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Friday, 16 June 2017

Murdering. Allah on London Bridge.

I was a man, I was a fighter, suicide....
Bomber of Lover of.... virgins.
Soldier.....of caliphate,
walked out that night, strapped in my best... fake explosive belt.

                         Planned for it,
                                               dreamed of it
                                                                 imagined it,

In red hot heat for it,
                                                I dreamed of it.

It was all,
              I had left in my head.

I was a man,  I could....I would
                                                     I would kill for  it.
I would finish the Infidel.

For Allah who choose me.
                                        He choose me,
                                                                at last,  he choose me,
                                                                                                 he saw
                                                                                                                 At last.

In the shadow days drinking and drugging and jail
he called to me,
                        sang to me ,
                                         it was better than meths when he called to me

better that sex, with whores or drinking,
                                                              it was pure,

That's me in the picture,
                                                I am
                                                       there, shot to pieces,

I am,
        down on the ground,
                                        there's no heaven,
                                                                 the virgins
                                                                                  are clawed howling sirens.

no Allah.

all screaming and muddle,
                                               the people go under the wheel.
                                                                                                  I see them
I see,
        one of them slipping, down
                                                   to be ground...
                                                                        I saw

the divine vision wither, and Allah abandon me then.

All noise and confusion and screaming. Then.

In the van I am,
to go back,
                make it stop,
                                  but we had to go...

We are stabbing at throats we are missing out mark we are stopping the wide open mouths of the infidel.

I am waiting for
                         hoping for
                                         listening hard

 for the high holy roll,
                                   come again to me
                                                              back to me.

I call to him,

see myself in the eyes of the people I cut
                                                                        I am (monsteralieninhumanthing)

when they got to me,
                               shot at me,
                                               finished me

I lie, I lie.
              I go back, I try...
                                    to go back to the first flaring fire of the ecstasy,

to turn back from the lie,
                                      from becoming
                                                             this shit sodden thing,
                                                                                              on the road.

no woman, no loving, no warm beating heart,
                                                                      I have cut myself
                                                                                                    from connection.

I have snuffed out my own slice of life.

Allah too he,
                    forsake me,
                                       never came to me,
                                                                          like they said to me.

...............promised me.

that was him looking out from the Infidel eyes and I finished him too.


Friday, 2 June 2017

Party Death and Dreaming (dreadful sorrow)

         MORNING AFTER...

"And so he's barred, I'm telling him you say... he's barred... from the house!" The beautiful girl hissed sibilantly from where she, on hands and knees, rubbed and swabbed at the floor with towels  (all my store of towels!!!) Out in the hall her siblings, like galley slaves, sighed and groaned in sympathy,  a row of bottoms swaying as they worked on an oil slick of washing up liquid splattered, no, poured, over the floors downstairs in our house.

                                    ... the party planning

Beauty, 21 at last,  had thrown a party.  And I had taken myself off on request until the morning after.  After all, it was not her 18th? I mean, not another night of neophyte drinkers, no, scantily clad and all geared up for a bacchanal, not...  this time.  Now, they knew what they were about,  they were seasoned in all sorts of ways you'd rather not go into. So, yeah, the afternoon before? I tore myself away from party preparations, locking away of valuables, that sort of thing,  put it out of mind  (with kind friends and strong drink)... entirely.

                                                                ... the giddy anticipation..

On Sunday lunchtime, stepping tentatively though my front door, I picked my way past the swaying bottoms, climbed onto the sofa with the Sunday papers and hoped they wouldn't tell me how that happened.

                                                                                                         ....THE NIGHT BEFORE!!!

So they told me how that happened. Guess I was looking too detached (serene) for them, by then.  They told me that and other things I didn't necessarily want to know.  Some guy, Ryan take a bow!, brought in the withered Christmas tree from the garden, where it awaited the skip (hey, it's been a really busy year) and set it up in the kitchen in the middle of the revellers. Someone, Ryan take another bow!,  then poured a fine layer of washing up (fairy) liquid on the floors.  To set the scene I'm guessing, to up the ante, give it tone. The party carried on regardless. Like an Art Installation as it were, glistening,  sylvan,  interactive craic.  And Ryan! not satisfied, feeling there was something more, planted a For Sale sign in our garden from next door.

"Right, yeah banned..." I say absently, "definitely, darlings.  Eh, was there any more?"

Turned out the boy showed up with at least six sidekicks (he was allocated two) and commandeered the party space with uncouth louche behaviour,  beauty went on,  furiously wringing my best bath towel in a bucket of water as she did.  And she was obliged to evict a number of them, screaming,  because they drove the seasoned civilised invited into the living room for refuge from their shouty commandeering of the music.

