Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is written as if it were an autobiographical account by Paddy (Patrick) Clarke of Barrytown, a fictional town set in Ireland. The childhood events, told in the recent past tense, seem to be told at breakneck speed and Paddy recounts one event after another, almost at random.
The plot in Paddy Clark does not follow the usual rules, but creates its own. In some ways the plot is a rebel, just like Paddy Clark. Nothing seems properly explained or introduced. If you have ever listened to a young child explain their world, then Paddy Clark’s view of the world will ring entirely true. There is rarely any sense of when events happen and this seems to reflect Paddy’s childish preoccupation with living in the moment.
We meet Paddy’s gang who are stealing from the building site. They get chased away and the luckless Sinbad gets stuck in a hedge. Sinbad leaves a shoe behind and his mother punishes him, knowing she cannot easily afford a new pair.
Like all children, Paddy tries to keep things from his parents and removes his jumper when the boys light fires, so that it does not smell of smoke.
In a shocking scene of bullying, the gang force Paddy’s little brother Sinbad, to hold lighter fuel in his mouth whilst Liam ignites it. The incident tempts us to judge Paddy badly at this stage.
Paddy describes the games his gang plays, at the seaside. As usual, Kevin is in control as the referee.
Paddy discusses the TV news with his father and Paddy and Sinbad write their Christmas letters to Santa.
Paddy describes the family set up in Liam and Aidan O’Connell’s household where the widowed Mr O’Connell has moved his girlfriend in. In a typical family argument Sinbad refuses to eat his dinner again and Mr Clarke is annoyed. He tells Mrs Clarke
"You have him spoiled; that’s the problem". In a rare moment of kindness to Sinbad, Paddy helps him to finish his dinner.
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