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Friday, 19 December 2014

Kill them All . Devil Speak and Angel Song.

                                                 Love Hate. A Solution

"And anyway, I don't...... I mean WHY don't they just go ahead and shoot them  NOW. I mean WHAT are the Cops waiting FOR." The boss  makes Christmas Cards to sell at the Christmas fair on the rug in front of the window. Has been for weeks, a happy engagement,  turning out improbably good things. The Boy and I  catch up on recorded episodes of Love Hate. A revelation to her, who does not watch the show by inclination.  "Of course they can't just....they have to.....  prove it!  build a case! set them up! It's called SURVEILLANCE" the boy replies roundly. It's called Television, I amend. And also um Due Process. Which I go about  explaining at the end.  She gets it. She's quick. She's not impressed. "What does it matter actually" she says, "Better dead before they do any more harm..... for us".

                                          The thin end of the Wedge.  Again

I remind of her of the movie Animal Kingdom. She kept a weather eye on that on Monday as I watched,  declaring that  she was not really watching. Only making cards, didn't want to work alone in her room. The boss likes company, in a houses of instinctive solitaries.  We were both numbly riveted by the body count, the casual dispatching on both sides. The instant disposals on the part of the Cops. "The thin end of the wedge", I tell her,  "after the criminals, go the rest of us, instant disposal, sooner or later".  We all stare, stunned,  now at King Nidges bloody runners.

                                              More  Accidental Television

On Thursday she accidentally watches the movie  Martha Marcy May Marlene  with me.  Christmas cards done and on her way to bed, she gets involved, as do I,  until realizing she is there beside me as the credits roll. "Over!!  It  CAN'T be over! Not yet... until we know....until they... I thought she was imaging...what will they do to them???  OH.  Now that was actually  frightening" she says. I agree, more than Love Hate, more than any tough hardcore  horror,  that was actually disturbing. Lingering in the mind, haunting quietly,  puzzling.

                                                     Killing the Boy

On Friday the boy announces harshly that he has lost his glasses. Yeah he brought them with him to a concert in the O2, the first one with a tiny girl and not his sheparding family, and  came back  again without them. I cannot take this equably. I do not try. His phone has gone the same way a week ago.  The glasses, the eye test  took time and money.  I berate him roundly. I am harsh as he.  Each of us capable of a bruising anger. I keep going until this...  "Don't you think I know??  Don't you think.... I'll  pay you back.  I KNOW I'm loosing everything, I don't KNOW why??  I don't KNOW whats wrong with me.  Don't you think I've said all this to myself".  His voice  a grating wobble and  the kitchen is silent at last.

                                                       Killing the Dog.

I go out to the garden to regroup. Apply myself to cleaning up the dog turds there. Bad idea.  The boy's words, his tone of voice harrow me, the dog barks on a loop, his large stomach-churning turds refusing to slid smoothly onto to the plastic spade I keep for this purpose. The dog amuses himself habitualy with Demon Dog Barking at any thing that move within a very large radius, despite sanction, so that I suspect  the neighbours have taken to creeping about the back, to avoid the sheer discordance when he is on a roll. His dog turds are as large and labile as his personality.

"Re-homing!" I tell the boss. A large place out the country for him. Somebody (else) would love him*. "But..." the boss struggles here " he is our, he is part tof our.... You cannot...he is FAMILY. You  CANNOT... You didn't mean? "  I tell her that of course I didn't mean.. I resort to muttering that  maybe in my own case someone would take me,  as she turns away in a sorrowful blue study.

In the kitchen where I go to make a cup of hot strong tea I am brought up short at the sight of the boy, all six foot one of him  accordioned in around the dog in a silent embrace.  He strokes his head gently. His eyes are closed. The dog's huge black eyes gleam in the shadows of the early winter evening.

"Yeah, I was not even slightly serious" I tell the boss,  sipping tea, thinking of the awful raw dysfuncionality of teenage boys,  the mysterious, the invisible wires of connection in family. "Re-homing! It's the thin end of the wedge too. After the dog, we all go. Nah"

                                                            Christmas Came

And then it's Christmas again. Officially started at the Boss's christmas concert, where she stands on the podium with the others, singing with her entire being, a young woman now where last year she was a child. I drive through the dark, the road works, icy cloudbursts,  from Dublin,  stressing about not getting there on time, listening to the endless gnawing discussion on the car radio about the Prime Time programme the night before,  the treatment of disabled women by their female carers in Bungalow Three, Arus Attracta, Swinford, Co Mayo.