"I said  you'd said he couldn't have that many of them. Mother? Mother!"
"Yeah, appalling darling,  untterly unacceptable, yeah"
" shut up shut up shut up!" the boy hissed from the hallway "the tree is back outside,  and I'm working on this f***kin floor, and any way it was a party!"

                           AND THE CONQUERING NORMANS? THEY INTER-MARRIED........

Turns out it all turned out for the best of all possible worlds? The uncouth boys eventually mingled, the sophisticates put down their cool and let them into the party space. Like the invading Normans, they became more Irish than the Irish themselves, as you might say.

"Yeah, 7.00 am, I want to bed at seven?" beauty finished proudly, brushing a strand of long brown hair from her sweating brow, smiling at some sweet and private memory.

"Hmm, right, very good, ah, carry on" I murmur, turning on the sofa, stretching discreetly, carefully thinking nothing at all.   It had nothing to do with me. I am  (they are adults, 21 years old!) not responsible. Not responsible.  Anymore. No one died, no (actual) bad thing happened.  I am basically not responsible... anymore.

                                       PUT DOWN YOUR JOB AND TAKE ME SHOPPING!!!

I see text flashes, peripherally, on my phone on Friday, as I wrestle with a case I have to make for someone anxiously hopeful on the outcome.  Six texts I find, when I take a moment.  Peremptory  texts, from the boss who wants,  she needs, to go, no, to be taken,  shopping.  Whenever.  When, eventually, I make it home.
"I have nothing? to wear? for, you know, I'm going to a party? Will you/ won't you, take me? late night shopping? When you get, like, home?"
"Hello! Only take an hour?"
"Hello! yes or no?? Hello!"
"Just an hour? Yes or No?"
"Yes or no! Hello?"

No. I have hours and miles to go before I walk though my own front door and I won't be turning out again to buy some barely decent piece of clothing for a party.  No.  I text, no!  distracted by the job at hand, and something else.  A conversation I am having at the time with a random man about the little child who died, her lifesbreath sucked out slowly over four hours, strapped in a car on the hottest day of the year.


"Yeah. I mean the father? mother? Tragedy... awfulness.... of it..."  I say to him incoherently.
 He actually shudders "I know...I know.  Awful, awful... but... still,  how could he, what... was it?... to forget?...  happens though, to...happens, happens...though..."
 "Yeah, it does, it does..." I say not saying, neither of us saying, not wanting to, say, blame,  judge, when some poor devil has lost a child.  Knowing that country of Painandhorrorandguiltandshame the father lives in now.  So we don't.  Say.

(thinking of our own deficits, our lucky escapes... that time you lost the kid in the shopping centre, 
 fell asleep with the baby on your lap, your breast, your bed, small woebegone faces at the school gate when you were delayed at some meeting, caught in the traffic, distracted. Lucky...our  lucky escapes...)

That's the thing though, about children. The weight of responsibility you bear is staggering, all encompassing, and the younger they are the heavier the loading.  I vividly recall the haunting of being a mother of infants, my preocupation with wars, nuclear spills, electric pylons, hovering dangers, peril by virus, traffic, child stealers. The first child,  the first experience of not caring, not being consumed by your own mortality, but only about this, this helpless scrap you cast out of your body, expelled,  into a world of dangers.  It's a whole other hell you don't anticipate when the blue line on the Pregnancy Indicator bathes you in a warm expectant  glow.

Once, one sunny too bright summer's morning when my children were small, I woke up gasping, weeping, caught inside a most terrible dream.  I dreamed I brought one of them to work with me, and, caught up in a work thing in a vast arching hall, let the infant in the pram outside fall out of mind, of knowing. When I finished, still full of the work, I found her outside violated  in some obscure irrevocable way. Damaged, broken, toddling towards me silent, small face bloated with lonely tears.

My husband brought me many cups of tea that morning, puzzled, as I fought to pull back from a quagmire of guilt and shame and horror.  "Only a dream" he told me  "poor girl, only. A dream?"
A dream, from the place you go to have the feelings you can't contain in the waking day and hang on to the fine thread of sanity.

I surely hope the child's in heaven with angels as someone hopefully said. I hope that someone takes her father tea, kindwords,  some shreds of solace.  Her mother too. That, at least.  I hope for them.  I do.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Pretty Boys in Frocks / Boys in Suits at the Races.

