Maeve Higgins’s ideal . . . lesson


I was in my room the other day, imitating the wind outside. I sighed and puffed and toyed with a plastic bag and I believe I was on the brink of creating a piece of art that was truly something beautiful when I caught sight of a note being slipped under my door, and I had to die down.

I didn’t recognise the looping, girlish handwriting, or the signature scribbled with a flourish and a winking heart at the bottom of the page.

I did, however, understand the threat contained within the words.

Here is a transcript of the note: Well Mave, how r u? Shuddup it dont matter I’m da editer and u gotta do praktical colums, ok? No more messin – use ur colum to teach r I’ll kill u. Bye. 4 now.

How about that? Seems like I have to get serious and take on the role of public educator. In a way, this feels like destiny – as a child my schoolteacher Mr Gumpins used to call me “clever girl”. Gumpins would say it sarcastically, usually when I drank finger paint or haltingly told the class that a pig says “m-m-moo?” but, mercifully, you can’t see tone in print.

Now the time has come to step out of the hoop holding up my clown pants and step up to the plate: the plate heaped high with knowledge that I shall feed you people.

I must swallow hard when I feel a wisecrack coming and instead cough up a morsel of wisdom to pass into your greedy little beaks . . . or face getting killed by my editor.

In today’s lesson, I will tell you everything I know to be true of bats.

Bats are little tiny mice that can fly and are powered by batteries, hence their name.

When they are running low on charge, they emit a high beeping noise. Despite what smoke alarms would have you believe they actually stole that idea from bats, not the other way around.

To recharge, bats must do two things: the tired ones must plug themselves in to a little cave – it’s not clear how – for about 20 minutes.

Then, they must really relax. No screens, no crazy-making arguments with co-parents about who spends more time with the batlettes – just dozing.

Then they perk right up and fly off, slapping each other on their spiny backs, saying things like: “Barbara, you look 10 years younger.”

I chatted to Jonathan Rhys Myers about his time living with Carlow’s bat community in preparation for his latest TV role in which he plays a bat.

“They’re cool,” said the handsomely laconic actor, wings loose and broad as he nibbled on a moth, discarding the head. Everyone watching in the central Dublin hotel immediately copied him.

One teenage bat I interviewed for this piece, who declined to give his name, said: “We don’t give a f**k what non-flying creatures think of us, ’specially mice, man.”

So you see, Jonathan is right, bats are cool.

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