HOAX CALLS

Ructions was a tall figure with a mature beard and flowing brown hair. According to Special Branch notes he had blue eyes and a vacant stare. He had a Messiahlike appearance and in the late sixties many people thought that he was one of the Dubliners, the Irish folk group. Although he was a friend of Luke Kelly in particular, the thought that he was a singer was quickly dispelled when he broke into a rasping version of his favourite song: 'The Banks of Marble'. He was born in Carlow in 1938 and reared in Moone, County Kildare.

Castle Guard

Ructions joined the IRA in 1954 and his first mission was to go up to Dublin Castle and get the numbers of the Special Branch motor cars. He was delighted with himself. He bought a notebook, a fancy one with a purple marbling cover, and, standing close by the main Castle gate, he started to note down the registration numbers of the cars going in and out. After a short time a green Morris Minor screeched to a halt beside him. Four Branchmen squeezed out. They looked at him and at one another. One was a famous G.A.A. footballer from the west of Ireland who it was said was able to put a football where it wouldn't fit.

"What the fuck are you doing?"

"I'm taking down the numbers of the cars."

"Oh really now. Well here, put this in your notebook," suggested the Connaught footballer, who then proceeded to boot Ructions all around the top of Dame Street. The Branchmen forced themselves back into the green Morris Minor.

"If I ever see you around here again sunshine, I'll put a slug up your arse," another shouted as the car shuddered up the hill towards Christ Church.

"What the fuck happened you?" inquired Cathal Goulding, when the battered Ructions, minus his notebook, arrived back at Gardiner Place.

"The harriers beat me up."

"Why did they do that?"

"For taking down the car numbers."

"How did they see you?"

"See me, sure I wasn't hiding."

Ructions had no idea that he had committed an offence and his innocence became a bit of a joke in the I.R.A.

Soon after this episode he opened an engineering company in Capel Street. Later, when Ructions joined Joe Christle in Saor Ulaidh, his office of Angle Engineering Ltd, now in Abbey Street, became the Saor Ulaidh headquarters.

In the 1950's border campaign the Saor Ulaidh group had spectacular success in blowing up the locks on the Newry canal.

The planning for the successful escape of J.A.Murphy, who was serving a sentence in Wakefield Prison for the raid on Arborfield Army Barracks, was financed by Angle Engineering. It cost £500, a large sum of money in those days, and it broke the company. Ructions treated the company's demise with near indifference, saying to Jimmy Clarke who was then thinking of getting into the pub business, "Capitalism is very much a hit and miss affair."

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"If you continue to expand you become obese. You fucking burst," said Dan Fitzgerald as he took a slurp from his pint in the Peacock pub. It was May 1968 and the Tallaght bank money had begun to dry up.

"If you drank enough of these and couldn't take a piss you might burst," warned Ructions.

"If yeh didn't succumb to poison first," Edwards sneered.

"I heard that Joe," shouted Jimmy Clarke from behind the counter. "You have to start paying for the stuff before you earn the right to free speech in here, you miserable bollix."

"He's only joking, Jimmy," Fitzgerald laughed.

Fitzgerald was as big as Ructions and of similar age. His mother, an admirer of the IRA leader Dan Breen, had christened her first son Daniel Pious, after him, in a sort of roundabout way. Fitzgerald was very academic and could have got a first class honours degree had he not abandoned his studies when he joined Sinn Fein.

Once a member he immediately became involved in the various protest movements, in particular those campaigning for better social housing and for improved living conditions for travellers.

"If cells multiply exponentially within an otherwise stable organism, like your body, well that is cancer. It kills you if the growth can't be controlled," Fitzgerald explained.

"So?"

"It's the same with capitalism. You hear them bladdering on the radio, the economists, the new high priests, who are feted by presidents and parliaments as they promise us technological transubstantiation and assume that the world can motor along without natural resources."

"We certainly need acres an' acres of hops to produce this stuff," said Ructions, holding up less than a pint of a rapidly diminishing resource.

"Exactly. They are trying to convince us that we can eat the seed corn: that capitalism can inhibit infinite growth within a finite ecosystem. Did you ever hear such a bollocksology of a contradiction. You can't have planned capitalism when the whole fucking shebang is based on the devil takes the hindmost and never ending short term profit at any cost."

"That's why my business went bang, I put the ecology first."

