Speeches from the plays - 2.
from Strasbourg Goose
[Kate & Packy meet the Belowstairs Crowd:]
Well there's this
philosopher, like, a Frenchman, back our way,
and he's bringing a case against the Universe, like,
so if ye've got any complaints, like, against
the Universe, like...
No, no, no complaints, we're quite all right
as we are thank you very much.
Well any bit
of oul' music like, any session?
If you go round the side, Lord Maulte keeps some
traditional musicians in the basement. You know
I have one complaint: No More
West of Ireland please. It's written out.
Richard says it always was, and he's
brulliant! I'm closing this door now,
it's starting to rain, you don't mind do you?
It stopped as soon as she shut the door. A blackbird sang
in the sudden stillness of the afternoon. Their footsteps
crunched on the gravel at the corner of the house.
Put in a complaint about her!
A little way along there was a low entry
in the style of a Georgian coalhole and
a surprising fiddle music coming from it
like you'd hear on a Galway forenoon when you'd be
passing a little window you never even thought
was a snug at all let alone one with sessions.
Kate and Packy bent down and looked in
and sure enough there was a hooly in progress,
fellas and wans in bags and sacks and fustian and tatty linen,
some playing some dancing and a bodhrán and a flute and spoons.
will we go in? Ara why
A stout, comfortable-looking man
standing near the door nodded to them.
They could hardly hear him!
After a while Packy has the bodhrán out
and is over contributing to the din, and Kate
is chatting up the oul' fella in the lulls.
Tell us this much, how did ye get to be here?
Well it's like this ma'am, it goes back a long way.
Well go back with it, where do ye come from?
We started life as rituals, some of us.
Rituals? What of?
Ara we don't rightly remember,
we're not interested in them things nowadays,
all we go for now is the bit of music like,
glad to be rid of th'oul' ritual to tell you the truth.
'Twas all to do with gettiin' beaten up
and bled an shkinned and disembowelled and all that.
For nothin', moshtly, just for bein' there.
Doesn't happen nowadays, not so much.
That'd be great in the Court!
Nothing. Go on about the ritual.
It had to do with spring and harvest and... making sure
the rains fell and the crops grew and the sun shone -
it was a shtart in life anyway.
Doesn't sound like a great start to me.
I don't think you follow me. We didn't do anything.
You asked me where we came from. We were the ritual.
We had to be that before we became what we are now.
O I see. And what are ye now?
Ye don't have the appearance of gods.
We're retired. Out on pension like. For the last
two thousand years.
Ye were the gods of the early Celts?
Before the Celts. We're not all the one, you know.
Some of us came with the Firbolg, and more with the
Fomorians and the Nemedians and the Milesians and the Parthalonians.
But it was the Tuatha Dé Danaan set us in order,
the people of the goddess Danu. She's not here,
comes an odd time, round Horse Show Week,
mostly she's in Cyprus,
lovely place she has up there I believe.
But it was her people set us up, the Tuatha Dé Danaan.
And when the Celts came ye were sidelined?
Not at all!
The Celts didn't give a goddam! Sorry people!
O the Celts would go a bit of the road with anyone.
No it was Patrick that did for us. Patrick the Second.
Paddy Slemish. Well not entirely either.
Set up a kind of a welfare scheme.
Said we'd been at it long enough and
it was time we were being properly looked after.
And ye've been here ever since?
They moved us out of the fairy mounds when the slate
roofs were introduced. So we're here under the eejits.
Under the aegis of His Lordship upstairs?
Eejits I said.
Under the aegis of the eejit?
Ar'he's all right. I was a Lord too once you know.
And what were you lord of?
Every feckin' thing! I rose to be
Tutelary Deity of the Tuatha Dé Danaan! Now!
And what did they call you?
The Dagda! - or Dawya,
or whatever the hell way they say it nowadays.
There was a professor down from Dublin
trying to tell me it used to be Dawya.
And used it?
Sure how the hell would I know?
Dagda I call it! I don't remember.
And what did you do, as Dagda?
Kept an eye on things.
Sometimes I had only the one eye,
but it was usually enough. The Morrígan there,
see her dancing, like an oversize crow,
Goddess of Death she was, she had two eyes,
and if she looked at you out of the right one you were game ball,
but if she fixed you with the left you were manxed -
a dead duck, you were a goner all entirely!
Well do you miss the old days?
I do miss the oul' cauldron.
I used to have this cauldron, wherein, let me tell you,
wherein there bubbled, perpetually, a highly nutritious stew.
None who came to the house ever left it hungry.
Nor sober either. It was handy.
It sounds great.
It was mighty.
And how do ye make out now -
have ye any complaints, like?
Ara we have of course, but what's the point?
Your man upstairs
does fill in the forms for us and sends them off.
O. Ye can't manage the writing is it?
Not at all. Other way round. They can't read runes.
O we had all that stuff sorted out. Oghma there,
see him dancing, baldy fella in the lion's skin,
he invented the Ogham script.
I wouldn't've guessed it was a lion's skin,
It was a very old lion.
Mind what you say about him. That's his club
leaning against the stove.
I didn't mean
Ah but you should have seen him in his prime,
leading crowds of people after him on slender
golden chains fastened to the end of his tongue.
Eloquence! A powerful man with the words.
O we had our own alfabbit.
Ah Bee Cee. Only it didn't begin like that.
Beth Luish Nion. 'Twas all based on trees.
What I was saying though. Complaints. Your man upstairs -
The gom. Thinks my name is Dagad.
That's what he puts me down as. Dagad! Me the tutelary
Deity, Dagda, or Dawya of the Tuatha Dé Danaan.
Dagad, ha! The Tuatha Dé were a prickly little people,
they'd grouse about a thing like that,
having their prime symbol of good cheer and prosperity
scribbled off as a footnote in a Sanskrit grammar -
the 2nd person plural of the aorist subjunctive passive
of a Tokharian deponent verb! But sure
who could you complain to about a thing like that?
And what about the beating, the ritual?
What about it?
The flaying, the castration, the bleeding, the disembowelling?
Ara that was only to make the world go round,
they didn't mean any harm by it. And we
wouldn't be here at all if it wasn't for that!
What I was trying to tell you! We had to be rituals first
before we got to be what we are now!
And we all started off in the same boat.
Didn't we do well, though? Take a look around. See that.
Heroes, every one of us. Herakles types -
you've heard of him, haven't you? Except for the women.
They were Great Mothers.
The Man from the Department was explaining it all to me.
There were Transcendents too. They came later.
The Little One, where is it? Must be gone out playing.
The Divine Wise Child - now there's a Transcendent.
Is it a boy or a girl?
Do you know I couldn't tell you…
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