To think I did all that and, may I say, not in a shy way, oh no, oh no not me

Wicklow People (Arklow) - - OPINION - With David Medcalf med­der­s­me­[email protected]

RE­GRETS, I’ve had a few, prob­a­bly more than a few to be hon­est. But then again a few to men­tion, mo­ments when the op­por­tu­nity was not grasped, the day was not seized, the words went un­spo­ken. Do­ing it our way, the Frank Si­na­tra way, is a lux­ury few of us are ac­corded con­sis­tently. Rather than see­ing it (whatever it might hap­pen to be) through with­out ex­emp­tion, we must rest con­tent to plod along in time to the beat of some­one else’s drum.

Re­grets? Never mind the team for which the call never came through from the se­lec­tors. I was never a good enough player and would have ended up per­pet­u­ally on the subs bench. Re­grets? Never mind the job interview flunked. I was al­ways des­tined to labour as a foot soldier rather than a gen­eral. Re­grets? Never mind the girls not kissed, the dates not asked for. Ro­mance has dealt me a good hand in the form of fair Hermione.

The re­grets which make me wake up in the mid­dle of the night, sit up in the dark­ness and say ‘shucks!’ to the ceil­ing are rather those fleet­ing chances passed up to make a mem­ory. Not that any­one shares such re­grets. When­ever these un­ful­filled pass­ing fan­cies are shared with fam­ily mem­bers, the re­ac­tion tends to be a heart­felt: ‘I am so glad you didn’t do that’.

Eldrick squirms with em­bar­rass­ment when I tell how close I came to singing Bea­tles songs in pub­lic. We were on a fam­ily hol­i­day in London, mak­ing our way from one side of the Thames to the other via the pedes­trian tun­nel at Green­wich. The Med­ders quar­tet strode jaun­tily along the old walk­way which runs for sev­eral hun­dred me­tres, deep below the river, deep below the city.

A feat of no-non­sense Ed­war­dian en­gi­neer­ing, it re­mains one of the worka­day won­ders of the metropo­lis. And right in the mid­dle of the pas­sage, as we marched amidst the steady stream of lo­cals and tourists, a busker was per­form­ing. The man and his 12-string had hit upon the per­fect acous­tic lo­ca­tion to belt out a few Cat Stevens clas­sics. The tiled walls car­ried his voice, undis­torted, far in ei­ther di­rec­tion for the delec­ta­tion of the pub­lic.

I hap­pily tossed a coin into the busker’s gui­tar case as we passed. Only a few paces on and I was wish­ing that I had pro­duced a fiver in­stead, and that I had pre­vailed upon him to switch from ‘Morn­ing has Bro­ken’ to Fab Four - with me on lead vo­cals.

I sud­denly wanted, needed, craved to de­liver ‘ Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’, with this stranger rip­ping through the chords pro­vid­ing ac­com­pa­ni­ment and im­pro­vised har­mony. To­gether, we could make peo­ple smile, fill this echo­ing sub­ter­ranean tube with pop joy cre­ated on a whim. Per­haps he could work out the chords to ‘Back in the USSR’ and re­ally make my day. I know all the words, though not al­ways in the cor­rect or­der. Maybe it was not too late.

I stopped to glance back at the mu­si­cian, then looked for­ward to ob­serve the backs of wife and off­spring re­ced­ing swiftly as they strode obliv­i­ously away from me to­wards the Isle of Dogs. I opened my mouth to sum­mon them back but no sound emerged and the mo­ment passed as I broke into a reluctant trot to catch up. The sound of ‘ Hard Headed Woman’ pur­sued us from the dis­tance we reached the stairs at the north bank exit.

‘I am so glad you didn’t do that’ was our son’s un­sen­ti­men­tal re­ac­tion later that evening when I shared the lost op­por­tu­nity over our plates of fish and chips. And Hermione said just the same thing af­ter our ex­pe­ri­ence walk­ing on Our Strand.

The beach was par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful that day as we set off, a vi­sion of white sand and blue sky. We were tempted to ex­tend our stroll out be­yond our usual pre­scribed limit. At the fur­thest point, where the open sea meets river es­tu­ary, the swirling of the sand and wa­ter had pro­duced a pond, no big­ger than a large din­ing ta­ble but deep enough to be mys­te­ri­ous.

The Pooch launched him­self into the pond and we laughed at his fran­tic dog pad­dle. As we made our way home along the beach af­ter haul­ing him back to dry land, it dawned on me that I should have torn off all my clothes and fol­lowed him into the greeny-blue depths. ‘I am so glad you didn’t do that,’ re­sponded Hermione primly. Let her take notice that the next time I feel the urge to skinny-dip, then I shall do so. No more sit­ting up in the night and say­ing ‘shucks’ for me.

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