Athlone Again, Naturally

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Legend has it that when the White Bull of Connaught was tearing apart the Brown Bull of Cooley, pieces of the bull landed all around the country and placenames were born. So the name Áth Luain, charmingly, refers to the place where the bull’s loins landed. Yes – Athlone is the ‘Place of the Loins’. Sounds vacationable to me!

Athlone is situated more or less in the middle of the island of Ireland – an ancient fording spot on the river Shannon – Ireland’s main inland navigation route. It is, therefore, more known in naval terms moreso than for its loins … (ahem …)

I was back in town on business – as, indeed, I had been many times before. This time, however, I had a little time to kill and promised myself that I’d venture out into the town and see some of it. I had spent the previous night in the tower at the Sheraton – the tallest building in town. Now, in most countries, the view would be impressive. It is possible to see for miles in all directions – lush farmland appearing as a patchwork quilt, tall forests reduced to window-moss. Lough Ree – a large lake by any standards – a distant glimmer on my panorama. The problem is, however, that this is Ireland. A room with a view in the Irish midlands simply means that you know ten minutes beforehand when it’s going to rain. I spent the morning getting some work done as three sets of rain clouds came and went. The view from the tower told me that I had at least ten minutes of dryness. Time for exploring.

Athlone Castle across the main town bridge – itself connecting the provinces of Leinster and Connaught across the mighty Shannon.

A little down the road, I pass St. Mary’s church – a site that had long appeared on my ‘Oh – I must look at that someday’ list. I had always appreciated something of its charm – a late medieval relic in a modern part of town replete with crumbling graveyard and meaningless tower. I take a quick tramp amongst the tombstones to get a sense of the place. Soon, I am standing at the base of the tower. There is a sign on it – presumably erected by the tourist people. Great! Time to find out what famous person was buried here.

Oliver Goldsmith has earned a rightful place in the pantheon of Irish Writers – arguably one of the finest writers not just of the 18th century – but of any. And yes – the sign mentions him … but it is not he who is buried here …

The sign instead references ‘Dean Goldsmith’. Now who is Dean Goldsmith? Dean Goldsmith was a cousin of Oliver’s – or so the sign tells me. Was he also a famous writer, I hear you ask? No. Not to my knowledge. The sign, instead, simply references him as Oliver’s cousin… So Athlone has a sign up to commemorate a man who wasn’t famous in his own right, but who was simply the cousin of someone who was??

Sadly, no. It’s not even that exciting. The full text of the sign reads:

“Inside this tower was interred

30th September 1769,

the wife of Dean Goldsmith, Cousin of

Oliver Goldsmith, poet, Essayist and Playwright.”

I have to read this sign three or four times. Are they really honouring someone who was married to the cousin of someone famous?? Yes, it seems. They are. And what’s worse – the sign doesn’t even mention her name. Words fail me …

I don’t even …

I decide to move on.

In hindsight, I should have expected something like this. The next stop on my grand tour of Athlone is the main town bridge – linking not only two halves of the town across the Shannon – but linking the two provinces of Leinster and Connaught. I had looked up a little information on the bridge before I began my tour and learned that the bridge was designed by Thomas Rhodes, “Cousin of the famous Cecil Rhodes …” What is it with Athlone and fame by proxy?

Across the bridge, I encounter Athlone Castle – a beast of a medieval affair that would look more at home looking down on the beaches of Normandy in the 1940s than gracing the banks of Ireland’s premier waterway. I enter the rather impressively-restored site and begin to look around. It becomes clear that the castle had little to do with the town. It was a garrison fort for most of its existence. Around it, the town went about its own business of pipe making, whiskey distilling and other such local crafts. Indeed, the castle museum is filled with little reminders and artifacts from the everyday life of the townsfolk. In fact, very little at all survives from the authorities that ruled from the castle. The one tangible artifact left over from them is rather gruesome: a man-trap used for catching poachers. Indeed, this being Athlone, I suspect that the trap was also used to catch not only poachers, but their wives and cousins too …

The Athlone Mantrap. It is unclear whether or not the teapot acted as ‘bait’ or was, in fact, simply just a teapot that was also on display.

