In a Word...


It was in one of my favourite pubs recently. (Yes, as with regrets, I have a few.) I was struck by the tenor of the conversation, It was the same as on my previous visit, involving almost exactly the same people of a similar middle-to-latter age, some even sitting in the same seats.

Incongruously, I was reminded of a young Englishman who died in Rome over 201 years ago, at 25. How romantic is that!

There was nothing romantic about the death of John Keats from TB. Two years beforehand he wrote Ode to a Nightingale and that dying young man’s words echoed through my foggy brain as I listened to those world-weary, dreary critics in that one of my favourite pubs recently - “... A drowsy numbness pains/My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,”

Yep, folks, I switched off, disengaged, and wondered what I was doing among such perennial nay-sayers, listening to “the weariness, the fever, and the fret..”

What draws such people together, to “....sit and hear each other groan”? Ok, they’re bored and enjoy being bored together in a place where they can whinge to their heart’s content, reinforcing one another’s negativity over a pint.

They repeat how bad things are locally, how useless everyone is, and may the Lord have mercy on the reputation of any local eejit with initiative who might try something new to liven up the place. But, please, don’t get them going on the Government, politicians, the boring radio and TV, or how “…there’s nothing to do in this place anyway.”

Recently my good friend Pope Francis (would someone pass the smelling salts to that good Catholic over there!) warned against a “negative intuition” which can tempt older people, giving way to what he described as “the demoralising effects of disenchantment.”

He advised, as alternative, a passion for justice and resisting a temptation to learn but do nothing. And a passion/interest is key; as necessary for the spirit as exercise is for the body. Your thought for the day.

Stop complaining , you whingers out there. Even that apostle of despair Samuel Beckett advised. “…go on.” You will, you will, you will. Or, as he also put it: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Weary, from Old English wergian `to be or become tired.’

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times