Monday, November 16, 2009

Some sketches

It is cold and Matthew Martinson is waiting on the street, right by the entrance there.  He is waiting for her. She should be here. She will be here, despite it all. It's been two weeks, which is time enough. Hopefully.
In the heat of a pub's open fire Micheál's face reddens. He drinks a shot of Jemmy, straight. Hot inside, warm out. The heat makes the close air heavy. Hard to breathe. He is looking through the crowd, past the edge of the bar, through the arch between it and the wall, to the door. It opens and closes. Cold air would breeze through it when it opens; he knows that. But it does not reach him. Does not refresh him. He steps toward the crowd, then back. Yes, says the girl behind the bar. Pint and a Jemmy, says Micheál, rubbing the back of his hot neck, trying to muscle up a fan of cooler air.
They - they always say - always say it is never enough to have. One must do. And these ideas swirl round, like the vortex spiralling down a plug hole. So much used water to be expelled. Nothing done with it. The water is used, like a mind, but then turns to refuse. Like a mind. Mind you, it cannot be all bad. It cannot be all. It cannot all be. If you see what I mean.
They hunted for some time. Enjoying the cold air, cutting through lazy last-night heads. Looking out over grass, toward something. Toward game. One raises his iron, lines it up with his eye, and with a quick shudder to his shoulder and a crack to the air. What next? They wonder. They wander.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Thoughts on The Lisbon Treaty Referendum

I am happy the referendum has passed, also that it has done so with such a majority (there's a special section on the Irish Times website with good analysis of the voting, turnout and such).

