I don't English speak very well.
What...am I talking about?
The Guardian newspaper, that's what. It runs a column, or columns a run, if you prefer, entitled this much I know. The content is the same old same old, a few hundred words by no you've never heard of them either. But the title of the pieces, that annoys me. It's pretentious and portentous and lots of other things ending in ous. But hell, it's in the Guardian. A newspaper I only read to avoid The Irish Times. And hell again, I'll you tell, so know you this much, I that never read.
Myself and herself are currently sleeping on a mattress in a room which once was the living room. We now use another room entirely as a living room, a room in the newer part of the house. But the former living room is in the very old part of the house, as is the bedroom we have migrated from. That's all by the by, just setting the scene.
The mattress lies up against a range of bookshelves which act as a sort of headboard. And it is my habit betimes to reach out a hand blindly and take an arbitrary book down. I do this over my head and cannot see which book it is until it is in my hand. It makes for a surprise. It's a journey and exciting. We have been married a while and one must spice up one's bedtime as best one can.
Thing is, becuse this is the abandoned living room, the books in the shelves are likewise, yesterday's items, abandoned, many forgotten and some by Edna O'Brien. The book that came into my hand on a particular day this week was an Anthology of Dalkey, my home town, a pretty little town on the edge of Dublin. Bono lives there now, I don't.
I flipped through the pages of the anthology, a type of memoir, local history. And there I saw a photograph of a man by the name of Dessie Swords.
Ah hah, I said to myself. I knew that Dessie Swords, when I was a child he was Desmond, the verger of the church. Cassock clad he lit the candles before Mass. And rang the daily angelus that pealed acoss the town, at twelve and at six and my Granny crossing herself and muttering incantations.
I had not seen nor heard of him for fifty years.
Thing is, Desmond was part of my early childhood. And, like my Granny and my childhood, he's long gone. And which stars in the sky are the candles he lights in the darkness...that sort of gone.
I put the book back in the shelf and, as The Guardian might say, I no more thought about it. That very day I had to go to Dublin. For work and a spot of socialising. The work was work and the socialising in the evening was to have a meal with a woman whom I had not met for thirty five years. Living in America now, she was visiting Ireland and had got in touch. So myself and my wife and herself and her husband and my mate Michael-the-Mystic all met up to eat. In Michael's house in Dalkey, my old home town. (He, being a mystic, can afford to live there).
Angela and Daniel were a very nice and interesting couple. Everything went swimmingly. Apart from the salmon which my wife had brought along...that didn't ...the guests were vegetarians.
Angela did not come from natural vegetarian territory. On the contrary, she came from an area of nearby DunLaoghaire where, my father used say, "they eat their young". But then, my father said things like that. Those that read my just published book Fragments from Frescati will understand his reasons. Whatever, Angela .comes from what us southsiders know as The Noggin, which is a large working class area of public housing. As mentioned, I come from Dalkey, which is not. (Bono lives there.) But Angela and I had known each other and had met and mingled back in the old hippie days when class and the like were meaningless.
Anyway, we discussed the writing life and days gone by, and certain people remembered, many best forgotten. Sometime between the vegetarian spaghetti bolognese (don't even ask) and the vegetarian roulade Angela mentioned that as a child she used come right here to Dalkey to visit her Uncle Dessie. In Begnet's Villas.
"Yes, he was the verger in Dalkey Church."
"Dessie Swords? He was your uncle?"
Ah, I thought, remembering that very morning in my idle bed. And my fingers playing the unseen spines of unknown books... like a blind piano player looking for a tune.
And finding it.