Finding calm on the edge of a precipice…

Finding calm on the edge of a precipice…

The day got off to a bad start, only to get worse. To be fair my Doctor gave me no solace and his vagueness of diagnosis, left me wondering what the point of him was. Eventually he referred me to A & E, where I went and will continue the events of that first day in hospital, with a story about a South African doctor with the weirdest bedside manner ever. Trust me, while it was no fun for me, if you are of a fan of the unpleasant, you’ll enjoy this I’m sure.

In triage, a very positive nurse from the Philippines told me a bit about himself, before engaging me with intelligent, useful questions, the type my Doctor should have asked, while he took my blood pressure, did an E.C.G., took my temperature etc.. He then handed me over to a rather large, young, junior Doctor from South Africa. He had the look of a man that played at Number 8 for some pain-hungry, all blonde, all enormous, rugby team in the Transvaal. The type of guy you’d be weary of taking a lift from on a dusty African back road, for fear your remains would never be found. On the one hand, he was probably handsome beneath his PPE, all blue eyed, tanned with a quiff of blonde hair, but on the other hand there was an air of serial killer about him. Maybe I was reading into it way too much for a first meeting. I am a people watcher, but I do tend to over analyse. It’s the writer in me.

He was the first Doctor I encountered in the hospital, tasked with unravelling what turned out to be a complicated mystery with a twist or two along the way. But that’s the medical stuff. That’s the boring stuff. At that moment I was in excruciating pain, I was there, hoping for a resolution. and there he was, a man with the eyes of a serial killer, examining me. He said little but stared at me intently. He poked and prodded me, asking the occasional question. Just when I thought he was done he said something which at first seemed odd, perhaps because of his Springbok bluntness, but more by his insistence on repeating the strangely phrased statement.

Quite simply he said “next I’m going to send you for an X Ray … and then I’m going to stick my finger up your bum.” An Irish doctor would never put it like that surely and I wasn’t having any actual problems in that department specifically. But then he repeated it, still holding me in the same intense blue-eyed, I’m going to tackle you into touch and try to break a bone while I do it type of stare.

“An X ray … and I’m going to stick my finger – up – your bum.” Now what made this worse was, he showed me the aforementioned, offending, rather large and bony, standard South African back-rower’s middle finger. As if that wasn’t enough, he actually raised it up in a literal ‘up’ movement in time to what he said. And then he left the examination room for a minute. It was only when he returned, that I noticed there was a rack of disposable gloves on the wall which had four separate dispensers; small, medium, large and extra large. You guessing? Yep- extra large.

Now for the sake of not corrupting my readers, I shall draw a curtain around what happened next, much like he did before performing the procedure. He sent me on my way, telling me to follow the footsteps on the floor to find X-Ray. I didn’t see him again and you know, looking back, I really hope he actually works there now. But that wasn’t the half of it. I was poked, prodded, pinched, injected, had lots of bodily fluids tested and then the fun started.

There was a problem you see. Apparently they discovered multiple issues. They were pulmonary and gastric in nature and their exact locations were so close to each other, that it was giving double positives for every test. Team after team had a go. They said my body was a magical mystery. I told them that’s how I managed to marry such a beautiful woman. No one laughed. I normally laugh at my own jokes, but frankly even I was too sick to be bothered.

Eventually it all became a little more serious, when they discovered a surprise package in the collection of problems I had brought to them that day, and this one was life threatening. Everything changed at that point and they immediately began my treatment in the emergency department while they set about looking for a bed for me. Oh my Lord what a kerfuffle. It was one crazy ER day and beds were like hens teeth. Eventually at 11 pm, I found myself sitting in a ward with what looked like the cast of Thriller. I know I’m no spring chicken but holy God! By the time I was hooked up to IV’s and tucked up in bed, it was midnight and the old man snoring and farting fest began. It was like living at the edge of a swamp in toad mating season. One guy actually started barking in his sleep. I was like “seriously, you put me here!”

But then, the piece de resistance. At 4 am and forgive the language but I shit you not, auld Johnny, a deaf old coot with dementia, broke out into song, but not just any song. Oh no! He sang a collection of familiar, Irish, miserapauling ballads, to make you feel worse than you already might have felt, when you were transported to Van Diemen’s Land or wherever you were sent back in 1798. One after the other, an 82 year old, deaf, dementia sufferer, giving it socks in the night. There was ‘Where only the rivers run free’ and ‘Peggy Gordon’ and the hits kept coming. He only stopped to pick a fight with the nurses. A part of me smiled, but the sick, in pain me, wondered if I’d have the strength to hold a pillow down over his face long enough to shut the fecker up if not actually put him and the rest of us out of our misery.!

The morning was a long, sleepless time coming but with morning came the hope of clarity. I did manage to nod off between 5 and 5.30 but I must have bent my elbow because it set off an alarm on my IV monitor. The nurse had briefly mentioned that it happens and if it did I just needed to press the green button to restart. What she didn’t consider was how wrecked I’d be, and startled in my exhaustion, I pressed everything until it stopped. But then there was the problem of how to start it again. Me being me, I switched it off and on again until it asked me for dosage and time. There was what looked a default option or two and I rolled the dice. It started, I’m not dead so whatever I did worked – piece of cake. Any normal person would have called the nurse.

In another bout of engineering (with a very small e) genius ( with a very big head) a coupe of days later I fixed my bed whose electronic control were only partially working. So bored I was at that stage, that rather than wait for some hospital repair guy to appear ‘eventually’ I used the power of google to find the technical manual on line and troubleshoot the issue. It took me half an hour sitting in a chair with my iPhone, to eventually reset the bed’s controls. if only they knew what I was up to.

Early on the second morning the real fun started. Three of my neighbours were definitely not firing on all cylinders and at least two of them were stone deaf. Now adding to the mix is the fact that we have a lot of very fine Indian nurses working in Ireland. The challenge this presented was their use of vocabulary and their slightly different pronunciation, which while excellent for your average patient like me, caused mayhem with the bunch of old, deaf, bewildered Dubliners around me. To add to the confusion, old men with thick Dublin accents using slang with every second word, can be a challenge for someone from outside of Dublin, let alone from somewhere like India where they use much more correct form English wording. Perhaps a demonstration might help.

