Tuesday, September 27, 2005

floating midland

Had to drive to the midlands today for work. I think the name 'midlands' sounds quite Tolkien-esque, which is a bit of a compliment when you consider that I was headed to the car choked streets of Tullamore.

Anyway, the drive down was grand, lots of pleasant little sheep and roadworks, the usual. Although, thinking back on it, I doubt the sheep were little, they are normally all growed up by almost October, but what would I know about the size of sheep, city-slacker that I am, no pun intended.

Gerry Ryan was having angry rants about cyclists and cozy chats about the Ploughing Championships, currently underway in Mallow, Co. Cork. There are a lot of angry pro and anti cyclists, so it was just as well that the cruising speed of my 97 Ford Fiesta made it nearly impossible to hear what they were all saying.

I was able to focus my attention on what I normally do on car journeys in Ireland -

a. Snigger at how furiously hick a lot of things are

Aw, the golden age of Irish Architecture / Signage circa 1964-79 - when sadly it stopped, until around 2003, when a movement 'the cute hoors' (aka developers) decided to fling lumpy detached houses in estates, the kind of estates and houses that middle-class Dublinese would have sold their last pelmet for back in 1995, and GAWD, only if it was in the right locale, yah know? in carelessly-chosen locales around the country to sell to the Dublin eejits for a lotta euro, who cares if there is no childcare, transport, education?)

b. Almost cry with the beauty of the sights

Everyone knows it - the green, the sheep (afore-mentioned), the fields. That's about it really in the midlands, but between rain showers, it looked rather nice.

c. Enjoy the feeling of running late due to roadworks

There are no words. Just lots of men, with lolly-pop signs that seem to say 'STOP' for an awful long time.

d. Daydream

And I'm obviously not going to divulge what that was about.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

PMT (Pre-Monday Tension, or a Restless Sunday Afternoon)

Just as I finished 'The Line of Beauty' (Alan Hollinghurst if you're interested - exerpt at that link, well written, looks at life of Tories during Thatcher's reign, through the eyes of a young gay man who is driven by beauty and I suppose wealth), whilst lying in bed this afternoon surrounded by the decadent discarded crumbs of my late breakfast, sheets of rain flashed down outside my bedroom window.

Feeling cosy, yet restless - my book was almost over and I was really into it (as often happens after four hundred or so pages of a well written jaunt) but as I had planned to go to the Botanic Gardens to have a look at the sculpture exhibition, the rain and my inherent laziness made it just not seem worth the bother. Disengaged by my distraction, I began to race through the final pages of the story.

All too soon it was over, and having noone to discuss it with, I began to ponder what I would do. Intersperse this with my wandering mind going back over the characters of the book, beginning to mourn the ending of my relationship with Nick Guest, the main character, I found myself dressed in my gym clothes.

I'm not so keen on the gym, I've only been there once every three months or so this year, but seeing as I'm all dressed for the ocassion, I guess that's where I'll spend the rest of the afternoon. Maybe walk up a hill watching Cagney and Lacey (if the re-runs are on, but I think that's a Saturday thing) or catch part of the all-Ireland while cycling on the same spot for a while. The pool might be empty, so I won't have to pretend to be a grown up and do lengths, I may even get to do a handstand, although, maybe not.

It's crazy to think that I spend Monday through Friday mornings wishing it was the weekend (when I get into the office, that craving usually is replaced by one for coffee, fags and booze, all at once preferably), and Saturday I'm the happiest bunny in the Easter Party, until Sunday when I often flop about restlessly, unless I'm in town getting pissed or doing something useful like watching TV or going to a thing (insert book, film, coffee and chat, food market) or something. All week, I think to myself that if I had time off, I would write or paint or make something of myself, but when I get the opportunity, fizz goes that ambition.

I feel like a worker-bee or an ant - the thought that this is it for the rest of my adult life is terrifying, yet, instead of doing anything, here I am in my ridiculous ill-fitting, altmodish sports gear, about to get into the car and drive for twenty minutes in traffic to an air-conditioned industrial warehouse that is kitted out as a gym...

It's just so absurd, I don't even like exercise.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Two days in captivity and I'm still kind of smiling - the blissful face of calm has been replaced with pained expression of biting lip with great force. Ergo, a grimace is a type of smile. First person I met was Anne on reception:

'Oh hello love, we haven't seen you around for a while'
'Hi Anne, that's right, was on my jolliers'

'Oh love, did you go anywhere nice pet?'

Aw, me old daisy indeed and I did. Let's face it, anywhere but here's nice, right?

Beaming smiles for five minutes and then the phone starts ringing and I'm back to pre-holiday bitterness. Think Bernard Black from Black Books but without the charm, 'splishy-splashy' or smokes (I stopped smoking four days ago and am unfortunately not permitted booze in work).

Only thirty eight more years of this and then death.

Anyway, I got news that I may be getting a bit of a salary rise. Only downside is that I'm going to have to delay the big trip by about three months. This would be fine, except that I chose to take the holiday as the perfect opportunity to tell anyone who would listen that I'm outta here in 10 months. Pressure (self imposed) is immense.

It would almost turn one to smoking. Oh well.

If I can't smoke anymore, maybe a few glasses of splishy-splashy would get rid of some of the numbness of modern day living? I plan to put this to the test - which is worse, chronic drinking or chronic smoking - may the experiment commence.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

day before tomorrow

I'm back from Kerry. Beautiful landscape - ferns and grasses mixed with heathers of different colours and those big rocks, dramatic coast road around the ring, cliffs giving way to the atlantic.

