I'm just in the door in time for the golf. I've been away too long. Longer than I had intended to be. Was it worth it? Can't say it did me any harm. On a battery level.
I don't know what it is about this particular year but, be it a US presidential election or visits to the nursing home, I seem to be tuning out. Seeing little benefits from certain things. Tiring to the point of - nonchalance.
French word I think. General meaning. I really couldn't be giving a certain four letter work made famous by a fictional priest with a liking for alcohol from the Isle of Craggy. Desperate stereotyping - the genius type - but the subject of stereotyping couldn't have been further from my mind as I turned on the computer and prepared for another week writing for myself.
Shortly after a deep sigh something unexpected happened. My finger just kinda stopped short of the 'on' key. Stayed there for a few seconds. Then moved again. Away.
I gathered it up and closed the laptop down, grabbed a bag full of clothes and 37 minutes later I was sitting on a bus heading West. Spontaneity, I think they call it. I left the key of the house with Gustav who I woken from his sleep. He'd just got off the night shift.
'I'll be back in a week,' I said. 'Keep an eye on the place,' handing him the key to the house.
'Hold it a second,' he said, still half asleep. He went back inside, returning with his camera.
'Where it is you go, take picture. I keep it for scrap.' He handed it to me. Cool.
'OK, 'I said and hurried off. The bus to the big smoke needed getting if I was to make Mayo by nightfall. I could do it. It was 8.35. In the morning.
Go on Rory Mac. Whey! 3 shot lead in the final major of the year. Ooh, Tiger there's too. Nice. I'm glad I didn't extend my holidays into another week. There's no place like home on the last day of a golf major - however good it was to touch base with Mattie once again.
I tend to avoid impulsiveness since - well, you know. Never seemed to work out for me. Finding myself half way to Dublin on a whim was a surprise.
'Anyone sitting in there?' an elderly woman asked me, pointing down to the seat beside the window. Was she blind? She didn't look blind. Was quite obvious there was no-one sitting there.
'No,' I said, rising to my feet.
'Oh, you could have just shuffled across,' she said, grazing past me toward the window. Bloody hell. What does she think I am? A poker dealer. A disco dancer.
'You're very kind.' How little people know about others.
'My pleasure,' I said, disguising my voice unknowns to myself. Like I do. Hiding who I was - where I came from - for reasons I don't even know. I sat back down. It's times like this I wished I'd brought a book.
'So where you headed?' she said. Deep sigh. My mistake for sitting so close to the top on a near empty bus.
I looked at her face. Late sixties, I'd say. How could I fib?
'Out West,' I said. 'To see a friend.'
'I've never been,' she said, before telling me her life story. She's been to England once.
'My sister died. Unexpected,' she said. 'I found thousands of pounds hidden everywhere when I was clearing out her flat. Her daughter was delighted. We could have had her brought home if we'd found it sooner,' she said. 'She'd have liked that.' She seemed sad all of a sudden.
'Was too late be then. We'd cremated her. My niece said it was more environmental friendly.' I wasn't sure where to look. At least she had the window. Not that she cared as she went on to tell me how hard it was for adventurous women back in her day. Seems her sister was one of those.
'Shocking to see them still leaving today,' she said, shaking her head. At last. On my level. Something I'd heard about. Emigration. I was just about to go into a rant at the expense of the present administration when the bus stopped suddenly.
'Mrs McGuire,' the bus driver shouted.
'My stop,' she said. For feck sake. I got up again and stepped out into the aisle.
'Enjoy America,' she said walking forward. A little rustically. Age, I suppose.
Woo! Ian Poulter. What you at? Five birdies in a row. Leon would be proud.
Better watch your back, Rory Mac.
I was early for the bus to Castlebar. Three hours early. I parked on a bench and waited. The back of the bus felt like a seat from the heavens when I finally took it. I could have stretched out along them.
Gone to sleep. Would have felt like home. There was no such luck. A few fellows took up their own residence on the back seats. Avoids. Luckily no one decided to use the seat beside me. You know the one? The one you don't pay for but still feel is yours.
Buses. Strange places.
The last time I came this way I found the trip bleak. We weren't long out of the city and I'd drawn the same conclusion again. I decided to do what I do best. Sleep. I dreamt of Granddad Booker making his way up from Mayo all those years ago 'walking barefoot in winter.' Never could tell me how long it took him. I tried to draw Granny out about it. One of her finger wagging 'don't mention that again' times, it was. Man, they fought like tigers. Funny stuff.
A cleaner woke me when we got to Castlebar.
'Last stop,' she said.
'Barefoot,' I said, trying to remember where I was. She looked at me. Tired. Drawn. Beaten.