The ward sister who happened to be from India, came in and said :Good morning John” to one guy. A different man answered and said “God I forgot where I was, I thought you were my daughter.” The nurse said “Good morning” to him and a totally different man who thought she was speaking to him but didn’t hear her correctly said .. “sorry?” Caught off guard she replied “What?” and he came back with .. “you said you got something for me?” Confused she clarified “No, I said good morning.” And then the original guy answered her “Morning”. FFS! The whole day was like that. There was always some misunderstanding or other, so that there always appeared to be two people having two totally separate conversations at all times. It kept me entertained at least.

Before the next morning had a chance to find itself, the same ward sister was challenged with, “ What’s wrong with my tongue?” as she checked on one of her patients. She gently explained that the doctor would talk to him in the morning when it was time for their rounds. It was My singing friend Johnnie, no doubt a bit of a bully at home, a man brimming with the chauvinism of his time, and not happy being dependent on this strange woman. He didn’t like what he heard one little bit. He had mis-heard her. “In their own time!” I thought to myself ‘Oh God here we go’ and I wasn’t wrong. That little battle lasted a good fifteen minutes as Johnnie was demanding to get an answer to a question, he decided he could win on. ” Is it right that they should see me when it suits them and I cant see them when it suits me…is it?” Trying to explain that the doctors would visit him on their rounds as they did every morning at 7.30, just an hour away, didn’t placate him. She had the patience of a saint.

The catering staff come around every day and took meal orders for the next day, They asked Johnnie if he would like Lamb or Gamon? Again the hearing issue kicked in. “Salmon?” he queried. “No – Gamon, Lamb or GAMON,” It was repeated slow and loud so he could hear. Johnnie again goes, “Salmon?” Patiently the rather experienced woman slowed it down and toned it up even more. “Not Salmon John, it’s GAMON.” She spelled it out for him literally. “G.A.M.O.N. GAMON. you have a choice of LAMB OR GAMON.” John looked at her. He had the look of a man thinking hard and then decided. ” Grand so, I’ll have the salad.”

When she came to me I told her I’d have the salad too and she told me I’d get a salad over the head if I wasn’t careful. Aaah Dublin wit, you can’t beat it. Speaking of which, Dublin hospital porters are a breed onto their own. They never shut up. One lady took me to get an ultrasound and on the way I got her life story, She managed to squeeze in her family structure, she had three sisters and one brother, her father was dead and her mother was in a home with Alzheimer’s – the home didn’t have Alzheimer’s – just the mother ( her words not mine). I got the full run down on how that effected them during the lockdown and discovered which sister was the ‘awkward one’ which one was the emotional one etc. I got to learn where she drank, how many pints she managed to get in during the period where the pubs were open for a while but where, due to restrictions, you could only stay for a set time. I know what she had to eat and where she lived. I wouldn’t mind but it isn’t a big hospital, it was only a short walk! On the way back up to the ward, she stopped my wheelchair and had a gossip not once, but twice, with other members of staff, She cracked me up.

On another trip (I want say to which test for fear of identifying the persons concerned.) The porter told me that the person running that department was an arsehole, To be fair I agreed as I had the privilege of listening to her as I sat invisible In my wheelchair outside, while she single handled, treated everyone like sh*t (staff that is) and even as a patient I could see how things were falling apart around her through lack of management skill. But anyway the chatty porter told me she had reported him for being insubordinate and not having enough respect for her. I asked him what happened and he told me that he told the disciplinary committee that she needed a good ride. ” That actually got me in even more trouble” he said, and I wasn’t surprised he had been reprimanded. He was camp as Christmas and very funny, but clearly need to reign his mouth in.

I escaped the clutches of whatever was after me and was released from hospital late on Wednesday evening thank God, but I took a lot away with me. Again, I was reminded of the preciousness and precariousness of life, the importance of living while we can. I recognised how calm I had become in old age in the face of adversity, and how I took even the darkest situation to be something that having survived it, I should be grateful for, more than anything else. I was also reminded that I watch people and I think that helps me with characterisation for my books. There is always something to take away from every experience in life.

Being a melancholy man at the best of times, the solitude of hospital never sits well with me. In COVID times, there is the added Burdon of not having visitors to shape our day. But my visit to hospital this time was thankfully short. Recuperating at home now, I have time to get my strength back and look forward to how best use whatever extra time my most recent narrow escape has given me. So now if you’ll excuse me, I have another book to finish…

Haven’t read a Max Power Book yet? I think it’s time to pick one up. Max Power’s books include ; Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy. Here are the universal booklinks and associated sites where you can find out more about Max Power’s writing and his current and planned releases Books;

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Indelible and true…

Indelible and true…

When we consider our own mortality, many are drawn off the path of reality by romanticism, history, pathos, self-indulgence, vanity or hubris. Death is not something we see for what it is.  It’s not hard to see why. We fail to take cognisance of some of the harsher aspects to our demise, and for good reason.  No one wants to look such a creature in the eye. Yet I doubt we will ever be closer to ourselves than in those final moments.  To quote a line from my Darkly Wood, “death is such an intimate thing”.

Loss is a troublesome weight.  It knocks you over with the force of a double decker bus and lingers as grief while you struggle to recover. No one person feels the same.  I know I struggled with grieving in my younger days and it left scars that were unexpected. The consequences were significant and it was only in hindsight that I can see how it laid waste to my spirit for such a long time.

Although I came through it, I was oblivious to the havoc caused until I had learned to cope, but by then of course the damage was done. Through those experiences, I still chose to avoid the subject of death, or at least I chose not to analyse the prospect of my own demise with any honest introspection.  But then of course death came to my door, and surprised me with its kiss. I have felt its caress and though it seems like an age gone now, it has had an impact on me, left its mark indelible and true, and it has undoubtedly changed me.


There is discomfort, disquiet and dilemma when it comes to the very darkest of words.  As a student I was drawn to John Donne’s Death Be Not Proud, and to this day I can recite it by heart. It was perhaps my youth that drew me to it, my belief, that special thing of youth that can make us feel invincible, untouchable almost.

It is that very word that is maligned, avoided, diluted where possible, as if in admitting its existence we will fall to its graces. We do it without noticing.  He passed away – the departed – the priest on the pulpit who says we lost a good woman – the condolence of, I am sorry for your loss. The language around death, fails to adequately prepare those closest to those at its doorstep, for the moment when it will come.

When someone is terminally ill, we hear people talk of the illness and not the result.  When asked, a person is more likely to explain that the person in question has cancer rather than say, he’s dying.  I have heard it so many times, people avoiding the D word in all sorts of ways.  She is in intensive care, sure he has not long to go, it won’t be long now, the doctor’s don’t hold out much hope.

