Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Coffee in Paris tastes no different than it does here. At least in Starbucks anyway. We are in love in the city of love.
"City of light" she says. I smile, knowingly even though I don't know. Always thought of it as the city of love, the city of light. There you go. Light. Love. I look into the cardboard cup and ask
"What are we doing in Starbucks?"
"It was here. That's what. It's stupid, but it's here. You're the one that loses your temper if you get too hungry." I nod as I bite into something that cost too much and tastes too little.
Paris has been beautiful. We've walked down all the streets and roads that have French names. Not their proper names (although, of course they do have Proper names). I mean Boulevard, and Rue, and such. Ignorance is bliss, culturally. Not knowing what's really going on. Just going on. It seems complicated, like you can't go on. But you go on. Hoping. Some great resolution will come. Or an epiphany. Christ and culture, dawning on one. Let there be light. Let there be love.
Culture. Grows on you like bacteria. Ha ha ha.
She doesn't laugh, but she doesn't in the way I love. Her face kind of lights up, but without a smile. Like it's dawning on her - the patience she has with me derives from something greater. More fundamental. Arcing over our lives.
"Stop it" she says. "Stop spacing out. You're thinking of something. Why not talk ot me instead."
"I'm listening" I say. To some bloke with an accoustic guitar, falsetto voice, and many thoughts about his various and vicarious problems, apparently.
"No you're not" she says. "You hate this kind of thing." She starts humming along. I chew on my whatever it is. I just pointed at it. Maybe it has a Proper name, like the Boulevards and Rues and so forth. Something else I'm ignorant of. But this time, not so blissful. The Boulevards and Rues have, to their credit, long histories, and the distinction of great cultural importance.
Humanity, distinguished from animals by the sum, depth and eminence of conscious thought. Shaping a world, rather than mere surviving. Shedding light and love on experience and existence. And the rest of it. Here I am, chewing on something with the great historical epithet "Made fresh today for you!" and the cultural importance of the Spice Girls.
"Come on" she says. "We're going." When I look at her she says "I know that face. You'll mope here forever if you don't shake yourself out of this... whatever this mood you're in is." She may well be right.
We get into the light, pass a bunch of teenagers in their dark clothes and rings and made up faces. Made up lives. Made up existence. No different from the teenagers here. Teenagers. Starbucks. "Let's go for a drink" I say.
"After the Lurrve" she says. Lurrve. Louvre.
The queue is like, but not literally, a mile long. "Maybe we could come back tomorrow." She looks at me.

.... to be continued, when I'm less tired

Sunday, November 11, 2007

When My Life Changed Forever

3am feed, bleary eyed.
Looking down and see her eyes.
Clear, focused, looking at mine.

On Losing My Life, Or, Am I A Dog Now?

I lost my life to my child and my wife
I know it most when they're away.

I cannot
Hear them
See them
Touch them or
Feel them

I sleep in the bed
Where my wife usually dreams
With a bib or baby vest
And I am held by their smell.

I don't sleep for a second
For fear of missing
Those True, life-saving scents.

Am I a dog now?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Driving at Night (With My Wife)

Driving at night, going home
Through the city
Neon splashes
Yellow flashes
Reds and greens
As you stop and go
Yellow, yellow, yellow.

Driving at night, going home
With my wife
On the motorway
Smooth road
Yellow, dark, yellow, dark
Lights from other cars

Driving at night, going home
With my wife
Pulling off the motorway
To take old roads
A less yellow way
A less lit way
A less straight way
No one knows what's
Ahead of the light we throw on
The jaded road
Ahead of us.

"How like life!"
I suggest
To which, my restlessly resting wife,
Says "What?"
Which is why I love her so much.

Driving at Night (With my Daughter)

I've always liked
Driving at night
The rhythm, the flow
Even when there's nowhere to go

Following the lights; their hypnotic hold
Shedding light on a black road
The white line
The cats eyes
The curves and the bends and the turns

Steering the wheel,
And crunching the gears
And stamping on breaks and clutch.

But tonight I drive with my daughter
A little slower than I used to
'Mrs Jones' on the radio
I whistle and she warbles
Singing along
To the very song
That was playing as she was born.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Why Would You Do That?

Blow up buildings, kill people
Kill a person, after looking them in the eye
Hurt someone on purpose
Make them squirm, make them uncomfortable
Ignore the pain of others
Enjoy the hysteria, forsaking the weary
Use manners as a weapon in daily interpersonal combat
Lie to a lover
Trust no one
Why would you do that?
Situations are questions that need
Not punishment.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Rash Judgement

