Thirty four year old Joel McCafferty is fed up of being hounded for not closing doors behind him. The circumstance of his birth, he says, has made his life a living hell. We met up with Joel in a field where he spoke to us about his battle to get his non-closure of doors recognized as a medical condition, or failing that, a syndrome.
“I’m proud to have been born in a field,” said a defiant McCafferty. “My mother ran out of petrol driving in from the country to have me. She pulled in to a field and delivered me herself, which is no mean feat in a dark and cowpat covered Monasterboice meadow.”
McCafferty says he suffers from a lack of self-confidence after being constantly reminded of his fieldly roots. “Most people who know me accept me for who I am but it makes meeting new people difficult and it can be embarrassing for those who don’t know me well – especially ladies I bring home from the disco…
“They look at me like I’m a serial killer when they see I’ve no internal doors in the apartment. It’d be the opposite if that was the case – I’d be more likely to have more doors with locks and that. The only ones who stick around to hear my logic are the girls from Storm – they’re just happy to have been picked up. ”
Being born in a field is taboo in modern Ireland as it evokes connotations, rightly or wrongly, with the travelling community and rural poverty. However, up until the 1950s rollout of regional hospitals, field births were a regular occurrence. So regular in fact, that cows and sheep became accustomed to helping by boiling water and getting clean towels ready.
The field-born lack the basic cognitive ability* to close doors behind them. While this might not seem such a big deal it can destroy young people on the cusp of adulthood.
In 2004, Joel was humiliated out of his hometown after being caught pooing with the door open in the local pub. It was a bank holiday and the pub was packed. A Guns N’ Roses tribute band from Newry were in town. Once word got out of his disgrace, all hope of a local wife evaporated. A move to Drogheda soon followed.
“Normally I make sure to poo before I go out but for some reason that day it wasn’t coming. I shoulda just havin a smoke and a coffee on the bog to help things but I’d a shift arranged and was running late. Love does that to you.”
Tired of the constant put downs, McCafferty set up a support group in his adopted town and started both on and offline campaigns to have his condition medically recognized.
“I was at a house party in a friend of a friend’s house at Christmas and I left the door to the kitchen open. Straight away I hear this ‘Were you born in a field?’ jazz from some one. I was actually, says I. My mate Gary backed me up. The one just said ‘That’s no excuse. Shut the fucken door after you.’ You can’t win.”
Joel hopes to shut everyone up if his campaign is successful.