       So, if it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck and it looks like a's not (a Duck)
"So, yes, that's him! No, not her!, he's prettier than her! there, that's him, I mean they. Thats they!"
The beautiful one is giggling hard, her phone wobbling  in her hand so that I am looking at a dancing image of a very pretty young women with a placard around her neck, "My body my choice" the placard  says. He/she is surrounded by women, in the middle of the Repeal the Eight march in Dublin.
"Ah" I say, sagely "so,  right, that's him"
"Not him,  they, he says he's they. Told you! he hangs out with the non binary... lesbians, gay boys and like former girls who don't identify as either sex and ...sometimes, traditional girls?"'
She rolls her eyes,
"Yeah, and, he ends up having sex with all the girls anyway."
"Right. The ah dress, darling, wouldn't it kinda put you off. Lovely and all as he is. Speaking as a girl I mean"
"They mummy, they. And no, and even though they is a plural, he has his way with them anyway."
Beauty takes a breath, swells with disdain, incredulity.
"I mean, like, what about the actual gay people, transgender,  transvestite. He, they, wears their clothes, steals their struggle, it's like a game. And we all have have to play.  Or, I mean,  you are judged?"
"Like the emperors new clothes, darling girl. You can't say what you see?"
"Yeah. And besides, he hasn't actually got a womb?  He doesn't seem to know he doesn't have a womb?"

She walks away, swaying like models, like royalty,  in the way she does. She has said all she has to on the subject of they.

                                                      Only Women Bleed....Period.

"And anyway, they were all also, everyone I know, on that march to Repeal the Eight. You have to do that too?"

She turns as she speaks, swivels to face me. Not quite done then.

"It's ridiculous, you're not allowed to say, you don't agree. I don't agree. I don't agree!"

                               And a Working Womb is Required for this Argument....

Yeah, the Beautiful one and her sister don't agree. Abortion is either in or its out. No
half measures for them. A baby is a baby is a baby. No featus, no abortion, no exceptions.
They like to pin me to the wall on this one.  When I'm trying not to think. About that or anything at all.

I am and always have been of the the view that Abortion is a woman's right to choose. Has to be. Full stop, end of story. But the thing is that they are oppositional. They will not be told how to think. Oh, I've told them that they haven't got the remotest notion on this subject.
Not, I intone, until they have undergone the business of carrying a child can they understood why that has to be a conscious choice.
They go at me hot and heavy then about my inconsistency, my illogic,  the shaky ground of my thinking (allegedly).  Oh yeah.
Well darlings, I say, I've said my piece, and them's my words, and we must agree to differ?

Anyway, as a race, we need opposition to counteract our sheeplike tendencies. It may save us even, from aborting babies at twenty weeks, or forcing women to carry the rapists child. Opposition .

                          They doesn't identify with the Human Species (so they doesn't)

I think how hard it is to know what you are, when you're young.  How you should feel in your core as a woman, a man. How you adapt yourself hopefully to the norm. Is fluidity good? Deciding you are they? For the charismatic maybe, the grandstanders, but for the rest of shaky struggling humanity, not so much. We need our boundaries, and there it is.   We are sheep. Once rigidly binary, now agreeing we are they.  How derailing is that? Ho/hum.

                                             Put down your job and find

I am at work before a meeting, lost in a knotty labyrinthine dilemma I must take a position on, go in and answer. The phone flashes briefly. I have switched off the sound, permanently, but its no good.  I'm wired now for the most fleeting flash of a call. Unable to ignore it. I decide to ignore it, but I see it's the boy. It's the boy on his third attempt and I always answer his third attempt. If he troubles himself to persist then it's trouble.

"Yes...what..." My mind so elsewhere.
"Um, yeah, mother, d'ye know... can't find em anywhere, do you know where my shoes are."              
I can hear rousing male voices in the background, a gang of 'em obviously. In the house.
"The Races! I told you we're going to the Races.  And I have my suit on, like, my waistcoat, but my shoes aren't anywhere"
I see him standing there in his socks, his version of a suit, grey trousers and waistcoat, as I ponder on the question of the shoes. The boys in the background banter against banging rap music on the sound system, urge him to hurry.
"Um well, so , when did you last have them, I mean on, darling"
"Well, so, last year?  At the Races, last year? With this suit for the Races last year?"
He doesn't clothe himself in anything formal, constraining, for the rest of the year, or submit his feet to shoes.  But by God you have to have them for the Races.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Anyway I have a brain wave then, a recollection.
"The dog darling, didn't the dog eat the shoe? The right shoe, if memory serves. (I'm on fire now)"
"The dog?"
"You must recall how he eat it, and slept with the sole 'til I binned it. He slept on your soul. Hah"
The dog missed the boy very badly when he moved out to college. The shoe seemed to help.
"It's the leather " the boy said back then when I told him. "Not me, it's the leather!"
"No, no darling, it's your sweat infused personal leather he keeps about him. Until you come home."

Anyway, we decide that he should wear his darkest runners, and I hang on listening to them hunting                                                                                                      for the runners, urging him out and away. I have lost my train of thought down the knotty labyrinth. Utterly.