                                                       Killing the Disabled

The  Childlike People, degraded, kicked, slapped, by the carers, secretly filmed for the programme. The brutal tones of the women linger in the mind, as though it was not only what they said, but how they said it that was the killer, the degradation.  " Hang down your head!  Hang down your head and look at that wall!  At that wall!   Back!  Get back, Get back in that chair"  the carers chorus.  For three hours, five hours, eleven hours get back in that chair.  "Get back in that FUCKING chair And Hang down your Head and Look at that wall. At that wall!". Don't look at ME. Don't.. ever... look at ME.

                                                     The devil spoke the Angels sang.

The faces in the choir are raised to heaven now, singing in transport of ecstasy,  as one. The Devil he spoke in Mayo, over and over and over. The Angels sing in the School, year after year after year. Ding dong merrily a Child is Born Santa Claus is coming in a Winter Wonderland, on the Twelve Days of Christmas Hark the herald.....Oh Rudolph Rudolph in the Bleak Midwinter.

Sunday, 26 October 2014



"Yeah. But ....should YOU not be worried why are you NOT more worried?... it's.... it's...spreading. The World Health People are worried....I mean do you not think that maybe we should like stay home for  a few weeks until it all like blows over?"' The Boy snorts "Oh HELLO! It's not coming HERE! Child!.  we are Very... Low... Risk. Miss  DEMPSEY you know says its just actually body fluids?, its like actually been here before? and so it will actually burn itself out?" "But.... what about all the....all the.. People... more than ever before.... dying. And its getting Out of Africa, it's coming to.... coming to..." "Huh!" the boy dismissive "That's because of their like Poor Health Care. That's different."  She looks at me, appealingly.  "I mean I can't you know stop thinking about it.  Why would it be in The News?,  all the time?  Cause it's NOT going away. That's why.  And, it's actually still..still...coming...and so shouldn't we be even like be taking out temperatures?..or ..or"   "No! Angel No!. Really. We shouldn't"

                                                   Luckily, we have the Irish Health Care System.

I raise my hand against the boy's next pronouncement. Tell the boss firmly that Ebola is never penetrating the obscure fug of the Irish Tribal Carapace,  ask her to think instead  on how scared the People trapped in the midst of the raging epidemic must be, before she indulges in ramping up her own terror gauge, consigning us to quarantines which would have to include the Boy!!  etcetera etcetera. She shifts from harrowed to rueful. You know,  she says the guys in school start coughing and rubbing their foreheads when they see me now, because I asked Ms Dempsey, if we shouldn't be taking like precautions and you know pray for them..."  Hmm.  Lucky Smart Arsed entitled Irish.  With The Health Service Executive between us and all harm..  Really.

                             Not Entirely Getting what she was Doing with the Whiskey Bottle

We go to see  Gone Girl on Saturday.  I want to coast for the evening. I have read the book.  It's one of those books where you find yourself sticking with the second half having being engaged by the first bit.  Despite a constant "oh, come on!!!"internal chorus not quite causing you to fling the book across the room . Anyway its popcorn cinema as I expected it would be. I am bemused on Sunday to read an article criticizing the writer, being disturbed, concerned about its depiction of Bitch Woman, finding anti woman riffs in the antics of the ludicrous heroine.  "You needn't think I 'll be going to that " my husband felt called upon to tell me, as we watched an add for Fifty Shades Of Grey at the start of the movie. I tell him that he needn't t think that I will either. And for good measure, if I want to indulge myself in a read about Sexual Shenanigans from the Dark Id, there are actually some really good books... eschewing the swooning syrup. No, really!!!
                                                   Extremely Ravishing and Pointlessly  Gorgeous.

