Friday, 26 April 2013

A propos of nothing (1)

I've recently been reading a bunch of fishing books, and it took me back a few years to when my Dad and I used to go to the RDS Library in Dublin. On one occasion we came out and discovered that we had independently chosen the same book, A A Luce's Fishing and Thinking (1959).

Luce - Arthur Aston Luce MC - was a fixture in Trinity College Dublin. As his Wikipedia entry ,,  notes he holds the record for the longest serving Fellow (1912-77) of the College. The MC is for his Military Cross in the Great War.

When I was an undergraduate in Trinity (1969-73), I was what Trinity calls a 'waiter' - not, as you might think, someone who serves and clears the tables at the communal College meals ('Commons'), but rather someone who is paid to recite the Latin Grace before meals and the Latin Grace afterwards (20 quid a term, from memory, worth having back then). These days, nobody bothers much with Grace, either before or after, though occasionally as a party trick I will do the Grace before ('Oculi omnium in te sperant Domine. Tu das eis escam eorum in tempore opportune. Aperis tu manum tuam et imples omne animal benedictione tua. Miserere nostri, te quaesumus Domine, tuisque donis quae de tuae benignate sumus percepturi, benedicito, per Christum dominum nostrum').

One lunchtime - there are mid-day and evening 'Commons' - Luce was having lunch, and it happened to be his 90th birthday. When I got into the pulpit to recite the Grace after the meal, I decided to change the correct 'Tibi laus, tibi honor, tibi gloria, o beata et gloriosa Trinitas', to 'Tibi, Luce, tibi honor. Tibi gloria', and so on.

I regret to say, virtually nobody noticed, though Declan Kiberd, now a professor at Notre Dame, was one of them, giving me a "very droll, Curtin", as we came out onto the steps of the Dining Hall.
Luce, a distinguished academic, philosopher, historian, author, and war hero, who had survived the Western Front with conspicuous gallantry, was mugged by a lowlife in Dublin in 1977, and died of the injuries.

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