                                             I saw you that day at the Punchestown Races
I saw them later on, a gang of boys from the same tribe, as I drove home through Naas, my mind again grappling with the complexity of the question I had not been able to answer. They plucked me out of the brooding mind, tall, bright eyed, the air charged around them as they marched to the Races. Swaggering, open faced boys, ready for anything: girls in thin dresses/high heels, thundering horse hooves, the roar from the tannoy,  the smell of meat frying, trampled grass, horse shit, testosterone.

Oh sweet! sweetest sweet, animal essence of swarming humanity at play at the Races.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

In the Name of the Mother. Once we were Bastards.

                                                            CHERISH (WARRIOR WOMEN)

"So, you could take him to court for maintenace, yeah,  there's a law now, but you'd have to prove he was the father.  When you got there."
"You mean like swear to it in the court?"
"I mean like stand there and watch him call ten of his pals to say they all slept with you, and it could have been any one of them, the sort you were"
"Yeah, that or some version of it."
That was a discussion among women in 1980 at a Cherish meeting. It was concluded that it was preferable to rely on the Unmarried Mother's Allowance, in a general discussion on practical survival in a begrudging world where landlords did not want single mothers, childcare was random,  and available work was not for you. You ploughed on in your solitary existence of queuing and jumping through hoops for social welfare handouts, finding and warming up damp, dank crumbling flats as best you might, spinning from your own body and soul a haven to keep a child alive, safe and loved.

You had Cherish, the organisation set up by single mothers to support and advocate for rights, to let you have scare information on basic survival stratagems. They, in weekly meetings, let you in from the cold of solitary hardship, warmed you up with companionable, inclusive advocacy. There was a lot of brave souls in there in the Pembroke Street Cherish headquarters. Many warrior mothers, who knew the oppositional harshness of the world towards women who claimed their own children to rear. A new world only possible when the Unmarried Mother's Allowance became available in 1973.

The burning issue for Cherish, the battle line drawn, was the abolition of Illegitimacy. The committee lobbied TDs, the Taoiseach Charles Haughty,  anyone who could be made to listen. They pushed the issue doggedly.  As the new bill was introduced in the Dail, there was passionate, agonised debate about the granting of access rights to the fathers, which would come with the rest.
"So... he wants no responsibility, he took no responsibiilty, he made damn sure to play no part in any of it, except to deny me, deny the child, so... tell me why, why the bloody good fuck should I, should we, should anyone give them the opportunity to cause more damage now?"
The proposition of supportive responsible fatherhood was too exotic, too unknown to be entertained.

The status of Illigitimacy was not abolished until 1987. The ending of bastard status for children was resisted, right down to the wire, by the establishment.  Thereafter,  DNA testing became available with consequent successful extraction of maintenance from men.  And they, having been hauled kicking and screaming into fatherhood, began (at last) to look for access.

It all comes back to you, listening to the passionate demonising of the Church, the Nuns, on the uncovering of dead children at Tuam. I don't say discovery, because it is not. it was known anecdotally and by the townspeople of Tuam for decades. I don't say 800 babies either. That is the total number of infants named, who died in the Bon Secours Convent in Tuam over a thirty six year period.  Oh, you could demonise the Catholic Church. Why not? What does it matter. They are burnt out, a busted flush, irrelevant now, and they are in the frame. And there is a fine warm glow of virtuous righteousness to be got from it. But its a crock. And it does matter actually.

                                              ALL THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTIONS

You could usefully, in a neat reframing, demonise Men. They are equally in the frame. I listen to blaming assertions that we were all terrified, cowed, by Catholic Church. Not cowed enough apparently to stop men having sex outside of the holy bonds of Matrimony on a regular basis.

See it in context too. The Church was adamant in confining sex to marriage and the begetting of children for women. Sexuality, erotic feeling, sensuality was non existent in women in that narrative, unless you were a whore, a prostitute. Men, then, engaged in a kind of sex that more resembled a wrestling match. i.e. you weren't supposed to want it unless you were married, and after babies. Or seeking to lay a trap. You could say the church, men in frocks, created that kind of thinking, but how exactly did unmarried women got pregnant in such numbers, unless they forced, taken advantage of, judged and discarded if they failed to fight you off.  The sinister logic of blaming the injured party. Or they were whores.

Eight hundred children named in a heart breaking rollcall released all over social media, bear their mother's name, i.e. the christian name given by some desperately hopeful woman, and that woman's surname. Each name were recorded by the Nuns as the children came into the world and left it again.
That's where the information came from.

