The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Saturday, August 12, 2006

stephen's green

lesser spotted yobs
spreadeagle on the lawn
a long tied businessman
whoops into his phone
golden breasted secretaries
cluster round the fountain
preening at their feathers
and cackling with abandon
whilst an elephantine matron
trumpets for her young
and a herd of student sexalopes
gambol in the sun
each creature happy
in its cacaphonic fate
save a lone jungle poet
hunting for a mate

(Dedicated to Doctor Jill "Stop-Calling-Me-Professor" Allaway of Keele University, England.)

Friday, August 11, 2006

appreciating what we've got

The Mammy and Ireland's greatest living poet sitting in the Chat and Chew cafe in Newbridge on a bright Thursday afternoon.
A rich tableau of humanity cacaphones along the street outside.
Teenagers lounging in carefreedom. Building site workers sitting on a wall. Secretaries bustling in fine style from their offices for lunch. Big Hair from the travel agency, queen of them all, swanning by like she's on the Paris catwalk.
Ah life you bauble.
Come to me.
The Mammy is cacaphoning a bit herself. She's complaining in frankest terms about the Dad's latest project at the Chateau de Healy. Her son is not overly enthused by her complaints.
Thankfully the Dad is not present to hear their conversation.
"Do you know what he's done?" quoth the lady known as Lil. "He's commissioned an artist to illustrate that poem he wrote for our golden wedding anniversary. He's going to hang it in the hall. The artist was on the phone this morning. He's looking for €280. Can you believe it?"
I expressed the view mildly enough that the price was not excessive.
"It's crazy," shot back the Mammy.
The mighty Heelers drew a deep breath.
"Look," sez I gently. "The Dad is really keen on this. Don't discourage him. It's going to be something unique. You wouldn't like it if he didn't have any projects and just gave up and turned his head to the wall."
The Mammy didn't bat an eyelid.
"It would be cheaper if he just turned his head to the wall," sez she.
And there our story ends.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

a day in the life

Woke fitfully in the morning. Could hear the Mammy on the phone. Talking to the cops. Some Superintendant keeps ringing the house wanting to chat about the complaint I lodged last month. The Mammy told him I'd ring back later.
Lunchtime trip to Newbridge for beverages at the Whitewater Centre. The posse includes my sister Yogic Marie, my brother Doctor Barn, and a certain venerable parent known as the Lildebeest. (Aka the Mammy.)
We quaff coffees merrily for an hour.
Then I bid them adieu.
I walk in crowded streets savouring the anonymity amid the throng. Suddenly it seems I am seeing a different crowd. This one is parting to let me pass. The faces are turned towards me with recognition. It is a vision of my future fame.
I walk on down Grafton Street smiling to myself like a loon.
And lo!
There is a pulse in the universe.
An impression of femininity, style and angular beauty.
It's her.
Nicola is peering in the window of a bookshop. She hasn't seen me. She looks smart, svelte and sexy in a blue business suit. I like this look. It's a good look for her.
I stand and do not approach. A thought strikes me. It's about 2 o'clock. She'll be heading back to work.
What sort of a man follows a woman around Dublin just to find out where she works?
Here I am folks.
We walk about half a mile.
She is a good way ahead of me. I see her enter a building on Dame Street. After ten minutes she still hasn't emerged.
I walk up to the building. It is dingy enough in the classic Dublin style and appears to house four separate businesses.
Each one has an entrance leading off from the same foyer.
I enter the foyer and examine the names of each business.
A stairwell leads towards a legal firm on the top floor. Another goes to a hairdressing salon. On the ground floor itself, there is a restaurant. And close to the restaurant entrance there is yet another stairwell leading down to the basement where a painted sign proclaims the delights of the Diamond Eyes Lap Dancing Club.
Which of these does she work for?
I am momentously intrigued.
Back to the Starbucks cafe near Trinity College for a rendezvous with a young film producer called Giovanna.
We pass a few hours in sublime discourse.
She gives the nod to putting my opus magnus Vampires Of Dublin into preproduction for a film.
Just for a month to see how far we get.
We shake on the deal.
So now I'm a producer. No. She's the producer. I'm more a sort of mogul. Like Samuel Goldwyn or Paddy Melia. Although clearly I'm not as rich as Mr Goldwyn or as megalomaniacal as Mr Melia.
Me and Giovanna end up back at her apartment where we watch the aliens DVD. (I mean the Dad's footage of the Kilcullen lights, not the well known film Aliens by that other mogul James Cameron.)
Gio Gio's flatmate Mareen is there.
Mareen is all action.
Buxom, German, very pretty, with lustrous dark hair which she chews while sending me challenging stares.
Apparently chewing your hair is considered highly erotic down Germany way.
It sure as hell works for me.
Mareen is also interesting for being the most politically incorrect person I've ever met. She averages one thoroughly inappropriate remark every two minutes. An average which exceeds even my own. But she's thoroughly charming too and I am quite bowled over by her, which amuses Gio Gio no end.
"Be careful," she whispers.
I've no idea what she means.
Late in the evening I head back to Starbucks for a last coffee. I sit at the window rereading my favourite bit of the Vampires of Dublin.
My favourite bit is where the Arnold Schwarzeneggar character bursts in with a machine gun and turns Dracula's beautifully ruined castle into an absolutely ruined ruined castle.
Sitting in Starbucks, watching the lights from the evening traffic rushing by in the dark. A young man with a goatee beard and pale watery eyes at an adjoining table leans over.
"Are you a writer?" sez he.
I tell him I am, and wait for a series of flattering questions about my work.
He produces a sheaf of papers.
"Will you read these and give me an honest opinion?" sez he.
Ah yes bold readers. It was a Kodak moment.
The young writer's name was Dylan Neeson, by the way.
He will go far.
It is night as I return to Kilcullen.
Paddy Pup is waiting at the door of the old Chateau de Healy, barking joyously, tail waving like a banner.
The Dad serves up a chicken dinner which Paddington helps me to demolish.
Time for half an hour watching Seinfeld, but it's an episode where they're making fun of the elderly and I'm not bothered with it.
Paddy Pup brings me for a walk.
Dog and handsome poet head out across the ancient fields.
I'm keeping a weather eye out for any passing UFOs but there's nothing.
Back at the Chateau.
It's well after midnight.
I enter the bathroom. Time for some ablutions. I lock the door. The key breaks in the lock. I call the Dad.
The Dad is watching Fox News. (He never watches Sky because he thinks it's anti Israeli. He calls it Skybollah.) My cries bring him running.
I inform him I'm locked in.
He does some quick thinking.
"I'll have to break the door down," he muses, sounding a tad pleased at the whole situation.
He begins to attack the door. The noise is deafening. He's got an axe and a hammer and God knows what else.
I have a shave at the sink.
The Dad is hammering at the door still.
I have a shower.
There is a tremendous banging at the door.
Cataclysmic banging.
I lean out of the shower.
"Whatever you do don't hurt yourself," I call.
There is a grunt and the apocalyptic banging recommences.
Presently all is silent. I get dressed. The door is still intact. I can hear the Dad on the phone. He is talking to my brother businessman Tom.
Tom arrives in minutes.
"James," he says. "Stand back from the door."
He doesn't have to tell me twice.
I'm already sheltering in the shower. I may be a loon but I'm not stupid.
There is a crash.
The door disintegrates.
Tom is the hard man of the family.
He only had to hit it once. (He probably only had to look at it.)
I am effusive in my gratitude.
"Thanks brother," sez I. "If I still had a humour column I'd put you in as special guest star."
The brother departs.
The Dad heaves a meditative sigh surveying the debris, and goes to make a cup of tea. He is not at all upset. In fact he seems utterly contented with the proceedings.
The Mammy, in keeping with her policy developed during our UFO sightings, has stayed in bed throughout the entire shenanigans.
And now bold travellers of the internet, gentle Genevieve in Tennessee, perceptive Schneewittchen in Canada, insightful Mr Kearins in Minnesota, sweet Chamki in India, poetic Mr Griffin in Cork, invectival Scrapper in Boston, political Richard in South Kildare, now my dear intrepid friends, I too must bid you goodnight.
I'm going to sleep for a week.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

