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, April 11, 2009

the waiting

grey light upon sleeping fields
the stillness I have come to love
time and tide cease surcease
peace sits like a glove
shadow sifts like memory
the dogs stirs at his chain
and whines and lifts his eyes
for the walk he knows we'll take
though storm clouds steal the skies
and grey light curtains into rain
so waits the world tonight
in darkness and in pain
the world waits for christ

Friday, April 10, 2009

temporary diversions

An afternoon looking after the nephew and niece.
I don't know what sort of parents those kids have.
I mean I wouldn't leave me to look after a dog.
(Woof. - Paddy Pup note.)
Let me this way put it.
My capacity to command is not my most salient feature.
And kids sense this instantly.
There was a nice moment in the middle of the day when I proclaimed the classic one liner: "No boldies."
The nephew and niece nearly collapsed laughing.
But they were ready to resume their riot in a surprisingly short amount of time.
Only now the chaos was regularly interspersed with cries of: "You're a boldie," "No, you're a boldie," and so on ad infinitboldie-itum.
I suppose someday all this will attain a rose tinted hue.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

lessons in nature

I've had three lessons from the natural world that I am aware of.

Once in Rome.
I was sitting on a bench looking at the most bedraggled pigeon on earth.
He was injured and would not live long.
A wave of atheism swept over me.
How could there be a God who would make such a miserable creature.
I thought there could be no God for this pigeon.
Abruptly the pigeon took off.
He rose into the gold serenity of a Roman sky.
He wheeled above the rooftops and soared higher again.
In his flying, he was experiencing sensations I could never know.
Without any merit on my part, I had been permitted to see how the universe held glories even for a dying pigeon.
I followed his flight for many minutes until he was just a speck against the immensity of heaven.
At that moment I understood that in his most ordinary everyday experience of flying, the pigeon would know unfathomable elations the like of which a human being cannot guess at, short of eternity.
I was humbled.
Ever since, I cannot look at a pigeon without thinking of the majesty of the creator.

Another time I saw a cat falling from the top of a tall tree.
I felt sorry for the cat.
Again existence seemed briefly purposeless and merciless.
About half way to the ground, the cat struck a branch which broke beneath her.
Her fall continued.
Just above the ground, she struck another branch.
This one didn't break.
The cat was deflected sideways and came to earth.
She walked away insouciant and dignified as befits the race of cats.
You could have not have known from her manner what had just happened to her.
She was all aplomb.
I stared.
I could feel something.
In life sometimes we get a terrible thump, a trauma or a tragedy, and it seems useless and unfair that we should experience what we are experiencing, and we hardly know how we can keep living.
Then we get another terrible thump, another even more painful more egregious injustice, perhaps another branch breaking beneath us, and we broach the precincts of nightmarish despair.
But we are close to the ground now.
And the two impacts may have saved us from certain death in a fall we never even suspected was happening.
Every tragedy brings a triumph.
The Lord turns to the good all things for those who love him.

And finally this morning.
I opened the curtains at dawn.
Terence and Teresita, the two turtledoves, were canoodling on the telephone wire opposite my window.
Nestling against each other.
Occasionally burying their heads one into the other's shoulder feathers.
There was a tenderness in them that struck most nearly upon my heart.
Here is the spirit of love in nature.
This togetherness is what is true.
Not pornography. Or fetishisms. Or drugs.
My soul rejoiced.
I called out to the reverent creatures.
"Hey you two," I shouted. "Get a room."

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

the results of the heelers enquiry into father anthony de mello

1. Father Anthony De Mello, a Jesuit priest, was a native of India. His family came from Goa where many of the people have European names as a consequence of their colonial history. Goa was formerly ruled by Portugal and native Goans took Portuguese names.

2. Father De Mello's religious writings often focus on the mind, and on the search for mental healing.

3. In the aftermath of his death there have been formal pronouncements from the Catholic church suggesting to its followers that the writings of Father De Mello are not to be regarded as official church teaching or as necessarily in keeping with that teaching.

4. Those who appreciate and support the work of Father De Mello, many of whom are not Catholic or Christian or indeed religious at all, have nonetheless been anxious to retain the official sanction of the church for his writings and work.

5. Some of these proponents of his work, (who regard Father De Mello almost as a guru and might be expected not to care what the Catholic church thinks of him), nonetheless take serious umbrage at the Catholic church for daring through its teaching authority to express reservations about his work. They perceive a slight on Father De Mello and on his work.

