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Friday, 1 August 2014

HOW TO BE A VIRGIN. / BLOOD AND SOLDIERS.

                                    The Past is Another Country, They Do Things Differently There.
                                                                                                                                                              Last week in Waterford city,  while rooting around in  its esoteric and only actual bookshop, I found a copy of L.P. Hartleys novel,  The Go Between and have been immersed ever since. Myself and The Book have form. Mother brought her Primary School children to see the movie on one of her Jollies when my father was taking his annual Pilgrimage to the Galway Races. Booze, Betting and Camaraderie. We picnicked, visited with the sea and went to the one and only movie showing locally in the meantime. All bliss save for the  tense cattle head counting (roll call) each evening. About that she was under orders to report back to the man over in Galway.
         
                                                 If I Had Only Known
                                             
"Oh sure I would not  have brought ye if I had only known" she worried after.  Knew what she meant.  I mean I was enchanted by the lighting, the sets, drenching the movie in its dark and gorgeous atmosphere. But it was the sex.  Subtle, delicate, illicit.  The movie quite soaked  in something illict. Not that there was any other kind of sex back then.  I am nine years old again as I write this, confused as to meaning, enthralled by the characters, transported by a sense of old danger.

I read the book now and a whole other vista opens to my adult mind. It is art, novel and movie,  transfroming and profound in effect.  I wonder at it's power  on a growing child mind. That was  Epiphany. I was given. Accidentally.

                                                   The Virgin Didn't Do It

Speaking of the sexual,  my ideas were vague,  of something fascinating, something dangerous, at that time. Nobody back in the day was going to go around educating children about sex. No sir.  Girls were let into the secret reluctantly when menstruation was anticipated. Gingerish and obscure advise was given.  My informant was my older sister, assigned by my mother.  She gave me The How To  Book the Catholics permitted,  couching the whole deal in quasi religious terms. "Any questions?" she sang pertly after. "Eh, Yeah, I get it, I GET IT, it's ...for um babies, the virgin Mary....who didn't.. who never...but um  what exactly is going to happen??!!" She wouldn't say. Tongue tied and patronizing.  Bitch. I was, in a way, waiting, all that summer,  nerves fraying quietly,  still trying to figure out for what when the blood came.
                                                      Summer. Happy, happy, happy.

The Summer Holidays. The Boy in the West. This time he brought one of his buddies. They spend their days fishing for Salmon in the Moy,  occasional days working on the bog.  I hear when I call  the deep contentment, the zen state, in the tones of his speaking.

The Beautiful one flits about the house like a long stranded piece of  thistldown, waiting.  Dabbling in dissolute living. We rub along easy for the most part. Occasional spats about how I will NOT  fund the Pub or collect her from it. She shrugs, half hearted about being louche, and awaits the exams results.

The Boss is in the Gaeltacht.  Happy, happy happy with tales of trips to the Aran Islands, Ceidhlie dancing, new friends and old,  recited in a breathless litany when I call. I think of other pubescents, sent and suffering the three weeks exile, bored, exhausted by the crowd, ackwardly taking refuge in the book they brought, unwilling to give in and go home.  But she of course is not that Soldier. Gracias a  Dios.

I go a hunting for books in Galway city on my visit to see her.  On a mission to find  Hartley's  Eustace and Hilda Trilogy, wanting more, wanting to crawl back into that rich universe.  And also to buy  chocolate. The summer light caresses the visitors, blesses the stones.  Happy, happy, happy.

                                                         Worship

We go to see her favourite painting in Galway's awesome Cathedral. "I sit with it when I'm here" she says, "because she's like a real girl with her baby.  Though I know it's....I mean it's... Mary and Jesus:" We sit  together, moved to silence at the picture in one of the shady side chapels of a sleeping girl/ woman curled around the lozenge shaped bundle of her baby.  Beautiful.  Poignant.  What she said, real.

                                                         Loosing my Religion

I collect the Boy and his sister from the train station and herd my mind back on the mothering track. I have not taken my self into a Supermarket for weeks and distractedly try to recall what we need as the gruesome twosome throw in unsuitable items, bicker, ask me for stuff.  "Would you say you might be loosing your marbles" the boy says blandly on emerging, as I wonder where I have parked the car. "I mean just beginning to! just starting to" he sniggers at my wounded glare.