I voted yes because I felt that Europe, while working to some extent, could be working better. Currently, the European Union is a shadowy, meta-government, which holds some power over its constituent nations, but cannot act decisively - whether you believe this is in the interests of its constituent nations or not.
The benefit of the EU becoming a more solid entity is that it can approach larger trading and diplomatic blocs (USA, India, China) with more weight behind it. And, what is more, those larger blocs will not be able to play the constituent nations of Europe against each other. Economically, and politically, this has both its up sides, and its down side. I believe the former outweigh the latter for numerous reasons, which I shall not go into here.
This post is about a deeper concern I have about the various discussions and debates that fed into the referendum results. I was disappointed with both sides of the debate, and felt that while the result is welcome (for me), the manner with which it was achieved is not.
First, too many voices raised a clamour about Ireland In (or Out) of the EU. This was an absurd argument, as the referendum had nothing to do with Ireland's membership of the EU. The Treaty of Lisbon, and Ireland's need to ratify it, was solely concerned with the running of that entity, EU. To give it teeth, which (if you were against the treaty) might chew up the citizens, or (if you were for it), might protect us better in a rapidly changing world, where the centres of power are shifting. The USA, China, India and Russia are all in the ascendancy, and the old colonial countries like the UK, France, Germany cannot compete alone. Therefore, working together, the old European nations have greater weight in their diplomatic and trade discussions. This also has the benefit of neutralising the in-fighting and land grabs that cost those countries (and then the world) so dearly in the early half of the 20th century.
Secondly, the promise of jobs, economic prosperity and cultural repercussions, both on the pro and anti side, were ridiculous. One must concede that when Intel decided to join the debate, and some comments Michael O'Leary made when he spoke about it, did indicate that jobs could have been lost, should Ireland vote down the Treaty. Perhaps fortunately, we can not know for sure whether this was the case. However, whatever the situation with larger employers, Europe is not going to reward Ireland for voting Yes by creating a pile of jobs, just for us. Everyone is suffering from the economic downturn, although it is clear that larger countries are starting to turn around. Ireland is not starting to turn round, and with NAMA on the cards, if we don't tread carefully, we will be in a depression that could last decades. I agree that our place in Europe will help this situation. But simply passing the referendum on the Lisbon treaty does not automatically grant us a 'Get out of gaol free' card.
To create jobs, and improve our economic situation, we have a lot of work to do. Being in Europe, and Europe not being a shambles will complement the work we have to do; but the imperative is that Ireland, as a nation, take the right decisions and move in the right direction to ensure these jobs are created. Over the past decade, the government has done little in this regard, and now has no choice but to do so. But do they have the imagination and (perhaps more importantly) resources to do so?
The issue of cultural dominance or some kind of disappearing Irishness is so ludicrous, I find it hard to argue seriously. Our cultural heritage and traditions are our own, and will remain alive so long as we practice them: Only the Irish can destroy Irish culture. We managed to survive the English influences of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, et al. We also managed to survive the American cultural revolution of Rock and Roll and Jazz. Even the great Australian invasion of the mid eighties (Neighbours, Home and Away, Crocodile Dundee) receded. I could write forever on culture, and believe or not, could write quite cogently. But this argument that we are losing our cultural identify as a result of being within a framework of larger countries is quite riduculous, and leads me down the path of psychotic proclamation. So, I shall stop now.
And turn to the question of living standards. My favourite aspect of the referendum debate. Coir, quite shamefully claimed the minimum wage should (then would, then could...) fall to €1.84. I personally heard three accounts of this claim that ran from "averaging the lowest minimum wage across ten EU countries" to "because they sign their contract abroad, but work here in Ireland" to this morning's claim that "as these workers are being paid little, the Irish government would be forced to reduce the minimum wage so that workers in this country could compete with workers from other countries who signed contracts in those countries" (all my quotes to distinguish my tirade from the arguments being made). The basis of the argument is unclear - are they talking about shop workers, manufacturing, building, accountants? This was a stunning tactic used by Coir and Libertas to some effect. Without really outlining an argument, they asked pithy questions in the hope that it would make you "stop and think". For example, "Irish Democracy 1916 - 2009?" (Libertas - question: should it be 1921-2009?), "They died for your freedom, don't give it away" (Coir). The tactic backfired for Coir, when it was noticed that the Herald, intending to display a Coir poster, had inadvertently published a satirical poster, intended to lampoon the strategy.
It's not fair to pin this criticism on the No side exclusively. Fine Gael and Fine Fail posters cried "Yes to Europe, Yes to Recovery" on lamp posts all over the country. Dog piss would have been a more intelligible argument. "Yes to Europe, Yes to Jobs" went another. Blow, or hand, I wondered. Driving from Dublin to Kildare one day last week, I thought if I said Yes to Europe I may also be saying Yes to anything I wanted. I closed my eyes and pictured a mansion, sports car in the front and a package the size of a telephone book, which I knew to be my bank statement. I said "Yes to Europe", but when I got home, I still lived in a four bed semi D on the outskirts of a small rural town. There was a package the size of a telephone book, but it was my new Golden Pages.
The saddest argument I heard, from several sources personally and on the radio, was "Why not hand power over to Brussels - there's no one in this country that can make it work" Whether you believe this to be true or not, there shouldn't be any case for relinquishing our sovereignty. We are still a republic, even if the ruling elite are acting like a... well, ruling elite.
So, what does all this mean to me? I think Ireland might be one of the most informed countries in relation to our relationship with Europe (I think this because we have held referenda every few years in relation to Europe to ratify treaties; this forces us, or perhaps just behooves us, to be informed). Yet, we can still be convinced by campaigns based on misunderstanding, "scare tactics", and general obfuscation of facts. This applies to both sides: whether you were for the treaty or against it, the general message intended to convince you of the 'right vote' were the repercussions of its passing or not passing. This needs to change, especially as it now seems likely that the Lisbon Treaty will come into effect in Europe. We need to start discussing European issues on a European level, and really understanding the place our nations hold within Europe. The EU itself has an important role in this: improving the way it communicates with citizens. But our politicians hold a similar responsibility also. False promises will lead to disillusionment. The arguments made must be more realistic and practical. I hope this is the last time we vote on European political issues from the standpoint of a nation concerned about pot holes on our back roads.
This treaty provides us with more access to European decision making, but will also make the decisions made more far reaching. In a quote from the Simpsons: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance".

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

10 Things You Probably Won't Hear on The Rose of Tralee

Why is it so hard to discipline one's self to write for an hour a night?
Who knows.