6. Some of Father De Mello's proponents consider it necessary to seek to overturn the church's assessment of his work.

7. My familiarity with Father De Mello's writing relates to his book on faith, meditation and mental healing called Sadhana a way to God.

8. In my view the book offers innovative perspectives and methodologies which have a useful application to mental healing.

9. In my view the approaches contained in the book have a very real potential to bring about mental healing for people who have faced a range of mental traumas, oppressions, and difficulties. The book offers concrete hope and not pie in the sky wishful thinking.

10. I believe Father De Mello's methodology and compassion may have a scientific validity in the search for human healing.

11. I believe Father De Mello's advice on meditation if properly followed may offer a new prospect for dealing with and healing mental suffering.

12. I do not believe Father De Mello's approach is specifically Catholic.

13. Seeking to label Father De Mello's writings on meditation as Catholic is in my opinion like seeking to label Nells Bohr's model of the atom as Catholic. In the church we believe anything that is ultimately true will be seen to fit into God's plan. But we do not rush to accord church endorsement to scientific, medical or philosophical theories. It usually is not necessary to do so.

14. In my opinion, the Catholicity or not, of Father De Mello's views is demonstrated most clearly when he writes of visions in which Saint Francis and Saint Anthony encountered Jesus at different stages of Jesus' life. While in prayer, Saint Francis is supposed to have found himself helping the Lord down from the cross. Saint Anthony similarly in prayer is said to have found himself cradling the infant Jesus in his arms. Father De Mello notes that Jesus was no longer on the cross or an infant when these visions took place. If I understand him correctly, he concludes that the visions therefore were imaginary. I would contend his understanding of Saint Francis and Saint Anthony's mystical visions is not a Catholic one. My own understanding of the Catholic position (which I submit to the faithful for their assessment) would be that if the mystical experiences were genuine, then Saint Francis was in actuality, reality and truth, helping Jesus down from the cross, while Saint Anthony was in actuality, reality and truth, cradling the infant Jesus. In no measure would the actuality of these events be limited by human understanding. In no measure could they be called works of the imagination. In no measure were they dreams.

15. Father De Mello's writings in Sadhana are valid, life affirming, englightening and bold.

16. Father De Mello's writings draw freely on the Bible and the Catholic tradition.

17. Father De Mello's teaching is at its best when he is advocating and indeed demonstrating the possibility of mental peace.

18. His teachings have broader applications in Psychology and Psychiatry and may even surpass those two disciplines.

19. Father De Mello in his heart of hearts seems to believe that the mystical reality of Jesus is a work of the imagination.

20. His writings are not specifically Catholic.

21. We preach Christ crucified. If he did not die and rise again, there is no reason for our hope.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Long after midnight.
Walking with Paddy Pup on the avenue.
Gospel shiver of wind through the leaves in the garden of my father.
The warm breeze ruffles my hair.
The natural world is praising God.
Suddenly my spirit becomes absolutely still.
What am I feeling?
Something different.
Between worlds.
Almost out of this one.
Sensing the spirit behind every rejoicing physical thing.
Humble before the throne of heaven.
It's my cousin Jennifer.
It must be.
I haven't felt this since the night ten years ago she was married.
It's exactly the same sensation.
The reverence.
The exultation of nature.
And tonight her child is due to come into the world.
The garden is alive with spirit just as it was then.
God has given me this rhyme.
This rhyme of memory and spirit.
All of nature stands electric at the prospect of continuance.
In the warm wind's ruffle I contemplate the majesty of the creator.
The holyness of the moment is sweet as incense.
Holy, holy, holy Lord.
God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosannah in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosannah in the highest.
God bless you Jennifer and your child in this hour.
Hosannah in the highest.


Here's an odd find.
This evening on my shelves, I came across a Dilbert book.
The Best Of Dilbert Volume 2, to be precise.
A nice softback pocket size volume.
I flicked through it.
And lo!
A treasure trove.
For interspersed with Scott Adams' moderately funny Dilbert cartoons, are a whole series of lost genius jottings by me.
Priceless indeed.
Now I remember.
I had brought the Dilbert book with me on holiday to Italy a few years ago, and had used it as a sort of diary whenever inspiration struck me.
So on the inside cover we find in blue biro:
"Friday 25 April 2003: I'm in the Caffe Greco in Rome. It's not much. Trading on rep. Good photo with Orson Welles and a bunch of unknown Italian poets in the corner. Taken on some lost night wandering around Europe before Welles was famous. The artist must squeeze to the front. No, no. A particular type of artist will squeeze to the front. Another option is to live for art."
On the Dilbert title page, I've scribbled:
"Lady Windermere slogans...
1. Oscar Wilde didn't write this crap.
2. The play that dare not speak its name.
3. Never has mindless vulgarity so illumined the human condition."

