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, May 02, 2009


Flicking through the news channels.
I am mildly bemused.
The great media groups of the Free World are going flop bott and cracker dog about a flu outbreak.
The great swine flu epidemic of 2009.
An invasion of sniffles that threatens the world, if you believe em.
I kid you not.
Sky News has just spent ten minutes analysing the movements of a young man who likes beer and football and has just returned to England from Mexico with a runny nose.
This young man's photo is on the screen. His friends' photos are on the screen.
Dramatic red lines link the photos to demonstrate visually the leaping outrush of viral infection.
It would all be terrifying if it wasn't so bally ridiculous.
"He came back from Mexico and visited his friend Rodney," proclaims the Sky newsreader with dread solemnity. "Then he met a few more friends in a pub. None of them are known to have developed any symptoms. He hasn't gone to work yet but some of his work colleagues may have met him over the weekend at other locations. They too may be tested for symptoms."
Epic stuff indeed.
But symptoms of what?
It's a bloody cold.
That's all it is.
No one is dying from it outside of the slums of Mexico.
As the Irish businessman Michael O'Leary remarked: "If you get it, take a few Strepsils."
Bloody hell.
Sky are acting like its the end of the world.
Oh brave Sky News, how thou hast conquered.
These are people who wouldn't support the War On Terror, if the Jihadis were swinging from the chandeliers at Buckingham Palace.
(We are. Weeeeeeeeeee. - Jihadi note.)
But Global Warming?
An outbreak of the common cold?
Call the Feds Ma Kettle, we're all gonna die.
For ten minutes Sky have been earnestly mapping the movements of a most unprepossessing young man who, with all due respect, has no place on national or international television.
Sky have all but ignored a breaking story from the Netherlands about a man who has just driven his vehicle into a street parade in an attempt to kill the Dutch Royal family.
The Dutch attacker has murdered five people attending the parade.
No one knows if it's an Al Qaeda attack or not.
And this isn't the main story of the night?
We are sleeping our way into slavery.

Friday, May 01, 2009

as dew fresh kissed the morning

(Title taken from a poem by the Welsh humorist and versifier Max Boyce.)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

the moon's a balloon

Evening at the Chateau.
I'm trying to type on the computer while MC hamster scrogs around up my sleeve.
It's not easy.
The door opens.
Tis the Dad.
"James," quoth he in hushed tones. "Can you keep a secret."
I look into the middle distance for a moment.
Presumably his question is rhetorical.
Or ironic.
Or both.
"What's going on?" sez I, neatly avoiding any further speculative ruminations on my discretionary capacities.
The Dad casts a surreptitious glance over his shoulder.
"I think I've won a quarter of a million in the lottery," sez he.
That little vein some of you have come to know and love above my left eyebrow, gives a gentle throb.
The noble Heelers rises with restrained dignity from his seat at the computer.
"You're not bloody serious!" I scream calmly.
The Dad nods.
"I am serious," quoth he, "I just want you to check the ticket."
I follow the Dad to the kitchen.
We check the ticket.
There is a mistake.
We haven't won.
Let us draw a curtain on that tender scene.
Later tonight I found the Mammy laughing to herself in the front room.
"What's so funny?" sez I.
"You know well," sez she.
"I'm still not over it," sez I.
"Sure what do you care?" sez she.
"He'd probably have given me fifty quid for myself," sez I.
"I wouldn't bet on it," sez she.
I whistled up Paddy Pup for his night walk.
Outside a regent moon was riding through the treetops in the garden of my father.
I had absolutely no interest in it whatsoever.

boom shacka boom boom

A sober Heelers is driving through the heartland of South Kildare.
He is sober because earlier today he had lunch with Brian Coleforth an old friend from school days who has gone up in the world.
Brian has a career.
At least compared to me he has.
For the past few days my old friend has been squiring a representative from one of the more despotic Arab governments around Dublin.
The best comment I can make on Brian's career is that when our Paddy Whack government want someone for a job like this, they call him.
It's success of a sort.
Bitter, moi?
Career eclipsed by old friend. But that's not why I'm morose and sullen.
No it's because...
As is my wont I had asked him more than I wanted to know about the minder's job he's been doing with old Ahmed of Arabia.
"Did you go to his house?" I wondered.
"Yeah he invited me to dinner," said Brian.
"Did you insist he let the women eat in the same room with you?" I enquired.
"No I didn't," replied my friend.
"Did you talk about Nine Eleven?" I persisted.
"He says the Jews did it," answered Brian matter of factly.
This comment alone explains my present discombobulations as I drive.
For the businesslike way Brian spoke it, brought home to me how little in common I have with my old friend.
And worse.
It also brought home how early we are in the war on terror.
But as I drive now my spirit lifts almost in spite of myself. The unfolding rural paradise of Ireland seems a long way from the world of warfare and geopolitical calmity which has been weighing upon me.
A seditious enthusiasm touches my heart.
Presently I find myself singing.
I am singing a parody of an old Michael Jackson song.
I am singing it with gusto.
The song runs:

