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Friday, 1 December 2017

In Amsterdam the Women Wait / Anne Frank

                                         Things to do in Amsterdam... before you die.

We went to Amsterdam at Midterm, the girl and I,  wanting to get away but not too far away,
wanting to loose ourselves among strangers, though not too strange, the Dutch, and (handily) english speaking.

"You know my friends? the girls? ah, they were telling me, like, that I should buy you a sneaky Space Cake? for the, I mean,  craic?"
the dear girl smiles... looks at me quizzically.
"Huh?  Buy me a huh? Oh... right! and catch me on camera, eh?  kinda spaced? Eh? put it up on You Tube, eh?"
She grinned.
"Hmm, well... you can tell your friends, my darling, that if I'm having Space Cakes or weed in any other shape or form I'll get it for myself, in Amsterdam?  No You Tube clips, no sneaky snapchat shots, no dizzy laughs..... except, perhaps, by me...?"
Her beautiful eyebrows lift, disturbing the perfect lines she'd drawn in her bedroom, communing with the mirror at the crack of dawn, her half packed, unzipped suitcase gaping on the floor, her passport 'somewhere'  'probably'  'in the drawer'?
"you wouldn't though...actually...wouldn't...ohmygod... "
"Like maybe. Possibly. Depends. In Amsterdam...."

We did the things you do in Amsterdam.  Oh yeah. We walked the streets, we pilgrim tourists, charmed, by elegant gabled houses, individual, solid, other,
stopped, to eat at vegan, chinese, danish, eateries, better than Dublin, better than home, we swore, sauntered, over arching bridges lost,
and gloriously rudderless over water cleanly flowing in stone canals,
sitting dreamy at last with aching feet by water.

The mild grey weather folding us in. . .happy.

We saw no desperate drinkers there,  no wild eyed down and outs, no huddled shapes under sleeping bags in doorways, thrownaway, homeless, in Amsterdam, not one. The streets were easy, clean and thronged with people going somewhere watered, fed.

                                                   The Men look out, the Women in....

In the Rijksmuseum I let the girl off to find her pictures, see her way.
I found her by the Night Watch, standing with all the dwarfed observers, absorbed.
Drawn in so deep she didn't see me,
caught in Rembrandt's light and dark; locating each man in the frame, she told me after,
the place and shape and face,
of every man who fought to catch her eye.

Afterwards she found the great Dolls house,
stood, head to one side smiling, lost.

I  saw the other pictures too. The women.  Women, waiting, watching, writing letters. Thinking.  A woman warms her hands, absorbed.  She wears Pearl Earrings, solemn.
Women in the windows waiting. In the red light district women wait for johns 
to buy, to stare.

Out on the streets you have another brush with sudden death by bicycle,
adrift on the bicycle lane, unable to distinguish the walking path.
Saved by skill of cyclists,
dazzled by the silver streams of pretty boys with man buns,
glowing girls,
the sturdy middle aged, the children perched up high in baskets,
front loaded.

                                                                 Secret Annexe

Hours fly, days disappear, in Amsterdam.  We go to Anne Frank's house on that last day.
I was there, I, in a snailing line of silent people moving through the dim and empty annexe,  the yellowed light,
staring, at Ann Frank's pictures on the wall of 1940's movie stars, and snapshots of her people as they lived,
wall markings of the growing young who lived there between July 1943 and August 1944, (stretching like angel weed in the darkness)
Ann, Margot, Peter grow taller, nurtured, somehow, anyhow, in the claustrophobic space, waiting for the end of war.

Pictures there of the lived-in annexe rooms before the Nazis came and took the furniture,
the people..... they took Anne Frank, her passionate living voice that called all day long in the secret  rooms,
tossed down the death camp's filthy maw.

Released into the bare and sterile space of the museum, we watched ancient crackling film of  lamb-like humanity, men, women and children wait for the train to Auschwitz and such places,
grainy pictures of clothes collapsed on bones,
poor murdered fragments of the Jewish people.

