The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

and now for something completely different

From Friday's Irish Times financial page:
"Johnstown Press the regional newspaper group, was hit by a bear raid yesterday. Its shares dropped 7.3 per cent to a nine year low of 169 and a half p, on talk it could breach banking covenants if the advertising market slows sharply."

The group owns the Leinster Leader.

I wonder what banking covenants are.
They sound complicated.

Memo to the Johnston Press: In a prize fight, the winner is the one still standing at the end.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

o tempora o mores

Returning to the Chateau de Healy late tonight I found my venerable mother Lil and my yogic sister Marie seated in the kitchen.
Their expressions seemed oddly ill at ease.
"Evening all," I proclaimed with the cheery goodwill many of you have come to know and love.
The Marie and the Lilt attempted to reply.
"Hellumpf," they managed in unison.
Ah yes.
It's difficult to say hello through mouthfuls of a sick man's health food.
"What the hell is going on here?" I cried. "Have you people been stealing my Brazil nuts?"
"We have," grinned the Mammy, obviously relieved to have everything out in the open.
"They're delicious," quoth the Yoganaut, grabbing some more from the hastily concealed bag in her lap.
Ireland's greatest living poet beheld them both with quiet dignity.
"So," he said softly, "it's like this."
"Mmm it is," said Marie with nothing you might mistake for guilt on a dark night.
Not so much speechless with rage, more terminally miffed, I exited with Paddy Pup.
The Mammy called after me as the door banged shut:
"You'd better get some more of that cherry drink. We loved that."
Their laughter followed me to the fields.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

goutman returns

Morning with the beautiful chermopodist.
"You'll never do it James."
"I think I will."
"No. Not you. You'll never give up coffee."
"It's already done."
"Be realistic. Try cutting it down first."
"Listen, if this thing is a lifestyle disease, then I'm going to make the changes I need to make. If it's a choice between coffee or being hooked on a pharmaceutical product for life I think I can do without the coffee thank you very much. If it's a choice between using a little willpower or giving cash to pharmaceutical company swines whose whole business model for human health involves convincing people they have no free will or that they're mentally sick when they're not or that their kids need to be permanently sedated, when what the people really need to do is face their fears and talk to God and learn to live again, and what the kids really need is love and guidance and less television, if it's coffee or financing low life corporate drug selling humanity manipulating gits, well, no more coffee for this greatest living poet. You just watch me baby."
The beautiful chermop raised her eyebrows eyebrow raisingly.
She hadn't expected a party political broadcast on behalf of the Loon Party.
"You're a terrible man," quoth she.
"Ain't it the truth," I replied.
We parted merrily enough.
Something about a 500 quid bet I wouldn't stay off coffee for a week ringing in my ears.
Newbridge was bustling in a warm March sun.
I sat at the riverbank for a few minutes watching the whirling eddies and rodneys drift by.
Then I headed into the Whitewater Centre for a quick coffee with the Malteaser.
I drank it as if coffee beans wouldn't melt in my mouth.
During a particularly tender moment the Malteaser pressed a list into my hand.
"What's this?"
"Recommended diet for gout sufferers."
Gabbi works in insurance but apparently much of her day is filled dealing with claims relating to gout.
I read the list.
It was short but more extensive than I wanted.
The Gabbi diet ran thusly:
"Cut out soft drinks, sugar, salt, gravy, fried meals, and beef; Eat lean meat, vegetables, nuts, fruit, bananas, and oranges in moderation; Exercise with a forty minute walk at least three times a week."
I favoured Gabbi with my famous Paddington bear stare.
"This isn't just because I said Tom Hanks is a terrorist loving traitor and that Charlie Wilson's War is a heap of tosh?"
"No," sez she sweetly, "it's because I want you to get better."
We parted merrily enough.
Although I thought I could hear funeral music.
Lunch with Giovanna Rampazzo the Italian film producer.
The coffee was delicious.
"You don't look like you should have gout," she mused.
"Why? What do gout sufferers look like?"
"I'd expect them to be fat."
"I have a bit of a belly."
"Boh," says Giovanna, "men always have bellies."
I found this remark thoroughly Italian and thoroughly charming. Giovanna meanwhile, like Gabbi, now began making tentative moves towards advising me to exercise. Gabbi had slipped hers in at the end of her list. For Giovanna exercise was the opening gambit.
"Is there anything involving physical movement that you enjoy?" she enquired diplomatically.
"No."
"Swimming, dancing, walking?"
"No."
"How about skipping?"
"I suppose I could give it a try." (Like a man walking to the gallows.)
We parted merrily etc etc.
I collected the lady known as Lil from cards and we drove into Kilcullen. I wanted to make a few purchases at Mannah, the fresh food shop run by my feminist cousin Pauline.
She at least would treat my medical condition with the tact and sympathy such things require.
I pulled up to the kerb.
"What are stopping here for?" sez the Mammy round eyed. "You never go in here."
"People keep advising me that fresh food is good for gout," quoth I. "The processed stuff is off the menu from now on. I guess it's time to swallow some lentils. And er pride."
"Do you really think Pauline's stuff is fresh?" grinned the Mammy. "Why on earth would you think that?"
"It's supposed to be," sez I. "Farm fresh. The clue is in the title. Straight from the farm."
"Not at all," sez the Mammy. "She flies it in from France.
A chuckling Mammy waited in the car while I entered the Manna store.
Pauline was as good as gold when I laid out the details.
A slightly overlong peal of laughter and an oblique reference to Uncle Philmore.
Otherwise I couldn't fault her.
"Anyway Cousin, whatever you can suggest in the health food line, that's what I need. I'm going to be a regular customer from now on."
And somewhere the ghost of Annie Dillard was intoning in a voice not unlike Darth Vader's: "The circle is now complete."
I rejoined the Mammy in the car.
Laden with nuts, berries, cherry juice (Pauline says cherry juice is the magic bullet for gout) and so on.
"What now?" wondered the aged P.
"Let's go for coffee," sez I.
Ah yes bold readers.
Truth now.
Justice always.
Goutman forever.

