Archive for May, 2009

May 24 2009

An Empty DART Story

Published by under Blog,Story

Just Lottie and I. On a Saturday afternoon. On an empty DART.

There’s no annoying teen voices, no too-loud headphones, no intricate lies across strangers faces, no loves being born nor hearts being broken.

Just a quiet train and an empty notepad.

7 responses so far

May 22 2009

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Published by under Blog

She’s staying home. He’s off to work in London for six months. She’s weeping on his shoulder. He’s trying to be strong for her. She’s saying how much she’ll miss him. He’s saying how much they’ll still visit each other. She looks genuinely broken. He looks exasperated and glad to be leaving.

It’s fun to watch this real life soap opera unfold in front of me. Neither are being particularly quiet, though he seems a little embarrassed by the situation, so we are all privy to every detail of their conversation.

She’s an overly painted blonde, aged around 19, dressed all in pink (ALL in pink – shoes, dress hairband, necklace, the works) and he’s a mid-twenties, suited, moisturised ginger. With every whinge and whine from her about destiny and soul mates, he moves further from his initial lovey-dovey ‘I can’t live without you’ position and closer to his eventual ‘look, will you just calm down’ just as I alight at Pearse Street Station. If it wasn’t so cringeworthy, it would make great television.

When his phone rings, he greets the person on the other end with such warmth and relief – I’m finding it hard to see why these two people are a couple in the first place.

I’m reminded of the episode of Friends when Chandler can’t break up with Janice, so he tells her he’s moving to Yemen instead. She escorts him all the way to the airport where he eventually has to get on the plane to Yemen. I wonder if Blondie will see Ginger Boy off at Dublin Airport…

5 responses so far

May 21 2009

What Floods Ideas Are

Published by under Blog

It’s said by many that the classic prolific French author Victor Hugo’s much adapted novel Les Miserables, following the lives and interactions of several French characters over a twenty year period in the early 19th century, starting in 1815, the year of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, focussing on the struggles of ex convict Jean Valjean and his journey for redemption, as we watch the nature of law and grace unfold amid the backdrop of France’s changing history, the architecture of Paris, politics, moral philosophy, justice, religion and love, first published to a mixed reception in 1862, contains possibly the longest sentences in the French language and even contains the longest sentence in literature as a whole, with a diligently crafted but ultimately barely readable 823 words, and that the verbose author merely constructed the sentence to be difficult and to claim the dubious honour of having constructed said the sentence, but a brief glance across Google’s first page of a search for the term ‘does victor hugo’s les miserables contain the longest sentence in literature’ points out that Timothy Fullerton’s A Compendium of useless Information, published in 1975, may have been erroneous in its claim, citing examples such as our own James Joyce’s notoriously heavy going Ulysses as having a sentence containing 4,391 words, a polish novel Gates of Paradise with a 40,000 word sentence, a czech novel Dancing Sessions for the Advanced of Age with a sentence clocking it 13,955 words, the novel which went on to inspire Jonathan Coe to write his 13,955 word sentence in 2001 for his book The Rotters Club, in 2001, and even the French novel by the famed Marcel Proust, Sodom et Gomorrhe, with a sentence of 847 words, all quickly debunking Fullerton’s claim, which just goes to show that research and proper preparation are essential when compiling such compendiums, and all of these extended sentences must lead a reader to ask if there is any advantage to him or her in this, or whether the longwinded, over-reaching is just a way of stroking the ego of some of these authors, allowing them to prove themselves master of language.

And just think, my sentence is a mere 356 words long.

5 responses so far

May 20 2009

The Turtle

Published by under Blog,Story

The turtle wished he could fly…and it was so.

As he floated away, he looked down at his turtle friends and felt no sorrow. Some day he would fly their way again. They would welcome him back with open arms and it would be good.

For years, he flew to new lands and saw great things. He looked down on the gazelles and the plains, the saw the high trees of the rainforest and the wallowing hippos in the Amazon river. He travelled to man made cities and rested atop high concrete towers. He witnessed the turning of time from on high and it was beautiful.

Then he flew with the eagle and the eagle’s family. The eagle greeted him with a smile and they all flew high into the clouds together. For days, the turtle soared with the birds and the eagle showed him many great things. Sometimes he would catch the eagle looking inquisitively at him. For the first few times he let it pass – it was fun to watch the great bird’s confusion at the flying turtle.