Protestant women did not go for deliverance to the Nuns. They were sent to Bethany Home in Dublin. Bethany Home Survivor's group have joined in the angry chorus, seeking redress, to be likewise acknowledged. Those women and children suffered a similar fate. The death rate for infants in those homes were on the same scale. The children's death certificates record 'marasmus' as cause of  death. They died of marasmus.  Marasmus was a poem of severe malnutrition.
                                                        NUNS  MEN AND MARASMUS

That's what killed them all one way or another, malnutrition, so that they succumbed to infection or died of hunger. Catholic and protestant institutions, same difference. They were given no place in the world and no father. Period.

It was not until the dawning of the welfare state that the Unmarried Mother's Allowance made survival possible,  so that women could even begin to address this situation, to claim their own children, to attempt to re educate men. That and DNA testing allowed them to begin.

You listen to tales of barbarism towards women in Muslim countries, other countries,  India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, enraging tales of women abused and blamed, punished for the abuse perpetrated on them by men. Evil, evil, evil, it clearly is. You think that evil is another country. It isn't. The imbalance of power between the sexes causes horrors, damage and destruction wherever it occurs. India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia,  Ireland.

                                                         TO FALL SO FAR (FROM GRACE)

The Church colluded with a dominant patriarchal society in Ireland to starve, control, and punish. No good could come from it,  no good did come from it.  Some sort of Social Order maybe. The only point in exposing this now is to learn from it, to understand it, to see human nature in all its shadings. Particularly if we are to try living decently in this twenty first century world where helpless Grace is abused, tortured and abandoned, over and over and over, year after year after year without end.   

Sunday, 5 March 2017

They don't Need their Houses Do They?

On Thursday the Boss came back from a mid term visit with the father. She flung the door back and advanced;  bags discarded in the hall,  coat draped carelessly on the stairs, shoes left muddy and separated across the tiles, reclaiming most of the available space. In the kitchen she pulled out saucepans, vegetables, ingredients for one of her fantastically nutritious low fat super meals, talking, talking, talking. I could hear her from the living room where I had taken refuge with the lovely book, saved up for this week.  Beached on the sofa, taking a midterm myself in the silence.


Later, when I went looking for tea in the kitchen,  she had reeled in more girls to keep her company as she eat. It was all animation and  exclamation marks.  The spinning of plans and logistics for a party later, a film to see, a secret hair dip-dyeing to be done for the party later, snapchat groupchats running on separate tracks.

I caught the Boy's eye, as he beat a hasty path though bags belongings and girls, coming from the garden into all this dizzying gaiety, unexpected. He and I had lived together for the days of the bosses absence in orderly quiet, he doing his thing and I playing at being solitary. Except, that is,  for little chats from time to time about the war in Syria, Trump's latest tweet, the Boy's views on the Norman invasion of Ireland and possible alien sightings reported on the internet. The discovery of TRAPPIST _ 1, a  star and seven planets revealed in its shadows. That kind of thing.


Still, he was kinda glad to see her he said. He was used to her,  he told me. Yeah, so was I.  Also torn, (between amusement and irritation) as I watched her expanding vastly into her own reclaimed space. That was all of us then, on mid- term in our cave.


I think of all those people homeless, or fighting a grim and savage battle with banks to stop the house they shelter in being taken, snatched like a snail shell ripped clean from soft tissue. Adrift in the world with no home to go to.

                                           THE  BATTLE  OF  david AND GOLIATH

You see them in this year of Our Lord 2017, as banks go at home repossessions with a vengence, fighting, the light of manic battle in their eyes, grimly negotiating SFS forms, deals, court appearances. Small, pared to the bone, they stand alone against the impervious strengths of banks and corporations. Backs against their own front doors, facing outward. Fighting a battle they can't afford to loose.

And still you loose, sometimes you loose. I sat with a woman holding a letter from a Sheriff, who told me 'still an all she was kind of glad it was over'.
"There's like a stay, to organise ourselves with another place, it says" she said, (softly)
 "So, I mean, there is no other place. Rents cost more than Mortgages?  But you know what?  Its all right. It's all fine. I am...we are all tired. I only want it to be over".
She smiled obliquely as she said goodbye.  She hardly disturbed the air as she went, leaving you haunted, wondering with no way of knowing. And nothing to be done.

That was after I read about a man found hanging on the end of a rope in the barn of his repossessed farm, his children coming on him in the morning when they went to look for eggs.
"He couldn't bear the thought the children wouldn't live here anymore, sure" his wife said afterwards. "He fought and fought the bank, and then last week the fight went out of him"
She tried to get him talking about starting over, but she couldn't reach him. Until the night before, when he was happy again, relieved almost, talking fast and optimistic, putting everyone to bed, his arm warm around her as she drifted off to sleep. After that he must have gone out to the barn...