To say he or she is dying is almost impossible, yet it is a term that we should perhaps be thought to understand, respect and bring back to life. Maybe it is the fear of getting it wrong, for it is such a final word. But you know, there are times when it is such an inevitable thing that it is quite simply the whole truth.


I died. It was a brief and fleeting thing I know and had someone referred to me afterwards in CCU as dying, it would of course have been inaccurate for I came through it in the end. But there are circumstances when there is no getting away from it.

Where am I going with this?  I guess I am trying to square that circle of death and grief.  My grief was extended through a failure to come to terms with what had happened to my mother for example. Her passing – her death- was sudden, sharp and devastating.  It was literally life changing for a young man like me.  I had lost my father- he died – just 2 short years before my Mam but he went through a prolonged and in truth more difficult slow march to his end, suffering as he did with lung cancer. Dying because of it.  By the time my brother passed ( you see how easy it is to avoid the word) way too young at 53, I had at least begun to understand some of how loss was impacting my spirit. But it was the avoidance, the conflict of knowing the truth and trying to dodge the sharpest edge of the pain, that perhaps meant I inflicted unnecessary suffering on my soul.

Death, dying dead.  They are words to embrace before they fall in our lap. People die. It is the harshest truth of all.  I think we handle it quite well in Ireland and still we fall short.  We celebrate the life of our dear departed, and I have been to many a fine wake in my lifetime, but still we miss the moment sometimes.

How hard it must be for a doctor to pass the news that a loved one had died – to use the word. I remember when my mother died, that a young policeman and woman had to be present for me to identify her as she lay still and unfamiliar in her hospital bed.  I doubt I will see such discomfort again and still neither of them used the dreaded D word.

Perhaps I am wrong.  It is avoided for good reason maybe, but by avoiding it through many years of grief, long since passed I am pleased to say, I became an expert at such deceit and I did myself a disservice.


I will leave you with my memory of my own dying moments and while perhaps they come from my naturally melancholy soul, they can be taken for what they are at face value, or one can read more into it, if that is one’s inclination. I recall that my strongest feeling as I realised what was happening was sadness. My life didn’t pass before my eyes but I felt sad not for myself, not at all.  I was sad because I thought of my darling Joanna and my wonderful children. In that direst of moments I didn’t want to leave the burden of my passing on their sweet shoulders and perhaps that is what saved me, I don’t know. Somehow I doubt it.

I didn’t let go, I was pulled away from life and it was dramatic and harsh and surprising in my case, yet it was my melancholia that rose to the surface.  That is thus for everyone I doubt.  Maybe we live our last moments as we truly are, who knows.  I can only speak for myself.

Coming through the other side was an entirely different matter. Frequent visitors to my site know what followed me back from the far side and I have yet to understand the nature of the beast.  What I do know is that having been touched by the sword; I am more in touch with the nature of its blade. Death is nothing to fear, dying is just a word. Loss on the other hand is something we all will suffer but perhaps suffer less if we come to take back the words that frightens us most…

Haven’t read a Max Power book yet?  I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –
twitter @maxpowerbooks1

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To begin at the beginning is often proferred as the best advice. Everything starts somewhere and New Year always offers the promise that we can reimagine ourselves once again this new year.

The slate can be wiped and we can become the thing we have yet not found a way become despite repeated New Years and God knows how many attempts.

The promise of what lies ahead is in truth no more or less than how effective we each are at setting and achieving our own personal goals. I’ve never been one for New Years resolutions except perhaps the logical promise to myself to shift the Christmas over indulgence from my waistline.

2020 has been such a terrible year, one like no other that gives us a sense of hope for 2021 maybe more than any other year. Our world has been changed by the pandemic. I have to admit it has even changed my outlook somewhat.

Getting back to doing simple things we took for granted, in itself will be a great change. But people will make all sorts of resolutions. New attitude, new excercise regime, new healthy lifestyle, cut out booze or cigarettes there are going to be so many promises made as usual.

To b

When days have meaning…

When days have meaning…

Today is a special day…

Love is and should always be, ever present in a relationship. It should never be taken for granted, nor relied upon for one’s own salvation. It is of itself; a thing of wonder and I believe can only truly be shared in the absence of selfish indulgence.  It is a hard thing to find, harder to keep and easy to diminish. Sometimes, there are those who forget, who let slip the weight of kindness and leave it all too late to remember how important our loved ones are to us. Not so me, for I wear my big old creaky heart on my sleeve and I fearlessly defend my right to tell those who matter to me, what they mean to me.

Take my darling Jo. She is indeed my sweetheart, although it may seem foolish to use such a term at my age, it is nonetheless so very true. I wake up each day blessed to have her in my life, happier for hearing her laughter, stronger for the holding of her hand. She has saved me later in life than I deserved to have been saved. I have with her help, rediscovered what a joy life can be. My darling, my love, Joanna is there always, unfalteringly brave even at the worst of times, and that I say she has saved me is truly an understatement.  But she is not only a fine and wonderfully strong woman; she is also the slip of a girl that I love, the dainty flutter in my heart, my Flutterlfy.

I am by nature such a melancholy man, I cover up my darkness with smiles and laughter as best I can, but I am running on empty a little of late. Perhaps we all feel that way this year. But I have someone special in my life who always raises the corners of my mouth to find my true smile. There is no finer woman, no kinder soul than my darling Jo.

We know what love means the two of us. I am not talking just of romantic love, but of the love that cradles and nurtures, the love that carries weight and lifts burdens, the love that anticipates and always sees the importance of kindness. 

Love is fine indeed when it is so gently given, freely, without condition or agenda. My beautiful Joanna is in herself truly fine and I cannot help but be grateful for the happiness she has brought to my life, for isn’t each day wonderful when you are loved.

Today is her birthday, a day she is shy to celebrate, but for me it is a day to be grateful for because my sweetheart has made my life so very special every single day. Happy Birthday to the woman I shall always love, my heart, my eye, my colour, my shine, my strength, my darling…my Flutterlfy…

Offering an empty hand…

Offering an empty hand…

A most diluted apology

I don’t often get angry, but to see the truth that we already knew laid bare in black in white, has made my blood boil. Between the foundation of our state in 1922 until 1998 when the last Mother and Baby Home was closed, 9,000 of the 57,000 children that were born in just 18 such houses of horror, died. The Mother and Baby Homes Commission report has finally outlined in frightening detail, what happened to young vulnerable women and their children at the hands of church and state in Ireland, often with the compliance of others in our society. In recent days, even more shocking than the report itself, have been the harrowing first person accounts from survivors of such institutions.

