By Denis Donoghue
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Birch (for Accountant) I INQUIRED FROM Robin Sinclair, keeper of records in the RUC, about my father’s service. It appears that, on joining the force, he was assigned to Arney, a village in County Fermanagh; before my time. Unless he was transferred to another station, he served in Arney from 1922 to 1928. He took up duty in Warrenpoint on November 1, 1928, exactly a month before I was born. I assume that my mother spent the summer and the autumn and most of the winter in Tullow, and that my father kept house in the barracks with May, Kathleen, and Tim.
They did not have a bacon slicer or any other machine, only two large knives. I never saw my mother slicing rashers, but I saw Ciss engaging in the only shopkeeping mystery she practised. To keep the meat intact, you had to cut each slice fairly thick, and when you came to a bone, you had to use the knife as a hammer and break through it. It was a question of tact to decide how much bone and rind you put on the weighing scale. Generally, rind was left on the rashers, but most of the bone was discarded; all of it, for a favoured customer.
My father did not bother to develop a theory to support his conviction that wet feet were a menace. It didn’t matter if you were drenched, caught in a downpour, so long as your shoes kept you dry. He preferred boots and always wore them with his uniform, but I wanted shoes. Provided the soles were leather, he conceded the issue. But if my shoes and socks seemed wet, he insisted on my removing them and filling a tin bath with boiling water. If I soaked my feet in the bath, my father was satisfied that I might escape without damage.