Mr & Mrs Tipperary’s son

Mr & Mrs Tipperary’s son

And now a story for the very young – at least in heart…

Mr & Mrs Tipperary were keen on a large family. The Irish like large families generally. In their case they wanted to keep the name going. It was in danger of being lost – all the children from the previous generation had been girls and in those days girls used to change their names to that of their husband when they married. How daft can you get?

Tipperary’s third son was born remarkably quickly after their second son who, in turn, had appeared amazingly soon after their first. Mr & Mrs Tipperary were well on the way to achieving their ambition of preserving and revitalising the distinguished family name.

Like all their boys, No 3 son was bright, quiet, dogged and easily bored. He found the tedium of school almost unbearable. ‘Exams for what?’, he used to ask. The replies didn’t impress him much either. To get on in life, he reckoned, you had to be out there doing things, not stuck in a classroom of people trying to compete with an unidentified examiner. Judging from the questions the examiner asked, he or she was still pretty ignorant anyway. No proof of the value of an education there, thought No 3 son.

His most distinguishing feature was how fast he grew. Soon he was looming over other children of his age, making them feel small and, not infrequently, resentful. Several of them christened him Giraffe, which he didn’t like at all. First it sounded like ‘daft’ and he was anything but that. Second, it implied a lot of neck. No 3 was tall but well proportioned, handsome indeed. ‘Giraffe’ didn’t please him at all. He was very quiet about it but occasionally one of the other pupils would appear with a black eye as a result of an unfortunate encounter with Giraffe. He didn’t suffer fools gladly, his teachers said. ‘Or at all’ he muttered to himself.

One day a particularly creative teacher suggested that, because of his height, he should be called Long-Long. That suited him fine. It suggested perseverance and patience, something he was especially good at. It said he was tall, something he liked. It implied power, something he had thought very little about. But the more he thought about it, the more he wanted it.

Since early childhood, Long-Long had had a burning desire to get into the Food and Beverage business. What, why and how people ate and drank fascinated him. He thought you could learn a lot about watching people chomping away. What they chose to eat and how they teased their palates was a source of constant amazement to him. Maybe one day he could even have his own cafe. The thought exhilarated him.

To start in the F&B business you really had to be a waiter. Long-Long was happy to do that but there was a problem. He was so tall that he simply couldn’t fit in to many restaurants. Their doorways were too low or the ceilings too beamed or the pots and pans hanging in the kitchen caught his ears as he walked past them. But without experience of ‘waiting’, Long-Long would never become a skilled F&B worker.

He finally found a restaurant in which he could work. There was room for a very tall waiter. He was delighted and set about his new job with gusto and determination. The visitors to the restaurant loved him. He attended to their every need, took an interest in what they were ordering and had a point of view about the dishes the cook prepared. He even invented a new dish of mango curry. Nobody had ever heard of it before but they loved it. The restaurant became very popular. It flourished, and other restaurants in the same group were bought or built until it was almost rivalling KFC or even McDonalds.

The owners were so delighted they gave Long-Long shares in the business and he became, not rich exactly, but comfortably off. He worked for them all his life, remaining a waiter, but a Very Special One. People came from everywhere in the world to meet Long-Long. They all admired him so much.

When it was time for him to retire the owners built a statue of him outside their biggest restaurant. It was a beautiful, tall statue of him in all his height, smiling down on the visitors below. It made the town popular and everyone flourished. 

The owners wrote the wording for the statue so that everyone could enjoy it. It said:

              ‘Long-Long – Waiter Tipperary’

There was even a song written about him that went like this:

“He’s a Long-Long Waiter Tipperary. He’s a long way to go.

“He’s a Long-Long Waiter Tipperary, he’s the sweetest guy I know.

“Good-bye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester Square,

“He’s a Long-Long Waiter Tipperary, and my heart’s right there.”

Pretty good, wasn’t it?

Good morning

John Bittleston 

Stories for children are the best form of education. Why don’t you write one?

03 June 2023