Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bernard

I liked this fella, old school.

I flagged him down on Harold's Cross, immediately twigging the smell of freshly extinguished cigarette in his taxi.

"Where to?"

I told him where I wanted to get to and he asked me which way I'd like him to go.

There was something about Cowen and the shambolic state of the country while we drove down the canal, but I was busy spotting hobos and too uninterested in yet another diatribe against the state of everything.

Then his about-turn.

"I've just heard myself, sorry about that."

"Sorry about what?"

"Sorry for being the usual moaning bastard of a taxi driver. I do my best not to go in for it."

Bernard was his name.

"You're alright. I don't mind." I did mind.

"We're an awful bunch of cantankerous fuckers, aren't we? We bang on about working 80 hours a week when we're lucky to have jobs, we're our own bosses and, I'll say it again, we're lucky to have jobs.

He continued, "I'm taking someone to the airport at 7.30 in the morning and four years ago I'd have said no fuckin' way was I getting out of bed at that hour. Now I'm happy to do it, not just because of the money but it's good to get out of bed in the mornings."

"Do you not meet some awful messers?" I didn't want to say fuckers, for some reason.

"C'mere, you meet them in any job, don't you? All I'm about is getting you where you need to go as safely and as quickly as possible, to be pleasant, to take the route you want and to... eh... that's the story of it. And I'll tell you another thing, any bastard that starts banging on about how shite his life is, while you're sitting in his taxi, needs to remember that you're the man paying his wages."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lucidity

It's horrible really. You dream of a man who was dying, not long from a coma, and he's regarding the world in a sickly funk of a way. Yellow carpet tones but nothing too specific.

Then it changes to something repetitive - it could be the worst kind of looping Beyoncé balladeering - and the sickness builds up and up and up until you're finally awake and realising that you could be about to puke without the aid of refreshment since 1993.

Too tired to get out of bed yet so sick that any moment could see an explosion, you consider spoiling the sheets before some clarity comes, you feel your way to the bathroom for a dry heave and a bleary broken look about the place.

The nausea passes with a glass of water and a sip of cough medicine and then it's 4.48am, you're on your fourth paragraph of barely getting the spelling right and you, you above all people, wonder what it might be like to go jogging around the Grand Canal Basin, metaphor made flesh.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Nook (reprise)

I headblogged a lot of the way through our conversation, pieces of her life, my people and a look into each other's stories. I headblogged her hand on my arm where others have baulked. My big reveal but, I suppose, not so big to her.

In the drafts on my mobile phone is written the line 'I had you dead' which is something the cool kids would say "you had to be there for."

That seemed to be the way of this weekend, all that stuff of checking the watch to reveal hours gone past in minutes. Quips, curses and the frequent, terrifying thought that I might just come to know that nook after all.

I defy anyone to defy a Sunday spent on the green couch in Neary's ordering same again after same again, wondering if work in the morning is so important after all.

This is me, cocky and called a sap for the crime of it. Neary's, her hand on my arm and my head in the writing of a new craft of blog.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quattro

There's a lot being made of this 17.59 thing.

I already know where I'll be - on the Luas between Milltown and Cowper, wondering if the girl halfway down the shiny silver carriage is giving me the eye before realising that she's laughing at something funny on the radio.

I know that there'll be one tossbag who'll shout out 'To Arthur' while the people around him shuffle slightly away, deciding whether or not to alight early.

- - -

The fourth series of Mad Men, three episodes in, is vastly exceeding my expectations. Down, down, deeper and down into the mind of Don Draper, not to mention the son of Richard 'Richard Harris' Harris. Exceptional.

- - -

Normally, a free class comes about when the teacher doesn't show up. This leaves the kids alone to throw around paper airplanes, replete with amateur breast etchings and tell of someone being gay, before the substitute comes in to break up the fun.

What do you call the kind of class where no students show up? Empty, I suppose, save for this lonely brave soul sitting quietly alone and trying to unlearn his lesson plan.

John Recession, as I've decided to name him, gets the blame for everything.

- - -

I'm looking forward to seeing 'This Is England 86' on DVD. I gave up recording it on the UPC box, Channel 4 showing repeats of episodes intermingled with the new ones to the point of too much confusion. I did catch ten minutes of it, though, and it looks like something seminal. It also introduced me to the music of one Ludovico Einaudi.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Academia

Much as I'm tempted to linger on 666 posts for a bit, hoping the Satans align to visit their demonic bent upon Glenda Gilson's eyebrows and whoever came up with those cretinous Ivan Answer ads, I'll move on.

