No S**T Sherlock

No S**T Sherlock

Getting older is “a pain in the hoop Bill” as the boys from Après Match might say. If it’s not one thing it’s another.  My latest venture into the world of exploratory medicine was an MRI for my left shoulder early on Wednesday morning. Now if you’ve ever had and MRI, you’ll know that it’s a painless procedure, unless you suffer from claustrophobia in which case it might be a bit of a struggle. On Wednesday I had one of the most painful experiences I’ve had in years and I’m still not the better of it today.

I woke up this morning, darkly depressed, not a state I am at all comfortable with, as I tend lean to the dark side at the best of times. The chronic pain and the lack of sleep, are at this stage taking a rather heavy toll on my Psyche.

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Generally I tend to be the one who keeps the smiley face on so when I switch off its noticeable. I recall hearing the story of the man who goes to ta doctor in London in the early nineteenth century, suffering from depression. The Doctor in his wisdom prescribes a visit to see the great clown Joseph Grimaldi who he declares, will be guaranteed to cheer him up.   I feel like that man when he tells the doctor that it would be no use, explaining  “You see…I am Grimaldi.”

It would appear that I have a combination shoulder injury, adhesive capsulitis  and some damage to my rotator cuff and maybe even, a touch of something else.  I went to the doctor, got diagnosed weeks ago, did several weeks worth of physio, got worse, went to another doctor, did my MRI in advance of some pain killing injections planned for later today and it has been one long pain in the arse, or should I say shoulder throughout.

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We all have our troubles don’t get me wrong. I am old enough to have had my fair share of injuries, especially playing sport in my younger, handsomer and dare I say sexier looking years… Yes I dare. There are some who would say that the hint of grey (maybe more than a hint eh?) makes me even sexier, but they tend to be octogenarians with blue rinses, on their way to collect the widow’s pension in the post office, or lonely, not so fussy gay men.  Let’s face it I’ve not reached my use before date, but my best before has long since passed. This particular injury however, does rank at the top end of the pain spectrum for me at least and certainly reminds me that I’m no spring chicken. 

The problem is that I have very little movement in my left arm, or my bad arm as I like to call it. It has always been my bad arm as I am very much right handed. When I played basketball I spent a huge amount of time working on it to teach it how to dribble as good as my right, but it was a poor student. Bad arm! Right now I cannot even raise it to the horizontal either to my front or side and it certainly refuses to go behind my back.

It’s the little things I miss. Washing my hair one handed, slipping a belt through my trousers one handed, even trying to tuck my shirt in at the back have all become ridiculously complex if not impossible on my left side. Luckily I have one dog who walks on a loose lead so she goes to my left while the other two lunatics drag me up the road by my good arm. I used to feel like Indiana Jones, these days I feel more like his auld fella.

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So where was I? Ah yes the painful MRI.  I was there on Wednesday morning at 06.30, early as ever, and eventually ended up stripped and be- gowned, and on the table.  My arse was hanging out of the gown as I couldn’t reach around and tie it. What a fine sight indeed. The MRI technician or whatever they are called, was pleasant enough until she told me that I had to tuck my shoulder in against a frame and lie with my arm perfectly still.  Therein lay the problem. Sweet mother of the Divine I couldn’t hold my arm that way. Sure don’t I spend an age each night at every twist and turn, just trying to find a way to position my arm in bed so it doesn’t hurt.  

“Come ‘ere to me darlin” says I (She was more motherly than daringly, but sure I can’t help myself) “how long is this going to take?”  She tucked a pillow under my head and raised my legs a little.

“About 15 minutes,” says she with a smile for the ‘darlin’ in my voice, “why, is that uncomfortable love?” Now for the non-Irish, among ye, the love and the darlin’ thing is very normal, especially for people of a certain age, so don’t be getting the wrong idea.

“Uncomfortable? says I, “ it’s not really bearable, sure I can’t lie like this for any length of time.”

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She gently adjusted my wrist. “That’s the best I can do, we need to have your shoulder in that position and you really will have to stay still. Do you think you can manage it?” She gave me a big smile as though that would make it easier. She knew by my face that I was struggling as she handed me the alarm button.  “Sure you can press this if the pain is too bad and I will give you a break, but it would be best if you can stay still until it’s done.”

“Go on” says I against my better judgement. She put a set of headphones on me and away we went into the tunnel of pain. Of course this was not my first MRI and I generally fall asleep inside, despite the loud noise banging away over the music from the headphones.  I always suspect I snore my arse off, but I don’t really care.

Wednesday was different. It seemed like an age before the first of the whirring clicking began and every second that passed, highlighted the pain in my shoulder even more.  I thought about whether or not I could actually last the 15 minutes and quickly came to the conclusion that it was unlikely. The choice was stark but clear. Man the Fup up!

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Now that’s easier said than done because for all the bravado that one might muster, lying perfectly still in a narrow tunnel, being bombarded with the blast of noise as you are enveloped in a magnetic field in a room which is essentially a giant faraday cage, while your shoulder and upper arm feels like it is in a vice being squeezed, can alter one’s perception of pain a little.  Sometimes I think too much.  10 seconds becomes 2 minutes, and 2 minutes feel like 10. Halfway through, I briefly considered throwing in the towel but then thought the better of it.

