Analysis & Comment

Frank Coughlan: 'Dawn chorus of snores caps a special stag'

I survived. Exhausted, perhaps, but with enough of my brain cells rubbing each other up the right way to be able to construct these simple sentences.

Stags were never conceived with a man of my age in mind and they seldom have a sixtysomething as the principal actor.

Mostly when anyone of my vintage is roped into attending it’s out of deference to his status as father to the groom or some such. So it came to pass.

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On a darling sunny afternoon, a dozen or so of us turned out for Footee, a wonderfully daft game you play with a football on something so resembling a golf course that you’d wonder why it isn’t.

From these rolling West Dublin hills we drove in convoy the short distance to our Airbnb which appeared to be a reclaimed barn in a long-neglected orchard.

It had, uniquely I’d imagine, a full-length, rudimentary attic dorm where we would eventually sleep, or not as the case may be.

We fired up the barbee, assembled keg and tap, bluetoothed the sound system and stuffed the fridge with enough bottles and man-food for a hard Brexit siege.

It was never riotous but any inquisitive aliens on a distant galaxy picking up a signal at about two-ish might have concluded that there was life on Planet Earth but not as they wanted to know it.

By that hour my flesh was no longer willing and my spirit had gone walkabout. I slipped away to my cot upstairs and woke to a strange, discordant symphony of the undead.

It was half five and the room was trembling to thunderous snores.

This dawn chorus was nothing more than a fitting tribute to a special day and night. Great to be part of it.

Keeping one step ahead of French fashion police

Feel the quality, he said. Finest wool. And if you catch it in the light, there’s subtle flecks of silver grey in there too.

Suits you, sir.

I mumble something vague and non-committal in response. It’s what you do out of politeness.

Or panic. Or both.

That’s me shopping for clothes, anyway. Perpetually trying to talk myself out of buying something that my new best friend, the salesman, is trying to stitch me up with.

He might swear to you that this suit makes you look like a dashing 007 on his way to roll the dice in a Monte Carlo casino when actually the style you’ve patented is a bargain-basement Johnny English sloshed on knock-off Martini.

It’s not that I’m particularly adverse to clothes shopping. It has to be done occasionally and you can see from my byline picture that Debonair is my middle name.

But it’s a hard graft.

With this major family wedding out foreign imminent, I had no choice but throw myself in at the deep end.

My initial positivity soon gave way to irritation which, an hour in, had passed on the baton to despair.

By now all the suits on these infinite racks looked equally dull, the only thing than seemed to vary was the level of dazzle in the smiles of the smoothies trying to get me into them.

But perseverance won out and eventually, as in a life-cycle later, I emerged with decent threads that won’t turn mutton into lamb on the big day but shouldn’t get me arrested in Bordeaux for crimes against fashion either.

Admittedly, the trousers are a tad long but a stitch in time will sort that. In any case, my salesman told me they’ll ride up with wear. Or words to that effect.

Where would we be without their expert eye?

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