SUNDAY noon church bells bonged and the Celtic Tiger fell out of bed with a resounding thud.

Picking itself up from the threadbare carpet with a shake of its mangled head it threw bleary eyes about the room and propositioned itself that it would have to feed itself better as well as telephone Renta-Bugger to get the dry rot cleared from the bathroom.

It felt great and it knew it had all the good intentions in the world and would some day succeed in something or other if only it could find a path out of the surrounding sea of thorns.

It had been pricked too often, stabbed in the foot too many times. Once it came home with tail lacerated to shreds and realised that the sea of thorns was indeed formidable.

It cared for no one except itself. It was the Celtic Tiger, it was rich and it had nothing to worry about. Except the sea of thorns.

It was gravely puzzled. Once it made it almost to the far edge only to watch with huge disappointment as the sea simply grew right before its very eyes until the edge disappeared over the horizon once more. That was the occasion it returned home licking its lacerated tail.

Perhaps it required a change of direction, a new panoply of thought. It toyed for a moment with the tempting idea of savaging everything around it until it remembered that its gummy jaws could do nothing more worrying than gently massage anything they fastened on.

Twice it had stalked the night, leaping out of the dark to confront passers-by with bared gums bubbling saliva but returned disgusted to its lair after being patted countless times on the head to murmurs of "nice kitty, are you lost then, you poor thing?".

It practised snarling at itself in front of the cracked mirror it recovered from the municipal tip but was distincly unimpressed with its efforts. Once it took itself off to a remote wood in the country in a vague attempt at escaping from itself only to be disturbed by children out on a picnic who started shouting "Ooh mummy, look, what's that?"

It remembered better times and a salty tear rolled from its eye and plopped from the end of its nose. There was the Scandinavian ringmaster, who took it on fantastic trips all around the world and all it had to do for its food was prowl about the circus ring looking fierce and every now and then sit on a stool. It had to growl and slather too when people came by its cage, but that was okay. Then the Scandinavian ringmaster gave it all up and by some unimagineable turn of fate it found itself on a ferry bound for Waterford.

It never fully understood exactly what happened next. Its beautiful fur was completely shaved and in its place hundreds of bank notes were pasted to its naked flesh. It didn't mind that quite so much. What was utterly ignoble to it was the fact that it was named a Celtic tiger – a ridiculous dichotomy of terms. The first thing to go had been its fangs. They just fell out overnight.

Next its claws had retracted and shrivelled to the point where it could not even gnaw on them even if it had teeth to do so. It puzzled deeply over these things in life, but of them all, none bothered it quite as much as the widely held perception that it was 'all right'; that it was fit, healthy and indeed, something to be looked up to.

It had tasted human flesh, found it wanting, and was resigned. There was, it seemed, nothing left except the Big Jungle in the Sky. It's life had been so disseminated that it had forgotten the sombre warning from it's loving mother, who had seen all things.

There, at the gate to the Big Jungle was the sign:


© Newsmedianews 2001


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