Thank you all very much for your lovely comments about my last post. I'm glad I made some of you laugh. This post, however, is on a more serious note. It concerns CRIME. Brace yourselves!
My aunt Cathleen is a respectable woman of ... mature standing (we won't say her years because her youthful good looks and trendy style belie her age) and a well-known figure in our town. She is a lady. I have never heard her raise her voice, never seen her lose her temper, not even move at a speed that could be described as anything faster than 'stately'. All the more shocking to learn that she was recently the victim of a most dastardly crime. She was standing in her own driveway, outside her front door, when she was approached by a strange young man who wanted money. In her own driveway! She said she didn't have any money on her, but he proceeded to roughly pat her down - pat her down! (if you knew my aunt Cathleen, you would understand that she is not the type that should be patted down by anyone for anything) - then the bounder grabbed her purse ...
... and he took her coat.
Yes, indeed. The last thing she saw was "her coat flying away" as the gurrier absconded with her belongings.
Upon hearing of Cathleen's mugging, my mother reacted as she usually does in these situations: she gave an incoherent shriek, ran for the door, a cigarette already lit, and made for the car. Normally she'd leap into the car and drive away like a Formula One driver on crack cocaine, in fourth gear in about 12 seconds, but my father intercepted her at the back door and persuaded her to let him drive her as a favour to road-travelling society in general. So my parents and a gang of siblings, another aunt and a family friend who happened to be visiting when my mother got that fateful call all hopped into their respective cars and drove in swift convoy into town to my aunt's house. While she was being gently interrogated by a member of the Garda Síochána (the police force), tea was brewed, threatening noises were made in the general direction the thief took off in and my mother flung homoeopathic pills into my aunt - who probably had had enough to contend with and now had to deal with my mother's flower remedies as well.
It was a crime that shook the town and, strangely, it was the disappearance of the coat that affected many people most:
"She was mugged? In her own driveway? And he stole her purse? AND HE TOOK HER COAT????"
My brother Michael wanted to round up a vigilante group on Facebook but, you know, it was February and reeeeeeaaaallllly cold and he had a bit of a cough and had to get up early for work and all, so it was enough to throw shapes and make growly noises on a social medium:
"I'm saying this now: the guy who mugged my auntie and stole her purse, took her coat and gave her a fright had better not cross my path..."
The reaction from other posters was instantaneous and to the point:
"He took her coat? Is she alright?"
"The fecker! What's the world coming to if someone gets robbed in their own driveway and has their coat stolen?"
"I can't believe he took her coat!!!"
Honestly. The coat could've set up its own Facebook page.
But some people were concerned about other things. The next day my aunt visited her cousin, a lady in her 80s with a heightened sense of drawma (and just as an aside: the last time I saw this lady, she was wearing a zebra-print coat with a mustard beret and matching scarf. Just to illustrate the colourful character I'm introducing here), and broke the news of her mugging to her, lest the cousin hear it first from another source.
"Dear God, Cathleen!" she wailed. "Don't tell me he pushed you into your hall and ... interfered with you!"
My aunt gawped - in a ladylike fashion, of course - and reassured her that, no, the junkie was more interested in her money than ravishing one of the town's premier dowagers.
Within a fortnight, the thief was arrested. The guards (that's what we call the police, by the way) could not recover her purse and the whereabouts of the coat have not yet been ascertained. My aunt remains - putting it in the local vernacular - a bit shook, but her driveway has been vagabond-free since then.
But the story does not end here. My mother met a woman who told her about a recent train trip to Dublin. She got into conversation with the passenger in the seat beside her - a lady from the neighbouring county - and when the other passenger heard where the woman was from, she said,
"I heard that some woman was mugged there outside her front door there a few weeks ago."
The local woman confirmed that this was true: "She was! And that in her own driveway!"
"Did he get any money?"
"He did indeed. Sure and didn't he take her purse and all off her."
The other woman tut-tutted and then leaned conspiratorially:
"Tell me this," she said, "Is it true that the pup ... made off with her coat?"
No word of a lie.