I figure that I have time for one more site on my day in Athlone. Athlone did actually have an extraordinarily famous son. Count John McCormack, arguably the world’s most famous tenor in the early 20th century, was born in this town. Given the tributes and the lengths that Athlonians go to in order to celebrate those who are vicarious celebrities, I’m expecting great things. I’m expecting at least a twenty foot statue that sings recordings of McCormack’s music on a permanent basis. Or maybe an obelisk pointing to the heavens of which McCormack so famously sang. Who knows? There might even be a throng of American tourists breaking into tears as they visit the birthplace of the man who popularized that most Irish of Irish songs, ‘Danny Boy’.

To say that I am underwhelmed by what I find would be an understatement. I do not find a statue. I do not find a tower. And there are no American tears forming the newest tributary of the mighty Shannon. Instead, I find a Chinese restaurant … and a sign that informs me that John McCormack was born here …

It takes me a while to contemplate this. Why has Athlone chosen to celebrate those who are related – however distantly – to famous people but not put as much thought into remembering those who were, themselves, famous? I guess that in Athlone – it’s not what you know – but who. Dean Goldsmith’s wife clearly knew someone famous. John McCormack clearly didn’t – and that’s what counts around here.

That in mind, I retire for the rest of the evening to Sean’s Bar – hoping that my name will prove enough of an intangible link to result in a free glass of whiskey or two and to allow me space to contemplate my day of loins, of mantraps and of miscommemoration.

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Cardiff: The Day After Gomorrah

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The plane to Cardiff was, ironically enough, tardif (yes – it’s a real word). Night was already ensconced well before the taxi ever arrived at the hotel. But by that time, I was too late. I had missed the city’s lupine transformation from normal, everyday, provincial city into a werewolf-like party town. By the time I hit the streets at eleven, the city was howling.

I didn’t have far to walk to meet up with the rest of the lads who were here for the stag party – maybe three or four minutes. But in that short time, I passed one woman sitting on a kerb looking in danger of passing out and another man on the rain-drenched footpath – in the recovery position – who actually had.

The McDonalds up the road was still selling Big Macs – but was no longer allowing the nocturnal revelers to eat inside the establishment. Thus, there was McRubbish everywhere – blowing down the windy St. Mary Street like a high surf tide towards me.

I found the bar and inquired as to my whiskey choices. There were two. Jack Daniels or no Jack Daniels. “What do the locals drink?”, I asked the alewife. “Beer,” she replied, in a perfect Lithuanian accent.  I went for the Jack Daniels. As I returned to the table, I heard the band in the corner begin to play a heavy, thrashy version of a Lionel Richie song. No. It was not them I was looking for.

The rest of the night passed in a bit of a blur and I found my way to my hotel room at about three in the morning. I reckon I would have slept well too but for the Irish guy in the room opposite (from a different stag party) who took so much cocaine that it required two police officers with extremely loud walkie talkies to calm him down. I didn’t realise walkie talkies could do this.

The next morning (or ‘afternoon’ as some might call it), I went out for a ramble. Amazingly, the streets were spotless and Cardiff felt like a real city again. The shops were open and in the process of being perused. Men and women were promenading through the streets in Welsh rugby jerseys. Sections of Cardiff society who most likely had never seen it at night were wearing turtle neck shirts and tweed jackets – their hair bouncing as they laughed while cupping a latte between their diswithered fingers.

And then the rains came. A deluge worthy of instant depression befell me. Better duck out of it somewhere lest my shirt become see-through. Such things are unconscionable in a city like this. Well – they are at this hour at any rate.

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Cardiff and the Millennium Stadium taken from Cardiff Castle

“Are you here to see the History of Cardiff exhibition?” a tour guide asks me. I had ducked into a museum, apparently. “Eh – sure,” I responded, not wishing to disappoint. I was shown around the museum where the answers to many of my future questions were anticipated and answered. I was told about how there was no city to speak of until a decent coal port was needed in the area about two hundred years ago. It is, thus, a relatively new city by European standards. I watched a film about the last fisherman on the mud flats and was told of how he still regularly comes in to the museum to complain about the inaccuracy of his exhibit. I learn about coal. I learn about miners. And I learn about coal again.

I stand contemplating a scale model of the docks. A local man – also visiting the museum – strikes up a conversation with me.

“That’s Cardiff Bay now”, he says, pointing to the model.

“What do you mean ‘now’? Was it not always called that?”

“No – the locals used to call it Tiger Bay. The tourism folks changed it about twenty years ago when they were looking for a touristy name.”

“Why did they change it? What was wrong with Tiger Bay?”

