The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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

Friday, February 15, 2013

pardon me but your neo romanticism is in my soup

Twas the eve of Saint Valentine.
Grey light drenched over the town of Athy in a winterish haze.
A chill wind raced up along the quays of the river Barrow ruffling the grasses, branches and stems that grow in profusion there.
The bleakness of the season was no discouragement to me.
I have long been a lover of storms.
And this one matched my mood.
Twas the eve of Saint Valentine.
Bloody Saint Valentine.
Bloody boring bifurcating Saint Valentine.
Of all the saints in the martyrs calendar he is the one who deserved what he got.
I would be tempted to martyr him myself if I met him.
The great card sending twit.
Tell me bold readers, what is the point of having a special day once a year designed, nay genetically engineered, to make anyone feeling a little bit lonely, feel ten times more lonely.
I mean what is the point?
I lost it there for a moment.
The wind along the Barrow quay.
I stood near the bank and watched the rebellious waves leap in the squall. My only company was the statue of the mother of God which stands near the courthouse.
Mary of Athy.
What a strange notion.
What half suspected truth is here?
The universe is less understood than our science can imagine. A man would want to be some sort of fool to think we were alone in it.
But today I was alone.
In wind and rain.
And at that moment at my shoulder a voice said "Hello James."
Startled out of my mordant reveries I turned to behold a dark haired woman standing next to me.
Her sudden presence had a dramatic quality made all the more affecting by the skirl of the wind.
I peered closely.
"You don't recognise me," she laughed.
And recognition dawned.
Donna Kelly my old unrequited love from childhood.
Here she was like a ghost in the storm.
Changed but the same.
Still beautiful but not girlishly beautiful as when last we met. Lines of experience on the once infantilely pretty features.
Changed but the same.
I hadn't seen her for ten years but knew well she had graduated in something or other and married a Swede.

There now followed one of those conversations like something out of a bad novel. I knew I would regret it in the morning.
Because it was so ordinary.
Not witty, or clever, or romantic.
Just ordinary enough to show that I still looked on her with regret.
And that meeting her was still an event.

"Don't write about me in the Leinster Leader," she called boisterously as she headed back across the Square.
She disappeared like a part of the storm.
Wind and rain and Donna.
Angry and half in love with her and terribly sorry I walked away.
Dammit no.
That's the Great Gatsby.
But I've always wanted to use the line.
I did walk away though.
Into the cold wet eve of Saint Valentine.

mind is the matter

Issues such as suicide and mental suffering came up for discussion at an open forum event in Kilcullen Town Hall theatre during  January.
The event took place as part of an initiative masterminded by teenager Adam Tracey who wanted to raise funds and promote public discussion in the community at large about mental health topics.
Adam had chosen the format of a television style panel game quiz show to get his message across.
When the panel quiz was well advanced and the audience well warmed up, there was a change of pace with the topic of the night thrown open to the floor for opinions and insights.
I was in the audience and found the open forum format to be quite fascinating.
There were several suggestions as to the causes behind the mental pressures that many people are experiencing as part of modern life.
Some speakers thought it was all a mystery as to why someone should face depression, or stress, or more serious challenges.
The high suicide rate among young and old alike was described as being almost inexplicable.
A pop star who was chairing the discussion (the young people tell me he is famous) noted that he himself sometimes found his head "buzzing with worries."
He advised anyone feeling such stresses "to just talk to someone, anyone."
I listened to the various speakers before deciding to contribute my two cents worth.
It had occurred to me that no one had mentioned the Creator of the universe in their assessments of the issue.
I said: "I'm not contradicting what the other speakers have said. But I do feel that suicide is not some mysterious thing. I think it is possible to see a cause. The cause is a loss of hope. In each and every case."
I then turned to some of the more youthful members of the audience and addressed them directly, partly in an attempt to provoke them into joining the discussion.
I told them: "God loves you. The evils of life have no authority from God. The recession, the Leaving Cert, obnoxious bosses, school bullies, have no permission from God to make you unhappy. Even if I hate you, God loves you and has a plan for your life. Even if I like you, God loves you with a love that is incomparable to any other human love since he has made you unique among other human beings. Even if I don't know you from Adam, God loves you. God knows your name. He knows your troubles. He has loved you since before time and for all eternity. He created you for glory."
At this point local man Fergal Sloane spoke up from his seat in the second row.
"James, sorry to interrupt you there," he said. "But I know you're probably just getting going."
He didn't sound very sorry.
Mr Sloane made the point that compared to what previous generations had to go through, the young people of today, might not realise that in some ways they have it easy.
I think this was his point.
I was so miffed at being interrupted that I might not have caught the gist of it properly.
His point as I understood it, has stayed with me since that night.
It seems to me an important point, and at least one member of the celebrity panel on stage told me afterwards that they agreed with it,
Of course I disagree with it.
But I could hardly have started trying to harrangue Fergal Sloane on the night for the following reasons: (1) I'm afraid of him; (2) I'd just been doing the God Loves You routine for the kids and it would have looked bad if I'd let the disguise slip so quickly in front of them; And (3) The Chairman (a real Sloane fan) wound up the debate shortly after I'd been so rudely interrupted.
Nonetheless I've continued to think about the discussion and the issues raised.
I accept that young people haven't experienced many of the direct economic hardships that the older generation have faced.
But I still feel that young people today are facing pressures that no generation in human history have had to face.
No generation in human history has had to deal with the violence levels in video games, cinema and television.
No previous generation has had to come to terms with the blizzard of sexual stimuli and pornography emanating from all aspects of the culture.
No generation that came before had to cope with drugs gangs targeting them and their schools for the distibution of chemical substances that fry your mind.
No generation in at least two thousand years has had to try and get by with no relationship with God whatsoever.
No young people have ever had to cope with the perpetual assault on their minds of psychoactive sexualised catastrophically disruptive violent images that come to them direct via the internet and their mobile phones.
No young people have ever had to cope with murder gangs of bullies attempting to harass them into committing suicide.
This level of lethal evil has simply never prevailed in human society before.
Not even during the War & Orgy days of the Roman Empire, or the satanic ritual sacrifice eras of the Tuggees in India, or the Aztecs in South America.
No other young people in the recorded history of the human race have seen sex porn videos or Tarantino's exploitation violence videos by the age of twelve.
Our young people are experiencing all this.
And they're the first ever generation in human history to be told that they don't need God to get through their lives.
This is the point I felt went unmade on the night.
Well done Adam Tracey, you made it all happen.
Well done panel, you weren't bad.
Well done Mr Sloane, it's not easy to shut me up but we shall meet again!