Book: Black Swan Green
Author: David Mitchell
Music: House of Fun
Georgia – you should probably give this one a miss …
This is a song from Madness about a young man going into a chemist shop (pharmacy) to buy condoms for the first time. Brings to mind a reminiscence from around the same time this song was in the charts, actually, or maybe a year earlier. Festering and despicable as it later transpired, the mighty Catholic Church still wielded much of the same power in early 80s Ireland that it did 20, 30, 40, and 50 years earlier. Consequently, at that time, the sale and purchase of condoms – a form of birth control, obviously, and therefore, verboten within the Roman doctrine – remained banned in Ireland. They were not, however, banned in heathen England. My class went an a school trip to London for a few days that spring – we were probably 15 or 16 at the time. As an aside, I admire the dedication and courage of any teacher who accompanies teenagers on a trip anywhere, never mind to a different landmass. In any case, one of my classmates, a proto-entrepreneur, purchased a goodly supply of condoms during the trip with a view to making a handsome profit by selling them individually to the prophylactic-deprived young men of our rural home town. He survived teacherly suspicion during the remainder of that trip and successfully smuggled them through customs as we made out way home by train and ferry – they were more innocent times, all-in-all. After we got off the bus, knackered, from Dublin, he made his way to his house, just outside the town. Although he’d evaded the naturally suspicious scrutiny of career teachers and customs agents, he knew he’d never survive an up-close run-in with his mother. So he removed the contraband from his suitcase before getting home and shoved them into a thick hedge by the path up to their house, which was on a bit of a height over the road, with the intention of recovering them at an opportune time. However, that’s when the poor bastard’s luck ran out. One or more of his pals (not me, I assure you), knowing his plan to conceal the illegal items offsite, so to speak, either took them from their hiding place or spilled the beans to some other likely lad from the town who then stole them but – in either case – when Malachy went to recover the goods in order to begin profiting from his foresight, they were gone. I don’t know if he ever found out who the villain was.