He contemplates this for a moment. “Well Tigers are dangerous creatures, aren’t they? Don’t want to be scaring off tourists.”

I laugh heartily at this – but it soon becomes apparent that not only is he being serious but also doesn’t seem to understand why I’m laughing.

“Funny thing is, though,” he ventures, “It’s still called Bae Teigr in Welsh – which means ‘Tiger Bay’.”

“Oh! And why do you think that is?”

“Don’t know really. Maybe the Welsh just aren’t afraid of tigers.” Again – not a hint of irony.

The rain over, I return to the streets and head up to see the Castle. Cardiff Castle is actually a very impressive, serious piece of castleage. The site was originally a Roman fort but was replaced by a Norman castle in the 12th century. Inside the impressive curtain walls lies a motte and bailey and an impressive Georgian mansion. But it was not this that I had come to see. I had been told to go and see the ‘animal wall’ while I was there – an outer wall of the castle  that, apparently, has animal sculptures so lovingly carved atop them that they have spurred generations of local fairy tales. I’ve always been interested in things like this – unique sights that have captured the local imagination.

Sure enough, I soon spot a wall bedecked with animal sculptures. However, rather than inspire me with wonderment, they give me pause for concern. The animals have all been sculpted awkwardly atop the wall. The sculptor appears to have tried to make it look as if they are resting there – but in reality, they appear to be trying to escape whatever terrible thing lies on the other side of the wall. A big cat haunches his fleshy arms over the wall in a manner that suggests something is trying to drag him back in. A seal raises his snout to the air as if to take one last smell of freedom before terror befalls him. And a bear looks both into and past me with dead glass eyes – frozen in time at the very moment he realized, it seems, that he was going to die … This is all too tragic for me – time to move on.

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A bear faced tragedy

As I turn back onto St. Mary Street, I see two policemen (in their funny British police hats) approach two men on the corner.

“Are you two dealing drugs then?” he asks in a semi-serious sounding Welsh accent.

“Fuck you copper!” retorts one wittily.

“Now now – there’s no need for profanity.”

“Is there a need for murder, copper? I have a confession to make. I murdered two people. I stabbed them. They crossed me and I stabbed them. You want to take me in for a full confession?” he screams in what I think is an angry Welsh accent.

The policeman simply nods and says “Oh is that right? Did you now?”

I decide to move on. Just up ahead a little, I find the entrance to the indoor city market – a collection of ragtag stalls and food shops that sell everything from Liver and Onion Faggots to second-hand books. I wander through it a while, pausing for a moment’s contemplation as I watch someone kick an innocent bystander pigeon up the arse for no reason other than the arse was there and was not being kicked.

A couple of hours later, the sun went down, and the transformation began afresh…

Now – don’t get me wrong – Cardiff is actually not a bad little city. It has a little of everything – a few museums, a decent number of bookshops, a serious piece of castle … but at night, the only thing that separates it from Gomorrah …

      … is the Welsh accent.

Something of a Slob

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“It is not the mountain we conquer – but ourselves.”

– Edmund Hillary

“The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.”

-Pliny the Elder

I’ve never been much of a mountain climber. More of a hillwalker, if I’m honest. I spent over a decade in the scouts when I was younger and traversed many a Wicklow hill. And that’s pretty much what one does when hillwalking. Traversing. Oh there’s a little bit of rambling and a touch of circuitous roaming. Perhaps also a smidge of promenading – though only ever on show to one’s-self.

It’s true that hillwalking and mountaineering are two inhabitants of the same bailiwick. But mountaineering is more pointed. There would appear to be more of an ‘achievement’ in mountaineering. The equipment is usually more expensive than the stick a hillwalker might find by the side of the road. And mountaineering doesn’t allow for much in the way of ‘divergence’: either the summit is reached or it is not. When I think of it,mountaineering is, essentially, hillwalking multiplied by boasting.

Now – I like a good outcome myself. For years, I’ve been looking for a way to ‘achieve’ more from my hillwalks without having to mountaineer. I usually try to pick a particular site or ruin to visit, for example, or judge it by the distance I walk. But now, I think I’ve found what I’ve been looking for. Rather than find a mountain to climb, I’ll find the opposite to ramble to.

And what is the opposite, you might ask? Ireland’s highest peak is Carrauntoohil, Kerry, at 1038m above sea level. The opposite is Ireland’s lowest point: North Slob, Wexford, at ten feet below.

