Lunch at the English Market is upstairs at the Farmgate Café. Just walking through it to get to our table in the back makes me hungry, staring at the plates of Shepherd’s Pie and rock oysters and the savory tarts.
The café owner, Kay, comes over to tell us what she’s preparing for us today: lamb’s liver and bacon, Irish lamb stew, and tripe and drisheen.
Drisheen? What’s that, I ask her.
It’s lovely, says Kay. A kind of black pudding made from sheeps blood.
Well I’ll have it, I say. I’m sure it’s grand.
The wine comes and Mr. O’Connor and I settle down to a discussion of Irish slang. You know, he says to me in a whisper, that when someone in Ireland says something is grand, they mean the opposite.
Mr. O’Connor nods. For instance, he says. Say you’ve invited someone to join you for lunch and at the last minute they call your mobile to cancel. Well, you’d say, Don’t worry about it. It’s grand, it’s grand. Which means you’re pissed.
What else, I ask him.
Well, my favorite is idjit, says he. It’s a soft way of saying someone is an asshole. For instance, you might say of someone who called a Traveler a Tinker or a gypsy that they were just an idjit.
Here we go again, I think. We’re back on the Irish gypsies. Well, I say, I’m sure I read in the Irish Times only yesterday a story about a family of Tinkers whose son was hit by a car.
Not in the Times you didn’t, says he.
I’m sure I did.
And that’s the last word as far as she’s concerned. Until Kay comes back to the table with the most lovely lamb’s liver and another of the tripe and drisheen, both for me. Tell you what, I say as she places the dishes on the table, why don’t we just share these. Mr. O’Connor? Offer him up the lovely lamb’s liver with bacon.
Not for me, then, he says. Ah, I say, taking back the plate, I guess it’s just for meself then. And so it is.