The scattered pages of a young girl's diary waiting in an empty room,
falling slow from stolen furniture, settling on bare trampled floors.
The legacy of a writer.  Undeniable.  Accounting.
                                                          A  Haunting

Afterwards we talked about the future, the girl and I,
walking through Museum Square, past the pretty houses, over the tidy humming water serene in the canals,
the Christmas lights twinkling in still fading glory of Autumn leaves, already... already...
Drinking coffee, talking, mind tugged, a little absent, a little still in Ann Frank's House.
(You bought the book to read again, last read in adolescence when you were the fiery writing girl)

And now, this eve in Amsterdam, you are all of them,
All. You are Margot, Anne and Peter, Otto, Edith, Hermann, Petri, Albert.
You sit in the house in Prinsengracht, on the Merwedeplein Square and wear the yellow star of David, waiting.
For the war to end and your life, your precious, precious life, to start.

In Amersterdam the women wait, they wait
                                  for johns complaining after on internet rating sites.
                                                            You weren't warm or loving for the money,
                                                                            there were cracks high up there on your ceiling.
                                                                                         (and the act, the sex itself, was only average)

In Amersterdam, they stand,
in windows, rooms,  they warm their hands, they do not speak, they think, they read, they write, they wait.

They wait (for you)

Monday, 30 October 2017

Trolling the Ancestors. Hanging Harvey Weinstein.

                                            How Could this have.... actually.... happened?

Everyone ( a swarm of Facebook and Twitter bees ) is outraged about the Irish Famine just now.
 Oh yes. The Great Famine. One million people starving to death when the potato crop failed?
And the English, the English Government, refusing to give the starving people the food taken from Irish land as a cash crop for english landlords?
The potato crop failed for three years running.
It would have been too costly to keep all those people alive.

Everyone knows this now on account of the TV series 'Victoria', wherein television Victoria, coming to that calamity in time, brings our modern values, our virtue signalling, to bear on the crisis.
A bit of remedial time travelling, as it were.

                                         And what else could they have... Actually... Done?

The killer lines, sounding from the mouth of a stony faced English MP, came in the blunt proposal to let starvation do its job in correcting inconvenient overpopulation. As opposed to wholesale redirection of the fruits of peasant labour, to feed the starving people. A game of cheap labour, profit margins and famine by inaction, was all.  A game of feckless peasants, over-breeding and failing to put a little by for bad years. You could take your pick, your preferred narrative.

                                                 Charismatic ( Unconscious) Bias

Why, I believe that Mr Kevin Myers had a similar argument about the flow of overseas aid to Africa. Moral Hazard for poor people, people breeding fecklessly, living of the milk and honey of overseas aid, fodder for famines when the famines come.
 He showed a similar and energetic delight in blaming the victim on the subject of pay inequality  for women. Let's see how that went. Oh yes.
The women, being less charismatic, less able, than the men, were paid less. The market place decided.  A stranger then to the concept of unconscious bias, our Kevin...
But hey, they didn't have to off him, did they?  He honed my thinking, sharpened my perspective on the subjects of women's rights, multiculturalism, gender bias with his jaudiced, choleric diatribes.

And once he wrote a most beautiful piece, in 2012 I think,  about the glorious Autumn of that year, the collage of red to gold to bronze leaf drift, that year. God in the turning of the seasons.

                              Poor Harvey's (sorry) in a Safe Place ( purging and praying), People.

He, Kevin,  might have been purged, redeemed, brought at the end of the lash to Political Correctness.  Like Harvey Weinstein, who has taken himself off sharpish for therapy (in a safe environment)  (ah bless).  Safe from outraged judgements, the virtuous ire of the righteous, bringing current mindsets to bear on ancient sins.

Our outrage is exhausting, avenging, absolute. Never mind that the casting couch, the sexual preying on the hopeful young was a cliche, a joke, a fact of life for years and years before, even,  the birth of Hollywood,  celluloid, acting. It was the way of the world, the law of the jungle, the natural order of things.

                                                      Worthless Women/On the Couch

It was all that. The conviction that everwoman's shaking humiliation, her humiliated powerlessness as she lay herself down on the casting couch, was valid, real, legitimately felt, is very now. The understanding that it is not a question of being a good sport, being serious about your career, being copped on, being hysterical, is slowly settling still. The truth that we are being preyed on, abused by a man given all the cards, is shining clear at last.