"My baby likes to go insane and hijack commercial aeroplanes.
She thinks that's alright.
And sometimes she self detonates, in a cafe with her mates,
And blows up everything in sight.

Don't blame it on the sunshine.
Don't blame it on the moonlight.
Don't blame it on the good times.
Blame it on the Israelis...
Sunshine... Moonlight... Good times... Israelis.

My baby likes giving hell to countless screaming infidels.
She does it all night.
And sometimes to get in the paper, she knocks over big skyscrapers,
She reckons this is sort of nice.

Don't blame it on Al Qaedah.
Don't blame it on Hamas.
Don't blame it on the Hezbollah.
Lay it on the Israelis.
Mass murder... Jihad... good times... Israelis...
Beheadings... Chemical weapons... moonlight... Israelis."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

it's my party and i'll discuss social engineering if i want to

House party in Dublin.
Three Spanishies.
Two Poles.
Two Italians.
A Bulgarian.
And me.
I am the only Irish person there.
They are beautiful people.
So I fit right in.
When the revel is at its height someone pronounces the following legend.
"You know as recently as ten years ago in Ireland you couldn't get condoms without a prescription."
All eyes turn on me.
There is silence.
I think I genuinely heard a bullfrog croak.
And I definitely saw tumbleweed blowing from the kitchen to the loo.
I thought for a moment.
There was a certain temptation to go along with the crowd.
It would have been so easy to dissociate myself from the past. I could just smile and make some cheesy remark about days gone by. No need to express any reservations about condom culture.
"Well," I said in a long exhale. "Forty years ago, you couldn't get condoms in any of our countries. Your countries or mine."
There came a quick rejoinder.
"Yes," shot back the Perfect Fit. "But that's forty years ago. Come on."
More perfect silence.
"Well," said I, "I know someone who spent his teenage years talking about condoms. It was condoms this and condoms that and hooray for all the condoms. He kept on and on about how condoms would free the masses. Then he spent the next twenty years desperately trying to father a child."
The bullfrog again.
This time he was joined by a few friends.
The tumbleweed reappeared, peeping round the door at me.
The Perfect Fit spoke again.
"You don't really think condoms should be unavailable?" she said.
Hoo boy.
Intent silence.
Like the remotest part of Siberia on an off night.
"Well," I said, this time actually savouring my third trip to the well. "Condoms haven't exactly brought the golden age of peace, enlightenment, prosperity and social harmony which their proponents predicted for them."
There was laughter then.

to the devil an over actor

Phonecall from Siobhan Patterson.
She is better known to scholars of my work as Siobhan Scattergun.
She is a character.
She bears no resemblance to any other person living or dead.
Except herself.
"Reggie McGroarity is getting married," she chirps.
I groan.
From somewhere closeby the soundtrack to The Good The Bad And The Ugly goes Aieeeeeaieeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaah.
Reggie McGroarity!
He's an actor who got his first big break back in 1996 playing a bit part in my play Vampires Of Dublin.
His first big break.
A bit part.
My play.
He has since gone on to fame and fortune.
I have a lot to answer for.
Reggie McGroarity!
Left ham of the devil.
In the past year he's won a national theatre award, played the lead role in Look Back In Anger, and starred in an insufferable Amstel Lager commercial.
He's currently doing the rounds in some follow up television advertisement.
By the way, if McGroarity is the left ham, just to keep the record straight, you should know that the right ham of the devil is Michael Appourchaux, a French actor who also got his first big break in an even bittier part in my Vampires play, and who like McGroarity has gone on to bigger things.
In France, some of the critics are referring to Appourchaux as the new Depardieu.
I kid you not.
It's not the phrase I would have chosen.
Ah, everybody's making it big but me.
But I digress.
Scattergun was still on the phone, holding for some quotable quote.
"So McGroarity is getting married," quoth I.
"Yes," sez she, "he found a girl up the mountains."
"Carpathians?" enquired I.
"Wicklows," said she.
After a few less than charitable comments from me she rang off.
In many ways I am a bitter man.
I don't always enjoy seeing my proteges triumph.
I mean, whatever next bold readers!
A Pulitzer prize for the Johnston Press?