Fitzgerald's eyes widened as he scratched his jaw and looked at Ructions. "I see. Well if they don't come up with a system soon that will restrict unlimited population growth, and unending competition, and give us a planned alternative to the consumer driven economy which is now a cancer on our ecological system, we're all fucked."

"We're all fucked if Clarke restricts the slate," the raffish Ructions warned as he called another round of drinks while appearing to search in his beard for change.

"Count me in ," said Marsh as he entered the ramshackle premises.

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Marsh was from Drimnagh and had once been in the furrier business: that is, he had a stall in the Dandelion Market from where he sold fur collars.

"Fur collars a pound," he shouted. A male customer handed him a pound. Marsh handed him a collar. The buyer stood there looking at Marsh with his hand out.

"Yes?"

"The other three."

"Hop it smart arse. Hop it, pal, before I wrap one of these around your gizzard."

After the collapse of Marsh's fur collar enterprise he got a job in Jervis Street Hospital washing dead bodies. He enjoyed the job and liked to lie under a sheet in the morgue from which he would spring up roaring when a nurse or hospital orderly entered to check on a corpse. This trick eventually cost him his position when one day a distraught elderly couple were brought in to identify their son who had died in a tragic accident with a hay bailer.

"He's right over here," assured the doctor, as he stretched out his hand to remove the sheet. A split second before the doctor's hand touched the sheet, it flew into the air.

"Arrrrgggghhhh," Marsh roared as he sprung upright on the slab, his arms flailing. The elderly woman collapsed and it was only the quick administration of a prolonged bout of Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation which saved her life.

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Marsh entered the Peacock with two bits of pertinent information. One concerned the Hibernian Bank in Newbridge in County Kildare and the other related to a prison officer named Gurrah.

Gurrah was in the Borstal two years earlier when Hynes, Murphy and O'Donnell were prisoners there as a result of the brawl with the Special Branch in Cathal Brugha Street at Easter 1966. They complained that he did not show them respect. He called them by their surnames. Once when two of them were going down for their evening tea, Gurrah was on duty at the dining table. One was unconsciously scratching an itch in the genital area.

"Ahah! Yeh boy yeh," Gurrah called out. "Yuh won't be using that for a while."

"And why not," the scratcher replied, "isn't it just about the right size for your mouth."

They did not expect him, they told the others, to tug his forelock to them as they strolled about refusing to wear prison clothes and generally giving the prison authorities a pain in the arse with their obstreperousness. There was no need for him to greet them in the morning with a friendly 'top o' the morning to yis lads' or 'are the handcuffs too tight?' or 'can I show yis how to walk in the leg irons?'. It was nothing like that that they wanted. It was what they did not want that bothered them. They did not like the sniffy way he looked at them as if they were skating on the iffy side of life, or, when he was on night duty, how he peeped in the spyholes of their cell doors more than any other officer, leaving them to think that he was an anti-republican nancy boy.

Now Marsh relayed the information that Gurrah had a constitutional ramble down Drumcondra Road Lower every fine evening at around seven o clock.

"It's important that these cunts be taught to respect patriots! I mean it could be any of us in there," Fitzgerald pointed out.

Towards the end of May, on a balmy evening, Gurrah was strolling past the gates of the Bishop's Palace when a distressed woman emerged from the entrance.

"What's the matter love?"

"A man in there is….exposing…"

"Who? Where?"

"In there, in there," the woman whimpered as she hurried away, her face buried in her hands.

"Bejaysus," said the outraged screw as he strode imperiously past the gate. A man with a blue raincoat and trilby hat stood in the bushes to the left of the gate. He had his back to Gurrah and looked as if he was up to no good.

"Hey you c'mere."

The man moved deeper into the bushes.

"C'mere sunshine, I want a fucking word with you," Gurrah called out as he followed after the man. Suddenly he was set upon by a number of figures. He was knocked to the ground and kicked repeatedly.

"This is for the Cathal Brugha Street four," one announced.

"This is for meself," said another who did not think that the situation needed excuses.

A man came out of the gate lodge and rushed into the bushes.

"What the bloody hell is going on?"

"It's just a dialectical conundrum," explained one of the kickers who then turned on the curious lodge resident and doubled him up with a kick to the groin.

The four assailants then ran out through the gate. They crossed the road and got into a red Volkswagen car where the woman was now seated behind the steering wheel with the engine running. The car did a U turn: then drove down Drumcondra Road and turned onto Clonliffe Road. One man in the back was furious.

