The Window

Published in Catching the Wave: The 2009 Anthology of the Bundoran Writers’ Group

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Sit back here,” encourages Patricia (or Nan; I’m never quite sure). “It’s warmer.”

We troop into the back room of Brennan’s Pub – not the longish room where we usually scribble and seek the muse, but the square room at the end of the bar, next to the Gents’. The pub is humming with good craic, but swinging door muffles the volume well enough that even our softspoken literary gang can hear each other.

To our surprise and delight, a window in the wall shoots up, and Nan (or Patricia) leans through from the bar to take our drink orders. Cups and glasses are passed through the small wood-framed window that has been painted a hundred times, left over from the days when that interior wall had opened to the back garden – a window big enough to wiggle through if necessary, but not big enough for a laundry basket. The craic from the bar pours through the open window and then subsides to a murmur when it is closed.

When the visitors from the Authors and Editors Tour find their way over from the library, the Brennan sisters identify them immediately and shoo them back in our direction. And for a wealth of time we sit and talk and bask in the glow of our shared hopes. A lovely, unforgettable evening in a perfect place.

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There is a Guinness commercial in which a man carries a television set down the street. He tosses the TV into a skip and nods with satisfaction. He returns to a pub where a shelf sits empty except for a few dangling wires and a dusty outline where the television set had been. “Now,” says the man to his friends, “let’s see what we can find to talk about.”

Sadly, this vignette is, itself, a television commercial.

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The window at Brennan’s is more than an access-hatch to the bar. It is a window back into a warmer, more intimate time when, lacking televisions and radios and jukeboxes, people enjoyed and encouraged the richness of each other’s conversation. A time when the only media intrusion was the newspaper. A time when the craic was far more than entertainment – it was the very warp and woof of the social fabric.

It’s still like that at Brennan’s. Switch off your mobile and go there. Let’s see what we can find to talk about.

Copyright © Tom Sigafoos 2009

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