Captain Boyle's Chassis

May 30th, 2006 | By | Category: Ireland

We did Sean O’Casey when I was 17.

Being 17 and living in Somerset in the 1970s when the nearest bus stop was three miles from our village and where you considered sophisticated if you had been to London on a day trip, was probably not conducive to understanding O’Casey. His Dublin was as foreign to us as if we had been reading about travels in Africa or South America.

We tried to understand the characters and I once had to look up where Rathmines was in order to see how far Captain Boyle in Juno and the Paycock would have to travel to get the job he was offered. (I could not have imagined that five years later I would be walking through Rathmines each day, sometimes wondering where was the building site where Boyle might have got a job.)

The words of Boyle that abide in my memory are familiar, sometimes they are ascribed to O’Casey, sometimes they are just ascribed to an “Irish characterâ€?, “the whole worl’s in a state o’ chassisâ€?. Chassis is the final word of the play; it translates from slang as chaos, but chaos is such an overused word that chassis perhaps says more, a sense of the world as hostile and disordered, a sense that one cannot control or even comprehend the events controlling one’s life.

In the midst of the confusion in our house today with packers and boxes filling every room, I found my current copy of Spirituality lying on the floor underneath a pile of papers to be thrown away. It seemed an expression of what it is to live in the city of O’Casey in 2006, to discard the spiritual along with all that is not wanted.

Captain Boyle would have a word for it, “That’s serious, min’ you, an’ shows the whole counthry’s in a state o’ chassisâ€?.on in our house today with packers nad boxes filling every toom and

ok up where Rathmines was in order to see how far Capatin Boyle in Jun

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