Anyway, in the spirit of doing precisely what every other half wit smart arse is probably writing - here is my list of ten things you'll probably not hear at the Rose of Tralee...

"...with the ping pong balls? Well, I learned it in Thailand when I was backpacking..."

" talent? Is this dress not low cut enough? Do I need to lean over? Jesus!"

"What's with all the fucking questions? You're good on the radio, but don't push it..."

"Ah, I understand your question, but I think it over simplifies the issues. It needs to be reframed, so that we are discussing one of two things. The first is, of course, the collapse in property prices along with the credit crisis, which could be seen as the two legs, as it were, that one could say the economy has fallen over on. The second option is discussing routes for recovery. Simply throwing out a statement about NAMA, developers and bankers may well curry favour with the public, who essentially want revenge; some may say rightly so; however what is required is a real, informed debate about the banking sector, it's responsibilities to the Irish people and the Irish people's need for a healthy banking system... Ray? Ray are you awake?"

"When you come for the Rose, you best not miss."

"Well, I guess my talent is in financial management. You see, I started out working on a fund of... oh, say about $250,000. In the good days, I moved a lot of this into high risk, high return sub prime investments. But knowing that nothing that good can last forever, I switched to some higher liquidity investments, linked to some of the larger markets, then flipped to some key commodities. The profits were phenomenal, but when you're in the zone, it's like... like being coked out of your head and being king of the world, if I were to be honest. So I put it all on Frozen Fire..."

"I'm only here for the beers"

"After I got arrested, the police asked why such a pretty girl like me would do such a thing... so I thought, well, why not give the Rose of Tralee a shot... no pun intended!"

"I don't think you mean that at all! You just said good luck to the last girl out here! Oh my GOD, I can't believe you're doing this to me... I thought we had a real connection, and all I get is "Good Luck", like someone you met just ten minutes ago... Look, I know we only met ten minutes ago, but a connection is a connection. And we were connected."

"It's important for us to be role models for the less good looking, or less talented girls. I think I speak for all of us when I say to them 'Hey, you could be so much more of a person. Why don't you just try harder?'."

"I like walks in the park and dream of world peace. My ideal date is dinner and a movie with a man who is confident and in control of himself. My turn ons include clean sheets, lacey neglige and a man with strong arms" (perhaps this last belongs on another list)....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stand up for what you bleedin believe in!

I can tell by the way he looks
And this is quite certain: he cracks his eggs in such a way
My wife and child could never be safe,
Were he as free as I.

A big endian, make no mistake,
Would be partial to rape
Or consuming children one by one
Until he felt his mission done.

Or do I mean a small endian?
Which am I again?

I can't remember, which can only mean
I'll only know if I can see
Which way his eggs are cracked,
That fucking hack.

Then, I'll know. Then, we'll see
Just how tough I can be.
Big endian or small, I'll make him crawl
For wanting to rape my wife.
Because he's free like me.
For not acceding to simply die
And leave us in peace to live our lives,
Our country for us and us alone:
A land we can call our own.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A darkness

This is totally unplanned. It just unfolds.

We have to cut back on some things, but we don't know what. She lies in bed, on her front. I lean in the door frame. We just can't agree.
"We don't get out together anymore."
"We can't pay these bills. Loans. Credit cards. Phone, electricity, gas."
"But we need to have a life!"

All that kind of stuff. We need to be able to laugh at this. Shit. There is darkness flooding this house. Pushing the light switch sets off no more than a ping. The sound tells you more about the light like that. Your ears tell you what your eyes need to know. Like when your belly tells you what your arse is about to go through. How can anyone go on like this! Flicking the switch. On. Off. On, off. On/off. No light, not even a ping anymore. Nothing to be done.
"Just change the bulb... ... Not now! In the morning..."

" simple as plugging out your electrical appliances at night. TVs, DVD players, mobile phone chargers... laptop power adapters are divils for using excess power, even when the thing is turned off! We can't continue on this energy splurge any longer, either economically or ecologically..." We should change the alarm from radio to beeps. At least the beeps - violent as they are to dreaming minds - remain meaningful, no matter how often they are repeated. Get up. Get up. Get up. News, on the other hand (and music for that matter) turns human misery into cliché.

