Category Archives: Allie The Aardvark

An Aardvark’s Guide to Election 2011

Allie the Aardvark is in conversation with Carl Byrne’s teen(age son).

 

CB: So Allie, you’re very welcome to the show. Tell me and my listeners…

AA: All four of them…

CB: …yes, well…okay. Tell all five of us what it’s like to be an aardvark in Ireland, during this time of economic and political tumult.

AA: That’s a nice word, CB. I must use it in my next sentence.

CB: Please do.

AA: This tumult, as you so describe it, came about because the people of this good country have been sent down the Swanee. They were lied to by the very people they elected to safeguard their interests. But such is the nature of politics; you always get what you pay for.

CB: Ooh! The aardvark bites back. I like it.

AA: What’s happening now should have happened three years ago, when the full extent of the shite Ireland was in was made public. It’s a “land” thing, I believe. For many centuries, the Irish had been denied proper ownership of the land they grew up on because the British refused to give it to them.

CB: Why not?

AA: They liked potatoes too much. But I’m not here to bash the Brits. Some of my best friends hail from across the sea. Like Colin Firth and Wayne Rooney. They’re nice guys. Did I mention that I like dropping names?

CB: I believe it’s in my notes somewhere. Letterman warned me.

AA: So anyway, when the banks started throwing foreign money at the Irish, they bought houses and land at hugely inflated prices and this caused the so-called property boom. Homeowners became millionaires overnight. They lived on credit, and paid rates of interest that even the Sultan of Brunei would look twice at – and that guy’s loaded.

CB: But what goes up must come down, isn’t that correct?

AA: Yes. Ireland, like Finland and Greece, became a subprime country.

CB: And the Government allowed it.

AA: The banks were in its pocket; and vice versa. Heads should have rolled – but they didn’t.

CB: The Irish, as you well know, Allie, being an all-knowing and all-seeing Aardvark, are a fighting nation. Why haven’t they fought now? The Greeks rioted, the French love a looting or three, even the Icelanders kicked out their government. Where is the Irish passion gone?

AA: It’s being taxed at 40%. People can’t afford passion anymore. What needs to happen now is proper and accountable governing. But I despair.

CB: Why?

AA: Would you look at the shower of muppets who want to lead this country? We have Micheal “Me-Hole” Martin, trying to plug up the sinking ship that is Fianna Fail; Enda “Charmless” Kenny, leader of Fianna Gael, the party that most likely will win the majority of the 166 seats in the Dail; Eamon “Guileless” Gilmore, the leader of the so-called Labour Party, not so much left-wing, as left of nowhere; then there’s John “Gormless” Gormley, the Green Party leader, a man who is as much a danger to the environment as farting cows. Not much of a choice.

CB: Who will you vote for, then?

AA: I can’t, I’m afraid. I’m not an Irish citizen.

CB: What about Jimbo?

AA: He’s applying for Libyan nationality.

 

I, Aardvark: Aardvarkian Origins

I, AARDVARK.

I came downstairs the following morning and found Allie grinding coffee beans. The sound system was on. Coldplay were singing Violet Hill and the aardvark was doing his best Chris Martin impersonation.

“Your taste in music is…”

“What?” I asked, sensing an urgent need for caffeine. It had become clear to me that Allie was neither a prank nor a figment of my imagination. He was here, in my living room, organising breakfast.

“Depressing.” Allie broke open some eggs into a bowl and began whisking. “We can use some of the cheese for the omelettes. I hope you like them runny.”

“I don’t normally eat breakfast,” I said. “Mornings are hit-and-run for me. I hit the shower, then I run out the door.”

Allie’s snout drooped. “I know. I had to go out and buy some provisions. Just because you skip the most important meal of the day, it doesn’t mean I have to.”

I opened the fridge and took out a bottle of Coke. Allie rolled his eyes. “That’s healthy,” he said.

“You sound like my mother,” I replied.

“I’ll take that as a compliment. Did you sleep all right?”

