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Barry the (Problem-Solving) Cocker Spaniel - Short Story by Kenneth Nolan

A spat with Tubridy in the canteen in Donnybrook proved to be the final straw for RTE bosses. Tubridy, apparently defending the honour of Jennifer Maguire after a sniffing incident in the queue for the morning fry-up. They ‘squared up’ to each other and had to be separated by Miriam O’Callaghan. Festering tensions between the two had re-surfaced as both falsely believed that disparaging words had been spoken in the past with regard to the size of each other’s ears. ‘Although you could believe that Barry may have said a few things he’s always been an awful man for the slagging’. ‘And Tubridy’s no angel either’.

Well anyway, Tubridy, less than impressed with Barry’s foul-mouthed rebuke, said to Barry, “Please Barry, you can’t sniff lady presenters during working hours and there is certainly no justification for such an angry foul-mouthed tirade.” Barry just stood there and repeated the same eight words, only in a slower, more deliberate fashion before being ushered away by Brian Ormond. That was the end for Barry’s career at RTE. Tubridy, who holds great sway in Dublin 4, put in an official complaint to the big-wigs so Barry was called in to explain himself.

Barry is a tough street-smart cocker spaniel from the bad streets of Ballyer but in truth he was never very clever and has a very limited vocabulary, even for a writer at RTE. The bosses weren’t satisfied with his eight-word explanation and Barry was given the sack. It was such a pity at the time because his new morning (agony aunt type) show ‘Problem-solving Dogs’ which Barry co-hosted with Linda Martin was really getting good reviews and his afternoon quiz show ‘A Spaniel in the Works’ was also doing well.

Barry went back to Ballyer to lick his wounds but was soon back in trouble after he unwisely took legal action against Stuart Carolan claiming Carolan ripped off the idea for Love/Hate from him. Carolan up in arms, naturally, couldn’t understand how a cocker spaniel who had never written anything longer than eight words let alone an entire crime drama series would have the audacity to make such a ridiculous claim. Barry held firm, hoping that his close pal ‘Celebrity Lawyer Gerald Kean’ could work his magic and that all the hardshaws from Ballyer he knew would back him up in his ‘I’m from Ballyer and that’s where the authenticity comes from’ claim. Stuart got thick and sent Nidge out to fire bomb Barry’s kennel. However, Barry had the entire gaff on Le Fanu Road souped up out of the money he had made from his problem-solving days and his time at RTE. At this stage he was on Ireland’s top 50 rich list in the ‘Indo Business Section’ by the way.

The front of the house itself he had covered in pebble dash -brown, the garden was entirely paved with a shabby but expensive attempt at a patio at the front door. In the parlour he had every up to date piece of kit on the market with regards to home-entertainment; cinema size plasma television, computer with printer & scanner, multi-disc DVD player, Xbox, DJ decks, even a feckin karaoke machine!

Life size portraits of Bob Marley and Che Guevara hung on opposite sides of the room, with a rug emblazoned with Tony Montana saying “I bury those cockroaches” covering most of the floor. The kitchen could rival any kitchen in Ballyfermot for class; marble floor, saloon type highchairs, Japanese craftworks hanging everywhere, a gold-plated dartboard hung over a converted snooker/dining table covered by a poster of Rosanna Davison in the nip. He still slept in the kennel in the back garden; however, it was now fire, bullet and bomb proof.
I went to a party over at Barry’s place not too long ago and it was great craic. He had invited some friends, some locals and the entire South-West Dublin Filipino Community over for a karaoke party. Strangely enough Barry only allowed the female Filipino guests to sing (he was partial to Asian girls). Anyone else who put their names forward he told to “Fuck Off and get a grip of yourself” even his neighbour and ‘local favourite’ Mary Byrne wasn’t allowed to get up for a tune. We listened to all sorts of soppy love songs, numbers from Whitney Houston, Westlife, Michael Buble etc. until every Filipino girl present had her turn to sing.

I was bored to tears until Barry changed in to some tight leather shorts with the backside cut out and got up to sing Rod Stewart’s ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’. He strutted around the room shaking his tail in all the girls’ faces. He had no luck but it turned into a good night. The fun times didn’t last long. Barry had made too many enemies who were determined to bring him down. He held out for a couple of months then made a sensible decision to go into hiding.

Not only were Nidge and the boys out to get him but so were the ‘fair city mots’, and Tubridy after Barry put it about that Tubridy and Pat Kenny were lovers and Jennifer Maguire after she finally realised that Barry had been sniffing her up all that time and was not a small brown cute elegant fan looking for an autograph. ‘Local favourite Mary Byrne’ had a bone to pick with Barry for some reason as well (Christ only knows) and worst of all that bitch from Clondalkin ‘like a briar’ after Barry reneged on the pup support arrangement.

He’s gone to ground now and hasn’t been seen in months. Reported sightings in Lucan, Palmerstown and Celbridge have proved unfounded. Such a shame! For a dog who started out as a uniquely gifted dog. Ireland’s only ever problem-solving cocker spaniel. He had it all! But like so many before, money, fame and success ruined him. If only Uncle Tim had still been around to keep an eye on Barry, things may have been different.

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