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Poetry Magnum Opus

Me Dad's Adventures


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In 1938 me Dad went to Germany

doing a Master’s degree in Cologne,

and this was considered a very good thing

for a young fella up from the country

with no thought of the nationalist regime.


The instruction was rigorous and excellent

which was the whole point of the transfer

since economics was concerned with numbers

and it was not concerned with local politics

and the swastika flags on every street.


Me Dad got on well in the college, played

a wee bit of football with the German lads,

and roomed with an Irish fellow called Tim.

Tim was a soft-hearted soul from Connemara

and he was big and broad in all directions.


One night, as it happened, they went forth to dine

in a basement place not far from the college.

It was plain hearty food, fit for a student’s pocket,

and with good strong beer to wash it down!

The two lads sat down for a pleasant evening.


There was a quiet old couple at another table

and no more than three or four other diners

when the door burst open with an almighty crash

and two men marched in with leather overcoats

and demanded a supply of identification.


Dad and Tim were annoyed but complied,

since these Gestapo thugs were all over the place.

They were left in peace and the men moved on

until they came to the old couple in the corner

and suddenly voices were raised: Jude? Jude!


Other customers kept their eyes on their plates,

for this is the way things were by then, and you

did not want to get involved. Dad and Tim looked up.

The man was smashing their plates on the floor,

taking their food and throwing it on the floor!


Holy God, says Tim. Now, now, says me Dad.

We can’t be having this, says Tim, standing up,

and so the two of them carefully walk over.

Hau ‘ab, says one of the guys: fuck off!

You’ll pick up that fuckin plate, says Tim.


The guy reached for his pocket, Tim lazily tapped him

and he fell down in a heap. Another tap, and his companion

joined him on the floor, the pair of them stretched out cold.

We’re very sorry, says Tim, to the frightened elderly couple,

but this sort of thing is not allowed.




This is a true story, To compound things, Tim dragged Dad along to the local Gestapo HQ the next morning to lodge a complaint. They stared at him goggle-eyed as he insisted they fill out the requisite forms. Me Dad was sweating bricks, thinking for sure their student days were over, and would they be nice to Irish students in a concentration camp? What happened, so? Not a thing. Nowt. He and Tim hung on until Summer, 1939 ...


Next: Daddy goes to the Nuremberg Rally.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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  • 4 weeks later...
David W. Parsley

Heaven help me, I am not a man given to undue violence (unless you count a love for playing and watching American football), but I got a vicarious thrill of satisfaction from this excellent narrative. A salute to your Dad and to his fine pal, Tim. The world is better for their kind. My own Dad was in that mold, but never got a chance to lay one on a pair from the Gestapo. (Come to think of it, I really like that Romeo and Juliet piece of yours, too... Maybe there is a bully buster deep down inside me, after all.)


Thanks Brendan!

- Dave

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What Romeo and Juliet piece, Dave? Oh, yesss ... I do recall ... I did write something on that. God Bless your memory! Tim, poor soul, was killed in the war with Montgomery's 8th Army in North Africa and me Dad, who had joined the Irish Army, spent two years commanding a coastal artillery battery with orders to blast the hell out of whoever came first, the Nazis or the Brits. In the event nobody came at all and his main battles were with the local parish priest over the romantic propensities of his men. Tragedy bordering on farce, as with everything else in Ireland. The Germans DID have a plan to invade Ireland (Operation Green) once Britain was conquered which helps to explain why Tim and many other Irish lads joined the British forces. Officially we were "neutral" but after Norway, Denmark, Belgium and Holland nobody placed much trust in Mister Hitler.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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