I was always angry knowing about such places, I was angry when the report came out but this morning when I read what was, in the words of the head of the Catholic church in Ireland, “unreserved apologies” I was livid.

They say when an apology comes with a ‘but’, it is an empty hand.  That an apology so ‘unreserved’ is qualified in any way, makes it reserved in the extreme and he should be ashamed of himself for the language he used in offering such a hollow gesture.

To welcome the report, while mitigating the Churches role by ‘accepting’ the Church was ‘part of the culture in which people were frequently stigmatized, judged and rejected’ is offensive to all of us. It completely underplays the role of the Church in physical, mental and sexual abuse of the women in their care, their coercion, their complicity in the crimes of others, the guilt they should bear for many horrific crimes and cover ups. To make matters worse he repeats the lie that the apology is unreserved, as though he is reinforcing the apology.

The Commission’s Report helps to further open to the light what was for many years a hidden part of our shared history and it exposes the culture of isolation, secrecy and social ostracizing which faced ‘unmarried mothers’ and their children in this country.”

The key for those who missed it, is the inclusion of the word “shared” and the audacity to apply the word ‘culture’. This careful use of language is the ‘but’ in the conceited words of a man representing the sins of his organisation. He had drawn others into the blame game, to dilute, redirect and divert. I used the term careful use of language and it very much is a deliberate act of misdirection. This is not an unreserved apology. It is far from it. He is like an illusionist pointing to one thing to distract from the other. It is akin to a shady lawyer looking to get a serial killer off on a technicality.

There are others that need to answer questions for sure, like the parents who in some cases abandoned their children to these places, because of the shame their young pregnant children brought to their families. Children as young as 12 in some cases. There were families who hid the evidence of incest and rape, by abandoning their daughters to the nuns and priests who only added to their pain. There were the Gardaí, policemen sworn to protect them, who aided and abetted in the process and of course the Governments of the time, who were happy to let the church take the responsibility and cost from their hands.

But let’s not forget, that all of the groups listed in the preceding paragraphs, while complicit, do not ‘share’ the responsibility in the way the Archbishop would like us to believe. They were complicit and guilty of many things, of that there is no doubt. However, in the first instance, excusing it as that’s the way things were back then and that we all were part of a society that does such things, is a poor excuse for an apology and it demands a better one. What we know to be wrong now and what we knew to be fundamentally wrong back then has not changed.

The fear that drove people to feel such shame and to act on it, had a name. It was the Catholic Church. The fear that politicians had of going against the Church, came from the pulpit at weekly mass. The control and power the Church had in Ireland when it came to matters of the state, should not be forgotten. Having read though the report, one startling fact is that there is no evidence that unmarried mothers were ever discussed at cabinet in the first 50 years of this state’s existence. That’s until 1972 in old money. They wouldn’t have dared.

I grew up in an Ireland where the parish priest had more power than anyone in my community. I bear witness to the abuse many of my friends suffered at the hand of men and women of the cloth. I know many truths, like the girl I know who was raped by her family and asked the priest for help, only to be berated for her shamefulness and told to stay quiet. But we were not all complicit. Those who the Archbishop implies were complicit in the ‘shared history’ were not complicit, only controlled.

The report and the statements of survivors, outline countless abuses of young girls, branded as shameful because they were pregnant out of wedlock. Girls who were forced to work daily, going to bed afraid, waking up afraid. Babies being taken away and sold overseas for profit, not long after birth. What were in many cases, pregnant children being forced to do degrading labour, unblocking toilets with their bare hands, seeing babies being buried secretly in shoe boxes. Young girls giving birth while being verbally abused for their sins, being stitched afterwards without anaesthetic, having symphysiotomies performed without their knowledge. Girls who after giving birth, were only allowed to see their babies once a day when a bell would ring and being forced to stand facing a wall to breastfeed their new-born babies.

It is truly our nations shame but that doesn’t excuse the pathetic, offensive and unfeeling excuse for an apology from the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland that I read today. How unholy the attempt to spread the responsibility to a community that was at the time, under the thumb of a Church who had their fingers in every orifice of state control. This is part of the ‘apology’ offered

Mindful of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which calls us to protect life and dignity and to treat everyone – especially little children and all who are vulnerable – with love, compassion and mercy, I believe the Church must continue to acknowledge before the Lord and before others its part in sustaining what the Report describes as a ‘harsh … cold and uncaring atmosphere.’

That in all of this reference to dignity, respect, love and compassion, the closest he gets to an apology is ‘acknowledging its part in sustaining a harsh, cold and uncaring atmosphere.” Seriously! He further accepts that that “the Church was clearly part of that culture in which people were frequently stigmatized, judged and rejected.”

In case you missed the ‘but’ in his apology here, it is the words ‘its part’ and ‘part of that culture’. They were the draughtsmen of that culture, the puppeteers, the writers of this story. Acknowledging that the Church played some part, is the world’s greatest understatement. None of this was accidental. The Church held all the cards and made all the rules.  The deaths were recorded. They knew what was going on.

But the Archbishop somehow thinks he has it all covered in the so-called apology, when having made countless reservations and excuses, passing the blame across society as though it was an even thing, the biggest ‘but’ of all, comes in his words when he says;

For that, and for the long-lasting hurt and emotional distress that has resulted, I unreservedly apologise to the survivors and to all those who are personally impacted by the realities it uncovers.”

For that? For your diluted part in what you actually created and what you are independently , wholly responsible for? For being part of a shared inhumanity that we basically are all guilty of? That is what the Archbishop is trying to do here, make no mistake. Sure weren’t all guilty? These things didn’t happen under the broad Irish sky, in full view of society. These things, these crimes, these abuses and immoral acts of degradation and violence towards innocent girls and babies, happened behind closed doors in institutions of the Church with full approval of all of those in authority in the Church. There was the added disgrace that many of these young mothers, many still children themselves, were then placed into the Magdalene laundries, equally appalling Church run institutions, that were a second assault on the lives of many young girls.