                                                              Some Day Baby

Some day, oh yeah , one day baby I hope you hear the voices too, the spawn voices, the fruits of your loin voices,  in your house, in  your car,  in your purse,  in your head.  Needing. Wanting. Stuff. While you watch your marbles roll.  If you, that is,  manage to find a girl of sufficient kindness and steel to bear them for you. One day baby. Soon.





Friday, 11 July 2014

Shut the F****k up Nuala O'Faolain, and R.I.P. .

                                                            Long Day's Journey Into Night
                                                                                                                                                             "But... I... don't think that.   DO  think eh  well of you, and like respect you, and your...and .your . your...mothering".  The beautiful one is empathetic if  quite quite  drunk . Attempting, as though the past evening had not happened and she quite quite sober to console my weeping self,  as we drive home in the dark deepening  night.

I have deteriorated, decompensated  from frothing at the mouth, to incredulous babbling and finally  this,  last resort weeping, since we got in the car. "Yeah . I know,...I know I should not have.. ought not to have.. but ..but.. all my friends parents." she,  making bad worse had the unwisdom to add, "all my friend's parents didn't have a problem"... and I... and I.."

Oh my dearest reader it has been a long night this.  Firstly  The Class Graduation , which she told me vaguely was to be Mass, Music, Presentations and  later she continued , getting rather more focused, a get together in the Ranch Pub, who had agreed to let in the Graduated after. I dutifully attend for the former parts, and agree to drive in and get her following the latter. I keep herocially  to myself the reflection that (a). It is Midweek, and (b.). she has not actually done  the bloody Leaving Certificate yet.  They are premature.. And  I am in fact being asked to collect her from the Pub. Because, well  she IS working hard at her books.  And, well, it's a Special Night.

                                                     A Very special night

And so it was. I get a call at Eleven am to come get her at 12.30 instead of at midnight, as EVERYONE  is staying till then.  "Love yew" she thrills as I acquiesce. Yeah. OK.  Special Night. I sit, at the appointed time, at the agreed pick up spot and wait. And wait. And wait. An hour passes.  I phone her yet again.   "Oh.. uh ..yes, I have her Bag, she left it in da...in da..pub.  We were all going, so I took it for her,  I mean like I'm not stealing  it, or anything,  I'm ,you know.  minding it, till tomorrow.  Where is she? Oh I don't know that,. Everyone left. I'm just like minding it,."  a girl voice I do not know carols  across the airwaves. Oh.

 Times passes.   She will be here soon,  I promise myself,  she knows that I'm...and  she would not. .would not....well exactly,  she would not, so what's going on!!!!!!  I phone the Beautiful Boyfriend.. " Dunno" "he mumbles sleepily,  "I uhh went home,. She was talking. At the door.  And then she uh went  too. Huh? Anyone else's number? Uh..". He offers to phone me back, does not,  and I am referred to voice mail when I call him. Asleep then. Probably.

                                                    Rape! Murder! Assault!

Words like Rape, Murder, Assault, harrow me in a a rain of interior soundbites, so that I fling myself out of the car and across the street to the Garda Station.
.
                                                       Just Not Her

"And the thing is, I mean this is just not her. I meant something must have happened," I assure them. Graduation,  yes, I mean you know  Mass, Presentations, in the school and then they all go off  for a... for a um get together after,...and..and that sort of thing"  They. the Guards, get into into it , take notes,  issue alerts. They are, basically,  kind, wry and tactfully cynical. "Graduation Eh? Yeah, well,  wouldn't worry too much, you know, she probably went off with her friends, and you know,  had a few, had a few too......"  Basically tactful.
                                                       Who Knows Where The Time Goes

One of their number  eventually  produce the Beautiful One , walking carefully,  a study in  innocence, behind the triumphant Member as I am explaining for the umpteenth time that this is just not her, she would not NOT  call me, and ... "Eh well  right, I'll let ye sort it out amongst  yerselves," the Copper  says hastily, as I begin the loud and anguished interrogation. And for the record, she did not know WHERE the time had gone, was on her way  the WHOLE time, got  a bit delayed, could not call, well didn't have her phone did she? and was frightfully awfully totally sorry. And that was her story. And Oh how she stuck to it..

