Gawd, But He’s Like Himself

One of the world’s great institutions is the ‘Irish Wake’. When someone dies, the coffin is brought back to the house, and left open for two or more days/evenings, so that all the friends and neighbours from near and far can come and ‘pay their respects’. This is a huge comfort to the family, and greatly eases the mourning process, but is also a great source of jokes, tall tales, and general celebration of the life and times of the deceased. Hundreds turn up – friends, friends of friends, workmates, business associates of the sons and daughters, etc. It used to be a great source of ‘free drink’ – it was said the only difference between an Irish Wedding and an Irish Wake was one less drunk, but this is less common nowadays. Even so, the ‘craic is ninety’ at most wakes, and the saying ‘God, but he’s like himself’ is commonly heard!


Gawd, But He’s Like Himself

I wuz at a wake the other night, away up near Mullabrack

Ach, I hardly knew the craythur, sure I only went for the craic!

The wife’s first cousin’s uncle, worked with his brother’s son

And wanted just to ‘pass himself’, but he wouldn’t go he’s lone!

He told me he would lift me – 7 o’clock, and he wouldn’t be late

But he caught me unexpected – he come early, at half eight!

Well, I think we must’ve missed a turn, for we got completely lost

We were up more lanes than a DOE man, hiding from his boss!

When we finally found the place, it was packed like a rugby scrum,

We got shuffled into the parlour, and threatened with tay and a bun

I got stuck behind two oul boys, who must’ve knowed him well,

Sez one ‘God, isn’t he like himself – sure he’s lukin’ awful well!

Sez the other ‘Aye, he’s improved a lot from when I seen him last.

He wuz happed up like a winter day, for he couldn’t’ve stood a blast.

He wuz heading for the Doctor’s, dottering along on he’s own.

He said he felt that poorly that he damn near stayed at home!

They got him sorted out, y’know, but then he’s heart was the bother

A Myocardial Interfarct is what the doctors told his brother

But he’s a wee bit hard of hearing, so he kinda missed that part.

He phoned home and said what killed him was a ‘massive internal fart’

Sure, isn’t that way it happens, life will always have ye floored

But he must’ve died a happier man, like, knowing he was cured!

Sure life’s a bitch, they always say, so take it at your ease

It’s the only hundred percent fatal sexually-transmitted disease!

Sez one ‘I used to work with him – it must be forty years ago,

We headed aff till England, on the Heysham boat, Y’know.

People says he’d no work in him, but that I would greatly doubt.

He must’ve had a right bit left, for I never seen any come out!

He was handier with a knife and fork than with a pick and shovel

He could’ve dunged out half a stone o’ spuds without a bit o’ trouble!

He was a bit like our oul tractor – he didn’t like being in a rush

You’d need to park him on the duncle, and then start him with a push

He used to say hard work was great – he could watch it dawn to dusk

It never had killed anyone, but he would hate to be the first

He was never

 the same from the missus died–she kept him on the go

A fine blade when she was at herself, but a wee bit sharp, y’know.

A ‘blade’ is right, says the other boy – I’ve shaved with a blunter edge

She’d a temper like a Jack Russell, and a tongue that could clip a hedge!

We all wondered why he married her – they say opposites attract

But they were surely chalk and cheese, and that would be a fact!

They never had any childer, y’know – I’ll tell you what I think

He couldn’t tackle thon one sober, and she wouldn’t let him drink!

Thon blade handing out the tay, would she be a niece, or what?

She’s sizing up all the ornaments, with an eye like a travelling rat.

Aye, they used to have a fancy clock, but it disappeared right quick

By the time they come to read the will, there’ll be nothing left to knick!

Then the crowd thinned out a bit, and they saw we’d come in late

And asked if we’d been ‘up the room’ to see ‘himself’ in state

We shuffled slowly up the stairs, shaking hands, and trying,

To mutter ‘Sorry for yer trouble’, to anybody that was crying

But as yer man looked into the coffin, a strange look came over his bake,

And suddenly it dawned on me that we’re at the wrong bloody wake!