Oven. The oven. The oven had me out there doing what I had to do because of the oven. I hate going out there. The people and everything. Looking at me looking at them. It's like some kind of dysfunctional mirror. Anyway, the thing is - was - I had to go out on account of the oven burning the last of my rashers. I was hungry. It was life or death.
I hit the street - inertia from the stairs had me running, the flat of the ground stopped me, hurtling my face, knees, hands and forearms into the pavement, which showed its reluctance to give way by skinning all of them. The only comfort you get at a time like this is a fucking good curse. Fuck - being way over used - wouldn't do it. So I went with the C-word, which brought on the ire of a passing woman, who theorised that use of such a word would inevitably lead to my becoming a rapist. I shook my head, sighed, and pushed myself up, to which the woman shrieked, and ran.
The shop was next door, but now I needed plasters. It was huge, overlit, and freezing. I spent a few moments browsing the deli counter to catch the heat released from the ovens with "Freshly Baked Today!" plastered on them. They weren't opened.
I walked across to the chiller aisle behind the series of freezer aisles and the fridge aisle where the drinks were. Rashers. Packs and packs of rashers. All I wanted was a pack of rashers, but now I had to decide which was the best value, and which spoke about me as a consumer. Was I a family, with active children and traditional values? Maybe I was a young, about-the-t, own girl who might like something a little different for my cream cheese and cracker bread. I could well have been a burly gent, looking for something home-cured, or at least cured in the home-cured way. I was hungry, and here I was considering my true identity within a broad socio-economic structure in the chiller section of a mini market.
I realised much of the groundwork had been done for me. I was here, wasn't I? In this mini market. So, I was a man who needed convenience in my life, but also the range of products offered by a brand as powerful as this one. With, of course, smiling staff who were ready to help. Maybe I was helpless? Is this why I came in here? Should I ask one of them - what do people like me buy in the way of rashers here? I just didn't know. Without relish, I realised that I didn't even know what people like me bought in the way of rashers anywhere. In effect, I didn't even know who I was. I had to find out, and quick, before my toes fell off from the chill. I walked back to the magazines and papers. One of those should be able to tell me.
But was I broadsheet, or tabloid? Celebrity gossip or cosmetics and beauty advice? Boobs or arse? Sports or markets? DIY or cars? I had never even considered the options before. I bought a paper with boobs, news, a good-sized classifieds section and a page dedicated to business movers and shakers (mostly those who had wives or daughters with sizable assets). I thought maybe perusing this over my food would help me find who I really was. Something would grab my attention and I'd say, Yes! I am a man who is interested in X, and eats the appropriate rashers!
I was heading back to the chiller section when I realised this wouldn't work either. I'd need to read the paper first to find out the person I was before coming back to buy the appropriate rashers. There was no way I was doing that. For one thing, I was too hungry. For another, I'd come in to buy the rashers in the first place. So if anything, I should buy a few packs of rashers, decide who I was, then come back and buy the appropriate paper. I went back to the rack and put the newspaper away. Then, back to the chillers, past the freezers and the coolers to pick up one of each pack of rashers. But then I ran out of arm-room to carry them. I should have thought ahead. I couldn't possibly carry all these personalities. For one thing, I'd be like a mad man, running round with happy children while making big, thick sandwiches, with a light cream cheese spread. No, that way madness lies. I would have to just go for it.
I closed my eyes, and plunged my arm into the chiller. First one pack, then another, then another, I felt my way to what I believed was my true identity. In a world of chaos, this was the only way to find ones' true self. Just grope in the dark until you feel what's right for you. I opened my eyes and looked at the cold squishy block in my hand. I was surprised by who I really was.
I trudged back to the rack, past the coolers and freezers, to select the appropriate newspaper. I went to the till. The girl there gave me a look, and all I could do was shrug.
"Yes," I said, "I know. I wouldn't have thought so either. But you are who you are, so I guess this is me. It's disappointing, I can tell you. But maybe I can be happier now I understand what I really..."
"Five euros twenty seven please" she rushed it out of her, like the words had been running from her very fundament, making themselves breathless on the journey out. I handed over a crumpled fiver from my pocket. I dug about for change.
"Five, six, eight, ten... hold on" I said
"No. That's fine."
"Well, thank you very much!" I said, delighted by this strange show of true human charity. She was letting me off seventeen cents. I would have to remember this.
"I'll remember this" I said to her, and her face changed.
"Are you threatening me?" She said
"No, no. I meant... just seventeen..."
"Please, go. How do you know my age?" She was panicking now. Was that woman right? I head meant the cents, but could the paper and the rashers reveal the rapist in me? Something I never even knew existed, brought to the surface. It was astounding. I was fascinated by the idea when her shrieking voice woke me from my brief reverie: "Darius! Darius!" A large, blond man came hurtling from a door beside the chillers.
"Sophie?" he said, then "Can I help you sir?" to me.
"I think I'd better go."
"Yes." he said
"Yes." she said
"Yes." I said. It was a positive end, but it depressed me so much. I - a conservative, rural, middle class Irish family with a penchant for rape - trudged back to the apartment. What a let down, I thought. I guess they may have thought me racist, more than a rapist. What with these rashers and this newspaper.
They were spitting away nicely, and I was reading all about a bizarre love affair between a Dublin businessman and his chauffeur, when the Angelus came on the TV. To be true to myself, I decided to reflect on my new life. I wished I could have said the Angelus, but I hadn't learned it yet. I'd need to do so, to be true to myself, I knew it. I'd make an appointment with the local Parish priest, or PP as I'd call him from now on. Before that, I'd need a little book to write all my addresses, numbers and notes in. Not a Filo-Fax. Not a personal organiser. Nothing ring-bound. Just a little book I could carry round in my handbag (I'll need one of those too) and refer to and write notes in whenever I needed to. Maybe I could even record the prices of the things I bought in there. Help me to create my household budget, so I didn't end up like that poor shop worker who had taken offers from several credit card companies, and ran up debt of five thousand euro.
After the Angelus, the news came on. I couldn't believe it. After all the torture. "Pork products, such as bacon and sausages have been linked to cancer." For Christ's sake. You can't be anyone without it being the cause of your own death. But still, I went to the oven, pulled out the griddle pan and threw the rashers straight in the bin. The bin liner melted and the grease spatted the rest of the junk in there. I felt hungry and thought that was a rash judgement and lit a cigarette to consider what I was going to do next.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Night time. The neon splashes on water lying in the gutters, running down windows. The rain splashes on the people lying in gutters, running down streets. Cars pass, throwing puddle water and neon from the gutters. There is no rush, but confusion comes down with the rain. Should we go in here? How about here? I just want to get out of the rain! Anywhere that has a roof is fine with me!
Some run to the pubs. Some run for their trains. Everyone wants off the wet streets. In the pubs, damp hangs in the air. Words hang too, maybe stuck to the damp. Unfinished conversations. Famous last words. Arguments that aren't arguments at all. Vocal, boisterous agreements about politics, business, books, the theatre, pubs. Is it right? Of course it's right! The question is why it's right! Here's your evidence, here's mine. My evidence is even more compelling. A pint's in order after that argument! I love the way we can argue, yet still retain our winning friendship!
They go home, feeling like why didn't I say it was wrong? Deep down, that's what they believe. But deep down they know, who would believe that? Only a fool! Best to convince themselves, then try and convince others. Like it was their opinion, like they were sophisticated, like they were liked.
That damp.
Waiting for dry.
No need to wait anymore. Hop on a plane, be there in a few hours. Bask in the winter sun. Tip the locals, they'll like you then. Build up a relationship. Let them see how sound you are, despite all your money. At home, it's not much. Over there, it's a pile.
Despite all your money? Having money proves a shallow ability to extract money from others. The idea probably derives from the forties or fifties. Maybe the twenties. Maybe even the century before last. When product quality was questionable. When salesmen sold things that didn't exist. Faulty insurance, widgets. Government stepped in. Legislated for 'merchantable quality' and made it illegal to sell certain things that didn't exist. But then people invented other things that didn't exist. Sold them at a good profit. Then the people who bought them, the invented things, came to realise the things they bought didn't exist. And they hated anyone involved in creating the thing that didn't exist and the lousy bastard that sold it to them. Then, to cap it all off, the lousy bastard salesman and the guy who created nothing take all that money and spend it on a beach somewhere. Getting friendly with people who get screwed by other people in their country.
And we have the damp. Hanging in the air with drizzled rain.
Rain, drizzled on a city like the way they describe olive oil on salads with all those leaves. Adds to the flavour. Maybe even the texture. Who knows? Does it really matter, though? Whether or not olive oil is like rain? Makes no sense really, if you think about it.
The train goes slow, because of the rain and the leaves. Creates a fine fluid-type substance. Something similar to Teflon. Making the rails non-stick. So you could stir fry on them. Or maybe fry. In olive oil. But rail food is famously crap, so who would do that? I don't know.
So the rain comes down and the train runs out. The people, a little drunk and very wet, wish they were at home. Drops form puddles. Some people sit on the floor. Might get piles. That's how you get them, they say. 'They' that are the people who told them that they say. They's they.
No one knows how anyone feels. But they all feel the same. Damp, depressed, drunk. There must be more. But where is it? Scrape around in the neon in the puddles in the gutters, before cars throw it all up to splash on someone drunk. Everyone searching for something. They don't know what. Everyone knows how everyone feels. But they can't let each other know. Who could trust anyone that scrapes around in the puddles, searching for something they don't even know? How could you trust yourself, knowing it's what you do? If you can't trust yourself, you can't trust anyone. The best thing is to forget it. Look out the window. See the city railing past.
Somewhere out there, relationships are breaking apart. Children are being beaten. Someone is throwing up bad Chinese food and wine. Someone else is hoping to score. Someone again is trying to find a vein, in vain. Desperation hangs in the air, with the damp.
Damp, filling, but empty. There's nothing in the spaces. Between the spaces, droplets of water. H2O - not water - not at this temperature. The same chemical makeup, but it's in the wrong form - to call it water. How can 'damp' be a wrong form? Who knows, but it's not the form we're looking for. Not water.
Damp. Dreaming now, staring out windows. Dreaming of that Man, that Woman. They're waiting for them. At home, with beauty and food. A fire, maybe a DVD. Something to do to distract from this. This damp: not wet, not dry.
But how do you let them know you're dreaming of them? What words? I dreamt of you on the train home. We were naked in front of the fire... You're losing it. There's no room for such words in reality. They're made up. Created from nothing. You wouldn't pay for it, but you might feel for it. You might feel like this is what you're looking for. At the bottom of the puddles, in the spaces between the water, the H2O. The moon shoots a beam of light through the drizzled window, and you know. You know you're going to make it tomorrow. Smile.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Vision of Ireland

He walked the way
From his childhood
His face looked carved out by
The wind and the waves

He reached the cliff
Stared into the sea
That looked like his face because of
The wind and the waves.

He started to giggle
Went on to cackle
And then screamed with laughter
At the great Atlantic sea.

Claiming lives that sought refuge
Through it
With it
And sometimes
In it.

So distracted was he
Slipped, rolled and fell,
Giggling, cackling and screaming
Into the Atlantic sea

I, learning the lesson
Stepped back
And laughed until
I fell into
The brittle rough heather and
Grass tufts of
The soft, solid ground.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

test post

This is a test post to check transferring of the blog has worked.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bren's Western

Bren's Western, the dead dog, has raised it's panting head and let out something of a yelp. Read Chapter 2 here!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Blog Action Day

Originally, from the Other Place

It started simply enough - one of my best friends emails to let me know about Blog Action Day. Bloggers around the world (12,316 at last count) are going to devote a post on Monday, October 15th to environmental issues. I joke immediately - So, tens of thousands of bloggers are going to switch on to blog about environmental issues, drawing on the world's ever-jaded energy reserves. It was twee, I'll admit. It's also a cliché at this stage, a cynical (or, I would believe, more cruelly sceptical) pass-remark used over and over in relation to Environmental awareness (remember the criticisms (see controversies and criticism) of Live Earth?). But, then I started thinking: in light of the fact that this is a cliché, is there a need for more awareness of Environmental issues? Or, is the awareness that has been generated actually doing anything?