What was the point? I would only have to go back in again anyway and sure that’d be worse. Feck this I thought – mind over matter. Unfortunately I’ve never been one for meditation, the very skill that might have stood me in good stead that morning.  All I had was bloody mindedness and a false sense of machismo.

I’ve seen John Wayne tie a hanky around his bullet-ridden arm and still ride a horse. Was I going to wimp out of a 15 minute MRI because of agonising pain in a shoulder that I desperately wanted to move – just an inch even? The hell I was! 15 minutes later it was all over and I have never been so relieved.

“You were very good” she said “didn’t move at all, the images are perfect and clear” she told me.

“No s**t Sherlock” came to mind, I knew exactly how still I was for 15 minutes, sure hadn’t I counted every flippin’ second! But all I said was “that’s grand so.”

Took me forever to get my clothes back on one handed. I nearly called for help at one stage but I’m way to proud to do that. I collected my greatest hits CD on the way out and slid into the car, never more pleased to be driving an automatic.  My left arm was fubared. I drove one-handed to work and slid the CD into the hard drive on my desk.  It meant nothing to me of course. So I did what any self-respecting highly trained medical professional would do. Hello Dr. Google… You’d be amazed at the diagnosis I came up with after a solid medical training of ten minutes on t’internet.

Now all I have to do is visit my Doctor today for the cortisone injections. Sad as it is, I have never fantasized about anything as much.  I’d let him saw off my arm if it gave me relief at this stage if the truth be told. Fortunately I’ll be able to give him the benefit of my new found extensive medical knowledge. I’m sure he’ll be delighted…

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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 : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1

Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

 

 

 

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Cows laying chickens…

Cows laying chickens…

As Met Eireann threatened us with the potential disaster of temperatures returning to normal in the coming days, it got me thinking. The current “so called” heatwave that has this lovely green Island declaring drought status and introducing water restrictions is in my opinion, using the accepted old geezer argument  of “call this a heatwave “ nothing, compared to what we had to go through back when I was a nipper.  How bad were the heatwaves when I was younger? You may well ask. Well let me tell you.

It was so hot; donkeys were climbing trees in the early morning just to lick dew off the apples. Water restrictions? Pshaw! We had to wash ourselves using salt and milk until the cows udders dried up from dehydration. After that the whole country started to smell like feet. There were ducks trying to swim on glass-topped tables, cows were laying chickens and and chickens were laying hard boiled eggs it was so hot.

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We had to drink feckin’ imported beer and the zoo closed down because there was nothing to see. All the African plains animals stayed inside in the shade and the whole ice-cream shop liquefied.  Mullingar was a desert for six weeks, people in Cork became disorientated when all that was left of the river Lee was in fact “the banks” and in Kilkenny, all the cats melted.

Cavan people were digging up their buried cash to pay smugglers to go across the border to Northern Ireland and bring back bottles of something called Evian. There were non-native lizards  (not that there’s any other kind) immigrating to catch the sun on garden walls in Finglas and Ballyfermot, and the only ones finding it easy were toothless grannies who had seen it all before. They had an uncanny ability to garner refreshment through the sucking of lemons.  Us Dubs thought, given the amount of whingin’ the Culchies did about Dublin getting everything,  that they’d have been able to get refreshment from all the sour grapes but oh no, they complained even more than us.

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The farmers who had been whining and moaning for the previous 600 years about the fact that it never stopped raining and were therefore poor, started saying that they were sorry, and could they please have the rain back.  The colours on the Friesian cows were blending together so that all over Ireland there were fields of dehydrated grey-looking cattle with absolutely no sense of humour.

Children were sticking to each other in school and teachers were looking for more days off. All over Ireland there were scaldy pink heads, and tops that should never have come off, were coming off. Mr. Universe it wasn’t let me tell you.  There were men with sandals and argyle socks, naked from the waist up wearing Paddy caps and proudly displaying their beer bellies with not even the decency to suck in.

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Now I’m not saying it has not been a hot few weeks don’t get me wrong. It’s not often we can count on continuous sunshine week after week in Ireland, and it has been hard to keep the butter from turning to water, but  young people today just don’t  get it.  Everything was worse in the old days. It’s a fact. Except for the whole concept of ‘The good old days’ which ironically were always better.

In the last few months we’ve had a succession of red storm warnings. There has been pretty much everything fecked at this little place from hurricanes to arctic blasts and snowstorms, and now a flippin’ heatwave.  It’s like all the other weathers have spotted that the rain has been keeping Ireland all to itself for all these years and now they are all trying to get a piece of the action.

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People are actually saying things like “It’s too hot.” For the love of all that’s holy lads, we whine about the damp weather from one end of the year to the other and the first bit of decent weather we get and what do we do…start moanin’.  I heard someone complaining that we should have bigger reservoirs and we wouldn’t have to cut back on water use. For feck sake! It’s usually raining in summer, why do we need bigger reservoirs for a once in a thirty year event. Get over yourself.

There are more important things to worry about like, what’s the best solution to gentlemen’s supermarket shopping attire in this weather? I found myself freezing my nethers off as I worked my way through the frozen food section, because it’s really not a shorts and t-shirt environment. I mean what’s the dress code?

