Phil and Bid, 50 years married this Spring, were two if the oldest ducks in the parish of Kilmacreehy.
They lived a gentle life in a cottage by the sea, busying themselves as old folks do who are content with their lot. But some things tested them, of course they did, the weather most of all. The change in the flood plain the moody climate brought left their low-lying fields saturated and their house under threat.
Joe Godde & Son, Drainage Consultants, that’s who they called out in the end when push came to shove and they couldn’t go out back without wellington boots for the flooding.
They settled on a Tuesday. Bid dialled the number before handing the receiver over to Phil. She stood close by reassuringly.
At her nod, he replied, ‘Good enough so. Tuesday it is’.
They were up first thing, the two of them come Tuesday, getting the fire going and egging on the range, dusting the ashes off the tumble-down sofa and polishing pots and pans. Phil went to the garden for potatoes and cabbage and rhubarb while Bid put a cut of salty bacon on the boil.
It was well after 1 before the Goddes came, the father and son in their blue Hiace. They went at the problem straightaway. Phil supervised from inside the front window relaying a blow by blow account of events back to Bid in the kitchen.
‘They’ve every kind of measure out whatever they’re up to’.
The mens’ hands were filthy when they finally came in. Bid set out a basin of Lifebuoy soaped water and one of the fresh towels she hid away with a few other necessaries for any hint of the hospital.
Meanwhile Phil was already reaching for the Christmas sherry and pouring out a dropeen each as he gestured towards the settee.
‘Sit down, sit down’, he ushered them along.
They were in the centre of the room before they knew it, the father and son. They’d never seen the likes of the welcome.
‘You’ll eat with us’ Bid insisted ‘sure isn’t it ready there now’.
The Goddes gave in good-naturedly, leaned back into their seats and enjoyed their drinks. They answered questions and asked a few too while Phil coaxed a foldaway table to life, levelling its shaky leg with a cut of well-worn cardboard and Bid busied herself gathering forks and knives and plates and cups.
The dinner was served in its own good time. A platter of freshly chopped cabbage, bowls of floury potatoes and a joint of bacon ready for the chop. They lashed real butter and inches of salt over everything and were great company, the history they had. Rhubarb tart and mugs of hot sweet tea finished the feast.
There was just enough light still left in the sky after they had eaten their fill to go outside to discuss the drainage problem. They were a while getting ready, the old pair, all elbows and thumbs, stiffly donning wellingtons and slowly buttoning coats.
The Goddes were experts in their field. Anyone could see that. They produced diagrams of high-tech drainage systems and gave a definite diagnosis and a final figure.
‘The damage’ they called it.
‘A big job’, they said, ‘but worth every penny. You won’t know yourselves when we’re finished. You’ll be in heaven altogether’.
Phil and Bid took less than a minute to decide their fate. The men were persuasive. Heaven sounded good. After that it was handshakes all round.
Then the Goddes headed for the hills in their Hiace leaving the two old ducks in their wake, waddling and waving as the sun set over the bay.