Back to school today.

Back at the head of the class looking down, pretending confidence and authority and experience in my teachings before the sweet release of half past eight, some sweet and sour chicken and the Rumbelows Cup.

On such things Tuesday nights are to be built for the next three months, by Christmas I'll have become so drunk on the sound of my own Socratic orations that I'll have milked myself of all that useless humility.

Yes indeed, I'll be Mr. Funky Teacherman with a scarf that's barely there and those big bad black glasses that still seem de rigueur. Apples and plaudits and bowings to my brilliance, before I find a lowly, scowly janitor to mentor because I see myself in him.

It will all fall apart, run aground on the banks of my hubris before you can shout 'CUT!' but fuck it if I don't want my own Elliott Smith soundtrack. And a Fields Medal.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Little victories

And suddenly, ar nós na gaoithe agus go tobann, I found myself to be drunk at the counter of Rick's Hamburgers ordering chips and garlic sauce.

"Andaquarterpounderwithcheese. If you don't mind."

Disgusting. I'm still eating it at a remove of 24 hours and my theory that alcohol kills off the noseknack virus goes unproven too. Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.

I was, at least, symptomless for a few Saturday night hours spent amongst the great and the young. I queued in an honest-to-jaysus nightclub (the one with the foosball table) for pints that probably cost six quid and I didn't even mind, glad as I was to be out-and-doing as opposed to in-and-writing-about-wanting-to-be-doing but having a fucking bastard behind the eyes instead.

Apres Match Live in Vicar Street, it was, and any disappointment at the sameness of their act came dulled with sweet lady liquor and lots of talk about... I don't recall, exactly, but I didn't fall over once.

A good night wasted, you take the little victories out of life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Throne sat and tittering

Liveline makes for a great laugh.

I had a listen yesterday, it's pure gold really.

Tommy From Inchicore You're On Liveline thought that "Twitter should be banned, Joe. All these new "moderen" things on the interweb only make bad situations worse, Joe. Sure if we didn't have Twitter none of us would be any the wiser, Joe."

Joe: "Yeah, yeah, sure, sure, yeah, right. Derek From Maynooth you're on Liveline."

Derek From Maynooth You're On Liveline had another take on it. "Cowen should have just come on Morning Ireland and said he'd a skinful the night before, that he wasn't at his best and that he was away home to bed to sleep it off for the day. That would have been the decent thing to do, Joe."

Joe: "Ah now Derek I'm not sure the leader of a country can come on and say he's off to bed of a Tuesday afternoon. Yeah, yeah, sure, sure."

Cue me, throne sat and tittering.

The things we choose to get riled up about.

Not Anglo, not hospital waiting lists, not the bones of dead children, not Ratzinger.

When I say 'we' I don't really mean 'we' because I couldn't give a continental bollix about how late he went to bed. The man's a dithering puppet at the best of times, he's the new low in Irish politics, and all the strategic apologies in the world won't make up for his reign of ineptitude. This is just a sideshow, yet uncomplicated enough to invoke mass hysteria.

Monday, September 13, 2010

You know you're sick when...

1) You watch 35 minutes of Fearne Cotton meets Mischa Barton.

2) You don't laugh at Fawlty Towers, the one with David Kelly in it.

3) You get a Chinese even though you've just spent 50 quid on groceries.

4) You crave the sweet release of death.

5) You let the dishes pile up in the sink, unwashed, because you never let the dishes pile up in the sink, unwashed.

6) You hallucinate the presence of Bobby Davro in your sitting room.

7) You do that revolting snot hocking thing that so disgusts you normally.

8) You open the blinds bollock naked, forgetting an entire office block surrounds your bedroom.

9) You substitute your evening Budvar for an evening Blackcurrant Lemsip, which surely should be called Blacksip. Or something catchier.

10) You can't muster the will to kick something every time Maxi Rodriguez appears on the screen, being present yet utterly anonymous.

11) You find yourself agreeing with Top Top's football punditry.

12) You have no interest in seeing what the fancy sort in the apartment opposite is up to.

13) You take a bath with eucalyptus-infused bath salts, which prove utterly inconsequential.

14) You wear the same pair of tracksuit bottoms for three days in a row, ignoring the funk beneath.

15) You throw half the curry out.

16) You start mainlining Olbas Oil.

17) You tell people on the phone you only have a headcold when you're pretty sure you're on the way out, because you want to appear stoic. You bristle at the term man flu. (Turns out you only have a headcold.)

18) You write lists. Lots of lists. You like lists. You shun narrative.