                                                           The Shitty End of the Stick

Yeah, well, anyway,  can you let me have I mean  some money then  for like a dress, for the Disco, can I go to the disco?, you remember the Disco, I mean it's supervised! I mean WHY IS EVERYTHING ALWAYS ABOUT  HER" the boss responds to my exhausted telling of where myself and her sister were until four am. "No!" I snap,  "No!" in the manner of Pride and Prejudice's  Mr Bennett after Lydia eloped with the redcoat,  " No pub, no disco, no more. Not  for anyone in this house until all have grown up, left home, and it's  NOT ON MY WATCH".  "Didn't know here the time went!" the boy offers  knowingly." Lame!.  Oh and by the way, I'm off for a um sleepover with Smoke tonight myself,  ehh...did I say?"  I tell him he will sleep at home,  in his own bed, as will  the rest of them, until etcetrea etcetera.. . He exits stage left muttering things about being almost seventeen years old, can do what he likes, always gets the shitty end of the stick. Always the hardship.  Always.".

                                                       Channelling Nuala O'Faolain

I take myself, still bruised, to a Literary festival in Borris with my Husband on Sunday,  thinking to be distracted, soothed.  I listen to the writer Hugo Hamilton reading an extract from his book, which is, he confirms,  a fictionalised account of his trip to Berlin with the writer, Nuala O'Faolain , when she was dying of cancer. Indeed. The extract relates to her refusal to forgive her parents for crimes, assaults on her childhood.  " Channelling her!" I hiss to my embarrassed  husband, hearing again that voice on the Radio Interview before she died,  wailing about her imminent death, the cancer, taking away her life's  meaning.  A writer I had liked  enormously until then. Nothing now was ever or ever would be any good she wailed.until I got right past compunction in getting furious at a dying woman, and thought   Oh shut the Fuck up Nuala O'Faolain,  what did you expect,? you are lucky, you have lived to be huge with experience, ballooning with life, and what is that  exactly, how is that possible  without a beginning and and end?

"So here she is again" I tell  the dear man,  "Blaming the parents. Refusing the ending. Channelled." I think of the impossible task parenting turns out to be. Of how Blaming belongs to a younger self. The indictment of your parents. The  perceived failures, abandonments, deficits at crucial moments. How many years does it take to view it all from an adjusted lens? My mother, whose girlhood we knew in her constant telling of it.   My father who sat with us sniggering at hokey Little house on the Prairie e, an observance for every Sunday afternoon. You only know stories. Fragments.

                                                     Stories. Fragments.

Her brother's feverish  raving when he was old and dying,  about the beautiful girl, her long dark hair fanning out behind her as as she fell to the ground with blood pouring from her mouth. One of twelve children wiped out by TB, she was, and he could only have been small when he saw that. We never knew he saw that.

He, co-opted to play football when he was a schoolboy,  kicked the ball out past the line he did,  said it would be safer out there. Never a team player he.. His quietly spoken  father who died when he was a child. He broke his father's gramophone, who loved his John McCormack,  and was in terrible bother over it.. He had pneumonia, when he was little.  It  weakened his heart. She didn't know if that was before or after his father died.

 Her father  died too.In her teens. .  "Daddy was a great man, ah sure he had a bit of a temper,  just you know,  auld shouting""   He bought one of the first motor cars in his part of the country and drove it for hire to Dances. One night he brought her to a Dance, and not long after married her. She  learned how to drive the car.

They had a Wedding Breakfast, she said,  in reference to the photo of them sharply suited, smiling stiffly, heroically young. We tried to put breakfast, obligatory porridge and runny boiled egg with Wedding Feast, before steering her on to the Galway  Honeymoon Trip.  The black and white photograph, long overcoats, stout fur lined brogues, smiling shyly for the camera.  Two achingly open faced shy people. "Ah sure you only went for a few days then" she said. Stories.  Fragments. For the Judge and Jury.. Mammy and Daddy.  Just people in time.

                                               I Say it With Love
                                           
So. Just.  Shut the f***k up Nuala O'Faolain, and I say it with love for the great mouthy girl that you harboured. And or  in  the words of another beautiful girl who can basically do the same, "Love Yew".






Friday, 13 June 2014

Angels Dancing on Pinheads/Small Girls Hanging in the Breeze.