Awareness or Engagement? Which is the Real Need?
The problem with the 'Environmental Question' (as with all issues that seem to divide along Liberal/Conservative lines) is that generating awareness is often a question of preaching to the converted. People who want to be aware tune in. Or, those who want to be true partisans for their political or ideological viewpoint will actively seek out this information. So, we end up with those who always thought it was important telling us it's even more important now. There are two problems with this approach. Firstly, it's working in a vacuum. Second, in possibly 8 cases out of 10, all that happens is attempted persuasion (nothing actually gets done, nothing changes).
Working in a vacuum is a common problem with political discourse in many western countries today. Essentially, you're talking about a political system divided along two lines: Left and Right. Left and Right mean different things to people from different countries, but they run something along the lines of this: Left thinkers believe the State has a duty to its citizens, generally financial, but also in terms of taking responsibility for social issues (behaviour, culture, etc.). On the other hand, Right thinkers will emphasise the need for individual, personal responsibility to be taken for financial and personal well-being. Yes, this is over-simplified, but it provides a rough compass for the purposes of this argument.
The problem in political discourse at the moment is that the Left argues among itself about how Left it should be (meaning different things in different countries), and the Right does the same. When an issue like The Environment arises, each side will agree on its position (We need to worry about it/We don't need to worry about it), but for different reasons. So, off they go, arguing about why their position is correct, rather than whether it is correct. It's anecdotal, but a good example (or, more correctly, series of examples) of this is recent discussions I've had about the environment:

  • Arguing about the Environment has become a point-scoring exercise for the Left, in terms of who knows most about the damage being done. Sometimes, it will include who suffers most from the damage being done.
  • Arguing about the Environment has become a point-scoring exercise for the Right, in terms of who knows most about why no damage is being done. Sometimes, it will include who understands the most about cosmic rhythms and pre-historic ice shifts.
  • Arguing about the Environment rarely occurs between the Left and the Right. So, the Right don't hear (whether they refuse to, or whether they are ignorant of it) the Left's point of view. The Left don't hear (ditto) the Right's point of view. Each side listens to the scientists that espouse their own point of view.
What is really required in the Environmental (and many other) argument is an ability to engage with the other side. What is also required (and sadly lacking in all aspects of human endeavor) is a willingness to be rational, and communicate properly during such an engagement. It's easy to say "I'll engage!" but then say "I engaged, but they're all mad! You won't believe what they say (because I certainly didn't)!" An open mind, armed with rational thought, is the only way forward. But, of course, this is someone on the Left talking. So, many on the Right would say this is hippy talk, at best, and hysterical at worst.
The scientists will bash it out, anyway. Armed with test tubes, spectrometers and research grants, they line up their armies, take aim and prepare to fire interns and research grads at each other, like so much cannon fodder. The columnists will take the information they get from their generals (or, more commonly, disregard any information that has the slightest relationship to fact) and grab our attention. We, then, go to the pub and say "I was reading today in the --- about the Environment. Their columnist is very good, you know."
Only to be told either:
  • "Well, I read in the --- that polar bears have turned gay because the warming of the environment has tricked their brains into thinking that other bears are of the opposite sex. It's based on research into the effect of alcohol heating up the human brain."
  • Or, "Well, I read all polar bears are turning gay because they've over populated. It's very common and occurred no less than 35.7 million years ago."
Either way, we're talking about the opinions of columnists in the --- or the ---, who espouse what we believe, and so further our need to be more 'informed about the fact' (a great irony of modern life - we all want to be more informed, but prefer to disregard what those who disagree with us might say). But, we never appear to get more informed than the facts and opinions provided by those we agree with. The problem we face will require engagement of the 'Other side' before anything gets done. This thought terrifies me.

A Time for Awareness or a Time for Action?
Al Gore, accepting the Nobel prize awarded to him and the IPCC (See the BBC News website for more details) said "I will be doing everything I can to try to understand how to best use the honour and recognition of this award as a way of speeding up the change in awareness, and the change in urgency." But what does this mean? Are we to hear more spokespeople on the radio, more articles in the papers telling us how much of a problem global warming is? I don't mean to be cynical, but in fairness, if this is what it means, then we can also expect more spokespeople on the radio, more articles in the papers, telling us what a load of cobblers the 'global warming threat' is. While I believe something should be done, I would sing along with the Live Earth critics - what is this awareness doing? Of the people I know that would mention the Problem of the Environment (usually mentioned in passing), only one has actually done anything. She has stopped using hazardous chemicals when cleaning her house (e.g. bleach), takes public transport despite having a usable driver's license, tries to choose 'environmentally friendly' options in every minutiae of her life. The rest of us wring our hands and wonder, what can be done?
And indeed, what can be done? Turning off light bulbs and TVs is probably a good idea, but is also probably much less than a drop in the ocean. Fifty years ago, the same was being done, but for different reasons (war, rationing, etc.). Climate issues have continued apace. What is required now is real political action - and worldwide action.
What is missing is, at best, real political belief. At worst, we're missing real political dedication. Grants for alternative fuels and other 'green'-based activity would appear to derive more from concern for the future of fossil fuels than the need to address the environmental issues. But what political force will really address environmental issues? I thought this a great way to end a paragraph, so that I could provide my end-of-discussion conclusions. But, man plans, God laughs. This coming from an agnostic. The thought terrifies me.

So Where Do I Stand?
In Straw Dogs, John Gray (School Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics) argues the point perfectly. My take of his argument is as follows:
Our problem is one of perception. We believe we have responsibility for the planet, thus inferring we are masters of the planet. But this is incorrect. We have a parasitic relationship to the planet, taking what we need and replacing what we feel is 'right'. Generally, we plant trees to make up for the burning of fossil fuels, rape of women in war torn countries, McDonald's, oil, war and human intolerance for other humans. So, in one sense we over-compensate for what we feel we have inflicted on the planet. Hooray, us!
However, if we understand ourselves as dependent on earth, we start to see that trees generally plant themselves. We can (and do) intervene, planting trees ourselves. But, left to their own devices, they would plant away, propagate, grow, die. Such is life. We humans have rational thinking among our talents. This lets us take things we find around us, and make other things with it. We move matter from one place to another and generate billions in revenue in the process. We really are brilliant. But we really are parasites. Our existence depends on the earth - the earth isn't depending on us. Unfortunately, this is our relationship with our own existence. Which means, we have to do something. It's not a question of being 'responsible' for 'Mother Earth' or 'Mother Nature'. It's a question of ensuring our own survival on a planet that can destroy us, should it need to, so that balance can be restored. Not new-age 'balance'. This is a balance based on physical, chemical and biological sciences. Once we over-tilt, we fall over the edge. Like any other parasite, we will be destroyed before the body we inhabit.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Social Networks

I was going to complain about social networking. But then a friend sent me this, and I think it says it all:

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Over-Scene #2 - The Naggin

"You can pull that hood over as much as you like. I still want to see some ID."
"Hmm. It's fake"
"It's fuckin' no', I'm nineteen, I am"
"No, not the ID, you tool. The money."
"The wha'? You're having me on. Here, give it back"
"No, I have to keep it. Send it into the coppers."
"Wha? Send it wha'? Bollocks. You're only trying to nick me fiver, you wanker!"
"No, it's the law, you fool. I've to hand it into the coppers. It's fake. You can hang around if you want while I call them. Let them know you gave me it... Thought not. Fucking tool!"


"I see you Johnny, but I don't see a naggin!"
"Don't start. You won't believe..."
"You're fuckin' right I won't. You're full of shit. There's no naggin is there?"
"The money... it was fake..."
"Yeah, like the naggin."
"No, I was on me way to get it when I texted ye. When I got in there, yer man says it's fake, and he takes it off me"
"He took it off you? He had you on, you fuckin' eejit"
"No, he has to call the coppers to report it. The money I mean."
"So there's no naggin"
"So I'm going home"
"Aw, c'mon. We'll scam another fiver."
"You already stole that from two homelss eejits. There's no chance. And if it was fake, what does that say?"
"Fer fuck's sake."
"My thoughts exactly"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Over-Scene #1: Five Euros

The old man lifted his foot - dirty, blackened - from the bucket.
"That's what happens." The younger man just nodded, scratched his beanie-hatted head, his matting beard. Itchy hair. The old man was pointing at the foot. The young man was looking at his finger, making agreeable enough noises.
They spoke across each other all the time, neither listening. The old man talked about his past, while the young described his hopes for the future. Their words drew circles around their selves, never touching another. No loves, no friends, no bosses, no lives.
They were weary, and (as the song goes), they were on the street. They had each other, but not even that. Neither saw much of use in the other, so they made suitable companions. They could talk without appearing totally mad. Although the young man knew, if you had to talk - and some times you did - you could just put your fist up to your face, and no one would notice. The old man, who spent his time pointing at his feet and talking to the scissoring legs of passers-by had long ceased to care whether he was or was not insane, much less of whether people thought so.
Another pair of leather shoes kicked over another cup of coffee. This time the culprit - professionally embarrassed - turned, saw what happened and said "My God, I'm so sorry... please, here." He threw a fiver and walked off, rigidly. The old man and the young man looked at each other. They could share it. The old man could give it to the youth, help him along. The young man could give it to the elder, buy him some comfort. They looked at each other, then looked at the note, then saw the hand of a young lad pick it up and leg it off.
"Fuck!" said the young man, watching the escaping youngster, thinking about when he was younger, he could have caught him - but now, there was no way.
"That's what happens" said the old man, pointing at his foot, thinking of his crippled, comfortless future.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

