Once upon a time a humble and hard-working professor lived in Rathgar, south Dublin. He worked at the College of Knowledge on Stephen’s Green in town. He was cycling home. Pedestrian crossing lights on Camden Street turned red as he approached. There was nobody waiting to cross, so he did what any self-respecting cyclist would do: he powered on.
Just then, a car pulled out of a side street and turned in front of him. The passenger admonished him with a digital gesture. Again, he did what any what any self-respecting cyclist would do: when he judged the car to be far enough in front to give its occupants a good view of him in the rear-view mirror—all of him, the teeth, the whole personality—he gave them the finger. Swivel. The car screeched to a halt and two trolls leapt out and yanked the professor and his velocipede* to a stop.
We’re Gardai and you’ve gone through red lights. This was said in what might be described as a rural accent.
Now, the car was a bit of a jalopy. No sign of its being provided by the State to law enforcement officers. The two men were tall, lean, mean, early 30s, Ireland’s finest, but nothing to indicate that they’d been brainwashed by a Templemore formation. So when they said they were Gardai the professor thought, ‘huh, a likely story’ and said …
Please show me your warrant card.
All hell broke loose. You’re on a charge, said they.
For not stopping at red lights. The professor had dissed ‘Gardai’ too, but let’s pass on that.
Please show me your warrant cards, the professor repeated.
What’s your name? they retorted.
My name is ‘Daidí na Nollag’ (the professor gave his proper name, of course, but for reasons of anonymity this can’t be revealed).
Where are you from?
Now, the professor was getting cross. He thought it none of anyone’s business where he was from, and it was obvious from his accent that he was not a native of the ‘pluralist’ republic whose constitution begins ‘In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity’. He’d had enough over the years of snide remarks about English people taking jobs that an Irish person could have had, so he answered a question that had not been asked: I live in Rathgar, said he.
They repeated their question. He repeated his response. They were livid, jumping up and down like trolls that live under bridges. They took the professor’s name and address and did the equivalent of stomping off in high dudgeon in their car in the direction of Harcourt Street Garda station. No warrant card was ever produced, so whether or not they were what they said they were the professor will never know.
The professor heard no more, and they all lived happily ever after.
* As Rambling Rector was writing this piece, he asked SWMBO to clarify the meaning of this word, and she replied: ‘a dinosaur I think’.