                                                    SAFE in your  HEAD, SCARED in your  HEART
                                         
The Boss declared to me in the morning that she was OK, she was good, "although I slept for only like three  hours?". Huh??  "It was so like strange. I mean even though I knew I was safe in my head I was scared, in my, you know, heart? It was beating so fast?" She had  watched some Horror Movie with the boy the night before, against my advice, but it was all right she said, because she had seen this one  already in the Cinema. Not scary.  No.  Though, she had like gone on line in the meantime, for research purposes, and turns out  the whole story was actually you know true!.

                                                           GOOD MUMMY, BAD MUMMY

I am one of the bad guys here. She knocked on my door at two in the morning,  wailing like Cathy Earnshaw in Wuthering  Heights to be let in,   and I refused. Against my advise. "Tell me about it"  I say,  and she does at great and rambling length. For you dear reader, suffice it to summarize  that in a  family move to a new house, the Mummy gradually becomes possessed by a mad, bad killer ghost Mummy, who, having done in her one little one, seeks to pass on the child killing baton to good Mummy,. "And..like .. the worse thing was that you could see the you know  good Mummy being taken over by the like other Mummy, but none of her movie family  could. .  And you knew it was like true"  She shudders eloquently.

It all worked out in the end, with  bad mummy vanquished..  And the beautiful Girl, applied to in default, took her overwrought sister into her bed. For a time anyway until the Boss's  twitching overwhelming presence became too much, and she  was evicted... "Oh but I feel badly" the dear girl later told me. "But I just couldn't stand her any longer. And  what a  pair of yellow losers, she and the boy"  and she got back to her books. The Leaving Certificate. Hmm. She is herself  a person of contrasts, sound  in major catastrophe, liable to unravel over small things.

                                                        Nothing  Ever Scares me Much

"Yeah, I mean it was a bit scary. And you know nothing  ever scares me much?" the boy comments. I view him down the long lens of memory, his sweaty night terrors before he became fearless. See myself literally having to go in after him, where he shivered and wept in cavities of the unconscious sleeping boy mind. Coax him out, and gentle him back to safety.  So forgotten now.

                                                                I NEVER SAID THAT!

"So, anyways, I guess that Mummy  turning on you is the worst thing", I offer now, " I mean Mummy being  your first most trusted safety?"  "Yeah" she says thoughtfully, "like, that time on holiday  you said to me   " I'm not your Mummy,  little girl !!"   when you were getting your,  you know, Hot Stone message?"  "No!,"  I say sternly  "No!.  We have discussed this. That was not me".  "Yeah" she says  "Mmm, OK". Doubtful. to this day. dear  Reader.  It matters not how often I insist.  She, eight years old, and left with siblings in  a supervised swimming  pool, came to look for me, in the spa, and found another mother. "Why , I ask her now, would I deny you!". "Um I thought you were like in a..in  a.. another I mean  Zone,  and  didn't want to like be a Mummy just then. Yeah" ."But"   I said "but,  it was another mother!!".

                                                      WE ARE THE NIGERIANS

 I wish now I had let her in my bedroom, spared her some of those heart beats. We have a finite number of heart beats over a life time, I understand. You can use them all up.  Even though I wonder about holding back dark things  from children. I  am reading Half of  a Yellow  Sun. and,  blown away , I  think that  I will never look at  Nigerian persons again without seeing them against this textured backdrop, where, given the dignity of their own story, they are us and  they are other, they are themselves.  No longer simply immigrants. Having first read Americanah, I had  to read  this book.  I try to sound the writers lovely name.  One of her female characters, ferociously  individual, berates her sister for hobbling children by  cocooning  maternal fuss.  Quite

                                                NOT DANCING  I'm HANGING
..
And then  I am harrowed by  my own Horror Story this week. No dream this. The newspaper picture of two teenage girls swinging from the end of a rope as their people sit  underneath, looking like a Tim Burtonesque  movie still at first glance.  The people sit in protest at failures of local police to prevent the rapes of the girls, the hanging of their poor bodies in the trees. They sit, they do not look up. The photo has the quality of a dream scape, a depiction of a sort of heightened reality. The people continue to sit as the girls continued to hang overhead. How could  you not take your little one down? Stacked behind this tableau is a series of media reported murders of women and children this week  by stoning, torture, neglect, starvation. A yawning Septic Tank revealed, in grand finale,  the crypt in  Tuam, Co Galway.