40 Minutes

The train slows, and it's on. The passengers - each one believing they've stood too long - hustle for a seat. One foot on the platform, one on the train and you get an accidental elbow in the stomach. Doubling over your head is an accident in a large, ugly woman's breasts. She turns as you raise your hands to apologise, and you apologise to her ass. She turns her head, you look away. What do you do?
The commuter train for the city does what the commuter train for the city does: Brings the commuters from the commuter towns to the city for their city jobs. It's not that complicated.
The big one - who's breasts and ass you know - her phone is ringing. TALK TO ME TALK TO ME TALK TO ME goes whoever's on the other end, while the train goes chugga-chugga-chugga rrraawwwr up to speed. The commuter train for the city does what the commuter train for the city does.
"Hello" she says, talking to the phone, and her accent reminds you of souped-up old cars, high rise apartments, heroin, vacuum cleaners and overalls. You deny your mind such prejudice, because it's just not what you do.
"Well?" she asks and you know whoever it is just isn't talking. You guess they're just doing what they do. You can't judge - it's not what you do.
"What did I do?" she asks, then says, sometime later - maybe seconds, maybe minutes - "Are you going to talk to me?" Is that what they'll do? There's a slowing, and a judder, and all of us - us passengers - lightley leaning forward, knock each other a little. Not much, just a touch. That's what happens when the train slows.
More passengers on, because that's what they do. You angle to stay near the girl, who is refusing to "Defend" herself (her word, not yours). She must be doing what she does. But you'd love to know more. A toe in pain as a passenger gets on. 'I'm sorry' he says to nobody. That's what the passengers do on a train with no room.
The commuter train for the city does what the commuter train for the city does: Brings the commuters from the commuter towns to the city for their city jobs. It's not that complicated.
"Talk to me" says the girl. Now she's doing what the person on the other end of the phone does. And it makes you wonder, because that's what it does.
"...I wasn't..." she says, and the conversation is halting because that's what they do when they talk. "No... she said to me..." shaking her head because that's what it takes "I didn't say that. I didn't. Besides, what Mary says... what Mary says... what Mary says... WILL YOU FAWCKIN' LISTEN TO ME!" and the passengers turn their heads, because that's what they do. "I NEVER SAID ANY OF IT! MARY SAID IT TO ME! I DIDN'T EVEN ASK! OF COURSE I TRUST YOU... of course I trust you, but now I don't know because you're acting like this." She's silent for a while, and some more turn to look, but no one gets caught, because no one does that.
Another stop. She's still listening, I'm still listening, and the passengers keep shoving because that's what we do.
The commuter train for the city does what the commuter train for the city does: Brings the commuters from the commuter towns to the city for their city jobs. It's not that complicated.
You should read a paper. That's what you do. Learn about what the celebrities don't eat, who they sleep with, what they do to each other. What they do. But this... this is what people do. It's too much to give up on, even if she is sniffing, holding it back. She does that because that's what she does. "No, John, no. Not any more. You know it." Very precise. Space in between for him to do whatever he does. Striking new dimensions, because all of this is done by John. The possibilities! What could they do!
Another stop, but at the edges of the city. This time, some commuters from the commuter towns get off the train because that's what they do. It's OK for now, because it's still too packed to move away from the woman. You don't want to miss it because now you know - that is not something you do. The beeping of the doors obscures what you hear. They didn't do that before, because normally that's not what they do. But you've lost concentration, so that's what they do.
The commuter train for the city does what the commuter train for the city does: Brings the commuters from the commuter towns to the city for their city jobs. It's not that complicated.
You try to lean a little closer as the chugga-chugga-chugga turns into the rraawwwr. But your phone goes off. TALK TO ME TALK TO ME TALK TO ME goes whoever's on the other end, and the girl turns to look at you, because that's what she does. She raises her voice, because that's what she does. You answer your phone, because that's what you do.
"Hello" you say, because that's what you do
"Murt! Listen!" he shouts because that's what he does, and deep inside you sigh. Why do you do this? You have no idea. But you do what you do because that's what you do. Suddenly, you hang up. That's what you do.
"I won't take anymore of this" she says, because that's what she does, and you know there was a good reason to do what you did. Lean in again as the train slows to a stop. Lucky for you - even numbers on and even numbers off. You continue to lean.
The commuter train for the city does what the commuter train for the city does: Brings the commuters from the commuter towns to the city for their city jobs. It's not that complicated.
"No" she is sniffing, it seems for a reason. Something tells you there's more. More than what we all do. That's what the feeling does.
The train pulls in to its terminal destination, because right now, right here, that's what it does.
"Britney" says another girl, because that's what she does, and Britney, who is your girl, turns. That's what she does. "Don't worry about it" says the second girl. "Could you hear all that?" "Everyone could. Everyone could" "Oh Jesus, I'm scarlet".
The second girl comes over and hugs the first. That's what she does. The first girl smiles because that's what she does. You get off the train, because this is the terminus and something tells you there's something more. The people explode from the platform to the city, that's what they do. There's nothing left of them, save for Britney and her equally unattractive friend. You start walking to work, because that's what you do. But you never quite get there.
The commuter train for the commuter towns does what the commuter train for the commuter towns does: Brings the commuters from the city to the commuter towns for their commuter lives. It's not that complicated.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Consumer/Provider Blues

A Blues based on the change from being a consumer, to being a provider.

I once was a consumer, oh yeah
I said I once was a consumer
I ran around this town, spending my money like a clown!

Yeah, I never joined a library
No, I just bought ev'ry damn book I pleased
No, I never joined a library
I just bought any damned book I please
And then I went around the corner
And I bought piles of CDs (yesh!)

But then my baby had a baby
Yeah, my baby had a baby
(spoken) My baby that's my wife had a baby that's my daughter
Oooh, I was so happy then
But when my baby had a baby
I changed my ways, like so many men

Now I'm a provider,
And I just provide all day long
Yeah, I'm a provider
And I just provide all day long

I'm running round the town now
Buying nappies and formula
I'm running round the town now
Buying vests and baby grows
And when the evening falls
I can finally read all those books I bought

:-) Life, eh!

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Miserable Irish Story: Do Elephants Intentionally Kill Their Young?

Note: This story was heavily influenced by this BBC news report, and Raymond Carver's story, 'Elephant'

The mourners shuffled, in their mourning suits, which were less morning suits, and more the kind of thing bought off the peg for just such events - christenings, weddings, funerals. Any life changing moment where the church had a hand in the proceedings. Mainly chatting - it was tragic, but anyone could see it coming - so they compared notes on the way to paying their final respects. Knowing comments followed by knowing 'hmphs.'
Dumbo Doyle came into the church on his own. Late again, not for his own funeral, but for his son's. Bustled in, headed straight for the top. Tries discretion to no avail, because everything about him was huge - from the huge ears that gave to his nickname to the huge hands that held wife beaters and drunks by their throats while a huge mouth cautioned them that the only thing saving their skin was the uniform he wore. So when he was off duty, they better be more mannerly.
Thank God they hadn't started, but he was late enough to have to quick step down the aisle. His ex-wife was there, sitting right beside where she stood on their wedding day. He sat on the opposite pew, waved across to her, his daughter and his son in law. There was no getting away from this.
"James. Howarya?" A supportive voice. He turned his head to see the large, red nose of Mick, the cousin. Their mothers had been cousins. He and Mick had been at school together, but lost contact when Dumbo went away to join the Gards.
The priest came in and started talking. That's all it was now, talk. Some women cried, some young lads placed things on the coffin. None of it made much sense to Dumbo.
After the talking, his daughter came over to ask how he was. His son in law asked how he was getting on. He had forgotten, but he owed in son-in-law money. His ex-wife simply said his name and nodded. Her new male companion escorted her from the church to the graveyard.
Dumbo walked to the graveyard with Mick who said "You musn't blame yourself." Dumbo said "I don't," truthfully, and Mick sighed. That was when Dumbo realised maybe he was meant to blame himself, because certainly everybody else did.
He let it slip a long time ago that the money - the money for the drugs - came from him. Of course, he wasn't giving Jim - young Jim, who was dead now - money for drugs. He was giving him money for food, and rent and such. But, the point was, if he had extra money - the money his da gave him - then that money, or the money he already had - that he earned or got somehow or another - could be spent on drugs. It was a confusing argument, and not one to get into without a few pints on board. At some point, someone would say "Don't be so naive, Dumbo." He didn't feel naive. He felt like he was doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, or maybe the right things for the wrong reasons. It was a confusing defence, usually countered by the condescending rejoinder "And you a Guardian of the Peace!" On the way home, alone, he would defend himself to himself by furthering the point - if he gave money to his son, then his son would not commit a crime to get the money. So he was still guarding the peace, but just from those whom his son might steal from.
The first time he gave young Jim money, the boy was in a fix. He was done with it, he said. It surprised Dumbo to learn his son had ever taken drugs. But now, his son assured him, he wouldn't be taking any more. He just needed some money to pay off some dealers, or they'd go for him. Dumbo handed over the cash, and shook his head. They grow up so fast, this one had lived a whole life - networks, deals, highs, lows, a whole society - and finished with it before his father knew there was anything to be worried about.
Some time after, Dumbo called young Jim and asked him to come home. Jim said he couldn't, on account of his career. "And besides," he said "there's nothing for me there anymore."
They stood around the hole, looking down. The sky loomed over, like a bruised victim. The coffin went down. Dumbo, Margeret (his ex-wife) and Anne (his daughter) each threw a handful of soil on it. That was that. They were all for the hotel for the afters. Mick rubbed his hands and licked his lips, then cast his eyes sideways and said "God, tis awful. I need a stiff one after that."
They all intended to, but no one actually did, offer Dumbo a lift to the hotel. He had no car, as the time had gotten so that even a Garda couldn't drink and drive anymore. He didn't mind. A lift would only mean having to make small talk in the car on the way. He decided to take a moment, and maybe drop into Smyths for one on the way.
"Well, if you ask me, you get what you pay for. It was coming a long time." The statement hung in the air, as Dumbo walked into the pub. It was an old pub near the bus stop. Frequented by maybe a dozen regulars, half sat at the bar, the other half at a far table in the corner. The ones in the corner were hastily picking up cards and money. Dumbo ignored it, sat at the bar.
"Dumbo... err.. Jim. What can I get you? On the house, of course. The day that's in it and all."
"Shay. A pint, please. And thanks"
"What about me?!" Dumbo looked round to see Mick, yet again behind him. Support, he supposed but was supporting who?
"Oh. Right, Mick. What'll you have?"
"Pint. And a whisky. As you said, day that's in it..." Mick looked down at the bar. Shay and Dumbo looked at each other. It was an old move, and just this time, they'd let it go.
"So, James. How are you?"