Speaking of dress code, lads… seriously, the vesty top you wore to Lanzarote six years ago, beige with a faded, unrecognisable print on the front from Dunnes Stores, with three-quarter length, blue shorts (waist 28” –Belly 40”)  and a pair of flip flops, is not appropriate attire – anywhere- anytime –any weather. Kop yourselves on and show a little dignity.

But like I say, we are losing the run of ourselves. There are lads and lassies all over the world in far warmer climates, putting on coats in similar temperatures because it’s too cold. Fair enough it is a little bit on the hot side, and Ok it is a bit tricky finding a choc-ice or a brunch in every shop, but seriously like I already said, this is nothin’.  Now the weather when I was a lad …

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But hold fast. The recent vile threat from the Met office, is that we may be about to see that oh so familiar sight again soon – rain.  As sure as eggs is eggs it’ll return. We all know it but we just don’t want to face it.  The truth be told, if it wasn’t for our new found desire to preserve the planet, most of us would secretly – if we thought we could get away with it – starting burning smoky coal and upping the emissions from our cars, just so Ireland could get a bit of the auld global warming that’s supposed to be going around.  Never mind the 800 years of oppression from the British – sure we’re bessie mates again now. Prince what’s his face and your wan from Suits are over at the minute drinkin and carousin’ and telling jokes about football coming home and watching kids play hurling in Croker.  What about 800 years of feckin’ rain? That’s the big issue. Don’t we deserve a break?

You know what’s next.  The temperatures will fade, the clouds will appear, we’ll all be looking out the window saying things like, “hopefully it’ll clear up for the weekend” but knowing in our hearts and souls that it’ll bucket down on Saturday.  There’ll be whispered talk of “sure maybe we’ll have an Indian summer in September” but afraid to be greedy after a few weeks of good weather, we won’t say it too loud in case in doing so, we jinx it.

There’ll be “the kids’ll be back to school soon” before long and “sure then Halloween will be on top of us.” Oh yes and it’s a fast and slippery slope we’re heading down then I tell you. You know it, I know it, the dogs melting on the streets of Ireland know it – It won’t be long ‘till Christmas…

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 : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1

Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

Flutterfly…

Flutterfly…

There is a wonderful piece of writing advice often given, which is to avoid clichés.  I am going to use at least one and who knows maybe more, for in this case they perhaps best describe the events of what for me was a truly frightful time. The cliché I have in mind is that on Monday afternoon last, during three long hours of my life, time stood still.

As frequent visitors to my blog know, I had my own dice with death not that long ago and I described that in some detail at the time so I won’t repeat it here. However there is one aspect of that event which is relevant in this case. We often hear that at the moment of closeness to death, time does in a way stand still and our life flashes instantly before our eyes. It was not my experience and I have never really found that time could be halted even in a metaphorical sense. It would seem to me now however, that I was wrong.

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 ,has suffered the pain of nearly losing me and never once faltered through my recovery. Joanna is there always, unfalteringly brave 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.

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On Monday last, for 3 awful hours, she was gone from me, holding on to her connection to this world by the ingenuity of science as doctors fought to keep her alive. What should have been a simple operation went very wrong, as she failed to respond in recovery and could not breathe for herself.

I left her early that morning, as they wheeled her away to the theatre with a soft kiss and an “I’ll be waiting when you get back.” I briefly tried to engage with the theatre porter, but he was a dour if not overly handsome foreign man, with no desire to talk to me. It seemed unusual, for anyone who has visited the Irish hospital system will tell you; porters never shut the feck up.  I was nervous because for all my calm, don’t worry darling, everything will be fine they can do this operation in their sleep attitude, I had not slept well the night before as I had a portentous visitor sitting on my window sill in the early morning half-light.  I was fearful that my night-time haunter had more than me on his mind.

Time standing still is an erroneous description. It doesn’t exactly explain the long drawn out feel of a single minute as you watch a hospital clock. For all my laid back attitude to most things, those who know me well, will know I do not suffer half-truths or misinformation well.  To be told that my darling, my love, was delayed in recovery was never going to be enough for me. I perhaps owe an apology to the young nurse that I badgered for clarity, for she seemed unaware of exactly what was going on. But I needed clarity. Eventually with no answers coming and the hours ticking by, my stress levels could not accept that some vague breathing difficulty explanation would suffice. I called on a dear close family friend who worked in the hospital to assist me in finding out more. I say friend but in truth I will call her family and I am forever grateful for her support.

Without hesitation, she told me she was working that day and would be across the hospital campus with me in ten minutes. Oh how those minutes dragged. I paced the corridor like a crazy person.  I could feel the tension in every fiber of my body as each second brought me nearer to a possibility that I was hugely unprepared for.  It was only when I saw that unmistakably beautiful hair, scattered across the pillow on the hospital trolley emerging from the corridor beside me, that I felt I could breathe again.

The poor anesthetist expressed her relief that they had saved her. She was under the impression that I had been fully informed which at that point I wasn’t, but it wasn’t long before she confirmed my worst fears that my gentle sweetheart had indeed struggled to return to us after her operation.