And all of this, Ebola, Silly Sex, my daughters tormented vision of a stalking,  advancing virus, plays out a against the prettiest most painterly Autumn. The leaves kaleidoscoping  pink to red to orange gold  on the garden tree in front of my living room window, till scattered artfully on the grass by the wind, glistening with raindrops from sporadic showers till taken up again to dance by the sudden,  benignly humming, gales. The shivering red orange fairy trees on the green. Darkly plum leaves layered on strained green and gold in the lane. The berries every shade of dark to blood red in the bush as thought the painter decided I can't decide, oh what the hell, I'll do the spectrum! Old yellow apples, clustered, dying devine overhead.   All gorgeous pointlessness on its way to decay, I tell the Boss, extravagant pleasing color just for the hell of it.  Really.  Lucky... we.

Monday, 29 September 2014

. My Baby Gone (and Left Me). Christina Noble..

                                                      Home Without my Baby
                                                                                                                                                                   "But I'm like, you know,  glad..... I get to come home? ...I didn't have to like stay... too?."  The Boss's remarks come at me from a great distance in this space I find myself,  car wheels slapping on tar macadam, grayish white light  illuminating the road. "Yeah, but, hey, it was nice,  she'll be grand, a  room of her own, the others just down the corridor,  she's you know lucky. " I run out of steam quite.   "I um liked the tall wavy tree at her window.  I was thinking she'll you know see that every time she sits at the desk" the Boss says after a silence. "Yeah.... right..... I was thinking that too"

The Boss and I have deposited the Beautiful One to the student campus for Fresher Week, with her suitcases, bed linen, towels and kitchen things. It is the Friday of a busy buzzing week of accumulating the stuff, sorting her ATM card,  completing her registration, mundane and esoteric things she thinks of that cannot be done without,  a pair of beer glasses with a smirking reindeer on the sides, new pyajmas, a large bottle of iron tonic requiring a last minute dash to the health food shop. I buzz through all the days of the week, planning, anticipating, reminding, till there we were on campus, in the small bare room. Empty. Hers.

I make the bed, have her unpack the suitcases, "then we can take them home you know,  give you space to breath". The boss stands bored and patient to one side. The beautiful one dashes off to obtain a front door key,  taking the large orange tub of kitchen stuff from my hands on her return.  "Hey, It's Ok.  I'll do that. You needn't... I'll do it. Later".   "O...right..."  The fine yellow light of the Indian summer illuminates her casual unpacking, piercing through the open window high up here on the third floor.  I am suddenly and  enormously exhausted.  "Um right, well,  I guess then...Darling girl, I think then we 'd better leave you to it."   Darling, darling girl I think we'd better go..

She clatters down the stairs behind us, takes the cash I fumble blind for, and jittery, distractedly allows herself to be hugged. She feels insubstantial to me,  forcing herself to be still, already tugged at by the room upstairs.  We go home. All week after we are like a cart missing a wheel, a building with a supporting wall removed. It seems like a glimpse of the real framework that contained us all. Requiring  a psychic reframing.  A sort of spiritual poke,  a sniggering chorus "so what did you think keeps you standing, keeps you here,  what all this means, what all this means" Something like that. We are adjusting


The Boss decides during the week that this year she'll be doing Bronze Jazz,  Grade Five on the piano,  a birthday party hosted from the family home,  oh, and a summer Berry Pie on Thursday. Also "like what do you think?" a trip to Africa to help out with relief work in the summer. She's going to galvanize her friends, get the school on board,  "I mean, OMG do you think they would?"  A concerted effort I think to move into the newly  available space left by the beautiful departed. The new projects will require lifts, cash, dollops of maternal attention. Chances are she'll get around to most of it. Her will like a long haul Arctic Truck being mighty and relentless.

The boy announces casually that he's looking at his college options. That would be next year!!! "Could someone maybe win a scholarship, acquire a bursary, " I murmur , thinking of the impossible task it  will be to finance this level of education for one, two, three even,  people in Ireland. Each year the college fee that dares not speak its name, going by the euphemism of the Contribution Charge, increases. Latterly, accommodation costs have soared,  the accommodation on campus being scare and expensive.  A college education seems to require great wealth, or the actual poverty of the unemployed, where at least your children may qualify for a grant from the state.

