A hard Christmas it was in London in the 1960s

Irishman's harsh memories of working the sites away from home over the Christmas holidays.

We arrived home at two and as quietly as possible reached our rooms. One of the Donegal fellows pulled out a bottle of Scotch and passed it around and we just sat on the beds and took turns taking swigs descending deeper and deeper into the realm of the absence of coherence of any sort. I remember thinking again about missing Midnight Mass and I must have voiced my disgust a number of times to the annoyance of the others and one of them asked me to “shut the hell up." I approached him and hit right between the eyes and he crumpled to the floor and fell asleep. The others struggled and lifted me onto the bed and everything just blanked out and I remember awakening on Christmas Day and the fellow I hit was nursing a bruised cheek by the window. I asked him what happened and he said he didn’t know and that he thought he bumped into something in his drunken state. I told him that I thought I hit him and that I was sorry.

He came by my side and sat there and I thought I detected a tear or two in his eyes. He looked at me and said, “You know, this is no friggin’ way to spend a Christmas, is it?” And I said, “You’re right” and I shook his hand for I thought he was a better man than I.