'Just get off the bus,' she said. I hope I wasn't foaming from the corners of my mouth. I quickly moved on and stepped out on to the street. A Tesco's the only thing I recognized. Phew. Some bells rang six. I'd made it. Before dark. Hours before dark. I'm sure Mum was fibbin' to me when she said I'd never make it in out in the real world.
'Is this Castlebar?' I asked a random passer-by. She kept walking. I put it to one side and built myself up to ask someone else. They look friendly.
'Excuse me, is this Castlebar?' They stopped. They looked like students. I'm not sure what they thought I was.
'Yes,' said the one with the messy hair. 'Where do you think it is?' Aggressive little git.
'Sorry,' I said. 'I fell asleep on the bus and wasn't sure.'
They looked at me - this freak. In off the bus. Clothes in a hold all. Had I even shaved?
'Thanks,' I said after them. The natives were friendlier the last time. If a little more eccentric. I walked on up the street in the opposite direction and popped into a newsagents.
Tiger to -4. Normally starts falling away by this stage since his crimes against matrimony. Not today. Not yet anyway.
'Can I help you?' a girl said from behind the counter. Ah, this is more like it. Smile too.
'Could you point me in the direction of the Pontoon Road?' I said, mirroring a smile back in her direction. Lord, but I must sound like a plank.
'We have little maps of the town,' she said, pointing up to a stand displaying postcards. Enda Kenny's office? No way.
I was sure I'd remember - Castlebar wasn't Dallas. But smiling she stayed until I reached up and took one.
Never broke the smile. I gave her it in change. She didn't seem to mind
as she told me there was an 'alphabet' thing at the back and I'd find
where I was looking for there. I didn't realise I looked so odd - so out of place - that I looked like someone who couldn't find their way around a map. I was a scout once. For two weeks.
Paddy Harrington! -4.
I stepped back out on to the street. It was busy. I continued on up the street and found a quite spot. I sat down on my bag against a wall and folded the map out.
Here we go. Quick turn 90 degrees. Booker luck. Back down where I'd just come from.
A car horn. I looked up. Police. Irish ones.
'Lost?' They had pulled up on to the footpath. I hadn't even noticed. I got to my feet.
'I am, be dad,' I said. 'I'm looking for the Pontoon Road.'
'Hop in,' one of them said. He didn't look old enough to be driving. 'We'll run you over.'
I did as instructed. You don't mess with the law. Unless, you're from Rossport.
'Thanks lads,' I said getting in. 'Very decent of you.'
'New in town?' the passenger Garda said as his mate pulled off down the street.
'I am,' I said. 'Just off the bus.'
'Where you from?'
I told them.
'My aunty lives down there. Una Gangley. Do you know her?
'Can't say I do,' I said.
'What's in the bag?' the driver said.
'Clothes,' I said. 'I'm here for a few days.'
'I didn't ask you how long you'd be here?' said the driver. Pause. The two of them laugh.
'Where will we drop you?
'Little cafe,' I said. 'Tessy's.'
'Mattie's joint,' they said together before laughing again.
'How you know Mattie?' the passenger guy asked. I couldn't go into it. I'd need all night.
'Old friends,' I said.
'Ah, Mattie's alright. Best breakfast in the town.'
The driver guy took a sharp turn right and then another almost immediately. I was glad i was sitting in the middle of the back seat. I'd definitely have been kissing window.
Two minutes later they screeched up outside.
'Mattie's place is down the alley at the back.'
'Thanks lads,' I said, missing the door handle at the first attempt in my hurry.
'We'll be seeing you about,' the driver said with a serious face. He then pretended to smile before they began twittering to themselves again.I shut the door over and they drove off.
Rory's taking Kiawah Island asunder. -10 at the turn. Two ahead of Poulter. Oh, who's that? Justin Rose. -6 for the day.
I kind of knew I'd find Mattie at something. As I walked down the alley, there he was. Mowing the lawn with one of those old mowers. The 1 hp. Keeping busy.
'Do you never stop?' I called out. He was facing my direction. Head bowed. Watching the newly sharpened cutters scalp blades from the grass. He looked up and stopped.
'Well it's about fuckin' time...' he said walking over to me.
'Great to see you,' I said.
'Aye, it is,' he said shaking my hand firmly. He's re-discovered a depth to his accent since he moved back over here. Sounds like Granddad used to - when he'd be telling his stories. His bullshit stories. Great bullshit stories.
Within minutes normal service was resumed. Mattie cooking and serving me. Like the old days. Cabbage, bacon, spuds, onions and carrots all in the one pot. He filled two mugs from it as it fermented. If vegetables ferment - which I doubt they do. As good a soup as I've tasted in a while. Nice and salty. Great for the heart.
I could bore you into a coma with scenes of serenity as Mattie closed the cafe early each day so we could cycle some ruggedness. He damn near killed me on Day 3 - a four hour round trip to the place the road led off to. A little pub on a bend on the road, a lake for as far as the eye could see.
