‘Cos SuperQuinn was half the price

They charged in local shops

 

We kids were packed like horses

For the homeward trip

Hoping to bejazus

That we wouldn’t slip

The cornflakes and the saussies

Fish fingers large and small

A collection of provisions

Never seen in old East Wall

 

It always felt like winter

On that dreary long road home

And we all knew that this one

Didn’t lead to Rome.

No, no ours only led us down

And onto Skelly’s lane

And at this stage we would all

Be cranky with the pain.

 

The last part was all down hill

Through the bricks and muck

And ouldfellas doing nixers

Would give you dirty looks

All out of breath when we finally

Got back to our door

And emptied out the shopping

Onto the wooden floor

 

Sometime when supplies were thin

And fags were running low

We’d be sent in that event

To Celtic Park below

There was a litter super

And a butcher there and all

But nothing like the shops we knew

Back in the old East Wall

 

Paddy had a master plan

And was prepared for all

He’d brought the kitchen lino

To lay in the new hall

And as a master stoke he swapped

The piano from our gran

For wall to wall tintan

From the telly rental man

 

They moved around from room to room

As restless as before

Sometimes sleeping on the couch

Sometimes on the floor

The kids they all soon settled in

And Karen came along

And they lived just like the Waltons

In some country western song

 

And hunting Christmas presents

To cheat on Santa Claus

Searching built-in wardrobes

And rooting through the drawers

Running into stuff you didn’t

Want to find at all

Wondering why they hadn’t left it

Back in the old East Wall

 

Gerry brought a guitar home

It only had one string

It was made for midget fingers

But he learned to play that thing

He passed on all his knowledge

To his older brother Paul

And soon they played a concert

Down in the Oriel Hall

 

When Neil he was a baby

He had a head of curls

And he grew up really sporty

And handy with a hurl

He can knock back pints

Of English cider from the keg

And sing a verse of “Danny Boy”

While hanging from one leg

 

But Deco was the champion

For the medals and the cups

Until forced by many injuries

To give the soccer up

Now he rambles out on Sunday

With his golf kart and his balls

Sure you’d never see the like of that

Down in the old East Wall

 

Then we had the period

That I call the “home brew years”

They left our livers tainted

And drove our ma to tears

We’d hurry off to Eason’s

And pretend to look around

But the object of our mission

Was in the basement underground

 

It’s there they kept supplies

Of powder in fat tins

And books on how to brew it up

In the bargain bins

The bath was filled with bottles

To sterilize and clean

And soon we’d have the brew on

Working as a team

 

The stuff it got so famous

They came from far to see

And once we had a visit

From a real celebrity

“Harry’s Game” wouldn’t be the same

If Kieran didn’t call

I’d swear he made the tune up

On the home-brew from East Wall

 

But far from being the perfect place

This house upon the hill

It was just the starting block

For builders Pat and Lil

They started years of conversion bliss

And everything went grand

They shifted doors and walls around

And built to beat the band

 

Then Lily got a longing for

A giant Frigidaire

It was too big for the kitchen

But she really didn’t care

A partition was demolished

And another put up soon

Now the rear of the contraption

Is in the sitting room

 

The decking in the garden fixed

And a fountain in the yard

They erected a pavilion

For the fishing and for cards

With the attic and extension done

And the ten foot garden wall

At last now Pat and Lily feel

They never left East Wall

 

Now pat he loves his fishing

And reeling mackerel in

Whether in the summer sun

Or in the pouring rain

But after a long day

Out on the beach or on a pier

He loves to settle down

With a Jameson’s and a beer

 

And Lily’s turned to canvas

She can paint and paint for hours

And she’s never stuck for subjects

She does landscapes clouds and flowers

She’s shows them in exhibitions

And sells them by the score

And uses all her earnings

To buy gear to paint some more

 

Now that was fifty verses

And I’ll add on fifty-one

I tried to squeeze a lifetime

Into the meter of a song

But now I’ll finish up

As the barman “Time” does call

My tale about when Pat and Lily

Went to leave the East Wall