I think number 3 is a winner.
On Scott Adams dedicatory fly leaf he has inscribed the book to someone called Pam. I've written a phone number "(086) 1939481," and beside it the name "Elskie." Ah. I remember. It belongs to a Dublin actress called Elskie Reihill. She's been in some films and has what we lechers call a certain ethereal quality. Like a good looking Kiera Knightly. You get the picture. Elskie was an early try out for Lady Windermere. But she didn't like the cut of my jib. Crumbs though she was gorgeous. Beneath her name and phone number, oh yet more tender memories, I've jotted a plotline for a proposed episode of my old humour column at the Leinster Leader. To wit:
"Reading the mobile phone instruction booklet for international travellers. Make fun of the hidden charges etc etc. Also maybe an open letter to Vodaphone where I complain about the models in their brochure. Something along the lines of, not all mobile phone users are sex mad hyper gonadal teenagers you know, just some of us. Trying to make sense of the different tariffs and conditions. Apparently if I use the mobile phone after midnight in Rome it (or I?) will turn into a pumpkin. Obsess a bit about the happy gonadal teenagers who appear to be Vodaphone's ideal customer. Maybe us ugly blokes' money isn't good enough for them etc etc."

Beside the Dilbert introduction I've noted:
"The saddest thing on earth is to desire an image."
Well I got that right.
Turning the page we find another diary style entry:
"Spanish Steps, Saturday 26th April 2003: Tourist asking me to take her picture. Me taking it. Imagining a similar scene where Picasso before he's famous is asked to take such a picture. Oh heavy heavy irony. Tourist goes away without realising who I am."

On page 18, where Dogbert is telling Dilbert he wants to bask in his wisdom, I've written in the margin:
"The Pantheon. Someone just asked me to sign a roll book in homage to the sovereigns of Italy who are buried in this building. I was going to write, I pay homage to no man. Instead I just signed."

Page 24. I've noted:
"The Italians have been doing this for centuries. Build the most beautiful cities on earth and then charge people through the nose to see them."

Page 26.
"The Keats museum is not worth seeing. You have to climb a thousand steps before you discover there's an entry fee. Then you peer around the door and discover it's just a room with a few photos. But after climbing the stairs you are inclined to pay so as not to waste your exertions."

On page 30, with Dogbert musing that a million monkeys before a million typewriters would write Shakespeare's plays if given an infinite amount of time. Dilbert shows him a poem and asks what he thinks of it. Dogbert replies: "Three monkeys, ten minutes." This cartoon is entirely unrelated to the epiphany I've scribbled beneath it:
"Somehow the left wing is vital. And these are the people I have always opposed. Together we complete the conscience of mankind."
The mood alters on the facing page where I add:
"Eating Pringles at the Piazza Navona. Yobs nearby. I'm thinking defensive thoughts: They'll have to pluck the Pringles from my cold dead hand."
And a further mood altering random note on yet another topic:
"MTV Italy logo is a peace sign. They have guessed wrong as to the mood of this country. The Italians are ready to fight Islamic terror."

A few pages further on Dilbert receives a complaint that Dogbert has been attacking mailmen. Dogbert reveals that he only wants to study them and learn their migratory patterns. Beside this cartoon I've dashed down the name: "Teatro De Servi Roma (06) 6795130." I remember passing the theatre in the street, taking the number, and thinking in a rush of blood to the head, that I might ring em and join up. Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted I would ever come back.

Page 43. "Stillness is prayer."

Page 44. "Afternoon at the temple of Castor and Pollux. Ancient Roman insults had an Irish ring to them, ie You dirty Castorin Pollux."

Page93. "(086) 8734862... Whose number is this. They texted me in Rome. Check when I get back to Ireland."

Page 94. A woman Dilbert doesn't know rings him and says she will never go out with him. He muses: "Women have gained first strike capability." Dogbert advises: "Surrender." My own musings relate to more ethereal matters. I've jotted:
"All that arse about the artist always knowing his work must someday pass away. I lost a diary a few weeks ago and it was like the end of the world. It was like as if Chairman Mao had lost his one and only draft of The Little Red Book prior to publication. Except my stuff is better written than Chairman Mao's and less likely to lead to massive extirpations of human beings."

