My Dad, for all his faults is a funny fucker. For all the issues I had with him in the past, my mates loved him. To them he was clever and funny. He was good for the critical one liner that would cause a congregation to erupt into laughter. Outside of home, those critical comments were entertaining. At home among the family, those comments were hurtful and perpetuated major self-esteem issues. He isn’t a bad man. He just knows no different.
When Dad changed jobs in 1987, the family packed up and moved to the UK. Dad took a job at the Beeb. Working in the UK during the 80s was difficult for the Irish. The Brits didn’t understand the feud in Northern Island. Maybe they didn’t need to. The loss of life from the bombings was tragic. My parents, like other Irish in the UK at the time, faced critical comments and bad jokes in work and their daily lives.
Dad seemed to get on OK at the Beeb. I recall one story when a colleague of his asked for advice on how he should ask an Irish girl on a date. Dad taught him a “beautiful Irish expression” that would make her go weak at the knees. Dad’s colleague was chuffed. He learned this greeting off by heart and checked in now and again to ensure his pronunciation was correct. He couldn’t wait to impress the knickers off her.
The Irish expression Dad taught his English colleague was, “An bhfuil aon gruaige ar do bhosca?” Any Irish reading this will immediately understand its meaning. For those of you not blessed with the native Irish tongue, you will have to read on for its meaning to be revealed. In my own way of phonetically explaining how it is pronounced, it is “an will ayn grew-a-gah air deh vusca”. Don’t go casually throwing this at Irish women.
The big day came. Dad’s colleague was going to ask the Irish girl out through this “beautiful Irish expression”. Dad encountered his colleague in the canteen later that day. Dad asked if he was successful. His colleague responded sharply. “You’re a fucking bollox,” he said and stormed off. When he was out of ear shot, Dad explained the meaning of the expression. The occupancy of the lunch table burst out laughing.
The expression, “An bhfuil aon gruaige ar do bhosca?” is in fact a question. It means “Have you any hair on your box?” Charming I think you’ll agree.