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, November 15, 2008

from our sports desk

The share price of the Johnston Press is currently 12 and three quarter pennies.

(James Healy was fired by the Johnston Press from the Leinster Leader less than a year ago.
The share price of the Johnston Press the night he was fired was around the £4 mark.
It's a long way down from Mount Olympus.)

return of the young depardieu

Evening at the chateau.
Ireland's greatest living poet is flumped in an armchair flicking with equal disapproval between Southpark and Family Guy.
His mother sits nearby.
"You got an email from Michael Appourchaux today," murmurs El Lil conversationally.
Her remark refers to a French actor I'm vaguely acquainted with, who's been winning moderate success on the continent.
Some of the frog critics are excited about him anyway.
They call him the young Depardieu.
I kid you not.
By the way, bold readers, the Mammy's mentioning of this missive from Appershocks, indicates that she's whiled away the afternoon having a good old fashioned root through my emails.
"Did you find anything interesting during your perusal?" I ask her.
The aged parent doesn't turn a hair.
"Oh I didn't read them," lieth she coolly. "I just see the names in your inbox. I noticed Michael's one because I know you don't reply to him. I was surprised he's still in touch."
A little piece of historical information bold readers.
Not many people know this but Michael Appershocks got his first big acting break in the 1996 production of my play Vampires Of Dublin. He played Francois, the, er, French vampire hunter.
Ingenious piece of casting what!
He's now back in France and has become very well established with performances in cinema, theatre and on television.
"Why don't you write to him?" sez the Mammy with the air of one poking a corpse with a stick.
"Because I can tolerate no contact with him," I shoot back suddenly venomous. "He's a success. He's married Chrystelle. They have kids. He's on stage. His life has exceeded mine. I'm just a failure. That's why I don't write to him if you must know."
The Mammy eyed me keenly.
"Are you joking?"
"My whole life is a failure."
"Are you being funny now?"
"A total utter complete failure. Useless. That's all I am."
"I know you're joking."
"Yeah, but would you not try and talk me out of it just in case? Would you not do a bit of a tribute to me? Tell me what a great fellow I am and list off all the great things about me? Do I have to beg for a compliment around here?"
"Ah you great twit, you had me worried," said the Mammy.
A thought struck her.
"What do you think it says about all of us who are in your life when you start saying you're a failure?" sez she.
My reply when it came was spoken in kinder gentler tones than what had come before.
"Lil old pal," sez I. " You know that the two most important things in my life are always going to be Southpark and Family Guy."
The Mammy groaned.
"I was sure you were going to say Paddy Pup and the hamster," quoth she.
My handsome features brighten.
"I hadn't thought of them," I enthuse warmly. "That's four. The four most important things in my life. After those though it's you and the Dad."

the happiest half hours of life

Coffee with Doctor Barn in the Costa Cafe.
"Have you read the Daily Mail?" quoth he.
The noble Heelers shot him a wounded look.
"Never," I cried. "Never do I read that tripe and onions. It is an odious posturing crapulous organ, one moment posing pro Catholic, the next advocating the pornographic lifestyle of pure pagan hedonism. Never, I tell you. Never do I read it. Unless their Health Editor Petrina Vousden has an article in it. I kind of like her. And I suppose I occasionally glance at their financial section because they carry more share quotations than most of the other papers, and the Johnston Press share price is covered, and that's always good for a larf. But why do you ask?"
The brother proffered me a copy of the newspaper in question.
It was open on a page featuring an article by a certain Philip Nolan about the recession in Ireland.
I read what was there writ.
It seemed vaguely familiar.
The gist of it was that if we hang on to our decency and sense of values, the recession isn't going to matter a whole lot.
I do not rate Philip Nolan as a writer or journalist.
I associate him normally with Tony O'Reilly's sneering atheistic media group Independent Newspapers, or with the Irish national broadcaster RTE, a sort of televisual version of Independent Newspapers which the citizenry is required to finance through the licence fee even if we never watch it.
No, I don't rate Philip Nolan.
I associate him with the worst of Ireland.
But this article had a certain je ne sais quoi.
More precisely, it had a certain je sais clairement bien exactement quoi le foutre ce qui se passe ici.
In fact, the article bore a remarkable similarity to something I'd published on The Heelers Diaries a couple of weeks ago.
I wonder could Philip Nolan be a fan.
He and his friend Ian O'Doherty are rumoured to be regular visitors to this website.
The sublime O'Doherty writes a humour column for the Irish Independent.
His humour column is patchily brilliant.
The brilliant patches being the ones he's lifted from here.
But I digress.
"Do you think..." I asked the brother.
"It looks very similar," he replied.
Yes indeedy, the Philip Nolan article bore a remarkable resemblance to something I'd written, and absolutely no resemblance to anything Philip Nolan has ever written before.
Incredible really.
I grimaced as I read further.
It appeared Philip Nolan was lacing my ideas with some of his own.
A bit of pap about Christians not realising pubs are sacred spaces too because people meet there and make mystical connections while getting potted.
More pap suggesting the Irish had lorded it over foreign nationals who come to work here.
Dreadful rubbish.
Oprah Winfrey calibre.
But let me say, unlike the rest of the article, definitely not inspired by anything on this website.
"What do you think?" wondered the brother when I looked up finally.
My handsome preraphaelite features took on a look of noble forebearance.
"I think he's a boll-x," I mused noblesse obligeingly. "And I wish if he was going to rip me off, that he wouldn't keep mixing in his own shite with my gentle elevated prose."