In December 2013, I find myself driving back to Dublin following a rather tense meeting in Wexford. As I drive, I see a sign advertising the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve. A few months back, I had read about this place – a reserve on the North Slob – Ireland’s lowest point. Looks like I might have time to stop off for a little descend-walking before I get home …

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The polder on the Slob

The Wexford Sloblands are an area of farmland reclaimed from the sea in the 1840s. In fact, the word ‘slob’ is itself an old Irish word referring to muddy, useless land. It was adopted into the English language in the 18th century. In fact, it was not until the 1880s that the phrase ‘a slob of a man’ was first used.

My car pulls off the main Wexford road and follows a tiny, windy affair that is more a track than anything. To my left, lush farmland. To my right, a ten foot polder keeping the sea at bay. I drive for a few miles before reaching an old abandoned factory and a car-park. This is the entrance to the Wildfowl reserve. I step out and approach the gate. I see geese behind the fence. Literate geese,apparently. A sign proclaims ‘Geese Only beyond this Point’. Indeed, the geese appear to be congregating exclusively in the hinterland of the sign. Literate AND observant.

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Geese congregate beyond the sign – as instructed.

I walk around a fenced-off lake – the only person in the complex – and, it feels, quite possibly the only person in the Sloblands. I stop and take a few pictures. I take a minute to ponder my achievement today – my grand descent – my gently walk – to here, Ireland’s other extremity.

Although a bird sanctuary nowadays, it was not always the case. In fact, until recent decades, this was the opposite of a sanctuary and birds were hunted in their thousands. In 1951, one hunting party on this spot began to argue with each other about whether the Golden Plover or the Grouse is the faster bird. This argument resulted in the idea for the Guinness Book of Records.

After a short while (watched constantly by geese that appear to taunt me to disobey the sign), I leave and make my way to the polder. I am wearing a snappy FCUK suit and grip-less shoes. Not ideal hill-walking attire, I’ll admit – but I’ll make do with what I have. I take a long run at the steep polder and – barely – make it to the top. And the view is quite beautiful. Across the bay, I can see Wexford Town in the twilight. When I look back along the polder, the height of the sea above the road becomes apparent. I stroll awhile along the polder top before being joined by a friendly dog. He walks with me awhile – a Tenzing to my Hillary.

There is a peacefulness to this place that I find quite pleasing. I had come here to try and get a silly story – but I actually find myself enjoying it – the beautiful rural scenery, the bay the backdrop, the silence.

I sit a while as I look out over the bay and reflect on my day. Haven’t I finally done it? A walk with a purpose? Have I finally blended the ‘achievement’ of mountaineering with the rambling serenity of hillwalking?  I look back to my car. There are two geese walking around – inspecting it. Maybe this isn’t as thrilling as mountaineering after all …

Poueltry

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So a short post this week – but one about something that has addled my brain for – literally – months. I had an idea for a little poem – a two liner piece of nonsense that made me smile and, well, that was about it. 

But try as I might, I just couldn’t get the words in these two lines to fit. It ended up sounding grandiloquent as I reached for words such as ‘behold’ and ‘shall’ to make the meter of the poem ‘fit’. When I took them out, the poem felt unfinished and – odd as it may seem for a two-liner – disjointed.

And then it simply came to me. So I give you my new poem “Poueltry”. It won’t change your life. It won’t give you any insight into either the mind of the creator or access to the drawer of index cards at the Anima Mundi. And yes – it is very ‘Ogden Nash’. But, then again, so was Ogden Nash. All I know is that I like it. And here it is – the result of two month’s of the most intense and inexplicable frustration …

Poueltry

Poultry and poetry – the difference, I’m told,

Is that one is a chicken and the other, an ode. 

The Bear

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It is July 2013 and it is hot. My family are staying in the forests around Gordon Wisconsin in a little trailer without air conditioning. No – wait – make that ‘bereft’. The trailer is ‘bereft’ of air conditioning. Despite the fact that the Sun has long since evaporated and turned the hot day into night, it is still equally as fevered.

I cannot sleep. Heat aside, a suburbanite such as myself does not do well in the forest. Things make noises. Cracking branches and falling leaves sound like plummeting trees and tornadoes. Foostering chipmunks sound like befuddled bears. Eyelashes appear in the half light to be Brown Recluse spiders swinging quickly on their silk before my vision – taunting me.

