"I believe I'll write some Celtic music," said Dud one morning at the world dilemma think tank down at the coffee shop. "I've been studying it."
"I didn't know you were Celtic," Steve said.
"I'm not, but I do get occasional bouts of depression and that qualifies me. I've thought about it a lot. Maybe they sing that way because they don't have sunsets like we do, or because the horses run around the racetrack the wrong direction. All I know is, after two hours of Celtic music, circus clowns would look at each other and say 'Why bother?'
"But writing Celtic music should be fairly easy. To start with, just find a girl who has a voice like a mouse caught in an echo chamber or empty septic tank, then you add in some stringed instruments and a flute played by someone whose dog just died. You start out by having the singer say how much she loves the guy despite her condition, and we know what condition that is, right? Those Celts are trying to outnumber the sheep again.
"Then she wails that her father was depressed one day and ran the young man off. He was told not to return until he either had more sheep than the old man or had done something worthwhile, like whittling down the House of Lords or starting a distillery."
"Isn't that kinda depressing, Dud?" Doc asked.
"Of course. That's the whole point. Then she wails that Mr. Wonderful became an outlaw and wandered freely, thinking only of her until he was either shot by some English guy or inflicted on Australia. And that's why, as soon as she finishes this little ditty, she's off to drown herself in a loch."
The gang shook their heads.
"There is some variety, though," Dud said. "Sometimes she's expecting twins. Sometimes her beau is attacked by sheep. Sometimes he sails away to darkest Cleveland to escape her singing.
But in this depression there is at least a key to the entire culture."
"How do you have that figured?" said Steve.
"It's obvious," Dud said, grinning. "The application of single-malt whisky is to kill the pain, and they raise sheep so they can stick wool in their ears."
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Home Country is a weekly syndicated newspaper column written by outdoors journalist and humorist Slim Randles.
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