Dalkey is a yuppie place. It oozes the great and the good.
My seven year old Nissan Almera is a bit down market compared to the other machines around. I had to edge it very gingerly into a parking space because the guy who had parked his black Alfa Romeo had somehow managed to use a space and a half. Perhaps he usually drove a 4 x 4 and was used to taking other people’s spaces as well as his own.
Walking to the parking meter, there was a pair of teenagers engaged in what my late mother-in-law would have described as “canoodling”; the parking meter providing an opportune place against which to lean.
“Father, would you give us a blessing?” asked the girl.
“Would you want a blessing from a Protestant?” I smiled.
The boy visibly recoiled at my question.
“Are you doing exams?” I asked.
“No, Father”, he said, “I’m a failure”.
“No, you’re not. No-one’s a failure”.
I walked back to the car and stuck the ticket to the window. The conversation couldn’t be left there. Returning to them, I looked at him and said, “What are you doing with yourself these days?”
“A FAS scheme, Father. I’m doing gardening. Are you in a church here in Dalkey?
“No. I’m out in Ballybrack”.
“Are you in MacDonald’s?”
(MacDonald’s is the name given to the modern church in Loughlinstown – it was painted red and yellow at one time).
“I’m not”, I said. “Father Teddy is the parish priest there”.
“I went to a christening there one time,” he said.
“How’s the gardening?” I asked. “I’m sure it’s hard work. I spent two summers working on a nursery a long time ago”.
“It’s OK. It’s something. It’s better than doing nothing.”
“Will you stick at it?”
“I might”, he said.
“Will you look after him?” I asked the girl.
“I will”, she smiled.
I left it there. Not once had he lifted his head to make eye contact. Was I so intimidating? I didn’t mean to be.
This was a corner of the wealthiest place in our very wealthy country. The Tiger years had passed the couple by. Their accents and their dress marked them out as non-participants in the café and pub culture of the place. There was no exuberant confidence here, no ostentatious consumption.
I walked to the bank and they had disappeared by the time I returned. If this is how things are for them when we are at the top, how will things be in less good times?
There’s a comment in the closing scene of Shakespeare’s Hamlet where Hamlet’s dying words are a statement of the obvious. The Danish court has destroyed itself and the strong armed Norwegian Fortinbras has arrived. “But I do prophesy the election lights on Fortinbras,” says Hamlet.
If Hamlet was in Dalkey in 2007, upon whom would he see the election alighting?