My childer – between them ranging from two to four years old – sleep nonchalantly. They clearly get this from their mother, sleeping noisily in a manner that I now understand is a locally-learned defense mechanism to keep noise-fearing scavengers away. This is no country for suburban Irishmen.

I look at the clock. It is 1am. What to do? I’ll have to get up in the …

The trailer begins to shake. There is a rustling sound outside. What the … And then it stops. My blood is now 85% panic. My ears are patrolling. My brain is not only interpreting – but also – helpfully – embellishing every sound. What was that?

*

In the morning, I tell Marie of the shaking incident.

“Oh my! Did it eat you?”

“Did what eat me?”

“Whatever was shaking the trailer?”

“No – it didn’t eat me.”

She gives a wry smile. “And it won’t eat you tonight either. You’ll be fine.”

I am more worried than ever now! Is that the classificatory test used to decide upon the level of danger posed by an animal? Did it eat me and if so, then it’s OK to be scared?? Surely it would be moot by then!

I decide to take my mind off things by bringing the kids out for a drive. Not far from the trailer is Gordon Dam park. The dam itself is an impressive steel and concrete affair that was built in the depression era as one of Roosevelt’s far sighted public works schemes. It replaced an earlier wooden dam at the location. The water from the mighty St. Croix river backs up behind the dam in a flowage before plummeting through the sluice gates into the river channel below. The kids throw sticks into it – but the water is so ferocious that they disappear into the water’s ether (the sticks – not the kids).

People are fishing. Kids are swimming (amazingly not too far from the business-side of the dam …). The Sun continues to be relentless – but there is a cool breeze that either comes directly off the flow or is created by the wings of about fifteen billion mosquitoes … either way – it’s not unpleasant. This is exactly what I needed to keep my mind off the wildlife difficulties of the previous evening.

“Look Daddy!” shouts my daughter as she lovingly frolics in the grass, pointing at an oddly shaped rock.

“That’s nice honey.”

The rock moves as she reaches down to touch it. “Noooo! That’s a snapping turtle!” I run towards her. Luckily my hollering has sent her into a state of catatonic shock. Parenting.

I explain to her that it is a snapping turtle and could bite off her little finger for no reason stronger than spite. She receives the message – but my wildlife radar beeps a loud internal ‘told you so’ to me. We return home

*

It is night-time again. I lie as if wishing sleep, but am secretly on sentry duty, here to protect my family against the lurking Wisconsin fauna. I am the hero they need. I am …

The trailer begins to shake again. My eyes dart to my watch. It is 1am again. The trailer moves back and forth. I am as rigid as an overzealous sentry. And then it stops. I listen intently and do indeed hear a rustling yet again. Sleep continues inside the trailer without me …

*

Over breakfast, Marie listens politely to my concerns – about how a trailer is only barely structurally sound and is easily penetrable by, say, a mildly curious bear – never mind an angry one – which, by my reckoning as an expert on bears, all of them are.

“You probably heard a chipmunk and the shaking was probably just the wind. You really have nothing to worry about.”

*

Later that day, we are back at the dam by popular request of the kids. I am now on turtle and bear watch. So far, so good. In fact, we see nothing of any interest at all and, after a very pleasant stroll down by the water’s edge, we return to the car. I am a little taken aback at a “Don’t Shoot a Swan” sign that I see tacked to a tree – but I eventually see that it can apparently happen as a result of mistaken identity with geese. My brain quickly shuts down the

Don't Shoot A Swan

Don’t Shoot A Swan

image of locals dining on lavish feasts of white-plumed delicacies.

We return home and put the kids to bed. By 8pm, they are out cold. Marie and I sit at the trailer table looking out the window and test driving a random assortment of words and sentences. The scene really is quite idyllic. We are surrounded by a birch forest. There are a few fallen logs. Some indistinguishable shoots are attempting to compete with the taller trees for sunlight. There is a quiet forest road perhaps twenty feet away…

And there is a three hundred pound bear running down the road at about 35 miles per hour.

“Marie! Look!”

We both stare in awe at this magnificent creature. We see his muscles ripple like a salmon stream beneath his shiny fleece of darkest black. We see his arms reach out and gobble up the roadway with speed.

A car approaches. The bear is spooked. He leaves the roadway and makes his way over towards the trailer! Now this is a close encounter!