The failure in us to understand and protect the human need for the cave, the warm dark space behind the locked front door, is profound, dangerous. Unforgivable.

Friday, 3 February 2017

THIS PARTY WAS LEGEND!!! (but where was the KGB?)

                                           THIS IS WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU, DARLNG....

Apparently, we all need vitamin D. Oh yeah. We are afflicted with twitchy, introspective anxiety in the Irish winter's dark because of it. "Yes, Vitamin D" my sister announced yesterday, staring at my palid twitchy face. "You probably need a megadose, like 5000mgs?" she went on sagely. Not! Vitamin smitamin! I tell you this. It isn't vitamin D I need, rather a KGB trained security guard on tap, for hire, available, whenever I choose to go away and leave my house behind me. Why,  now that Mr Trump is elected and bewitched with Putin, I understand the KGB are back! (And maybe even over here in Ireland for hire? For a six pack? For Vodka and a tidy sum? For practice? )


I mean I figured I had the vitamin D, dopamine deprivation thing nailed, when I went to Spain for Christmas. Yes! to Alcalali in the mountains, to spend the Christmas days with my very dear friends who have given their lives over to sitting, drinking and talking in the sun, essentially.

On Christmas day we sat in the house, looking out at the day, the warm sun kissing not burning the cobbled street,  eating turkey, stuffing, brussels sprouts, roast potatoes. Nostalgic and philosophical in perfect measure. Getting happily tipsy in the lengthening shadows, deep and black in contrast to the glorious ball of Spanish sun outside. On Christmas morning I had gone for a meandering walk in the orange groves behind the village, because I could, returning through deserted ribbon streets, the villagers disappeared in their houses, sleeping off the Christmas Eve festivities. In Spain, they know how to party...

Day turned to night too quickly for me on that day anyway. The wine, the conversation, banter quickening to hilarity, carried us to midnight at a breakneck pace.

At home,  dog, teenagers, house, were all farmed out, secured, taken care of. Apart from Christmas morning phone calls, they never crossed my blissed out mind till late on Stephen's day (night).

                               YOU ALWAYS HAVTA PAY THE PRICE  BABY(as well as the airfare)
I smelled the party walking into my cold dark house on my return, disorientated by the passage back from the light, to blurry damp greyness.
 "There was...was... people here! There's been a... been a... goddamn party" I hissed, snapping on the light by the front door. My sister, tasked with minding the house, looking in on it, switching on the heating and that kind of thing, blinked confusedly.
"Ah no.  Sure it's... fairly tidy.  Intact.  I'd say now, if there was anything, it wasn't much. Sure look,  it's grand and tidy, nothing on the walls, or anything like that."
 The walls? The walls? I wondered briefly what had happened to her house, that time she went to Italy. She had only hinted, darkly.

"I was going to tell you" the beautiful one wailed distractedly on the phone. "It wasn't, I mean, me!"
 "Left you in charge!" I snap.  "And they promised!"
 They did. They did promise. It was just one night, I explained hopefully, before I left. I had to go a day before they left for Christmas with the Father. It was a matter of flight schedules.
 "Promise me now, no, promise me, swear to me, tell me you wont throw a party".
"Yeah, I mean no, like I mean didn't I say, no" the boy looking at me squarely in the eye, swore manfully.
 "Course not!  I wouldn't" the boss added, duplicitously.
"There will be repercussions!"
 "Yeah, we know, we won't, we said"
"So what went on exactly " I ask Beauty now, "I mean what, exactly, transpired?"
"I don't know what went on.  Exactly. There were all the boy's boys there, all the boss's girls there.  Thats all I know!"
"You were...I left you... in charge" I shout. "Were they, I mean, drinking, in an...I mean  unsafe way, or...or,  like, clustering in the bathroom rolling anything. I mean,  the boy's boys, were they mixing with the boss's girls, I mean...Jesus!"
"I don't know! I  don't know I tell you! I locked myself in your bedroom at 4.00am because I couldn't bear it anymore, if you want to know.  And I mean, feel asleep?"
                                           BLEACH WON'T TAKE AWAY THE STAIN, NO...

My lovely sister called on New Years eve, as  I poured a bucket of pitch black water down the kitchen sink. The house reeked of bleach. I turned to face her. I think my left eye was twitching, derailed as I was by my house cleaning,  by discoveries, evidence. Pieces of broken glass on a book shelf, a smudged lipstick abandoned inside a glass vase in my bedroom, shot glasses spilling out from under a cushion, cigarette papers on the side of the bath.   Sections of the floor inexpertly mopped,  so that you wondered grimly what had gone on just there. And strange smelling tea towels stuffed into the washing machine, a single shoe on the landing. Not ours. Stains on the stairs, only evident to the naked eye in strong daylight. Evidence.

