CONFESSIONS OF AN ALTAR BOY

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I CONFESS

NAR: I’ve been a thief most of my life.
I can say that now with the passage of time.
And not like the ‘good thief’ either.
Oh no.
I stole with impunity.
From friends, acquaintance, from strangers.
I stole from everybody and anybody
I even stole from my own brother.
And that’s unforgivable.
(pause)
He’s dead now.
(pause)
Years later, after we had been reconciled,
he told me something I hadn’t been aware of.
Mother had paid it all back to him.
Yes.
A few pounds a week, until it was all…
I don’t recall how much it was…
About four hundred, I think.
(pause)
That’s mothers for you.
(pause)
It’s my wife too.
She has a conscience like that.
If I had stolen money from her brother or sister
she would probably pay it back too
Maybe I married my mother.
(pause)
I suppose it all started with my pilfering from
the collection boxes when I was an altar boy.
During the Mass, we serving boys were delegated
to pass the collection boxes among the congregation,
and it was my job afterwards to put the money collected
in a bag, and leave in the sacristy for the priest to pick up after Mass.
It was very easy for me to palm a few of the coins as I did so,
and slip them into my pocket under my surplice.
Funnily enough, I never confessed these sins in confession.
I would invent sins, but I never confessed the real ones.
I wonder why?
Later, I got a job as a temporary postman

I arrived in London in the swinging sixties.
I stayed in Mrs McGintys house.
Oh, a lovely doss-house just off the Kilburn High Road
The may have called it the swinging sixties,
but the only swinging I ever done was a
fourteen-pound hammer for McAlpines or Wimpeys
Wimpey, do you know what that stands for?
W.I.M.P.E.Y
We import more Paddys every year
And they did too!
(pause)
Mind you I started off higher than that.
Navvying, that’s scraping the bottom of the drum.
No, I began with painting.
Well, it’s a trade, isn’t it.
And it couldn’t be that difficult, could it?
I mean, I’d whitewashed a few henhouses and
cow-houses at home…
And reddened a few hay-barns
And did a good job too, if I may say so
(pause)
I mean, Highbury Stadium wasn’t much different, was it?
Not much more than a glorified haybarn –
with a bit of raked seating added on.- was it?
I told the guy in the Nags Head, who was hiring,
that I had toshed half of the stadiums in Munster.
Well, what’s a little white lie?
(pause)
I realized I wasn’t cut out for the more intricate brush-
work involved when the foreman said that a dog wagging
his tail would do a better job.
That was my second day there.
There wasn’t a third.
Naturally.

(to be contd)

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