Archive for December, 2013

When I was born, the Almighty decided that instead of good looks or money, he would endow me with a sense of humour and a wit as sharp as the nib of Oscar Wilde’s fountain pen, (hey folks, give us a break, I’ve already admitted to being piss poor and ugly as sin).

In any event, whatever the man upstairs had in store for my part in the great divine plan, being somewhat funny and sarcastic were nowhere near as good as as being rich and gorgeous when it comes to being a teenager and trying to shift youngwans.

So much was my lack of contact with the opposite sex, that when, at the ripe old age of 15, (OK it was really 16), I finally got to kiss a girl, I nearly collapsed when the tongue action started.  I seriously thought there was something wrong with the poor girl and even considered that she had been taken by a seizure of some sort.

“OK, so far so good, but what has this got to do with Nelson Mandela and the Black Panthers?”, I hear you ask.  Well if you settle down, I’ll tell you.  As it happens, Nelson Mandela nearly helped me in loosing my virginity and in the process helped in building BigAlphy’s confidence with, and if such a thing is possible, understanding of; “The Ladies”.

Come with me if you will, to the dark and misty world of my teenage years.  Careful now, the light is dim, the scenery is in black and white with occasional Wizard of Oz flashes of colour.  The memories are so thick and so fast, that you have to brush them away with a flick of the hand.

Let us say her name was Kate.  Kate was fantastic, beautiful, fiery, passionate and full of fervour to right the wrongs of the world.  I got talking to her one afternoon and she suggested that I go with her to an anti-apartheid meeting the following day.  Now, I was never one for these types of gatherings.  I had once gone to a Legion of Mary meeting on the advice that it was a good place to meet girls, but you can imagine my complete disappointment about half way through the meeting when I realised the only physical contact these girls were interested in, was holding your hand during prayers.

So anyway, this anti-apartheid meeting was upon me and I decided to dress for the occasion.  On went the old scruffy jeans, the manky Adidas ROM’s, (remember them?) and a Che Guevara t-shirt.  I looked in the mirror and decided I looked too tame.  I took back off the jeans, half ripped the pocket off the arse, tore a hole in the knee to add to the “I don’t give a shit” look and reassembled myself in my new rebel without a fucking iota style.  I looked in the mirror again and thought I was the epitome of insurgent chic.  Thinking back, I probably looked more like Woody Allen in Bananas than than anything else, but youth, like love, is blind to even the most obvious things.

I found the meeting and walked in to find Kate talking to a ridiculously good looking, South American revolutionary wannabe from Wexford.  He was bearded, hopelessly taller than me and my heart sank .  I introduced myself to Beardy and after some small talk, he called the meeting to order.  I must have dozed off because I can’t remember a thing that was said until I was called upon to say something.

The only thing I could think of was some quotes from Karl Marx, (He hadn’t a patch on Groucho when it came to quotes), some platitudes about the working classes and the oppressed…..what really clinched it though was when I had run short of material, I raised my fist, Black Panther salute style and shouted, “FREEDOM, FREEDOM, FREEDOM”.  I have to say, this brought the house down, (I could see tears in the eyes of all 17 people in attendance), and I was now a hero to Kate and I suspect an enemy of Beardy.

When we went outside, Kate grabbed me, pushed me up against the wall and attempted to perform an appendectomy on me through my open and surprised big mouthy gob.

We decided to go back to her place, now don’t get excited, when I say her place, it was her parents house, which she shared with Mammy, Daddy, 2 brothers and last but not least Granny.

We sat in the posh front room discussing politics and drinking coffee, (to be honest, I prefer tea, but revolutionaries apparently drink coffee).  We were getting along really well when she reached over, took my cup, put it on the floor and dived on me.  Well as you know, I am a gentleman, so no details will be forthcoming other than to say just when it was getting really bloody interesting, the door to the posh front room burst open and in walked granny with her knitting.  “Can’t hear myself think with the telly in the other room”, she said, “you don’t mind if I sit in here with you, do you?”

Well that was that, we went back to the coffee and had a chat with granny who told me when I was going, that I was a lovely young man, still a bleeding virgin thanks to her, but a lovely young man never the less.

I went back to the meeting the following week and walked in to find Kate sitting on Beardy’s lap, laughing and joking. She waved over at me and I waved back.  I slipped back out the door when she wasn’t looking and walked home, in the rain if I remember correctly, lonely, depressed, distressed and above all horny.

So there we are, it’s nearly 30 years on, I switch on the news and hear that poor old Nelson has died. As well as shedding a tear, I smiled a little smile at my Black Panther salute.  Done for all the wrong reasons at the time I know, but there was innocence in it too and such is the selfishness of youth.  Unlike youth though, which passes away to memory, Nelson Mandela shall not pass away from memory.  He will be kept alive by his compassion, his forgiveness, his willingness to accept the past and move on from it.  We will remember him, our kids will remember him and he will inspire and instil in us, memories, some silly, some profound and a desire to be better human beings. The mark of the man, in my humble opinion at least, is that I’m pretty sure no other politician in my lifetime, will ever cause me to shed a tear on their passing.

G-D bless you Madiba, have a safe journey home.