Feb 19th, 2008 | By | Category: Personal Columns

Philip Toynbee’s Part of a Journey has an entry in August 1978

For this is my vision of total pleasure – to be sitting in a comfortable bar, reading The Observer with a pint of Guinness on the table and the lunch menu just about to be brought for our leisurely perusal. The height of worldly enjoyment.

The words were deeply resonant. Working until 10 pm last Thursday to have a couple of hours on Friday to meet a friend for coffee, he and I sat in a little Wicklow village on the forecourt of the coffee shop in the pale spring sunshine. It was a moment of complete tranquility.

I noticed that there was crack in the right sole of my six year old Doctor Marten shoes, I noticed that the left cuff of my black sweater was beginning to fray, and that I might need some more staples to fix the strap of my €9.99 wristwatch. None of which impaired my enjoyment in the slightest. they only registered because my friend had arrived in green tweed jacket and corduroys. He maintained that Herself had told him he had to look tidy to meet the “vicar”.

We laughed about “old money” that goes around in threadbare jackets and battered old cars. The village is a place where people will spend phenomenal amounts on houses and cars and clothes and golf club memberships and “must haves”, in an effort to convince themselves they are happy, and that they are “somebody”, when happiness demands no more than having two hours to sit in February sunlight and put the world to right.

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  1. Did ye mention woolly hats?

  2. Herself would not have allowed him out in a woolly hat – least of all one like the blue one in the picture.

  3. Ian. You have no idea what he can look like if he escapes the house unsupervised and unchecked. It’s the Great Unwashed down from the mountains, and in slippers. I kid you not.

  4. Amen brother! For me it’s a local American Legion Club where I can go in sweat pants and my old wool sweater.
    I can also smoke and scratch there too.

  5. But the scruffier you are, the less you care, the older the money!

    Old money wouldn’t be seen dead in a BMW 4X4 or dressed in one of those hideous ‘fashion’ labels. I have a Barbour coat and when it was new one of my parishioners offered to leave it on the floor of her horsebox for a couple of days so it didn’t look naff. It’s very old and battered now with a couple of tears and many signs of wear. I think Himself should have one like it – together with a grubby old tweed cap!

  6. That is what I have been saying all these years. She even wants me to have a haircut now!!! I had one only a year ago.

  7. Haha . . too true. My happy place is a glass of wine in a sunny garden on a Sunday afternoon with BabyBro, Stressany and three dogs. Mind you I wear trakky daks cos I can’t afford designer labels!

  8. But, Baino, that’s the point, why would you want designer labels? Old money buys ‘good’ stuff not fashionable stuff and doesn’t worry about it.

    Grandad is at this very moment practicing an accent that would identify him as what Brendan Behan would have called a ‘horse Protestant’

  9. Special moments of relaxation I can relate to that. The last one for me was the Sunday before last. 5 club members met at a grid ref on Salisbury plain at 8.00 AM got our gas stoves out and had a breakfast fry out in the early morning frosty February sunshine then spent the rest of the day laning in our Landies ahhh bliss.Scruffy jeans and a padded shirt comfy!!!

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