12th August1999

If style was ever invented, it was invented in Douglas. Not the kind of style money can buy, but the style that comes from within.

That polished point of character of an indivuals personality that makes them unique. That touch of glass that everone has but not everyone goes to the trouble of developing. Ned has it, and he's had it since the time when no one else or since we thought no one else had it. In those good old days Douglas was a village two miles from Cork and the only thing going for it was St. Patrick's Woollen Mills, four pubs, two Churches, three schools, the Merries, St. Columba's Hall, O'Mahony's Garage, the Guards Barracks and the Fingerpost. Then there was the bus that turned at Chambers Shop and went back into town. All in all it was a typical country village, a close nit community where everyone knew each other, shared each other's problems, and didn't have to lock their doors. It was here that Ned had worked in the Mill's. Unlike other young men of his time he wasn't particularly impressed about having a job. He made that very obvious the morning he turned up for work in a big Mecedes car, walked over to the foreman and quit. The next day he started the first hackney service in Douglas, and from that time on he was known as Ned Taxi.

Where Ned got his money was anybody's guess. He claimed he saved his entire wages, and though it wasn't a new car we all knew he could never have earned such a large amount of money. Later on, word got around that a rich aunt of his died in Montenotte and he was left the car. There were not too many cars in Douglas at that time, and Ned was very proud of his. He would park his limo in the shade of the three palm trees that were in front of his house up the lane. Every morning Ned was up polishing and waxing his sleek wine coloured Mercedes. The chrome fittings sparkled whenever the sunshine fell on them. Spotless inside and out, Ned's car ws always in immaculate showroom condition. To go with the car Ned acquired a chauffeurs uniform. Unfortunately there was no chauffeurs cap with it, so he had to make do with an ordinary black peak cap was always sideways on his head, the edge testing on his right ear. This served two purposes, first it gave him that debonair Clark Gable look which all the girls loved, and second he had developed an uncanny knack of taking a cigarette from his mouth, topping it and putting it behind his ear,under the cap in one smooth movement that seemed so natural it almost went unnoticed. Ned was a great Clarke Gable fan, he'd been to see all the movies, studied Gables mannerisms and copied them. As a result Ned became like his movie idol, adored by the young, doted on by the old, a man's kind of man, and a ladies kind of man. He had charm and he had style, and soon the business was booming. For every important event taking place in the locality that needed prestige transport, Ned Taxi was the man. Within a few years Ned established a thriving business, married the builders daughter, and settled down in life to become an important figure in the community. As the years passed and Douglas moved on with the rest of the world Ned's business declined, times were changing. Today Douglas is a thriving dormitory town in the suburbs of Cork City. There are plenty of Hackney's and taxies and buses, and there are thousands of people with their own cars. Yet Ned is the same old Ned, He's changed his car a few times but still has a good old fashioned wine coloured Mercedes with lots of chrome fittings, and he still polishes it every day, and he still does a bit of business, not much but it's enough. Ned himself says that he is semi-retired. Then one day last August a strange thing happened. He had just dropped an old client off at the airport, when he was approached by a gorgeous looking American lady. She looked very familiar to Ned, but he could'nt put a name on her face, and he was too much of a gentleman to ask. She wanted to go to the Yanks house on the Rochestown road and Ned was only to happy to oblige. Everyone knows the yanks house though very few people have ever seen him, he keeps to himself and lives a secluded life. Ned arrived at tjhe entrance and the gates opened automatically, he drove up to the house and was met at the door by a man in uniform, presumably the butller, who took the ladies bags, paid Ned and booked for a trip to the airport in two weeks time. Ned felt a little proud of being in demand. Two weeks later he arrived at the door at the appointed time and as expected the butler opened the door and out stepped the lady and the Yank. Ned looked at the Yank, a tall grey bearded man almost bald, slightly overweight with a relaxed angelic air about him. "I know him from somewhere" Ned was thinking. "Iknow both of them" but he said nothing and just carried on with his job. As they approached the airport Ned was listening to their conversation "are you going to change your mind" she was asking. "Naw! Ican never come back now" he drawled "I don't want to, I'm happy the way I am". The lady said nothing but Ned watched in his rear-view mirror as she shrugged her shoulders. "One more thing" said the man "please try and persuade Lisa Marie to come next time". They were just pulling into the Airport terminal. "I'll try" said the lady. Ned stopped the car. "I won't get out" said the man "so i'll say goodbye now". She leaned over and kissed him. "Goodbye Priscilla", said the man. "Goodbye Elvis" said the lady. Ned was flabbergasted, he should have seen it, the Yank, the house, the seclusion...........

In a red gold chair on a dull green floor, The gull grey shadows reflect his glance, While behind his back on a blue suede door, In flames of crimson the devils dance. And a sad hound dog with vermilion eyes, Shows death white teeth at his masters feet, Without a bidding he can never rise, A sovereign's triumph, a dog's defeat. As the naked walls idly stand around, Their useless colours cast back his doubt, Still, they keep his world from falling down, There's a small sky window opening out. Chapel of happiness! Altar of Hell! Is this where the King sits on his thone? Is this where the devils and angels dwell? Where love and hate have together flown, Lord! Pity the dream that was once a star, And pity the star that was once a King, In a jet black cloak, and a yellow guitar, Forever alone - and listening.

Ronnie Mc Ginn.