Ach, I Dunno!

How eligible are you? Would you be a great catch today for someone? Are they lining up to proposition you? Let’s start with the basics: are you single? Then we can move onto: are you solvent? Do you have your own hair? (not a deal breaker) Own teeth? (preferable). GSOH? (essential) I’m (sort of) joking, but on this day of romance, how many of us have a mental shopping list of the qualities he or she must have before we will give them a second glance? I daresay everyone has unconsciously formed their ‘essential criteria’ against which they can do their life partner shortlisting (perhaps you are doing it for your children!). Maybe in an act of hopeful manifestation this list is typed up in filigree font and stuck to your fridge (I knew that person, and NO, it wasn’t me!). Could a vegan marry a hunter? Could a preacher marry an agnostic? Could a minimalist marry a hoarder? Those might be the deal-breakers, the instances where you say, ‘this just isn’t going to work’. But what if compatibility is more than just interests? We can all point to instances where love has overcome differences in ideology and principle. Like the old Cole Porter song title, ‘Anything Goes’. Everything is turned on its head in that song: “The world has gone mad today / And good’s bad today, / And black’s white today, / And day’s night today”. There is no arguing with it: the world has gone mad today, but hopefully we are a bit more open-minded within this mad world and we can afford greater flexibility with the old checklists.

Still and all, it’s a big decision, and you wouldn’t be the first, nor the last, to get yourself all of a swither, unable to make up your mind, and dithering over whether or not this is ‘the one’. “Yes, no, maybe, ach I dunno!” – is a very telling answer from one half of a couple. Irish songwriter, Percy French, wrote many a romantic number, often with a generous scoop of sentimentality on the side. He could also be very funny; take his insightful humour on indecisive wavering over love.

‘Ach, I Dunno’, by Percy French

“I’m simply surrounded by lovers, Since Da made his fortune in land;

They’re comin’ in crowds like the plovers, To ax for me hand.

There’s clerks and policemen and teachers, Some sandy, some black as a crow;

Ma says ye get used to the creatures,

But, ach, I dunno!


The convent is in a commotion, To think of me taking a spouse,

And they wonder I hadn’t the notion, Of taking the vows.

‘Tis a beautiful life and a quiet, And keeps ye from going below,

As a girl I thought I might try it,

But, ach I dunno!


I’ve none but meself to look after, An’ marriage it fills me with fears,

I think I’d have less of the laughter, And more of the tears.

I’ll not be a slave like me mother, With six of us all in a row,

Even one little baby’s a bother,

But, ach, I dunno!


There’s a lad that has taken me fancy, I know he’s a right bit of limb,

And though marriage is terrible Clancy, I’d-chance it with him.

He’s coming to-night –oh, I tingle! From the top of me head to me toe,

I’ll tell him I’d rather live single,

But, ach, I dunno!”

Back to that ‘tick list’ you have – the one that says: sporty, artistic, wields flowers and is kind to his granny. Well, hold on to it, and forego the convent for now, because you’ll have such fun when ‘the one’ comes along and bears no resemblance to whoever’s described on the list. And when that happens, you’ll tell yourself, “Yes! Now I know!”

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