Archbishop Eamonn Martin, should be ashamed of himself and needs to look at his words. Yes, I am angry. That the inequality that left the door open for such abuse of women was systemic and widespread, is not in question. That our state bears a huge burden of responsibility in this regard is certainly not in dispute. That we as a community facilitated the abusers by our silent complicity and in many cases by direct action or inaction, is also something undeniable. All of this deserves our attention, all of this deserves to be questioned.

But nine thousand children died in these institutions run by the church, 200 women also died there in childbirth. At least 1600 babies sent for adoption and likely a lot more, many sold to families in America, with no hope of ever being reunited with their mothers. At least 7 vaccine trials were carried out without the consent of the mothers under the supervision of the Church, no doubt it came with funding and Lord knows what else. The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland responded in the most disingenuous manner. How dare he tarnish the truth of those that suffered with such a shameful attempt to apologize, without taking full responsibility. How dare he add the lie that the apology is unreserved for it most certainly is not, without showing the people who suffered at the hands of the Church the respect to say sorry properly, without trying to dilute their guilt by adding other parties, to share in their crimes as they are held to account. You have offered an empty hand Archbishop. May your God forgive you for your moral cowardice.

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No time to say goodbye…

No time to say goodbye…

Last Friday at 4.30 in the afternoon, we received the sad news that my darling Jo’s sister Lauren, had passed away. I know what losing a sibling feels like and I while I know what lies ahead for my love, all I can do is watch as the earthquake unfolds and topples one emotion after the other, while the aftershocks pass through our lives.

Her only son will have to go through the loss of his Mam and nothing can prepare him for the enormity of the impact that follows. The first time you experience the loss of a parent, especially your mother, is the worst kind of shock to the system. There are no comforting words to reduce the terrible pain of such a loss.

I haven’t been sleeping properly. Knowing we would be deprived of a proper wake due to COVID-19 restrictions, a funeral restricted to just 25 people and all that goes with how this unfolded, has made me uneasy. We need each other in times like his. We need to mourn properly and only now that this loss has visited our family, do I see the awful impact of this pandemic, on all the people who have lost loved ones this year.

Each culture has traditions and customs around death, but the Irish wake is a vital piece of our jigsaw of mourning. It is so engrained in our psyche, that I am not sure what to expect without it. For 6 nights now, Jo’s 95-year-old mother Joan has sat beside me on the couch, trying to make sense of it all. Two of her other daughters and their daughters, had called by on Friday to help us break the news to her that her daughter had died. All the while Joan sat quietly as they talked about the loss of their sister and aunt. Our three dogs tipped about the place but one of them, one empathic little boy sat beneath Joan’s chair throughout. He has been watching over her since.

After they had gone, this loyal little canine who normally spends all his energy looking after me, leapt onto the couch beside Joan and nuzzled into her. It was only after everyone had gone that she began to question the events of the day. Her hearing is poor. It is best to have one on one conversations at a fairly loud pitch, but more significantly, her short-term memory is patchy, requiring a lot of repetition to drive new events home.

She began to try and understand by asking me question after question. She told me that a child shouldn’t die before their mother. Each time this thought crossed her mind, Joan broke down and cried, but only for a little while as she pulled herself back in from the edge of grief. Born in 1925, her parents instilled a near Victorian attitude in Joan that means she finds it hard to be emotionally demonstrative. But I know that not showing does not equate to not feeling.

 Due to her difficulty hearing, I had to simplify anything technical, so when she asked how her daughter had died, I reminded her that she had died from a form of cancer.  She asked how old was she and when would the funeral would take place. Joan then reminded me that she was 95, as if this was news and also reminded me, that it was a good age. She wanted to know how Lauren’s son was, told me he had 3 children and that Lauren was 8 pounds, a big baby, when she was born.  Joan said Lauren was always very clever and very talented with her hands, a funny girl, and wondered about practical things like what would happen to her house. She asked me if she had felt any pain and I reassured her that she hadn’t.

She asked me if I knew how one got cancer. I told her there were many ways and again she told us that a child shouldn’t die before a mother. She told us it should have been her. Again, she teared up before pulling herself quickly back together gain.  There is nothing I can do to ease her pain and I feel helpless.

As each question from Joan or Jomammy as many call her landed, I replied in my clearest voice to avoid the need for repetition as my darling Joanna, sat quietly in the chair on the other side of me, struggling with the loss of her sister. My dear Jo is broken and I know that I can’t fix her.  Joan finished round one and then, as she does, went back on a loop, beginning at the beginning and asking all the same questions for the second time, and so it went on, over and over, an unrelenting reminder of the terrible loss and all the while I answered each question as though asked for the first time, patient and calm, trying to help her process this new tragedy, so she might be better prepared for the new day.

I could feel Joanna’s pain beside me. She was trying to process her own grief and I am sure listening to the strange, repeated conversation beside her, going through the same details over and over again, was very difficult for her. We are both used to how Joan processes new information, but being used to something doesn’t make it easier. Trying to cope with the loss of her sister must have made it impossible, but she remained calm and patient as always. She was heroic in her silence and composure, I think.

I rose early this morning. The dogs greeted me as though nothing was different but of course it is. The earthquake has passed, but when I look around, I have yet to assess the damage. We will be finding broken things each day for some time I fear now that the funeral is behind us.

Each day is new, each chapter begins with the dawn, but each dawn will carry a cloud for some time. Like all families who experience loss, Lauren’s family will feel her absence daily. Hardest hit are the 2 people at both ends of the spectrum. Her only son, a grown man with a family of his own, is left with the truth that he will never see his Mam again. I remember how that hit me when it was my turn and even after 26 years, the loss has never left me. These days ahead are just the beginning and I hold him in my thoughts daily.

In our house, Lauren’s mother is trying to manage the reality that she has outlived her daughter. When the time came, because it came quite quickly, because of COVID restrictions and also because Joan is 95, there was no time to say goodbye.

On Tuesday we brought Joan to the funeral home to say goodbye to her daughter. Yesterday we attended her funeral. It was a small, deeply pained gathering, a family struggling to comfort each other fully in a time of social distancing and masks. It struck me that these difficult times mean that there is another meaning to that expression, for really, this is no time to have to say goodbye.

I normally stay clear of poetry but this week, thinking of her immediate family, and knowing what family means, I thought I would make a rare exception. This one, is in memory of Lauren and for her family that mourn her now and into the future;

Lost to us and we shall never be the same again, I fear.

We are broken a bit

as we sit and comfort each other,

but we are nonetheless broken and no token words will ease our pain.