We can cut back. We can get through. But where do we go from there? She tells me I think too much, as toothpaste escapes my mouth with my thoughts. Dressed, she gets her things together. I am catching up. Pants, but no shirt. I need coffee though. Something else to cut back on.

At work, they're cutting back. No more printing without permission. Or photocopies. There goes the end of all those loan applications. No more free coffee. Motivational meetings to be held on Facebook, or emailed to the team. Still, there's more than one way to waste money during the day. We email each other. It starts off "I'm not giving out, but you should think about..." A few of these, and it turns into:
"Wine, €25 per week --> €1500 a year! NOT including Christmas!"
"Smokes: how much?"
"You don't need designer anything!"
"You don't read all those books!"

All that kind of stuff. We need to be able to laugh at this. Shit. We arrive home at the same time, by accident, hoping to miss each other. Bags in our hands. Our minds compiling the accusations and arguments, ready for another round of who overspends and what is a want and what is a need; a train of thought; runs right through it; drives it all off the tracks. We look at each other. Really look at each other. We smile. The bulb unchanged. There is darkness in this house, but at least we can make light of it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Walk

The grass wet under bare feet. Squelching mud water squeezed between toes getting dirtier. How Do You Do? Nobody asks anymore; it;s all howya and hows it going and how are you. How you do whatever you do is your own business; it's not done, or something to do, to ask How Do You Do?
But there is no one here. There is no road, which will do quite nicely. Gentle blades of grass brushing the base of feet, wet from the grass and muddy water that does the toes in for cleanliness. No road and no one. First one leg, then a loss of balance recaptured by the next leg, stepping out to maintain upward integrity.
Everywhere, someone is laughing or listening. Or crying. Someone, everywhere is worried. Someone, everywhere is ignoring the signs; the information flowing like rivers raging against each other. They add their voices, but their voices are as the beasts of the field; whinnies and neighs and moos. Somewhere, everyone is articulate; their voices rise like tides or waves, to drown or crush with the pure force of gathered momentum.
Here, elsewhere the water rises slowly, through tickled toes. Here, where there is no road.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Dances: 1

He tells her: I’m eight years old and that’s big enough to look after myself. She smiles and says, but could you look after the dinner? He protests he’s not allowed to use the oven. She knows, because she made the rule. With a short laugh and a rub of his head, mum runs out to the shop. Finally free, he walks into the Good Room where the Good Stereo System is.

He finds the right CD, and turns the volume up. He has to be in position. He gets up on the arm of the sofa, hits play on the remote control and jumps

landing and tumbling behind the sofa with the crash of the music starting. With the music going and the volume up, he throws himself around the room. The last time, when they saw him, they said it was like he was posessed, in the throes or something. She told him to stop. She said don’t do that again, you could hurt yourself, or break something. Later on, when they were having drinks and he should have been in bed, he heard them laughing about it. Well, not her, not mum. As the others laughed, she said there was somehting about it, about his movements, about his eyes, something she didn’t like. The rest laughed some more, and he hid in the bathroom under the stairs when dad came out to freshen up the drinks.

He moves round the whole room in fits and starts, the room where children should be seen and not heard, and should sit still on the sofa and listen so that the adults could bore him as much as they bored each other. They were strange, adults. They seemed restrained in some way that kids weren’t. He guessed this was why they put so many restraints on kids. They were jealous. They worried about money, they complained to each other, sometimes they even called other grown ups assholes and fucking this and fucking that. He knew when this happened he’d be sent to bed, no matter what the time was. They told him not to use the same words they used so freely, and then he was told not to dance when sometimes they danced so much they fell over laughing and knocking red wine to the floor. Once, a friend of his mum’s even danced on the table, asking whether anyone else remembered the time she danced like that in the college bar. She cried later, with his mum cuddling her. Seeing that, he wanted a cuddle, but he was hiding again, meant to be in bed for hours. He thought of going in and saying he had a bad dream, to get the cuddle. He thought better of it and went to bed.