"Why did you kick that oulfella in the lodge?"

Fitzgerald thought the matter through with the aid of dialectics. "I didn't kick him in the lodge," he replied. "I kicked him in the bollocks."

A short time later, on the morning of June 20th a car carrying four men pulled up outside the Hibernian Bank in Newbridge, County Kildare. The men hoped to snatch an Irish Army payroll destined for the Curragh Camp, and, of course, whatever other cash was lying around.

Ructions entered the bank followed by Marsh and a third man. Edwards, the driver, stood in the morning sunshine outside the getaway car. He wore a baseball cap.

Inside the raiders emptied about £4,000 in cash into a bag. They searched for the Army payroll without success.

Outside the bank a Mister Cathal Henry, who was working in a nearby drapery shop, became suspicious of the hurried way in which the three strangers had entered the bank. He was particularly intrigued by the agility of a very old looking fellow. He approached Edwards, who was leaning casually against the car. "Is anything the matter?" he asked the nonchalant figure whom he took to be a golfer because of the Arnold Palmer style hat. Edwards suddenly produced a gun.

"Not as long as you join them in the bank."

He grabbed the man by the neck and rushed him into the bank. It was time to leave. The robbers headed out of town and to a base they had established in Glenmalure in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains.

Wicklow Mountains - Sentry Duty

"I can see them coming now, make sure that they're all standing to attention before we move out, and Larry, make sure that O'Leary with the fucking Bren gun is visible at all times," Cathal Goulding instructed. He was in a camp at the back of Vallymount in the Wicklow Mountains. After long negotiations Goulding had managed to get a French television crew over to Ireland to make a propaganda film of the IRA doing maneuvers in the mountains. The importance of the camp was emphasized by Larry Malone who had called personally to every member of the Dublin Brigade of the IRA the previous week. Now Seamus Costello was arriving with the film crew.

It was two hours after the bank robbery in Newbridge. Suddenly there were gardai everywhere. "Wrozzers," shouted Clip Dunne who was standing on guard with a .45 revolver sticking out of his waist band. The French film crew were abandoned and had to content themselves with a jittery film of IRA men leaping and bounding through the bog land and heather like wild deer. The only consolation was that they all escaped.

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Following on the failure of their arson campaign the previous year Marsh considered it was imperative that they now release Joe Dillon from Portlaoise Prison. They spent several weekends at the hole in the bog in the Featherbeds which they had used to temporarily hide the getaway car after the Tallaght bank robbery.

The plan now was to kidnap Justice Andreas O'Caoimh. He had sentenced Dillon and was himself related to President Eamon De Valera. They planned to hold him as a hostage in the hole in the bog until the authorities released Dillon.

Twice, they had crept into his driveway near Eglinton Road and watched him as he sat reading in his study. They decided on one last reconnoiter of the environs. Two of them approached the house. Before they stepped inside the gate they were surrounded by Branchmen.

"What are yis doing here?"

The men were stunned but as luck would have it one of them knew a girl who had a bedsit in the area. He told the Branchmen that they were on their way to call on her. They were searched and told to be on their way.

Later, the conspirators discussed the grave possibility that they had been infiltrated by the State's Intelligence Agency.

"It wouldn't be the first time, didn't Mickser the harrier join the civil liberties outfit," said Davis.

"Mickser the harrier!. You're joking me."

"I'm not. Sure didn't Tommy and Martin have to pull him aside after a meeting. We'd like to discuss some anomalies in your application form, said Tommy. What's to discuss, said Mickser, real fucking cheeky like. It's your profession. It says here that you are a plumber. Yes that's correct, he says. It's not you know. In fact I'd say you wouldn't know the difference between a blow off valve and a gate valve or any other valve. I'd say, Martin cut in, a fellow pissing up an alley would have a better idea of the pressure of a column of water at sea level than you would. You're a policeman, further you're in the Branch. Not, of course, that a Branch man is prohibited from joining, sure everybody is entitled to civil rights isn't that right Martin, said Tommy. It was only after Tommy said that, that Mickser admitted what he was, telling them that he only joined because he was very concerned about civil rights."

The others laughed. "What happened?"

"Tommy said that the problem was that Mickser had lied to them on his application form and that in their constitution there was no provision for the entry of policemen who were liars. Martin told him that he was expelled."

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Some days later the newspapers reported that a plot to kidnap a judge was foiled. And then they learned, through a friendly journalist who had police informants, that the guard on the home of the judge was as a result of a threatening phone call.