"It's too late for vitamin D"  I told her, "for me and for them. You need to be taking it from the beginning of the winter anyway. And actually what I need is a security guard. I mean what about an internet start up, supplying them to sit in your living room grimly (arms folded), against teenage shenanigans. when you take a rare trip out into the world?"

And now the boss's friends are sending her snapchats, from legend  New year's parties she's missed (repercussions). The boy, a home loving boy, is exiled in his college apartment, sending sad texts home asking how to operate his oven, and whether you should spin-dry runners after a cool wash (repercussions).
                                           WHAT THE HELL, TWAS WORTH IT, SO IT WAS....

And I might never have gone to Spain at all. And still.. and yet... I walked in the orange and lemon groves on Christmas Day, and ate and drank and cried cathartic anarchic laughter with English and German friends, about living and dying and all the War(s). Small glowing pearls for stringing on the long chain of memory.  And you might say this at least about my children,  boy and boss,  they absolutely know how to throw a party!

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Friday, 16 December 2016

"Dirty Angels! Vultures Feasting! Merry Xmas Everyone!"

  In The Bleak Midwinter...

 I woke up six weeks ago at four am, the bleakest hour,  and fumbled under my pillow for my phone. Tossing about hopelessly since midnight, I had at last slipped into a black pocket of unconciousness, brief and uneasy. I brought up the Guardian page and there it was. Trump had crossed the line, was certainly going to be President. Right so.

                                 ...frosty wind made moan..                                                  

Next day I listen to media reactions, agonised analysis as to why, breathless crowing from defiant  Trump supporters, almost unashamed now that they are on the wining side. Soundbites. A last gasp from white supremacists! ( particularly amusing that).  It was the people, sandwiched between the cities, stoopid.  From the evocatively named Rustbelt.  People so marginalised, forgotten, that anyone would do, Trump would do, to make it even slightly  better.

                                              ... earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone....

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, in inimicable Enda Kenny fashion went from politically correct condemnation of candidate Trump to kissing Mike Pence's arse. Luckily, it doesn't much matter  to the Americans what we have to say one way or the other (I  daresay) but it kinda illustrated, if you needed more light, how skin deep political correct pronouncements are. How calculated.

                                                      ... snow has fallen, snow has fallen, snow on snow on snow...

And we have the AAA (Anti Austerity Alliance), the Right to Waters, and a handful of elected randomers shouting out for the people. Oh and yeah, Sinn Fein. A Trump? Well, Mick Wallace perhaps, or Clare Daly,  a girl version. It seems we need something stronger though, a more trumpish Trump, looking past the spectacle of this crew's performance once elected. They ride into office off the need, the desperation of the people and they fail utterly to follow through when they get there.

                                                                                      ... in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

It's Christmas again, the killing season for rough sleepers. The homeless (again) sleep in the streets, an increase of 37% on last year.  The most vulnerable people in this society pushed out of the flimsy shelters they used to be sure of, to make way for the others; ordinary people, families, now shifted into single hotel rooms, bed and breakfasts. Back behind them, pressing hard, are others still, pinned to a granite wall paying rents, keeping out of single hotel rooms, hostels, sleeping in the car, by the skin of their teeth.

What can I give him,  poor as I am...

Come to the County Registrars court if you need persuading of this. Come and listen to the sad and sorry narratives of everyman/woman, now that some pesky legislation has been fixed up by the boys in Leinster House and house repossessions proceed apace. To get things moving, you understand.  To take the houses, sell 'em, give the banks the road, the rising tide will lift all boats.  Come to the County Registrar's Court and watch the people, slipping under the swells. ((Not waving I'm   drowning...)

Their houses gone to Vulture funds for knock down prices.   Eager,  hungry Vultures, ready and willing to buy and rent out to the same people for vastly increased rents.  No one, no TD newly elected or from old stock seem capable, willing or able to stop this abomination of dispossession and destruction. Irreparable damage and dislocation to the very fabric of people's lives by evictions, or constant hanging on by your fingernails to a normal life. This is no small group of people, people.

                                            ... if I were a Shepard...

Evictions, borderline poverty,  throw away children, belong to, are consigned to the past, right? You can read about it, shake your head, thank the universe you don't live in that country any more, no? James Plunkett's Janey Mary would never be found wandering about the streets we have fashioned. Right?

                               ( Vultures... There's more that one way to crucify a child.)

"She moved suddenly, but when she tried to speak her ears were filled with noise.
The Lay brother had turned to Father Benedict.
"You were very quick" he was saying  "is she badly hurt"?
Fathe Benedict answering him, said in a strange voice:
"Only her can see the print of the nails."

                                                          ....I would bring a lamb....        

