During the recent Afghanistan conflict, a Blanchardstown soldier was arrested for playing cards when he should have been annoying some people who had different religious and political views to his own. At his court-martial, the charge was read out, witnesses were called and finally the soldier was asked if he had anything to say in his defence. Looking the Presiding Officer straight between the ankles, the soldier replied: -
“When I see the ace, I think of the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, the number one of its kind in the country and still the only Irish building that 75% of Peruvians could name in a recent survey.
“When the two comes up, I am reminded of the two mighty bridges spanning the Royal Canal at Clonsilla and also the number of cars that are able to cross the old Clonsilla Bridge at rush hour before the barrier is pulled across for the next train.
“The three puts me in mind of the wonderful highway connecting Blanchardstown and the city centre. In my youth it was a long and winding country thoroughfare that seemed to take an age to travel. Now it is a beautiful straight urban thoroughfare that seems to take an age to travel.
“I look at the four and I see the four mighty car parks that surround the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre - the Rapacious Red, the Bustling Blue, the Yawning Yellow and the Gargantuan Green. Like the four horsemen of the Apocalypse these mighty car parks stand guard at the corners of the golden retail citadel, and giggle uncontrollably when people roam around looking for a parking space at 3 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon.
“I see the five and I remember the marvellous Auburn Avenue Roundabout and the time of the evening when it’s best to avoid it like the plague. How I recall all the pleasant times sitting at a green light with an empty box junction beckoning and a motorbike Garda urging me to make his day.
“The six reminds me of November 2002 and the number of hours it took me to drive home from Glasnevin when the River Tolka burst its banks. If only I’d thought to go to the toilet before I set off. Still, the empty crisp packet in the driver’s door came in handy for something.
“When I turn over the seven it puts me in mind of the wonderful traffic aid in Diswellstown, which accurately tells you your current speed, minus seven kilometres per hour.
“When I turn up the eight, I am put in mind of Ravello’s in Clonsilla and what I did to the huge plate of fusilli chicken and mushrooms there on my wife’s birthday.
“The nine, on the other hand, brings me back to the ancient cinema complex of UCI in the Blanchardstown Centre and the number of screens therein. How many happy hours did I spend there in my youth glued to the silver screen? Well, none, actually – I always felt it was cheaper to wait till the films came on the telly.
“As I turn over the ten, I think of the average number of minutes it takes to reach the head of the queue of any of the financial institutions in Dublin 15. Their discouragement of personal banking is not reaping any dividends, for the queues keep getting longer. Still, nobody seems to care anyway.
“The Jack puts me in mind of the pantomime at Draiocht several years ago, when a lazy good-for-nothing climbed some foliage and stole property from a man living alone. In the ensuing chase, the victim was killed yet the perpetrator was branded a hero. Zero tolerance, my foot.
“The Queen reminds me of Joan Burton, the Darling of the Daíl, and whose picture on my locker out here has sustained me through all the hard times. And it also symbolises my best friend out here, Private “Sheila” O’Reilly, but we won’t go into that at this particular point in time.
“When I look at the King, I see an estate agent who, with Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Osborne, achieved record sales in the Dublin 15 area while the Celtic tiger was still roaring. And it also brings to mind the fine purveyors of quality burgers located near the aforementioned UCI.
“The joker brings to mind the route planner in Dublin Bus that decided that the number 39 should visit every housing estate in Dublin 15 before finally setting off for the city centre.
“I spread out the cards and I see four suits, recalling instantly Leo Varadkar and his sartorial elegance.
“The clubs naturally remind me of Verona, Clonee United, Castleknock Celtic, Erin go Bragh and all the other teams of all sports that help to foster a community spirit, often with little help from the Council. May the hedges that surround the pitches be forever watered; the hearts recall the organ of the body that Connolly Hospital has helped to keep ticking for so many patients down through the years, despite the draconian cutbacks annually implemented by the HSE; when I turn over a diamond, I think of Neil Diamond, and how his song Love on the Rocks was written after an uncomfortable experience on the big boulders that lined Millennium Park; and the spades of course put me in mind of all the housing development that has gone on in the area without the proper infrastructure.
“When you count the number of cards in a suit, you come up with the number thirteen, which is the number of trolleys in Tesco that can actually travel in a straight line for ten yards without crashing in to the display of parsnips. There are 52 cards in a deck, which is the average number of minutes that you have to wait to talk to a real person when you can’t see the match on Sky. And if you add all the spots in a deck, it totals 365, which coincidentally is the number of greys hairs that our Minister for Finance has developed since he took over the post just prior to the recession.
“And, so you see, sir, this deck of cards serves me as an almanac, a bible, a diary, a calendar and a pretty Easter bonnet.”
When he had finished speaking, the courtroom was in tears. At length, the Presiding Officer dabbed his throat, cleared his eyes and spoke: -
“That’s a load of codology,” he said. “Take him out and shoot him.”