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That night, I sat up awake, alone with my relief but still fearful that the worst was not past. I did not need to contemplate her near miss. My heart, dodgy as it is, never skipped a beat in the heat of battle but it did  falter as I sat in the quiet of that night knowing what might have been.

I have not been quite myself since I must admit. 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. There is no finer woman, no kinder soul than my darling and the chink in my armour revealed itself to me this week. Not that I am surprised. But I guess it is more than that.

To be helpless is an uncomfortable and unfamiliar feeling for me. The last time I felt this way was when I myself lay in a hospital bed and I know that my beautiful love endured a similar struggle, as she had to sit by and wait for news of my fate. She never complained nor let on and stayed strong by my side.

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. 

How could I not be drawn low by the threat of losing such a fine thing? 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

There are no lessons for me to learn here. I cannot say I should cherish her more, for I cherish her daily.  It has been a sobering, fearful time though, one where I have been reminded perhaps, to value the day that is in it a little more. For isn’t each day wonderful when you are loved.

My distractions are gone. I cannot write and to put this to paper has even been hard. I have no time nor interest in anything other than seeing the lovely girl I adore recovers fully, my heart, my eye, my colour, my shine, my strength, my darling…my flutterlfy…

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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 : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1

Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

 

A flinchin’ and a wincin’ and one-eyed scraggly auldwans…

A flinchin’ and a wincin’ and one-eyed scraggly auldwans…

I was with my physiotherapist yesterday morning, being interfered with for a frozen shoulder and there was a point where his tortuous hands went too far and I winced. Now I do try not to wince, because as every woman who has ever met me, and every man who is jealous of me knows, I am some fine specimen of manliness.  Wincing is not manly.  I’ve seen the movies,oh yes I have and real men don’t wince.

There are fellas taking bullets to the shoulder, telling other fellas to dig out the bullet with a knife the size of hatchet with no more than a swig of whiskey for pain relief. Them fellas barely break a sweat. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes, lads with broken legs in the snow, fighting off wolves and not complaining one bit when the wolves rip open a tendon or two. So anyway, there I was wincing like a three year old as he tells me, “Just ten more seconds.”

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Now I don’t want to impugn his reputation or anything, but either he can’t count or he’s a fuppin’ liar.  He goes; “One, two, are you going to watch the footy at the weekend mate, three,” long pause, “you guys are looking good for Saturday. I’m hoping to get tickets for the November series, but they’re bloody expensive, especially when you have three kids as well, five…”

Did I forget to mention he’s a Kiwi and that Ireland are expecting to kick their backsides in Rugby when they come to Dublin in November, a fact he wouldn’t later acknowledge in his typical “you Irish won’t beat the All Blacks a second time” delusional Kiwi sort of way. Of course he knows that I like Rugby and as Ireland are currently ranked number 2 in the world after New Zealand we generally have a bit of banter when I pay him to torture me, but seriously FIVE! He was using his insider knowledge of me to try and distract from the ten second gap between each of ‘his’ seconds.  By the time he’d counted to ten about three hours had passed; at least it felt that way. Pain is such a distorter of time I find.

It’s like he thinks he is dealing with a small child and I won’t notice his distraction technique, while he digs his whelk-sized knuckles into the most tender part of my shoulder. “Roll over on your side” he says “this might be a little sore.” I have found that at such times I do a lot of teeth grinding and buttock clenching. “Brace yourself Euphegenia!”

Which reminds me, I was at the dentist the previous day. (It’s not been a good week.) Oh sweet mother of the Devine.  If there is a curse word I haven’t used under my breath in the dentist’s chair, then I don’t know it. I had the misfortune of chipping a front tooth so I needed a cosmetic fix and quick. Quick was the issue.  I didn’t want to spend the week looking like Cletus the slack jawed yokel, so I rang my dentist and  asked for an emergency appointment that morning.

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Apparently cosmetic work doesn’t really fall under ‘emergency’ treatment and for some reason they keep their ‘emergency’ bookings only for people in extreme pain. What sort of system is that – I was in pain – emotional pain – My fabulousness was  lessened and I could barely look in the mirror! (Barely) Luckily I have a gift for plámásing and never was it used more deftly.

I told the very efficient receptionist that this was indeed an emergency, for what I didn’t originally mention was that I was to be a key note speaker at a conference on Friday. There would be a camera three feet from my face, which would plaster my image up on a monster screen for all the world to gasp at when they saw my Cletusesque appearance. I might as well stick a straw in my mouth and chew tobacco I told her. Oh the pain! That was at 09.05 and I was lying back in the Dental chair at 10.00.

Now they say if you are a liar (not that I am one,  I merely embellished the potential for what could, under other circumstances have been a true story, if the facts were different on another day) you need a good memory. As I lay there, the dentist peering into my mouth and holding what looked like some implement formally used by the Spanish Inquisition, she asked me how come I was going to be on the Telly.

It took a few moments for the penny to drop.  I had mentioned cameras to the receptionist and somewhere in translation, I was now going to be on the TV. I hadn’t expected my distortion of the truth to come back to haunt me. Oh dear, that implement had me worried. I won’t tell you what I told her but it must have been convincing because she was gentle with me. I must have spun her a good yarn.  Most of what happened is a blank if the truth be told for I have a terrible fear of the dentist. I’m sure I left nail marks on the arms of that chair. I think it is fear more of my generation that the current one.

