Close Encounters near Coomataggart
It was almost 2am last Saturday morning, as I turned the ‘Ham towards the Cork/Kerry border at Ballyvourney. An oncoming vehicle passed me by, ground to a halt, before turning and following me. The blue lights began to flash on the unmarked car. It was like the “landing scene” from Close Encounters of the Third Kind as I stepped out of the ‘Ham to face my accusers. In the excitement, I forgot that I had undone the button at the top of my jeans to ease the pressure on my pizza filled stomach (part of my high carb intake for the day ahead). The jeans began to slip from my hips as I walked towards the light. I was so glad that my white underpants had been recently washed with high quality detergent and wondered if the spinning light would have the same effect as the strobe lighting in a disco, with all my white parts becoming luminous. While I shielded my headlight-blinded eyes with my right hand, I fished for my declining britches with the other. The two fresh faced young Gardai invited me to re-enter the ‘Ham and speak to them through the open window. While there was undoubtedly a strong smell of pepperoni pizza wafting towards the law, I felt that the absence of alcohol would stand to my credit.
“Where did you come from?” “Trim”. “That’s a long way. Where are you going?” The Garda that asked the questions shone his torch into the back of the ‘Ham noticing that all 5 back seats were missing. “I’m going to the mountains…”. “In the dark?”. “Yes but I won’t start until first light”. “Are you taking any medication …prescription medication…have you “taken” anything at all?” “No, just a pizza” “And what will you do all night, while you’re waiting like?” I felt that he was using Cork dialect to put me at my ease. Before I could answer he said: “Do you want to sort yourself out “down there”?” All three of us stared at my nethers. As I struggled with the zip that had become jammed, the big fellow said again: “And what will you do all night boy?” “I’m going to sleep until first light”. “Is that a tent in the back?” “No, it’s my backpack…I’m going to sleep in the car” “Where’ll you park it?” “There’s a parking place beside the windmills on Coomataggart…I’m climbing all the higher mountains in Ireland and I have most of them done” “You must be worn out at this stage” said the quiet Guard. “Right go on…but be careful.” “I will”
Fifteen minutes later I was driving through the last section of boreen before the Coomataggart windmills, sheepishly. Despite the fact that it was a public road, there was a point where I seemed to be driving through a residential farmyard. The hounds of the Baskervilles, restrained only by chains, all launched themselves at the ‘Ham in a concerted attack barking savagely, as I sped through the yard towards the mills. Four pairs of mad eyes bobbed hither and thither in time to the yelps. I pictured the residents debating whether to phone the police, or tackle me themselves. As I lay in the back of the ‘Ham, I could hear the cacophony of barks from the yard playing away in the background, when, almost unbelievably, a donkey began to bray. At that very moment I felt the first of many intestinal twinges, and began to imagine a Noah’s Ark of demented creatures leaping upon my person as I would attempt to recycle the pizza that was wending its way through me.