Steve and the boys wept when The Plough closed. Born and bred in the village, Steve enjoyed telling folk he’d been baptised, wed and divorced in their local pub. Stroking his beard, he surveyed his garden shed and told his son Gavin, ‘we’ll build a bar, hang horse brasses, get a telly for the footy and fill a fridge with beer. The boys’ll love it.’
‘The Shed’ was a roaring success. Considering its facilities too basic, disapproving wives stayed home leaving ‘The Shed’ to the men. Steve was relieved. Without women, no need to mind your language or hold in your farts.
Normally wary of incomers, when big bellied Ivan joined the boys working at the abattoir, Steve thought he’d appreciate ‘The Shed’. Tattooed, back slapping and beer loving, Ivan fitted in a treat.
One day, Ivan turns up with his daughter, Scarlett. A slinky lass with tar black hair, she wore a revealing frock, pink sequinned beret and spoke in a smoky sultry voice. What could Steve say? She looked and sounded like a porn star, swore like a sailor and drank like a pike. Good sort was Scarlett. The boys went soppy about her. Especially Gavin. When they began walking out together, Steve said to Ivan, ‘I’m surprised your girl’s courting my Gavin. She’s model material.’
‘Oh yes,’ said Ivan with a wink, ‘Full of surprises is Scarlett.’
When Gav confessed Scarlett was ‘in transit,’ Steve assumed she was buying a van. The truth was more baffling. Scarlett, born Scott, really was one of the boys.
‘You’re telling me you knew all along,’ said Steve.
‘What woman knows the offside rule and all the words to “Four and Twenty Virgins”?’ Gav replied, ‘Scarlett’s perfection.’
‘Fair point,’ said Steve. ‘I’ll drink to that.’
(c) Beverley Byrne