"I told you I won't be coming up with A1's. I have a life!, I'll get the points I have to. I already said that to you all"  the boy is positively truculent, in the kitchen where he fries trout from the river for himself and his sister. "brain food" he adds.. He takes himself off most days after school in the obliging  Autumn sun to fish with his fishing buddies, and rarely returns without Provision. He pushes up the spectacles newly and reluctantly required on the end of his nose now   Astigmatism recently tested for. "Lasered! I am having that Lasered as soon as I can"  he states grimly, though less stridently since some hopeful girl at school told him it makes him look thoughtful, intelligent. " Does it?" he asks me innocently now. "Yeah," I say looking at his glowing golden skin, his fine arched alien blue eyes, "definitely"

                                                          Christina Noble.

The Boss gets her African Oddessy idea from the movie Noble. Having read a distinctly patronizing review of this in the Irish Times, I want to go see the fine central performances, the beautfuil sets allowed  for by the reviewer. I want to see the movie, mostly because it's true. Christina Noble lived. Lives still and is in all ways remarkable. "Inspiring?" I ask the boss after. "Yeah she says, "but,  like,  Not Enough. I mean how did she manage to get like  all the other orphanages up and running. It took her the whole film to get that first  one going."

 She is thoughtful on the way home. As am I.  All the dreadful things that happened in Ireland to children, lonely bereavement, rape, homelessness. That happened to girls. The magdalen, the savage wasting of being use as a sexual facilty, a brood mare, a commodity, a thing. And yet, from the heroic ashes of all that damage, Christina Noble changes destinies in Vietnam, and children, girls are somehow salvaged, nurtured,  snatched from the fire to shine, to outperform the boys, and even to go one day to college.

My husband tells me kindly that I am sexist, biased, excluding of,  boys. How he longs to edit. cut and paste.  If only I would let him. "Oh let me!"  But.  Yes, I tell him,  guilty, yes I  am, you bet, don't care, get over it,  Only Women, Carry, Women Bear, Only Women, Bleed.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Savage Dream Girls/Aquamarine Silver and Blood

                                           She Only Studied Lightly, Occasionally All Year Long.

 "And so he told me he got you know 490 points!, although I didn't actually ask,! so then he asked me and I told him and he said don't you mean 353!!! and I said no! I mean 535, and he said O....o"  The Beautiful One smirked blandly then. And why would she not? The Leaving Certificate points required for her chosen course;  in the bag, the carefully conveyed impression of doing only occasional actual study, intact!

I think of my stern statements during the year, when she assured me she was chained to the small wooden desk in her bedroom while all her friends like the lilies of the field neither read nor wrote, that this was horseshit ! That  they were at it beavers!. Despite her supercilious stare, I am guessing that was what she wanted me t say. Its a tightrope, parenting, my friends, a high wire act to carry buzzing teenagers to the far shores of self determination. Don't look down.

But then again,  it is she who does the high wire walk. You have no life without the imprimatur, inclusion of your friends. You will have no life without the CAO  College points the ancients yammer on about. . You absolutely know you will be extraordinary in the world when you find your own people, come to you own thing. You mostly shove your jarring sense of incompetence on the back burner, where it bubbles and burbles away, while you absolutely break your back in doing all the stuff  expected by all best you can.
                                                         To Sink.

The soundtrack of your life , the shaky  flaky  judgements of your peers, the constant instructions,, warning,s of your elders. You just can't see the time when you will  function in the world. Every instruction has the sub text  that  you could never do this on your own.  And anyway down here its predictable, warm,  well worn. So  hard to leap. to rip aside the apron strings, to sink or swim.  To sink.
                                            Aquamarine, Silver and Bloody. Dream Girls

And so to the Debutante's  Dance, the  Lovely Girls Parade,, take your pick.   She dances upstairs to her room trailed by the giddy girlfriend, slips into the aquamarine dress, the silver sandals, slathers on a cursory coat of slap,  pins up escaping locks from the up do bought and paid for, and only that paid for,  she won't let any stranger touch her face, and rapidly descends, to  her boyfriend's muttered "Wow" at her careless flighty greeting, he standing in the hall, shoves flowers at myself , "for you."  bemused and dazzled at her casual disposal of the corsage he gave.  She stands still ,barely, for the photographs, but oh she can't recall where she dropped her sweet corsage, and gone lightly climbing into the car, with bleeding heels, a blister burst,  laughing, serene,  unconcerned as I chase the car with lint and plaster.

I close her bedroom  window  in the silent house, pick  up two bottles of vodka mixer, discarded with the "well done!" cards, a hoodie,  her battered trainers on the floor,  breathe in the smell of cigarettes,, perfume, residue of hysteria, expectation.

