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The Strangest Place I've Ever Slept In....

About twenty years back, when I was in my early twenties and yet unmarried, I happened to meet an old friend from my teenage years, one summer Sunday evening after Mass.  That was back in the day when Ireland had a very high Mass attendance.  My friend's name was Howard.  Well it is for the purposes of this post, as I don't like to share personal information about identifiable people when I write.

Howard had a rather interesting history.  He had been the boyfriend of Janet, a friend of mine, for about three years.  However, he'd ended the relationship to enter a religious order as it had been his burning ambition to be a priest. I'd found it incredibly strange how I'd spot him and Janet necking furiously whenever they got the opportunity, yet he was just about to go away and change his life forever.  When I questioned Janet about it (as in 'how can you bear to let him go?  Won't you miss him?) she'd smiled and replied that by her 'giving him up' she'd be helping all the people who he would ultimately lead to Christ.  Well, that was her story and she was sticking to it.  Personally, I thought they were off the wall.

Anyway, this Sunday evening, Howard, who had ultimately not stayed with his priestly ambitions, and I (who was now engaged to Yash who I hadn't seen for at least two years and who lived far away in India) swopped stories and caught up. He was interested to know about various members of our former circle of friends and what they were now doing.  He explained to me that he was at Mass simply to give his elderly mother a lift.  He was, however, now doubtful whether the ultimate truth existed in the Catholic Church, or indeed in Christianity.  He was at a juncture in his life where he was, he explained, 'searching'.  I nodded.  Then he asked me to go to a party with him the following Saturday night.  After ascertaining that he was simply asking me to accompany him as a friend and not asking me out on a date, I agreed to go.  Having a fiance who lived in a different continent very often meant that I was alone on Saturday nights as all my friends were spoken for.

The following Saturday evening, we met as arranged and took the bus out to Swords, a village on the outskirts of Dublin.  There were a lot of new housing developments in that area and I thought we'd probably go to a house in one of those.  We got off the bus and then he led me down a sort of deserted country lane, which didn't enter any of the new housing developments at all.  After a fairly long walk, we came upon an old but well maintained......cottage!  It looked at least one hundred years old.  We were welcomed by a young couple (I'll call them Mark and Jenny)  who seemed to be hippies, for want of a better word.  The wife wore a kaftan and had long hair.  She was preparing some kind of a vegetarian stew.  Other visitors slowly arrived.  Meanwhile the husband asked Howard and me if we wouldn't like to go to the pub with him for a couple of hours so we could arrive back when the party got moving.  I found it odd that he didn't want to help his wife with the preparations, but according to him, some friends of hers were coming along for that purpose, so I agreed.  As we were leaving  I quickly checked out their bookshelf (I always do that!) and found a lot of old, hard covered books about 'magick'!

When we were in the pub, I found out from Mark that he and Jenny practised something called 'the old religion'.  Apparently, they were druids, who practised the kind of religion that was originally practised in pre-Christian Ireland.   A chill flashed though me.  Witches!  I've read about them, seen them on television but had never encountered them in the flesh.  I really wasn't prepared for this.  I was a dyed in the wool Catholic and I was afraid that God would strike me dead if I stayed any longer.  When Mark went up to the bar I discreetly checked my diary and checked to see if it was a solstice day.  It wasn't.

"What's this party for?  Someone's birthday?" I asked Howard.  "Nothing, just a social get together for friends," he replied.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  We were probably safe enough.  But I made a mental note to keep alert and if I noticed the evening moving towards anything like a ceremony or if anyone made a move towards getting sky clad, I was out of there.  But heck, the house was really off the beaten track.  I didn't know my way home at all.

So back to the house we went.  Jenny's vegetarian stew wasn't bad, but not nearly spicy enough for me.  I stuck by Howard and we drank a few bottles of Guinness and smoked numerous cigarettes.  He informed me that he was staying the night and that I was free to leave any time I wanted.  Thanks Howard, I thought.  He also asked me if I missed Yash and wouldn't I be interested in an uncomplicated friendship with him which might possibly get physical with no strings attached.  I said no.  Then he asked me for the telephone numbers of our single, eligible, mutual female friends.  I obliged.

There was quite a swarm of people here by now.  There was a rock band who played some kind of Celtic Rock.  They kept on playing a tape of a song they'd made called 'By The River' (Bah the Rivvuh!!!  Doesn't sound very Celtic, does it?). Again.  And again.  And again.  You could recognize the group, they all wore jeans and denim jackets with the embroidered name of the group emblazoned upon the back.  I also noticed a lot of middle aged people wearing cats' eye rings, which many Indian friends of mine wear.  Or used to.  There were also a group of people who played traditional Irish music and they fiddled away furiously into the night, getting faster and more excited as they went.  I remember a joint went around as well and, well, I think I drifted off into a restless sleep listening to the fiddlers going wild.  When I opened my eyes, Howard was crashed out beside me.  The room was full of people, in a similar position.  I quietly got up and let myself out of the house without saying goodbye to anyone.  It was morning already.  I walked down that little country lane, pretty much disgusted with myself for having fallen asleep, although I couldn't say I hadn't enjoyed my night.  Everyone had been really nice, but I was a bit annoyed with Howard for not letting me know exactly what kind of people he was bringing me to meet.  Then, suddenly, a lovely Dublin taxi appeared before me.  The taximan was going back into town and was only too happy to have a fare for the way back.  I was home within twenty minutes, safe and sound.

The next time I heard about Howard, he had phoned up several of the girls whose phone numbers I'd given him and asked them out.  The last I heard of him he was after taking up residence in a Buddhist monastery.  God only knows where he is now.

But I hope he's found what he's looking for.

This is the weekly post for my blogging group, the Loose Blogging Consortium. We post weekly (usually simultaneously) on a given topic and visit each other to see the different takes we have on the same topic.  I'm late this week, owing to the fact that I'm rather disorganised.  We are, in alphabetical order, Anu, Delirious, Rummuser, Grannymar, Maxi, Magpie, Maria SF, ocdwriter, Padmum, Paul, The Old FossilShackman and Will. If you have time, please visit my friends too.  This topic was suggested by Paul.


  1. Country lanes.... You get yourself into amazing situations!

  2. I loved this story, it's hysterical. Can't imagine how you felt upon awaking, no toothbrush and all.

    Thanks for the laughter.
    Blessings - Maxi

  3. @Grannymar - yes you could say that all right, LOL.

    @Rummuser - On the sofa. Beside Howard.............oh, I probably should have mentioned it but I would have thought it was obvious.

    @Maxi - There's something I actually forgot to mention - on the way back home in the taxi I heard a news broadcast mentioning the fact that the Ayatollah Khomeini was dead. So finding the exact date wouldn't be a problem. I do agree with you, it's funny. I laugh when I look back on that night.

  4. Tut tut - that Howard - leading a girl up the boreen and then leaving her to find her own way home in the dark for all he cared.


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