Readers Stories, — April 2, 2009 9:01 — 0 Comments

Something for the weekend, Sir?

During the sixties and seventies contraceptives were impossible to get in Dublin. I was living there at the time and whenever I would come home to Newry the men with whom I worked would ask me to get them some.

One of them had heard that there was a new one on the market called ‘Durex Featherlite’ and so they all asked me to get them some. I decided to get a box of them and divide them up and make a few bob at the same time.

On Saturday morning I went into Connor’s Chemist, opposite the Market, to make my purchase.  I had to queue up and when my turn came I asked the young lady for a box of Durex Featherlite. The reason for asking her was, in those far off days, they were not put out on the shelves.


She pulled open a large drawer, looked inside, and said in a loud voice,

‘Sir, we do not seem to have any here.


 I will have to see if there is any in the stores upstairs.’

I naturally assumed that she would go upstairs to see if there were any.


But no! She shouted at the top of her voice,

 ‘Mary! Will you see if there is any Durex Featherlite up there?


We seem to be out of them here.’

She turned to me, my face by now as red as a beetroot, and smiling said,

‘Won’t be a minute, love.’

If looks could kill I murdered her on the spot!

 Five minutes later a shout came from up stairs.

‘Yohoo! Ann! Here are them box of contraceptives.’

Ann came over and caught the box and turned to me, smiling the smile of a viper and said,

 ‘There you are love.


Do you want them wrapped or will you take them as they are ?’

‘Wrapped, please,’ I replied, returning her viper smile.

Just at that moment a voice from behind me spoke up,

 ‘Hallo, Tony, what takes you to Newry?’

It was my Aunt Winnie, sister of my Uncle Francie, the Archbishop.

 I died on the spot!


How long had she been standing there?


Did she hear what went on between me and that scut of a shop assistant?


Did the shop assistant know she was behind me?


Will the ground please open up and swallow me?

‘Hallo Aunt Winnie.  Just collecting a few things for the wife.’

The scut of a shop assistant was about to say something but I cut her short.

‘How much do I owe you, miss?’

‘Two pounds ten shilling and ten pence, sir.’

I paid her the money.

 ‘Have a nice week-end!’ she paused, for dramatic effect and smiled that viper smile again. Then, as if to further heighten the drama, she emphatically added,



She knew my name all along!

I turned to my Aunt and mumbled something like, ‘I will call up and see you before I go back.’


At least that was what I hope I said because I was out through the door like a flash, clutching my box of Durex.

Jazzer …


It was a long, long time before I showed my face in that chemist again. 

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