“Good enough. Once I got over the whole talking aardvark thing, I pretty much conked out.” I thought of something just then. “Did you say you went out?”

“Yes,” Allie replied. He was now stirring the omelette mix in a pan. To my surprise, I found I was getting hungry. “You hadn’t any eggs and you were low in milk. I hope you don’t mind. The receipt is on the table.”

“But how…?”

“How what?”

“If I’m the only one who can hear you, how did the people at the shop know what to give you?”

Allie shook his head. “Jimbo, Jimbo, Jimbo. Ever hear of a shopping list?” He scooped out the omelette, divided it up into two plates, and handed one to me. He took his own plate and sat himself down in an armchair beside my CD and DVD shelves. He sucked his breakfast slowly, appearing to savour every morsel of egg and cheese. “I wrote out what you needed and and picked them up at the Spar.” He giggled to himself. “I caused a bit of a stir, let me tell you.”

Ballybough Community Centre

“I’d say you did. We don’t get many aardvarks in Ballybough.”

“I think it was more your Stetson.”

“You wore my Stetson?”

“Yup. Black goes well with blue.” Did I mention that Allie was blue? I am now. “How was your breakfast?”

I swallowed the last of them. “It was good,” I answered. “I have to get ready for work soon. Then I have to figure out what to do with you.”

“What’s to be done with me?” He gave me a concerned look. “I hate to say this, Jimbo, but you’re stuck with me for the time being.”

“But there has to be some kind of law that says I can’t.”

“I checked on the Internet.”

“And?”

“There isn’t. Unless there’s an antiquated Domestic Aardvark Act that I’ve missed somewhere along the line, you and I are a team.”

I put down my plate. “Well if that’s the case, you better come along with me.”

“To your job?”

“Yes.”

Allie’s front paws and snout rose in exultation. “Yippee! I have a job. What do you want me to do?”

I looked at the coffee pot which had just finished brewing. “You can start by getting me some coffee.”

Allie saluted an aardvark salute, which involved both paws and snout meeting at the centre of his forehead. “Aye, aye boss.”

I sighed — again. “No need to call me boss, Allie.”

“Okay, boss,” he grinned. “Can I wear your Stetson again?”

(C) James McShane

Allie and The Witches of Salmon

Ray the chef was having trouble scooping out a pumpkin. Lunch had finished and he decided he had plenty of time to get ready for the pub’s Halloween party on Sunday night. The 4.40 at Haydock Park was two hours away. Loads of time to get a bet on.

“Ping!” Allie the Aardvark was playing with the microwave again when I brought in the last of the day’s dirty cups and saucers. He and it had a special understanding, it seemed. I couldn’t see the attraction myself. But then, my little blue friend found amusement in the strangest of places. Maybe there weren’t any microwave ovens where Allie came from. Which reminded me: as long as I’ve known the aardvark, he’s never really explained his origins. He was just…there. The winning prize of the pub’s weekly lottery and I somehow adopted him. Or he adopted me.

Whichever. I don’t really know.

Ray cursed loudly. “Whose bright idea was it to order a pumpkin?” he said.

“Mine,” Allie said. “Halloween is not Halloween until a pumpkin has been well and truly scooped.”

For those that don’t know, Allie is a one-of-a-kind; a talking aardvark that only I can hear. He loves playing up on this.

“What did he say?” Ray said.

“He said it was his idea,” I replied. “What’s the problem with it?”

“It’s as tough as my granny’s you-know-what,” he said.

“That bad, huh?” I didn’t want to ask what the ‘you-know-what’ was. Some things were best left alone.

“I need a chisel,” Ray said.

“You can’t take a chisel to a pumpkin, Ray. You’ll hack it to pieces.”

“It’s either that or it goes in the bin.”

“The bossman wouldn’t like that,” Allie said. “He spent twenty euro on a pumpkin. For that kind of money, he’ll want it to serve drinks, too.” Martin was the owner of the pub. He was as tight with cash as Ray’s granny’s you-know-what was tough. Real tight. Real tough.

