Festival Fit: peppered venison and ash-covered Frosties at Graig
A sign for fresh venison burger outside Graiguenamanagh Gun Club has me pondering life, death and senior hurling
Not too deer
Gypsi Swing welcome in the Harvest
As I drove along the banks of the Barrow on my way to Graiguenamanagh, there was a harrying wind driving the leaves from the trees in droves. These leaves had provided us with shade and respite all summer long; these leaves had filtered the soothing dappled light that skipped across our picnic baskets or sparkled in the cool condensation as cans hissed forth from the ice-box. It may have been the loss of the leaves and the spiralling spin of the sycamore seeds that helicoptered through the air on this autumn jaunt that had me pondering the cycle of life and mortality, but it was more likely the skulls, horns and sign in front of Graiguenamanagh Gun Club’s stall at the town’s Michaelmas Festival that did it: “Fresh wild venison burgers €4”.
While ruminating on the nature of death and an incredibly fresh burger, a wicker coffin at one stall caught my eye. In a rare moment of pragmatism and morbidity, I’ve re-evaluated how I’d like to be disposed of when I cease to exist. I’d wanted to be cremated with my ashes either surreptitiously sprinkled onto the food of people I don’t particularly like (the list stands at 27), so as I might give them the runs. In a Walter White moment I’d also contemplated having my ashes used to cut amphetamines – it’d be great to still get invited to festivals and parties after you’ve been roasted and toasted. A little bit of both would be ideal, but I can see the impracticalities. Finding someone with unfettered access to Piers Morgan’s Frosties might prove a little more difficult than getting disco bunnies to swallow ghostly pills of dubious origin. But it’s not the practicalities of the scheme that made me change my mind – it’s hurling.
For years I’ve been emotionally tied to the fortunes of the Waterford Senior Hurlers. Every year the championship rolls around and, after flashes of brilliance in the league, bright new hope springs forth with the daffodils, only to fade once more as autumn approaches . . . and that’s on a good year. This cycle has been spinning for a lifetime, so I think it’s time to hedge my bets. I’ve decided to be buried beneath the following epitaph: “Dig me up when we win the All-Ireland. ”
Don’t get me wrong, I live in hope that before I kick the Liam McCarthy Cup, the Déise might bring the Holy Grail across the Suir, but if I don’t live to see that homecoming, the idea of my bones being fired about the place in celebration – and possibly involved in some small-scale rioting – brings me comfort. I suppose that’s what looking at coffins at a festival in Co Kilkenny will do to ya.
The Michaelmas festival, although morbid, was a bonus. I was on the banks of the Barrow for the Town of Books Festival. Every autumn bookshops pop up like mushrooms in the picturesque hamlet, making a usually agreeable goof and gander round Graigue even more gratifying. I popped in to say hello to Kathleen, who I knew would have her usual stall laid out. “Here’s one for ya. You’ll really like this,” she said, as she handed me An Unseemly Man – My Life as Pornographer, Pundit and Social Outcast by Larry Flynt. I had no idea she knew me so well. I supplemented this purchase with a copy of Superfly, a book published following the success of the 1972 blaxploitation film. With Curtis Mayfield grooving on Wanderly Wagon’s stereo, I bounced down the road towards the Harvest festival in Waterford, toting a bag of books suitable for somebody about to begin a Snoop Lion apprenticeship.
An unfortunate side-effect of buzzin’ round these autumnal offerings was that I’ve contracted full-blown man-flu. The lads from Willow Wonder are on standby with the coffin.
Safe travels, don’t die.