Then, after a week, he said to the eagle, “You stare at me strangely, you know?”

“I am sorry. I do not mean to… I was wondering…” The eagle’s voice trailed off. He was unsure if he should continue.

“If you want to ask me a question, ” said the turtle, “please, go ahead”.

“Where is your family?” asked the eagle.

The turtle was stunned. He did not expect this question.

“What do you mean? Do you not want to ask me how it is that I fly? Do you not want to know what I’ve seen? Do you not want to know what it is like for a turtle to see the world from the eagle’s viewpoint?”

“But you are not an eagle. What use is there in seeing all these wonders, if you have no family, no friends to share them with?”

The eagle felt so sorry for the turtle. The turtle stared on. He did not want to fly anymore. He realised that seeing all these great things on high was empty. He experienced nothing. He was not living.

Resolute, he flew off at speed. He flew day and night without pause. Over the mountains and rivers and trees and animals and seas, he flew, ignoring all of it, knowing where he wanted to be.

He was home. High above, he looked down on his old friends. There seemed to be more turtles now and his friends had aged. He supposed that he must look aged too.

He flew down and proclaimed, “friends, fellow turtles, I am home. I am returned.”

With a slow, gentle and warm glance, one of his old friends nodded in acknowledgement at the returning turtle. Then he turned his back and walked away.

The other turtles, one by one, did the same.

“But why don’t you talk to me,” the turtle asked. “I have seen great things and I want to share them with you, I want you to know all the wonders I have known.”

One of them turned and spoke, “Old friend, we are happy for you. We are happy that you have done well and have seen great wonders. But we have grown older and moved on. We have families and other responsibilities. Though we wish you well, there is no place for you here now. Goodbye.”

He did not fly off. He merely lay there alone and shed a tear. In seeking greatness, he had missed his whole life.

15 responses so far

May 19 2009

Hero In A Teacup

Published by under Blog

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, the Nokia tune, some hip hop gansta rap, a new and different version of the irritating crazy frog noise, some Take That, a string of polyphonic peals – with all of these the kid was quickly trying the patience of my fellow passengers.

I was ok with it. Any other morning and I would have been quietly mumbling death wishes on the boy, along with everyone else, but this morning I was content to watch the stress and distress on their faces, the withering glances from the old woman in the corner (that went completely unnoticed), the audible sighs (audible to everyone except the kid who was completely engrossed in his collection of ringtones) and the subtle glances at each other, acknowledging their shared hell.

Then, completely out of the blue, one man who before this seemed not to mind the noise at all, grabbed the phone from the teen’s hand and slid it along the floor of the train, halfway up the carriage. The youth got such a fright and he was about to give out to the man until he saw his immense size. The kid grabbed his bag and went off in search of his phone – he did not return to his seat. Nor did he return to his self conducted symphony.

The smiling faces on my fellow passengers faces and the gratified  tap on the shoulder of the phone thrower has set me up for the day.

11 responses so far

May 14 2009

The Young And The Senseless

Published by under Blog

I wasn’t going out of my way to listen in. I was happily scribbling down things into my notepad, waiting for Lottie to get on at the next stop. The woman just happened to be quite loud, but once I heard her, the situation had my full attention.

The first thing I heard from this woman who was reading a newspaper article to a young boy, was something about a murder and rape trial. She was reading the details to him and he was asking questions about it. I’m useless at working out people’s ages but I would guess he was about 6 or 7, certainly no older than 8. She my have been in her mid to late 40’s. Maybe I’m behind the times but it didn’t seem right that she would be talking about these things to him with such vigour.

She read other articles, but none that stood out. He was very interested and inquisitive about everything, so continued asking questions as she read. Once the paper was put away, they just chatted. Lottie said later that the woman seemed to speak to the young boy the same way she would speak to someone her own age. That’s probably about right.

When are you going to get away from the farm and go on holidays somewhere warm“, she asked him.

Never,” he answered resolutely, with a smile. He was cheeky but harmless.

You’re getting as bad as your father“, she replied, which would be a negative enough thing to say to a young boy, except she actually went far further than that…

Do you know the furthest your father’s ever been? The last time he was outside the county border was for his honeymoon in Wexford.

I think she cackled then, but that may have been my imagination adding that. The relationship was becoming clear. She wasn’t the mother – she was likely an aunt.

The boy said, “No – he goes away to get the feed. That’s miles away.” Such innocence in his voice and it seemed all she wanted to do was crush it.

