PRESERVING THE SEAT OF HIS TROUSERS

 

Thrift is a virtue to be much respected, according to a book emanating from the town of Ballymena, County Antrim. "It has been said that saving is a way of spending without getting any pleasure out of it. This is contrary to our philosophising," writes James A. Kenny in a paperback Kirkmeraily Ramblings over Rough Terrain!

Of the factors in this thinking, he writes, religion is by no means the least in the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread, a land flowing with milk and honey, be not weary in well doing, owe no man anything, be content with your wages, drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags, the rich ruleth over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender And many more quotations. "Dear reader, I implore you to emulate, and then if the day of adversity arrives you shall not be weighed in the balance and found wanting." He goes on to tell a story of an old man confined to bed in the evening of life who was visited by a friend.

The old man asked his visitor to get up and snuff the candle, as they could talk without wasting the light. The visitor was shuffling around in the dark and the old man asked what he was doing. Said the visitor: "I'm taking down my trousers. We can talk the best without me wearing the seat out of them. Which shows, that along with a love of thrift, the good people have a sense of humour.

Mr Kenny tells another story, the essence of which is that of a farmer stopping his horse and cart at the side of the street on market day. First, he lifted a nosebag containing some oats out of the cart and hung it on the horse's head. Then he opened a hamper and brought out a Rhode Island Red rooster and tied it with a piece of string to the horse's foreleg so that the bird could pick up any grain that fell during the feeding. Later in the afternoon, the horse was still there, hut the rooster was tied to a hind leg. The author ends, the chapter on thrift - and it is long - with this: "They say you can tell a County Antrim man anywhere. One thing's for sure, you can't tell him much." He quotes Socrates: Those who want fewest things are nearest to the gods," and himself adds: "It's often the mink in the wardrobe that's responsible for the wolf at the door." Published in 1984 by James A. Kenny. "The Cottage", Ballygarvey, Ballymena. No price.