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Extract: Patrick McCabe revisits the Butcher Boy with his new book

The book sees Francie Brady return – this time as publisher of his own magazine, The Big Yaroo.

IRISH AUTHOR PATRICK McCabe is the man behind the Booker Prize-nominated novel The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto, both of which have been turned into feature films. The Clones, Monaghan native spoke to about his book Heartland, last year, and now he’s back with The Big Yaroo.

The Big Yaroo is the follow-on from the Butcher Boy: in it Francie Brady, the Butcher Boy, leads a busy life in Fizzbag Mansions, where he was incarcerated five decades ago after the mistake with Mrs Nugent.

Still obsessed with the comic books of his childhood, he has found a new vocation – as a publisher of his very own magazine, The Big Yaroo. Along the way, he remembers Da, Uncle Alo, Joe Purcell and his beloved Ma, and “wrestles a desire to escape his past with the world’s need for him to exorcise his childhood demons. As Francie is drawn even further into the dark world of his own mind, the line between reality and delusion ceases to mean anything.”

In this extract from The Big Yaroo by Patrick McCabe, Francie Brady is allowed – under supervision – to attend the funeral of his close friend Tommy Weaver, and there is an incident involving his late friend’s brother Denny.

Looking back now, of course, Denny Weaver is extremely lucky he wasn’t killed.

Because as soon as the cable of the Citroën snapped, he had completely & utterly lost control of the vehicle.

With all I can remember after that being knots of mourners dressed in white & black coming running across the churchyard, with the hats of the women blowing off in the wind.

They were in a right old state.

As they forced the door open and managed to get him out in one piece – leading him into the chapel like a cripple.

Although, in fact, he hadn’t been seriously physically hurt.

It was a good old plan, though.

Even if I do say so myself.

You see the minder looking after me, half the time he wasn’t there at all, and whenever I motioned towards the sign GENTLEMEN, I don’t even think he noticed me doing it at all.

So in I went, and was out through the skylight in a second – and back in my seat alongside him before he knew it.

But I think, more than anything about that master plan, what gave me the greatest sense of satisfaction was the fact that I’d used Tommy’s weapon to do it – the Swiss Army knife I’d unexpectedly found in his pocket that terrible day in the pump house.

I suppose I just wanted something to remember him by.

And now, here it was – being put to good use already.

So – snip! it went, neatly – Denny Weaver’s famous Citroën brake cable.

& there I am, being interviewed by police.

Although, honest to God, detectives these days – are they worth a damn?

It was all a long way from Edgar Wallace, I kept thinking, & my old favourite: The Clue of the Twisted Candle.

–He was the closest and most wonderful friend that I’ve ever known, Tommy the Weaver, I told them.

And which isn’t, & wasn’t – and never will be – a lie.

But they kept on looking at me.

Then who do we meet in the corridor after the interrogation.

–Ah good man, Denny! I declared, shoving out the paw the minute I seen him.

With the next thing you know, before you can say aye or boo, the whispering fucker he’s away off round the corner.

–Come back here, Denny! I shouts out and start laughing.

As one of the trusty ’tecs gives me a dig.

The Scuttler, of course, wasn’t long hearing about the shenanigans.

–I know why poor auld Woolly Creegan lost his job, he growled – meaning my minder – and him with a wife and three small childer to support.

–Yes, I know. It’s a sad old state of affairs, there’s no mistake!

–The leopard never changes his spots! I heard him calling back as he went off, trundling his barrow, that’s one sure thing you can be certain of in this world – but we’re onto you, Brady, and we’ll watch you like a hawk. You just make sure and be assured about that.

–Ah go on to hell, you long-nosed effing auld drink of water! I shouted after him.

Although, in retrospect, I really don’t know what all the fuss and commotion was about – I mean, it wasn’t like it was a case for The Sweeney.

I mean, Denny Weaver was shaken, yes, but not disfigured or even badly hurt – and certainly not killed.

Although it did make me laugh whenever he came back to the hospital for Tommy’s things and I called out ‘Niki Lauda!’ whenever I seen him coming.

& then away off down the corridor, white as a ghost, dropping books and socks and whatnot.

Only for Cecil, I was looking at two years’ solitary at least.

Because he didn’t think I did it – even if I did.

So there you are – what is anyone to think of that?

Yes, just what would we do without the likes of Dr Cecil, Fizzbag’s most famous clinical director ever?

& who, right from the very first day he came strolling in through the gates, has always been 120 per cent on my side – unlike certain people who prefer to spread rumours – and if that’s not bad enough, doing so by leaning over and whispering to friends when they’re in a church.

May he lie in peace, my old friend Tommy Weaver.

God rest his precious, much-missed soul.

The opening event of the Dublin Book Festival features Patrick McCabe in conversation with Aíne Lalor on the evening of Thurs Nov 14th. Tickets available from The Big Yaroo is published by New Island Books and is out now


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