heelers inferno

The seventh ring of hell.
Satan is sitting in the canteen with a caffe latte brooding over the vicissitudes of life.
The groans of those in torment rise from the workshop floor but the prince of darkness is oblivious to them.
At this moment he finds no joy in the suffering of lost souls.
He is preoccupied.
Enter Asmodeus stage left.
Asmodeus works as a supervisor keeping an eye on the demons of temptation who toil in Sector Seven G.
"What's up boss?" he says sitting down.
Satan glowers.
"It's those arse wipes in the Johnston Press," he mutters bitterly.
"What about em?" wonders his minion.
Satan's glower grows more heartfelt.
"You know that Heelers thinks they've offended God by firing Ireland's greatest living poet," sez Satan.
"By firing who?" sez Asmodeus.
"Heelers means himself," sez Satan.
"Okay, so what?" sez Asmodeus.
Satan's glower becomes positively poignant.
"Think about it," he grates. "If the heroes of the Johnston Press have genuinely offended God by firing Heelers from the Leinster Leader, what do you think God will do about it? What if he smites them? What if he gives them a good smiting in the balls? Imagine it Asmodeus. What if he sends them all here? We'll be putting up with low rent little spiv parvenus clutching accountancy and marketing degrees for all eternity."
Asmodeus gulped.
"And computer certificates," he spat. "They've got lots of those. You really think God would add to our punishment by sending those sh-t heads here? Heaven help us."
Satan nodded.
From outside the canteen the cries of the damned seemed strangely fervourless today.
Maybe they'd heard the rumour.
"We'll have to put up with the bloody ephin Johsnton Press crowd until the end of time," went on Satan morosely. "It doesn't really bear thinking about, does it? Damnation is one thing. But damnation with parvenus. Why, it's an abomination."
The gargoylesque visage of Asmodeus was a study.
He spoke as if from far away.
"The Johnston Press," he shuddered. "F--king hell!"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

name day

people like years in the city streets
throng in the rain it falls like centuries
the fall of man is never so complete
the fall of night never such a certainty
clocks are striking somewhere down the quays

as i am struck my thirtieth hour done
takes wing like a soul circles and is gone
alone amid the crowd i hear the rain
drum the outright tragedy of man
birth is death divided by a span

a moment of gentle introspection

Why did I ever allow the Johnston Press to think I was working for them?
What on earth was I doing permitting a rag like the Leinster Leader to associate itself with my name?
How could I have contemplated having anything to do with people of their ilk?
Think about it.
Ireland's greatest living poet working for a thing called the Johnston Press.
What possible motive could I have had for allowing such a shower of low rent parvenus to form the mistaken, nay deluded, opinion that they were in a position to fire me?
Why did I do it?
We have to wonder gentle travellers of the internet.
Scholars of the future are going to look back and exclaim: "What the hell was Heelers thinking of?"
You can understand the dilemma for the scholars.
You've got to look at it from the point of view of posterity.
In all modesty, it's going to look well nigh incomprehensible that a man of my sublime and enlightened genius ever had anything to do with such unconscionable scruff.
Sort of like if Aristotle had taken a job as a barrow boy working for a bunch of Hampstead spivs.
"Coo blimey, Missus Mulligan, fancy an esoteric insight into the phenomenological nature of the universe?"
Ah it makes me mad.
What was I thinking of?
And am I bitter?
But what have I to be bitter about?
Geniuses do not obsess about the fate of spivs.
True, I'm told the share price of the Johnstown Press has had something of a collapse since the great men fired me.
Yes, my spies in the Leinster Leader say things haven't entirely gone swimmingly there either.
I wonder did their readership fall without me?
I wonder was there a massive slowdown in advertising revenue?
I wonder was there a haemorrhage of staff who weren't totally delighted with the way I was treated?
And does anybody seriously think the Leinster Leader will last five years without me?
Does anybody seriously think the Johnston Press isn't on the verge of disappearing entirely?
I wonder.
But the principal question remains.
Why the hell did I ever allow such worthless entities as the Johnston Press and the Leinster Leader to pose as my employers?
By entities I mean gits.
Let's face it.
The most magnificent thing any of those people will accomplish in their mediocre miserable mercantilist lives will be to fire me.
Aside from their contact with me, history could have had no interest in them.
I have built them a monument more lasting than bronze.