"Where is he?" asked Margaret, tired of having to ask after an ex husband who just seemed to do everything he wanted to, and in whatever way he wanted.
"I don't know, mam." The guests were swirling round the hotel function room, coming up to offer consolations, retreating, returning to nervously say "Excuse me, but where is Dum... errr... James?" The manager approached to ask about starting the food.
"You'll need to give us a few more minutes. My husb... ex-husband hasn't arrived yet. We're a bit worried about him, actually."


Having reached the end of the pint, Mick looked to Dumbo, still halfway through his. "Another?" he asked. No answer. Not even a sign Dumbo had heard him. Mick looked to Shay, and said "Another." Shay put them on, all the bar in silence.


The second time he asked for money, Dumbo tried to be cute. He said he'd help him out if young Jim would just give him a name. Someone he could arrest and bring in. That could trigger a series of events leading to promotion and a better life. Maybe even a move to Dublin, so young Jim wouldn't be on his own up there.
His son spat back at him that he really couldn't care for him, not if he wanted to use him in this time of vulnerability. When he was begging, he had no dignity, and had turned to the only person he could. And that person demanded favours in return. That, his son observed, was the way it had always been, hadn't it? Because Big Jim had always been ashamed of him, or something.
He asked Margaret about it. That was the beginning of the end of their marriage.
"Drugs?" she asked, astounded. "And you gave him money before?", disgusted. "What kind of a man are you?", demanded. "No, we won't give him any money. If he needs anything it's help. For the love of God, you're a Garda. And you're contributing to his drug addiction. What's wrong with you?"
But he couldn't let his son down. He just couldn't.
When Margaret saw the bank balance, she packed her bags that evening. She said "Well, once again, you're doing things your own way. I just can't support this. After what I said. Ugh."
That night, young Jim rang again to ask why he'd told his mother. Didn't he realise this was the end of it, and now it's all the more complicated because she'll be forever asking about the drugs, and he wasn't even taking them anymore. He just had to pay off one last tab, and he was free of them. But now, his mother would be asking. He'd never be free of them, and it was his father's fault. He said that - "I hope you realise it's your fault!"
In Smyths he thought about this. He supposed it was his fault, but for giving him the money. What Margaret said all along. He let out a sigh, and took in the end of his pint. He got up, but noticed the other pint on the bar. He sat down again.
"We'll go after these"
"Oh, yeah. Can't miss the meal!" Shay looked at Mick, drunk already. Must have been at it before he even came in.

"Is he here?"
"I don't know. Don't go asking him for that money now. It's not fair on him."
"It was a lot of... I'm not going to ask for it... I just want to make sure he... Alright!"
"Thanks" Ann clutched her husbands shoulder as she repositioned the shoe on her foot. "Mam is devastated. I might stay with her tonight."
"Of course. But she does have Gerry now, so you may not need to. They might want their space"


"Lookit, he's in a world of his own. A quick game, go on lads" Mick was coaxing the nervous card players into a quick round of something. Shay, looking over asks "What time is the meal, James?"
Dumbo looked at his watch. "Half hour ago" He looked into his pint.
"Should you not..." He couldn't finish, but he wanted them out. No one was talking since they came in, except Mick, who was a bad drunk and trying to get into a card game that would keep him here all day.
"I suppose. I'll just finish this."
"Good man. You know, ye may have broken up, but Margaret still needs your support." That was all he would say. Now he'd just have to wait.
But not for long. "Mick! We're going!" Dumbo had downed the pint, and was headed for the door.
"Hold on, hold on! Dumbo... err James's drinks were on the house, what with the day that's in it, but Mick..."
"What?" Mick, indignant looked around the bar. "I'm here to support my cousin! And you, you fucker, want money! Jesus! What a day!"
"Do you have it?" asked Dumbo
"Well, that's not the point..." Mick stumbled.
Dumbo took the money from his wallet, and went to the bar.
"Dumbo, don't. I only meant for Mick to pay his way. I'll get him the next time."
"You won't. Here. I appreciate the drinks. A problem like Mick never gets fixed." He could have said it of his own son.


"Jesus, where were ye? What kind of a state is Mick in?"
"Stopped at Smyths. Just for the one. Mine were on the house. I had to pay for Mick's though."
"You've been gone longer than just one. And you paid for Mick? Jim, he's an alcoholic. Will you never learn?" Her words were harsh, but her look soft. For all that had happened in six years, she was still gentle with him. He was a fool that didn't understand how things were, but she couldn't go on waiting for him to learn. She had her own life. Anne told her the separation, and divorce were the only things she'd done for herself. And she was right. You had to be happy in life, you just had to be happy.
The manager came over and asked them to sit, so they did. Then the food came.


The third, and last time young Jim asked Dumbo for money, he just didn't have it. But there were really bad guys after young Jim, and he wouldn't let up. There was nowhere else he could get it. But Dumbo couldn't get it either, mortgaged to the hilt, paying out to Margaret, repaying several loans. The money just wasn't there, and the credit was all used up.
"She got to you, didn't she!?" his son asked, referring to Margaret. "I heard about the divorce! It serves you both right! You're a bastard and she's a bitch, and it serves you both right!"
Dumbo told his son to stop right there. That was enough. He'd had enough, paying out every time young Jim was supposed to have given up drugs altogether. It was plain he hadn't. And it just wasn't right that he ask his father for the money.
Young Jim said he spent his own money on drugs. It was food and rent he wanted money for. He said "You caught me out. I am, yeah, a user. But it's under control, and it's the only thing to keep me sane. So I'm going to keep doing it. Now, whether you want me to do it in a flat with food in me, or on the street hungry, is up to you!" Dumbo didn't know what to make of this. He was silent for a while. Then he said he'd see what he could do, and hung up the phone.


When they brought they boy back from Dublin, he looked like he belonged in a curiosity shop. Long strands of greasy hair. Waxen face. Skinny, made all the more gaunt looking by his length in the coffin. Margaret cried, turned to Dumbo and said "This is what you've done! I told you to get him help, and instead you did this!"
She apologised later, after Dumbo had screamed that he had paid for all the drugs that killed his boy. It was too much to keep in. Especially as they all asked "I wonder how he got the money?" Maybe they hoped he was a thug, a criminal. The son of a Garda, an outlaw. It would keep them in conversation in pubs and outside churches for years. Hi bizarre confession would do that now, he was sure. Margaret and Anne calmed him, until at last he seemed untouchable. Deep inside his skin somewhere was Dumbo, dealing with all of this.

"It's about the money"
"Did you get it? I knew you would dad. Thank God. They're coming for me. Tonight, you know. I hope you know that. They're coming for me tonight."
"OK. Well, I've transferred it. It should be in your account in two days."
"OK, well I guess I just have to hold them off until then. I hope I can. How did it take you so long to get?"
"Ten thousand Euro doesn't just appear, son. I had to ask Gerry."
"Gerry? And did you tell him why? I don't want every fucker knowing my business, you know. It's not up to you to tell everyone my business"
"No. I told him it was for a holiday or something."
"OK. Well, I have to go. Thanks again"
"Are you all right, son?" he asked a click and a series of steady beeps.