I ask her how it went next day.  She said it was savage.  Just that.  savage
                                               Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright

In the calm after that storm, I am on the last lap of  Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. (2014).  Serendipity. A slow burner for me. Like burning matter falling melting on your skin to simmer in to the bone. Don't warm to books that are pre labelled  "A Masterpiece!."  But, it burns. I can only read  the  book when I'm feeling robust.  By now I know the story, know the way the stream of imperious consciousness sucks you in until you're just another worm on a hook with the heroine. Yep,  a Masterpiece.
The Beautiful Girl and I take time out of time to go together to the movie Boyhood.  Serendipitous again.  I don't  tell her of the three hours running time. She might not come.  Don't know where the time goes. . So?  I ask her after, cautiously, both of us blinking under the unsettling electric light in the foyer. "Yeah. Loved it. Cool, the actor growing up and going to college, Yeah. The mum, she kinda reminded me, like of you, the way she, you know, she did,  yeah, she really did. Yeah."   O..

Friday, 1 August 2014


                                    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.


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  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,. " .. 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.. 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


                                                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's a gateway." "Huh! you mean  like a gateway drug!?" !"No, no no, 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".


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"  "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.


                                                             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 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.


Friday, 7 March 2014

Bad Catholic. Sugar Baby Love. All them Rotten Apples

On Ash Wedneday the boy advises us all that he no longer considers himself to be a Catholic. "Of course I am not, actually,  one now" he says "and I mean when you consider all those like big cars those you know Bishops have,  never mind  what what's his name the Pope says about poverty, why should I be? So I'm not".  Right.  Ok.  Thats like that then.

When I was  twelve years old I advised my father  that I no longer believed, and Catholicism, Mass going was no longer  for me. Oh how quickly, in his  scorched earth response, he let me know that that was not my decision to make. On Sundays, marched in front of him with the others to Church and priest, I decided, nonetheless.  It took him at least a year to notice my silent refusal to partake of the body of Christ, to line up for the holy communion.. "Every barrel has a rotten apple, contaminating the others" he thundered, scorched some more. I persisted. Rotten,  adamant.

Now, my daughters ask me what I am giving up for Lent. "I mean I'm giving up all chocolates, sweets, fizzy drinks"  the boss says roundly. She has an ulterior motive however, she is intent on living healthily, nurturing a beautiful mind.  "Me too.  And sugar in my tea" the beautiful girl chips in. "It will be great. Though hard.  Very hard" she adds. She also has an ulterior motive, the beautiful frame to maintain.  I ask the boy if he too is practicing umm self denial  this year. "Yep!" he says,  "Of course!" "And eh what might that.... "It's private" he snaps.  Oh.  Right.  My husband and I indulge in vulgar speculation in the privacy of the marital bedroom. "Girls?" he says, " drinkin' and smokin'?,  misogynistic rap? What you think? Or..or... I know, being obdurate!, being loud!, being breathtakingly rude.!...."

In my twelfth year, before I shrugged of all forms of organised religion, I though perhaps I might be marked out for a nun. I practiced prayerfulness, a sort of self flagellating piusness, in a tormented away. The thing about it was you knew that resistance was futile, if you were chosen. In fact it was most likely you wouldn't want to, and your obduracy would be hacked away at by God. I developed a compulsive facial twitch that year. At its end I delivered myself,  took a chance on going to hell in a hand cart, and cast the heavy cloying cloak of holiness as far from me as I could fling. I cast after it the bloody, oppressively melancholy stations of the cross at Easter,  the shuffling herd like observance at Mass.  In spirit then, in body later.

The beautiful girls come downstairs on Wednesday, heavy eyed, pasty faced, glum. "???"  It was the Pancake Tuesday pancakes, the sugar high"  the boss explains. Ah yes, they wanted to make their own this year, asking only for quantities of Sugar! Nutella!  Rasberry Jam! from me. "We will do it" they announced "no need for you to get involved".  And they did. They started with a stack for breakfast, they flipped up another after school, and had a pancake cook out after dinner. By that time they had quite run out of Nutella.  "What on earth's the matter with 'em" I asked my husband, listening to them shrieking in the kitchen, giggling helpless about the kind of stuff they usually will not let me hear. Hmm. "Sugah!" he crooned, " Sugah Baby Love,  Love you baby love,  Sugah High!"