Friday, November 14, 2008

the badlands

the muse is upon me (gerroff you stupid muse)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a jockey on a Friday night with a few pints of beer in him, who has not pulled a woman, must be in want of a fight.
These are the opening lines of Pride And Prejudice, Janes Austen's classic satire on manners and morality in the England of the year 1750.
Nobody ever said it better.
There's no doubt about it that a good opening is the most important thing in a novel.
A cracking first line, along with a good title, is worth a million dollars.
And what comes next doesn't really matter at all.
Think of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca.
"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again."
Now there's music.
What happened next?
Who cares!
Some interminable rubbish about a housekeeper, and brooding sexuality, and a husband that you'd be well advised not to turn your back on when you're standing at the top of the stairs.
In the dim and distant past, I myself attempted to write a novel.
It was called The Sword And The Rose, and was written in the Mills And Boon style which I innocently thought would be the easiest and most rewarding approach financially.
A sample of my oeuvre...
"Catherine collapsed against Lord De Rocheteau with a little cry of surrender. How could she resist these feelings any longer. Her breathing came in short sharp gasps like an animal's. His muscular arms enfolded her softly yielding body."
What a load of codswallop.
I even stole the last line from an old advertisement for perfume.
The Just Musk by Lentheric ad.
But isn't it awful.
I actually showed an early draft of The Sword And The Rose to my feminist cousin Pauline expecting kudos.
She read it and then favoured me with some measured advice.
She spoke as one excercising great restraint.
For a moment I suspected she was struggling not to laugh.
"Write about what you know," she said, her tone of voice distinctly implying I knew nothing.
Undaunted I presented the novel to my brother Doctor Barn.
Doctor Barn is a different kettle of critics to the feminist cousin.
I still have the manuscript today with his annotated comments.
There's a passage in my novel about the young hero, Jacques Le Moray.
It reads:
"Jacques had no interest in the wanton wenches of the town, preferring instead to dedicate his life to the science of the sword."
My brother has written such a stream of invective in the margins about poor Jacques and the phallic, nay Freudian, symbolism of his love for the sword, that I blush to repeat it.
I gotta tell you it was tough being a swordsman in France during the Revolution.
They didn't get no respect.
In any case neither Jacques nor that alluring baggage Catherine, nor that insensate scoundrel De Rocheteau, ever made it beyond Chapter Three.
They were probably better off.
We were all probably better off.
My next venture into literature was called The Astro Hens, and rather cynically aimed, as was my form, at the children's market.
It floundered early in Chapter Two.
I couldn't stop laughing at the names of my characters.
Millie Hen, Roger Rooster, and Al Cockeral.
If you say Al Cockeral in a particular way it really is quite funny.
You've got to sass it.
There you go.
The years have passed and I think I'm ready to try again.
If my theories are correct, a good title is all we need and a good first line.
We shall call the book Tribe Of Women.
That should get people's attention.
The first line will go:
"At the edge of memory glimmers lilac blossom."
Nifty eh?
Now all we have to do is pad it out for another 250 pages.

comparisons are odious (but sometimes curiously enthralling)

The above chart shows readership figures and page views for The Heelers Diaries over the past twelve months.

The above graph shows the share price of the Johnston Press over the same twelve monthly period, roughly beginning at the point when the company fired me from the Leinster Leader. I had worked at the Leinster Leader for ten years. The Johnston Press had owned the Leinster Leader for less than two years. I ask you gentle readers of the internet. Does something here not quite add up? Compare the two graphs. Now ponder for a moment. Do you think, is it even marginally possible, that the wrong people have been getting fired?

The share price of the Johnston Press this morning in London is 15 and three quarter pennies.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

a scientists prayer

bright the sky
the god of miracles
and molecules
sits on his thone tonight
that the humble
and the mighty
may rejoice

an open letter to cnn

Dear CNN.
Congratulations on your recent success in getting Barack Obama elected President of the United States.
I was interested in the aftermath of the elections to see your correspondent Murphy Brown presenting a programme entitled "No Bias, No Bull."
You must be aware that your station's credibility as a reporter of news or an objective commentator on it, has ceased to exist.
Perhaps No Bias No Bull was an exercise in irony.
I was also interested to note you are running segments dedicated to our soldiers "The Fallen of Iraq And Afghanistan."
Please stop doing this.
It is beyond an insult.
You will be well aware that most of the soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, met their deaths because Al Qaeda became emboldened by your style of news reporting.
I put it to you specifically that Al Qaeda only fought on because its leadership had taken hope from your attempts to criminalise the administration of President Bush.
I put it to you that your continuous interpretation of the liberation of Iraq from Saddam as a "quagmire," and a "mess," telegraphed Al Qaeda that America's will could be broken on the home front, and certainly made it quite clear to Al Qaeda that America's will was already broken on the CNN front.
But then CNN, you have never represented America.
And you never will.
Finally I put it to you that your manipulation of the facts about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has led to a resurgence in Jihad activity all over the globe.
Hey CNN.
They really think they can win.
And it's all down to you.
Fond regards always.
James Healy.
PS: Brilliant interview with your founder Ted Turner last night. My God that presenter could fawn.

(This letter is respectfully dedicated to the Boston Globe columnist who regularly visits The Heelers Diaries and then uses my best CNN pejoratives as weapons of mass destruction against Fox News. Kevin, you're a cheeky little bst, I'll give you that.)

a measure of my esteem

Heelers showing there's no hard feelings towards his former employers.

light hearted comic stylings

Investment advisors took a dim view of this week's annoucement from the Johnston Press about its falling ad revenues.

Citigroup reiterated its "sell" ratings on Johnston Press stock.

Investec reiterated its "sell" ratings on Johnston Press stock.

Showing more restraint than the others, the Numis group altered its rating of Johnston Press stock from "hold," to "reduce." It is unclear what circumstances could persuade Numis to issue an outright "sell" recommendation. Global thermonuclear war perhaps?

Numis also provided some rather pithy analysis of the overall situation at the Johnston Press.
According to Numis: "The worst case scenario would be a covenant breach and debt for equity swap, wiping out what remains of the equity value."

Well, well, well.
I've gotta ask you Numis.
A worst case scenario for who exactly?
Excuse me a moment.
Ha, ha, ha, oh you know.

Covenant breach.
I wonder what that is.
It sounds interesting.

Question: Whose fault is the current situation at the Johnston Press, those of us who've been fired from that company or the people who are doing the firing?

(James Healy was fired by the Johnston Press from the Leinster Leader last year three weeks before Christmas. He is profoundly convinced that the company will cease to exist without him and that the current abysmal financial woes are not caused by any international downturn or advertising collapse, but by the wrath of God on the clowns who fired me, er I mean, him. The share price of the Johnston Price was around the £4 mark when I was fired. It is now 18 pennies. And falling.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the joyful mysteries of my life

This is a spiritual exercise. It might be of interest to anyone who's dealt with mental struggles. In the Catholic tradition we consider five moments in Jesus' life to be the Joyful Mysteries. We pray around em sometimes. Now this exercise challenges you to identify five joyous moments in your own life. Think about them. Dwell on them. Meditate their meaning. Feel the joy now. It can be difficult at first to pick five. It gets easier. Over time those of us who have habitually dwelt too much on negative situations or memories, can culture our own spirit to more readily return to these moments of rejoice. Here are my five.

1. A day in Summer when my exam results came from Secondary School. The results were a bit better than expected. The memory of that day still shines. It felt like a blessed day.

2. Mrs Murchison exclaiming "God sent you," when I arrived on her doorstep after being moved against my will to a different town by my then employer Kildare County Council. Mrs M was minding her daughter's baby who was kicking up merry hell. I'd been dead set against the Council moving me. At that moment on Mrs M's doorstep, I understood it was meant to be.

3. Two of the neighbour's kids kissing me on the right and left cheek on my birthday, and Paddy Pup moving forward gently between them to kiss me on the nose.

4. Word reaching me that a lady had started to overcome her grief about her husband's death by reading one of my articles.

5. Dibya.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

would you like some polemic with your caffe latte

Coffee with the Mammy in the Costa cafe.
"The papers are full of racial stuff about America," sez she. "You'd think America was the most racist place on the planet. What do you think? Do you agree with them?"
I let out a long low sigh.
There followed one of my extraordinary heartfelt outpourings, as mellifluous as it was inspired.
"No, I don't agree with them," quoth I with a firm set to my jaw. "America has done more to promote the partnership of nations, tribes and races than any other country. The rest of us talk about it a lot. But America is still the only country on earth where people from all backgrounds, cultures and classes, make a serious endeavour to accept and value each other. Europe doesn't come close. The Chinese and Russian dictatorships are to all intents and purposes monocultural. And Africa itself is the most bigoted place on the planet. Funny that the dictatorships are always the ones most likely to sneer about racism in America. America is still the land of the free. It's the only place where more than lip service is paid to the idea that we are all equal in the eyes of God. The present newspaper chatter about racism in America is substantially untrue and almost always unfair. As for the history of slavery. Many nations on earth were complicit in slavery. In Sudan the greatest ever Muslim uprising against colonial rule came in the late nineteenth century when the Brits attempted to outlaw slavery. The Sudanese themselves had built their whole economy around it. Who should be issuing the apologies there? Some countries continue to permit slavery even today. If we repudiate slavery in one place we should repudiate it everywhere. Slavery in Saudi Arabia was legal up until 1975. It continues there unofficially right this moment. In other Arab countries slavery is practiced behind household doors where serving staff, often imported like chattels from non Arab countries, find on arrival that they have no human rights and will be treated as serfs. In Lebanon, according to human rights activists, up to a hundred Asian serving maids are murdered each year by their Arab masters. A hundred. A hundred a year. Clearly it's a bit hypocritical when Arab governments suggest America is racist. It's even more hypocritical when Arab television stations such as the Nazi channel Al Jazeera pretend they are offended by the American slave history. Of course the Arabs aren't the only ones sitting in ivory towers, sniffily casting their sublime and superior judgements on the greatest democracy on earth. (By greatest democracy on earth, Heelers means the USA. - Ed note.) The anodyne fervourless stagnating socialists of Europe, those who have delivered the most inert democracies on the planet, they too rush to accuse America of racism. Listen. I'm just saying that the charge of institutionalised racism so often levelled against America would be more appropriately applied elsewhere. That's my opinion. If I thought otherwise I'd have been trying to get Barack elected myself. He's rode the wave of victim culture to the White House. But victim culture doesn't free anyone. Look at Africa. For sixty years the continent has been ruled by fascist dictators and Arab Islamists. For sixty years the dictators and the Islamists have been murdering their own people while crowing triumphantly about the evils of colonialism. This victim culture crap is past its sell by date. There's no longer any excuse for any African country to be ruled by any bigoted murderer. There shouldn't be a single Robert Mugabe, a single Colonel Gadaffy, or a single Jose Maria Dos Santos on the continent, never mind forty of the bast--ds. All the Mugabes, all the Gaddaffys, all the Dos Santos's, perpetually seek to blind their people in the midst of the most atrocious mayhem by reminding them of the oppressions committed by the white man way back when. It won't wash. It's not acceptable. It has to stop. Now that Barack has won the election, my honest advice to black people in America would be to disown those of their representatives who still want to mire them in victim culture. It will be hard to disown the victim culturists just when they've delivered power. But disown them they should. Because the power they deliver is a shibboleth. It does not exist. A man who thinks he's been born a victim can never truly take responsibility for who he is and what he does. Victim culture is slavery. We had the same problem in Ireland. The most mediocre, the most crassly invidious politicians among us, always sought to incite popular feeling around some alleged wrong doing or injustice from the past. The collossal Paddy Whack half wits are still obsessed by a famine which took place in 1840. Or else they're obsessed with the British colonial period prior to 1921. I'm telling you it's always the worst among us who want us to consider ourselves victims. In Africa, the dictators have used victim culture to oppress an entire continent. In America the liberal left have used it to elect a President. And good luck to him. He's entitled to his chance. That's the majesty of democracy. But victim culture is a lie. And no amount of flush faced drugged up teenagers thronging the streets and gushing about changing the world, will turn a lie into the truth."

intimations of greatness

Strolling through the fields of evening.
Paddy Pup is mooching along beside me contentedly enough.
The ghost of CS Lewis appears.
He seems anxious to talk.
"You know James," he says, "some of us who seem quite nice people may in fact have made so little use of a good heredity and a good upbringing that we are really worse than those we regard as fiends."
I nod grimly.
"You mean my writings about Muslim terrorists," sez I.
CS takes a step backwards.
"Actually I was referring to the Johnston Press," sez he.

Monday, November 10, 2008

bleak heart

a boy stands in a field above the town
he does not know what the years will bring
dark night touches him and the rain
his spirit leaps in his imagining

a man writes at table in the dark
he wonders of all things what we are
spirits creatures objects worse
pitched forth comets about a dying star

tell me if all time is one time
and what is was and will be
was the boy already corrupt as he looked upon the town
am i already dead as i write