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Regular Irishman's Dinner.

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Regular Irishman's Dinner. Empty Regular Irishman's Dinner.

Post  Guest on Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:28 pm

Regular Irishman's Dinner.

By J. A. H

IN the good old times of gold-digging I became acquainted with a party of three men who went by the name of the United Kingdom Mob. Their names' will not be necessary, but their birth-place, to understand their peculiarities, I will mention. Fred, a native of London ; Sandy, a native of Aberdeen ; and Paddy, a native of Dublin. Of the many parties of men working together I never knew a mob that agreed so well, yet differed so greatly. They were all hard working men, and I may add tolerably lucky-they
had one of the best and most comfortable tents at the time I knew them on the whole diggings. Sandy was considered boss at the claim ; Fred boss of the tent ; and Paddy, when asked, said he was head boss. Being camped very near them, of an evening I used frequently to go to their tent to pass an hour, for I was sure some discussion would be going on, for they were all well-educated men, and took considerable interest in the general news of the day. But should it happen that it was a quiet evening, you were always certain to find a lot of newspapers, both home and colonial, with Borne good standard works. These, in themselves, were sufficient inducement to make one cultivate their acquaintance. During the many pleasant evenings I passed in their company, I had opportunities of noticing their peculiarities. I scarce know any subject but at one time or another I have joined with them in discussing to the best of our abilities ; oftentimes has it waxed furious and fast, until the small hour of the morning warned us that if work was to be the order of the next day, bed would be necessary, and Paddy would say and move that the discussion be adjourned for it was seldom renewed, some other subject generally arising in conversation that would very soon be the great question for the next evening. Amidst all their discussions, religion was never touched, for, singular to state, it was about the only subject they were agreed upon. But for genuine fun and humour I never met with men who were so gifted. Should any name come before the public as being celebrated in literature, art, science, naval, military, or in fact anything, it was laughable to hear each of them claim him for their countryman. Paddy would say, '.' That's my country ; now, Mr Fred can you produce any one equal to him ?" Both Fred and Sandy would equally claim him as their's ; and until it was proved positive whether he was English, Scotch, or Irish, each would claim him ; and should one appear to be getting the best of it, then the other two would join issue to prevent his having the least advantage ; but should one be able to prove his assertion great would be the victory. I
remember on one occasion after one of these discussions had almost been forgotten-and if there was' any advantage at all Fred had it Sandy coming to my tent after he had left. off work and saying, he’ll come over after supper for I have a great affair for tonight." I promised I would, for I felt pretty certain that there was fun about. On my arrival' they were all engaged reading, and Sandy, with a look of triumph, said, " Ah, I am glad you have come ; you remember the dispute we had some two or three weeks ago about what countryman I-was ; now I am in a position to prove my words." Paddy and Fred, looked surprised. " What the devil are you talking about ?" said Paddy. Sandy produced an old newspaper, read an extract to prove what he had stated, and made a speech that kept the whole of us in a roar of laughter, and resumed his seat with a look of injured innocence, and so serious that a stranger would have thought that he really had received some very great affront. On another occasion when I entered, they were all so furiously engaged discussing, that I stood several minutes before they observed me. Each with a book before him, endeavouring to prove that his country had produced the greatest poet,-Paddy, quoting Moore; Sandy, Burns; and Fred, Byron-the extracts they were reading, some- times oil together, the opinions expressed ; the praise of one, the derision of another, baffles all description. Fred was getting decidedly the worst of it, for Sandy partly claimed Byron, when Fred took up a volume of Shakspere, and, striking his hand upon it, said, " Can either of you beat that r I think that licks you both ; but I suppose one or other of you will claim him. Paddy will try and make out that his father was an Irishman ; and so on for hours ; at the finish each, as a matter of course, asserting that he had proved 'his country' to