“What did he say?” Ray asked again.

“Don’t use a chisel,” I said.

“He’s no bloody use,” Ray said. “Ask him to take a took at the 4.40, will you? I need a winner badly.”

“After the last time,” I said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Especially when you’re thinking of chiseling a pumpkin.”

One of Allie’s many talents is the ability to predict certain events, events in which he has no direct involvement – like horse racing. He found a winner for Ray the day after he got here and was sorry that he did. Even though the aardvark tried to dissuade him, Ray still tried to get one more winning horse from Allie.

“Let’s go, Jimbo,” Allie said. “I want to see what Halloween is like in Dublin.”

“I hope you like bangers,” I said.

***

My new friend wore my Stetson all the time. I brought it home from my trip to the States last year, but it suited him better than it did me. He had a head for hats. I just looked ridiculous. We took a bus into the city centre and got off at Marlborough Street. We crossed O’Connell Street, avoiding chuggers along the way, and strolled up Henry Street. The shop windows tried in vain to entice people to come in and sample the very latest in fancy dress. Allie walked toward one of the displays. His snout perked up.

“See something you like?” I said.

“I’m not sure,” he replied. “It seems to me that the latest fashion designs would have the Witches of Salmon weeping into their cauldrons.”

“The witches of who?” I sensed an aardvarkian history lesson on its way.

“Salmon,” he replied. “I mean, look at these.” He pointed at the mannequins. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say this shop sold school uniforms for Lady Gaga fans. Who in their right minds goes around wearing stuff like this?”

I didn’t know what was more surprising: the fact that Allie had an opinion on fashion or that he knew who Lady Gaga was.

“This is what happens on Halloween, Allie,” I said. “The young ones dress up like tarts, get blitzed on alcopops, and spend the next day throwing up monkey nuts.”

“Charming,” the aardvark said. “Wouldn’t happen in my day. The witches wouldn’t allow it.”

We continued our walk up Henry Street. On the corner of Moore Street, some guys were selling fireworks and bangers, despite this activity being against the law. One of the hawkers approached us.

“D’ya want some fireworks, bud?” he said.

“A witch’s curse be upon you!” Allie replied. “May your spawn suffer the ignominy of perpetual boredom!”

“Allie!”

“What did he say?” the hawker asked.

“He said no.” I grabbed Allie’s snout. “Let’s go, you.” We marched further on. “What’s with the cursing? It’s not nice.”

“If the Witches of Salmon were here, such vendors would be afflicted with boils and plagues of locusts.”

“Really?”

“Yes, Jimbo. On the Feast of Salmon, all witches’ covens got together for their Annual General Meeting and debated ways of making their day of celebration more even and meaningful, less shallow. Hence the term ‘shallow evening.’ Of course, over the centuries, almost everything was lost. Shallow became hallow, Salmon became samhain.”

I stopped in my tracks. “You’re pulling my leg, aren’t you?”

“What, you think all this is to do with druids and ghosts?”

“Well, that and a good horror movie.”

“It’s marketing, Jimbo. It’s St. Valentine’s Day with vampires. The Witches of Salmon would…”

“I know, weep into their cauldrons. Hubble, bubble, boil and trouble.”

Allie’s stomach rumbled. “I need some M&Ms, Jimbo. All this talk of food is giving me an appetite.”

We retraced our steps. “You know, Allie,” I said, “if all this distresses you, you could always Hum them away.” Allie’s only weapon, as far as I knew, was his psychic Hum; a sound that penetrated people’s minds and hearts and made them do his bidding.

“I thought of that,” he said. “But it would cause more trouble that its worth. If I make these vendors go away, others will take their place next year.” He looked at me with those dark expressionless eyes of his. “I might not be here this time next year.”

I hadn’t thought of that. I felt my face fall.

“Don’t fret too much, Jimbo,” he said. “We have much to accomplish before I go anywhere. But first, I need…”

“M&Ms,” I said.

