Wednesday, August 13, 2014

10 years of Radgery

It's ten years today since I started this blog with a Wagamama recipe and barely a clue that it'd take beyond a couple of posts.

There used to be a narrative, a way for me to remember nights out and days spent boozing, different templates, a blogspot in the title, naming, shaming and guff that only those known to me might get.

She came to me this morning with a novel, a card and a collection of collated blog posts from in or around the 13th of August...

Today, lemon and cracked black pepper mini-fillets from Marks and Spencer and, if the urge takes me, maybe a spot of dogging. I'll report back. (August 13, 2010)

Oh my.

My legendary irascibility aside, would I sound too like the internet's Darragh Doyle were I to ask how you're all doing? (August 8, 2012)

Titter.

...and more of that kind of thing in the stapled pages of different jobs, homes, acquaintances and other things long forgotten.

Ten years. 758 posts. Forgive me a little bit of self backslappery before I ease that coffee plunger down and go again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams

He made us do the desk thing.

There must have been 25 of us, each 12 or 13 years of age, our first English class in secondary school.

Gerry.

A strange thing to be let call a teacher by his first name but that’s how he introduced himself to us, him in his black cloak staring down from those big glasses and a belly full of good old living.

He said it was time for us to start looking at the world from a different perspective, inviting our idiot minds to circle the top of the class, look at the room from the top of his desk and see everything fresh.

He was no John Keating, was Gerry – the Leaving Cert points system saw to that, for a start – but you had to admire such an unjaded introduction to that glorious teenage misery.

Anyway, just a snapshot, something I got thinking about shortly after midnight when I’d heard Robin Williams was gone.

Died by suicide. Asphyxia. Took his own life. Struggled with addiction. Twitter discovering for the first time that comedians are often hiding a deeper, dark truth and falling over itself to be sadder than the previous 127, 128, 129 characters.

I wasn’t immune. ‘Fuck it.’ That’s all I wrote, and felt bad for wondering whether or not I’d get a retweet. Jesus. Gerry wouldn’t have liked that, rest him.

I went downstairs, poured a bowl of cereal and switched on The War Channel. The same stock footage of Williams japing around on the red carpet, acting the maggot, performing to a crowd of soldiers and wearing a beard in the best way possible played on a loop over some celebrity’s neighbour talking about the syndrome of the sad clown.

It gave me a headache. I went back to bed.

I couldn’t sleep for thinking of the most perfect piece of screen acting I’ve ever seen, one that hasn’t dulled for me in 16 years. Just last week I watched it and reversed it and watched it again. That scene in the park, looking at the ducks, Williams’ soliloquy to a silent Will Hunting and those looks that channelled both warmth and contempt at exactly the same time. Perfectly written, perfectly played, the devastating quiet of it.

Christ. Will I be able to watch it again?

That’s that, then, I suppose. Twitter handles will wear a red nose in tribute and there will be lots of talk about how to listen, how to talk, how to thrive. 

There will be talk of some good coming from such a sad loss, such wasted talent, still young at 63, etc. There will be Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning Vietnam, Jumanji before the week is out. There will, and have already been, glib catchphrases and celebrity keening. There will be talk of giving the family privacy, while offering anything but, and ultimately there will be...

Friday, August 08, 2014

Hugs

They congregate here, the beards and those big glasses.

The professionally unwashed and their chequered shirts, ample parking for pushbikes outside the door, inside a haven for laptops and quinoa salads, avocado relishes and eggs so otherworldly that they take on the name of the establishment itself.

I hate eggs. Always did.

The decor isn't there, the conformity coming from the fact that no two items of furniture can match the table next to it. That's 2014 for you, with a blackboard and something about sorrows being less with bread. Chalked large.

It's the bonhomie that gets to me, the affection, the easy way between the staff that makes it look like a paying crowd has accidentally happened to their summer of love. Trying too hard to look like they're not trying at all, like the beards at large themselves, with a Charlie Mingus soundtrack succouring the pulled pork ciabattae.

They know all the customers' names, but they'll never learn mine. My glasses come in slender, my shirts unchequered, my way unsociable, my demeanour that of a man who only walks into the premises seeking a way away from it. I'll take the coffee, sadly the best in the city, on the way out the door and it's all because of the hugs.

Those fucking hugs.

They're a tactile bunch and if you happen into it, you'll be lucky to come out of it unembraced. The owners, the staff, the customers, the part-time actors and musicians, the men everyone calls 'hey, man,' the beat crowd, they love to just stand there and hug. And here's another hug for extra measure. And how do you like them eggs, anyway, dude?

Get the...

I'll take that coffee, sadly the best in this city, on the way out the door and it's all because of the hugs.