                                                       LEAST THE BEAST SEE ME

The beast in community, the ultimate horror, the danger from your own.  The outcasting of individuals prior to their obliteration. Is it an  instinctive knowing of this darkness, also at the heart of family, that brings bad dreams to children? That which is never owned in daylight, riding free in dreams? Scapegoats, set apart and killed. Against the bad thing seeing me. And we  are all children in this, hiding under the bedclothes, imaging monsters, never facing our own monstrosity, our failures to act.


Friday, 23 May 2014

CRAZYinLOVE/ WANTING Niall Horan/ CHEMICAL.

                                                IT'S ALL JUST CHEMCALS,  STOOPID.                                                                                                                                                                                                               "So, yeah, right , you know how you are only in  love with someone for like eighteen months? Like Infatuated? Because it's like Chemical?"  "Huh?"   "Yeah! so don't you think ...shouldn't you like... wait?. Until after that? Before you like  make  up your mind? About,  right, love, or like about the other person?"   "Hmm . Right.... Depends."  "On WHAT?" The boss is doing that stern heavy browed thing with her face, affording me a glimpse of the formidable woman she will be, when her skittering coltish  girlhood is done.

 "Um, well, chemical, yeah, probably, chemical high even, but darling girl it's actually like, it's a..it's a gateway." "Huh! you mean  like a gateway drug!?" !"No, no no, like a..like a..a..a mighty wind that carries you so far out to sea with that person that you are basically attached, familiar, with child even!, or four!, by the time you come down. You'r on the high way of enduring love , baby, or, well OK maybe just endurance, but you know, bonded, fused, as one. See?"

                                                           I SEE YOUR TRUE COLOURS                                                                                                                                                                                                                       "Yes. But! I mean what if... turns out the other person is like a loser, addict, alcoholic, psycho, once they  like let their  guard down , like show you their true colours . And YOU haven't  like waited?"  "Oh, um, yes but I think you might get a hint of loser, alcoholic psycho tendencies from the off, honey".  " Or ...or even just like mean! boring1, bone lazy! pure mule!" . "Hmm, well yeah,  well, nobody's  perfect"  "BUT, SHOULDN'T YOU STILL LIKE WAIT! so you can like try  some one else out, some one better, before you decide."  "Hmm, someone else, yeah, but see now when you are high on love you tend to throw up the same sort of person every time. Like a sort of inner prototype gets your engines spinning, your heart a blaze, every time. Umm.  Yes. Is that making sense?"

"No! I mean, then shouldn't you like, wait, see a councillor, see other boys, and like adjust your settings.. Before you like commit???"  "Um, yes, maybe, probably. Um yes, wait,  hold on, oh yes  indeed.".

                                                                  WILD WILD HORSES

So I don't say how that's like holding back Wild Horses, turning aside  the Wirlwind, pulling down the  Sun from  the sky, and snuffing out the Moon. I don't tell  her the one  is always the one no matter how the that person is all so right, or all so  wrong. Don't tell her love is a mystery, infatuation a blast, and better women than me and she have failed to refuse it.

And I don't  mention Niall Horan. Don't remind her  that she, stern girl,  twelve years old,  exerted  her very considerable powers  of personality and manipulation to persuade me to drive  us to Mulllingar, where we could sit outside Niall Horan's  house in Vigil least he  pop in to like see his mother, or, at at the least get a glimpse of someone connected to him by blood.  "No!" I said then, "No. We will not be doing that" "Oh but oh but oh but pullease" she said, "puleeease, I just want him,  just want him, just want him".

                    SHE WOULD HAVE RUN YOU DOWN ON THE ROAD TO MULLINGAR

All summer long she worked on me, waking and  sleeping she dreamed, her  pink  bedroom walls  postered,  a riot of simpering boyband, One Direction!, Nall Horan,!  unable to believe he would not succumb to the force of her passion. She would have run over you on the road to Mullingar, if she could. I kept the car keys close,  the front door thoroughly locked  in the dreaming time,  against  her dark alchemical brewings. She wanted. 

.



Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Easter. Calvary. A Little Ku Klux Klan

                                                                 STEPFORD CATHOLICS                                                    "So where do you think they are all going" my husband asks for the umpteenth time "I mean where? And what for?.  I mean some of 'em seem to br carrying their shopping!. Are they shopping!"  We are sitting outside a Bodega,  at the apex of two narrow streets in Seville at two in the morning, in this week of Semana  Santa drinking Jamaican Rum, talking, talking, as the People walk down towards us, veer around the table where we sit, and  up to our right.  A surging and ebbing sea of souls  increasing in speed and mass as the night lengthens. We, he and I,   absorbed in our habitual  never ending conversation  give scant attention to what we have observed  for hours, days, nights now  in Seville, until the dark energy in the mass of people jerk us from our cocoon, our  rum fuelled talk. . "Not  going anywhere"  I murmur , "Processing. They are in Procession after some...some Totem Pole, some standard bearing Priestly One long gone by. Massing. Mindless. Stepford.  Stepford Catholics."

                                                                  A LITTLE KU KLUX KLAN                                               We arrived in Seville as Semana Santa, the Spanish holy week, kicked off.  We knew we'd witness all that jazz, but really didn't know at all. It's sum of parts, a mystery.. We schlepped around in the light and heat of day,  doing holiday things, remarking on the people out on the streets, the women in lace mantillas headdress, the frocks of  formal black short enough for showing of elegant leg, arm in arm with the sharply suited men. They glide in and out of churches, walking, walking , always on the move. They  mingle with  the pointy hated Nazarenos, (Capirotes)  cloaked from head to toe, sinister in the cone like hat with slits for eyes to see, obscuring  the face. A little Ku Klux Klan. A little carnival.  All day Tuesday, Wednesday, we watch the smiling people. At midday they  gather  at  the Bodegas for beers in the sun  before or after observances. We are charmed, yes, and only slightly discommoded by the crowds.

                                                       SHAKE  ROLL AND SHIMMY                                                          It is for us a series of vivid visuals adding up to something only these cool and fined boned people understand. We are content to marvel at its stately unhurried progress, the richness of the costumes concealing the sex even of the wearer; a little unsettled on coming on the silent  lines of  of faceless Nazarenos in Procession  as the evening wore on;  a little melancholy at the dolorous brass band play:  astonished and giggling at a large square float  carrying effigies of  Christ on the cross and  Mary the Virgin. The float is supported and propelled underneath by unseen Spanish men. We get this, as we see it bopping at the entrance to one of the myriad churches as plentiful as pubs in Ireland, watched by a tense expectant crowd.  The thing dips sharply  and slowly slowly enters under  the ancient arch. " Oh hey, they have to get it in! they must be on their hunkers. No!  no,! on  their knees! to get that great edifice under the broad stretch of the arch". The crowd roar triumphantly as the the float shimmies monstrously into the dark space beyond.

                                                          GET ME ANOTHER RUM FOR THE LOVE OF GOD             And so to Thursday, Maundy Thursday and the early hours of Friday.  The massing crowd, marching now in increasing urgency, children among them, till they flowed behind and before us on their way.  I ask my husband to get me one more rum for the love of God, disturbed. unnerved. .

                                                          NEVER SAY FOREVER DONE                                                    "It was a procession babes!" I assure him, later. "I looked the whole thing up on the internet!. The Counsel of Trent, you know,  dreamed up the entire thing. to draw in the People"  It was Good Friday evening, Christ crucified at three o'clock, and the people fallen away. " I guess we just don't do it any more in Ireland, not really, no,  never did this version  anyway, but  still here...I mean  what about the paedophile priests?, the affluence?.... but..but you know when we did do it,  we did it good and dark and now we are forever done.

                                                                    CALVARY                                                                          And so we go home to Ireland and off to see the film Calvary on Easter Sunday night, and hey we have our holy week anyway. It was a flaying, shattering heartbreaker of a movie. Christ was good and agonised,  condemned, tortured, abandoned, and nailed to the cross, in all  terrible beauty. It's cast of unforgettables,  Developer, Publican, Doctor, Guard,  Lost woman, Suicide, Widow,  Murderer, Priest, snatched you up and squeezed you relentless  for it's duration..  The people cynical braying victims, flagellating church, state and bankers, shapeshifting into the mass, blame shifting the despoiling of children onto to the priests. Until, finally,  the sweet and exotic concept of forgiveness. We are where we are.  God in art.

