This Kilkenny Life Gerry Moran: Tartling and baltering the night away!

Brian Keyes

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Brian Keyes

Your columnist - Gerry Moran

Your columnist - Gerry Moran

Here’s the thing – we all tartle. Young and old – we tartle. The elderly, however, I can safely say without contradiction, tartle that bit more. A lot more. And it’s embarrassing. Boy is it embarrassing! Indeed it is one of the most embarrassing things that can happen to you in company. And there’s no coming back from it really. None at all. You tartle – you feck up, simple as that. And here’s the other thing – people know you tartle when you tartle. People recognise the behaviour, recognise the symptoms (primarily because they’ve tartled themselves) And no amount of apologising lets you off the hook. That’s if you apologise. Because sometimes apologising only draws more attention to the tartling. This tartling business is a tricky wicket for sure. And you’ve all been there. If you haven’t you need to get out more. A lot more. Then again one of the upsides of not going out, of not socialising, and of not mingling with your fellow man (and woman) is that you are never likely to tartle. Of course, should you start tartling at home you’re in big trouble. Serious trouble. Tartling I should state has nothing whatsoever to do with bodily functions rather it has to do with the functioning of the mind. The memory.


But enough blather (not balter which I will get to anon) Tartle comes from the Scottish (you can almost hear the in-built, ‘tartan lilt’!) and it means ‘to hesitate while introducing or meeting someone because you have forgotten their name’. And by God was I tartling last weekend at the Fatima Place/Emmet Street reunion. I did some terrible tartling if the truth be known. And I wasn’t let off the hook either. ‘Go on’, she demanded, ‘What’s my name?’ (She’d tapped into my tartling toute de suite, if you’ll pardon the French) ‘Sure I know exactly who you are, and all belonging to you’, I said, ‘but your name just won’t come to me. I know your brothers’ names – Jimmy, Tommy and Michael but I’m drawing a blank, I’m afraid, with you. ‘Huh’, she shrugged. She wasn’t impressed. Nor was I. By my memory lapse. And my tartling. ‘By the way’, says I, ‘can you name my brother and sisters?’ This I thought would redeem me and get me off the hook. It didn’t. She rattled off their names, no bothe, leaving me stuck in the hole I had tartled myself into. Eventually she told me her name. Jackie – my sincere apologies. It won’t happen again. I swear. And do you know why? Because I’m seriously thinking of having your name tattooed on the palm of my hand. Anywhere else on my anatomy would not be appropriate, you’ll agree. Although how the hell I’d explain YOUR name on MY palm to MY wife is another day’s work entirely.


As for balter (see above in case you’ve forgotten) it means ‘to dance artlessly, without particular grace or skill, but usually with enjoyment’. Sure that’s what we were doing all those years in the Carlton ballroom: baltering. I knew bloody well we weren’t dancing. But there was no baltering in the Dicksboro Club Saturday evening. Those who tripped the light fantastic tripped it fantastically well to the moody, mellow tones of the one, and only, John Travers.


And while we’re on the topic of words, what have the following five words in common: bulb, angel, silver, month and orange? Perhaps a better way of putting it might be: what makes those five words so unique? Any idea? Any luck? Any notion at all? Well, while you’re thinking about that here’s a rather unusual word to conjure with: cunctator (and be careful, be very, very, careful, how you pronounce that) So, any idea what it means? You’re a bit of a genius, a whole sale genius, if you do. I know what it means because I happened to stumble upon it. Cunctator comes from the Latin verb cunctārī meaning ‘to delay’. A cunctator then is someone who delays or procrastinates. Yours truly being a classic example. And finally to Willie Meighan (he of Rollercoaster Records below in Kieran Street) and the ‘ten words that fill my heart with fear’: ‘The Ten Best Modern Jazz Albums To Own On Vinyl’. Scary or what! As for those five words: bulb, angel, silver etc.- they have no rhymes.

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