Weather made certain that I would not be travelling my usual public transport routes, but instead would avail of the luxury of a taxi. Little did I know, I would have the pleasure and amusement of being driven by a Mr Ida Hemingway, a name you would not easily forget. I complimented him on it, expecting that to be the end of the conversation.
‘Ah, sure Ernest Hemingway was me great-grand father. I’m a relative of his. You know ‘im, don’t you? The famous author?’
Of course I did.
‘But I am not much into my reading, I’ll tell you that. We have a coupla da first editions; they’d be handed down da generations. But as soon as I’d got ’em, I trew ’em up in d’attic.’
I expressed my gentle lust for first editions, and praised the writing of Hemingway.
‘I did ‘im in school, yeh know? But couldn’t get him. Not fer me. I prefer Corrie. Yea, Imma wet blouse like that. Me daughter is the genius though, she loves reading; loves war history, that there book,’ he gestures to a book in the door, something with ‘Anne Frank’ in the title, ‘She reads that erry time she’s in da car. T’all goes over me ‘ead.’
All the while this big, burly Dubliner was driving me through the miserable rain. I told him that he had probably just made my day, expressing further happiness at meeting him. He shrugged, but I could see a glimmer of pride, the type that the Irish know best flitting across his face.
‘I’m da last one left in Ireland. There was one other Hemingway in Kilkenny, but she left. They all left. So it’s just me now. I have me son, so that makes two of us. But dats it. Just me an’ him. The last Hemingways.’
He asked where I was from and I told him.
‘There are loads of South Africans. I lived with one; always eating ‘biltong’ and, what was the name of dat Ger.. boerwors that’s it! Dey’re lovely sausages. Lots of South Africans! Well, you can have the place. This country’s gone to shite.’
‘Well, its better than ours!’ I smiled as I hopped out of the taxi. I thanked him and said it was a pleasure, he said, ‘Likewise’, and I launched myself into my day.