Liam Farrell - Do happy people know something that I don't?

My years of general practice have worn me down, and I am increasingly suspicious of people who are too happy-go-lucky (I'm not happy, I'm not lucky and I don't go). Either they know something I don't or they are repressing and ready to explode.

Joe is a folk singer, and manifests both the irritating tweeness and the indefatigable cheerfulness demanded by the accursed breed, probably due to all those years of being dandled on his granny's knee; at 42 he's a bit old to be still at it, but the old lady remains hale and hearty and has thigh muscles that could crack walnuts.

Nothing gets him down; lashing rain is a 'soft day, thank God' and a tragedy merits: 'If that's the worst that happens to us today, it's a good day.'

I imagine telling him: 'Joe, I have bad news. It's about your dog, the one who has been your inseparable companion since your wife passed away so tragically all those years ago and who only last week saved your father from being asphyxiated by a rancid peccary.

'I've just run her down and she is beyond resuscitation, as you normally need your head not being squashed for that to work.'

He'd be silent for a while, then look up at me with a twinkle in his eyes (you can't learn that twinkle, surgical attempts to recreate it have only ended up with an evil squint) and say: 'You know, Doc, when I was just a wee lad my grand-daddy used to sing a song about that while he was scratching his eyeballs with a fork,' and he'd close his eyes, switching off the twinkle for a moment, and start to croon in a voice full of anguish, pain and sorrow but yet strangely also full of joy and wonder and bestiality (his emotions were a little mixed up, you may gather).

He'd hug me close to his suspiciously quivering bosom, and whisper: 'By the way, I have to kill you now,' the sun glinting merrily on the carving knife.

It's like when Frankenstein's monster was happy, playing with the little girl; not a good time to go near him with a torch.

'Mirth is always good and cannot be excessive,' said Spinoza, but then he didn't have to endure Irish folk music.

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