I was leaning on the bar when Tackas walked in.
Tackas is the sort of person you’d best describe as forlorn.
‘How’s it was hanging?’
Tackas is a man of few words until he has lubricated his vocal chords and then the most lilting Irish voice washes over you.
Tackas has a voice you can listen to all day.
It just slides off his tongue and out through his lips.
Whereas my Australian accent tends to feel like it is reluctant to come out, as we don’t like opening our mouths. I suspect in case a fly gets in and no one likes swallowing a fly.
We therefore sound like we are mumbling and my mother was forever telling me open my mouth and pronounce my words. To no avail.
‘You wanna beer Tackas?
We finish and I say to him,’ Gonna buy me one?’
‘You think I should be buying the likes of you a beer?
‘Yes, its pub etiquette.’
‘Feck off.’ Feck is his favourite word and he says it a lot and coming out of his mouth you are never offended.
‘Tackas you have to understand that in Australia the shout is the most important of all male rituals. You don’t honour your part of the shout and you’ll never be allowed to drink with anyone.’
‘Oh for fecks sake,’ he says and calls to the barman to give me a beer to shut me up. ‘Anyway I’m not in the mood.’
‘Tackas what’s wrong?’
‘You remember my mate Rory, from the Imperial?’
‘Yeah sickly looking bloke, red hair and freckles.’
‘Yes, that’s Rory.’
“ Yes he died. Stopped breathing, caput, no more, are ya a complete fecking idjit Clancy or what?’
‘I’m just surprised.’
‘Not as surprised as Rory was, he just bought a new suit, though it will come in handy now.’
‘Well what happened?’
‘His heart gave out. He had a dicky heart and it just stopped. Died in his sleep the poor fecking bastard.’
“Losing a mate is a serious business Tackas.’
‘Serious is hardly the word Clancy, its fecking terrible that’s what it is.’
‘I’m really sorry Tackas, he was a mate of ours as well.’ There were four of us who hung around together and drank most days in the pub.
‘Yeah I know that’s why I want you bastards to come with me to the funeral.’
‘Of course Tackas we‘ll come with you. You can count on us.’
‘You’re a good lad Clancy, I loves ya you know. An fecking idjit most days but I loves ya all the same.’
‘Ah thanks Tackas.’
‘Now the real reason I want you there is that Rory’s mum has asked me to read the eulogy and I want your help to write the thing.’
‘No worries Tackas, we’d be honoured.’
“‘We’d” be damned, I only want your help not that other riff raff, no telling what they want me to say.’
‘Ok when is the funeral?
‘That’s not a lot of notice Tackas. We better get started.’
‘Exactly, now get me a pen and some paper, got to make this good, his mum is pretty cut up you know.’
‘I can well understand, Rory was a good bloke.’
‘ That he was Clancy, that he was.’
Tackas then buried his head in the paper and began writing. I knew he wanted me there not to help with the writing but just to have someone with him as he attempted what for him would be his most difficult life task.