At the time he was born, they all said "Oh, he'll be a Gard! Look at the size of him!" That was what they said when Dumbo was born. When young Jim was born, they said "Oh, he'll be a real sportsman! Look at the size of him!"
Dumbo took him out to everything. Gaelic, Hurling, Soccer (secretly), Rugby (secretly) and swimming. Young Jim loved it, being out and about.
At one rugby match, Jim got the ball and ran like hell to the try line. He went through two other boys, and out outmanoeuvred two more. Coaches and officials nodded. Everyone was behind him here, as he ran toward what seemed to be his future. Dumbo thought to himself, this is what it's all about. Young Jim, courageous hero, scorer of the winning try, came running up to him "Did you see me Da? Did you see me?"
"I did!" he said and lifted him up. "You were brilliant!"
The boy thrashed about for a bit, "Let me down da. Not in front of the team".
"Oh right." He let him down, and watched him run to his team mates who gave him high fives and cheers.
This was what Dumbo Doyle thought about as he cut into the roast beef at the meal after his son's funeral.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Emily Sunshine, August 3rd, 2007

"Your face is like the sun, sinking into the ocean
Your face is like some flowers, opening in fast motion..."
(Sparklehorse [Mark Linkaus])

A Slow Start

You know the end, so let's start at the beginning. It was a slow start, with my wife in some discomfort for some days. My last post (Waiting) was to prove somewhat prophetic, as my wife's contractions calmed, returning at irregular intervals with differing pain levels. All of this, the hospital assured us, meant all was well, and it could be 'any moment now'. 'Any moment now' are the three last words you want to hear when waiting. Whether for a coffee, Internet access, a book, traffic lights to change, a bus to leave, the queue at the airport to move. When you hear 'Any moment now', what actually happens is some bizarre biological reaction whereby you know it will not be any moment now. You can be quite sure whatever you're waiting for will happen, not in any moment, but in the moment when you least expect it - as you had convinced yourself sometime before. But the words 'Any moment now' also do something else: instil the hope that indeed, any moment now, something will happen. Every pain, every discomfort, every moment when my wife groaned, and I turned from my work to say "Now?" she would reply "No."
My chirpy end-of-the day jokes - derived entirely on the premise that I was working at home did not quite hit their objectives. From the spare room - the soon-to-be (any moment now) nursery to the kitchen, I would say "Hi honey I'm home", to which my good wife, a host of impatience when uncomfortable, would say "Ha ha". In that deadpan way. The way you know means "That's not funny, so don't say it again". However, for four days (each one longer than the last for my wife), I would try the same joke with a different tone of voice. To no great effect. My wife, between physical discomfort and mental torture groaned more often, as I, in my diligent attempts to be a good husband tried to cheer her.

An Interminable Middle
On the Thursday evening, as she cooked up some chicken kievs with potato, peas and sweetcorn, it happened. I don't know what exactly, but she knew. The pains were more regular, more intense, and were stamping out any feeling of annoyance she was feeling from the comments I was making. I offered to finish making the dinner, but my wife insisted: "If you really want to eat before we go, I suppose I should do it". I told her that was the war spirit and she should be proud of herself. I thought of popping out for a pint or two, but thinking of the long night ahead, and the need to drive, I decided instead to make myself a fruit juice cocktail. It was both refreshing, and quite a calming drink.
My wife said "Any chance of making me one?" as she clattered plates onto the table.
I said "Mind the plates love. No, I'm sorry, we're out of pineapple and cranberry. Here, let me get you an orange juice".
She said "Orange juice makes me sick".
I said, "I'll put some ice in it".
She said "I haven't been able to drink orange juice for two months!"
I said "What a shame. Orange juice is so good for you." I poured myself a glass and drank it. At this point, her look of complete frustration had given way to one of absolute pain. I had known no look like it. I knew then, this is it.
I ordered my wife to gather her things while I sat down and ate my dinner. I knew I'd need my strength if I were to make it through the night.

On The Way
Our slow progress toward the hospital prompted me to demand that my wife allow me to drive. She seemed relieved, and this made it certain in my mind that we were going to have a baby. I drove all the faster, knowing that there was nothing I could do to deal with the situation. I had to get my wife to medical professionals, and hopefully myself to a barrista before all the coffee shops closed.

In the Way
At the hospital, I bumbled around the place with bags, asking nurses where I could place them. They ignored me, preferring to talk to my wife, who at this point was almost incoherent. It was somewhat irksome, but perhaps one must realise when in Rome, one should do as the Romans. And it is well known that women don't overly concern themselves with practical matters, such as where to deposit bags when in a panicked or emergency-type situation.
The nurses told us we had plenty of time, which meant I could leave my wife to suffer a minute while I went down to have a smoke, and spread the news via text. I asked at the desk about ordering a pizza or something, should we be there for a long time. They told me it was impossible. They weren't covered to accept delivery of anything that wasn't addressed to the hospital. Damned insurers have made our lives hell, and the sooner we all realise it, the sooner we might see cheaper premiums. With a smoke smoked, and texts texted, I headed back into the fray.

A Quick Delivery
Once it got moving, it got scary. Of course, this was primarily because a man in this situation can do little more than defer authority to those around him. Those who he has never met before, who seem lovely, most probably a delight were you to meet over cocktails and lite bites. However, meeting someone over your agonised wife is really quite different. It's quite the torture. As the midwife delivered commandments to nurses and others (and presumably me, but given her gruff nature and the fact that she refused to shake my hand when we met, I was ignoring her), I could see nothing but my wife in pain. On that score, I have no more to say, as it is a subject that remains only with me.

A Strange Form of Life
And then, there she was. Emily.
But then she was gone - for a quick run of tests and a clean up.
The midwives and nurses congratulated us on our quick labour. I thanked them graciously, and had to take my wife to task for demanding recognition for the days of pain she had been through. I told my wife - they are the experts. If they said it was an hour and ten minutes (which they had), then that was that. My wife could not be persuaded on the matter, so I decided to raise the subject again when she was more agreeable to a fair and studied debate.
Back came Emily. Emily Sunshine I said as I saw her. They placed her onto my wife's chest, to bond, while I cried and drank the tea another nurse had brought into the room. The woman informed me the tea was for my wife, and I informed her my wife could do with it as she wished, and she wished to let me drink it. Once again, the medical profession has presented a character that just rubbed me up the wrong way.
And so, now there's Emily. Emily Sunshine.
The world is now completely changed, so fundamental is the change within me. And the need to have a small arsenal built up by the time she is fifteen, when boys with spots and chains and ridiculously shortened names turn up at the door. Still, all in its own good time. And she is beautiful, although does have a tendency to cry. Luckily my wife has a few strategies to reduce the volume and frequency of such fussing. I concentrate on the beauty. As I write this, in her apartment (which used to be mine, and still contains a few of my posessions), I watch over her, and prepare to feed her. All I can say is - it's really quite remarkable, but I just don't have the words to express this feeling.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Monday, July 30, 2007