The final cartoon in the book has Dogbert telling Dilbert: "You shouldn't worry so much about what other people think of your work... I mean everybody scoffed at the Wright brothers. Galileo was jailed. Columbus was ridiculed. Of course none of those guys had a head shaped like a torpedo."
Above the cartoon I've noted rather poignantly: "Colli Albani tube stop. 4.30pm Friday. Followed the most stunning girl to the Psychology Building."
Below this note, another:, translation company in Rome.
Must have been thinking again about moving there!
And below the translation company note:
"Theatre Metateatro (06) 58333253."
I wonder do any of these numbers still exist. The lifespan of your average theatre company in Rome like in the rest of the world is not long. The Elskie number would be worth a call though.

On the back flap of the cover is my final entry. It reads:
"There is one blessing in life greater than to live without fear, oppression, or pain, in the perpetual light of the Lord. That is to have lived with fear, oppression and pain, and to have found your way into the perpetual light of the Lord."

the light speaks of you

ten questions for the johnston press

1. Who are you people?

2. What right had you to take over the newspaper where I worked?

3. What right had you to fire me?

4. Is the collapse in the trading position of the Leinster Leader and the Johnston Press since you fired me, (with a share price of £4 the night I was fired to a share price of pennies today) the fault of the people you fired or the fault of the people doing the firing?

5. How many people did you fire from the Leinster Leader?

6. How many people did you make redundant with minimum statutory redundancy payments from the Leinster Leader?

7. How many people chose to leave the Leinster Leader rather than work for you after you fired me?

8. What did you do with my 500 pension contributions paid over ten years?

9. Did you use any part of my pension to pay your retiring chief executive Tim Bowdler, the one who presided over the purchase of the Leinster Leader for 138 million quid and who presided over the collapse of the Johnston Press share price to a level of five pennies?

10. Is downsizing the appropriate way to deal with an economic downturn?

11. At what point, given that your old Chief Executive oversaw the deal to buy the Leinster Leader for 138 million quid, at what point would it become appropriate to downsize such a fellow?

12. Your new Chief Executive John Fry formerly headed up a publisher called Archant which isn't doing particularly well at the moment. Is Fry being paid out of my pension?

13. At what stage, and at what level of incompetence would you consider downsizing a Chief Executive?

14. Can senior management figures at the Johnston Press ever be downsized say in the event of them causing a new ice age or something?

15. What motivates people like you to purchase independently trading centuries old newspapers using money borrowed from idiot banks?

16. What class of people are you?

17. Are you accountable to God?

18. Do you go to church?

19. Have you no shame?

20. How dare you?

Monday, April 06, 2009

on wings of darkness

it was only a name
when gloaming held the heather
and darkness drifted in

my soul took flight
through a world of winter
to where the curlew cried

coming shortly to a theatre near you

James Healy's outrageous new play...
The most subversive night's theatre you will ever see...
Never before has the stage dared to be soooooo explicit... Lady Windermere's Fanny
(Oscar Wilde didn't write this crap)

with friends like these

The Irish Times went in to bat for the beleagured Johnston Press at the weekend.
An article in the The Irish Times business section noted that the Johnston Press had "done well," to elicit three expressions of interest in the sale of its Irish titles.
One might be forgiven for doubting the sincerity of The Irish Times' admiration vis a vis the Johnston Press.
The Irish Times writer observed tellingly that advertising revenues at the Johnston Press are in "freefall."
The Irish Times added with sacharine sweet sympathy:
"You have to wonder for example what impact the closure of Dell Computers and the companies indirectly linked to it in the area will have on the Limerick Leader, one of the bigger titles in Johnston Press's Irish stable."
The concern of the Irish Times is indeed touching, no?
The Irish Times then made a rather cryptic remark.
The Irish Times wrote:
"The fact that The Irish Times, Independent News & Media, and Thomas Crosbie Holdings showed little or no interest in the sales process tells its own story."
What on earth can the Irish Times mean by this?
It's most odd.
What story is being told?
Or not being told?
In a welter of compassion The Irish Times concluded:
"It remains to be seen what price debt laden Johnston Press might achieve for its Irish papers. Initial reports suggested up to €80 million, a significant haircut on the €250 million the Scottish media group paid to buy them. It now seems more likely to be between €30 and €40 million. And even that price level might be optimistic."
Ah yes.
With friends and admirers like the Irish Times, who needs enemies?
Somebody should tell the Irish Times though that mocking is catching.
As for my old Hire-um and Fire-um pals at the Johnston Press...
I have defeated you.
You are nothing.
Get out of my country.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

belling the cats

(Heelz and the media.)