Marsh went ballistic."If we had burst into that house we would have walked into a nest of armed harriers."

"We might have got the bollocks blown…"

Finally, after a marathon session in the Peacock, Fitzgerald thumped the table and blurted out: "It's the Gestalt Law of Past Experience. The bollixing plumber."

"The what?" inquired Marsh, confused by the unusual logic.

"You see," explained Fitzgerald, "the whole is other than the sum of the parts, it's a matter of whether you can see the figure in front of you or the background and when we are given several segments of information by examining the relationships among the parts we reach the Aha! moment, the fucking plumber, Frankie O'Connell."

"Has he been drinking poitin?" inquired Edwards.

Frankie O'Connell was sallow skinned and dour. He was an excellent plumber but, of more relevance, he had been previously accused by the Special Branch of making anonymous threatening phone calls in the early hours to several of their homes. He had also complained loudly, in the Peacock, about the length of the sentence that Dillon had been given and how he would do something about it if nobody else had the guts.

"That fucker has a black cloud following him around," remarked Edwards, as they decided on a form of aversion therapy to teach him a lesson. To his house they sent fire brigade engines, ambulances, taxis, gangs of men to fix roofs and drains and to investigate gas leaks, chimneysweeps, and, to top it all, car-loads of Branchmen who had received hoax calls from one of Fitzgerald's many women friends (used for the sake of authenticity) who claimed to have seen men with suspicious packages entering the Crumlin house and a lot of these calls were made in the small hours.

Later O'Connell was involved in an industrial dispute with an awkward foreman and he foolishly sought help from Marsh. Marsh was more than willing and, when he got the address of the foreman, himself and Edwards decided to pay the man a call. In the middle of the night the red Volkswagen pulled up close to the foreman's house. Marsh walked briskly to the door. Edwards, the driver, got a fit of laughing as he speculated on the foreman's reaction to the man with the three hundred year old face. Marsh placed his left thumb on the bell and left it there as he casually leaned in on the door. After some time the door was jerked open by a man in striped pajamas. Marsh pulled out an automatic handgun and after shouting "Frankie sent me," he emptied a magazine all around the hallway as the man in the striped pajamas tore back up the stairs shouting at the top of his voice. It was after this incident which was headlined in the national media that O'Connell got the name of Frankie the striker.

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In September Sean Nolan rushed in to the Peacock. He had taken part in a picket outside the Shelbourne Hotel protesting about the presence at a reception there of the British Ambassador. Tomas Mac Giolla, the Sinn Fein President, had led the protest. Joe Clarke, one of the 1916 GPO veterans, had been arrested and bundled roughly into a garda van. He was then in his seventies, and needed crutches to get about.

"We can't let the fuckers get away with that," said Nolan, who had joined Sinn Fein in the late fifties and was a competent athlete.

"He has the IRA to look after him, doesn't he," responded Edwards.

"General army order number eight," tut tutted Ructions.

The others laughed but then became serious when Marsh proposed an immediate attack on a garda station as a reprisal: "Blow the bollix out of a few of them."

Several nights later Marsh and Ructions arrived at the home of a well known folk singer. When he was on tour they had the use of the house and often used the basement as an arms dump. They collected two hunting rifles and Edwards dropped them on the canal bank opposite Harcourt Terrace Garda Station.

They lay on the grass and loaded the riflles. As Marsh took aim, Ructions jumped on him. Marsh tried to push him off, but Ructions clung to him as he tried to kiss him and they began rolling over and over in the grass. For a second Marsh thought that the seriousness of what they were about to engage in had unhinged the remaining balance of Ructions' mind. He was about to smash the butt of the rifle into his hairy face when he noticed a woman staring down at him. She had a Corgi dog and shook her head in disgust at what she thought she had witnessed.

"What are you fucken up to?" demanded Marsh as he pushed Ructions off him.

"Pretending we're queers. Did you not see the oulwan with the mutt?"

The pair watched the woman fade into the darkness, and then emptied both magazines: Ructions peppering the bottom storey while Marsh raked the upper windows of the modern red bricked station.

They were soon ensconced in the Peacock and Fitzgerald headed off to give the newspapers a buzz.

At a meeting with the Press on the following day, the Gardai denied that the station had come under fire. They explained that some windows had been shattered accidentally by a group of young fellows shooting at swans on the canal. They refused to allow members of the press inside to take photographs.