'Patience is a virtue, seldom seen in women, and never in men'
Spent today waiting for the arrival of my first child. Damn fool obviously missed the flight, or what-have-you between the fore-to-here and the here-to-fore. This left my wife and I in quite a strange place all day. We had been alerted of an arrival, early (a time of day I seldom believe in, and never enjoy). While I had coffee and bread with chocolate spread, my wife was in sublime agony. She gritted her teeth as I said "Isn't this exciting!" She howled as I whispered "Have I time to have a quick read of the paper? Just before we go to the hospital?" My own reticence in the issue was to be punished with my child's reticence.
We have now been waiting all day, in a stupor. As first timers, this doesn't surprise us - we had anticipated some amount of stupor surrounding the birth of the child. Although my preferred stupor would be drink-induced, and I believe my wife's preference was for the stupor of some kind of medication, which would ease the pain of it all. But the pain we are left with now is that resulting from patience. The pain of waiting. Something my generation had confidently dismissed from our lives with fast food, iPods and credit cards. Damn it all, why can humanity not be more materially-directed?
However, however. Off we went for lunch. A McMa (Middle-class, Middle-aged) lady cursed us to all her friends for taking a table we had arrived at before she had appeared at the restaurant. Her belief in God or good manners seemed to dictate that we would vacate the seats for her and her various McFriends. No chance - we had a McReason. A fine McReason to keep my wife as comfortable as she could be, given the circumstances. At table, we waited for the waiter to wait. "This exquisite agony!" I said to my wife as she groaned at pun or progeny; which it was I have no idea.
After prawns and crab claws and coffee and a smoke, we set off for a walk. The motion, gravity, good God, good Grace or good manners were sure to advance the situation. After all, this is my child. And manners are bred, not learned in my blood line.
Up to the head we drove. This is a round jut of land, out in the sea. One imagines, if you were to see it from the sky, it would remind you of the cranial end of a dead man or a drunk. Which is why I used the term 'head'. I believe it's the same reason most people use the term. I suggested this to my wife, who again groaned.
Once again, I wished I had a cane. We passed a lady with two crutches. I thought of stealing one, but a crutch isn't quite the same as a cane. All silvery and utilitarian. I needed something that seemed unneeded. We stood to the side, allowing the lady and her escort to pass around us on the path. Feeling good for doing something we knew was the right thing to do, but we also knew people seldom cared to do so these days.
We reached near the path end, which leads to a playground. It was too much for my wife and I. Knowing we had one of these bizarre in-media-res beings about our person somewhere, if only we could get to it. We turned as hastily as we could, which turned out to be quite languidly as a result of my inability to turn in a circle of any kind, and my wife's inability to sympathise with my condition. But now we were walking back, a chronic symptom of waiting. I've always said: You know you've been waiting too long, when you have to go back over your movements to ensure you've done something to cause the effect you are waiting for. I say this to my wife, who, without groaning simply says
Shut Up
Luckily, those around us could see she was quite uncomfortable. If anything, they blamed her for her lack of patience with me. Letting a little thing like labour interfere with a walk like that. If that's how she was going to be (they were thinking) she should have waited in the car! We walked back, and I waited for her to make the next comment.
She moaned as she clambered into the car. In my generosity, and the spirit of passing the time, I took this as a comment, and continued with my pithy observations of the life around us.
"That lady with the crutches is waiting for us to pass. I suppose she's repaying the compliment. Wouldn't do to keep her waiting too long"
"I think she wants to be sure you won't run her over"
"Of course I won't! I'm not the type. Anyway, what are those teenagers doing in the playground?"
"I can't look at the playground. Not without thinking about this little one that's keeping us waiting"
"Yes. Bloody bad form. When the little one's born, I think I shall form a vigilante group to deal with that kind of thing. Muttering teenagers playing on swings. Singing Morrissey songs, no doubt."
"Jesus, they wouldn't listen to Morrisey"
"Well, they should. Busy down here now, isn't it. Just as well we came down when we did. Or we could be waiting"
"We were waiting"
"Yes, but for longer. God, how do these people park? Why do they all need tanks? Who's invading? Oh, there's Terry. Terry! Hi!"
"Mind the bumps"
"Yes, and the bump... d'you geddit? Geddit"
"Jesus, I get it"
"Why do you keep calling me Jesus? I don't mind it, of course, it's great to be compared to such a great figure... but still"
"Please stop talking and drive. Please."
"Ok, well..."
"Stop. Talking. Now."
"What? Why ever? I'm only trying to pass the time! You should be grateful!"
"You're scaring the life out of me, talking with your hands as you drive this bloody car!"
"Oh, I see. Shame it wasn't the child scared out of you, eh?! Haha!"
"If anything, it'll be scared back in once it meets you."
"Good. Bit of fear instils respect."
"Why did I marry you?"
"Love. It's a bugger, isn't it?"
"I don't know about the child being born through such negative emotions. You should try and cheer up"
"You should try and shut up"
"Did you see the teenagers in the playground? When this little one is born, I'm going to get a vigilante group together..."
"You've already visited this subject today. Don't you remember?"
"Have I? Well, I suppose it's in the nature of waiting. I always say: You know you've been waiting too long, when you have to go back over your movements to ensure you've done something to cause the effect you are waiting for."
We waited in silence the rest of the day, while I Googled setting up a vigilante group.
We wait still.
Will we wait tomorrow? I hope not, for my wife's sake. I'm quite sure she can't stand much more of this. I can tell by the look in her eye, and the growl when I ask, chipper as ever, "Well, how are we feeling now?"

Friday, July 06, 2007

Pete wrote a book. Amazon reviewed it.

If you need a laugh, and we all do these days (what with war in Iraq, Paris Hilton finding God in a cell in Albequerque or wherever), check out the reviews of Pete Doherty's books on Amazon. I've never read it, and don't plan to (not a fan of Babyshambles myself), but some of the reviews are 'cracking' (I use the term from the 'Anglo' side of my 'Anglo Irish' persona.

Especially from "Lord Decider", in the UK. He said "I have ordered 53 of these books as I understand that they are written in his blood. According to my calculations that should use up about 8 pints of it and hopefully bring an end to the adoloscent dribblings of this smacked-up sub-Dickesian tossclump."

Then, there are his defenders, such as this one from a Ms Chant. She said "Why are sooo many people writing bad reviews without reading this book, that's like saying... "I don't like apples" with out every tasting one, I read quite a lot, stuff like Orwell's 1984 ect ect and I like this book allot , its a good insight into Pete and I think its great to hear the way he thinks and his opinions for a change rather the ill researched tabloid newstorys that people seem to focus on. There's some top poetry and a great inspiration Also as a graphic designer I found the style interesting and I like the unpredictable nature with collages, photos and newspaper cuttings along with the sketchbook style. I say if you like The Libertines, Pete Doherty or Babyshables you should buy it, or go listen to one of the many many many bands that are basically rip off of the libertines but are more "media" friendly. Anyways peace out :p Woody chant"

Mr Defender gets my vote, as I can't trust anyone that claims to like reading, uses overly onomatopoeic spelling ('soooo') then goes on to say "I read quite a lot, stuff like Orwell's 1984 ect, ect (sic)" Also, 'Peace out'. So many people say this and I don't know how to do it. I now refuse to learn.

I've just been directed to 'The Night Owl's' review, which beats the rest, hands down: 'I've been a fan of Dohertys since the early, cross-dressing days of Beverly hills 90210. The japes he got up to with Brandon, Fred Perry and the inflatible Tori Spelling kept me spellbound. In this book however, he lets himself down big-style. Charmed? I don't think so. '

SO, if you need a chuckle, check out the reviews here

Powered by ScribeFire.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Train Passage

On the platform, a subliminal riot. They look all about them, as if not preparing to dive for the train the moment the doors open. The desired effect is to make others believe they want it more. To get on a train. This provides two means of triumph. First, and most obvious, was actually getting on the train first. Not only can you enjoy a more comfortable position, but you can also rub it into others' faces. Be careful with the latter, otherwise you may suffer from another enjoying the second triumph. The second triumph, is earned by recognising the diminished humanity in another - and having them recognise it in themselves. They dive for the train and get on first, you say ‘Well, what’s the big deal? I was looking out for this little old/pregnant/infirm lady.’ Well, don't say it. Just shoot them a look on your way in, and enjoy for precious few seconds – like a masturbatory orgasm – the feeling of superiority over your own species. Jesus must have felt something similar, on the cross.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

- Train Song -

My wife, who’s with child can't get a seat on this train!

And no one can see that we’re all to blame,

Unseen because we’re sleeping through bloody good reads

Her voice is drowned out by gigs of MP3s!

I was disgusted the first time I saw

An elderly woman, so brutally ignored

I felt like screaming from out of my seat

But left it, not wanting to cause such a scene

No wonder our silence subsides into violence

When we believe our manners give license

To ignore the very thing they're intended to defend

To act as a weapon in an everyday sense!

And so nodding off, with a book, with MP3s

We'll fuck someone over for a chance at a seat.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Whore out your daughters, war out your sons...

Once again, of course, the BBC News website has got me riled. This time, it's an article about Farfur, a Mickey Mouse lookalike in Palestine. This bizarre character, who is essentially Mickey Mouse with some (more?) subversive objectives was shown being beaten to death by an "Israeli agent". I beseech you to read the full article here.

This is a hideous use of propaganda directed toward children, the like of which we haven't seen in the West (bless us), since the Spice Girls convinced 7 year old girls that they needed wonder bras and 7 year old boys with big bits. But I find even more disconcerting the fact that the icon used - Mickey Mouse - is surely not just an "enemy of Islam" (given his status as one of the greatest American icons. Briefly, MM is one symptom of the rampant US cultural homogeneity that those who use terms like "enemy of Islam" indict), but is also an enemy of imagination, for children everywhere.

Mickey Mouse, like the Spice Girls, is a bizarre cultural phenomenon that propagandises children's imaginations. I know, I know, I'm taking it all a bit seriously. But think about it. If we allowed children to develop their own imaginations, based on their own cultural and historic identities, possibly we wouldn't need to import (or indeed 'plugin') such ideas as Mickey Mouse, the Spice Girls, ASBOs, the Royal Family, &c. If our children were left to their own imaginations, perhaps they would find in themselves the kind of cultural fluidity that would allow them their own identities, while also enjoying the culture of others, in the security that there is no 'lesser' or 'better' cultural identity. They could even enjoy Mickey Mouse, the Spice Girls and the Royal Family without having to integrate these cultural Big Macs into their own identities. I understand now that this argument is getting heavy, so I better move on to the dick jokes...

SO, a Catholic Priest, a Rabbi, and an Imam walk into Stephen's Green. To the scene they witness, each one turns to the other and says "I blame your god..."

Sorry, religious. We'll get to the dick joke now.

