His inspiration had become fully formulated after Pat Tobin had read about “Miss Jenny”.
Miss Jenny, latter a London ‘girleen’, who back in the 1820’s, had made a living selling used, hand-washed Condoms; reselling them at very affordable prices to those best described at being at the lower end of the social ladder.
In 1986 Thurles native Pat Tobin, who ran a combined Grocery and Chemist business here in Liberty Square, Thurles, was ‘feeling the pinch’, financially, like so many other small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s). The controversial Health (Family Planning Amendment) Act, of 1985, which liberalised Irish law governing the sale of Condoms, to people over 18 years, had at this stage been fully enacted. This law meant that no longer had persons to visit ‘North of the Border’, or indeed present a Prescription, while attempting to purchase such personal and intimate unmentionables.
However Pat’s problem was that such sales were still somewhat limited to certain categories of places named in this Act. For Pat, the future ‘looked on the up’, again financially, following his visit to a certain Galway Tent, and after a chat with Charlie, he ‘got the nod’; yes his small pharmaceutical premises would, most definitely, be included as one of the places where such then very contentious products could be freely purchased.
[Note: This political promise now cancelled Pat’s already developed ‘Plan B’, which was to obtain Crocodile Droppings; to be imported into Ireland, from the Nile region of Egypt, under the cover of ‘Organic Fertiliser’, after he had learned that prior to the mass production of rubber; amorous ancient Egyptian women had successfully used crocodile pooh as a pessary, to avoid unwanted pregnancy.]
Based on this now promise from the very lips of ‘The Man who would be King’, Charlie himself; Pat set about obtaining a reliable supplier who would provide a product with outstanding elastic properties, and with same located; Pat ordered the minimum initial consignment of 5,000 packs.
Maybe it was a poor public telephone kiosk connection on the day, or was it a failure to fully understand Pat’s strong Tipperary brogue; either way, one week later Pat received 25,000 packs of three, arrayed in varying sizes. Pat, at the time of placing his order believed that such items would only be used on weekends, e.g. 1 for Friday night, 1 for Saturday night and 1 for Sunday night. However, due to this disastrous logistical error and aware of his existing poor finances, (not to mention the enormous cost of return postage), Pat decided it would be best to hold on to the full consignment.
To encourage massive sales, Pat set to work on a plan, deciding to boost retail trade with a careful but strong worded advert in the local Tipperary Star newspaper. Logically, Pat believed that locals known to him would be too embarrassed to purchase, so he needed to attract those less familiar customers from Tipperary’s outlying towns and villages. So, after much consideration, Pat came up with a strong wording and an enticing marketing strategy. “Condoms For Sale At Half Price – Will Be Fitted By A Blonde Female“, ran the exciting headline in the following weeks local paper.
Solitary sheep farmer and Upperchurch native, Micky Ryan, normally came down from the hills, above Thurles, once a week; usually on a Friday, to draw his State Old Age Pension entitlement and to pick up a few necessary groceries. With two Collie sheepdogs, both restrained with lengths of binder-twine and usually wearing a well patched dungarees, together with larger than required heavy Wellington boots, Micky entered the less frequented business premises of Pat Tobin & Son.
Having already read Pat’s advert in the previous weeks Tipp Star, Micky was not surprised to encounter a blonde lady in the form of Pat’s wife no less, working behind the counter; busily watering down, as was her custom, the fresh creamy milk which had been delivered a short time previously.
“Excuse me Mrs”, said Micky “Would you be the woman who fits those Condoms?”
Mrs Tobin smiled, “Indeed I am Sir, and how many will you be needing?”
“None”, replied Micky loudly, “But would you be a decent girl and give your hands a good scrub, before you slice me up a quarter pound of cooked ham.”