None of this crosses his mind as the music erupts from inside of him. He moves in a series of spasms and jerks. It’s not about rhythm, it’s about sounds. His elbow doubles and straightens with violence as a guitar jangles; fists fly and fall with banging drums, but not crashing cymbals. For the cymbals he falls to the ground completely, figuring out how to get back up for the next bit. He changes between moving by the lyrics or by the music. There’s no plan. It’s about him and the music. Being each other.

Cast under the spell of the music, nothing so domestic as a front door could disturb him. And it doesn’t. Even if he could hear it, he’s definitely not allowed to open it. As it goes, he doesn’t hear it at all. He’ll hear about it later.

He runs around the table, half considering getting up on it. As he considers, he gets on his hunches, tongue out, arms outstretched, hands waving. Dad sometimes laughs at that, his Haka he calls it. He tried it once in school and another boy, Justin, hit him. Then he said he was a freak. He called Justin an asshole. That afternoon he had to account for all this to his mother, his teacher, and, what’s worse, Justin’s mother. Such injustice. Forcing kids to repeat what was said, even though everyone knows it will make them angrier.

He got up on the table. He lifted one leg then the other, kicking up the air, kicking that boy, the asshole, Justin, right in his asshole. He laughs wildly, then swings his arm in a huge arc. Looking down in front of him is the rug, but in front of his mind is Justin. “Fuck you!” he says, louder than the music. “Fuck you! Fuck you asshole!” he screams. His face feels hot, and he steps off the table, curls into a corner of the sofa. Tears are hot on his hands. He has to stop: mum would be worried about him. And besides, he isn’t even allowed have a drink when he’s on this sofa, let alone pour out all this salty water.

He stays like that for some time, tasting his tears from his cheeks, from his hands. He didn’t want to dance just because his mother was out. He wanted to make sure she wouldn’t see him again. She got so upset. He’d hate to feel like this again, not having a cuddle. He sucks air in a big sniff through his nose, just as the song cuts out. He laughs at it, like a fart or something when no one is talking. Another beat, another crash of sounds and noises. Another song!

He likes this one. He is calmer now, but the music is still loud. He is in his own place now, not at home, with the neighbour banging on the door and his mother coming round the corner of the estate. He is where the music is. He gets up, wiping his eyes, determined to stop crying.

He has to build it up. He starts with his hands, rising and falling with the beat because he can’t yet click his fingers the way older kids and adults do. His arms go next, stretching out and in to the left and the right; first one, then the other then both, and he spins himself around. Looking down, he thinks maybe he’s like Jesus, then takes it back in case God or Granny or Grandad or someone was listening. He turns faster and faster, the whole world stopping around him. He likes the idea, so he starts to laugh again, the tears nearly dry in his hot eyes and stinging cheeks. He has forgotten how it started, and he knows there is no end.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Difficulties with Writer's Block

A plot! A plot! My story needs a plot!
There are words and ideas teeming.

The soul, scathed is reeling.
The searching is done and the story is won, but not plot! No plot! No plot!
The mind and the hands composing
- First one, then the other -

Who could bear with such a thing?
Ideas tease out words that tumble from brain to screen,
From the mind to the eye, with no "Where?" or "Why?"
No reason to continue.

Read on! Read on!

Friday, April 03, 2009


The sun is climbing down there
One last, blinding cry, the light's goodbye,
Dazzling the eye from the corner of
A powdered covered sky.

A light blue turns pink, an orangey red,
Tucked under clouds hanging over my head.

I cannot sleep in such daynight.
Thinking and turning
The mind is churning
Close the eyes, but not the mind.

To transend or transgress everything
It is. This sky.

Baby blues and pinks, soft colors
Translucent, transparent, transgressing, transcending,
Everything is moving, from here to then
- never the right time, nor the place -
Tucked under a sky
Turning soon to night that will
Break through to day.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy, But Hated. Why Not?

