Tag Yourself, I Am the Irish Bat Dad


by Joel Golby
07 September 2017, 8:35am

This article originally appeared on VICE UK

Watch this video. I know you have already seen this video, but this is like me saying, "Hey, look at this art—" and I'm pointing to the Mona Lisa, here, widely accepted to be The Best Art. I'm like, "Look at this art! Look how good it is!" and you just going: nah, I've already seen it. But that doesn't mean you can't look at it again and wonder about the machinations behind that wonderful smile. Who was she? What was she thinking? How did she come to be painted in such a magnificent way?

So you see now how greatness is not designed to be single-use. Watch the fucking video again:

The video was filmed by Tadhg Fleming, and went viral when reposted by @jonnohopkins, and if you haven't seen it then I would describe it as "the Citizen Kane of portrait-mode Snapchat stories about a bat getting in". But I would like you to now avert your gaze away from the video and instead turn it deep inwards. Who are you? What are you? What is the very spirit of you? Your essence? You know it. But sometimes it's hard to express. Who, exactly, are you: are you a mood, a note on a piano, a taste, a feeling? Are you light, colour, heat, sound? Whatever you are, I think you can find yourself in this video. I think you can tag yourself in amongst the chaos. Here are some suggested tags – feel free to add your own:


Tag yourself I am unsure if he's saying "Derry" or "Daddy" so I am just yelling in ever increasing circles, the words garbling in my mouth, fear mangling every noise I make forever on

Tag yourself I'm also not sure whether the mum is called "Marie" or "Maureen" so just going to interchangeably use both THEY ARE BOTH M-SOUNDS THEY BOTH VAGUELY COUNT WHEN YOU'RE SHOUTING PLEASE, PLEASE, THERE IS A BAT IN HERE

Tag yourself I am the question how in the fuck did the bat get in? This is seemingly a house made exclusively of doors. Marie is behind the door. Tadhg is behind the door. Everyone is behind a door, except for Derry, flapping alone on a chair with a towel. How did a bat get in through that door-laden labyrinth? This some kind of fucking genius bat? Or is the bat an idiot? Which is it

Tag yourself I am this particularly weak flap by Derry, a weak flap amongst weak flaps, the flap so weak it errs towards the existential, as if the flap is saying: what am I, and how did I end up here. Standing on a chair in September. Yelling and flapping at a bat.

Tag yourself I'm "Mam will you get out. Derry will you catch him."

Tag yourself I am the demand "CATCH IT, DERRY" repeated like a mantra, chanted like I might be a monk, you could found a religion on this, we could reach enlightenment, let's shave our heads and cross our legs and close our eyes in a peaceful temple and say catch it, Derry! – softly, at first, over and over, sound of the words barely registering over the touch of the lips – and then louder, catch it, Derry!, until we are all there, halfway between nirvana and here, true enlightenment, heightened understanding, howl catch it, Derry! at the universe and know it will send you truth in turn

Tag yourself I am the certain feeling that after this entire escapade Derry was bullied into staying up and doing a spin-wash cycle to rinse the towel after "you got bat all on it"

Tag yourself I am pissing myself for attention

Tag yourself I am the note of quiet defeat in the sentence, "THE DOG'S PEEING!"

Tag yourself I am the guy saying "Dad the dog's out there pissing" as if dad – i.e. the man currently on a chair in what appears to be football socks, flapping a gym towel ineffectively at a bat – has any capacity or ability to do anything about it

Tag yourself I am the deflating feeling of repeatedly being outsmarted by a bat

Tag yourself I am Derry's entire Tuesday-night-in outfit – a grey button-up shirt, blue adidas shorts, black knee-high socks, hard leather shoes; an outfit we will look back on, one day, as single-handedly starting the fashion movement "Mild Dad"

Tag yourself I am encouragingly saying, "you're doing great, you're doing great" at someone who is very patently not doing great

Tag yourself I am kind of suspicious that this whole thing might be viral marketing for an upcoming ballet, because Derry's movements here are beautiful, and would you not pay £60 and dress fancy and watch through tiny ornate binoculars at a singularly-lit stage as Derry, in football socks and shorts, jumped around for two hours and tried to catch a bat with a towel? While someone shouted at him through a door? Would you not watch that? I would very much watch that

Tag yourself I am the sentence, "Oh, fuck it. Oh! Ho! Ho! Oh!"

Tag yourself I am all of the shit and crap that has accumulated on the kitchen table, just a raft of shit, just layers of it, shit that's been there for months, I guarantee you – gua-ran-tee you – that there is a broadband bill down in there from 2013. Guarantee.

Tag yourself I am this palm extended for leniency, defender of the pissy dog, I will die for this piss dog, I love it with my life

Tag yourself I am either Marie or Maureen, glassy and alien at the door, peering in but ultimately useless

Tag yourself I just hit a bat with a towel but I'm not quite sure if I caught the bat, so, tentatively, like looking inside a tissue after blowing your nose, I check inside the towel, which is empty, and a bat flies around near my head, and there, muffled by a door, I can hear a simple scream: "He's making a mockery out of you, boy."

Tag yourself I am the most dad ever towel. Every dad has this towel. Dads don't have nice towels. Dads always have towels they got free with a golf bag once, or a towel they found in a hire car. Dads never buy towels, but towels apparate towards them. Towels appear in dads' lives in a way they do not appear in ours. My dad once found a towel down a country path while he was walking the dog. This happened. He bought it home and washed it and nobody questioned it. The dad towel. And every dad towel, every single one, is violently patterned like this. Half dots, half plain. Or: coloured white-on-blue one side, blue-on-white the next. They have been there in plain sight your whole life. And never – never once – have you ever seen anyone other than a dad use them. What else are dads up to, if they have in place this secret infrastructure of towels?

Tag yourself I am Derry's self-satisfied hand dust off even though he did next to fucking nothing to get the bat out of the house and clearly the whole ordeal took a substantial amount of time and so there is absolutely no place for a "job well done!" hand-dust, what hubris from Derry, what sheer cheek.

Tag yourself I am the quiet feeling this – the hand dust, the tiny moment of elated success – might be the greatest ever moment in Derry's life. Tag yourself I am enormously glad to have seen it.

Tag yourself I am Maureen just immediately going back to ironing, do not pass Go, do not collect £200, do not make a cup of tea or have a sit down and a breather – no: life goes on, ironing needs doing and the dog needs shouting at for having a piss. Tag yourself I am just absolutely not fucking around here just because a bat just devastated my kitchen.

Tag yourself I am this feeling of absolute fucking jubilation mate:

Tag yourself I am Maureen, already at the ironing board, screaming "IS IT OUTSIDE" before someone leaves the door open and the whole sorry thing happens again

Tag yourself I am not Irish but I feel like this speaks to a universal feeling of family life, the warmth and hysteria, the chaos, telling your dad the bat is losing its legs when it isn't, Maureen peering, the interrupted ironing, the hundreds and hundreds of cupboards, the telly still on in the background, the pissing dog, the four-pint of milk on the kitchen table, the raft of crap, the linoleum floor, shirt-and-shorts combo, the quiet peacefulness of family life immediately shattered by the introduction of an element of disorder, a bat: I am all of it, we are all of it, this is the most accurate depiction of family life ever in history. Figure out a way to hang it in the Louvre, next to the Mona Lisa. This is our generation's art and it needs to be preserved forever. Tag yourself, I am all of it, Derry is all of it, Maureen is all of it, the bat is and so are you