- 03 Dec 21
The Crosbie Show
You might have thought – as I did - that this, an expanded collection of previously privately-published short stories from famed property developer Harry Crosbie, was the very definition of a vanity project, but we were both wrong. As befits a man with his day job, he knows how to construct a story and tells them with some style, taking us back to the Dublin of his youth in the early 60s, a different world from the city as it is now.
Lockdown is the tide that berthed all boats so Crosbie, along with the rest of us, had some time on his hands to rifle through his memories and use them as the bricks and mortar for these building projects. And talking of boats, how about the vertically-challenged Mattie in 'Walking On The Water', whose plans to navigate the Royal Canal from Liffey West to the Shannon hit a snag when the boat he does up sinks on contact with the water, or the heart-breaking Hibo in 'Why Do Bees Dance?', who shares the secret delights of the Flying Angel Sailor's Rest and the Iveagh Baths in Tara Street, but is later found in a water barrel after taking a turn? He goes off to the Gorman and works as a baker and, when he dies, he's remembered by a photo in the biscuit tin which “must make him part of the family”.
Right from the opening 'Eighteen And A Half', Crosbie is knocking in winners, taking off with his hippie mate, The Bray Head, for Istanbul in 1965. Things go arseways when a truck driver looks for a ride for a ride, and then get even worse in Thessaloniki where a crew of German travellers die after selling their blood, which makes the narrator long for home and his Ma. Still not convinced? Try the beautifully evocative 'Dipstick Day'. "We are all spinning halfpennies in the air" is a line I wish I'd come up with, and you should too.
It's all good but the medal goes to master thief and pigeon fancier, Hairoil O’Reilly, who turns up a few times, first of all orchestrating a whiskey robbery while Liverpool are on Match Of The Day in 'Smoko', and then, in the masterful ‘Not Only Pigeons Fly’, meticulously plans and carries off a city centre robbery which is crying out for someone with a movie camera to go at it. Then, if that wasn't enough, Hairoil reveals his headquarters in 'Rustling At Undernose Farm' and we're nearly in the realm of magic realism
Take my word for it, any remaining cynicism engendered by the name on the cover should be left at the door; Crosbie the writer is worthy of your attention.