She laughed loudly (more than one person on the train turned to see what was going on at this point).

Every year I go to Kerry,” she said, “and that’s further“.

The boy stopped asking questions and became very quiet for a while. One of the last things I heard from the duo as they departed from the train was her saying – “you’re spending too much time with your father and his brother – they’re both useless too.

Lovely woman.


4 responses so far

May 13 2009


Published by under A Year in my Life,Blog

I had a dream last night. It was one of those vivid dreams where you awaken and wonder if it really happened, was it real. It was so preposterous that it couldn’t possibly be real.


It begins in a hotel bar in Dublin, where a friend has convinced me to go to some bizarre event.

One moment we are having a pint as I nervously discuss the possibility of leaving, and suddenly we are transported to the registration desk where a big woman with a warm smile greets us. I look to one side and see an unusual man with a Mohawk beside his cheerful friend with the chirpy Kilkenny accent. Then we are cheering winners of an award introduced by the DJ, Rick O’Shea. Then we are dancing with all the new strangers.

In a flash, I am on the bus home, eagerly writing about the strange events of the night. Another flash and I’m sitting in another Dublin bar, talking to a wild woman who talked to me like we had been friends for years. I sit talking with a quiet man who leaves an incredible and indelible impression on me and a far-from-quiet man who tells me he is a binman. The dream is becoming very surreal and I find myself writing again – about my adoption and other personal moments in my life and I am receiving kind words and encouragement for my musings. Before the dream began, I couldn’t have imagined being this open to complete strangers, to the world.

Another flash. I’m alone in an old fashioned bar. I’m about to go to a Jay-Z concert. Now I know this is a dream. The DJ from the start of the dream walks in. We sit and drink lucozade and talk like old friends. The room is filled with more strangers and one friend of mine from school. Most of my dreams end up having elements of my past in them, so it’s not too unusual. I dance to Jay-Z’s rap stylings while a quirky tall woman tussles my hair repeatedly.

I’m in a house in Blackrock with Lottie. We are surrounded by more strangers. We talk of life and love and play with an Indiana Jones hat and whip. There are shots and I am massaging the head of a girl I just met. This dream just keeps getting stranger and stranger.

I’m at a music festival. I had never in my life been to a music festival. There’s a tornado and I see tents and chairs fly over my head. I talk with that DJ again. He seems to be guiding me through the dream. He speaks of parallels in our lives, of friendship and fate, and though I’m not sure I understand, I know what he is saying is important.

My brother is there. And I am standing in a circle of teenagers watching REM on the main stage. I wonder if I am getting too old, or conversely am I getting younger. Am I a teenager now too? Living the life I couldn’t ten years previous?

I don’t get my answer, for in another flash I am watching Tom Waits thunder across a stage in a tent in Phoenix Park. I’m in awe. A man behind me is crying.

I’m at another gig. It’s Duke Special, then Jack L, then Juliet Turner, then Cathy Davey, then Neil Hannon. I’m in the box at the Olympia, watching Stephen Lynch. I’m at more comedy gigs. The dreaming is moving fast and jumping back and forth. I see Jason Byrne’s nose bleeding…and we all laugh. I hug Des Bishop and he sings Léim Thart. There’s comedians all around me. Stranger and stranger.

I am at home. Lottie is there. Things are calm and easy. We are drinking wine as our friends arrive. Great friends. People I did not know before the dream started, but who have now become a vital part of my life. We laugh and drink. We break bread together. As we talk, one of my new friends brings tears to our eyes and he speaks of the love he has found. He likens it to swinging on a star. As midnight tolls, we ring in a new year. It is one of the greatest moments of anyone’s life. And it is happening to me. I am dreaming.

I had this dream last night and wish it had been real. It spanned a year of my life. It couldn’t have been real. No one could have a year filled with so much life and love and people and events and eye-opening moments. I wish it was real – it would have been the greatest year of my life.

20 responses so far

May 12 2009

Desperation In Green

Published by under Blog,Greystones

In recent weeks, the DART has been getting quieter and quieter. It’s strange. This time last year the train filled rapidly at Greystones and people were forced to stand by the time we were leaving Bray Station. Whereas today, and especially yesterday, this 8.30am DART is less than 50% capacity as we depart Greystones and Bray has to added much to the mix.

Ok, some of it can be put down to the kids studying for exams and such, some of it can be put down to people taking their summer holidays, but a drop as dramatic as this is very scary – are job losses really gone this bad?

