Friday 23 May 2008

Finking About Fings On Friday -- The Banjo

Maybe not entirely crime fiction related, but food for thought.

The Banjo

Last Christmas my mum and dad’s shop on the Falls Road was burgled. A couple of hoods broke in through the backyard, smashed the security light without setting off the infrared sensors, broke through a reinforced door, disabled the alarm system before it went off and stole a safe that was bolted to a wall. They also rooted through some of the presents my mum had stashed there; my younger siblings, though teenagers now, still rummage about the house to find out what they’re getting. God bless their cotton socks. Among the gifts were a five-string banjo for my little brother, Mark, and a laptop for my wee sister, Tanya. I mean, wrangling a laptop for Crimbo! Even if they are cheap as chips these days, that’s some impressive hint dropping.

Anyway, the banjo was cast aside, stripped of its wrapping paper. The laptop? They didn’t find it. So, although my dad lost some cash and his own battered and out-of-date laptop, my kid brother and sister’s presents were left behind, as were the other gifts bought for my sister Lisa, due home from Australia for the week, and some odds and ends bought for me, my missus and my two kids. It added up, you know?

On Christmas day I was chatting to my dad.

“So they were smart enough to bypass a decent security system, but they gave up checking the presents after unwrapping the banjo? Surely they must have the wit to know the wee rectangular boxes have the good stuff in them? Laptops, dvd players, consoles...?” I shrugged.

My dad shook his head and sighed. “They’re not smart at all, Gerard. They’re stupid wee f**ckers with the instincts of rats. Chances are it was some thirty-year-old hood with a teenage apprentice who’s picking up the trade for a tiny cut. They probably did five or six shops in one night, not casing the place or anything, just blundering their way through with a wee bit of experience behind them.”

“But they only lifted a few quid. All that effort for so little money?” And here I let a little naivety slip. “Sure, it’d be easier to get a part-time job.”

“Aye, right.” My da laughed. “But, here. Can you imagine the look on their faces when they opened that banjo? ‘Here, Smickers. What the f**k’s this?’ And our Mark’ll never forget it. The Christmas we bought him a present the hoods wouldn’t even steal.”

And that was okay, because he was the first one to laugh about it.

Northern Irish humour. You can’t beat it.

Gerard Brennan, May 2008


Michael Stone said...

When they saw the banjo they probably had a Deliverance moment and half expected a half dozen hillbillies to jump out of the cupboards and roger 'em. Which, ye know, would be enough to scare anybody away.

Good story, mate.

So, did Mark like his pressie then?

Gerard Brennan said...

Mark loved it. I must ask if he's learned Duelling Banjos yet. There might be something in that Deliverance thing.

Cheers, Mike