>Anyone who’s been reading this blog with any degree of regularity will realise that, despite my natural sense of financial rectitude, I am occasionally prone to the odd outbreak of bizarre fiscal immoderacy (is that a word?). In other words, every now and then I spend a shitload of money on something that I cannot justify to those near and dear to me.

You might well remember, for example, my experience with Ebay and the iPods going back a few months.

It’s not that I’m naturally extravagant. It’s just that, from time to time, I get this urge to spend some money on something that I don’t really need, but that, on the spur of the moment, I feel will enhance my life immeasurably. This doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it tends to upset the delicate balance of my life for a few days, after which things progress exactly as they had theretofore, except I’ve now got yet another item to clutter up my already cluttered-up existence.

Mc.Carneys is a shop in Nenagh which specialises in rather fine pieces of furniture and (occasionally) musical instruments. They have a reputation for sourcing good secondhand pianos, for instance. We’ve bought some nice pieces of furniture there over the years. And yes, that’s where we bought our piano back in the dim-and-distant. I must admit, however, that I haven’t gone into the shop for a few years.

Another feature of the shop is the fine window displays, which never fail to delight and to tempt one with beautiful items of furniture, crockery and the devil knows what.

Last week, I was passing the shop when my eye was caught by, of all things, a cello. A cello. For something like €250. I’ve no idea whether it was a full-size cello or a student model, or whether it was in good nick or riddled with woodworm. It didn’t really mater – its very presence in Mc. Carneys‘ window was enough to send me off on a riff.

Being a bass player, there is a natural attraction for me to the cello. It’s not as big, unwieldy and expensive as a double bass, but being a bowed, unfretted instrument it would present a serious challenge to my severely-limited musical abilities, but one which the eternal optimist in me would not be able to resist. Some day, if you buy me enough Bacardi and Coke, I’ll tell you the sad and sorry tale of the time I bought a fretless Fender Jazz Bass (OK, it wasn’t a bowed instrument but it was definitely fretless).

Knowing my pre-existing proclivity for buying musical instruments that I can’t actually play (like a 12-string acoustic guitar, a lap steel guitar and a mandolin), I knew that if I didn’t walk past that window very quickly, I’d have some explaining to do to the long-suffering Mrs. P. (“you bought a WHAT?”). Even my impending 45th. birthday would not justify buying a damn cello. And then I’d have to get it re-strung for a lefty. Is that possible? So many reasons not to buy.

That was last week…

…today, I was “working” at home when, for no reason I can fathom, I got the notion to head down to see if the cello was still in Mc. Carneys‘ window. And if it was there, shur maybe I’d have a good look at it. What harm could it do, for God’s sake? And even if I did decide to buy, €250 would hardly breach the family’s finances that much, would it?

So downtown I went. And having stopped off to drop a pair of trousers at the dry cleaners (I wasn’t wearing them when I dropped them, so no sniggering at the back), I wandered over to Mc. Carneys. No sign of it in the window. Then I entered the shop and had a quick recce. No sign of it anywhere. A wave of relief washed over me – I wouldn’t have to get the cello re-strung at God knows what cost. I wouldn’t have to sneak it into the house away from the prying eyes of my bemused neighbours and then have to explain to Mrs. P and the young’uns why the hell a middle-aged man had gone and bought a cello (other than the fact that I am middle-aged and it is a cello – I mean come on…). And I would have had to be upfront about the purchase since I’ve now officially run out of hiding places to stash musical instruments that no-one knows I’ve bought. So, counting my blessings, I left Mc. Carneys – without a cello but with my bank balance intact.

And yet… I couldn’t shake the thought of how cool it would have been to segue from “Anyone who’s been reading this blog…cluttered-up existence” to “And so I bought a cello.”