I was a little worried as we set the bikes down up against the side of the pub and went inside. Mattie opted for a cordial when i went for the black stuff. Two to re-hydrate, two for pleasure - and one for the road. We got back by bike light around eleven, taking breaks to grab Gustav his snaps and to water the bog. Not that it needed it.
By the weekend I was talking about going home but Mattie would have none of it.
'What you going back for?' he said. 'Stay another week.' I didn't need convincing. There was something about getting lost on a bike in the middle of no-where which was appealing to me. A different state of recluse. A more natural one.
Bogey-bogey, Ian Poulter. Rory by four. Barring an Adam Scott...
My phone rid itself of some dust when it rang on the Tuesday night of the second week.
'Are you alive?'
Gustav. I'd filled Mattie in on our Gus. I sensed Mattie was glad I had a neighbour. I re-assured Gus I was well and good.
'Maybe you come back this week?'
I didn't know if that was a question or not.
'Maybe,' I said. Jaysus. The freedom.
'Please try,' he said. 'Linda's friend. She come for weekend visiting.'
I knew there and then I wouldn't be going back. I wasn't going through that again.
'I'll see what I can do.' I'd have asked him to feed the goldfish but I don't have any, so I bid him a quick goodbye. Mattie laughed as I told him of that fateful night.
There was days I just sat in his little cafe. Reading a newpaper. They still exist. Just watching the world go by. The two young Guards were in and out. Could be a comedy duo. Sonny could have done something for them. If the law didn't work out. If Sonny was here...
They were drove off their feet. Some lorry with part of an drilling machine had jackknifed in the county. Heading to the coast. To drill. Who'd have thought? Oil - in the West of Ireland. Being given away.
I couldn't resist. I stole away and found an internet cafe to find out what had happened. Shell had tried to sneak it under cover of darkness. Big escort. Media silence. Then the old bog road had her say. I find them hard enough on a bike. I had a snigger to myself as i read how Mother Nature had her say and thought to myself- only in Ireland. But when was planning ever a concern in this country?
Oh shut up. You're on holidays! Or were.
Rory. Can't see him doing anything but winning from here. Six clear. Two-majors at 23.
You can't help but deal with the issues at hand when with close friends for a time. It was no different here. I took what Mattie had to say seriously. Hadn't listened to many this year. Gustav's occasional rabble and that's about it. Mattie was always worth listening too. The coherent Mattie, that is. He's still hanging in there. Fighting like the Irish boxing team at the Olympics. And after spending a little time here, he seems to be winning as well. Funny where he found his place. Back home. Where he probably always belonged.
We said what needed saying and no more. I promised return visits as i packed to leave.
'You're always welcome,' he said. 'I don't forget.' I knew he didn't. He was one of life's good ones. Rare. Occasional. Proper friends.
The two boys in the squad car picked me up earlier today to run me to the bus. They had insisted. I'd got to know them by name. Larry and Larry. The two Larry's. If only Sonny were around. I made one last request.
Within five minutes there I was. Standing in front of Enda Kenny's office. Jaysus, it's small. Bit drab. Depressing color. It seemed fitting. For the times that are in it.
It was Sunday. I decided to take the chance that he wouldn't be in there. That he'd come out and tell the two Larry's that he wanted a word in me ear. Out the back!
I got passenger Larry to take a quick snap of me. Outside the seat of power in the West. For prosperity. I giggled at that thought.
They dropped me to the bus.
'Add us on Facebook,' they said.
'I'll do that,' I said, waving a backward five. Like we were buddies. I know I won't. But, good lads. The pair of them. Doing their job in a jobless country.
I felt a little less stooped as the bus made her way back to Dublin. Raining one minute. Sunny the next. Cars racing along - Galway flags trying to escape from car windows. Heading for Croker. Hundreds of them. Cris-crossing. Too and fro across the island. In no time at all.
I don't think Gus knows I'm back. I'll knock into him tomorrow. With his photos. Can't have him ruining the golf. I'd missed the whole Olympic games. We did good. For a little country with feck all going for her. Our athletes have rarely let us down. This team certainly didn't. In youth I'd have been absorbed in it. Everything. From dusk to dawn.
Things change I suppose. As people get older.They say a change is as good as a rest. For once, I think they're right.
Go on Rory. Roll it in. Nah, I don't believe it. He has. Win by eight. One of the Golden Bears records seems safe as Tiger faded. Just can't see him taking Jack's 18 now.
With no-one really knowing who is claiming who this weather isn't it great to watch someone as young as Rory McIlroy shove criticism back down his critics throats.
USPGA champ. Double major champion. Not bad, wherever you're from.