I asked my boy if he had been denied the Nutella, the Sugar,  the Rasberry Jam, where he sat calmly in the kitchen reading his war book, bopping his head to Tupac. "Nah" he said,  "I can handle it better is all. I pace myself. I eat it all the time".  I sometime wish I could bend back time,  introduce my son to his grandfather, be a fly on that wall as they tell each other whats what, what's not, what they will and will not have,  the bottom line, the way it is,  the end of story.

Friday, 28 February 2014

No Booze! No Sex! No Projectile Vomiting At this Party.

Mid Term.                                                                                                                                               At At Mid Term we go to watery mysterious County Cavan, myself having laborously disposed of the teenagers in various cunning ways. The boss gone west, the boy scheduled to spend his days working on the Uncle's farm,  his evenings allocated to friends and relatives. The Beautiful Girl carries on with her adoption by the Beautiful Boyfriend's parents. I am lying on the smooth bed in the deep deep quiet of  a  hotel bedroom  in Sean Quinn's fantastical hotel when the text comes in.  "Your dog found in the local (pub), please come get him".  "Oh" I say from the Zen space I have achieved,  "Oh. The boy must have let him out again, as he left the house for his Aunt's. "No" says my husband "No. The boy is in our  house partying with his disgusting mates, and there is not a thing you can do about it. Nada. Nothing". The boy's phone appears to be dead.

Next Morning
"Yeah, yeah, just got back, got the dog, yeah, from the um pub.How did I know he was there? What difference...I mean he was actually at the front door, when I got back, yeah, yeah,  saw him thought the um window.  How come I?...alright! ok! so I was here last night, had Joe  and Jack over for a few...anyway why should't I be able to...yeah yeah just Joe n Jack, that's all,  no party, no prob"  So I put it  firmly out of mind. Snatch back the greatly anticipated time out.  "After all"  I tell my husband," after all, sufficient onto the day is the evil thereof  etc etc, don't you think darling".  He takes his face out of a largish cocktail, post swim and sauna, under the marbled ceiling of the Quinn Taj Mahal and nods vigorously.

Home again. A slow unveiling.
He begins a delicate sniffing as we walk back into the house, my very own sniffer dog spouse. My stomach tightens at the prospect ahead. My bubble bursts. Yes oh yes, it was a party. The evening is a slow unveiling. Broken sweeping brush in the kitchen, the chopping board smashed, empty vodka bottle on the mantlepiece, cigarette ashes scattered in unlikely places, and strangely, one of the rockers from the rocking chair lying madly in  the front garden. "I uh tidied up like you said" a cowed boy offers, "It was uh the dog who smashed the chopping board". "Right " I say, "right, well I' m off to bed now,  we will discuss this tomorrow".  "And we will " I assure my disgruntled spouse, "when I'm. like,  fresh, and decided on penalties. Now I have seen the fall-out. Tomorrow".

In the morning I escape gladly to work. Penalties are set out for the boy when I return. "Well that's that", I declare heartily,  "he had to do it, so did I, now it's done. Over. So, did my recording of Eastenders take do you think, angel?  Let's just  see". But oh, dear reader,  so not over. "Your new printer?  probably never work again. Probably. I mean I did my best to mop up the beer, but... ." Huh??  "Yes! I have been finding things all day. Disgusting! I mean I think I got em all. And... disgusting!"  I had got into the most recent dark doings on Eastenders when these sepulchural utterances sound from my left side, where my husband was, I thought, quietly reading. .

It was the projectile vomiting he particularly objected to..
I hold Eastenders.  I inspect. There is a slop of beer on the printer lid, which I mop and remove. "Well no harm done, ." I utter brightly, wondering why he, the prophet (of doom) hadn't actually mopped it up. I have regained the thread of sorrow in Eastenders when  "It was the projectile vomiting that I particularly objected to.... look over there on the wall, and also the cigarette burn to your painting"!!!!!!

