Monday, May 26, 2014

The Walking Voter

"Will you vote for me?" asks the candidate.

There are more candidates than could be elected in a millennium of polls; but they are all hopeful.
I semi-recognise this candidate, so I ask the name?

Which is a mistake; for I am then showered with many different pieces of colourful paper in many shapes, according to the printer's current megalomania. All extol the merits of the candidate, mostly in bad grammar.

His featured picture was taken a long time before this day, which is why I recognised him. I could recall the person in the picture, not the puffing would-be legislator moving along beside me, at a trot.

"Are you going far: to the shops, maybe," he asks in hope.

He slows when I explain I am out for a quick ten kilometre walk as part of my training for the Dublin City Marathon.

I entered for it back in the short days of late winter and here in the longer days of summer I am desperately trying to increase my speeds per kilometre.

Distance is coming along nicely as my body hardens up.
Problem is: my mind wanders when I am out walking and I find myself slowing up to smell the daisies.

Which is how the candidate reminds me. I am slower than usual today.

I speed up.

We establish that at a particular time in the past our life paths had crossed. Now, here we were again, both of us running for something, together, yet apart.

Though my running is so slow that I am walking, his is for election, and he will soon come to a dreadful halt when not enough voters agree with him that he is the ONE.

I say I will vote for him, of course.

He falls away from me, in relief.
Storytelling here


Buy the book here


Monday, May 19, 2014

A cycling ringmaster at the canine circus

No matter how fast you walk someone else will always catch you and pass you by.

I'm out training for the Dublin City Marathon. I bring the dog for company. The dog is not doing the marathon, she is 12 years old, too young in man years, too old in dog years.

A voice speaks in my ear and is then past me, like a bee on a journey somewhere and sounding a loud buzz to clear the way.

The woman's voice is jolly and encourages me to keep going.

It is a cyclist with a crash helmet on.
The bicycle she rides has a back carrier upon which rests a high vis rain jacket, though the warm sun is shining in the sky.

We are both travelling along the side of a long rectangular green open space.

Each of us is in the company of our respective dogs. Hers is younger than mine.

While I walk along and mind my own business and my dog does the same, this cyclist seems to believe she is a ringmaster in a circus.

She wears earphones and may hear different voices in her head to the rest of us.

She calls out commands and encouragement to her canine friend who by and large completely ignores her in favour of stray sniffing at who-knows-what in the long grass.

It is my habit to include this rectangle in my training walk to fill out a distance. Besides it's nice and soft on the paws of the dog.

My new acquaintance passes me by once more. This time she remains silent. Her dog is not doing what she commands it to do. I believe she is sorry she hailed me.

I quicken my pace as does my dog, unbidden.

We leave this mad circus behind.

Storytelling here

Twitter here

Buy the book here

Monday, May 12, 2014

I'll give you ten bob for it

A man who could not ride a bike at all offered my father ten shillings as a deposit on a bicycle Da had rebuilt from scratch.

This was long before the swaggering cyclists in The Giro d'Italia came flying down the east coast of Ireland and halted in Dublin on the way to Italy.

In high summer, and in his retiring years Da pulled the old bike from underneath a heap of other items that nobody would ever use.

He brought the red framed bike out to the sun and began work.

This was a signal for everyone and anyone passing by to stop and offer advice and opinion, both useful and useless, on the work in progress.

As often as not, stories would be told about great bicycles these people had known in the past; for a bike then was more than a conveyance, it was a part of a person's life, through all weathers and in all social and legal situations, the bike was always there.

That the work progressed very slowly as a result of opinions expressed was of no concern to anyone.

This was detailed work and should not be rushed.

The man from down the road was impressed by the attention the bike was getting and asked if the bike would be for sale?

Invited to state his price, he boldly offered ten bob down and ten bob a week after that.

He neglected to say for how many weeks, for the matter would be ongoing, as far as he was concerned.

"No thanks. Ten bob down and the rest when I catch you with you on the bike, and me running after you,"laughed Da. 

The man was affronted and left.

I dunno whatever happened to that bike.

It may be rolling somewhere still.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ghost train

It is easy when walking along an old railway line in driving rain to imagine you see the lights of an oncoming train.

Except, the last train ran here on the Westport to Achill railway in 1937, so the lights cannot be of a train of this world.

Perhaps it’s a train from the past, still tracing the Atlantic coast, ignoring the walkers and cyclists on the 42km Great Western Greenway, the longest off-road walking and cycling trail in Ireland, they say.

For myself, I have completed a six kilometre section and have turned back to my starting point when the Atlantic Gods send clouds of rain after me to remind me of my human vulnerability.

Where once there were cyclists and a solitary walker; there is only the walker, me, with head down against the saturating sea that is now in the wind.

Primroses lined the path on the way out. Now, green ferns lurk beside the track. They seem to be waiting to grow over the drowned walker.

The line was a single track narrow gauge. The sleepers are gone and the trail is flattened for modern leisure use.

A bike passes by with a small trailer behind it.

Inside is a child in a plastic bubble wondering where it will all end; for if I cannot see in, then the child cannot see out.

Still the grandfather pushing along in the lowest gear thinks this a life-forming experience for his charge.

It is. The kid will henceforth run away when confronted by a bubblegum bubble on wheels.

Then they too are gone.

The approaching lights are cars on an adjacent road, I see now.

Not for the first time do I wish for a ghost to come and rescue me.

I will settle for a ghost train.


Twitter here 

Buy the book here