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 18, 2008

a classic study of ireland's greatest living poet in light hearted mood

well light-ish

(photographed by Luyi Hao)

the trembling of the leaf

My birthday.
Robin waiting on the bare branched lilac when I arrived in the kitchen this morning.
He let a few conversational whistles when he saw me.
The wide boy starlings arrived in a commotion of wing beats as I divvied up the madeira cake.
They actually hovered at the windowsill like kingfishers for a moment. I was very impressed with them and told them so.
A chubby wood pigeon ambled out from under a bush to inspect proceedings.
The wood pigeons don't normally show themselves in the garden.
Word is getting round.
What glory is crafted in everyday things.
You just have to lift the veil.
This afternoon my five year old nephew John and two year old nephew Tom found me writing at the computer.
John said: "James will you come out to the kitchen for a minute."
Tom said: "We've got a surprise party for you."
This was the funniest thing I'd ever heard. With great alarums, John tried to shush Tom. I pretended not to have understood.
They began again.
John: "Come on. We just want to talk to you out here."
Tom: "We got you a cake."
Ah, it was brilliant.
I stretched the whole thing out as long as possible. Feigning incomprehension. Refusing to leave the computer. John kept attempting to persuade me with the most subtle inducements that there was something I needed to see in the kitchen. Tom kept blowing the secret every time he opened his mouth.
John: "I think I saw a parrot in the back garden. Do you want to look?"
Tom: "We got you presents."
How well they know me.
The party was fun too.
Late tonight there was a phone call from Bunton.
Damn spice girls.
When will they realise no means no.
Also an email from Deevs.
Blooming Hindu babes.
When will they realise no means yes.
Ah life you bauble, come to me.
Thank you God.
Thank you for the whole kaboodle.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

provincial poets

this morning i read through the works of john thornton
traced the words and music he had drawn
and after wondered as to what degree
his musings held in the rank halls of poetry

i scorned the traipsing metres and the mind
which brought them to this world i became
a defiler in the temple of the muse
now in broken spirit i start again

let the works of thornton shine thus
no greater and no less
than the darkness glistening in homers verse
no more high or low
than keats first pure clarion call
which whispered in the timbrels of its gleaming
even a savage has feeling
even the gods must fall