How long has it taken women to catch hold of that truth, to unearth the unconscious bias of men and women. To nail the lie. Centuries, seasons, generations passing, to learn that essential thing.
                                                          Worms, Hooks, and Optics.

Weinstein is a canny man. He know about the optics, how to loop back in time and explain himself. So, like,  that was then and this is now? he offers. I mean, why, wasn't he a victim too!  Of those outdated notions obligating you to molest, to season the young. To message their ignorance, exploit their ambition. But now, ah now, he's (absolutely) having therapy, if we will only let him (slip) off the hook from which he hangs.

He dangles on the hook of time, caught on the turn, misfortunate Harvey. The neural pathways burgeoning in the minds of women, flowered in a narrative, a vision, a refusal, to be treated as meat.

                                             And we're coming for the English, after!

You wonder what the English might be made to do, now they've been shamed on Social Media.  About the Famine that is, and never mind Brexit.  Luckily (for them) all those monstrous ministers from Peel's Tory Government are long dead. They can't be made pay. Or, um, can they? Well, yes in a way. The spectre of Compensation for the Irish People is rising fast, taking shape, I tell you! A grovelling apology may be on the cards here too.
Wait and see!

And poor penitent Weinstien will have to take one for the team of male sexual predators stretching back behind him, dead and gone, beyond the reach of outrage.  Hmm.

                                        "Yet another fine mess ye made, Mary!"

'So, yeah, one million dead... two million emigrated to America?"
The boss looks up from her google search and I loose the thread of 'Victoria' again,  just as she, Victoria,  is proposing to take herself over there to Ireland to find out what in Hell and Damnation was, actually, going on?
"Yeah.  Yeah, we all used to know that. Every Irish school child used to know that?" I offer to her pained, considering face. (she has paused the TV show)
"Sure, the Irish people? they were taller,  and, I mean, free and fluent in the Irish tongue? until the Famine..."

And so they were, we were told. That and a bunch of other stuff about the Easter Rising, 800 years of oppression by English colonisers, and being an island of all Saints and Scholars (no, really)

"Haven't you ever heard of the Wound of the Colonised, darling? The dark dysfunction behind our drinking, our sexual repression, the way we lost the Celtic Tiger?"
"No," she said calmly. "No I haven't. But don't you think it would have changed history, like. I mean if the English hadn't  let the Irish  people starve? And, I mean, all those tall, Irish speakers had lived among us keeping the language going, here and present, and never going to America at all?
Never, I mean, dying in the Coffin Ships, here with us, swelling the numbers, having our backs..."

Never adding Irish to the melting pot, the sky scraping buildings, the American police.

                                                        A Parallel universe, Yeah.

How everything would have been different, had the potato crop not failed, and failed, and failed.

So that now tall ghosts walk among us, nudge, murmur 'as gaelige', detonate little bombs, from time to time, least we forget the nature of human nature, forget who we are and what we are and where we came from.

All that preying on the young and pretty, sucking substance, joy and confidence from their precious core?
That was us,  doing that people, not he or she, or bad people, us. Own it.

At least the young reach beyond us, always. Nothing is ever written in stone.                    

Friday, 15 September 2017

Bullets and Bloodlines and Marrying your Cousin.

                                                  Get back inside your Box there, Lovely Girl.

"I could've, I'd have liked to have, done that! That would have been something really cool...interesting... to do?"
The boss and I watch 'Victoria' on Television, who, newly crowned, is busy signing documents from The Box. We know all about The Box having watched 'The Crown'.  I figure that the Boss would have insisted on reading everything first, on giving the Prime Minister a thorough grilling before she signed any papers, if she had being doing that.
The Boss and Victoria are on the cusp of eighteen years, both on them on the cusp...

I say we watch, but its way more interactive than that. The Boss likes to compare, contrast, relate, run her TV viewing though her various mental apps as she watches. She likes to talk talk talk while she's at it it. It's pretty much Instant Feedback fired out to myself, struggling all the while to keep up with two eighteen year old women. Yeah.

We move on fairly quickly to the fact that it wasn't supposed to be Victoria on the throne at all, at all.  Oh no. The ghost of poor Charlotte shimmers.  Poor Charlotte, dying in childbirth, clearing the way for Victoria. Her shade thickens, darkens, as Victoria is impregnated by pretty boy Albert. (Oh how I miss Lord M). The Boss mulls over how that would, virginal sex, and pregnancy with an even chance of being a mother or dead...

