Thursday, February 24, 2011

Karma come lead me on...

The bottom of Grafton Street, today, 4pm.

I was in the queue at the Ulster Bank ATM behind a well dressed blonde woman, late thirties, who had a pursed lip and a hassled way about her.

She finished her transaction and walked away before the cash machine had spat out €150.00, leaving me holding the cash with the greatest gombeen expression of 'what the fuck?' I could come up with.

I figured it was a pretty little windfall before my bastard of a conscience kicked in and I made chase, catching up with her on Suffolk Street.


She turned around and I thrust the cash into her hand.

"You left this behind you..."

She looked relieved but didn't smile, just said thanks and walked away.

I was texting news of my do-goodery not two and a half minutes later when a bird shat on my head and my jacket and my glasses on the corner of Harry Street.

I 'what the fuck?'ed again before finding myself in the nearest pub jacks, washing away the avian faeces, then making absolute haste to the nearest Lotto depository. Some good must come of all this.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The blue book:

Gone now, the big blue book of my youth. A4 sized, as far as I can recall I managed to fill it halfway with teenaged keening about a girl I'd never speak to. Flame red hair and a scowl. She had half a book written about her, and all she had to do was stand, wait for a number 19 every morning and ignore me. Her aloofness was key.

I lost it at a house party in Cape Cod.

I'd gone away to Boston in the summer of 1997. A day or two before I was due to fly back to get my Leaving Cert results, the lads were invited up the coast. With no time to pack, I just grabbed my bag, left a few clothes behind me and headed out the door. At some point in the night the satchel walked out, along with my plane ticket, my passport, any clean socks and the blue book of Avril.

The red book:

Similar size, different colour, this one took me through the college years and lived down the back of my bed in the box room. It lived away from the lads and the gargle and the not having sex. It recorded everything unrequited about my college experience, as bad teenage poetry gave way to punitive free writing and drunken declarations of ardour.

Declarations that I'd show to people in the beerlight before pretending it never happened, for my own sanity. A spilled beer saw its riddance.

The red book (2):

The Obsessive's Handbook. I still have it. I dare not open it. 'She' is all over it, that lovely vague pronoun that masked a series of those who looked the other way while I was looking at them. It makes me uneasy, whole pages scratched out through murderous red biro.

The little black book:

This one was pocket sized and more of a journal. I'd date the top of every page and write inanely of things I wanted to do when I grew up, while I was growing up, interspersed with the odd invective about shorthand lectures and stroppy bouncers.

The new entry:

I bought one last week. My skittling brain keeps forgetting the small points, the fine details, the moments and the bits that I want to frame in some small way in ten words or less. With this in mind I took to Eason's, handing over ten quid so I could see myself in reverse.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I won't follow you into the rabbit hole

It's the gall that gets me, the 'attack is the best form of defence' manifesto that will probably see the crooks get back in.

People are fucking thick.

Yeah, it's the gall, it's Mary Hanafin saying the media "needs to cop on" for questioning politicians' St. Patrick's Day jaunts.

"To promote the country."


Never mind the fact that we're bound up in the IMF's gimpsuit, on a chain, in a room, on an island on the edge of a continent. Never mind the feeding of a beast that shites out the likes of David Drumm and his (to this day) contention that he's owed bonus payments from A***o I***h B**k. Never mind the fact that our current Taoiseach promotes the country as well as Brendan O'Connor promotes likeability.

What kind of a country is there left to promote?

Pay little mind to all that, though.

What gets to me is that Hanafin comes from the same party as a man who ran up travel expenses of €126,000, while she was inching forward from the back benches. We have longer memories now that we're mired in the shit, now that we've "copped on."

Taking an interest in how much a limo costs from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 in JFK has become our imperative.

If I stay away from this kind of thing usually it's because the sound of grown men and women trying to outlie each other on national television, day after day, and calling it all a vision for a brighter future is sickmaking in the extreme and I find it all quite hard to take in.

I find it harder still to believe that one is less craven than the other.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Get Stung!

Famed blogger and former model Radge has admitted he was bullied at school over his looks.

The stunning 'Apparently Too Tall Elaine' writer hated his big eyes, chiselled cheekbones and legs that just... didn't... know.... where to stop as he frequently drew jealous taunts from his classmates.

He said: "I was always the looker in the class, and the other boys couldn't handle the presence of a peer of such superior pulchritude. I was like Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Donnie Darko,' though without the spooky Tears For Fears soundtrack and psychosis."