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

a perfect day

Woken suddenly this morning from restless dreams about Polish women. My mobile phone was beeping.
Groaning like a heffalump in pain the mighty Heelers emerges from under the covers to answer it.
"Hey," trills the voice of my feminist cousin Pauline bright as a robin. "The writer's group is due to have a reading soon. Would you be interested?"
Ah bless her heart.
At last.
After all these years.
They have come back to the master.
The circle is now complete, as Darth Vader always used to say when feminists asked him to read at their writing groups.
"I might be interested," I muse. "Tell me more."
"Well," sez Pauline. "We've asked John Thornton to be our guest. He may talk about his poems, novels, and journalism. I think you might learn something."
Pauline continued talking but I heard her not.
When she ceased her heartless spiel, I gathered myself with that famous old worldly grace some of you have come to know and love. I spoke most softly.
If you'd been there gentle travellers of the internet, you might have thought my tones reminiscent of a great statesman declaiming to a parliamentary assembly. Gandhi. Or Churchill. Or maybe Chandler from Friends.
"I can't believe it," I cried. "You're not asking me to give a talk to the writer's group. You're seriously suggesting I might come and listen to someone else rabbiting on about his own rubbish... Oh my God."
Pauline bid me adieu in her own inimitable style.
I rolled over in the bed and sought once more the blissful realms of Arcadia. (Heelers means Poland. - Ed note.)
Later this afternoon I was quaffing a coffee in the Costa Cafe at the Whitewater Centre while leafing through a newspaper.
I can't remember was it The Irish Abortionist Bolshevik Times, or The Tony O'Reilly Worshipping Horrendous Parvenu Independent.
One of those rags.
My eyes fell on a story about a recent play writing competition in the west of Ireland.
I had entered this competition.
A banner headline informed me that the competition had been won by a certain Lieutenant Colonel Brennington.
I threw a wayward glance to heaven.
"Why do you mock me oh Lord?" I murmured soulfully.
Interesting point folks. Stemming from my previous life as a journalist, I have a passing acquaintanceship with several of the Arts Committee members who judged the plays. One of them is a former army officer called Captain Don Leaflet.
My imagination took wing.
In my mind's eye I could see the unctuous Cap'n Leaflet presenting the top play writing prize at a glittering ceremony in the Termonfeckin Hilton Hotel.
Picture him gentle readers.
He is a dreadful fellow with a handlebar moustache.
(Heelers First Law of Facial Hair states: The dreadfulness of a person's character is directly proportional to the handlebarness of the tache.)
Cap'n Leaflet is saying: "And the winner... Yes I'm sure it comes as no surprise. Who else could it have been? We are honoured that he deigns to walk amongst us. A man of boundless generosity, wondrous insight, all round humanitarianism, and oh I don't know, sheer class. It is such a privilege to have him here tonight. Modest as always. Selflessly sharing his genius with lesser men. Such condecension, such grace, such je ne sais quoi. Oooh, I just love Lieutenant Colonels, don't you? We are not worthy to tie up his boot straps. I think you'll all agree there could only have been one choice. He outranked all the other entrants..."
Truly bold readers this piece of news made my day.
Gnurghhhhhh, as Darth Vader used to say whenever Grand Moff Tarkin won a play writing competition.
And so we go on.
Evening back at the Chateau de Healy.
I am watching Star Trek with the Mammy.
We're not really listening to it as it's a rubbish one about Riker having some unresolved conflict with his father.
As soon as the programme begins you just know the Rikers are going to spend the whole episode sorting this out without any chance of a rift in the time continuum, or holodeck characters becoming real, or even just a low key Romulan attack to brighten things up.
So I'm telling Lil about my day.
About Pauline's phone call.
About the results of the play writing competition in the west.
The Mammy listens sagely.
When I've finished she grins.
"You're going to love what I tell you next," sez she.
"What is it?"
"Reggie McGroarity has just been nominated for a national theatre award."
The mighty Heelers started from his seat. His face contorted. He seemed to be labouring under the weight of some great pression.
Blooming bifurcating defenestrating McGroarity.
An actor from Kilcullen who had his first professional stage appearance in my play Vampires Of Dublin back in the dulcet Summer of 1996.
And who since then has gone on to...
Oh you know.
A career anyway.
Banquo McGroarity I'd called him.
This is a reference to the Banquo whose career kept exceeding that of twelfth century Scottish king Macbeth.
Macbeth knew how to deal with those lads.
What do you call killing an over actor?
Reggie-cide, isn't it.
(Stay tuned folks. I'll be using that one again. And, er, again.)
But I digress.
In the past year McGroarity has starred in an international ad campaign for Amstel lager. Starred in an Irish television soap opera. Also starred in a Dublin stage production of Look Back In Anger.
Good title that.
Certainly sums up my feelings.
Ah bold readers, everyone's making it big but me.
I leave the Mammy to watch Star Trek.
I am going to bed.
Even Darth Vader would have been speechless on hearing Reggie McGroarity had been nominated for a national theatre award.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Robins in the garden at midday.
Magpies, starlings, blackbirds, crows, thrushes and jackdaws join us crying: "We're robins too."
Paddy Pup at my side mutters grimly: "I'll be a bloody robin if it gets me some madeira cake."
The spirit of January flirts among the hedgerows and the flowerbeds, coaxing the life back into them.
An ocean sky laps over everything.
The light is gentle.
My soul soars.

auld acquaintance

can two as we ever be apart
who stood victory and defeat in the line
does a childhood companionship ever lose the heart
down the narrow dust strewn alleyways of time
for when the world in ardour sings your praise
and men in suits chant in the streets your name
i'll sit at home and scorn the public craze
and guess you must account it quite a game
and when you hear of my great worldly failing
will you not as few others can
think he may perhaps have willed and worked it so
i knew him once and he was such a man
in the morning of the world i called him friend