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When I was a boy I was treated for free at the local dental clinic by some fella who vaguely resembled Josef Mengele.  I know memory can play tricks on you and it was a long time ago, but somewhere in the back of my mind he wore jack boots under his white coat. Ah yes the glory days of dentistry.

He actually gave me a clip on the ear for flinching when he injected me with a needle the size of an elephant gun. He had to have a go five times as it wasn’t taking, and it turns out he had been injecting the upper jaw instead of the lower jaw, so off he went a needlin’ again.  The next day my face was black and blue and the teacher asked what had happened to me.

Not sure how I got here, I just felt the need to ramble a little today to distract me from the pain.  I’m usually good with pain but I don’t know, this frozen shoulder is a real fecker.  My Antipodean physio certainly left his mark on me yesterday morning.  In fairness, he is making progress but by Jaybus it hurts the next day.  On my first visit he asked me if I had plans for the weekend, and I was almost flattered until he explained that I should expect to be very sore, so I shouldn’t expect to be up for much.

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There was a time when women threw themselves at my feet.  I used to have to carry a big stick to beat them back and avoid wearing aftershave – sure that only encouraged them. I was afraid to put on my good shirt on a Saturday and I’d have to sit in a corner of the pub away from the light. Sure wasn’t I that fabulous!  Nowadays, I’m hoping that innocent remarks from agricultural-looking, male, kiwi physiotherapists are compliments. I don’t care if you are a ninety-seven year old, not too good looking man in a skirt, or a one-eyed, scraggly looking auldwan with bad breath.  If you make a pass at me, or if I can perceive it to be a pass even if it’s not, to boost my faltering ego, hey I’ll take it. I’m just lucky I have found my darling Jo.  She sees through the cracks as it were. I still don’t know what she sees in me.

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Compliments get harder to find as you get older.  I’ll take them where I can get them these days.  My old man used to add five years to his age so when people said “How old are you now” he’d add a few years, and they would have inevitably said  something like “Jesus you look great for your age.”  His reply – “Thanks.”  That man knew how to fish for a compliment. Guess I didn’t lick it off a stone. Now you might understand, why I went to such great lengths to get an emergency dental appointment.  It’s bad enough that I’m losing my shine, but I can sure as hell do without looking like a toothless Jed Clampett. I gotta go now, but y’all come back now hear…

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 : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1

Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

I could have been most anything…

I could have been most anything…

I want to be a spiritual Guru, or maybe a Dog Psychotherapist. I reckon I’d be good at that. Not in Ireland of course, they’d feck me out the door as soon as look at me. But there are places I’ve heard of in ancient myths. Places like California where coffee has more adjectives than I’ve had hot dinners and where people have more money than sense. Sorry my Californian friends, not you personally of course … but you know your woman down the road? Yes you do. We’ve all seen her on the telly.

It’s the bulls**t you see. I’d be good at that.  All I’d need is a nice pad with a leafy garden, an office that looks homely but with a big oak desk and a fake diploma on the wall from the school of doggy development in Massachusetts. I’d have a comfy waiting room with Oprah on the telly.  Lots of cushions and tea in an expensive tea-set served by a charming British man named Clive.

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“Come in” I’d say like a spider to the fly and my clients, (mostly slightly older women with too much money and very small dogs is the plan – or perhaps  slightly insecure gay men with too much Botox in their face and odd looking hair transplants that clearly cost them thousands) would follow me as I lay the flirtation on thick and I might even adjust my natural Irish accent to add a more Maureen O’ Hara lilt, but with a deeper voice obviously.

“Sure ‘tis yourself, and aren’t you lookin’ like a young Jean Harlow today. What have you done with your hair, it’s to die for?” There’d be small talk a plenty, Clive would discretely throw a sneaky smile in her direction and while she might blush despite her age, I’d pretend not to notice his indiscretion.

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Eventually we’d get to Poochy or whatever the little creature is called and I’d listen attentively as the client would tell me all about it.  Ah yes, a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear, 800 dollars an hour at least.  Eventually Id’ leave her to Clive, who would flirt less openly, but he’d know what he was doing and I’d take Poochy to the inner sanctum. Once there, I’d open my top drawer and produce the finest selection of chicken pieces a doggy could dream about.  Within minutes, I’d be Poochy’s best friend.

We’d spend a half hour together, Poochy attentively sitting by my side being fed sporadic delicacies while I read the newspapers. Perhaps I might teach the little prince or princess a few tricks to perform on cue for the owner, to demonstrate the bond we had formed once back in our luxurious waiting room.

“Ah sure isn’t she a little treasure?” I’d begin. “Such an intelligent creature” I would tell the proud surrogate parent. “Clearly she lives in a house filled with love.”

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Eventually I’d move through stage one of the flannel and put on my serious face and like a fake medium searching for a name in the ether (Someone  whose name begins with J is trying to come through…), I would begin to fish for truths to feed back to the patsy…I mean client. “I sense there has been a change at home” or maybe “ Is there someone or something new in her life.” Eventually I would have to offer an early diagnosis (though not definitive – never definitive for we need the client to return).  Something like – “She is suffering from post-projective non-sequential traumatic, canine stress disorder.”

