Friday, December 18, 2015

Not wanted

Being told to stop speaking halfway through a nuisance call can be a traumatic experience.

A female voice is conducting a survey into my home heating practices and will I speak to her?

A kind stranger asking how you keep your corporeal being warm and functioning is not something an ordinary male would pass up, generally, but I am busy.

I am reading letter from a man I do not know who says I am lucky enough to belong to a huge tribe of people scattered throughout the known world; I am now the sole inheritor of a fortune left swinging when the former owner fell from a tree while demonstrating acrobatics to a new girlfriend. This flying fool had my own surname and I hope his madness is not genetic.

If I will simply supply my bank details, my correspondent will let me in on the deal, tout de suite.

So I pass up the heating woman's suggestion that we get it together on my heating practices. She sounds strangely happy.

Some time later, a male voice telephones to talk heating. I have passed on the swinging deal, for now, and agree to speak.

He starts with the usual questions on which planet I reside on his way to the hard sell at the end, but, when I mention his female colleague and plead for no more calls from them in the future the tone changes.

He says he has enough people in my area, he is full up. He is going to stop asking me questions.

Then he hangs up.

Unlike the man in the tree who should have taken the same course of action.

I wonder what I said to cause such a reaction. Maybe I should have told him I was going to be rich.

Soon.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Exiled leprechaun


The leprechaun has been sent to Austria.

It is my fervent wish that it never return.

I try to appear nonchalant when storytelling. I even answer questions on anything a visitor might ask. It's good fun, and helps me find an audience's level.

But, no matter what stories I present, a hand always rises above the assembled heads.

It's the leprechaun hand.

The question comes in many ways; but it is always the same:

"What's the deal with the leprechauns?"

By which normally sane people mean they would like me to explain to them where the leprechaun stands in the Ireland of today.

There is only one leprechaun story. It tricks itself out in many costumes but it's the same story.

The duty of the leprechaun is to mend the shoes of the sighe, the fairies, for which he is paid a coin. These coins he keeps to himself. If you catch him he is supposed to give it all to you if you can survive three distractions he offers to you. Having bested him he will tell you where the haul is to be found. Then he bests you again and you get nothing.

The problem is that tourist traps sell a little leprechaun doll to passing visitors.

Somehow, one of these dolls came to live with me in my work space.

I hung it from a nail as high up as I could manage.

The other day, in frustration at yet another leprechaun question, I exiled the little green man.

I dropped him into the bag of a man heading for the Alps.

If you are Alpine skiing and see a leprechaun hanging about a tree, avert your eyes for he will follow you home, given half a chance.

And I will not thank you for it.

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Selling books is easy for desperadoes


There is an air of the desperado about an author in the weeks before Christmas.

The slithering writer may be seen painfully pursuing sight of a published work in bookshops so they may place it in a more advantageous position, sales wise, going forward.


That way, someone will surely buy a copy.
One hopes.

And perhaps they will, unless a prowling assistant returns it to alphabetical order in the stacks, whence it came

For myself, I like to make my own display of as many of my eight published books as I can find on the shelves.
Once arranged to my satisfaction, I ostentatiously shoot pictures of the display on my phone camera.
This to impress the passing intelligentsia with how important the work by this author is in the world of letters, and semi colons.

Much of this is smoke and mirrors and nothing at all to do with writing a book.
But a book is not written until it is read.
And that person must be an unrelated buyer.

Else.
It's all for nothing, this typing of words.

The neophyte believes that to write a book is sufficient.
A publisher who has taken the work and made it their own with suitable branding and hoopla will take care of the child book as it would one of its own.

This, the new writer believes with reckless enthusiasm.
Alas, for ambition.

For modern publishers behave as if making a physical book from the mishmash of words and perambulating punctuation is sufficient.
Not for them the tacky selling of this latest addition to their publisher's list.
No.

If a bookseller somehow hears about the title and contacts the publisher they will send a copy to the store for collection by the aspirant reader.

And so, the desperado author is born.
 

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Doing the marathon


Some 14,600 people set off in Dublin City Marathon.
Just 12,267 cross the finish line hours and hours later.

For the first time, I am one of them. I walk though many run.

In the weeks that follow, emails pour in offering me photographs of myself in the race.

No thanks.

Nobody looks good in a marathon, except the elite running at the front as if everyone is chasing them, as they are.

People head off in great spirits.
Some end that way, others contemplate their own mortality on the journey and become introverted.

I pass a Lego man who started out so well. His outfit has become dysfunctional and is upended on a park bench for repair as I pass by.

The roads are strewn with the bodies of runners who listened to their memory rather than their present-day fitness. Voluntary ambulance people rush about to attend to self-administered malfunctions of the corpus.

The route is geared towards runners, I come to realise as I saunter along.
Each time I approach a water station or a local musician hired to create atmosphere they are packing up to go home.

Your time is up, their body language says.
Mine says keep going.

I do.

A solitary woman stands at the most difficult point of the marathon and claps like a crowd of one.
I almost propose to her dear heart in gratitude.

At the finish, I run a little to show I still have it.

A man on a public address shouts at me to stop running for I passed over the finish line a distance behind.

A barrier of women in official clothing place medals on ribbons on our heads like the champions we are.

My time was too slow but I know what to do next year.

Grand.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

What if your head was truly on fire ?

 
Race walking with your head on fire is a strange sensation.

This, even after I walk in bright sunshine through a water shower made possible by a local fire tender.

More than 3,000 people, myself included, pass through this quiet rural road on our way around a ten kilometre course.

Most run, I walk determinedly, as do a few others gathered in competitive cluster as focussed on besting one another as any Olympian contest, though they move slower, with more venom.

Later, I discover some jog on stretches where nobody is watching them.

Turning a quiet corner, I meet a parked fire tender belonging to the local Civil Defence Unit. Water hoses spray hanging moisture into the atmosphere from either side of the road.

They offer a choice: walk dry or take a soaking.

I stop beneath the silver spray and thank the god of walkers for sending these fine angels to us on this day in the 20 degree heat of near noon.

Not a very high temperature, but add body heat from competitive walking and the numbers climb.

Soaked through, I walk on with a new squelch in my step.

I do not take on water at the next water station. I am hydrated enough.

A short while later, in direct sunlight, my head heats up from the inside past ignition point to where I wonder what the protocol might be for a fiery head bearing down on the finish line.

I walk on, determined to finish or fall in the attempt.

My head cools down somewhat as I hit a shady area and I pick up my pace, once more.

I pass the finish line and wonder if steam is coming from my ears from the soaking.

Or if smoke is truly escaping from inside my skull.
 
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