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At about 9.30.a.m. on the 3rd of October, the Gardai received a phone call from a woman living on Galtymore Road in Drimnagh. From her window she had seen four men get into a blue coloured car. One of them was a big man with a large beard, in a long coat. She thought that he carried a rifle under his arm.

Within minutes the Gardai arrived. The woman was vague about everything except the big man with the large beard.

"Maybe she's looking for a ride off him," muttered one of the Gardai. Some minutes later, three Gardai from Chapelizod Station in patrol car Lima 1 saw the car and a chase ensued. The men were not unduly perturbed, for they knew that they could reach the Naas Road before reinforcements from the city would arrive. It was simply a matter of heading down the Naas Road, turning left into Saggart, and then they would be in the mountains, where they were confident that no Branchman would ever get them.

The driver, Padraig Dwyer, put his foot down, but the patrol car was gaining on them. The others looked back anxiously and then at the driver.

"I can't get any more out of her ," he complained. "Youse will have to keep them back."

Ructions leaned out the back window and fired from the rifle at the patrol car radiator. The other back seat passenger likewise fired from a pistol. The patrol car immediately pulled back, and they lost sight of it as they approached the Naas Road.

It was then that things took a turn for the worse. The car had to lurch to the left to avoid being crushed by a juggernaut and it was now trapped in the speeding traffic, heading, not towards the mountains, but towards the city.

A posse of patrol cars raced down the other side of the carriageway, and as the drivers saw the getaway car speeding past them in the opposite direction they screeched to a halt and did U-turns on the centre margin. Both sides of the carriageway were now in chaos.

Soon after, the getaway car, followed by the garda motorcade, crashed into the railings of a garden in a cul-de-sac off Cooley Road. Ructions and his three rapparees took off on foot through a series of back gardens as the normally quiet cul-de-sac was filled with the sound of screeching brakes.

After a brief melee along Kilworth Road the four were taken into custody and brought to Sundrive Road Garda Station. More chaos erupted there when members of the Special Branch arrived and the local gardai had to separate the two sides.

The four, Ructions, O'Donnell, Padraig Dwyer and Tom O'Neill, former O.C. of the Cork Brigade of the IRA, were charged with possession of firearms with intent to endanger life. Five weeks later they were back in the Peacock having been granted bail in the High Court.

Kenny The Intellectual

Near Christmas Marsh bumped into Eugene Kenny, the left-wing intellectual from Trinity College.

"I'm meeting Edwards in the Liverpool Bar later on, drop down."

"You must be off your trolley, the last time I had a drink with youse in the pub on the Coombe…"

Marsh laughed, "The Cosy Bar?"

"It wasn't too cosy when youse smashed it up and I had to run for me life." "Sure that was yonks ago and it was that fucken west brit oulwan who objected to Ructions singing that song calling on the Black an' Tans to come out and fight that started it. It's only Edwards I'm seeing tonight, sure yah love to debate with him."

"Okay so, tonight about nine."

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"If we were to hold that the economic interpretation of history on the dialectic materialistic pattern is the true view, then we must ask ourselves why..." said Kenny in the Liverpool Bar.

"Hang on, Marxist materialism solved this problem correctly for the first time, pointing out, both materialistically and dialectically, the deepening movement of cognition, the movement by which man in society progresses from perceptual knowledge to logical knowledge in his complex, constantly recurring practice of production and class struggle," said Edwards.

"Yes, but in Anti-Durhing...did you read Anti-Durhing Tommy?"

"Eh, I think I read the pro-Durhing version."

"Oh yeah, well in Anti-Durhing Engels gives detailed dialectic explanations on why water boils, in terms of quantitative changes and their accumulation into qualitative ones, complete with contradictions, negations and counter-negations."

"I don't think that people need to be educated about how water boils when they all have fucken gas cookers in their kitchens, but they do need simplified revolutionary language like…look the very man to give us the exact solution," said Marsh.

The trio looked on as Larry Malone, the O.C. of the Dublin Brigade of the IRA walked in the door. He carried a bunch of Sinn Fein papers, 'The United Irishman."

"That's the kind of paper we need to get people to read. It promotes fish-ins and taking over our own natural resources in simple, direct language. It tells exploiters to get fucked," Marsh explained as Malone spoke with the barman.

"He's gone back out the door," said Edwards suddenly.

Marsh jumped up and headed out the door after Malone.