have produced the greatest poet. Just before leaving, Paddy opened two bottles of Dublin porter and commenced praising it-this was quite enough to bring about a dispute, and if only one tithe part of the virtues are possessed by London porter, Edinburgh ale, and Dublin porter I heard asserted that evening, they must indeed, be very wonderful beverages. If you happened to go to their claim, you would be sure to find them chaffing each other. One would perhaps try a prospect, on his return you would hear one or other of' them say, " Well, that's à pretty prospect, but what could you expect from an Irishman-or that Cockney had thrown the best dirt away, and that Sandy could not work, for he had eaten too much dinner. But in nil their remarks there was nothing ill-natured ; they were nil made in jest, for it seemed they could not be together without squibbing each other. As I have before observed, Fred was boss of the tent, and did the cooking ; but even in this there was disputes. Paddy was continually saying, " wait until I cook a dinner. I'll show you the way to make a feed for the Lord Lieutenant." But it would be useless in a short sketch to attempt giving all their peculiarities. One circumstance alone will I relate. After dinner, one Sunday, I went to their tent, " my usual practice in the afternoon." On entering, I was much surprised at the confusion they were in, for it was so unusual to see their tent what I may say out of order. Paddy was at the fire, surrounded with pots and pans, a kettle, and a camp oven. _ Strewed about the floor were potato peelings ; a tin dish, with dough sticking all over it ; flour upset, and, just outside the tent a large billy, with the bottom out. " Have you had dinner ? " I inquired. Sandy was laying down on his stretcher endeavouring to prevent himself laughingly stuffing a handkerchief in his mouth; and in reply to my inquiries, pointed to Paddy. Fred was also laying down with a newspaper before his face, and could not answer for fear of bursting out laughing. " Why, what's the matter, I said, turning to Paddy. "Matter," he replied, " why the devils have got me to cook the dinner-which I have not only done, but have about cooked myself I'm giving them one of my dinners, it will be such a treat they will never want another, but a saint could not cook while these fellows are in the tent ; they have done nothing but lie down and laugh all the morning, and if I ask either of them a question they only answer with a roar." " What have you been doing with the billy?" I continued. '? I was going to boil the pudding in it, and put it on with a little water, so that I could clean it, and never thought about it until the bottom dropt out, much to the amusement of Master Fred." " So you have no duff to-day ?" I replied. ""Oh yes ; after a great amount of persuasion and coaxing I squeezed it into the kettle, and it's boiling a hurricane," he replied. "Come, Paddy, let's have some dinner," said Sandy, " Let the head boss alone ; how can he attend to cooking, and you continually asking for dinner ; it's enough to cook, without being annoyed by you, isn't it Paddy," said Fred. To which Paddy only replied, " To the devil with the pair of you." Soon after Paddy served up his great dinner, he commenced by upsetting the ashes from the lid of the camp oven on to the beef and potatoes. " Well, I am an unfortunate cook ; but never mind, chaps, it's only a little clean dirt, and that will never hurt you." After some trouble and several accidents, it was at last placed on the table. '. So, this is the great dinner you have promised us so long," commenced Fred. " Where's the pudding ? " said Sandy. " What, do you want the pudding with the meat ? " said Paddy. " Oh, yes ; and let's have some tea, so that we can see the extent of our feed at once, and know how much to eat of each." Paddy now took the kettle off to get the pudding out, but it was a hopeless task ; he certainly had squeezed it in, but get it out he could not. Break the kettle, cut it up, make an Irish stew of it, boil it down with some tea and we can have tea and pudding together ;" and fifty other remarks were passed until Paddy was almost crazy. " Well, boys, think yourselves lucky that you have a pudding too large for the pot, for in my country, in too many cases the pot is too large for the pudding." After some trouble the pudding was placed upon the table in pieces, and the remarks that were made, and the laughter so great, that no one could commence '. Well, if I'd a thought you were going to have a dinner of laughter," said Paddy, "I would not have troubled to have cooked such a feed at least to day. " It does you credit," said Fred, " it is a regular Irishman's dinner." " You are right there," replied Paddy, "so far as the fun goes, for too many of my unfortunate countrymen have to make their dinner off little else ; but its anything but laugh and grow fat with them." Paddy helped himself to a piece of the pudding, and commenced praising it. " I suppose you will allow the cook, after producing such a dinner to have a little brandy over his pudding." " I think you had better have some whisky," replied Sandy, "for it's more in keeping with the dinner. " Oh, never mind that ; I'll take a little brandy this time," and reaching his hand he took up a bottle that stood under one of the stretchers, and poured over his pudding some vinegar. He had the wrong bottle ' That was the climax Another volley , Fred and Sandy fairly laid down to it, Paddy saying, " I’ll give in now, but if ever I cook another dinner for such ungrateful varmint may I never get another ounce of gold ' I left, for I had laughed to that extent that I felt I could do with a lay down myself It was ever after a standing joke , no paper contained a report of any dinner but what Paddy's attention was called to it " Did you read that account in the Arqus," Fred would say to Paddy " About what' he would reply "Why, I see they have been giving a dinner '. " Now, that’ll do, Master Fred," for Paddy knew what was coming " Well, read it yourself, it s nothing compared to that dinner of yours " They did not enjoy them- selves more, I'll venture to say," said Paddy , ' Its to be hoped their brandy was better than what you tried," Sandy would join in "Never mind, Paddy, may we always have a pudding too large for the pot, echoed, Fred Such is a slight sketch of the " United Kingdom Mob."


Newspaper article
The Sydney Morning Herald
July 1860


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