FlANN O’BRIeN
 


'Policeman MacCruiskeen put the lamp on the table, shook hands with me and gave me the time of day with great gravity. His voice was high, almost feminine, and he spoke with delicate careful intonation. Then he put the lamp on the counter and surveyed the two of us.

'Is it about a bicycle?' he asked.

'Not that' said the Sergeant. 'This is a private visitor who says he did not arrive in the townland upon a bicycle. He has no personal name at all. His dadda is in far Amurikey.'

'Which of the two Amurikeys?' asked MacCruiskeen.

'The Unified Stations,' said the Sergeant.

'Likely he is rich by now if he is in that quarter,' said MacCruiskeen, 'because there's dollars there, dollars and bucks and nuggets in the ground and any amount of rackets and golf games and musical instruments. It is a free country too by all accounts.'

'Free for all,' said the Sergeant. 'Tell me this,' he said to the policeman, 'Did you take any readings today?'

'I did,' said MacCruiskeen.

'Take out your black book and tell me what it was like a good man,' said the Sergeant. Give me the gist of it till I see what I see,' he added.

MacCruiskeen fished a small black book from his breast pocket.
'Ten point six,' he said.

'Ten point six,' said the Sergeant. 'And what reading did you notice on the beam?'

'Seven point four.'

'How much on the lever?'

'One point five'

There was a pause here. The Sergeant put on an expression of great intricacy as if he were doing far-from-simple sums and calculations in his head. After a time his face cleared and he spoke again to his companion.

'Was there a fall?'

'A heavy fall at half-past three.'

'Very Understandable and commendably satisfactory,' said the Sergeant. 'Your supper is on the hob inside and be sure to stir the milk before you take any of it, the way the rest of us after you will have our share of the fats of it, the health of it.

Policeman MacCruiskeen smiled at the mention of food and went into the back room loosening his belt as he went; after a moment we heard the sounds of coarse slobbering as if he was eating porridge without the assistance of spoon or hand. The Sergeant invited me to sit at the fire in his company and gave me a wrinkled cigarette from his pocket.

'It is a lucky thing for your pop that is situated in Amurikey,' he remarked, 'if it is a thing that he is having trouble with the old teeth. It is very few sicknesses that are not from the teeth.' 'Yes,' I said. I was determined to say as little as possible and these unusual policeman first show their hand. Then I would know how to deal with them.

'Because a man can have more disease and germination in his gob than you'll find in a rat's coat and Amurikey is a country where the population do have grand teeth like shaving lather or like bits of delph when you break a plate.'

'Quite true,' I said.

'Or like eggs under a black crow.'

'Like eggs,' I said.

'Did you ever happen to visit the cinematograph in your travels?'

'Never' I answered humbly, but I believe it is a dark quarter and little can be seen at all except the photographs on the wall'.

'Well it is there you see the fine teeth they do have in Amurikey,' said the Sergeant. 

Although Buchan probably never heard of Flann O’Brien and almost certainly wouldn’t have approved of him, he is entirely appropriate for inclusion on Buchanalia due to his absurdity, fascination with bicycles and encyclopaedic knowledge of trains.

The following extract manages to mix bicycles with philosophy in a most interesting way...
Keep out Chapter 4 of Flann O’Brien’s “The Third Policeman”