Let's have a chuckle about using of Mickey Mouse as an icon for propagandising children into some idea of Islamic supremacy. This bland identity, who is 79 this year has only a passing Irish dick joke as a point of real interest (his name is "Mickey Mouse" - think of the phone book listing - and his first hit was "Steamboat Willie" - think of the possible porn-a-like - and he wears pants with buttons at the front and back). I can hear now: "What's wrong with Mickey Mouse, except for the ludicrous name?" I can't honestly say that I don't see his appeal. As an 8 year old, I used to love Mickey Mouse, although no one would be surprised to learn I had more of an affiliation for Goofy. But here's the thing: as an 8 year old, I could enjoy these characters, however, they did not define me.

Our problem now is that so many of these images (let's not pretend they have the depth or even attempt to mean so much as an icon) are pushed out to our kids, and our kids think: this is an identity. Of course, I'm not saying children go through some kind of existential crisis, debating the pros and cons of this cultural, social and personal identity over that one (if your child is, drop me a mail, I know a great woman who can deal with that). The point is, this image can then be used to funnel political, religious and cultural ideals to children who have not yet learned to critique such messages. Children are idiots, I grant you that. That is why we need to be careful about what we say to them, what we push them toward, what we tell them is good and bad, and how we tell them.

The last thing I want to do here is endorse the idea that children should be bigged up so much. Children are, can be, and most probably will be shits in some of their time as children. It's their way. But now we celebrate their uninformed ideology (which is really naivety, because they are still new to this world), their 'I don't care' philosophy ('I don't know'), and, of course, their open views toward sexuality (Music videos, TV ads, billboards, movies, 'gossip' mags, newspaper ads, marketing campaigns). So much do we consider children a force to be reckoned with, that we've had to import (or 'plugin') the idea of ASBOs from Britain. It's a shame we can't import ('plugin') the idea of raising children from America, home of all these icons.

As a father to be, these things crowd my mind every day. I'm loathe to admit it, because what father wants to admit they're not sure how to deal with every conceivable situation that could be put to them every day of their (or more importantly, their children's) lives? How does one deal with the possibility that your child's imagination and identity will be hijacked and flown into some bizarre icon of 'modern life' that you (to be honest) could less than be bothered with. Yikes. I'm not trying to belittle 9-11. My point is that the Twin Towers, as an icon of a global economy, had very little impact on my day-to-day life. It affects me that thousands must needlessly die. However, if I were in New York, if 9-11 never happened and someone said to me "let's go up the twin towers!" I'd politely ask "Why?"

Back to the kids. Yes, the kids are our future. Yes, we enjoy the luxury of concerning ourselves with the idea of 'icons' and 'ideology'. It's great that we aren't starving to death, the way so many are - to be fair they're trying to be quiet about it. It's great that we wake up, thinking the only torture we have to endure is our working day (which does not generally include electrodes on testicles, random beatings, 'rushing', wet towels, sexual humiliation, &c.).

But, what do we teach our children? In front of Mickey Mouse, the Spice Girls, The Concert for Diana (which, I have spied out of the corner of my eye, includes Take That with a bunch of girls in thongs and basques) - that the image is the thing? That once the image provides a 'message', that they should accept it as truth? That the message should not be questioned? That they should masturbate, thinking of the Freedom they enjoy, despite the fact that they don't know what it means? I take no more joy in the idea of children masturbating than others would, but when 'mainstream' media includes thongs, cleavage, thrusting and gyrating the kind of which I haven't seen since "One Night In Paris" (a mainstay in my school), I wonder what my child, at age 8, thinks he's meant to do with (or to?) himself when he sees the latest pop act, gobshite 'reporter' or other 'pussy-lebrity'.

Yikes, I'm angry.

Let's do this: Let's agree we'll politicise our children when it matters - but not before. Let's enjoy the fact that we can, selfishly, spend time with our children, savour the cus cus in the local deli, run on the football pitches (so what if they're littered with cans, they shouldn't be, but the kid will learn soon enough that life is all about that - things that shouldn't be)

Let's teach children about the main political policies and focusses of any existing party in the country. Let's let them know what these parties are about. Let's not teach them whether this is 'Right' or 'Wrong', just that this is what they believe.

What about the kids in Palestine? With Mickey Mouse? What about them? I have no idea. I can't fix that, because I'm not from that region (and no one who is not from that region can really offer a real solution - fact.) I can't help. I'd love to give the advice above - don't let your children accept anything as 'truth' unless they have researched it themselves. Difficult? Fuck off. Between the Internet, and the multiple social networking sites available, children now have better access to information than ever before. Unfortunately, what demarcates the 'Truth' from 'Information' is generally based on parental guidance. And we put them in front of a gang of 'buy a wonderbra' gobshites and a cartoon character that wants to contribute to the Jihad.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Just when I thought I'd completely lost it.

Mika Brzezinski, a newsreader at MSNBC, and my new hero(ine) tears up a news script which had Paris Hilton at No. 1 item, and more atrocities in Iraq at number 2. Maybe she takes it all too seriously, but I'm just thankful that it's not just me that thinks the spoiled pink bint gets too much publicity as it is.

Friday, June 22, 2007

From A Case Study in Improving Customer Relationships

Seriously, this is in a report, the thrust of which is "How great are we?!"

'The major investment in customer experience required 500
redundancies in back office and managerial roles.'

Powered by ScribeFire.

Property Market Goes to Shit

Guess where this is from? That's right, BBC News Website.

The property market in Scotland has reached a new high with a public toilet being sold for almost £200,000.

The toilet block in historic St Andrews has sold at auction for about four times the guide price.

The stone block, in the Fife town's City Road, has been
sold to a mystery developer from the west of Scotland who plans to
convert it into a house.

Fife Council put the block on the market, along with other properties, after closing it to the public.

Golfing mecca St Andrews already boasts the most expensive street in Scotland - overlooking the Old Course.

An unexpected bidding war broke out when the toilet
block went under the hammer at a property sale in the Quality Central
Hotel in Glasgow.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Shameless Plugging, Big Stylee!

The company I work for now has a Showreel. See it here on You Tube! Tell your friends! Increase the views! Then email, propose a multi-million euro contract and tell the lads bren sent you! :-)


Powered by ScribeFire.

Why Communism NEVER Works

Ideologically questionable, as with capitalism, communism is subject to the appetites of mankind(less). Even with China's new & improved "We're communist, but we're trading!" image, this sort of thing is happening. We have no idea how much or how often:

'Slaves' rescued from China firm

Thirty-one dirty and disorientated workers have been
rescued from a brickwork factory in China, where they were being held
as virtual slaves.

Reminds me of the line from Tom Waits' "Singapore": 'Making feet for children's shoes'


Will write about this properly when I've calmed down.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Vic Monchego & The Quotable Bren...

Vic Monchego has very kindly posted my poem How are you/Who are you on his blog, over here. So delighted am I that I have peppered this post with links to it. Also, I'll put a link in the sidebar too! It's an interesting collection of bits & pieces from about the place, some poetry and shorts that, in spirit, kind of remind me of this old joint. Check it out sometime!

In other news, I would like from now on for everyone to refer to me as "The Quotable Bren".

Quote of the day:
'When they see me in such fine, new garments, their eyes will be opened to who their beloved emperor truly is.' Henry Peebles, from Ballyscrotum, quoted just three days before he rode a horse down the main street of the village, sparking a frenzy of prayer and laughter.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


From BBC News, again:


Fire crew 'slept in wrong place'

Firefighters in Greater Manchester are facing
disciplinary action over claims they slept on a station floor instead
of their new reclining chairs.

Three men, based in Bury, are being investigated for "involvement in the use of unauthorised rest facilities".

It is claimed they broke regulations by using sleeping bags on the floor rather than the £400 chairs.

The chairs were installed as part of modernisation programme to replace all beds in the region's 41 fire stations.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the men were all
asleep as a team of inspectors from the fire service carried out a spot
check early one morning.

We have now christened them the furniture police," said Manchester regional secretary Kevin Brown.

Mr Brown said the service launched an investigation into
the incident and the men were due to appear before a level three
disciplinary hearing on 14 June.

"A level three hearing leaves open the possibility for dismissal - this is how ludicrous this is," said Mr Brown.

"Obviously what we are looking for is for common sense to prevail.

"These people work a 15-hour night shift and they are entitled to take rest periods."

Safety concerns

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said the inquiry concerned "involvement in the use of unauthorised rest facilities".

"A full internal investigation into this matter is under way and no further comment can be made at this time," a spokesman said.

The service bought more than 300 of the chairs last year
after chiefs decided to remove beds from dormitories across the region.

But firefighters were not allowed to sit or lie on the devices before reading a four-page health and safety manual.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Do elephants intentionally kill their young?

BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Do elephants intentionally kill their young?

My mission is to turn this into a short story in the next week or so. I can't resist using that as a title!


Powered by ScribeFire.