He sees the trailer – and no doubt sees a gape-jawed Irishman looking at him through the window. I wonder if he thinks the window is merely a sneeze guard to the course of Seán contained within?

He turns, and walks off into the forest.

And then a lightbulb goes off over my head.

“Sorry”, says Marie. “It was getting dark in here.”

“No problem – but I have an idea! The bear! This trailer! The trailer hasn’t been here that long. I wonder if it’s parked in a natural pathway that he uses? After all – he came straight for us and then turned away. I wonder if he’s using the trail at night, bumping into the trailer and having to awkwardly stand on two legs to make his way around the trailer – between it and the trees? Is that what’s rocking it?”

“Sounds possible! I mean – wow! What a fantastic thing to see!”

I determine to stay awake that night (as if I would have been able to

'Bear', with thanks to Dave Coleman

‘Bear’, with thanks to Dave Coleman

sleep …) and investigate.

*

It is approaching 1am. I am the only person still awake. I am listening intently. The glass on the window immediately beside my bed is open to allow cool air to come in. There is a mesh screen in place – the only thing separating me from things that want to eat me. I listen through it for footsteps…

The trailer begins to rock back and forth. I sit bolt upright. I can hear a rustling. I throw open the blinds to see …nothing. For it is 1am – the middle of the night – in a dark forest. What did I think I was going to be able to see?

But then a thought strikes me … I might – at least – be able to hear him.

So I put my ear right up to the mesh …

And the nose of a bear breathes right into it …

My heart forgets to beat.

Marie! Marie!”, I should in my loudest whisper.

“What? What is it?” she says, very reluctantly rousing from her sleep. Over the years, she has made it very clear to me that sleep-rousing is pretty much a cardinal sin. Oh I’ve seen comets, shooting stars, mysterious things aflying in the sky … but I’ve seen them all alone. She must not be woken. However, I feel that a bear’s nose in my ear probably counts as acceptable exception.

“The bear! He’s sniffing in my ear through the mesh!”

Marie turns to me and, in a clearly annoyed voice, says “The bear is only a problem because you’re still awake.” With that, she turns back on her ‘away from me’ side and is instantly back asleep.

The bear withdraws. I listen to him pad this way through the leaves – away from me and my potentially delicious ear … and towards the bins, where he spends the next few hours gorging himself on the contents of my son’s used diaper bag.

Ah, nature.

Family Life: January 2014 Installment

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Part of being the greatest Dad on the planet is rolling with the punches. Below, I share two January conversations with my kids – the fruits of my lions – and show that no matter how advanced in the field of awesome parentage one may be, one is never fully prepared for what comes next.

Conversation with Matilda (age 5):

Mammy and Daddy

Mammy and Daddy

“Look Daddy! I drew a picture for you!”
“Well thank you Matilda! Is that Mammy on the right?”
“Yeah. That’s Mammy. She’s wearing a pretty dress.”
“Ok. And that’s me? With the long hair on my head?”
“That’s not a long hair. That’s your stink lines.”
“…”

Conversation with Orran (age 3):

Orran: “Daddy – will you play swords with me?”

Me: “Sure!”
Orran: “Ok – pretend that the gun that the world comes out of is after us and I’ll get it with my sword.”
Me: “…”

The Elephant and the Toilet Seat

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So a little while back, when my daughter was 4, she asked if myself and herself could write a story together. I gave her ‘Once upon a time …’ and asked her a series of “and then what happened?” questions. This was the result …

 

The Elephant and the Toilet Seat

by Seán Carabini and  Matilda Carabini

 

Once upon a time …

There was an elephant that lived under a toilet seat.

His name was Seancrunch because he was a little baby. Any why, you might ask, did he live under a toilet seat? Well, because everybody knows that baby elephants live under toilet seats.

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One day, Seancrunch had terrible hiccups. He also had terrible wind for some reason.

What should I do?” wondered Seancrunch. He decided to sit on the toilet seat to try and get rid of his wind.

Oh No!” cried Seancrunch as – SPLASH – he fell without grace or dignity into the toilet.

The cold toilet water made him poop on entry, adding to his already deep sense of embarrassment.

Luckily, the Stamprunch was walking by. The Stramprunch, for the uninitiated, is green, with black hair and roars like a scary gorrilla-lion.

And then there were balloons.

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The End.