A part of us is missing you see,

a part that is dear


are not here.

We speak your name and sometimes it feels the same

As though you never left us.

But then it strikes that we will never see you again

and then

we are reminded,

blinded by the thought of it, drowned by the grief of it

angered by the thief of it,

lost in the thought that comes through each time we close our eyes

that a part of us is missing.

Rest in Peace Laurentina, may you be guided safely on your journey by those that have gone before you.

The anatomy of a torturer…

The anatomy of a torturer…

The worst wounds are often self-inflicted. People question their life journey far too much. Perhaps it’s generational, I find people of my generation and those from previous generations, certainly didn’t place the same importance on analysing what is wrong in life, only to then self-diagnose with that problem. One can sometimes get so introspective that the resultant journey up your own hole (Pardon my French) is far from a satisfactory outcome.

“Which road will I take? What path should I follow? Which direction will lead me to a life of happiness and fulfilment?” Let’s be honest, these are the wrong questions. If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter. Stop faffing about and pick a path. Take a step and begin a journey – any journey. Stop off along the way to have a pint and meet new people, but for the love of the Devine, stop procrastinating.

Happiness is the holy grail, but it’s like a rainbow that you can never quite get to. There is a clue in there for you. We all know you can’t touch the rainbow, so why are you wasting time messing about. Look at the rainbow, enjoy the damn thing and then see what follows. Happiness is not a destination. It’s part of the journey. It is the thing you encounter along the way and if you want more of it, stop focussing on trying to reach the unreachable and start to enjoy the rainbows along the way. The journey has no end point.

If you are watching the sky to see if you can find the source of the rainbow, you will miss the flowers at your feet. If you chose to give up on the search and watch your footfall so you don’t step in the next puddle, you’ll miss the moon and the stars. Over thinking can be dangerous, trust me, I know. Sometimes a pencil drawing is actually just a pencil, drawing.

I think I should write Max power’s big book of wisdom. It would be terrible.  I’d have chapters with titles like, sometimes you have to kill a chicken to save a dog or Marriage, Mourning and plastic forks. Nice pieces of nonscience, wrapped in rhetoric that sounds interesting and means nothing. I’d be good at that.

I literally don’t have a clue and it’s important to say my opening paragraphs were a mix of opinion and bullsh*t, not actual advice. Who’d take advice from me anyway. But that doesn’t mean I won’t go on… so as I was saying…

Dreaming is good. Fantasising is dodgy. I believe you need dreams to create ambition and ambition to come up with a plan to get where you want to go. If those plans don’t work out, make sure you’ve enjoyed the trip, that’s the key. Fantasising is different. That’s dreaming without any intention of doing anything about it and really in there, misery and disappointment lie.

If you dream of becoming something let’s keep it simple – you dream of being a binman or an astronaut – then that dream holds importance. Like I say dreams beget ambition and ambition begets a plan and plans.. well they sometimes fail but at least you will have learned something. A fantasy on the other hand, leaves you empty at the end. There is no joy without work. Illusions fade and imagined joy without ever trying to find a way to it, is the recipe for unhappiness.

I am generally fairly happy, but not all the time. My natural state is to be melancholic. I was immediately drawn to the opening lines of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice as a teenager as I fully connected with the lines.

In sooth, I know not why I am so sad: It wearies me; you say it wearies you; but how I caught it, found it, came by it, what stuff ’tis made of, wherein ’tis born, I am yet to learn; And such a want-wit sadness makes of me, that I have much ado to know myself.

Yeah that’s me I thought and to be fair it often is. But I don’t let that get in the way of my happiness.  These last few weeks have felt tougher than most. It has been a pretty rough auld year to be fair, but some days…well it gets to you.

Normally I can kick it with a plan to do something or go somewhere. A small-scale dream as it were. Dreams don’t all have to be big you know. My little dream might save me from myself and I’d get back on the road and start looking at what’s around me on the way. The path to where I want to go is scattered with moments of happiness and when I have nowhere to go, that can be more of a challenge. Sometimes one has to be patient that’s all.

You see I am made funny. I am unique, not like you or him or her. But that being said, I do have some things in common with the rest of humanity. Most of us are a little careless with ourselves. There can be a tendency to inflict pain on ourselves unnecessarily. We are our own torturers in many cases. But what does that look like? I can’t speak for anyone else, like I said, I am unique. But I know my make up. I have my own card well and truly marked.

I think too hard and quickly wrap each thought in sorrow. I get to see what it might be, before unwrapping it again and only then do I seek the joy in the gift I have just given myself. Some things delight instinctively, but they are special things. I delight in my loved ones and their smiles but everything else needs re-presenting so I can find the joy in the sorrow. Now this may sound odd if not downright crazy, but it helps me weave fresh paths to explore and isn’t happiness the path, not the destination.

The trouble with destinations is that they mark the end of something and one has to start all over again. If unsatisfactory, disappointment can feel like oblivion, so maybe the trick is to make each destination something less, waypoints perhaps, somewhere to stop along the way as opposed as something final. After all, what are dreams if they are finite, what are hopes if they are not enough. There is often less, but always more and as long as you are breathing, there is always a chance to take an alternate path if the journey isn’t going the way you had hoped.

Still, I am a bit fed up to say the least. Enthusiasm is in a drawer somewhere beneath me at my desk and I am finding it hard to be bothered opening it. But never fear, I have a smiley face that covers that and I have such a sharp mouth I will make someone else laugh so they won’t notice. By the time anyone figures it out, I will have found something fresh to delight in on my journey and the sun will shine again. That’s just the way of it.

It’s never about the money until you have none, it’s never about the love until it’s gone. It’s never lonely unless you are and it’s never found before it’s lost. I am one of the lucky sorrows who has found a way to cheat my melancholic inclination, the thief of delight. Perhaps it’s all bravado, but it works for me. The problem is of course, that not everyone has been blessed with my curse of survival and some are finding these trying times far too much to manage.

When a caterpillar transforms to become a butterfly, in that last stage, if you were to try and help the butterfly by cutting open the cocoon the butterfly would not survive. It is the struggle to free itself that enables a blood supply to the wings and without the struggle, it will not not be able to fly.

When we are protected from struggle, we never learn how to stretch our wings. On occassion we overprotect or cosset our children to protect them from pain, but some of that pain is a vital learning process that helps create a coping mechanism when things go wrong.

