Saturday, June 5, 2010

Irish Burglar Alarms

Once upon a time when I was a newly returned ex-pat, I decided it would be a great idea to live in the back of beyond, in a place where it’s so country that you had to go out and look for beauty with a metal detector. The place was mostly bog and stone and other than my good self and a handful of blow-ins, most of the locals were cousins of some kind or other. There was one sad pub where the local men sported various themes on the same check shirt while the ladies wore knee length skirts and raised a leg on a Friday night for the Set Dancing session. This village had one tourist attraction, and it did earn the name village as there was a petrol pump that doubled up into a post office where you could also buy groceries. You wouldn’t know it was a tourist attraction considering that from outside it looked like the ruins of a big old house, and it was pretty much deserted. What made it a tourist attraction was that above the hole that was once an entrance, there was a carving of a very ugly naked woman holding open her genatalia for the entire world to see. There are only a few such carvings left in Ireland and they are called ‘Sheela-na-Gigs.’ There is, of course, plenty of controversy as to what a Sheela-na-Gigs is all about. Some will claim she is a pagan goddess, others will say she is a warning against lust. Personally, my favourite interpretation is that she was there to scare people away: a sort of warning that a mad woman with a huge fanny is inside and that if you dare come any closer she is going to get you.
Not long after moving into this shambles of a house we were broken into. It served me right. It was stupid to think that living in the Irish countryside meant you would be safe. I had moved into a very exposed house on a country road, and really I should have just put a sign up saying ‘pull in, rob the place and leave’. After the break in I began to feel uncomfortable at night. I feared that someone would break in when we were at home, attacking myself or the kids. So I decided to do a Sheela-na-Gigs on it. I bought a cement plaque with a picture of a very nasty Sheela and hung it outside the door.
I used to sleep naked anyway, so I came up with a safety plan. The house was a bungalow, so if anyone broke in I would hear them come up the hall. All I’d have to do would be to run up the hall naked, holding my fanny open and screaming in an earth mother voice. I was delighted with myself. It was cheap and I didn’t have to remember some code or other. A few months went by and I began to forget about burglars. Until, that is, I heard my front door rattle one morning at about 3am. I could also hear my car being pulled and tampered with, so that was it.
He probably heard my cave woman howls first, but when I came running up the hall naked and flashing my fanny at my next door neighbour I can only say that yes, it did work indeed.
He was at my door to say that the bull had escaped from Kelly’s field and was now endangering my car. Sadly, the bull wasn’t scared off by my tactics, so I did the walk of shame back down the hall, put on some clothes and helped my neighbour to get the bull out.
All the same though, I still think it’s a great alternative to forking out money for fancy burglar alarms, and when it comes to humans, it definitely does work.  I’ve since moved from that village for reasons best left unsaid. Here in the suburbs though, they say that crime is on the increase, so luckily for my family, we are all safe. Safe as houses. 

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