goutman rants

Coffee with the Malteaser.
"Did you see Charlie Wilson's War?" quoth she.
"No, Gabbie, I didn't." (Wearily.)
"It was brilliant. It showed what really caused all this Islamic terrorism."
"No, Gabbie, it didn't."
"How do you know if you haven't seen it?"
"Because it stars Tom Hanks and that means it finds a way to blame America for every murder Islamic terrorists have committed."
"James you haven't seen the film so you can't judge it."
"Okay. Tell me if I'm wrong then. The film claims Islamic terrorism was caused by America supporting Afghan resistance to the Russian invasion in 1979."
"Yes. But that's what happened."
"It's not what happened Gabbie. The Russians tried to grab Afghanistan in 1979. The Americans supported the thoroughly decent Muslim Afghans who were fighting to save their country. Osama Bin Laden and some other low rent Arab playboy toe rags living off their Daddys' oil money insinuated themselves into the resistance. They weren't Afghans and they had less right than America or the Russians to be there. Surely the presence of Bin Laden and his scum doesn't discredit the right of Afghans to resist forcible incorporation into the loser Soviet bloc? Nor does it discredit America for trying to help them."
"Heelers!"
"What?"
"Nobody is as pro American as you. Not even the Americans."
"It's the future of the human race Gabbie. Something Tom Hanks doesn't give a shit about."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

welcome to my world

though dynasties pass

Monday, March 03, 2008

the dancers

On Nine Eleven the children of Gaza danced in the street.
I had never seen such beautiful children.
Chubby cheeked.
Bright eyed.
Every one of them dressed in teeshirts, denims and shoes provided from the coffers of western aid.
How they danced.
Such spirit.
Such elan.
Such an outpouring of joy.
The murder of thousands of Americans had uplifted an entire generation of young Palestinians.
It was the happiest day of their lives.
And they looked so very beautiful.
So very well dressed.
So very well fed.
None of their parents working of course.
Their parents don't have time to work.
Their parents are engaged in a permanent terror war against the State of Israel.
Yet there were no starving children in Gaza.
None of them even a little hungry.
They could have danced all night.
Quite amazing.
Nor had any of these children been deprived of the right to go to school.
For they had all been provided with schools courtesy of the United Nations.
That is to say the UN built the schools using cash raised from free nations, and then handed over the running of those schools to Islamic Jihad, Hamas and their various psychotic incarnations.
So the children of Gaza, aged four and upwards, can recite:
"My heart burns to avenge my brothers and sisters. I will kill every last Jew. I will wipe the stain from my countries honour. I will erase the Zionist entity from the map."
They can't read.
They can't write.
They can't add.
But they can recite that nonsense word perfect on command.
This apparently is what the UN means by the right to an education.
The parents of Gaza need never worry about working for a living as long as the rest of us are providing funds to keep them in the fine style to which they have become accustomed.
And still the children of Gaza danced.
It was such a joyful day for them.
Thousands of Americans dead.
The billions of dollars in financial aid that Americans had given to their parents, the free clothes, the free schools, the opportunity of a better life, none of it mattered.
The beautiful children of Gaza danced.
And they danced.
And they danced.

evensong

footballers cheer a score
pat carroll shoots rabbits in the gloom
children steal crab apples
and farmer byrne calls the cattle home

perhaps this chaotic place
is not kilcullen in the present time
but a dusty frontier town
at the heart of ancient palestine

the sounds dissolve
into a muted half felt bliss
fluted by fond memory
and a strange provincial holiness

Sunday, March 02, 2008

goutman

Hobbled away from the Chermop's office.
My mind a jumble.
My consciousness whirling with words like gout, despair, sickness, decay, mortality, boots, miniskirt and open fire Mr Worf.
Flumped into a chair in Brambles Cafe.
(Known to scholars of my writings as the Cafe Polka because of its rather winsome Polish waitresses.)
Rang Hoddlebun on the mobile phone.
"I've just come out of the chiropodist's," I told her.
"Was she able to say what the problem was with your toe?" wondered Hod.
"Yes," I grimaced.
"So what's wrong with you?"
"Well Annie, let me put it this way. If I was an heroic god like figure within the oriental tradition you could call me Goutama Buddha."
There was a pause.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"To put it another way, if I was walking through Dublin and little street urchins were chanting slogans after me, they'd be shouting: Dickie Dickie Gout with your shirt hanging out."
"Jamie, what the hell are you talking about?"
"If I was the liberator of India my name would have been Mohandas K Goutie."
"Are you on drugs or something?"
"Listen Annie, I'm not like other guys."
"Just tell me what's wrong."
My voice became a sensually dangerous whisper.
"I'm Goutman," I breathed.
And somewhere the ghost of Michael Keaton was smiling.
Ah gentle travellers of the internet, it was hilarious.
But Hodders had the last laugh.
As soon as she fully understood the nature of my predicament she bombarded me with a full half hour of surely the most inane gout treatment advice in the history of humanity.
It was the most terrifying half hour of my life.
She's a doctor.
She might even know what she's talking about.
If a quarter of what she said was true, I was in big trouble.
"Didn't your Uncle Philmore have gout?" she wondered towards the end.
"Yes," sez I.
"What did he do about it?"
"He suffered."
Ah noble readers, what appalling vistas are opening up.
The upshot of Hodnuts' advice is that apparently I have now to begin surviving on a diet of spring water and lentils.
That's it.
I can't eat anything else.
Anything else will kill me.
And if I binge on the lentils my lower limbs may explode.
Bloody hell, as Uncle Philmore used to say.
Later this same day, myself and the lady known as Lil rambled into the Whitewater Centre for coffee.
I had trouble keeping up with her.
My 79 year old mother found this fact highly amusing.
We sat opposite each other over lattes at the Costa Cafe.
"So tell me," quoth the Mammy. "What's wrong with your toe?"
"It's gout," I said glumly.
Her eyes widened.
"Wah, haa, haa, haaaaaa," she mused.
Then a moment later: "Sorry son. It's a bit of a surprise. The only one who ever had gout in the family was Uncle Philmore. And he was alcoholic."
I nodded bitterly.
"Ironic, isn't it?" sez I. "The one vice I never really got round to."
The Mammy leaned forward and put a gentle hand on my arm.
"There's nothing wrong with having gout," quoth she. "It's just you're not really the sort of person that's supposed to get it. We'd normally associate gout with, er, British army Colonel types."
"Really Mother. Do you know many British army Colonels?"
"You know what I mean. Those British army Colonel types. The ones that used to be going around in the time of the Raj. I have this picture in my head of grey haired British army Colonels with big whiskery moustaches and flushed cheeks drinking red wine all day in the far pavillions."
"Oh," I proclaimed with some asperity, "those British army Colonel types."
The lady known as Lil sipped her latte.
"Now that you've got gout what are you going to do about it?" she enquired with an air of interested detachment.
My face was a study.
"I suppose I might try to get into the British army," I said, "grow a tache, and hope to advance as quickly as possible to the rank of Colonel. Then everything could just continue on as per usual."
The Mammy grinned and said nothing.
Later that night I was alone at the Chateau de Healy.
The rest of the Healy menagerie were out, who knows where, most probably pursuing lives of careless decadent splendour.
You can do that when you don't have gout.
I sat in a little miasma of stillness, a solitary figure ensconced in an armchair in the west wing studying ontological proofs for the cyclic nature of existence.
(Southpark reruns. - Ed note.)
There came a tap on the door.
Enter my cousin Frances stage left.
She who teaches at one of Dublin's toughest schools.
She who can kill a joyrider at fifty paces with a single blow of her tongue.
She who... oh you know.
Feverish thoughts raced through my mind.
No need to tell Frances anything about the toe.
No need to talk about it at all.
One thing is sure.
If I start chatting, if I relax at all, Frances will worm the truth out of me in about five seconds flat.
The cousin sat on the couch.
"I'm really enjoying the stuff about your toe on the blog at the moment," sez she.
"Mmm yes," sez I.
"It's great fun," sez she.
"Glad you like it," sez I.
"Did you go to the chiropodist?"
"Mmmm."
"Did she say you'd need an operation?"
"No, no. Eh. She said it wasn't an ingrown toenail."
Frances looked mightily curious.
"What is it then?"
"Oh, some sort of infection."
The cousin seemed to accept this explanation and our attention rested companionably on the television for the next few minutes.
I heaved a mental sigh of relief.
Presently I decided to chance asking her about some of my symptoms.
Without mentioning the actual diagnosis.
Frances knows a fair bit of science.
She might be able to offer some advice on pain relief.
"The chermopodist says I have some uric acid on the joint. I wonder how I'd alleviate that."
There came a sort of shriek from Frances.
"Gout," she cried. "You've got gout."
I smiled guiltily.
(Goutily? - Ed note.)
Frances' eyes were shining.
She said.
She really did say.
"The only one round here who ever had gout was Uncle Philmore."