the rubaii'yat of heeler the peeler

One of my Arabs back in Easons bookshop cafe.
She is sitting at an adjoining table on her own, shooting me sidelong glances.
She wears traditional body length dress and shawl. It is a most flirtatious version of the traditional garb though, with bits of lace on the hem, and rich purple material embroidered into the black.
She looks at me as she adjusts the shawl and a lock of dark hair falls onto her forehead.
I favour her with a fond smile.
A great weight passes from my spirit.
At this moment I am profoundly grateful to her.
With the war on terror I could easily have wandered into hatred of nations and peoples.
But when I see her I am conscious only of the majesty of the creator written in his creation.
A doorway for evil into my heart has been closed.
She has closed it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

though dynasties pass

the moon rising over the ancient fields at kilcullen earlier this evening


One dulcet afternoon in the year of grace 1978 my American cousin Pauline told me a Jewish friend of hers liked me.
Rather thrilled at my cousin's friend's good taste, I immediately informed my best pal Sean Baines.
My best friend said: "I hate the Jews."
His father was serving with the UN in Lebanon.
"The Jews nearly killed my father," he said. "I hate them."
He called over another child, a freckled sneak called Trevor Lardner, famous for being the only kid in the school nearly as unpopular as me. Lardner on being informed of the matter under discussion, was not slow to chime in with: "I hate the Jews too."
I was 12 years old.
I began to argue with my best friend about what he had said.
We argued the following day as well.
And the day after.
It went on for weeks.
I remember it as the first argument of my life.
The first one that mattered.
The argument that taught me to argue.
At night I would rack my brains trying to come up with an answer that would force him to admit his statement was wrong.
The weeks ran into months.
Each day I would meet up with Sean and try out a new point, or a new angle, or a new charge.
Each day he answered me, at first confidently and with bravado, but after a while with growing unease and no little rancour.
Our epic debate lasted until the first winds of Autumn were blowing through Kilcullen from the Wicklow mountains.
Early in September as we made our way to school for the resumption of classes, I turned to him and said: "Jesus was a Jew."
The argument ended there.

I have known enough of darkness in my life to recognise well the moments of light.
But here's an odd thing.
Any time I have stepped towards the light, I have been vaguely aware of someone or something trying to stop me.
It's happened a few times.
A temptation.
A distraction.
And once in Rome a fully fledged satanic attack.
(Remind me to tell you about that one sometime.)

Mel Gibson spent most of his life making films that will never help anyone to do anything. After a liftetime producing empty hymnals to machismo, he's finally made a film that may have the capacity to genuinely touch people. It does not seem impossible to me that his current woes are a form of satanic attack intended to derail him from a course in life that was moving towards the light.