We only keep the last three stories live on the site, for copyright reasons

John Holland

About a year ago, I found a new unread book on the shelves of my son’s flat. The book was History of the Rain by Niall Williams. It’s an Irish book and I was immediately engaged by the rhythm and humour of the language. It had such life.

Even though, after a while, I tired of the book (take that, Niall Williams) I immediately wanted to write my own Irish story. After all, I’d been to Ireland (Dublin, it was, for a weekend in 2004), and I know an Irish person called Brenda. I had also seen several episodes of Father Ted, including the one with the rabbits.

The story, which opens with a report of poor Da being decapitated in a car accident, is supposed to be funny. It’s not everyone’s humour. The phrase used by Mrs Doherty that Da’s sudden death “was nice for him but not for the family” was one I actually heard in my local corner shop. I immediately wrote it in my writer’s moleskin cap.

But like all good stories there is irony in it. Six months after I’d written it my own father died.  In a car accident. Yes, you guessed it, he was decapitated. Life copying art? Of course that’s not true. Happily he died in hospital years ago.