It might have been Brisbane or Adelaide or Perth or Melbourne: looking back he could never quite remember.
He and Boyd were sitting out a Test match, their highviz jackets like ill-fitting breast and back plates. He was sucking his thumb and dreaming of salmon leaping in a still pool. He was sure of that.
“Finn is a great Irish name, to be sure,” Boyd had said by way of nothing. “Yes, Finn McCool was Ireland’s greatest spear thrower and a mighty hero.”
He did not interrupt; the brogue was a comfort to him in his torment and shame. He couldn’t hit a barn door or bowl a ball fast enough to shatter the thinnest piece of Waterford glass.
“Of course Finn was not always a great spearsman. Once upon a time he couldn’t hit a barn door or shatter the thinnest piece of Waterford glass.”
“Is that true, Boyd?”
“Ah! He was a magical, benevolent giant was Finn McCool.”
“So, how did he become a great spearthrower?”
“I think that’s what I need if I’m ever going to get myself sorted, Boyd.”
“Well, before you wish for that you might need to know a little more. You see, Finnegas had spent seven years trying to catch the salmon of knowledge, which lived in a pool on the Boyne. The story was, that, whoever ate the salmon, would gain all the knowledge in the world. Eventually he caught it, and told young Finn to cook it for him.”
“I sense trouble.”
“And you’d be right. While cooking it, Finn McCool burned his thumb, and, quick as a flash, he put his thumb in his mouth, swallowing a piece of the salmon’s skin. With the salmon’s wisdom, he then knew how to gain revenge against all his enemies and, whenever in a fix, all he had to do was suck that thumb.”
“That, Boyd, is a great help!” sighed Finn bashing the tall Irishman round the head with a towel and nearly missing.