19) You watch your first episode of EastEnders in roughly ten years.

20) You get to twenty and you run out of breath.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nine years

"Tyler Durden, perhaps?"

I remember exactly where I was when I sent that text message, leaving UCD for a bus into town having visited my sister Elmo in her new digs. It's easy to be glib when you're 22 and thousands of miles from the fog, easier still to frown back at it at a remove of nine years.

I'd been summoned with my colleagues to a meeting in work that morning.

Captain Bollock and his crew took us into the boardroom, where great plans never made it to fruition, and told us that we were being phased out. We'd maybe get another month's work and then head for the dole queue.

I was off that day so, having headed down to indulge in some gallows humour with the huddled garage smokers, I got on a bus out to Belfield.

She didn't have a television yet, Elmo, so we were just chatting about my upcoming unemployment when my father rang to tell me that one of the Twin Towers had blown up. We found a radio, sketchy details, hearing 'terrorist attack' and 'hijacking' and about things that were burning up.

Empathy, upset and that dreadful change would come later but what I remember of the afternoon was a strange exhilaration.

Wanting to find out more and more, checking whatever there was of the internet back in 2001. Ananova.com and the faces of foreigners gathered around small screens in O'Neills, Things Mote, Davy Byrnes and up Grafton Street. I stole into one pub after another without stopping for a drink, just tapping people on shoulders and asking for developments.

As the day got darker I got the first fear that someone I knew could have been in New York at the time, but that was dispelled with a phone call or two.

I'd arranged to meet a friend of mine in MacTurcaills (when it was still something of a pub) and the only things that come to me now are the yellow walls, the crowdlessness and the fact that we were mostly without words. For the first time in ten hours, or so, I remembered losing my job.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Waga Mama

I think I hate Waga Mama.

It's not the food, I love a Yasai Gyoza as much as the next man, it's the school canteen communality of the place that hands me the ire.

Whoever came up with this idea needs to give themselves a good talking to. Whoever decided that separate tables at restaurants were, like, so 1995 needs to be sat next to the pint sized gimp I shared my lunch experience with yesterday.

He came in, all 19 or 20-years-wasted of him, with his friend Trudie.

Before he had even sat down he was all like yadda yadda bish bash bosh and she was all like ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod so he was like I KNOW I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT EITHER and she was like whatever you so don't need her in your life anyway she's such a bitch.

Earphones.

There is nothing like the fear of a badly placed shuffle in such circumstances, when the iPod hits the irony setting and spits out the likes of Low, mandolin-era REM and James Taylor to leave you scrambling like a dervish to find something, anything percussive.

Then the battery dies.

I thought about using a second set of chopsticks as earplugs but that would just have looked odd, so I resigned myself to this boy's abrasive little caterwauls and let him puke inanities all over my Yaki Soba, all over my Tuesday afternoon, the repugnant scrotum.

"Do you know that it's ok to take a breath?" I nearly said before my da's words about me being an intolerant fucker at the best of times came back to me, so I bit down hard and thought about Mother Gargle.

My point, and I do have one this time, is that these shared benches are a bad idea. They can do one, and so can the trendy waiting staff, the electronic pens, the code for the bathroom and the mid-meal, mid-chew, mid-noodles-hanging-from-face enquiries ("Is everything ok today, sir?").

I'm after Paolo Tullio's job, in case you hadn't guessed.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Rank hum

There's a funk on Eyre Square that's hard to shift. I'm on the train back to Dublin writing this and the smell of sewage hasn't left the nostrils.

Some would say it's the stealth farts blasting forth from my innards, a body treated to a return to Guinness for the last two days. I'm not some, though, and I'm blaming the stench outside the hotel that stretches the length of the square up to Dunnes and beyond, sticking to clothes that need to see the inside of a wheel.

What of the city itself? Too many rugby club brigades with their soft 't's and their chinos. Too many hens wearing plastic tiaras. Too many beggars eyeing me with arousal before being told to go on their beery, beardy way.

Add in the stench and the horrible hotel humidity, piped-in Coldplay muzak and Robbie Williams covers and you had a man who could only seek solace in Naughtons and a trip to Spiddal, and beyond, with Goldmaster.

Not the Galway of my youth, then, but the best made of an untidy town in the finish.

Friday, September 03, 2010

The Tribesman

What delights await me in Galway?

One thing is for sure, I will not drunkenly go underwear shopping in Brown Thomas before getting kicked out of a Butler's Chocolate Café.

I know that much.

Nothing to see here for a couple of days, but nothing new in that.