IT was a great weekend for Irish sport. A shame for me as I don't follow it.
As a zeitgeist whore, I enjoyed the unbridled energy, goodwill and passion of Ireland's grand slam rugby win. Later on, some fellow beat the living shite out of a guy from Central America (who, at time of writing is still in hospital). This time it was considered a triumph for the nation.  I wish I'd blogged on Friday, just after I'd swigged a wine and whined to my wife "You know if they win, someone will declare the recession over...." She, again, rolled her eyes to heaven.
Earlier in the week it was said that the Welsh hated the Irish. Confusion ensued ("no they don't"; "no, indeed, we don't", "we don't care anyway!"; "yes they do!" "no, indeed we do! Do you mind if I take a leek?"). Well, we sorted it out. They hate us now. OR whatsisname, Stephen Phffewyardsshortt Jones. If they don't hate one, they'll hate t'other. I'm sure of it.
The Germans are pissed off with us. Of course, it looks like they'll end up bailing us out of this government-backed bankruptcy that Fianna Fáil (Fine Failers, a teacher of mine once called them) barrelled us toward.
The Americans are annoyed with use because we took their jobs, or so they believe - what with our cut-rate corporate taxes.
Europe is annoyed with us because we were the kid with all the chances who spent fifteen years staring in a mirror and masturbating furiously. Now, we're in serious need of a lover and we're reluctant to take any form of prophylactic that might protect them from contracting something nasty. Also, we were the spawning ground for Libertas, who believe themselves to be the real voice of Europe and want to stymie any attempts at making Europe work efficiently.
We've aggravated Libertas with our constant questioning of their motives. (I must admit, the only thing I've ever agreed with them are these points: Why are Libertas questioned to an extent that no other European party are questioned? Why is there this feeling that if you're pro-EU, why can you not question the way it works?).
But, we're happy. And our happiness pleases me in many, many ways.
First, for the first time in (how long?) fifteen years, our happiness hasn't been predicated on being "the small country punching above its weight" or "one of the richest countries in the world" or "fuckit, we' LOADED!"
We're proud because we 'done good'. Fifteen lads manhandled a pig's stomach in a much more convincing way that fifteen other lads. One lad beat seven shades of shite out of another guy.
But they were Irish. Irish and proud.
And this morning, everyone was happy, smiling even. Smiling! At strangers! Being friendly! I haven't seen it in years. It's not the misty eyed "Here we are, all miserable and happy together". Neither is it "There's more to life than money, and now we've no money, there's more to our life..." It's just the idea that we've all shared this great experience (experiences) and we're enjoying sharing it. We're together again.
Happy but hated, why not?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dark Was The Night

Via Stu

Love this for the widget more than anything else...

still, ho hum. Whistle along!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


It took me six hours to get home Monday. Seven, if you include the hour rushing from the office to the train station, then back up to Georges Quay to get a bus home.

The clouds had skidded across the sky, colliding with the ground. No one can say for sure who came out best. The Snow, bleeding ice across the road looked back to the bruised sky, putting on an air of indifference.

The ground lay there, taking the pounding; covered in that ice, overwhelmed and undermined. It was no support to anyone. It's whole purpose fundamentally slipping away from it.

Me, I had to get on the bus, one sliding foot at a time. I had the oshit moment of seeing the bus there, on George's Quay, but being on the other side of the river to it. I had that cramp inducing fast-stagger, which occurs when ice, rain or booze is down. Attempting to swing your hips faster, but holding back your legs so they can provide the required traction. It's lights came on. Oshit. The door closed. Oshit. It stood. It stood while I staggered toward it. There was the driver, reading his paper (or perhaps someone else's, but this is not something I can bear a grudge about), until he saw me, meekly pawing at the glass. A desperate dog looking to get out for a leak or in for a meal. "Do you go to...?" &c.

I was on the bus. It was on the ice, which was on the ground. There seemed in this minor triumph a great was had been won. I had vanquished the earth (ground), the heavans (snow, ice) and man's own unique genius and mechanical ability (a bus). I was going home. Any time now.

