You’d think at my age I’d have a bit of sense. I should never have let my friend Tessie talk me into it.
“We’re all jabbed,” she’d said. “It’ll be safe out. What harm could it do?”
“But we’re not supposed to be dancing. Isn’t that illegal, still?”
“Ah! You can’t make dancing illegal. Didn’t the Black and Tans try to do that?”
I don’t know what she’s talking about with the Black and Tans but there’ll be no persuading her out of an opinion on set dancing, anyway. Tessie is very committed to the set. She met her husband at a dance and since he died it was the only outlet she had. She’d bring me along ‘to guard against quarehawks’.
I never saw many quarehawks at set dancing but she assures me they’d be lurking. “Fierce handsy they’d be, you’re a deterrent, Ann,” she says.
A deterrent. Isn’t that a nice compliment to get?
There’s talk there’s been a few sets going on already under the radar. Set dancers are generally known to be a sensible crowd. They wouldn’t be doing much burning Telecom Eireann poles thinking there was 5G inside. But something must have flipped after the carry on with the crowds at the GAA matches because everyone’s talking now about set dancing being the “new battle-ground for Middle Ireland”.
So if they’re breaking the law we mustn’t be too far away from storming the Bastille. And out the back of Hartigan’s bar in Drumfeakle (currently ‘officially closed’ for refurbishment, but you know yourself what does be going on) there’s going to be a big competition. The restarting of the annual Kilsudgeon-Drumfeakle Combined Fleadh. But on the QT.
“They can’t arrest all of us Ann,” says Tessie.
“Not if ye do the Walls of Limerick, anyway,” I says. “They’ll only get a few on the outside.”
“It’s no joke, Ann,” says Tessie (looking a bit hurt). “You know now, Ann, I’d be as careful as anyone and I had a touch of bronchitis before. But I’m fed up now. I wasn’t this long without set dancing now, even when I had both hips done. Do you remember?”
She’s right. She was up there on her crutches, although they had to ask her to move away from people after she brought a few down.
“And can’t ye do it outdoors with the social distancing?”
“Ah! You can’t socially distance with set dancing – it’s not line dancing. You need to be able to mix.”
Between the jigs and the reels anyway here we all are in a shed out the back of Hartigans car park. It’s packed and I’m not too happy. I drift near the door. They can all be riddled if they want but I’ll take my chances with fresh air and walk out on to the street.
They’ve a young lad on the lookout for a squad car but he must have gone missing because who do I see coming down? Only Sergeant Pat Hallisey. Driving down towards the front of the pub and he looks like a man on a mission. The jig is up.
I run back inside. If only to save Tessie from fighting a guard with the mood she’s in. I pass my own car and on a whim, I stop by the boot.
I roar in the door of the shed.
“The squad car is on the way. Come OUT!” I nearly say Black and Tans. There’s no time to explain. They start trooping out into the car park.
And that’s when I throw the football in, which had been sitting in my boot.
Sergeant Pat Hallisey is scratching his head talking to a fella with an accordion around his neck, handpassing the ball to a woman in her 80s.
“Training?” he asks.
Tessie whispers to me, “We’ll invent a new dance in your honour, Ann.”