“Oh my word.” they might say. “Is it serious?”  The disorder may change but the answer is always the same. “It can be my darlin’ (Too-ra- loo- ra-loo-ra) but sure haven’t we caught it in time and together we can work to help her through this.” I’d take her hand to comfort her through the news then step away to my desk to arrange the next appointment. “

Eating out of my hand they’d be, to be sure to be sure to be sure. But wait! I hear you. A fraud you say? Taking advantage of the lonely, needy, less fortunate, rich Californian widows you say? Well let me tell you in plain and simple English, all I’d be doing is synergistically facilitating best of breed quality vectors!  There is no Bulls*it with me.

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Perhaps I’ve missed my calling. The problem is that all the things that would make me super rich, involve taking advantage of others. If I’d have gone into the priesthood, I’d have wangled my way to at least bishop and I guarantee you it wouldn’t be in some third world despot run, tropical hell  hole where I’d have to allow my conscience to dictate that I’d have to actually help people! Oh no.  I’d be in some big posh cathedral, having my ring kissed if you pardon the French, being driven around in a limo, meeting other dignitaries and handing out graces.

But you see that’d be no better than my dog whispering. Some people say I should have been an actor but I’d  only be a good actor not a great one, not the best,  and I am such a competitive fecker that if I wasn’t picking up Oscars every five minutes  then I would be a disappointment to myself.

When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, a pilot, a lawyer or a scuba diver. I wasn’t quite sure how the job of a scuba diver actually worked but I knew it involved killing sharks with a spear gun and finding buried treasure in sunken wrecks so…Cool!

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I flirted with the notion of Law in my teenage years but circumstance prevailed and that never came about, perhaps that’s a good thing, I’m pompous enough as it is. How I ended up where I am today is beyond me. There’s a line in an old Don Mc Clean song (yes Don Mc Clean) that goes,

“I could have been most anything I put my mind to be, but a cowboy’s life’s the only one for me.”

That was really what I wanted to be. Of course being a cowboy when I was seven, was less about any actually work with cattle and more to do with shootin’ injuns on piebald ponies and having gun fights in saloons but to be fair, I might have considered lassoing the odd steer if that counts.

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I guess to some extent I’ve always felt like a fraud. I still feel like I should be riding horses way out west in the 1800’s or deep sea diving off the coast of Tobago looking for Doubloons. Instead I have managed to convince a whole variety of people throughout my life that I know what I’m doing. Maybe I am a just a damn fine actor after all?  At least with my writing I get to tell the truth – even if I do make up…

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 : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1

Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

Scrambling up from the tombstones of Kindness…

Scrambling up from the tombstones of Kindness…

There was a fella in my class when I was about nine years old, who I recall had a talent for breaking wind. He could quite literally crack one off on command. I have never seen anything like it then or since. Let’s call him ‘Mick’ to preserve his dignity. Mick must have had a special storage sack that none of the rest of us has and his supply of gas was quite impressive. He could even; I kid you not, control the sound they made to some extent at least.  What has become of him I often wonder? Most likely a politician I should think.

Looking back at the chidderlings that scuttled about me as a nipper, I recall some gifted young boys and like Mick, I wonder what became of them. That’s not to say I’ve never seen any of them since, but for the most part, we have scattered far and wide , and some… well let’s just say it was an eclectic mix.

There was one lad with an endless stream of snot that he constantly wiped on his crusty sleeve. I remember being saddened and shocked when at the age of twelve, Brother Donard, a vile and loathsome Christian Brother (He wasn’t alone in that one) asked me to sit beside, to help with his writing.  I say saddened and shocked, because we were only a summer break away from going to secondary school, and I discovered that what Brother Donard meant by ‘helping’ my classmate with his writing, was far more dramatic than I could ever have imagined. He produced a copy book that I hadn’t seen since I was five. It had blue and red lines, to help guide the beginner form the correct letter shape and keep them in line. The poor boy could barely complete the alphabet. He was twelve years old.

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He had been already cast aside by what was then an overcrowded education system. We had played together in the yard and while I wouldn’t have considered him the brightest spark, I never knew the extent of his educational deficit. I wanted to object, to complain, to demand that this boy be given proper help, but I couldn’t say anything of course.  I was just another little boy in a world of oppressive authority, keeping my head down for fear of getting it slapped by a teacher, and I realised that this boy had done the same, only better.  While I had raised my head above the parapet to answer questions and compete to be the best in the class, this lad had quietly flown beneath the radar, content not to draw attention to himself, quietly slipping away to oblivion. The crass, disgusting truth was, that teacher after teacher had been complicit in leaving him to sink deeper and deeper into the anonymity of a malfunctioning system. He was abandoned and I was completely powerless to help, other than to show him how to finish off his alphabet. I stared injustice in the face and dipped my toe into futility.

I grew up in this weird world of social injustice. It was still the nineteen-sixties when my skinny little arse first landed on a desk in school.  I loved it and I hated it. I loved the learning and soaked it up like a happy little sponge.  I hated the violence of the schoolyard and the menace of the Christian Brothers. They towered above me like billowing black monsters and the only thing more frightening than the flick of their wood-tipped leather straps, was to see a smile grow at the corner of their lip. As a boy with a great imagination, I imagined that cruelty was ingrained in them when they were forged in great caverns beneath the earth. They grew from trees and would pluck me from the fields as I ran, devouring all the goodness of my soul if I didn’t avoid their dark intentions.

