The Yellow Hammer was buried on Saturday. That wasn’t his real name. His real name was Ivor and no-one had been able to explain to me why he became know as The Yellow Hammer.
“Why is he called the Yellow Hammer?”, I asked Sadie, a twenty-five year veteran of Roundwood who knew him when he was Ivor.
“He’s called the Yellow Hammer because…he’s just the Yellow Hammer.”, was her response.
I knew him better as the part-feral old man who ‘s way of getting around was to stand in front of oncoming cars, forcing them to stop and give him a lift. He was never going far, just to town or back, so he became a familiar, if slightly unexpected moving landmark on the short stretch of road that passed by our house. He had reached a ripe old age, so there was no surprise to hear of his passing. If there was any surprise, it was that it wasn’t as a result of being run over on his way to get milk.
There are many stories about him, as you might expect about a man with such a bizarre name and lethal road etiquette. A favourite of mine involves his interaction with a fellow Canadian named Bunny. Stopping to avoid hitting him, she offered him a lift, as was expected in accordance with the local custom. He strangely refused and she carried on, rightfully confused. The next passing car was driven by another local, which he get in when offered.
“You won’t believe it!”, exclaimed the Yellow Hammer, before he had even taken his seat.
“That Canadian woman just stopped and asked me if I wanted a ride*! And there I was, just minding my own business, looking for a lift into town.”
*(For non-Irish readers, a “ride” means something else here…)