A taxi driver told Lottie last week that he can see a definite decline in traffic over the past 6 months. Even Rick has photographic evidence of the drop in train travelling numbers.

ESRI says it’s going to get a lot worse before it improves, with unemployment hitting over 16% next year. Can it get much worse?

One response so far

May 12 2009

I Love This Image

Published by under Blog

Iconic, beautiful, scary, different, emotional, moody:

David Bowie - Ashes to Ashes

3 responses so far

May 11 2009

Bless You

Published by under Blog

St Andrew's Church, Westland RowAs I wandered past St. Andrew’s Church on Westland Row this morning, a guy walking in the opposite direction blessed himself as he strolled by the entrance. It’s something I haven’t seen in some time.

When I was younger my Granny always blessed herself whenever she passed a church, graveyard or anything remotely religious. My dad still does some bastardised version of a blessing as he drives by the graveyard down home (it looks more like he’s swatting a fly from his chin). I have seen the elderly do this on occasion but it’s a rarity these days.

I’m not religious at all, but even as a child I thought this an odd thing. I remember being in the back seat of the car and being told to bless myself. I could never grasp the whys of it.

So, do people still do this, do people still practise this ritual?

8 responses so far

May 01 2009

May Day

Published by under Blog,Story

Greystones DART StationOn a crowded rush hour DART an elderly man sits opposite me, head hung, nursing an old photograph.

I stare into space, as I am wont to do. The bearded guy beside me is buried in The Watchmen graphic novel. There is a young blond woman beside the old man reading Elle.

The old man sighs loudly and there is a distinct stench of last night’s Jameson coming from him. He wants attention.

I stare on. Beardy guy turns the page of his comic. Blondie lifts her hand to cover her nose, but her head stays in her glossy rag.

“I met her sixty years ago today”, he begins.

Beardy doesn’t seem to notice. I smirk slightly at Blondie’s obvious discomfort. She glances away from him, perhaps seeking another seat. There are none to spare.

“She did the washup and looked after the babbies in one of the English houses and I was working with their man in the house.

“We had eight children. Nine actually. And we fought like eejits on that first day.”

I am not sure where to look. It’s clear he is going to keep talking. I’m not sure if he’s addressing one of the other two, but I sure as hell am not about to make eye contact.

“Every few years we would talk about that May Day. I always forgot what we fought over, but she never forgot. She had a divil of a memory,” he says with a slight chirp in his tone. Without looking at him, I can hear the smile in his voice.

“I think she changed the story a bit over the years.

“I was doing some work in the yard and went into the little downstairs kitchen to get a cup. I’d swear I never saw the dog. I wouldn’t have let a muddy dog into the house.

“But out she comes after me. Effin’ and blindin’. She looked like a lady but she had a mouth like a sailor. She was hitting me, telling me I had let the dog loose in the house and he was after jumping up on one of the babbies’ baptism dresses. Big expensive white yoke.”

He’s not looking at any of us. We are all looking at him, with alternating glances at each other exchanging silent “should we say somethings” and “is he for reals“.

“She wouldn’t even let me speak. I was guarding myself from her slaps while laughing me head off – go away, you mad woman, I says.

“Sixty years ago.

“That’s her there”, he says nudging Blondie and showing her the old photo.

She smiles a genuine smile and looks intently at the picture. She presents it to Beardy and me too.

I’d say it was taken in the early eighties. There’s an old woman standing beside a brown car. Her frumpy, flowery dress was probably fashionable about ten years previous, but she carried it well. Quite glamourous, I would say. In fact I do say it.

“Oh, she always dressed well. We never had nothing but she made sure none of us left the house with a rip in our clothes or a hole in our shoes.”

Blondie took the picture back and in her big D4 accent she asked, “So, like, what happened then?”

“Ah, yer man I was working with let the animal in. She never once apologised, but I said she could make up for it by coming with me to the dance that night. We were together from that day on.

“And you know, she had a boyfriend at the time and I was seeing this young one too. There was war.”

Beardy finally pipes up – “That’s lovely, man”.

Then we pull into Killiney and he moves to get up. Blondie stands respectfully. I tell him that it was absolute pleasure to meet him and Beardy agrees.

The three of us chat about our wonderful shared moment as far as Bray where Blondie and Beardy both get off.

I should have spent more time talking to my Granny about her life while she was still around.

17 responses so far