Sounds of Cyril :
by Robert Mc Garr.

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Cyril was the gatekeeper of the Duncan household, or so I seemed to me as I took the stairs two at a time up to Garmon’s room on a daily basis.  His bedroom was on the ground floor; the door at the foot of the stairs.  I don’t recall how the room came to be Cyril’s bedroom.  At one point it was the general “beat up” living room for the family -  the other one being more formal, full of elegant Thai furniture.  

Cyril & Friends

I think once Cyril started to hold court with a succession of computers, the Duncan family conceded the room to him and it quickly became the Republic of Cyril, Garmon and I, and our friends became fanatical metal heads, lovers of heavy metal.   We were serious people, people to be feared.  It always annoyed me then to come into the house and hear all sorts of ridiculous pops and whistles from Cyril’s room.  I developed a habit of standing in the doorway of Cyril’s room and asking him sarcastically “What kind of music do you like….CYRIL?”   (I always tried to put an insulting emphasis on his name).  Cyril would always make the same reply. Turning to me jerkily he would say in a robotic voice “Com-put-er mus-ic”.  Having satisfied myself as to his absurdity I would then go up the stairs to Garmon’s room to get on with serious business of head-banging to his records.   So it went   for a long time.

However, as time went by I took a second look at this annoying little brother. Often he would walk into a room in which I would be sitting alone.   What would happen next would usually be peculiar.  Cyril rarely settled for a straightforward conversation. Instead his speech would be interspersed with strange grimaces, noises that would have done R2D2 proud, and finally ending with him rotating quickly out of the room counter-clockwise. He developed an alternative vocabulary to refer to all kinds of things, including himself. He became a visitor from another dimension called “burdledy-durdledy”.  What the hell did it mean? It did not matter  -  it was magical.

As his ‘Chaplinesque’ skills developed, these effects became stranger and funnier. He would say the words “burdledy-durdledy” as if he was speaking under water.  By this stage everyone, even me, recognised that Cyril was more than Garmon’s annoying little brother, and he was surrounded by a circle of devoted friends.

I had stopped taking myself so seriously and instead plagued poor Cyril every time I saw him to say “burdledy-durdledy under water!” I had become a secret lover of the “silly”.   

When did we grow out of this babyish crap?  Well, I remember the last time I heard Cyril say those immortal words.   We were sitting in a church pew beside his big brother on a beautiful day in Koh Samui in Thailand on the 7th of May 2007 at Garmon’s and Lisa’s wedding.

We were both in our 30s and were both, still, secret lovers of the silly. 



The temples and men crowd to the river,
In the eternal jewel city where you lived,
Where you rose each day, undivided, and walked to school,
Smiling and calm, greeting each one,
Their teacher, Mr Duncan.

Wayfarer, you surprised us,
You travelled over land and air, from father to mother,
Then holding all, beyond and again beyond.

You refreshed us too,
In moments of silent strife,
Our hearts lighter, thinking of you,
Why now, heavy, thinking of you?  

Dear Cyril, the children wait for their teacher,
Our teacher too,
How should we live Cyril?
You said LIKE THIS

In Memory of Cyril Duncan
Brother, Son, Friend, Teacher
Robert McGarr



The Cyril Duncan Siam Children's Foundation is a Registered Charity in Ireland
Reference Number: CHY 18363

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