Monday, April 27, 2009

quintessence of relaxation

today they said

Seamus Dooley (President of the National Union of Journalists speaking on RTE radio's The Pat Kenny Show ): "The Johnston Press situation in Ireland is one of the worst examples of the madness of the Celtic Tiger period."

James Healy: "Ah yes Seamus. When they came for the Jews you did not speak out because you weren't a Jew. And now they've come for you, and there's no one left to speak out. Isn't that it Seamus? Now you're speaking out. Now. After hundreds of firings, redundancies and dismissals, and with every provincial paper in Ireland going down the tubes. Now. Now you've found your voice. Well done Robespierre. On to the Bastille. You're arriving a bit late at this party, Seamus. I remember telling the union rep at the Leinster Leader four years ago that there was no way we should accept the takeover of our newspaper by a British company. I remember explaining gently that these people didn't know us, didn't care about us, and wouldn't have any particular compunction about firing us. I remember telling him we should insist on explicit guarantees regarding job stability and financial compensation before allowing the takeover to take place. I remember telling him that the people taking over the newspaper were paying too much for it and would try to make back their investment by firing journalists and by welching on pension deals. Ah yes. I remember. I remember. I remember. And the great NUJ man told me we had no right to fight the takeover. No legal right. That's some trade union you got there Seamus. You think staff members don't have a right to oppose a foreign takeover of the company where they've worked for ten or twenty or thirty years. Hoo boy. I've always wondered just how committed that union rep was to the rights of the journalists he was supposed to represent. What do you think Seamus? Who was he working for? Yeah, that's some trade union you've got there alright. Getting a bit smaller though, isn't it? Not much point in a journalists trade union if every newspaper in the country has been taken over by the Johnston Press and has then gone bust. Good luck with that Seamus. And thank you for all your help during my time at the Leinster Leader. Just remind me. What was I paying you for again? To sit on your arse drinking sherry with Tony O'Reilly in Dublin? Oh, if you get a chance in the midst of your heroic tireless newly begun battle to save Irish journalism, you might try finding out what the Johnston Press did with ten years of my pension contributions. I've always wondered. And they're not returning my calls."

television listings

RTE1 (The Irish national broadcaster.)
4.25 Murder She Wrote. Jessica solves her seven hundredth murder in a row. But how do you spell hundredth? Nobody watches this except Angela Lansbury's immediate family.
5.20 Nuacht. The news in Irish. Even Angela Lansbury's family draw the line at this.
5.30 The Bill. Licence fee financed British cop show. Heavy on social realism. Light on entertainment. Weightless on viewers.
6.01 The News. The news as seen by left wing Jihadi loving anti American gits.
7.00 Nationwide. News style reports from around Ireland intended to show that RTE is justified in having a Stalinist monopoly on broadcasting.
7.30 Written Off. RTE's social conscience programme. Pure drivel.
8.00 Eastenders. Cheery dessicated drivel. British licence fee financed socialist porn.
8.30 Consuming Passions. Three insufferable toffee nosed horse lovers discuss their raison d'etre; ie the fact that God created them and put em on TV to punish the rest of us.
9.00 News. Another RTE news programme. Will tonight's manipulation of the truth swing to the right? Like hell it will.
9.30 Designs For Life. Nobody cares what this is.
10.35 Questions And Answers. John Bowman's panel show in which his friends blame the Catholic church for the mayhem they themselves have unleashed on Ireland. Vile drivel.
11.35 News. You can tell this station is funded through a compulsory licence fee, by the number of news programmes it broadcasts. Clearly these pseuds aren't even looking for viewers.
11.40 Mad Men. Nobody cares what this is.
12.40 The Late Late Show. The oleaginous Pat Kenny, who recently obtained a million dollar property in Dublin through adverse possession, (ie by squatting), presents RTE's flagship chat show programme focussing on all that is best in Irish life. Lovely lovely people. It is such a privilege to finance their agendas.
2.20am Questions And Answers. A repeat of the programme shown earlier tonight. Intended for people who missed the first broadcast or for those insane enough to want to watch it twice.
3.35 Shortland Street. Nobody cares what this is.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

the wakening silence

a woman sleeping
i watch her face
i've looked in half the world and have not found
such peace
as in it now
faint smile or sorrow
lights upon her lips
from the corner of her brow
a momentary flutter lifts
the wandering shadows from her wakening eyes
a traveller returns
briefly we recognise
in the silence of our dawn
another silver universe
being born