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, March 15, 2008


Coffee with Serafina in the Whitewater Centre.
She's just back from France.
"I met a friend of yours while I was over there," quoth she.
I shook my handsome preraphaelite head.
"I don't think so," sez I. "I don't have any friends in France."
Serafina leaned across the table.
"He knew you anyway," she said deliberately. "A certain Michael Appourchaux. Ring any bells?"
The noble Heelers paled.
Appourchaux by gad.
Left ham of the devil.
Of course I knew him.
Back in the old days when I was Ireland's greatest living theatre producer, I used to call him Michael Appershocks.
He was one of my allumni.
That is to say he was one of the stars of a production of my play Vampires Of Dublin which ran for two weeks in Dublin during the dulcet Summer of 1996.
He played Francois the French vampire hunter.
I gave im ze role because he ad, ow you say, a Fransh ackson.
(A French accent. - Maurice Chevalier note.)
Ingenious casting, what!
By the way, this was the same production of The Vamps that featured a debut performance from a then unknown actor called Reggie McGroarity. He portrayed a character called the Hero Type who used to burst in every time Dracula was about to despatch a victim, and shout: "Stop you foul fiend of hell."
Sheer art.
But I digress.
So Serafina had met Appershocks.
I wondered should I enquire about his career.
Did I really want to know?
I couldn't take it if another of my students had achieved success surpassing my own.
I'm quirky that way.
You all know the aforementioned McGroarity has enjoyed quite prodigious acclaim in the past year. He's played in a television soap opera, as well as doing a turn in some insufferable ads for Amstel lagar, and then filling the lead role in a production of Look Back In Anger, for which he won a national theatre award.
I'm telling you folks I looked back in anger myself when I heard about that swine getting a national theatre award.
Envious, moi?
I think it gave me gout.
Now listen.
It's not that I resent people who've starred in my plays going on to bigger things than me, it's just that I resent people who've starred in my plays going on to bigger things than me.
What about Appershocks...
"How's he been doing?" I asked cautiously.
Serafina's face was lit with a strange spiritual fervour.
She is always at her happiest proclaiming some news she knows I'll hate.
"James you wouldn't believe it," she cried. "He's amazing. In France they're calling him the new Depardieu. He's getting television work and film work. He owns a travelling theatre company with five shows in production. And his wife has just presented him with a second child."
"Presumably his own?" I wondered drily.
Brown Eyes of the Gazelle shot me a warning look.
"Shhh," she admonished. "He had only good things to say about you."
This tweaked my curiosity.
"What did he say about me?"
Serafina grinned.
When she spoke next, her words came like a damburst of enthusiasm breaking through her grin.
"He said he used to call you Jamie Hellish," she crowed triumphantly. "Something to do with the fraught nature of your productions. I can't imagine what he meant. Fraught, you, the words just don't fit, do they! He said The Vampires was the theatrical equivalent of Dante's Inferno with blazing rows, and actors getting fired a day before the show opened, and the ceiling of the theatre falling in, and the theatre getting flooded, and Independent Newspapers reporting you to the police for sending their theatre critics blood soaked threatening letters intended as teaser ads for the play, and generally all hell breaking loose and you wandering around in the middle of the chaos waving your arms like Basil Fawlty."
Well bold readers.
No jury in the western world could convict Appershocks for these statements.
On the other hand with any luck a merciful deity may yet give him a good hard smiting in the balls.

family portrait

Left to right: Doctor Barn, the Mammy, Goutman.

Friday, March 14, 2008

special guest blogger george gordon lord byron

Lord Byron would like to dedicate the following poem to all those enemies of the noble Heelers who have themselves so recently come down in the world.

The Destruction of Sennacherib

The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still.

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Asshur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

oooh er missus

The beautiful chermopodist pushed a curtain of dark hair from her eyes.
Leaning towards me all business like, she cast a searching look upon my gingerly proffered toe.
At my shoulder Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise muttered: "Open fire Mr Worf."
Ah yes.
Freud would have a field day.
(That old gag. - Sigmund Freud note.)
"James are you sticking to the new diet?" enquired the chermop.
I smiled guiltily.
(Goutily. - Ed note.)
"I am," I breezed.
She shook her head.
"Tell me," sez she, "what real changes have you made to your old eating habits."
I thought hard.
"Well," sez I, "I've put an end to slap up feeds with lashings of ginger beer whenever I solve mysteries."
I could tell by the grim stare of the chermop that she was already more than half in love with me.
And somewhere the ghost of Enid Blyton was smiling.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

subtle intimations of dawn

Morning coffee in the town of Naas with the artist Josephine Hardiman.
She is one of Ireland's greatest living artistic treasures.
Modesty prevents me from naming the other one.
Arf, arf.
(That old gag. - Bob Hope note.)
Josephine said: "Did you hear The Kildare Voice is closing down?"
I dropped my steinervortzel and gaped handsomely.
"No way."
"Why no way?"
"Because the two lads who were in charge when I was fired from the High Command are supposed to have landed up at The Kildare Voice."
"Well I definitely heard it's gone bust."
Oh gentle travellers of the internet.
We might allow ourselves a wry smile.
All these great Hirums and Fire-ums themselves getting hired and fired.
What was it the Christians said...
Something about the standard that we use shall be the standard that we are measured by.

Now bold readers.
The events I have described over the past few days, happened just as I described them.
No exaggeration.
I expect you to know when I'm acting the sack.

This morning I emerged from the cafe and bid Josephine a fond au revoir.
When she'd gone, I stood there wondering.
Have I just been upheld by the creator of the universe?
Have I just been upheld big time?
I mean God can hardly be smiting people at my behest, can he?
If he was he'd be smiting half the country not to mention the Jihadis.
But it seems, honestly now, as if all those who have unjustly sought my ruin have come to nought.
None of them have profited from it.
And stranger yet.
It seems I've been let know.

I have to tell you this next bit because it happened too.
As I stood there on Naas main street, a mildly bemused poet, asking myself yet again, just how real is God and suspecting not for the first time he is more real than we can imagine...
As I stood there Mary Bates wandered by and stopped to greet me.
Before becoming a journalist, I had worked with Mary in a local government office more than ten years ago.
Mary was a nice girl.
"You won't believe this," breezed Mary. "You're the second former colleague I've run into today. Just a few minutes ago I ran into Fenella Mardoozian."
Yes Mary had been a nice girl.
But the office had been a miserable little Kildare County Council effort rife with backstabbing and resentment and desolation.
I kid you not.
One of the girls in the office had been Fenella Mardoozian.
Fenella had been diagnosed schizophrenic.
I never accepted that she had schizophrenia.
I knew she had been messed around by a senior council official. I knew she had certain repressed resentments about life. I knew she had suffered. I never accepted she was sick.
Yet we were never friends.
And we had such epic battles.
Because I had always refused either to judge her or to let her away with anything.
When other people in the office had sneered about her being mentally ill I had spurned them.
At the time I thought it was an abysmal tragedy that Fenella and I weren't friends because we were both Christian.
And down through the years I never stopped praying for her.
Now Mary Bates stood before me having just met Fenella.
"How is she?" I asked.
We paused while a flurry of school kids skipped past us.
"She seemed great," said Mary. "Really calm and in control. I've never seen her looking so well."

Presently I was alone again on Naas main street.
For a second time it seemed I had been let know how things stood.
That my prayers had been answered.
The second miracle was the real one, wasn't it noble readers? Even if the downfall of my enemies felt more spectacular.

And late tonight I walked with Paddy Pup in the storm.
The wind rifled the tree tops all along the avenue.
I thought of the psalm about the Lord being enthroned upon the storm.
I opened my spirit to the voice of the wind.
You know the Hebrew words for wind and spirit are the same.
My soul filled with the voice of the wind.
All the bitterness, resentment and hatred that has festered in me over recent years was swept away.
All I could hear was glory.
When the storm was at its height I said in a voice soft enough to be heard at the far end of the universe:
"Thank you."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

down the boozer

"Hey Heelers."
"What do you want?"
"I want to tell you something."
"Well, get on with it."
"The managing director and the editor are gone."
"Sneeran and Stalwart? They went a year ago. Tell me something I don't know."
"No. Not them. The two new ones. The ones who were in charge when you were fired three weeks before Christmas. They're both gone."
"You're shiting me."
"Would I shit about a serious thing like that!"
"Where did they go?"
"Presumably Heelers they've moved on to better things."

You know gentle travellers of the internet, it ill becomes a man of principle and discernment to take pleasure in the misfortune of any one.
On the other hand.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, hahhha ha hah haaaaahhhh, hhhhhhhaaaaah, hhhaah, ha, hooooooo, hee, hee, hee, ha, hhhhhaaaahhh, ha, ha, hahh, ha, hahhhhhahha, hee, hee, hoo, ho ha, ha, ha, ha.

the ineluctable modality of goutman

Sixth birthday party for my nephew John.
The house rings with the laughter of the young.
My feminist cousin Pauline catches my arm.
"I love family parties," she whispers. "You see all the babies and toddlers and little kids over one side of the room looking absolutely radiantly beautiful. And over the other side of the room you see all their parents looking completely wrecked."
It was a most insightful comment.
A little later I was surrounded by these same babies, toddlers etc etc.
They are very fond of me.
It was magical enough.
I took a breather to address God.
"This doesn't count," I told him seriously. "Making me into Mr Chips is not answering my prayer."
Doctor Barn pressed his way through the noisy and demonstrative crowd and we headed out to the kitchen for coffee.
"So," sez he, "have you come to terms with the gout?"
"Oh yeah," sez I, "best thing that ever happened to me."
"You're joking."
"No, really. It's opened my eyes. I'd become a bit sedentary. The gout shook me up. Now when I'm out walking the dog, I'm so happy to be able to walk at all, that I'm striding along with a big grin on my face, singing zippedeedoodah out my... Well you know. For the first time in my life I've had to get shoes that fit me. I've had to make sure I'm sleeping in a comfortable bed. I've had to do something about all that coffee I was drinking. I've had to think about what I'm doing in life and what I want to do. Even the rabbit food Pauline has me eating has brought a blessing. After a few days of her stuff I find I can really taste, really savour proper food. I'm telling you Barn, the gout is genuinely the best thing that ever happened to me. It's made me appreciate what I've got. There's a spiritual lesson in it. You know. Every catastrophe becomes a triumph if you take it in the right spirit. That sort of thing. Doesn't matter whether it's gout or losing your job or depression or schizophrenia or something really bad. God intends us to endure, overcome and triumph. I'm sure of it."
"Healthy attitude," said the doc in a doubtful voice. "Long may it last."
"Not only that," quoth I, "now I truly appreciate the sort of medical expertise that's been so freely available to me. I don't just take it for granted anymore."
"Arrah thanks Heelers."
"I was referring to the chermopodist."