There is a famous story of the late Irish playwright, Brendan Behan, being sent up to St. John's Point in county Down to paint the lighthouse there. Behan, a staunch Republican, was asked, as his first job, to repaint the lighthouse 'no trespassing' sign, which he did, adding, off his own bat, the words, 'By order of Mr. De Valera.' The lighthouse keeper present was later to write back to Dublin, requesting they get rid of Behan because of his laziness.
I am reminded of this by a piece that appeared in the Irish Examiner recently, looking for painters to paint every lighthouse under the control of the Commissioner of Irish Lights.
There are 65 of them in all, ranging from the very very large to the very large. This is probably my dream job in terms of access to practically inaccessible islands like Inistearaght and Inistrahull.
I have two problems with applying for the tender, though. The first is that I already have a job, as well as a part-time unpaid job.
The second is my approach to painting. If I have to paint a room, I start off with determination and vigour and by the time I'm finishing off the second coat, I'm rushing like mad to get the bloody job done and not being quite so thorough as I was at the start.
Somehow, I can see myself halfway up Mine Head lighthouse, wondering if I should really bother with the little patch I missed....
However, I can well see that giving all those lighthouses a lovely lick of paint is bound to make all the adjoining houses and cottages look desperate shabby...