                                                                 GOD IN ART. GOD IN THE PEOPLE.                                 In Spain I saw him, God. The people laughing, drinking beer in the sun, taking photos on mobile phones of their little lollipop sucking  infants, cutely got up in miniature priestly robes."Look! To me! Look!. look to me!, Angel." Elegant, joyous. God in the people.  I  saw the massing mindless power the church had chained, as here in Ireland, Calvary, the unchained lost, the haters mocking, despoiling what had been venerated and gladly given steam. On Easter Sunday night at Calvary, God was. Go figure.  God in art.  God in the people.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Side Shows and Fairy Tales/ Sexing up the Dead

The light is changing,  soft air expanding, buds pushing out far enough to insist on spring. I tell my husband how I was willing to wait a few weeks more,  and now you know here is, like a reward for patience. Everything new again for Easter. The world dying, rising, coming one more time for the people.

I think of childhood Easters, chocolate,  daffodil blaze, church obligatory  every evening with your mother, so that you oscillate between happy and melancholy; standing like stone before the bloody stations of the cross, drowning in the priest chant.   This Easter season I am reading,  reading,  about Grief,  Bereavement, Loss for a course assignment. About Death, which is apparently almost always denied, and we adepts at throwing up barriers, getting up side shows of Sex, Fairy Tales, Religion, between ourselves and it. Good for us. Teenagers in particular, already in the hormone storm,  suffering " Terror of Life"  when dying  is badly handled by hopefully cavorting adults.

In the kitchen. the boss makes a birthday cake with her very best friends, the buzz and noise lapping softly against my thinking. The Beautiful one lies above on her bed engaged in intermittent studying, facebooking. The boy is abroad with his mates. I track him in my mind,  a quick inventory against loosing anybody here. Bereavement.

I remember one such, when I was not yet a teenager, maybe seven, eight years old? A school  girl dies and we are dispatched to her funeral, required to do a guard of honour over the short coffin, stand and say the prayers at the yawning grave. I am a fumbling participent, distracted.  She was naughty, that one, in your face, and so it seemed that death came for the troublesome too. Only the good go early people said . I relied on that. Terror indeed, as I watched the small thing being lowered in the ground, the clods plopping quick to bury, thinking how it cannot be that they will really put her down there, leave her down there. Will not, surely. Leave her..

I hear yet another reading of Oscar Pistorius's love texts to Reeva SteenKamp on the evening news. Oscar Pistorious crouched legless and  bloody over the dead girl, begging, demanding that she live  again, that she be given back to him again. Their everyman  texts of endless for always and ever love belong to the rest of us now  she is dead in time never mind what he did forever her dark  troubling love her own  grim est reaper.

And so to bed, and I lie,  book held loosely in my hand, hearing my husband locking doors, flicking off lights, chatting  with  the dog as he puts him to bed. I have not spoken to him all evening on a point I will not yield, cannot, essential to me. I have not looked at him either least I weaken at the sight of the small  suffering boy  he, like all men puts on like a coat at such times.

I think of how I tumbled after Geraldine, in a way. For a few years into the heavy earth. Into the chilly grip of fear, caught inside a coil of snaking apprehension. And when I emerged, somehow, the dying thing had lost its power to paralyse forever. Yes. Or migrated perhaps to other places.  And so it goes.

I hear him coming up the stairs, the boss now singing in her room, the beautiful one sleeps. The boy still out, I text to tell him  stop! doing what he keeps on! doing, come home!, come home.! He texts to say he's on the way. .All live, all safe, for this night here. I wish good night  to husband, daughters, dog, to sweet Geraldine down there where she lay with me for all those years.  Good night , goodnight, sweet girl, may angels be.


Friday, 21 March 2014

Mammy??Mammy?? Let Them Find Their Own Party!!

                                                            SAINT  PATRICK'S  DAY

The boss and her friends spill giggling from my house on St Patrick's day,  pretty faces painted with shamrocks, sinewy snakes and the like to watch the village parade. "It will be a bit of craic" she tells me sagely, when I ask her why the high.  I go out walking with my husband, and find them deflated in my hallway later on, disconsolate, straining at the bit.  "No good?" I ask.  "No, not" she sighed "It was just....... like.... Tractors?. Yeah! twenty maybe Tractors? driven up the street in a like line? That was it!. Just.... Tractors. I ask her retreating back if the Tractors came down again, in finale,  as the girls charge upstairs to her bedroom.  My husband takes me firmly by the arm and steers me out the door and onward to the Pub.