"Ah sure I never even heard the case called, didn't know what happened? people up the front, the Bank's lawyers, them up front were muttering stuff an then some one told me, like, it was all over, like...
....couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, for thinking about it, I thought there wasn't anything I could do about it..."
...I did, like I did, come to court... try to explain, I didn't t know what anything meant, couldn't hear what was going on, I didn't hear, I wasn't sure, I never heard it called....
....I did, yeah, engage, phoned the banks, at first.... but here's the thing, they didn't want to know unless they were calling you? They never call you back. They don't engage..., yeah,  I don't know...The county council say at least a year before I get the Hap/rent assistance... From the time I ask for it, I mean like...
...I can only ask for it when the Bank say my situation is unsustainable. They have to find you know?...
...I don't care what they say, I won't... leave, I can't leave...  nowhere to go...there is nowhere to go... the rents, if I don't eat, just try to feed the children, I still can't pay those rents...
...The County Council said a Bed and Breakfast, they told me... or a hotel room's all they've got...for how long they don't room like... you can't go out in the hallway, you can't go out on the grounds, one can have, like...
...can't go... won't do it.  I cannot take my children to live in a hotel room, a BnB, for, I mean,  they don't know how long....
...There's nowhere, nowhere I can afford to rent now. Nowhere... daughter's doing her exams this year, my son has autism, I can't tell Daddy.  He doesn't know... he's old, would kill him... when they...will they... come to the door to take the house, will they? Do they give you any warning? Do you know?...
...My mother and father left this house to me, I am so ashamed. I lost their house. Thats all...
...we borrowed €25,000.... €35,000.... €40,, like, 2006/7/8,  no problem sure,  now it's twicethreetimesfourtimesfivetimesSIXtimes that...
... ashamed, should have known, the banks were really keen to loan and I to borrow...
... ashamed, I lost my job, I phoned them to explain...they passed me back and forth they never called me back...ashamed...
...I told them, as soon as I could get another job, I would...  sure I was only waiting for that, like I'm still waiting for that...
...they never entertained us... sort of, like, they were going through the motions, like you might to cod a child, and then they send the letters, all those letters... Till I couldn't bear to read them anymore... then my husband left, sometimes he pays the maintenance sometimes not, my daughter hasn't seen him since, I have to tell her that he can't... she won't be able for the hotel room she is autistic, she thinks she made him leave...
...the doctor helps. He gives me medication. Only for him....
....we have to watch my son. Depression. He suffers, thinks, we'll all be on the girl's done two schools now, battled through the bullying, took it on the chin, great girl getting frayed around her edges....

                                                        ... if I was a wise man I would do my part....

I think my self, the Government, the new heros and old might usefully be hog-tied and roasted slowly, until they do something here. Stuff the half hearted soundbites, the inadequately funded unworkable schemes, mortgages to buy, Marp solutions, modular houses some day soon, and act.

Stop the sale of people's houses to vulture funds, pay the bloody sustainable minimum payments  themselves to the Banks we bailed out if the people can't pay, release the land banks they actually hold (for who?) and go into partnership with the builders.  Now. This cannot wait.

                                                                                  ....yet what can I give him, give my heart.

I get it that they live another kind of life entirely, that the act of imagination required of them to see this desolation and damage for what it is, is beyond them. To feel the utterly heart breaking vulnerability of the people who are battling banks, indifferent lawyers,  poverty. Standing alone. But they, our elected representatives, will reap the whirlwind  and that at least is certain.


          And what rough beast, it's hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.

When Gerry Adams, or some other such becomes your Taoisenach don't wring your hands, don't trouble yourself to ask why. What version ofTrump have we earned, manifested, conjured up? Those people being minced are legion.

                           Dingy angels.. festering coffee mugs...crumbs of plenty...lucky luck.

Christmas is coming oh yes indeedy. I brace myself for an influx of teenagers from college to swell the ranks of those already here. I steel myself for mess, shouty bursts from uTube videos, crumbs...crumbs everwhere, missing mugs and glasses festering in bedrooms, bare feet dangling over the edge of sofas, mad tittering on mobile phones. I brace myself for Christmas wish-lists, huckstering over what I am to contrubute for some piece of electronicia ardently wanted. It's bloody, irritatingly, chaotically wonderful, all of it. Unless you're stuffed into a hotel room, your children caged, forbidden to go out on the grounds, dispossessed, derailed, thrown away. Reliant on the kindness of the Government. There but for very fickle fortune friends go you or I.  

Plunkett, James  (1945) The Trusting and the Maimed.
Christina Rossetti. (1872  )  In the Bleak Midwinter.
William Buler Yeats. (1919) The Second Coming.

Anna Cogan: I Am Detta O'Byrne.