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, April 21, 2007

went the day well

"The name of the Managing Director is Monty Bates."
That was all the email said.
I found it on my computer in the morning.
Sneeran had sent it although it wasn't signed.
I looked at it.
The hoop was being held high.
This email meant as the others meant: "Go on James. Lodge a complaint. Go on. Give it your best shot. Let's see what you can do."
I reached for the phone and dialled the Leinster Lootheramawn.
Sneeran refused to take my call.
I asked the girl on the switch to pass him a message.
"Tell him James Healy wants to know what he meant by the email he sent me this morning."
This sort of message coming from a girl on the switch would be hard for Sneeran to ignore.
At 4.30 in the afternoon he rang back.
I knew who it was before I answered.
I held the receiver for a moment. He'd waited hours. It was obvious he would be recording this call. It was obvious I'd be on speaker phone. It was obvious the Managing Director would be present.
Theoretically it might be cleverer for me to play it cool.
"Yes," I said grimly.
"James," said Sneeran in a voice that essayed joviality.
I cut in.
"What did you mean by the email you sent this morning?"
"Well I..."
"What did you mean by: The Managing Director's name is Monty Bates?"
"I just thought..."
"Mr Sneeran are you trying to provoke me?"
He tried to raise some high dudgeon of his own. I didn't let him.
He nearly managed to say something beginning with "how dare" but it was beyond him in the present circumstances.
Sneeran was dealing with something he hadn't faced before. A first strike. No prisoners. A global thermonuclear James.
After a few minutes I could tell he wasn't enjoying himself. Why? Why, if he had it all planned, why if the Managing Director was listening, why if the call was being recorded, why wouldn't he be happy that I'd fallen, walked, leaped into his trap.
And from somewhere far away, watching myself, I realised... What I was saying was striking home. It was no fun for him hearing the truth about himself proclaimed with vehement justice in front of supposedly secret witnesses for whom his own fervourless lack of honour was now clearly writ large. No fun even if they were his own witnesses.
My closing line was meaningful.
I called him a clown and hung up while he was still endeavouring to get out his first sentence.
The door of my room opened.
Apparently I'd raised my voice.
The Dad stuck in his head.
"Are YOU okay?"
"I am okay Dad."
He withdrew shutting the door gently behind him.
I sat in the stillness.
I've never believed that the teaching of the Lord about turning the other cheek is intended as a justification for tyrants or for clowns.
I looked into my heart.
It didn't feel as if I had offended God.
On my computer screen lay the pristine letter of complaint Sneeran was daring me to send.
I paused for a moment.
If you had seen me bold readers you might have thought I was scenting the very air.
Then I printed out the letter.
Within twenty minutes it was in the post and on its way.

Friday, April 20, 2007

the odd angry shot

For a few weeks the emails had been trickling in.
Juvenile certainly. Not much of a threat.
Little things.
Mild irritations.
But I don't welcome any email from this source.
It was as though Sneeran was getting his confidence back.
He'd been quiet for about a year.
Now I knew he was holding up a hoop.
Clearly he wanted me to jump through.
The subtext was: "Come on James, lodge a complaint, come on, cite the case, do it."
What was going on?
He must have thought he was ready.
So I held my fire.
And kept my powder dry.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


When Hannibal invaded Italy a couple of millennia ago, the Romans were anxious to get an army into the field to take him on as soon as possible.
One of their leaders a certain Fabius Maximus counselled against the policy.
The people ignored him.
A legion was dispatched to Lake Trasimene.
Hannibal wiped the floor with them.
The Romans now called on Fabius to be their leader.
He instituted a policy of constant harrassment of the enemy's supply lines but no direct confrontation.
After a year of this the Romans got impatient again.
They dispatched another legion to the plains of Cannae.
Hannibal erased it from the surface of the earth.
Once more Fabius was called upon.
And now his policy of delay, delay, delay, became the order of the day.
Hannibal's armies grew weak with hunger, then sickened where they lay.
Their legend withered and died with them.
Fabius died heaped with honours by the city he had saved. He is known to history as the Cunctator, the Latin word meaning delayer.

For seven years I have postponed any direct confrontation with the editor of the Lootheramawn Cecil Sneeran or his acolyte Morticia Plath.
I am the Cunctator.
They are the Cuncts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

bliss was it

The avenue dappled with sunlight as we drove towards the old chateau on a day rich with the promise of Summer .
"I'm going to put that nudy picture by Mariana Gabor in the hall," sez I.
"You are not," sez the Mammy.
"Why not?"
"Because it's horrible."
"Think about it mother. It'll completely revitalise the other pictures. I mean you'll really appreciate the old landscapes you have hanging there. They'll take on a new freshness if old Breastor is hanging among them."
The Mammy snorted.
It was not a snort of approval.
A little ahead of us Aunty Mary's hens had sauntered out of a hedge like a group of troublesome teens in search of mischief. They strolled along the avenue in front of us as we drove.
Verily folks, these are small town hens with a big city attitude.
As we pulled up to the chateau mother and son espied the sister known as Petal sitting on the doorstep.
She was wearing something funny on her head.
"What do you think of my new cloche hat?" she called.
I favoured her with a speculative look.
"It makes you look like a bell," I told her. "You cloche eared bint."
The sisters peroration of reply rhymed freely with the sounds Aunty Mary's hens make.
A prophet is never welcome at his own chateau.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

a wry reminiscence

Picture it.
A younger looking version of Doctor Barn is chatting to the Dad.
They are at the wedding of my cousin Frances to her paramour Philip.
The Dad produces some of the wedding literature and directs Doctor B's attention to the back page.
And lo.
There in plain view is a poem entitled Eve Of The War.
The poem, a cheerful little ditty, features a special guest appearance from Franny and Pip, and so they have decided to print it on their stationery.
"Who the hell wrote that thing?" mutters the Dad with diplomatic asperity.
"Your son James," shoots back Doctor Barn.
And there our story ends.

Monday, April 16, 2007

near dark

Sunday, April 15, 2007

eve of the war

franny and pip sitting in a tree
kay eye ess ess eye en jee

the children are mocking two who toy with mystery
in shadow and in light
the day saphrons into darkness
the darkness into night
and the night prophecies
a thousand sunsets in the desert

my last hope
caught in the downflow
of starlight into sky
only this
and philip
and their kiss