The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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

Friday, January 11, 2008

come with me

the full heelers

A sub office of the Department of Social Welfare.
Located in a discreet(!) side street.
A tidy busy little office humming with life.
An unexpectedly optimistic atmosphere.
In any case, not the sort of thing we've come to expect from television drama.
In fact the only really negative thing is a woman at the front counter who occasionally shouts "Next" while mildly nonplussed members of the citizenry are still trying to explain their situation.
Further inside the office you might see an unusually handsome man who is sitting at the aperture known only as hatch seven.
He is being interviewed by a bored civil servant whose name tag proclaims her to be Vanessa Baines.
The mighty Heelers (for it is he) has already looked around the room in search of potential partners for his proposed touring company of strippers.
Those of us who live on the margins of society have to be creative when it comes to making ends meet.
At least so I've heard.
But there are no potential partners here.
A jovial faced middle aged chap in a golfer's cap. A teenage girl in a business suit.
That's it.
But lo!
At hatch seven the social drama is thickening.
"Mr Healy why were you fired?"
"I was accused of gross misconduct."
For the first time Vanessa Baines' bored eyes show a glimmer of interest.
"Can you explain?"
I racked my brains.
Have to make this good.
"Okay," sez I. "The company was taken over by a British corporation. There was a change in the work culture. Very aggressive, you know what I mean. Everything was just different. The human factor seemed to have been taken out of the equation. It was like I wasn't even in Ireland any more."
The ghost of Maggie Thatcher appeared at my shoulder.
"Oh Heelahz," she murmured shooting me a wounded look. "Not you as well."
"Shush Maggie," I told her. "This is for money."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

the robin whisperer

Sitting at the kitchen window watching the robins. A gentle smile wreathing my fine preraphaelite features.
Paddy Pup is at my feet doing the loyal hound routine.
He's figured out that where there's robins there's madeira cake, and he's anxious I shouldn't get confused about the pecking order between dogs and garden birds.
Enter the Lil stage left.
"What are you looking at?" sez she.
"My robin."
"Where is he?"
"There he is on the lilac tree."
"What's he doing?"
"He's keeping watch over his girlfriend. She's scratching about on the grass. Doesn't he look proud of her?"
The Mammy allowed a short laugh.
"He's a butty little thing, isn't he?" quoth she. "I don't know what he thinks he's going to do if anything happens to the other one."
"Harrumph," sez me with quiet dignity.
"He's the funniest looking robin I've ever seen," continued the Mammy. "He's like a little roundy ball of brown. There's not much red on him, is there?"
"Mother you are being very pass remarkable about my robin."
"Umm," sez she. "At least this one actually is a robin. The last one you had was a chaffinch."
I stood up and headed for more peaceful climes in the west wing of the chateau.
As the kitchen door closed behind me, I heard the Mammy exclaiming aloud in tones reminiscent of the great television naturalist David Bellamy: "Hey. She mightn't be his girlfriend. Maybe she's his partner."
I did not deign to answer.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

tribute to an american actor of character

Will Smith pudding and pie,
shot all the aliens and made them cry,
but when the jihadi's came out to play,
Will Smith sat at home in his plush penthouse in the hollywood hills making snide remarks about president bush.

Monday, January 07, 2008

great political portraits of our time (episode one)

Ahmad Ahmadinejad, President of the (peaceloving) Islamic Republic of Iran.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

into the great wide open

A day before Christmas I woke paralysed in my bed.
Unleashed an awful tirade of curses against heaven.
The mind whirled.
Didn't know was it multiple sclerosis or what.
Wasn't taking it too well anyway.
At one stage between profanities I muttered: "I'm liable to say anything now God. So I'm just going to trust you to forgive me whatever I say."
When the pain went general down my back I let the first proper scream of my life.
I spent two hours trying to get out of bed.
After saying the rosary prayer I was able to summon the strength to get up.
Phoned Doctor Barn.
Renounced all previous criticisms of the pharmaceutical industry and begged for drugs.
It was a Kodak moment.
And here we are.
The pain is passing.
You know bold readers in recent times I'd been thinking that maybe I might suffer as some sort of saint, offering my pain for the relief of others.
This small but practical demonstration of what real pain actually is, has disabused me of all such notions.
Christmas Eve saw me in the midst of the congregation at Kilcullen church for midnight mass.
Back throbbing faintly in time with the carols, but nothing to write home about.
Midnight mass in my town takes place at 9pm by the way.
Quaint, eh?
I brought all those in my heart before the altar and thanked God for them.
The choir sang with more gusto than musicality from the loft at the rear of the church. I turned to look at them whenever the mood took me. All the old familiar faces. Maurice O'Mahoney my school teacher from fourth class, Brezhnev the soprano, a host of rosy cheeked school children tootling away infernally like Dickens characters.
Not perfect singing, mind.
Just perfect.
At the end of mass we lingered in the pews.
A hand touched my shoulder from behind.
Turning I beheld my old pal William the scientist.
I goggled.
"Enjoyed that poem on your blog about Christmas," he said shaking my hand.
I goggled again.
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
Paralysing pain and pharmaceutical products notwithstanding.
It was like a Christmas present from God.
Will's wife came over.
She noticed me a bit rheumy eyed.
I was in the midst of that old Christian routine: more rejoicing for one who returns than for the ten thousand who never left etc etc.
She said: "I know you're going through a difficult time..."
She gave me the softest of hugs.
I didn't try to explain that I wasn't upset about my shite encrusted former employers but that I was cracking up because I'd lived to see her husband and her lovely family in a church.
Sometimes even great Heelers knows when to keep his mouth shut.
I also know full well when I've been given a gift from beyond eternity and equally full well who sent it.
Uncle Jim approached.
"James," he said, "I heard about your back. I can make you a leather harness if you need it."
There are no secrets in the town of Kilcullen gentle friends of the internet.
Back at the Chateau de Healy the Dad served up a fry. Paddy Pup demanded and got a walkie. Showered. Emailed a few of the international brigade.
Checked the blog. Someone had logged on from Saudi Arabia, the city of Dharan way down south. First Iran. Then Pakistan. Now this. The Jihadis are obviously terrified by my life affirming comic stylings. Either that or they're big Paddy Pup fans. Tickled my vanity anyway. We artists, from the highest to the lowest, all of us, without exception, dream of being that little bit... dangerous.
Midnight passed being dangerous in front of the television. Feeling blessed. A feeling not entirely explained by the hodge podge of chemicals cancelling out my back pain.
And on New Year's day in the garden.
A robin.
With his girlfriend.
Sitting on the lilac tree. Red breast puffed out proudly. His girlfriend hopping about below in the flower bed while he kept watch.
A new robin for new year's day.
A few months ago Aunty Mary's cat despatched my old robin.
I remember I'd considered that robin a gift from God and I'd sort of wondered at the time: "Hmmm. I know the consolations may be only for a little while. But that's strange. His gifts are never half given."
Now there's two of them.
It's going to be a great year.