“Yes,” the aardvark replied. “And I want to have another look at those school uniforms.”

Welcome to Allie’s World: Aardvarkian Origins.

I will be returning shortly to the world of Allie the Aardvark. To massive public clamor, as well as a petition signed by such notables as Barack Obama, Salman Rushdie and the bloke who runs the local chipper, Allie fans will wait no longer.

Tomorrow I shall post the Halloween special; but for now, read and enjoy Allie’s first appearance in my life.


WELCOME TO ALLIE’S WORLD.

The top prize of my local pub’s lottery draw sat in my armchair, eating chocolate peanuts through its snout, and flicking through the channels of the TV with my remote. It looked very much at home.

“When’s Judge Judy on?” it wondered.

“You know who Judge Judy is?” I asked, very much amazed that it could talk.

“She’s must-see-TV.”

I looked at my watch. “It’s five after midnight. It’s too late for Judge Judy.”

“It’s never too late for Judge Judy. You got any pretzels?”

“No.”

“You can sit down, you know. I don’t bite.”

“You suck.”

“I hope that’s not an insult.”

“I mean, you’re sucking up those peanuts.”

“That’s what we aardvarks do. We suck.”

“But I thought you ate ants?”

“Among other things, yes. Please, sit down. You’re making this aardvark uncomfortable.”

I sat down, not taking my eyes from this strange creature. It put down the sweets and extended its hand, paw, whatever, to me.

“My name is Alistair Reginald Boothroyd lV, but you can call me Allie.”

I shook its..whatever it was. “I’m James, but you can call me Jimbo.I didn’t know aardvarks could talk.”

“We don’t.”

“But I can hear you.”

“That’s because you’re supposed to.”

“Huh?”

“Jimbo, come on. You arrive into work this evening to find that the top prize in your bar’s lottery draw is an aardvark. Stuff like that doesn’t happen every day.”

He was right, it didn’t. Usually the top prize was cash, but ticket sales have been down since the economy went pear-shaped. So we rang up suppliers, asking them to sponsor the draw. Only one came through for us. Hence the aardvark.

The winning numbers were 2, 3, and 5, and there were three “lucky” winners of the top prize. All of them took one look at Allie and passed, taking instead the consolation prize of five free drinks. This left me, as stand-in organiser of the draw (the boss was on holiday), stuck with an aardvark. So I put him into an empty cardboard box and brought him home with me. I considered myself fortunate that I didn’t meet anyone I knew on the way back to my apartment.

“So why is it that only I can hear you?”

“The powers that be have decreed it so.”

“The who?”

“I don’t know. I may have made that part up. You got anything else to eat except chocolate peanuts?”

“I have cheese.”

“I can’t suck cheese.”

I looked in my fridge and found some yogurt. “Will this do?” I asked, showing Allie the carton.

“What flavour?”

I checked. “Blackcurrant.”

“Nice. I like blackcurrant yogurt.” I gave him — it was a “he” now, seeing that we’d been introduced — the yogurt. He tore off the foil cover and sucked up the contents. The sound was like that of a vacuum cleaner, sucking up clotted cream.

“I have to go to bed soon. Are you all right down here?”

“I’m fine,” he replied. “Leave your laptop open, if you wouldn’t mind. I want to check my Facebook.”

“You have a Facebook?”

“Doesn’t everybody?”

“But you’re an —

“–aardvark, I know, I know. So you keep reminding me.”

I started up the stairs to my bedroom. I was dazed.

“You got any good books?” Allie called.

I stopped and looked down. “What do you read?”

“Any King?”

“Just Cell and Lisey’s Story.

“No Dark Tower?”

“Not yet.”

“Man,” Allie replied. “You’ve got to read the Dark Tower series.”

I sighed. “So people keep telling me.”

Ten minutes later, when I was about ready to put his whole episode down as some sort of elaborate hoax, I could hear the sound of jewels exploding, followed by hoots of joy.

“122,500 points. Jimbo, when I’m good, I’m very, very good.”

