Friday 21 October 2016

Coffee Morning Whispers: The answer to the big question is a tonic

Gin and tonic
Gin and tonic

Aunt Sadie can be a difficult woman, of that, there is no doubt. But she also has a 'live and let live' attitude to life that can belie her elderly years.

Perhaps, it has to do with an early career in the WAAF during the war or her subsequent years in America when she worked in a stockbrokers but, whatever it is, she has always been a realist. Yes, she went to Mass every Sunday, but that was as far as it went.

"I don't go in for all that confessing your sins in the dark to some oul' fella in a collar," she once said to me. "And anyway, he might get over excited by some of the stuff I might be telling him."

She applauded the women who went on the train to bring condoms back from Belfast in 1971 and while she had a long and happy marriage herself, she wasn't against the divorce referendum.

I decided to risk my life and asked her how she would vote in the Marriage Equality Referendum. She thought for a second and then said: "When I was a young one, I had a cousin the same age as myself and we were great friends altogether. Liam was soft, a bit of a mammy's boy really, but the nicest chreatur you could have around."

Sadie went on to say how Liam got a very hard time from other lads in the village.

"They used to call him a 'ponce' and a 'nancy boy'. He was light on his feet, could dance for Ireland, but they teased him for that as well. He always came off worst in fights."

Sadie told me how Liam went to England when he was 21 and she never saw him again.

"I asked about his whereabouts a couple of times. Someone told me they thought he was working in a bar in Manchester and sharing a house with some men, but no one seemed to know exactly where."

Sadie said it was years before she realised that Liam was gay.

"I didn't know the word even existed until I went to America and I realised then that Liam had left to get away from all of us because he couldn't be himself with us."

She heard that he died about 20 years ago.

"I hope he had a special friend with him and I hope he found happiness. I just wished I knew back then and I could have said, 'You are fine by me, Jack'."

I didn't need to ask what way she would be voting.

"Yes," she said. "For Liam and all the other G 'n' Ts"

"You mean LGBTs?"

"Them too."

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