Help, Police

Jack makes it in time again – hooray!

There we were on Friday evening, relaxing and recovering from the week’s travails watching some telly.

We had survived buying the new car, getting our Scottish bank account unlocked, and a nasty bout of convincing the Scottish Teachers Pension Association that I was, in fact, still alive and entitled to draw my pay. Nothing else could possibly go wrong – –

That’s when two uniformed police officers walked up on our lawn and peered through our window!

To show that they came in peace one of them held up a couple of car license plates and gave a friendly smile.

They were our car’s old license plates…..

Wendy invited them, the older one still holding the plates out like a shield. They stood in their black uniforms covered in badges and equipment, including guns, looking uncomfortable in our front room.

I looked at the plates and realized they were old, battered and dirty and the paint was flaking off them. I remembered that about two years ago I had gone through the maze of the DMV to get new ones; these were even now sitting in our new car waiting to be fitted. Were we in some kind of trouble? We’d only had the new car a few days!

No, in fact, the officers were as befuddled as we were. The plates they held had been found seven miles away in the yard of a nice old lady who called the police to see what was up. The police ran them, found us, and here they stood, looking ill at ease, leaning against our living room walls.

We have no idea how they got there or who had put them there and neither did the policemen. One of the officers was tall and obviously in charge while the other was clearly somewhat bemused and embarrassed by the whole affair. If there had been a balloon above his head, it would have said something to the effect of, “This is not what I signed up for. This is silly. Let me out of here unless I’m going to get to arrest somebody.”

The older officer suggested that probably we had thrown the plates away, someone had been garbage surfing, found them and sold them to someone with an unregistered car. Then they dumped them a few years later.

So, the long and short of it is that you should always be careful how you dispose of old vehicle plates – you never know where they could land up, or who could come knocking on your door to return them.

The Monday Book – Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Guest review by Janelle Bailey, retired Literature teacher.

I first met Claire Keegan…well, Claire Keegan’s writing…when preparing for a trip to Ireland in 2017 and reading as many Irish authors as I could find, both classic and contemporary. I was pleased to learn of her and read both Walk the Blue Fields and Antarctica…and completely enjoyed both books. In re-visiting, now, my own reviews of them, I note that it is her characterization that is most compelling to me in both, her way of creating believably real and complex “beings” who come off of the page, out of her sentences, and right into a reader’s mind and heart as people worthy of meeting, people from whom we…learn and gain. We may not “like” all of them or value, condone their every choice or decision, but they each contain genuine elements of real people wrestling with life, navigating its many forks in the road, and Keegan manages their becoming quickly compelling and charismatic in both their good and their “less good.” They are all people one would find interesting and perhaps wish to know, then, in many cases, befriend.

Keegan’s sharing of Irish culture and valuably presenting Ireland and its communities over time is a talent and gift as well. Reading her books takes me right back there, to the Ireland I first visited 30 years ago and then re-visited 4 years ago; her descriptions, her conveyance of culture and people, dialect and history and more, lingers long…just like my own travel memories do. One hears again the people and activity…and reminisces…when reading her description and stories.

This newest little book of Keegan’s has been quite well “hyped” this past fall, first as it was pre-sold and then once it was out, my seeing copies abundantly available in every bookstore I’ve visited the past few months, and in unusual fashion as of late, that included multiple stores in multiple states. Having read the book, I understand why.

First, Keegan dedicates this book to “…the women and children who suffered time in Ireland’s mother and baby homes and Magdalen laundries,” along with “Mary McKay, teacher.” Yet the book is not solely about those realities or very much about them at all, even, but about how institutions like those (the baby homes and Magdalen laundries) impacted so many lives. They did not just impact those who actually lived in or worked in them, but also numerous others who witnessed that others did, lived in those same communities,  and wished things to be better.

Second, I loved visiting the Irish setting this book takes us to: the community of New Ross in the 1980s. Its residents/these characters are compelling, and their history and processing of life as it happens for them present an extremely engaging story.

This new book of Keegan’s is similar to her others in that character-compelling way that I described earlier. Bill Furlong might be one of the most interesting–and thoughtful, sensitive, reflective–male characters I have met lately. Sometimes “Bill” and more often just “Furlong” may not be able to always articulate well himself or his feelings in words, but he is quite the thinker and quite the doer of good things in a very altruistic and compassionate way. And he supports his family and is raising his daughters to share those values.

This is a story with elements both sad and beautiful, and I will continue to think about these folks and empathize with their realities as well as others sharing those…for quite some time.