Fifteen minutes, later, we were off. A bunch of young lads at the back on their way for a night out to Waterfrod discussed career options and questioned each other's wisdom and ability to deal with "reality". An old lady across the aisle started snoring, a couple around smiled to each other. Ain't it quaint. Q102 was on teh radio, so there were headphones in my ears. Charles Mingus, whose trumpets were too fast and screaming traffic-like for the thudder-judd momentum of the bus. We stalled our way toward home (and a party in Waterford).

I read my book. Finished it. It was very good - Why I Am Not A Christian, a collection of essays by Bertrand Russell on the subject of religion and unthinking following. And, of course, a lack of rational argument/intercourse/imagination that is causing much of the misery in the world. My misery was caused by the to-ing and fro-ing of the young lad's carrers, while cars careered from one side of the road to another. One car managed to slide its way forward, only to be stopped by gently tapping the bumber of the 4x4 before it. No one seemed to notice except me. I heard the tree falling. But perhaps I am only telling you I heard a tree fall. If I didn't see it, how can anyone be sure? I suppose we could go and look for it. It's a tree; must be around somewhere. Although, they can be hard to pick out when one is in the woods.  

Two hours later, at Newland's Cross, we picked up an angry fellow and his companion. They had waited three hours (he claimed). He was frozen and kept saying he felt like having a fight. I was resolute: I shall pretend this fellow doesn't exist. That way, he'll overlook me if he does "burst someone" as he claimed he was going to. He also claimed it wouldn't be his fault. It was because his brain was frazzled. This he said down the phone to his girlfriend, who was waiting for him in Carlow. He told the young lads discussing their future to shut up. 

An hour or so after that, before the Citywest campus, teh angry fellow asked the lads for a cigarette. As he attempted to smoke it in secret, he asked them where they were from. They ended up quite good chums, as it goes. Those poor lads, on their way to a party in Waterford.

Thirty minutes later, the phones started ringing. Una voce: "No, the traffic is dreadful. The roads are snowed over, everyone's going slow, I'd say there's been breakdowns and maybe even people running out of petrol!" Una voce: "I am telling the truth! I got the bus nearly three hours ago!" The lads were missing their night. The angry fellow's brain was really fried now, and he was no way not going to burst someone soon. This must be how the ground felt; trying to do its job, to be what it is, only to be stimied by the cloud-crash ice.

Then, things started to slow down. My MP3 player died. I'd read and re-read a number of essays in my book. The angry fellow was mumbling something about bursting anyone who said anything to him about smoking (or at least that's what I could hear coming from under the seat behind me). A kindly fellow, a real goody-two-shoes came round to ask if anyone was going to Kilcullen. I know what this usually means - We want to bypass your town. Please let us. No way, I said. We'll stop in Kilcullen. Drop me at the motorway sliproad if you will, but you're not bypassing my wife and child and me. Angry fellow, on his way to Carlow, was wont to burst me at this point, but perhaps didn't hear my protests under the seat.

In the central margin, abandoned cars, car tracks, footprints. Snow covering it all. Making a secret, somehow purer than muttering idle threats from under the seat of a coach. 

Hours later, we pull up the Naas slip road. Then stop. Bus driver has to talk to another bus driver, so pulls over. Off the bus, I have a smoke, keeping an eye on my seat and (moreso) my laptop. Back on the bus, the angry guy was telling the young lads about the fights he'd been in. They offered up their own examples of unique technique in tight situations. So close to home, but so far away, I thought of that story, Cannibalism in the Cars.

Finally, we get to Naas town centre. But there is another wait. I suppose it is fair the driver allowed people off to get Abrakebabra, &c. When one is low on cash and patience, such fairness seems a dreadful slight. Angry guy concurred, making me change my mind immediately. On the phone to his missus, he went on about being in Naas, having to get up again at five, threatening the bus driver to get the bus moving again, &c. It went on. His voice being clearer, he had evidently some out from under the seat, and he was really in the mood for a fight now.

We were off again. Next stop, Kilcullen, where thirty or so minutes later, I alighted and slided my way home,  across the vanquished ground, riding on the victorious packed ice, feeling cold and smoky and ready for my dinner.

Georges Quay-Kilcullen (c. 50 km), 6 hours.

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