Love is a peculiar thing and sometimes loving our children requires us to let them fall and pick themselves up off the ground. How often have you see a child fall and the first thing they do is to look at the parent to see how they should react. Should they carry on, or run crying for help for even the slightest of grazes? The answer is in how the parent reacts.

I once blogged about riding my bike in a place that my mother told me not to go. When I went arse over head, I ended up with 4 inches of chrome brake handle embedded in my stomach. Alone and with no real option to do anything other than help myself, I pulled it out. I still remember the pain and the schlucking sound. Fortunately, I didn’t hit anything vital, but the important thing was that I was 13 years old and already, I had enough self-reliance to make a decision and get up and on with it. I never told my mother.

My childhood was often tough, but I am grateful for the times I climbed trees and fell, crashed bikes, tumbled off railings that I tried to walk like a tightrope, knocked out teeth and grazed elbows and knees in the pursuit of some pointless game or challenge, and took on some bigger fella I should have known better than to have been tackling, even if I did get away with it all.

I learned how to evaluate risk. I understood my limitations and constantly pushed them. When I competed in sport, I was lucky not to live in this time where it seems everyone is a winner, as I learned as much from losing as I did from winning. I remember losing a race in school and my mother’s response was to tell me that at least now I knew that I had to work harder next time if I wanted to win. I can’t imagine a mother today telling her small child such a thing, but I had no problem with what she said. She was offering good advice which I took and I won my next race.

Now all these years on, the lessons learned then, the structure behind the chaos in my head, allows me to fall back on the knowledge that I can pick myself up and carry on. Sometimes I need to start on a new path, sometimes I just ned to keep going, but either way I know not to give up and for that understanding I am truly grateful.

The real me, the melancholy me, has a mind too sharp for its own good, always over analysing, over complicating, never silent, never quiet or still, always tormenting and torturing me despite my best efforts. I imagine the inside of my head like one of those anatomical drawings of the human body with its vascular network layered over the lymphatic system, a tangle of wire-like nonsense at first glance. Only I see the confusion and mass of connections ten-fold, one hundred-fold, a scribble of ink on the page between the outline of my skull. The anatomy of a torturer as it were.

The other me, the real me for all to see, stays on a path, any path on my journey through life and stops along to way to have a coffee or a pint, is grateful for the rainbows and the flowers at my feet and so it should ever be. Happiness is all around; you just need to remember that sometimes you are just looking for it in the wrong place. It is within your grasp just out of your eyeline. Adjust your gaze. Take a breath, focus on the good that you see and you’ll trip over little nuggets of joy. Sit on a boulder of laughter and soak it in. Stop counting the raindrops, splash in the puddles instead.

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Only Paper Fades…

Only Paper Fades…

26 years ago today my Mam passed away. It was sudden and the event blighted my life for almost a decade. I wasn’t unexperienced in matters of loss, but that loss and the manner in which it struck, completely blindsided me. Looking back, I was completely unaware of all the ways my life changed. I couldn’t see beyond my grief and I didn’t pass through mourning until I dealt with my ghosts many years later.

Now I am a very different man. The chocking hand of grief no longer controls my ability to move through the world and there is a lightness about such freedom. That being said, today I am sad. It has been a long year for all of us and the natural sense of sadness that decends on such a memorial day, has been underlined by the challenge of these past months.

My daily me, the waking, walking, talking, happy me, has always hidden my natural melancholy state. When I watched death beckon to me 5 years ago, it was not the events of my life that passed before my eyes. All I felt was an enormous sadness for those I was leaving behind. It was overwhelming I have to say and It puts me in mind of my struggles with the loss of my mother, all those years ago.

I am but a little boy in her eyes. But today is a reminder that she is gone from me. Mam is somewhere beyond the life that I live, no longer there to chide me and point me to the right path. I miss her. I remember how my hand felt in her hand, I remember the smell of her skin cream, the colour of her hair, and the warmth of her love. When we lose someone, we fear that we will forget them. I remember thinking that I couldn’t remember her face, but it is all an illusion. The fear itself is what tricks our memory and love never truly fades.

Halloween has never been quite right for me since that night. Today, all the weight of her loss has for some reason, perhaps the ones I have already mentioned or maybe for some other undiscovered reason, caught hold of my soul again.

Souls are delicate things. The world has touched me in ways that have made me far from delicate, but the soft centre that rests within, leaves me vulnerable on some occasions. On days like this. So yes, I miss my Mam today. It sometimes feels like I have found the key to lock that sadness away, only to lose it again and my sorrow return. I will always miss her, that much I know. A forever boy in some ways, knowing that in being unprepared for her loss, perhaps never the man I want to be for her, and theirin lies the rub.

I know what she would say to me, and even writing those words has brought a tear to my eye. Tomorrow will be different. It has been a few years since her loss has hit me this way, but the memory of her is still more than a memory within me. Her name was Mary but people called her May. May would kill me for starting a sentence with ‘she’ for as Mam always reminded me “She is the cat’s mother.” Nonetheless I always liked to tease her so here goes. She lives within me. I am only who I am, because she held my little boy hand in hers, and taught me what she knew. I am only who I am because she loved me. I wrote this following piece 26 years ago and it is still relevant today…

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Is it just me…?

Is it just me…?

If you’ve ever been to Ireland and somehow wound your way to the beautiful part of Ireland that is county Kerry, you may have wandered into the lovely little town of Dingle. If you did, then you will of course be familiar with Fungie.  For the unfamiliar, Fungie is a dolphin that has been swimming around the waters of Dingle for the past thirty odd years and a whole tourist industry has, in typical rural Ireland fashion, been developed around him. He has it would appear, long outlived your average bottlenose dolphin.

You can go out in any number of boats to photograph Fungie as he swims alongside, or indeed if you are so inclined and lucky enough, you can get a chance to swim with him. This week, as if tourism isn’t already on its knees due to Covid-19, Fungie has disappeared! So important is he to the local economy, that I think the locals might be considering a stand-in.

Now as a writer I can’t help but be reminded of Douglas Adams. ‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish’ the fourth book of his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy and yes in case you are confused, it’s a trilogy in 5 parts. The title is the message left by the dolphins when they departed Planet Earth, just before it was demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Now our beloved Fungie has disappeared. Given the year we’ve had…I can’t help but wonder if we should be worried?