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I flittered about them like a bright, weightless butterfly, never standing still long enough to be caught.  But some of the boys flew straight and true into their traps, and no God could forgive the horrors inflicted on them by those men without mercy. They were men born of decay, hating their own existence, scrambling up from the tombstones of the kindness that must surely have once lived in them as children.

We injected fun into the fear filled days for that is what we do.  I have always enjoyed stories of prisoners of war and I think it is perhaps because that is how we felt.  We were trapped, if only for the school day but trapped nonetheless, imprisoned if you will by our tormentors. We made the most of it and even managed to be educated in the process.  There were good men scattered amongst the ruins of the demons that sought to use their position of power to dark ends, but not enough.

Violence was the norm in that world. Boys fought with boys in the yard in gangs, groups or just singularly and for little reason. Lay teachers beat us with sticks for minor offences or just for getting our six times tables wrong. But the Brothers, they were far far worse and to say they brutalised little boys in their care, is an understatement.

Those who got the worst of it were little boys just like me. Seven years old, eight year old boys twelve year old boys, boys who didn’t have the luck or the guile that I had, to avoid the worst of the suffering. It seems impossible to imagine for many today, just how free they were to abuse the precious little flitterlings in their care.  They broke many a wing I am sure, smashed innocence and crushed spirits and though some were eventually brought to task, most were not.

But we still managed to have fun.  We had boys like Mick to fart on command and break the spell of oppression if only for a moment. He was a hero in many ways, risking the wrath of the Brotherhood to bring a smile to our faces.  The jokers were ever present and the risks were great, but the human spirit, whatever that is, was present in even us little ones, failing to be completely crushed under the terrible weight of that repression.

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I think we knew more than we let on.  I know I always saw the brothers as failed priests who couldn’t quite make the grade.  I don’t know what path they actually followed to get there, but there was a sense of resentment, like when they had to defer to the priest but didn’t like it.  They made a huge fuss whenever a priest came to call and always seemed extra angry when they left.

Near the end of primary school there was a brief period of engagement.  It was like they were trying to be a little bit nicer, forcing smiles across their cruel mouths as if to say, “Look at me I’m happy.” But then of course the penny dropped and stranger priests appeared.  These weren’t men from our parish, oh no.  They were brighter, more smiley, and more kindly of disposition.  They didn’t have cigarette ash on their cassocks or dandruff on their shoulders.  They had full heads of hair and skin that had seen daylight.  They were there to enlist us.  they had smiles that moved beyond their lips. They were recruiting for the priesthood.

Oh yes the penny dropped alright. Come and join the priesthood they said. It’ll be great they said. God has a calling they told us. I only heard the sound of brother Donard’s shoes squeak as he rocked on his irritable little heels in the background, with a smile that only identified itself through a row of white teeth, but was absent from his eyes. There was considerable pressure and some actually gave in and went on to visit the seminary but that was inevitable I suppose. That was their plan. Put enough pressure on and someone would eventually crack.  Some boys had to put their hands up, it was just a matter of holding out longer than those who couldn’t take the pressure and I had no problem on that score.

But then they left us and with them the temporary respite from the cruelty, as the brothers reverted to type, recruits secures, their job done for another year. That same year I left primary school and headed into the daunting world of secondary school. New boys, new teachers, still Christian Brothers but not in teaching positions and a fresh teacher for every single subject. It was terrifying.

But then I walked through those new gates for the first time and discovered a world without terror. The yoke of oppression had been removed and I flourished. What a world we lived in. It seemed the smallest, the most vulnerable were left to the care of the worst of the monsters that we had created in our society. It made no sense and makes none to me still now looking back from the distance of time. But still we had fun in the midst of it. We made friends, we chased each other like lunatics, we ran on concrete yards, fell, bled and got up  to run again without a hint of a lawsuit, so maybe it wasn’t all bad eh?…

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 : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1

Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

Afflicted by condition on the road to my perdition…

Afflicted by condition on the road to my perdition…

We will never be the same again. I wonder if that will be how anyone feels when I’m gone.  Have I touched people that way? Who will miss me and will my life have mattered or made a difference to the world, if only in some small way?  Do I care?  I have always been an introspective invalid, filling the spaces in time between the babble of my thoughts with anything to make the noise go away. Sometimes that presents itself as darkness and if I don’t leave the door to the light in my soul ajar, it could easily swallow me whole. I often wonder would there be a way back for me.

Such introspection, reflection and genuflection to the God of posterity can affect some people, but not I.  For a man like me, occasionally disturbed by the insanity of vanity, one would assume that I might be thus afflicted. I am pleased to report my posterity can be a concern for others, for I am of the now.

Making one’s mark on the world is such a fatuous distraction. I make mine every day in some small way, though whether or not anyone ever notices or cares is another thing.  Perhaps if I do something grand they will build a statue for others to bask in the reflected glory of my memory.  Maybe if I merely do enough to warrant a plaque on a wall that will suffice. Wouldn’t that be nice?  Not really.