The Daily Mail ran a curious advertisement for itself on Saturday without any apparent sense of irony.
The page size magazine ad was headlined: "Four reasons why you'll love the Irish Daily Mail."
It featured pictures of four harridans who are apparently Dail Mail journalists, namely: Brenda Power, Fiona Looney, Mary Carr, and Regina Lavelle.
Beneath each name was a slogan summing up that particular harridan's attributes as follows.
Brenda Power: Fearless, forthright, compassionate.
Fiona Looney: Irreverent, irrepressible, irresistible.
Mary Carr: Unpredictable and always provocative.
Regina Lavelle: Are you thinking what she's thinking?
On reading this paean to the hagerdotal, I couldn't help wondering do the ladies in question ever borrow each others' attributes...
Does Brenda Power sometimes become irresistible?
Has Fiona Looney ever perhaps written fearlessly, forthrightly and compassionately?
Does anyone even by sheer chance ever wind up thinking what Mary Carr is thinking?
And could they not come up with a better epithet for Regina Lavelle?

Meanwhile my old humanitarian pals at the Johnston Press, (Slogan: Life is local. Especially when we fire you.) have issued a statement claiming they have had three expressions of interest in the purchase of their Irish titles. Among the interested parties claimed by the Johnston Press is a certain John McStay. I recognise that name from somewhere. At some stage of his life, John McStay became the owner of a large number of shares in the Leinster Leader newspaper. I don't know how he came to own those shares. Probably through some inherent merit of his own. When he and other share holders sold the paper to the Johnston Press, I was fired. Now a year after firing me, the share price of the Johnston Press has fallen from four quid to five pennies, and the Johnston Press is leaving Ireland with their tails between their legs. Seriously though, they did a brilliant job. And lo! John McStay is back on the scene as a supposed bidder once more for the Leinster Leader. Is that how society is supposed to work? Whoever wins or loses, John McStay ends up ahead. Whatever happens to the rest of the staff John McStay ends up owning the Leinster Leader? Hoo boy. Now that's a social vision I can sign up to. And I used to wonder where communism and terrorism came from.

The Irish Times has begun dropping weighted hints that maybe just maybe the Irish government should give free money to national newspapers with no readers in order to help them to survive. The Irish Times is not terribly explicit in its description of itself as a potential recipient of such largesse, but we may legitimately suspect that the series of articles on the matter last week, probably weren't intended to get emergency relief funds for Tony O'Reilly's rat infested moribund anti Catholic crew at Independent Newspapers. The Irish Times started this campaign for government funding, with a straight forward report suggesting the Americans would have to soon bail out their own dying lefty newspapers, The Washington Compost and The New York Time(s) To Surrender To The Jihadis. This was followed by a sledge hammer subtle piece of free money agit prop by Margaret Ward on Saturday. Ah yes. That old gag. Trying to get the public ready to divvy up for newspapers we don't read. She wrote: "Now more than ever we need a strong investigative media committed to shining a light in all those dark places. Who dares to fund it?" Here is the news. The Irish Times is hoping we'll all be compelled to fund the Irish Times regardless of whether we read the Irish Times or not. Traditionally both The Irish Times and Tony O'Reilly's Independent Swinepapers have survived without readers. That is to say for three decades they have survived on government State Sector and Health Board advertising. I would suggest that this advertising should not have been placed with those newspapers in the first place. It meant I was personally funding anti Americanism at The Irish Times and anti Catholicism at The Irish Independent without ever buying either of those dreadful fervourless talentless divorcenik condom culture abortion pill promoting rags. Yes I was never really happy with the procedures involved in the placing of such advertising with The Irish Times and Independant Newspapers. I always wondered was the process corrupt. I mean if I give you twenty million dollars for a few ads in your no readers newspapers, it's no big deal for you to hand me back a million for myself. I wonder did it ever happen. And now the Health Board advertising isn't enough for em. They want more. Here's an idea. Why don't they start working for a living. I mean just for fun Irish Times and Independent Newspapers management and journalists. Just for fun, I say. Get a job.

And finally Esther. Mr Ian O'Doherty who writes an unusually insightful and zesty little column called The Heelers Diaries for the Irish Independent, seemed uncharacteristically vindicative this weekend with a series of paranoid delusional attacks on Bonio and the gallant little Belgian (Bob Geldoff). Mr O'Doherty's mean spirited vituperation came just a day after some light hearted ribbing on this website directed at the same two heroes of popular humanitarianism. The coincidences just mount up don't they. He should rip off Regina Lavelle instead. But maybe he's just not thinking what she's thinking.