As I write this, I can confirm that this little island of ours, has today gone into full lockdown for the second time. Now I’ve never been overly careful about the rules that are placed on me in life, but in the case of Covid-19, I have been pretty much a stickler. I’ve listened to people bit*h and moan about not being able to go to a restaurant or pub, as though it were the end of the world and frankly, it’s nothing short of pathetic. The government here, like those in every other country affected, are trying to prevent things from getting worse. So, they’ll get it wrong, at least they try. It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t territory. I’m no apologist for government but I don’t care who you put in charge, no one is going to get this right. Don’t get me started on anti-maskers.

But I take comfort in typical Irish fashion, in knowing we’re not the worst. We don’t win a lot of big international contests, so knowing “well at least we weren’t the worst” allows us a chance to celebrate, even when we lose. “Hooray we were 9th, but we beat Burkina Faso at sailing… let’s party!” (look it up, we’re an island – they are landlocked). The Irish celebvrate better than most, especially when we lose. Celebrating the fact that less of us died here than in some other place, is hardly reassuring. It’s just not funny is it.

That being said, I only have look at the mess America has made of it and look at how badly Boris Johnson and friends have Fupped things up in the UK, to realise we could have done a whole lot worse. Unfortunately, the biggest lesson we’ve learned, is that it doesn’t matter how bad others are doing. We have learned the sad, uncomfortable truth about ourselves, that community is nothing more than a word for a large percentage of the population.

In the beginning we watched Italy being overwhelmed and struggle as people died in previously unimaginable numbers. Fear brought us to accept whatever we were asked to do. We stayed at home, washed our hands and did the right thing to quash the virus. We clapped ourselves on the back for the wonderful ‘community’ spirit that we all showed. Sure, aren’t we great. Let’s sing a song from a balcony. But that was then. That was fear.

Turns out, ‘community’ spirit fades after a bit. It becomes “well it’s not going to affect me” or “sure most people are grand with it – it’s only the old or sick that get killed.” Community it appears, the sense of caring for society as a whole is fine, so long as we don’t have to do very much, or at least not have to do it for very long. Community implies a shared social responsibility, but not just when it suits you.

Personally, I’m climbing the walls. The pair of us have barely got out alone together since the beginning of the year. We are tied to the house for a number of reasons. We haven’t as much as shopped together, nor will we for some time by the look of it. Nonetheless I will stick with it. Why? Well some might say I am looking at this from my own personal, selfish perspective. I do of course belong to a high risk category, but that’s not the reason I stick by the rules. We live with Jo’s 95-year-old mother and she is our chief concern. Perhaps I am my Darling Jo’s concern also, but really, we wouldn’t want to risk bringing Covid-19 in to our house with her mother straight in the firing line due to her age. But that’s not the whole reason either. I see beyond my front gate. I know it’s not just about me and I believe it extends beyond my hall door. Unfortunately for many people, that seems to be where it stops.

Is that as far as community should stretch? Should it be up to just a few people who care. Should old people, vulnerable or sick people and those caring for them, or those living alone perhaps, simply lock themselves away while the rest of the world goes about their business? Maybe those at most risk, should extend their isolation to perhaps another 12 months, in order that the majority of people can go about their business. But how hard is the odd 6 weeks? What if you were in that group of vulnerable people? Or should we just open up and decide such people are an acceptable collateral damage?

It would seem so. Old people are clearly expendable. People with serious long term conditions are expendable. What if this were a virus that just killed children under 5? Would those without children or those with older children act as irresponsibly as people currently in less risky categories are behaving in relation to those who are vulnerable now? Community that once stretched across the land in every direction as far as the eye could see, has been annexed by self-interest and a dispassionate, ‘couldn’t give a fup about others attitude.’ I only have to mask up and cross the threshold to see that all around me.

It is not without sacrifice and some have sacrificed more than others for sure. But there is a price to pay for true community. It is not easy. For those in the eye of the storm with unemployment, domestic violence or loneliness, we need to understand that they are victims too and address the needs of these victims in all walks of life. It is in this too that we need to rekindle true community.

Community means something. It is important. But now, its demise is clear. We have been most devastatingly found out for what we really are. It may sound cynical to say that people are basically selfish baxtards, but it ain’t cynical if it’s true. They say the truth will out and it truly is out. We lie to ourselves and anyone who will listen, a fake nod to someone else’s problem. I am not absolved of the crime either. No buts. We all need to step up in this time of need.

I listen to it and hear the excuses, watch the blatant hypocrisy of people pretending that they do all the right things – except when they actually don’t – but justify the trip or visit, dinner, party or socialising with scant regard for others. I no longer see people sanitise their hands as they enter a store and I suspect their handwashing regime has loosened at home if it’s like this in public. Social distance is apparently back to people apologising when they bump into you and sure the first chance people get, they’ll be down the local sculling pints again.

Not that there is anything wrong with any of the things we used to do, it’s just that we have all been asked to do something different, something relatively simple in the grand scheme of things, for a relatively short period of time. Of course we miss all those things that we once took for granted. We all want to get back to normal, but the fatigue factor has overtaken the desire to be truly community spirited. People have got tired of being community spirited. It shows few were really community spirited in the first place. It was all just lip service, a façade so we could look good in church or wherever we saw the eyes of the world waiting to judge.

I get it I really do. I’m pi**ed off too, but if this is what we are being asked to do, for others in most cases, as the majority of people have been untouched by the disease directly, then we either do it, or stop pretending to be a caring, compassionate member of the community in which you live. I believe that we must maintain our responsibility to our community. Not just to our family but to our neighbours, to the people we say hello to when we pass them on the street, and to strangers who depend on us to do the right thing.

I do have faith in many, but were once I believed that most people were kind and thoughtful, compassionate and caring, with just a small minority of naysayers, I now see that so many just pretend when someone is looking and as soon as they think they can get away with it, the mask is off if you pardon the analogy.

If I were to be unlucky enough to be struck down by this disease during this new lockdown, only 25 people could come to my funeral. 25.  In fairness I don’t think I know 25 people who haven’t broke the rules or who care enough about me or people like me to take this seriously. So maybe that would save them the embarrassment of turning up with a big guilty head on them, offering platitudes when all they may have done, is add to the chances of me contracting the virus in the first place.  I think I’d have the following on my headstone. ‘So long and thanks for all the insincerity.’ Too harsh? Maybe I’m just a grumpy old man after all. Have I just lost hope in humanity?  Is it just me?… Stay safe everybody…

You can find details about Max Power’s books here : –
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