I pulled my pillow from under my head and buried my face in it. Tomorrow, I thought. I’ll sort this out tomorrow.

An Aardvark in South Africa: The Attack of the Vuvuzelas – Part Two

So many matches, so little time.

The “necessary documentation” I got from Acquisitions allowed me to teleport directly to Johannesburg for the opening ceremony. Us Higher Beings are not allowed to play willy-nilly with the laws of time and physics; Universal Travel Displacement Visas are required by all who wish to journey between dimensions. If this all sounds too Sapphire and Steel for you people, let me just say one thing: we took over from those clowns after the Thames Waterloo debacle. What was that? I hear you ask. Just one of those momentary lapses of reason that had to be sorted out. Trust me, you never ever want to see Napoleon Bonaparte dressed as a drag queen in Westminster Abbey. Your eyes would water. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I was in South Africa.

The opening ceremony and the first game: the hosts, the mighty Bafana Bafana against Mexico, the country that decided it was a good idea to put a worm at the bottom of a bottle of Tequila. As opening ceremonies go, the South Africans matched that of the Olympiad of Ancient Greece. (I was around at the first one. I offered to give the poor marathon runners a ride on my Honda 50, but I was told that was against the spirit of the games. I was chased out of Athens by men in skirts, wielding spears and such.) There was colour, there was music, there was the sense of international camaraderie, of how sport would transcend politics, and there were vuvuzelas.

Love them or hate them, but you can't ignore themThere were lots and lots of vuvuzelas. During the ceremony I sent Jimbo a text. It’s mad here. All these horns going off. I can hardly hear myself think.

He replied back. They sound like mosquitoes. I’ve turned the sound down. By the way, what have you done with my Facebook account?

Nothing that I can’t undo when I come back, I texted back.

Bring me back a stick of rock, he replied.

Everyone in the stadium was full of the joy of life; but there was sadness there, too. The country’s patriarch, Nelson Mandela, was due to attend the ceremony but his great-granddaughter was tragically killed in a car accident days previously. South Africa mourned with him, as did I. It was hoped he would be around for the closing ceremony. But onto the match itself. The host nation wanted desperately to put on a good show for their many supporters and when Siphiwe Tshabalala buried the ball in the 55th minute, I could feel a continent uproot itself with cheering. The vuvuzelas made their presence felt. Unfortunately, a win was beyond the South Africans because Rafael Marquez equalised with ten minutes to go. A shame, really, but football is like that. It’s a funny old game; a game of two halves; a game were 22 men chase after a ball and if they don’t get it, they cry like babies. Sorry, that’s the French who do that.

I called HOH after the game, making sure he still wanted me to put that bet on. “Oh indeed,” he replied. “The word in the England camp is that Stevie Gerrard is chomping at the bit and Lampard is raring to have a go at the Yanks.”

“Fine,” I said. “It’s your gronag.”

The next match on the list was France against Uruguay. I decided to give that one a miss. My toenails needed a make-over. Besides, my own contacts said that the French didn’t give a merde.

Back in Ireland, the lads of Apres Match got together and petitioned FIFA to include the Republic’s soccer team in this year’s tournament. This is what they came up with.

An Aardvark in South Africa: The Attack of the Vuvuzelas – Part One

The World Is Watching.

Aardvarks don't need passports.

My initial request was greeted by a look of apprehension.  It’s not often a High Aardvark asks for an extended leave of absence. When one does, he is required to attend a face-to-face with the Highest of Highest: the Supreme Concordant – the being who oversees our duties on Earth. I was hoping to catch HOH on a good day. Seeing that it wasn’t a Monday, I reckoned my chances were good of a favourable conclusion. But I still had to put my case forward as well as I could. I was asking for a lot.

“Let me see,” HOH said. “You want to take leave, is that correct?”

“It is, Boss.”

“To go to South Africa.”

“It’s nice at this time of year. Not too warm, not too cold.”

“But you haven’t finished with Jimbo yet. Are you sure he can carry on without you?”

“Jimbo has been busy with other projects, Boss. I think it’s a safe time to leave him be. I have spies keeping an eye on him.”

“Spies?” HOH opened his eye wide. He didn’t know (or at least I hope he didn’t know) that we referred to him as The Great Eyeball whenever he wasn’t around around. “And who would these spies be, Alpha?”

Alpha, that’s me. You know me as Allie – Allie the Aardvark; but when I’m not on duty, when I come back  to The Centre for debriefing, I’m called Alpha. It’s fun being the first. I get the best gigs. But don’t mention Omega if you happen to find your way here. It’s a bit like asking for ketchup in a five star restaurant: you get that look.

“They wouldn’t be spies if I told you who they were, Boss. I’d be giving away their identities.”

“I am the Supreme Concordant, Alpha. You cannot hide anything from me.” He knows how to throw his weight around, does HOH. I was going to have to fudge this somehow.

“I call them the Book of Faces. They are a canny lot. If Jimbo goes offside, he will be poked, liked, walled, friended and tagged until he steps back in line.”

“And what if he doesn’t?”

“The ultimate in torture.”

“Tell me more.”

I sat up in my chair. It was time for endgame. “He will be blocked, hidden and unfriended.”

“That sounds horrible.” I had HOH rattling. Good, I thought. He’s coming around. “And your convinced this will work?”

“Yes, it will.”

He looked down at my list of requests, his eye rapidly blinking. “You wish to be released from the Union Bond. Why is that?”

The Union Bond is shared between High Aardvarks and their clients. It means that only the client can hear what we are saying. To everyone else we are mute. Some Aardvarks, myself included, like to have a little fun with this. As long as we don’t go too far, it’s generally overlooked. Even HOH likes to have a laugh now and again.

“Because I technically won’t be on a mission. It’s my downtime, Boss, and I want to let my hair down.”

“You don’t have any hair, Alpha.”

“I meant that metaphorically. I want to chill the beans, let off some steam, hang loose.”

“You’ve been in Dublin too long, I fear. Maybe you do need a holiday. Your request is granted.” He rubber-stamped my application form.

Bingo!

“What about my other requirements?” I asked.

“Ah yes,” he said. “I can see no problem with granting you the necessary documents. I’ll ask Pi in Acquisitions to send them down to you.”

“You’re very good, Boss.”

“How long will you be gone for?”

“No more than six weeks.”

“For a football match?”

“64 football matches,” I replied.

He sighed. “Thank the Universal Overseer it’s not the Cricket World Cup you’re going to, Alpha. You’d be gone for four years.” He stood up. “I suppose you’ll be heading away soon.”

“Soon enough.”

He rummaged through his waistcoat and pulled out his wallet. He handed me 500 gronags. “Put this on England for me, will you? To win. I reckon they’ve a good chance this time. Rooney’s on fire.”

I took his money “No problem, Boss. Say hello to the good lady for me.”

And that was that. I was off to South Africa to see the World Cup. Who was I going to support? Certainly not France, that’s for sure.

Plot Outline for Script Frenzy Project, “The Aardvark and The Stone.”

Connor Bellew is the owner of The Irish Tribune, a national daily newspaper with the largest circulation in the country. He is an opinionated misogynist who has friends in very high places — and hates all of them. Bellew is a megalomaniac who wants to bring Ireland to its knees. Out to stop him is…

Robinson Stone, a former banker who has fallen on hard times. He and Bellew were once friends and are now mortal enemies. Bellew is playing Robinson, using their shared history for his own nefarious plans. But Robinson is fighting back, hoping to reclaim his good name and peace of mind. Accompanying him is his unofficial biographer…

Jimbo, a down-on-his-luck journalism student and recovering alcoholic, who hopes to tell — and sell — Robinson’s story and make it to the big time. He may well be out of his depth, but there’s no gain without risk. At least, that’s what Allie says.

Who’s Allie? Allie is an aardvark, and that’s all you need to know right now.