Thursday, August 30, 2012


Seasons, like people, are subject to that passage of time sometimes referred to as the 'come and go.'
For those that follow the Gaelic Calendar, Summer already ended nearly a month ago. If Met Eireann - Ireland's weather service - is anything to go by, then Summer here in Ireland ends this Friday. Not that all agree with our national forecasters. Just ask the good people of Donegal. 

For most though, myself included, the damn thing didn't even start. A climatic washout. Yet another one. With a change promised over the coming days, I felt it was time to clear the work diary so I can work on that tan I keep promising myself. It won't take much clearing.
   It used to be quite full. Lots of to-do notes and ideas amongst other little things. Not anymore.  Total apathy have left wordless pages. Weeks of them. Months on end. I didn't really notice much until I had to check back on something I had wrote earlier in the year. A phone number. I couldn't find  it - most probably torn from those A4 sheets that contain no dates. A makeshift diary. One for the unemployed.

I wonder how long, rain-filled and soulless grey days affect others whose working life constitutes trying various means of keeping busy while reading the blabber portrayal of a country that hasn't created a sustained job in nearly five years, but yet to be a statistic in that trend gets people targeted as social parasites. Labelled. One and all.
    Like half a million people are all exactly the same. It's little wonder people live on stress. Until they don't
Rubber was how Gustav appeared at my door last Wednesday. Or was it the Wednesday before?
   'I pass. I pass,' he said, holding a piece of paper in his hand. He handed it to me as he stepped forward. I took it. He took two steps back.
   'I can not believe it,' he cried, tears rolling down his face. By this time he was nearly half way back down the path doing the Gustav shuffle. I looked at the piece of paper.
   English. Ordinary Level. D. The results of his exam.
   'That's brilliant,' I weighed in enthusiastically, stepping outside to retrieve the inebriated Gus. Since when did a D lead to this.
   'I happy - like piggy in shite' he said as i pushed him back up the path and ushered him into the house.
   'So what now?' I asked, as he fell on to the couch, his feet still trying to walk.
   'Next year I get C,' he said. 'No stopping now.' I left him there and went to make coffees. I think he needed one. When I returned he was in a coma. I drank them both.
   When I got up next day he was gone. To be expected. It was nearly evening. I saw what looked like a fifty note close to the couch. It wasn't. It was Gus' prize possession - his results.
   Result. So much for achievement.

An evening breakfast of cornflakes peppered with the remains of the milk carton somehow turned into a season-span in the company of Dexter Morgan. That turned into a second season, interrupted rudely by the onslaught of sleep. Fought. Till the bitter end.
   When I woke I continued on my way until I ran out of box-sets. Just in time too. I needed food. And paper. The toilet variety. I had my head set for a long weekend of procrastinating vagrancy. I'd get round to tackling that best seller next week. Planning it anyways. Best laid plans, hey?!
   The DVD shop was closed. A giant black wreath dressing the window of the door. I guess someone died. Odd though. They never turned the lights off at the back of the store. Must have been sudden. I slipped Dexter into the return box under the main window. Season 3, 4 and 5 would just have to wait.

I ran into Linda at the supermarket. My head was returning from being buried in a freezer gathering a pizza from the bottom. Fuck sake, it was only mid-day. Wasn't Gus working last night. Keeping up with the stock.
   'Hello stranger,' she said before I had even returned my head above the sliding panels. How did she know it was me?
   'Hello,' I said, my head grazing the side of the freezer. Gathering wisps of ice. Don't they de-frost these things?
   'Long time no see,' she smiled. Not long enough, I thought. The state of me. I should make more of an effort when I step outdoors. Shave at least. Cut the sides of my hairline. Stop wearing Bermuda shorts whenever the sun even threatened.
   'Been a while alright,' swiping the thawing fluff from my head.
   'You looked like you lost something down there,' she said.
   'Grabbing a pizza,' I said.
   'There's been a run on them this morning,' she said moving me to one side. Without me really noticing. Like a Barber does.
   'Three for a fiver.'  Half of her disappeared into the freezer. I was just averting my eyes when they caught those of some old ladies, throwing me a look in disgust. What the hell? She seemed to run into something that I couldn't see with her trolley. I pictured her flying off through the air, but before I could think of a suitable ending -
   'There you go,' Linda said. She'd skimmed the freezer wall as well.
   'Thanks,' I said. I didn't think it was a good idea to tell her i was just rummaging. Never could take to Pepperoni. Bit too Italian for me.
   'How's Gus?' I asked. She told me of the state he had got himself into the night of his results. I was just about to tell her I knew when off she went again about how distressed he was ever since. Drink can do that you.
   'He lost his result paper,' she sighed. 'I told him they'd give him another one, but he's up in a heap over it. Even took time off.'

   The old lady had made her way down our aisle. I'd seen her encroaching over Linda's shoulder.
   'He doesn't remember a thing,' Linda continued.
   'Where's do ye keep the cabbage, young wan?' the old lady said to Linda, but looking at me. Just like me Granny did once when she caught me with that Swedish book.
   'Come on and I'll show ye,' Linda said, faking a smile. Good thinking. I don't think the old dear could handle directions.
   'I'll see you around,' Linda said, heading off followed by the old lady. Starting another conversation with everyone's favourite subject. The damn weather.
   I wondered if it was just ritualistic subject with us Irish? An abstract way of communicating with everyone around us that we don't necessarily want to communicate with. An ice-breaker. A subtle shaker. Of the human kind. I stood there thinking about it until I became aware of it. Strange places, supermarkets.

I decided that the twist of fate at the DVD shop was a sign from somewhere to hit the writing once again. But words fail me for some reason. I've heard about muses. Not sure if I've ever had one. But if I have, it's deserted me.
   Shadowed attic walls lit by the environmentally friendly dim light from the laptop. Not a scene for pondering over the ins and outs of process. Listening to that most sacred one of all. The breathe. Not exactly doing fight scenes with James Cagney all day before heading to a bar all night, is it?

   I let Gus stew for another few days. Not intentionally mind. I was just waiting for Gus' memory to return. It didn't.
   'What's this?' he said, as I handed him a plastic bag. Green and white stripped one. Recycled wrapping - what can I say? Sealed with tape.
   'Open it,' I said. It took him a few minutes, but that was the intention in the Nietzchean way i had taped it. Vertically angled horizontals, looped over - twice.
   'You wrap well,' he said. He gave up the fight and just ripped it asunder. He took what was inside out.
   'Frame,' he said, looking at it closer. His face lit up.
   'Results,' he said, looking even closer. I filled him in on his visit.
   'I remember nothing,' he admitted. Jagerbombs. What ever they are?
   'You go to lot of trouble,' he said.
   Not really. It doesn't take long to empty a frame of its contents and wrap it up in a plastic bag. OK, I did insert the result paper.
   'Achievement needs to be recognised,' I said. 'You should be proud of yourself.'
   'Me is,' he said. I left before it turned into a thank-you festival. He promised to hang it up. In a prominent place too. I felt like Jackson Pollock.

Soon the leaves will shiver off the trees. Might throw a bit of color around the place. Might make the muse return. It's probably hiding out in a breezy beach side studio somewhere. Helping some hippie out. With the taking of it in. All it throws. Hail, Rain or Sunshine. 

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