                                                           Bloodlines, Jeans and Refugees.

But first, there was marrying your cousin.
"So okay, they wanted to marry only other Royals, but your euuugh, like, first cousin? Hello?"
"Um. Depends on the cousin, darling?"
"No! It doesn't!"
"Well now, it's all in how you look at it, isn't it? I mean you have to remember the Bloodlines!"
"The Bloodlines?"
"Yeah, the Bloodlines. You want to hear some Irish families talking about that, the bloodlines!"
I mean, like, not just funny anachronistic Royals care about Bloodlines, ye know."
"Yeah, but, it's genetically like, a really bad idea marrying your cousin isn't it!!"
"Yes and no, my darling" I say, warming to my theme.
"In Ireland not so long ago, down on the farm where most of us were, lots and lots of people got  married to their cousins! Well, their second cousins, anyway..."
(I'd say now they'd say sure it never did 'em a bit of harm either.  (Like being whacked at school or forbidden to have, speak or think of sex)
"Also it preserved the Bloodlines, the good old family genes?"
"Jeans? Genes? Why would anyone care about that. Who would care about that?"
"Very many people baby, then and now. Enough to treat women as breeding vessels to control outcomes. Enough to treat the Browning of this end of the world as a tragedy and a very bad thing.
Enough to watch refugees drowning out there in the ocean, or corralled in offshore camps to exist, just about. (Protecting us from the the distressing sight of the drowning children)

                                          Down at the Graveyard / all the Lovely girls.

"Well anyway, back then I would have done something else, avoided baby making.  Like, I mean, Jane Austen?" the boss offers, tired now of the Bloodlines.
She's finished Sense and Sensibility, moving on to Emma. She filters it all through her own female experience, snags on the cognitive dissonance between biology and individual being.
She loves the romance, the will she won't she get the guy. She has been briefed (by mother) about the graveyards back then crammed with first wives, killed by childbirth.  She has been left with no illusions about the liklihood of being married off to a monied old man (on his third wife), on how you might come to the graveyard on your sixteenth child, your body giving way at last.
She knows that no one questioned that.

"I guess poor Tom could've got himself a fresh faced eighteen year old if he's only lived a hundred years ago" she remarks, interested. (Victoria's been forgotten in the conversational back and forth). Quite.  She heard me on the phone on that one. Talking to (poor) Tom, middle aged, alone again and swearing no, nay, never, internet dating (for the middle aged) no never no more...  Yeah.

                                   She definitely would have dodged that Bullet so she would...

She tells me, cheerful now, thats she's off to bed, clutching the book, shrugging off graveyard shades, tragic girl brides, death by childbirth, as she goes. Clearly thinking that that was then and this is now, and anyway she would have been Victoria! or Jane Austen! or somehow anyhow bucked that trend, if she had lived back then. And also that that has nothing to with her as a girl/woman. Not. Anymore.

                                                 Biology being Destiny (not)

But not so fast my pretty.  Is there a world of difference in fact between being a breeding machine bought and sold, and a girl obliged to give two hours and counting every day to making up her face, conceding comfort to tiny dresses, thongs! Girls do that in a a far more driven, focused way now than back then when we were marrying our second cousins. Our girls are subject to Expectations (of acrobatic sexual titillation) from boys weaned off Mummy's breast (finally) via internet pornography.  Biology no longer destiny? Think again sister. The struggle to be a person, individual,  is as bitter as ever it was I say.

I think about that as I listen to the media storm about the HPV vaccine. Ah yes, the HP virus, spread by sexual activity. The vastly increased exposure of girls, young women, to cervical cancer as a result.  We used to be told to have regular smears, and that the early stages of cell mutation was easily treated. You had to take responsibility for that, but it was easily treatable. You had to take personal responsibility if you had sex! Oh.

There are some halfhearted proposals to inoculate the boys now. Ah yes, the boys, who are also at risk of cancer of the penis and other cancers from the same virus, as it turns out. They haven't been in the firing line to date. I guess they're home free if the girls take that bullet. Unless you are gay indeed. I wonder, and hope I'm wrong here, but I do wonder if there would be the same refusal to consider/acknowledge adverse reactions to the vaccine if we inoculated the girls and the boys. Just sayin'. 

                                                  Hysterical women  / Uterine.

Now, and yet again, we have a medical establishment arrogant and adamant that there are no adverse effects from the Gardasil vaccine. Despite the actual experience of girls and parents, the reports and lived experience of women. Nope! They don't accept it, won't believe it.  So, there are maybe 800/900 young women out of 250,000 (or so) reporting adverse effects? Well, you will get that! That's no reason to refuse! Refuseniks! So, the reporting of adverse effects is not monitored, collated? Well, so what! Had anything been wrong we should surely have heard. From rational folk. From doctors and such like. Yeah.

There is clearly a cohert of young women who are vulnerable to adverse effects from this vaccine. If that was even acknowledged by the medical establishment we might see an effort to pin point who might be at risk and and why.  Instead they insist all take a  chance. And rush to shut you down if you don't accept that position.

                                            It's a Cost Benefit Calculation Stoopid!

The good doctor is the one who admits to the limits of medical knowledge. Owns failures and harms occasioned by some medical treatments, initially based on certainties.  There has been many such catastrophic failures. Thalidomide anyone? Narcolepsy following on the Swine flu vaccine (which, is at least is under investigation) The second rate close their minds to argument, opposition. And who is on the receiving end of this blind and lumpen arrogance? Why women, yet again, that's who. Women, who can't be trusted to have a view on this, can't be permitted to criticise, to question the medical sacred cows.  Women, who can be bludgeoned with statistics about cancer deaths. Women, who have been driven like cattle from all the early graves to the hospital wards and over-medicalised childbirth.
                                        The  Medics have your Uterus, Lovely Girl.

It is a hazardous business, being a woman, Always was and always will be. It must be driven by women's voices, women's lived experience. We have to listen to what those girls and their families have to say about the HPV Vaccine. We have to explore all and alternative options to counter the threat of cervical cancer. We have to discuss why the virus is more prevalent now.  Contrary to Minster Harris's toadying suggestion that only doctors, the medical establishment be allowed to speak, we have to open up this debate.

We could push the medics firmly back in their Box, find the best way for women to manage the hazards, traps, enigmas of womb, sexuality, and gender.

a girl is not an (empty) vessel, instrument, fool, only green is all. A girl is green and being... 


Friday, 11 August 2017

Sticks and Stones and Words and Bones.

                                And you can wash your mouth out ( with soap) Babycakes!

Once we were children told;
                                             to pay no mind to unkind words,
                                                                                                 calumny, swearing, curses, lies.
Nor were we to speak any such;
                                                  unkind words, calumny, curses, lies,

It was a Catholic thing, a moral thing, a christian thing, a matter of good rearing thing.

Now, you are likely to be told that,
                                                       anything anyone ever
                                                                                         says to you,
                                                                                                            is actually,
                                                                                                                             about the speaker.

Not personal. Not to be taken on board. It's only... words.
Exposing the speaker....using his words.  Only.  Words.

                                        you are dead to me, dead to me, dead to me Delia.

Yeah. My children have all used their words from time to time to tell me how very badly they hated, you, and why it was they didn't love (you),  and how they just wanted to get away (from you)...
and, like, so maybe they were adopted?
In the hothouse madness of teen-age.
"And so, like, do you hate being a Mammy, Mammy,  or what?" Beauty once asked me passionately.
"Hate you, hate you, hate you, hate...." the Boss spat from the top of stairs, choking on the last I hate.
"Irrational! Mad you are mad do you know you don't even know that you don't actually... get it... "
 the Boy, sixteen, managed through gritted teeth as I confiscated his Xbox, beer stash, cigarettes, in one fell swoop. One long and shouty afternoon.

                                           hold me close don't let me scream

Did it hurt, did it hell. It, basically, hurt like hell. But, hell, you take it on the chin.
Your children are in a kind of make or break process in teen-age. They have to cast you off, to seek, to find, locate, themselves. And you, my friend, must suck it up, must stand your ground, contain it. Wait. You have to sit it out. You wouldn't call that domestic abuse now, would you? It's about Context?

All that door slamming? distempered screaming, door slamming, knives quivering in the breadboard, (no really!) door slamming, howling contempt, door slamming, passionate blaming, door slamming... the soundtrack to the rite of passage. When you were teenaged.

Short of actual physical violence, you wouldn't say any of that's  a 'domestic'.
You wait for the quivering shivering teen to crawl out of the bedroom afterwards. Bereft, confused. Sorry even. You just... wait. All Context. Yeah.

                                          Coercive Control to be Out-Lawed.

I think about that as I listen to a Radio discussion, on Pat Kenny I think. He's being told that we, the Irish, lack an actual law? against Cohersive Control as an aspect of Domestic Abuse? They have it in the UK,  they have it in America, other places, but we do not. We have something in all.
Our Judges do not understand, are unable to grasp the dynamic binding victim to perpetrater.  Judges don't have any range past actual violence.
But what are we talking about here?
Words, verbals, that's what. Words as your weapon of choice.

A (mostly but not always) man gets into a (mostly but not always) woman's head with his loaded, knowing, manipulative, words. His wordfeed garnered from intimate knowledge. Oh, he may break her down with the shadow of the threat of violence, but soon, in time, he only needs to use his words to make her dance to his tune.

                                                     .....if only

The Judge just can't see it. It's not an actual crime. So right, we make it a crime.  We teach the Judge, we criminalise the behaviour, no?  Coercive Control.  I can't see it.
A dodgy definition, running like sand though your fingers, impossible to prove. It will catch a handful of extreme cases maybe,  extreme behaviours.  Requiring Guards to observe and gather incidents for proof, without, dispensing with the need for, the victim's complaint? That's a profound intrusion on personal autonomy, calling for big brother type judgements from Guards! (gawdhelpus)

So, right, we instruct the Judge, the Guards, the People... and afterwards no one is ever allowed to say 'well hey, she went back to him, didn't she? Didn't she?'
That'll work!
Can't see it.

I think we already know what happens here. You can't, we can't, protect a (mostly) woman from this kind of possession. Can't interfere with and regulate personal interactions in this way. It's slippery treacherous territory.  Its behaviours easily concealed by any abusive Partner on top of (usually) his game. It's words. It's control, Pavlov's dog style, behind closed doors,

And there's this. No woman is here unless she has chosen to be, in the beginning. And you may advise, prescribe, support until the seas run dry, until the coral reef is finished, but she and he will take up again the fatal dance as soon as she walks through her own front door. Like vampires, she's let him in, and now she's his.

                                                ......and so, back to the drawing board.

You can't legislate for all the twisted, complex human behaviours. You can't stop words arrowing home to detonate with infinite effect in the mind. Blows are easy, words are incalculable, infinite in effect. Think of the internet. Tweets, posts, snapchats, Soundbites... words. Unstoppable.

The only salvation, the only way out for anyone here is on their own steam. The only way to help is  in consciousness raising.  Expanding the minds of Everywoman; about what happens, how it can happen, how it can enslave.  The only way to facilitate a release from this particular version of hell is in giving support. Providing practical support, money, Women's shelters. The only way to intervene is to ostracise the abuser, recognise it when you see it, hear it. Call them on it. On the killing words. Remember context? Context is all.

                                          One day (your reward will be in heaven, darling)

And as for you, one awesome day your tortured shambling teen will walk back through your own front door, down the stairs from the bedroom, disentangle from her twisted sheets a smiling rueful adult. The little man, the tiny girl who loved you lurking in the deeps of a becalmed and balanced gaze.  Never to utter the killing words no more, whats more.  Mostly never.  Hopefully never.  Nevermore. And in the words of the inimitable Bell XI

                              "All my distant sons and daughters/
                                I hope you can forgive yourselves/
                                and I hope you can forgive me/
(Sons & Daughters. ARMS. 2016)

Or this little verse I stumbled on;

                                                             Hurt you

                                          Sticks and stones may break your bones/
                                           words will never words will never/
                                          Sparked your heart down through my own/
                                            words could never words could never/
                                          Caged you in your brace of bones/
                                            words did never words did never /
                                          Left you barely beating strong/
                                           left you left you left you/
                                          Bring it on, your sticks and stones/
                                            Words boomerang words ( echo)

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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