"Larry," he shouted.

"Jaysus, Tommy, I thought you'd be in the Peacock."

"Ah I might swanny over there later. Are you not selling the paper?"

"The fucking barman told me that the owner only allows the Sundays to be sold there on a Saturday night."

"Oh! Dear me. What a bounder," Marsh mocked. "Does he now. Well, I'll be seeing you."

When Marsh sat down Kenny was in full flow on the paradox in connection with the definition of number in the Principa Mathematica: "You see," he drooled, "the notion of the class of all classes is itself a class: it thus contains itself as one of its members. There are, of course, many other classes that do not have this property and the paradox arises when we consider the class of all classes which are not members of themselves. The question…"

"Would you shut fucken up," said Marsh, "did you not hear what I said?"

"Said what?"

"That cunt up there told Larry to shove his papers. The common people are not to be incited to have fish-ins it seems, and we almost sitting in the fucken Liffey."

"I wondered why he left so quick," said Edwards.

"That fucken barman is in a class of his own," remarked Marsh as he beckoned to the barman.

"Swally that drink down and put the glass in your pocket," Edwards ordered Kenny.

"You mean steal it?"

"You can leave it here with your fingerprints all over the fucking thing if you like. It's a free country."

Kenny looked confused as he watched Edwards empty the remains of Marsh's drink onto the floor and slip the glass into his own, and then put both into his coat pocket.

The barman leaned over the counter.

"'Scuse me. Could I have a dickey bird with the owner?"

"'Bout what?"

"It's a private matter."

The barman went into the lounge. Moments later a balding, heavy set man appeared.

"Yes?"

"A few minutes ago a chap was told that he couldn't sell papers."

"Yeah. What of it?"

"Can't the nationals be sold?"

"That's correct. I decide what papers can be sold. I own the fucking place."

"Actually it's not quite that simple, pal."

"Oh! Really now! An' what's complicated about it?"

"Yah might get something hot and uncomfortable shoved up yer arse like."

Kenny, overhearing the remark, blinked and edged towards the door. The middleaged publican was flabbergasted as he stared at the peculiar figure with the long nose and twinkling eyes which seemed to dance beneath the trilby hat. The pub was in a tough area of the city and he was well used to the odd bit of a row. It was only now beginning to dawn on him as he began to unscramble his thoughts, that the pair in front of him were two poofters, as had been the other fellow, who he had noticed out of the corner of his eye, slinking out the door moments before. Maybe the paper seller, whom he had not seen, was another. Maybe there was a ring of them operating in the dockland area and perhaps the paper itself was some kind of obscene rag. The cheek of these people, he thought, to ramble into his licenced premises and casually threaten to bung something up his behind, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

He considered reaching for his hurley, strategically positioned beneath the bare wooden counter: the hurley which he used with legendry dexterity, when playing his final club match for Gortnapisha, in his native Tipperary, almost twenty years ago, but then he dismissed this course of action as inappropriate. The two in front of him, he decided were city slickers and that using the hurley, possibly an object alien to them, to redden their arses might confuse the issue. They might think that he was some kind of sado-masochist artist so he decided that it would be more to the point if he was to put something up their backsides, his size twelve boot for preference.

"Hold it a second there," he shouted, as he scrambled over the counter. The two quickly left. Outside they could see Kenny legging it like Papa Legba down the quays. The enraged owner chased out behind them.

"Jeeesus," he cried out as a grinning Marsh loudly cocked an automatic hand gun and pointed it at him in a menacing manner. "She's a dicky hair trigger," he sneered.

"Steady on now lads," the publican appealed, as he backed into the pub. Marsh followed him as Edwards started up Marsh's Honda motor bike. The owner, breathing heavily, ran to the back of the bar as did all the customers who had been seated near the door. They were unaware of what was going on and they stared at the gunman as if he had suddenly produced a white ferret from his trouser front. Recovering slightly and feeling more assured as he stood among a huddle of curious customers in the dim light, the publican shouted, "Go on, get out of here with your water pistol."

Marsh gave another malicious grin and fired a single shot. A large glass globe disintegrated above the owner's head and fell in smithereens. A moth which had been flying in neurotic circles around the globe seemed to pause for a second before it disappeared into the new gloom.

"If anybody asks, you never saw us before in your life," Marsh shouted to Kenny as they sped past him on the Honda further down the quays.

"Fuck youse," he swore, bringing the encounter to a crapulous close.