“Good God, man,” says I clutching the pint that he had bought for me, “While I thank you sincerely for inviting me here tonight to celebrate the event, heavens above, I have to say you have no more sense than the crows.”
“The greatest farmers on the land,” I explained, “are the ones who have avoided the whole business of engagements and all that class of thing. And here you are tonight like Barry White himself, all loved up.
“There is simply no room for love in modern Irish farming,” I continued. “The best farmers are the single carefree ones. Unfettered by love, they can expand to an all-merciful degree.”
“But aren’t you happily married to my sister?” he asked. “Marriage certainly hasn’t done you any harm, Denny. You have thrived like an old bullock.”
And indeed he is right. I have thrived. I have been married to his sister now for 15 years this month and it was the greatest move that I ever made. But I was never one really cut out for full blown farming. I was always lacking. So the institution of marriage was a smart move as far as I was concerned, for I was always destined to end up in some class of an institution.
“There you are,” says I, tucking into another pint that he had laid out for me, “In your prime, with everything going for you in the farming game, and you get yourself engaged.
“You have started down a right slippery slope, my dear man,” I announced, “For before long, you will be married, and once married, suddenly you will find the pitter patter of tiny feet all around you. And before you know it, there you will be, like Nanny McPhee herself changing nappies and shuttling youngsters from playschool to accordion classes.
“I know all about it,” I mournfully uttered.
The brother-in-law you see, is a great man. A great man around livestock. A great man around a machine. A fellow with a finger always on the pulse of Irish farming. A fellow always a step ahead, and a man always there with the sound advice. A man really born for the serious business of farming, but alas, now a fellow heading in a different direction entirely, I feared.
Anyhow, the merry night went on, and before long, there was another pint landed up in front of me and, as I waited for it to settle on the bar counter, I started to cheer up a little, as I began to think about engagements and marriages and of all the great unions that I had known down through the years. And really of how important marriage and family life can be.
And I declare, by degrees I began to warm to the idea of the brother-in-law’s engagement, and before the night was through, it turned out that I was all for it.
And as the night drew to a close, it was with tears in my eyes that I pulled Pat and Claire close to my side, and mumbled words to the effect that I felt their engagement had been the greatest move of all, and with great sincerity, I wished them all the best on their future ahead.
You see, I had finally realised the truth, that their engagement wasn’t the end of anything, only the beginning of everything.