Sunday, March 19, 2006

Baseboards and the Barbary Pirates

I thought I'd better post something before my readers (are there any still out there?) surmise that I've been captured by Barbary pirates. If you don?t know what a Barbary pirate is you probably drink lattes, vote socialist and believe that the institution of slavery was a vice perpetrated exclusively those of European Christian stock. It was not and you should dispel your ignorance at once by finishing your latte and reading a book on them.

I can report that I have not been kidnapped and transported to the slave markets of Morocco or Tripoli to clean toilets for some superannuated Sultan in his North African villa. Rather, I've been on vacation at home, somewhere in Durham region near Toronto. Shortly before the vacation began Lady Mad convened the Supreme Council of Renovators (she and I constitute the grand assembly) at Castle Mad and we agreed that the guest bedroom was badly in need of rehabilitation.

This came as no great surprise to this half of the Supreme Council. That guest room has been so for eight years past, ever since we purchased the castle. It reduced the length of stay of freedloaders, I tell you. It can be said no longer. Now it is a thing of great beauty surpassed, perhaps, only by the Sistine Chapel in Rome, or a mug of Guinness imbibed in an Irish pub on the Feast of Saint Patrick. I expect visitors at any moment.

My goodness, did I mention Guinness? How did that slip in here? I have heard reports that it was held last Friday and that the usual gathering of devout revellers was seen at McVeigh's New Windsor Tavern in Toronto. If you haven't been to McVeigh's on Saint Patrick's Day, I recommend you do so before you are captured by the Barbary pirates. For once those pirates get you, your opportunities to quaff Guinness while singing Danny Boy will be significantly limited.

So lie low until next March, and then make your way to McVeigh's shortly before lunch. Arrive later than about 11:30 a.m. and you'll be stuck going to some dreary Protestant beer hall to drink Bud Light. You don't want that. I hear it's almost as bad as being snatched by a Barbary pirate.

All of this is a surpassingly long way to complain that I never made it to McVeigh's this year. Lady Mad and my sons and heirs were struck with what Evelyn Waugh called Bechuana tummy and I was left playing the nurse and painting my baseboards. Did I mention how white and glistening my baseboards are now? That they are. My tongue may be as dust and my annual visit to the shrine of Mr. McVeigh was derailed, but the choir of angels is gaping in silent awe at my glistening white baseboards.

It's a fine guest room now. Truly. And Clan Mad? They are convalescing.

Éireann go Brách!


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