Very relaxing.

Craic was mighty - lovely to catch up with my good friend. Nice beer, great food, lovely chats and laughs, great pubs. Felt like we were really welcomed, as they knew everyone, who in turn were therefore friends to us. Trying to keep the pub open after hours we were referred to as the Italian cousins, who had travelled from Rome to get a pint of the black stuff. Aw, the Kerry wit, didn't keep the put open, probably on account of our earnest Dublin accents.

Hung around a celtic fort, didn't arrive at a chocolate factory until it was closed. Scaled a ruined castle. All good clean fun. Kerry is a beautiful county, very much its own place. While Donegal has a ragged, rough beauty, and Galway has a pretty charm, Kerry has its own distinct beauty, less manicured than west Cork.

I suppose I would say that - ancestors of mine fled from there to Dublin, only to spend the greater part of their lives buying the Kerryman in their local newsagency, and wishing they could return to the Conor Pass. I don't know why, as they maintained they had no shoes, they were often so hungry that they ate raw turnip and their only entertainment was playing handball against a wall. Monty Python eat your heart out.

The drive is the only downside, think it took us over six hours going down. Ok, we stopped briefly, but still. And just under six on the way back.

Back to work tomorrow. Blah. At points, my two weeks off seemed elastic, growing and growing in front of my eyes.

As always is, at the end of a good thing, now they seem to have flown by. I just don't really think I care to work anymore. Which is a bit of a bothersome shame, as I'm going to have to spend my adult life doing same.

Monday, September 12, 2005


I've been away for a few days, in London, and didn't want to come back. With a glass of wine in one hand, to lubricate my writing, and feeling sorry for myself, I took the following perspective.

Damn this city plagued by insecurities and sadness, alcohol lying like a sleeping blanket, tippex to oceans of regrets, oppression and frustration.

Late at night, the teenagers race to climb into the silent park with their bags of cheap cans. Sex in bushes, awkwardly feeling for skin under acres of cotton. A girl searching for love, acceptance. Him, driven by his dick, couldn't give a fuck about her.

Outside in the houses of middle management women ironing their frustrations into shirts of who was once a lover. Aimlessly flicking through TV channels to find escape, or some message that the life they've chosen contains meaning.

Twenty somethings drinking alongside old men, talking big, trying to suppress the rage they feel at the cost they'll pay to get that job, that house, that car.

Planes leaving taking two or twenty young dreamers away to bigger places with wider choices. Excitement, anticipation. A secret fear or desire that if they let who they were go, then the pieces will never fit together the same again.

Planes return carrying people from other places who want to make some new beginning or extension of their lives in this small seaside town. I hope they'll never realise how many of the locals will resent their very presence.

Its hard to breathe in this small town, where the social norms try to suppress change. Will challenged at every street corner - by your peers, shining lights of pubs and clubs, managers who are afraid of your imagination challenging their apathy.

Where are the mavericks to swim against this tide of blandness?

Someone to challenge you say "turn off your TV, turn up the music, listen to the words, rhythm, feel your body move and sway. Think of your arms, your boobs, your ass. Feel the heat of desire, forget wanting a new car.

Find what your muse is, what makes you feel like you sing well. That vital energy, adrenaline. This is your symphony to conduct, your one chance, your novel. Are you the heroine or a bit player - have you every sung or taken real risks?

When you run out of paper or the words you write are jumbled up, think of the hourglass passing sand from the top to the bottom. If your anger boils up or the darkness descends, remember that if the ink flowed once, it will never really run dry.

Smear your face with paint, walk around the house naked. Never forget that you're real, you're not simply a voyeur of other people's lives, neatly edited and played down your TV tube.

As your fellow Dublin man said, everyone is running to stand still.

You meet all these people, so many stories that you're almost past caring.

If I took away your pen, the words would be scratched with a stick into the sand, and you would never care if the sea washes then into a different energy."

I'm going to Kerry tomorrow. Here's hoping that helps me drift back into Dublin life.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Raef I.

'I'm getting a bit, you know, not sure about it'

I say over the phone to London where they are eating cake and I wish I was there, but I'm here and I miss the ducklings.

She's listening carefully.

'Nah, you'll be fine. Everyone's doing things - you know you won't regret it, I mean the thing is, you can type you can collect glasses, make coffee, do whatever to survive, you'll be fine, it's totally the right thing to do'

She means it.

I miss her.

Thing is. I fear.

I'm going to leave everything and go and do everything. Something, anything.

Anything would be better than this. Each morning the lady on the desk says

'Aw, good morning love, great to see you'

And I say

'Hiya Ann, how are you'

She then responds 'Another day so'

And I may add 'only 4/3/2/1 days to the weekend'.

Unless its Monday. Then I say 'Have a good weekend?'

Today I was having a chat, coffee and smoke with my work friend in the secret hidden garden off Abbey Street and Ann walked by, which she never does, I only see her at her desk normally.

'Lovely isn't it. Nice spot you got there'

I smiled, 'yeah, we got the sun-trap here. Pity there are no ducklings in the pond though'

And she stopped. 'Did you not hear? The magpies got them. Yeah, they swooped down and killed them'.

The tears were forming in my eyes. I swear it - sadness and abject shock (this is not how our typical dialogue goes).

Time stops when you get bad news.

You reflect.

Maybe it is the magpies I'm scared of. Like the ducklings, I'm here in my safety zone, going in to work, swimming in a pond. Its all the same really I suppose. Shitty thing is, the magpies will get me if I stay, just don't know if I'm big enough to fly yet.

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