That wasn't all.

"I also got the shit kicked out of me for using words like pulchritude."

Leaving school at 16, The Face Of Radge was discovered, in May 1995, by noted model scout Madeleine Beauvier Twowilliger outside Supermac's on Dublin's O'Connell Street in the early hours of a Sunday morning.

"There was something about the diffident way he consumed that Mighty Mac," she famously stated in 1998.

Radge takes up the story.

"Finally I was surrounded by people I could relate to, young men unsullied by acne and awkward teenage shaping. I could finally be confident in my own beautiful skin. I was in all the top magazines - Cosmo, Vogue, Just Seventeen - and suddenly the bullying turned to praise. I had silenced those schoolyard chants. I had won."

Radge had won.

He became the Assets agency's hottest property as the 20th century gave way to the year 2000, fronting campaigns for 'improved recipe Cadbury's Smash,' Stinger Bars (tagline: Get Stung!) and 088 mobile phones.

"I was riding the crest of a wave, as well as Katie Price before she became grotesque mess Jordan before she became grotesque mess Katie 'Jordan' Price, but there were black clouds on the horizon."

Radge's Magnum White addiction was the stuff of tabloid legend and saw his retirement from the modelling circuit at the age of 23 and a half, but he has bounced back with the 43rd most popular website in his parents' bookmarks, and he has no regrets.

"I don't have a single regret," he lied.

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Musician

I thought I wouldn't be able to go. I woke up feeling fine on Saturday but got progressively weaker, more lethargic, as the hours went past in work. At one point I pushed the keyboard away from myself, put my head down, groaned a small groan and took a minute's sleep.

It did no good.

Whatever crapness had come over me began to wane on the walk to Mayor Square, to the Luas stop to meet herself. We had a quiet night, few words, both of us drained from the day (hers good, mine bad) and I was worried that the ire would mean a cancelled flight.

We took it easy, had some pizza and a long sleep.

I woke up better on Sunday, far better, and put it down to a 20-hour bout of misery. We caught up on the laughing we hadn't done the night before, pottered somewhat, told stories about nothing at all and killed the time before the packing that would take ten minutes, the shower that would take four minutes, the 'misplacing the keys' that would kill two minutes and the locking of the door behind us.

She met my dad for the first time at Bus Aras and he professed her to be a 'dote,' which is a word I never use but there was no arguing with the sentiment. Goodbyes said, myself and the aul' lad headed for the airport, a pint, a meatball panini and a flight boarded on time with the minimum of effort.


He greeted us at the central bus station in Stockholm, this man that none of us had seen in fourteen years. My father's younger brother, my uncle, The Musician. Rounder of belly than before and still with that beard and long and greying hair, he didn't look the sixty years he would become at midnight.

It was a spartan hotel, with no lift to our third floor room. Two single beds and one that pulled out from a couch, my second uncle was waiting for us when we returned with a few cans. The four of us supped Swedish beer and chatted but the hour was late, I'd been ill and people were tired. We agreed to meet The Musician the following morning at 10.30 and he'd show us his Stockholm.

So it passed. We walked for what seemed like miles as he pointed out the school where he'd worked, the places he'd played, the people he knew, the landmarks we'd read about. We took an early pint and some lunch before heading back to his flat in the centre of the city, not far from our hotel.

Whiskey poured, he told us stories of his days in Paris and Stockholm. Meeting Sean Connery and Claudia Cardinale, George Best and his other footballing heroes. Walking empty streets on his 40th birthday, twenty years ago to the day. Fending off Arab youths who had tried to steal his guitar. Missing a trial with Arsenal. Strumming and picking and drinking and smoking.

He showed a phenomenal memory for a man who'd met with such trouble, a singer who treated every bit of tumult with remarkable serenity. He could tell me in great detail about the time he sang for me and my sister in the back bedroom, when we were tiny and bold.

I really took to him, all over again. This disappeared uncle who, through all the reminiscing, matched me factoid for factoid on the transfer window lunacy.

The next day, I let them off on their own.

They took a ferry; I read my book; they visited a museum; I went for a walk; they took a jar; I sat with a coffee watching a different city going past; they came back, and we headed back out for the last night of catching up before a 4am start and the trip back to Dublin, back to her grasp, back to the impression that I may have dreamt the whole thing up.

Leaving him behind was tougher than I could have imagined, but it won't be left another fourteen years.