I hold Eastenders. I call the boy down, hysterically. He assures me earnestly that the brownish marks on the wall are not in face vomit but the Beautiful girls  iron tonic spattered on the wall by Smoke n Sam, who got completely out of hand, weren't actually invited,  "and I just could't stop them if you want to know the truth, and I 'll never ever have people over again after that" he finished in an actually  aggrieved tone. (masterly)

Confession is hard on the nerves.
"Right!" I said "Right!, I want it all. I don't care what it is, I want it all. I will not have this drip feed of horrors, and that includes you to" I tell my husband. Right,  so, anyway,  there was six boys at the party, booze, music, and some mayhem. That was Smoke n Sam. Who were not invited, but came anyway, and fell on things, sneered at the boy's interventions,  that kind of thing. Oh, and also splattered the beautiful one's iron supplement  tonic about in disgust when they discovered it was't actually alcohol."  I shove a cloth into the boy's  hand,  "Wipe! I say.  " Tonic Smonic.  I know projectile vomit when I see it.  Simpleton!"  my husband utters. The boy flings the cloth at his head. "Retard"  my husband hisses.  I dispatch a shaken boy to his room, confession is hard on the nerves after all, ask my husband is HE done, and return to the East End. " Letting him off the hook" comes a mutter, stage left."Off the hook. Of course you don't care either about the girls clothes, the cheap handbag,  the condoms, in that corner over there I found" !!!!!!!!!
 It was Smoke n Sam what done it.
I hold Eastenders. Well,  friends, after some anguished grilling on my part, I establish that the girls clothes consisted of  a cardigan and bag, retrieved by the triumphant husband from the closet where he had flung them. Exhibit A! "Cheap" he sniffed,  "Plastic" holding the bag at arm's length. As to my horrified vision of used condoms scattered about my living room, there were two, still in package, tucked into a wallet. Now in the bin. Don't know if that too was cheap, or plastic. I climb the stairs shakily. The boy is in confab with his sister in his bedroom. "I said all" I cried, "All ". "How am I to find any sane course between you and him down below?. How am I to do right by you all,  with this bowl of maggots to go on, this gradual torturous reveal. I want it all.  Now. Or I'm off. Permanently."   The beautiful  girl glares at the boy, "Tell her!"  " Yeah,  Ok, right, there were like  two girls, from my year.  But they left at twelve.  Collected by their father" he finishes  piously.  "Was there sex!" I roar. "Mum!"  "Listen!" I say," I wasn't there! This is my house. You are my children. I am responsible.  How old were the ..." "No", said the boy hastily, nothing like that.  It was Smoke n Sam who brought the condoms. Nothing to do with the rest of us. I couldn't get them to leave. Told you. That's all"

On the Cruel Hook.
I am in my living room, staring at a blank TV Screen.  My husband is gone to bed. After I told  told him what I thought  of his drip feed, his projectile vomiting, after he told me what he thinks of my childrearing, my blind eye, my letting people off the hook.  "No hook!," I mutter to myself " no one is going on the  hook in this house. " The beautiful glides in the doorway, asks if I'm all right.  "That's it" she says kindly, "I've had it all from him and so have you. Forget about the condoms, someone always brings condoms to a party. Forget about the other stuff. He is sorry about the other stuff.  Really.  Sorry. "Yes, but, darling" I say,"I am responsible for what goes on in this house"  "So what!" she says,"nothing um really bad happened.. He had to do it, throw a party, now it's done, he won't be doing it again.  Did it myself, only  bigger! better!, remember? (no!).  Now,  I'm past that sort of thing. So will he be.  Also no one could like vomit up the wall like that" she grins and leaves me to my brooding.

I think it must surely be possible to hire,  like,  muscle.  A swarthy  Russian say, to house sit when you take a bare few days away.You could set him up with a Six pack of beer, pizza, the names and ages of the teenagers. Leave him at it. Ask no questions.  Pay him a reasonable fee for his trouble.  I revisit my old plan to offer my house to a team of psychiatrists for research purposes, charge them a reasonable fee to keep the place running,  move to Havier, Spain, , where I would live in the heat of the sun, reading , writing, in solitary Zen like balance. Occasionally I would skype.

What does it mean?
The boy slithers in to tell me he has found the broken wooden rocker between his sheets,  in his bed, "What I mean is, is he like trying to tell me something?" I tell him I will ask and get back to him. ( I now understand that, much earlier, when I was happily absent,  the same rocker was flung back and forth between man and boy in a zinging altercation).  I return to my  my reverie.

