The art of speaking tradesman-ese

The plumber and the builder conversed at top speed, making a combined sound that was so strange it seemed likely only bats or aliens from outer space could make sense of it. The chap who had come to price our new bathrooms was gabbling in a thick west Cork accent, giving absolutely nothing away to me, while the builder boyfriend was machine-gunning him back in extreme cockney. However, while it sounded to the untrained ear like the two men were speaking different languages, it quickly became apparent that they were, in fact, completely in tune with each other and understood each other perfectly. Tradesman-ese is one of the world’s least

A meeting with our new boy-racer neighbour

We were riding the two cobs down the lane when I heard the car roaring its engine behind us. I had seen it pull out of a long, winding driveway coming from a house perched on top of the highest point of the hillside, a few hundred yards along from our place. It went the other way for a few seconds, then I could hear it screech, turn and start to hurtle back towards us along the long straight stretch of lane it was evidently using to get up speed. We only had a few yards until we reached the back gates of our house. I looked behind and waved

Will our horse make the 12-year-old vet faint?

‘The vet’s here and he’s 12,’ I called over the farmyard gate where the builder boyfriend was waiting with the injured cob. I don’t think the lad heard me as he got out of his car. I hope the Irish ones don’t faint, I thought, because we had a nice gory cut for him. The best you can hope for with horses is that your six-monthly freak injury is a near disaster. So when the smaller of the two black and white cobs reared up into a tin roof it was cause for celebration that he nearly had his eye out. You’ve only got two options with horses. Either they

Have the Surrey busybodies followed us to Cork

‘We’re waiting for the llamas to turn up,’ said the lady selling lottery tickets from her car in the supermarket car park. She had accosted the builder boyfriend as he walked by, shouting: ‘I want a word with you! We’re all very worried about what you’re going to be doing to that old house up there…’ The BB assured her we don’t have the money to do anything. Aside from tidying it up, we have no fancy plans, and we like old houses. As for llamas, yes, she had that right in terms of what most English people would be putting on the land. But we had brought our horses.

The BB and I are escaping the Soviet States of Surrey at last

‘You’re only allowed one roll of packing tape per customer,’ said the lady in the local hardware store. The builder boyfriend was holding five rolls, at £2 each, thinking it was reasonable to buy a tenner’s worth, or even that she might be pleased, in line with the normal rules of commerce. But this lady and her husband are notorious for not allowing you to buy the precious things of their shop. I had to beg them to sell me six laundry bags a few weeks ago. Now we had gone through all the tape we had bought from the self-storage firm where we got our packing boxes and we

A funny time to be Irish: The Rules of Revelation, by Lisa McInerney, reviewed

Lisa McInerney likes the rule of three. Three novels set in Cork structured around sex, drugs and rock’n’roll and, within that, ‘smoke, coke and yokes [ecstasy], St Paddy’s modern trinity’. The Rules of Revelation follows her debut, The Glorious Heresies (winner of the 2016 Women’s Prize; in its focus on the relationship between teenagers Ryan and Karine, it represents the sex component) and its sequel, The Blood Miracles (drugs, 2017). It reprises Glorious Heresies’ movement between multiple characters, Ryan Cusack (centre of Blood Miracles) seen through them. Ryan has returned to Cork, where bad blood waits for him, barely congealed and threatening, darkly, to ooze out at any moment. Ostensibly