"Well, hmm, I guess they take the tractors out as a sort of prelude to spending  the National  Feast Day in the Pub?" I shout at him in the packed and howling Village Inn.  He doesn't answer. He has a pint of Guinness to work on. "Do you think they are like Vintage Tractors? that sort of thing? I asked him earlier, on our walk, as we came on the Tractors starting out. Do you think that maybe there will be something else, a..a..float maybe, or a ..um..Band?"  "Hah! they wouldn't be vintage in County Cavan anyway " he said,  "and sure what would  they bother with a Band for?"as we watched them trundle up the street, each one sporting the Irish flag at the back, driven by grinning farmers all.

 I tell him I feel I ought to go home, pile the teenagers in the car, and bring them somewhere good and worthy of their shining eyed excitement. " I mean, what an empty pointless thing, for young things looking for colour,  drama, carnival!" He grabs me firmly by the arm, and tells me to stay put "Let 'em find their own party",  he adds  " or more likely, let 'em give it up!, come down the pub like everyone else! as soon as they are old enough, of course.", he adds hastily.  And that my friends is everything that is or ever was wrong with this country, in a nutshell, on St Patrick's Day.

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                                                             OTHER  MOTHERS  

"Though I am not like asking?, my friends actually get like €50 from their parents for you know,  a  um few drinks? when they go out, on like every Friday night, every Saturday night. And often also on a Wednesday Night?  I , as you know hardly go out at all, only want $10,  a lift there,  for the two of us,   am prepared to arrange a lift back myself,  but will need, you know, a lift home tomorrow night, and will also need.... Leaving Certificate? what  do you mean my Leaving Certificate,  I cannot be expected to study twenty four seven!,  morning noon and night!, I have a life! I have a boyfriend!, I am eighteen years old! nearly!,  more or less!,  am my own boss!  So..... can I? can you??  will you?? Mammy??  Mammy??"

I ask the beautiful one if she thinks her friends' parents might like adopt her?, and hell, take me too? to work in the kitchen maybe.? She sniggers and glides of happy in the notion that that's all arranged.

Later on:
"No! I snap at my spouse, I did not agree, not as such, not to everything,  not entirely but ...you know... .. Lately I have been staring down the tunnel of her leaving. Off to college, gone,  forever more or less, the fabric of our family loosened, boss and boy filling her vacated space, not her,  never her again. .My husband assures me I am being premature....will be supporting, transporting,  feeding for a long time yet, there being many a slip between cup and lip you know... never count your chickens you know... This is a jolting interruption to my anticipatory grief.   The thought that that departure will not actually come is basically disturbing.

"So, ok, darling, fine, fine, fine " I tell him,  "My name is Irish Mammy, I am addicted to Mammying,  well in a small way,  in the halfpenny place really when it comes to some of the heavy weight Mammies,  but still..." .  "Yeah, well , the Infant Teenagers,  you better make the 'em brush up on their survival skills, you better make 'em arrange their own lifts, do their own laundry, and Ohmygod pay for their own drinks, Angel, you'd better start".  I assure him that I'm on it, and also that he should get a load of what other mothers  do for their children,  THEY wouldn't rate me in the mammy stakes.  So yeah, I'm on it, have been for years, have tried,  have fostered self reliance, some, but the truth is friends that hell is Other Mothers here.

Yes!  Irish women compete, persist in Mammying way past appropriate. There is no off switch here. There is no generational shift either. Not like you might imagine. On the contrary,  we have ramped up the nurturing good.  We bind our children to us with food, cash, sanctuary against the cold winds, the relentless exactions of adulthood and the world.  Nope? Not you? Really? Ever felt that creeping paralyzing sense of guilt on refusing your  little one's demands, that sinking feeling of unworthiness to be an Irish Mammy in Ireland among all the other Mammies who know how to mammy better so much better than you do?

To be resisted, women, to be beaten back with a stick as you give your wee one a mighty boot up the backside into the world. Otherwise just  ask yourself how you're going to manage to mammy on down into decrepitude,  how persuade yourself to keep on going  past the slender window of middle age when you might have managed to live your beautiful life, oh finally, yes!, to the nursing home, the crumbling bones, the  incontinence, your mind flying off in advance of your grateful departure.

Ask your self  how your hand reared darlings will manage your slow, messy leaving. How administer the merciful drugs even, to hasten your end.  If that was what you wanted.  How return to their own adolescent children after,  be all in all to them as you have been.  It's never too early to start  letting go though it may be too late.  To feel the unbearable lightness of your own unburdened  being. If you have the courage for it.

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