Once We Were Bastards
In Cavan, we went to see the mass grave of the girls who burned to death in the Cavan convent in the 1940s, locked inside by grim nuns as the flames gained purchase, least the townspeople might see them in their night attire. I am a bit haunted by this story and my husband remembers the grave from his youth, a bare fenced in plot with brief granite headstone. At first he cannot find the grave, and when he does he tells me that it has been made over, a layer of fancy gravel, a marble monument, the girls names listed at the bottom. The nuns have pride of place on this glossy marvel erected by the sisters  to express their sorrow, as it says. "Thats  Ok then" I tell him, "All in the past, all  washed clean in the tears of the  nun. Not. Better to have left the bare granite thing alone, better to have written  "Once we were Bastards" than this revisionist mawkish rubbish. Then maybe they, and the rest of us  who let it happen would all be washed clean it the blood of the lambs babycakes. No?"  He has no answer for me.

Friday, 7 February 2014

No Sick Stuff in this House. No Teenage Kicks No Kinky.

He doesn't actually drink.
"Yeah, yeah , think it was the pizza. Oh yeah  definitely the pizza, last night. Yeah."  The boy is at his blandest to an enquiry about  my early morning encounter with his shoes, planted on the hall mat, encrusted with vomit. I mean it was Saturday, it was early, and I only just registered this in passing on my way to a meeting. I was quite tempted to bat the memory away, turn a blind eye as it were. But I gird  my loins for a blistering interrogation.

Not really.
He persists. Yeah, he met up with his friends last night. Yeah he came back after midnight, and yeah  but ... No!  He doesn't actually drink, hardly ever, not really. Well OK OK he may have had a few drinks, but so what?  Why can't he have a few drinks?.   All his friends have a .... , and am I actually saying he CAN'T have a few drinks? Well I can forget that. And anyway he hardly ever only on a Friday, would never ever have more than a few. Like?  Three say, or four maybe. What do I mean four what?  What do I think he means?.  Cans!, cans!, and no he's not  totally underage. Well, but he doesn't actually buy them in the PUB, and besides he paid for them himself,.didn't he? He has a  Saturday job, doesn't he?  And besides what did I do when I was his age, and also and he has already said, it wasn't  drinking, IT WAS THE PIZZA!

I tell him that's a crock, and  if he does it again there will be most Severe Repercussions, and I'm on his case, and now I'm leaving him to reflect on what I've just said. I exit stage left.

He will sleep on the sofa.
I  almost make it to the deep deep peace of the marital bedroom, when I am nabbed by the beautiful girl who wants to know if her quite as  beautiful boyfriend could't stay at ours next Saturday night, "because you see we're off to a party thing,and oh NO alchohol! what do you mean alcohol?,  over our way, and how is he to get home after, unless of course you might be able to give him a lift?" but anyway not to worry, she often stays at his, and so...."Often stays at his! But.. but surely only once or twice, and only after I had spoken to his mother. Surely?..and and.... Leave him Home?. No I will not Leave him Home, why should I....and also where would she be proposing  he sleeps? Anyway":.

She arches an elegant eyebrow, "Oh sleeps? Why on the sofa naturally,.IF that's what you want. Whatever. Don't know what the problem is. Never a problem at his. And HIS mother is cool. And very strict. As well". Plus she is eighteen years old. Almost. Can do what she likes. So can he. So can he or can't he. Stay?. I tell her I'll get back to her. Later. "On terms.  With consequences" I throw over my shoulder as I dive through my own bedroom door..

 One day baby.
"I'm gonna leave you now, to get your Severe Repercussions in a row and ready to fire" my husband says, who is of the opinion that I'm peeing in the wind, so to speak, ought to give it up, let it go, bow to the inevitable. "But first perhaps, we should have a little rest" he smirks thoughtfully. "Minors," I say "both of 'em, minors. And I intend to pee away,  frustrate, limit, make tricky - tricky all boozing, fornication and other delightful freedoms, until they reach the age of majority. And roll on the age of majority.  And after that they're can clutter up their own heads with their vomity shoes, and sleeping partners, you and me baby will be out to lunch, busy busy doing esoteric things. And also having ACTUAL good long rests.