I will I know remain in the hearts of those that love me and perhaps in stories to go with photographs, for those who may never have the opportunity to meet me in the flesh.  If I’m lucky I will force lips to slide up at the side, as someone who knew me recounts one of my adventures. But once the tears will have passed, once my carcass is burned, frayed, buried or forgotten, I wonder will there be anyone thinking still, ”I will never be the same again.”

Oh such hubris!  Well it might be if I took myself seriously.  I dwell on the impossible and tinker with disastrous permutations of the mind, afflictions of the human condition on my road to perdition.  I told you already my mind doth move to fast to last the journey.  It is most likely a question of which gives out first, my mind or my body and oh I do hope it’s my body, for I should miss the distraction of my abstraction. For all the trouble this little brain causes me, I wonder what my journey might be without it firing on all cylinders.

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We lose little things. I lose them all the time. A name, a word, a memory.  Some people lose much more and an avalanche of doubt becomes their world, until it is lost forever and I am not sure how that would sit with me. I think it is the thing I fear the most and perhaps it is at the heart of the mystery of my frequent visitor Mr. Squiggles. 

I always have to explain him away for newcomers to my blog. He is of course my dark companion who returned with me when I temporarily stepped off this mortal coil. His portentous if infrequent visits, are always at the same time of night.  He comes with menace and with meaning my shadowy friend, and I had hoped in giving him such a silly name that he might leave well enough alone. Sadly I was mistaken. But maybe I have been mistaken in more ways than one.

It has seemed clear to me since his first appearance, that he was the harbinger of misfortune in some way. I have known him to be in search of something, to lie in wait patiently, knowing that what he had come for, was close to lowering its guard. Without any concrete evidence, I believed not that he had come for my soul, but rather he was perhaps checking on its condition. The first time he visited me was in hospital and I had watched him check window after window, before settling on mine.  He seemed to sense my demise, though fortunately on that occasion he was mistaken. But like I say, perhaps I was  also mistaken.  He could have come for something far more valuable than my soul.

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Now when he visits, he sits there on my window sill, deep, dark-on-dark, a shadow in the shadows, bent knee as though swaying softly on a garden swing, and I have begun to wonder – does my Mr. Squiggles have a whole other agenda.  What if he wants more than the ticking last beat of my unsound heart? What if his pleasure is taken in a more perverse way? Is he bleeding me slowly, taking away the part of me that I value most?

I was born with troubled vision in one eye and even from an early age, I knew writing was important to me.  I developed a teenage anxiety that I might someday lose my vision in the good eye and be stripped of my ability to write effectively.  That was an unnecessary worry, but I do wonder what might become of me, should I lose significant cognitive competence as I move further into the second half of my own very personal century.

Physical health was always something I took for granted until death came knocking on my door. It shook me and left me a little less confident if I’m honest.  I am not a fearful man, never have been. But it can be hard to stay brave.  I write about bravery in all  of my books. It is an important theme.  Bravery presents itself in many forms and seldom looks like the picture we imagine in our heads.

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Overcoming fear is the key. Fear can define us. That is not something I ever want to happen to me. So when I discover a niggle, a wriggle of a nuisance of a thought that threatens my sanity, I cannot allow the seed of it, the need of it, to take root in my mind and grow.

Age it seems is more than a number. I am still young – relatively – or at least to those older than me, and as such I have in theory at least a long life ahead of me. But the horror of introspection, that collection of nonsense in my head sends me off on tangents I would rather avoid. I have learned the hard way that we are vulnerable and bad things can happen to good people.  Life happens regardless of how we chose to ignore it.  My life is good, filled with much happiness, love and people I care for but I am a melancholic by nature and that is  my personal cross to bear, and perhaps the trade off has been to my advantage more often than not.

I look in the mirror each day as I shave and wonder where the boy has gone. He was a handsome boy that lad, full of spirit, carefree, a wildling, flittering on the winds of life. I sometimes stop and stare at the face I see staring back at me.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a fabulous face (at least that’s what my mother told me Lord rest her soul) so I’ve kept that illusion, but the eyes seem sadder sometimes. I can see the pain I hide in the crinkles on my forehead, and the sorrow I have buried in the bags beneath my eyes.

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Usually I give him a smile. I know he’s still in there and that he needs reassurance, so smiles help.  I know how to force them to the surface and despite the forced nature of my efforts at self assurance, it is better than giving in to the shadow that stalks me. But sometimes, I worry if I will look in that mirror one day and wonder who that person is looking back at me.  I wonder if the people who love me will ask the same question.  Will I see only a shell and cry alone in the dark of night as the world overwhelms me?  Such darkness that befalls me! But wait! There is a light that shines to keep the shallow thief of darkness at bay, for I have a secret.

I am more than just a scraggly mess, I am more than a good night and God bless. I am something no one else will ever be. I am strong and kind and loving.  I am loved, rooted and unwaveringly sure of all that I have been is not all that I am, and that there will always be more to add you see. I am that introspective illusionist with a million thoughts a second running through my head, and while I know that from that madness I will never fully escape, I am still that wildling boy, running fresh and wild and free. I am more that the lesser parts that are my make up. I am always just enough to be what I must be… I am always and forevermore…and if nothing else…me…

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 : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1

Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood