Sunday, 29 January 2012

and another week

Stroll out.  Mayo mist. Buy Sunday Indo and bar of chocolate. Eat one, read the other. And there I am. Nice photo. Well, nice hat. And nice architecture in background. The rest all a matter of opinion. And according to the journalist's opinion (hi Ciara !) I am argumentative, controlling, evasive and somewhat sinister.
Of course I am, woman. I'm a writer. That's why you were interviewing me !
Rest of paper fairly depressing.
Is there no end to the slow death of the Euro?
Cant it just be taken (I muse) to that place in Switzerland where people with terrible terminal conditions go to die?
What's the name of that place (I wonder) but the name escapes me.
And instead the word Davos comes into my mind.
That'll do I reckon.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

That week?

Hey it must be great to be a professional writer, writing books...and stuff....
Oh yeah?
Read on.
Mini-diary coming up.
Sunday.
Drive to Dublin with a wife from home in west of Ireland. That’s 160 miles. Stop at newish Applegreen service station on the N4. Very nice too. Particularly to someone who remembers that the stop along here was once Mother Hubbard’s...and not the roadhouse of that name, no way... Mother Hubbard’s was a caravan with a hatch and a canopy to keep the rain off your bacon sandwich.
Drive on, diary on. Call on Number One Daughter in her flat in Fairview. Lift up her baby. Baby howls. Put down her baby. Drive daughter to Ikea to buy mattress. Hell on God’s earth.
“What size bed do you have?” I ask, not being the sort of Irish writer who knows the finer details of his daughter’s bed.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean is it double or queen size or king sized or what?”
“Maybe that size there”, she says, vaguely.
I look at her, but my furrowed brow is water off a duck’s back (??) and she just bounces around, testing beds. I test them too, and notice that we never once test the same bed at the same time. As mentioned, I write for a living. But anyway this is a fast moving situation and we lose interest in mattresses and wander off. And a lifetime later we leave Ikea with a shower curtain, some picture frames and a bunch of silk flowers. Plus two jars of lingonberries. One for daughter and one for me, nostalgia reasons. One for daughter because she has been working as an entertainer on a cruise liner in Swedish waters. The other for me because I slept with a Swedish girl once. Well, not once. Lots of times. A Swedish girlfriend is the more correct phrase. She was very sweet, if gloomy.
We discuss the lingonberries but not the girl.
Daughters don’t want to hear that stuff.
We leave.
Back in her flat I lift up her baby. Baby howls. I put down her baby. I arrange the silk flowers. There’s nothing to stick them in. Except a wine bottle, half full of wine. Daughter pours wine down sink. She’ll never be her mother’s daughter I reflect. Then I (tastefully) arrange the silk flowers in the bottle. Thinking of Ikea, and All those vases there. But I’m not going back.
           
Monday.
6AM. Work. Til 9AM.
Make breakfast for wife in Sutton apartment.. Bring it to her in bed. That woman fell on feet. Go out to Centra. Buy paper. Daily Telegraph. (Myself and the Irish newspaper industry are at a standoff.) Read Daily Telegraph. None the wiser. Bring it to wife in bed. That woman fell on her feet. Back to laptop and go through earlier morning’s words. Oh God.  I should have taken my father’s advice and got a job in Guinness. Pensonable.Too late now.
Noon.
Drive to Dublin Airport to collect Number Two Son. With wife and Number Two Daughter. Number One works in Abu Dhabi, Number Two in Toronto. This is his Christmas visit. In mid January. Work commitments prevented earlier. Being a waiter in a Tex Mex restaurant he has responsibilities. Plane to arrive in the new Terminal Two. This is very exciting because I’ve never been in Terminal Two. It’s very big. Son emerges. Great excited hug for his mother. 18 months since last seen. Great excited hug for his sister. 18 months since last seen. Punch in shoulder and word ‘hey’ for myself.
Drive to Fairview again to flat of Number One Daughter for ceremonial meal. Pick up baby. Baby howls. Put down baby. Wife and I cook ceremonial meal. After ceremonial meal drive son into city to meet mates. His, not mine, I don’t do mates. He hops out of car and vanishes into Messrs Maguires at O’Connell Bridge.
“Ah it’s great to be young” says wife. Fondly.
“Twenty two? Twenty two’s not young. When you were that age you were wife and mother”.
“Those were different times.”
            Drive back to apartment in Sutton, reflecting. Yes, those were different times.

Tuesday. 6AM. Work. Til 9AM.
Make breakfast for wife. Bring it to her in bed. That woman fell on feet. Walk to Bayside Dart from apartment. Miss train. Wait. Walk up and down platform. Train comes. Go to DunLaoghaire to meet journalist who’s writing about me in Sunday Indo. We’ve never met, but she’s emailed to say I can recognise her because she’s got curly brown hair and earrings. There is no-one of that description in Royal Marine Hotel but I’m approached by a man. He has a grey beard and no earrings but is festooned with cameras.
“I’m the photographer” he says.
“Never”, I think, but do not say. Not wise to alienate photographers.
“Where’s Ciara?” I ask, referring to the journalist with curly brown hair and earrings.
“She’ll be along, we’ll do the photo first”.
“I’d like it at the statue of Christ the King” I tell him.
“No we’ll do it at the Town Hall”, he says, “trust me, I’m very good.”
We walk to the Town Hall. He takes the photo. We walk back. And gets in his car and drives away. I go back into hotel. A woman with curly brown hair approaches me. I see no earrings. But we do the interview anyway. Great, I think as we part, that’s a quarter million Indo readers think I’m a prat...though on bright side eight of them will buy one of my books.

Wednesday. 6AM. Work. Til 8.30AM.
Make breakfast for wife. Bring it to her in bed. That woman fell on feet. Email journalist Ciara to tell her on second thoughts don’t mention all that stuff I told her in the interview. Go to busstop for number 32 bus. Miss number 32 bus. Look at seabirds on mud over wall for ten minutes. Another bus comes. Get off bus at Fairview to get different bus. Because this number 15 crosses the river. And I propose to cross the river and am too tired to walk.  15 comes. Get off at Nassau Street and walk up to National Library. Work there until afternoon. Get bus back to Sutton. Collect wife and car and go to Tesco in Clare Hall to buy new TV for apartment.
€300...32 inch HD etc. Not exactly sure what HD is but it sounds good. Can’t say fairer than that. But just in case...drive to Power City to check out the opposition. Similar television is €320. Tell salesman he has a problem here. He reduces price to match Tesco’s. That’s good retail. Buy television. Bring television back to apartment. Excitement. Set it up. 18 channels on the pipe. Great. Flick from one to other. Nothing much to watch. Go to bed early.

Thursday. 6AM. Work. Til 9AM.
Make breakfast for wife. Bring it to her in bed. That woman fell on feet.
Get into car and head for traffic jam. Traffic jam on Clontarf Road always starts at that chiropractor’s with the yellow signboard. There’s a pattern there. Cross city eventually...price of crossing bridge has gone up since last visit...only realise that when barrier doesn’t open...and people stuck in cars behind are looking at my country numberplate thinking I’m a prat. Wait til they read the Sunday Indo, I think. That’ll convince them.
I go to Blackrock...call into Dubray Books. Mention to a woman womaning the desk that Indo are doing a feature on my good self, and wouldnt it be appropriate to stock up on a few of my books...she says she’ll order them when anyone asks. I say but that’ll be too late. This is a fast moving situation. They’ll buy another book instead. She says she’ll get a few from other Dubray branches. I say but you won’t have them here in time for when the queue forms. She stands implacable.
The meeting ends badly.
Stroll across to Superquinn. Buy two Danish and two cherry buns. Notice huge queues at the few open checkouts. But there is one that has checkout person stareing into space, untroubled by customers. Go to that one. No, she can’t take me, she says. And she’s probably right there but she refuses to serve me. She only does scanners. Or something. Go to Customer Service Desk. Large lady of a certain age. This is ridiculous, I tell her, pointing, your one sitting there staring into space, no-one with scanners for a mile in any direction.
“She’s doing as she’s told”, says large lady of a certain age.
            The meeting ends badly.
Drive to DunLaoghaire and Easons and carry out same book puffing exercise as done in Blackrock. Goes better. Woman says yes sure get them sent in. On a roll now... go to Dubray books in the shopping centre. Woman says yes sure get them sent in. Drive to Dalkey. Make presence known in Exchange Bookshop. Yes sure send some more in.
So that makes three out of four local bookshops for my local book.
Next call. Make some instant photographs in the Dalkey Fuji shop.. The girl asks me for my phone number. Not for social purposes, but to enter in instant photo machine. For record purposes. I tell her I don’t want to give her my phone number. That’s a Japanese machine there. Japanese people are weird. Have you never seen tentacle anime? I don’t want dealings with those people. Put my number in there and people in Tokyo will be contacting me. I don’t need that. She looks at me as if I’m mad. But she’s young and will learn about life. Pretty too. Could smile more.
Next call. Editorial advisor lives in Dalkey, so drop by his house to give him a manuscript to excoriate. He needs that, excoriating opportunities. His gorgeous twenties something daughter kisses me on the cheek. Which is nice. He doesn’t, which is nicer. I tell him I’ve done an interview with the Sunday Indo. “Have you no pride?” he asks.
Can’t understand why he’d ask such a question, he already knows I’m a writer.
Drive back towards the city. And in Monkstown nearly run over a familiar small man. Who’s that familiar small man, I ask myself, that familiar small man crossing the road foolishly outside Goggins with a woman? It’s Willie O’Dea the Limerick politician.. Wearing one of those compulsory long dark tailored overcoats favoured by politicians and people who go to Doheny and Nesbitts after work.
And who is that woman? None of my damn business.
Drive on. Visit a gentleman friend in Monkstown Valley. This was meant to be a breakfast meeting. Running late, late lunchtime now, but the pair of Superquinn danish and pair of Superquinn cherry buns are still just about fresh. Just about. Short shelf life, those items. It’s all in the baking. We eat them and discuss philosophical matters of import to major intellectuals such as ourselves. We also discuss Bewleys in Grafton Street and the cherry buns they sold when the world was young.
There was no comparison.
Leave Monkstown Valley.
Drive on to collect daughter in city centre. Daughter phones to say she’s not ready to be collected in the city centre. So don’t. Drive to apartment on north side. It is late afternoon now. The wife is cooking and dying of a cold. She is wearing new clothes. From TKMax she says. And does a twirl. The only worthwhile women’s clothes are those that inspire a man to take them off. I’m inspired. Reasonably, nothing I can’t handle...we’ve been married a long time. But both daughters and number two son are coming to eat. And none of them think their mother has ever been naked. They’re a conservative generation.
I take over the cooking.
Wife drinks large vodka.
Meal goes down well.
Number One Daughter tells us anecdotes about herself being brought up in gritty back streets of Dalkey. Wife and I look at each other. We were there too...but our memories seem vaguely different. Generation gap? No matter, the evening passes.  Daughter phones for cab. And goes out into the darkness, beautiful.
Younger daughter and son will stay night.
Shortage of beds. Daughter and wife will sleep in one room, son and self in the other. There’s nothing on the new (€ 300) television so I go to bed. Lie there and consider the inconvenience of the sleeping arrangements.. Particularly with wife so attractive in the new clothes and potentially even better out of them. Sleep restlessly.
Friday. 6AM. Work. til 9AM.
Bring coffee to wife in bed. That woman fell on feet. Pack car. Mostly with stuff left over from Christmas. This includes a living growing christmas tree which normally lives in a large pot in our west of Ireland garden. Wrestle that into car behind driver’s seat.
Say goodbye to number two daughter and number two son.
Drive to number one daughter’s flat in Fairview. She’s gone to work and her flat is empty. But it whispers to me stories of her life, her joys and enthusiasms and sorrows. You can only hear that whispering in the silence of someone not at home. We collect her christmas tree to bring to west of Ireland for storage. This one is from Her M&S, artificial in a box. It’s a generation thing. The living tree and the artificial tree together there in the back seats, strangely symbolic of something that escapes me at this time of morning. Drive to DunLaoghaire to deliver books to three out of the four local bookshops, the ones with flair and vision and imagination. Have breakfast in Graham O’Sullivans. €5.50 for three items including tea or coffee and toast. Extra items €1.20. Smiles from staff are not listed on menu. Wife buys 15 spiced chicken wings from Doyles the butchers. Bargain bag, where would you get it?
Drive to west of Ireland. 160 miles.
Put Christmas tree back in garden.
Wife’s cold worse, put her to bed.
(That woman fell on feet.)
Cook eight of the spiced chicken wings.
Put remaining seven in freezer.
There will be another day.