So full of Holiness I was fit to burst!…

So full of Holiness I was fit to burst!…

Easter was only ever theoretically about religion when I was a chiddler.  Sure we had wall to wall indoctrination when it came to the significance of the most important Catholic period of the year, but it didn’t matter there were more important things for us as wildlings of the street.

In school the Christian Brothers started beating the religious festival into us as soon as Christmas and St Patrick’s Day were behind us.  We had real fake palm leaves in church on Palm Sunday and with only a week to the big day we were already so full of the holiness that we were fit to burst.  Stations of the cross, mass for mass’s sake, confession and buckets of guilt because Jesus died on the cross for us. 

The brothers made it seem very personal as though I’d personally been responsible. Me! Little me! For Feck sake I didn’t even kill spiders.  But oh no, we were all guilty. Then again, wasn’t that the whole point of religion back then, especially us poor auld Catholics.  Guilt!  We spent lent feeling guilty about the poor starving black babies in Biafra and collecting our pennies for them.  We sacrificed our favourite things, nearly always sweets because that was the hardest thing to give up.  If you managed to sneak in a crafty black jack or two, the guilt would nearly overwhelm you.  It was so bad I’d have gone to a mid-week confession to cleanse my soul, if it wasn’t for the fact that it would make me look suspicious!

Lent took its toll. We were fully withdrawn from sugar but the addiction hadn’t gone away.  Holy Thursday, Good Friday, processions in the street, all the shops closed it was serious business back then.  My auld fella would complain about the fish-only malarkey on Good Friday.  As far as he was concerned, dinner wasn’t dinner without a big lump of red meat on your plate.

Mid-term break really fecked you up.  The myth of an Irish summer was still too far away for a guarantee of any sort of good weather.  The chances were that rain would keep you housebound for the duration.  By the time Easter Saturday came along, I would have driven myself half-demented staring at the collection of chocolate eggs sitting on the sideboard.

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We didn’t have much back then but when it came to Easter eggs, I had plenty of lovely aunties and they all got us an egg.  I had twelve eggs one year and so did my sisters and brother.  It was an unholy gluttonous feast of chocolate.  Sugar porn for the soul.  Given our Lenten abstinence from all things sweet, I was only short of developing a twitch.  I stacked them high and then re-stacked them.  I often sat there in a zen like trance, just staring at them.  Every detail of their demise was worked out.  I knew which one I’d eat first, which one I’d keep to last, and how I would go about their destruction.  My sister was closest in age so it was doubly important to our sibling rivalry that we kept our eggs separate.

“MAM!!  She’s making her eggs touch mine!”

It was a very serious matter. Each egg held the secret inside, a small pack of Smarties perhaps, it didn’t matter.  One year I waited until I was alone, a near impossibility in our house and then burgled the boxes, carefully opening the foil at the back of three eggs, pulling them apart and sneaking out the goodies inside to gorge on in secret in the cubby hole beneath the stairs.

Then Easter Sunday would arrive and Mam would put us through our final paces.  No eggs until after mass. RRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!  No eggs after mass until after breakfast… FOR CRYIN’OUT LOUD!

Finally egg time…But wait, only one before dinner…WHAT THE FUP!  Of course I know now what she was trying to do and it worked to a large extent, but eventually she’d run out of reasons for us not to sit down and gorge on the brown, sticky sweetness that had tempted us for weeks.   Ah happy days.

Looking back to that time, I connect very deeply to the little man I once was.  The notion of God and chocolate are strangely entwined in my head and as I sit here typing I can see a rather large Easter egg winking at me from across the room, bringing me back home to those simpler times…so  if you’ll excuse me…there’s something I gotta take care of…

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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

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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

Not a Feckin’ bogs’…

Not a Feckin’ bogs’…

It’s been a tough week.  Bollicks you say! We don’t want to hear your whinging.  Fair enough but it’s not a whinge.  Context is everything so I am merely prefacing my piece by putting it in the context of a tough week.

For someone who travels around the world so much for work I don’t half miss home when I’m away.  Home for me is not a place of course.  Home is personified in my darling Joanna and I am always home whenever we are together.   But there is also the broader context of home  for me.   For the last two weeks pretty much, I have travelled throughout this beautiful little country that I call home on a very specific work related activity. Don’t worry I won’t bore you with the details.

Stripped of the comfort of my car, I drove a big beast of a thing up following a smaller vehicle with the driver using his sat nav.  I got the distinct impression he was trying to find roads that my vehicle just simply would not be able to drive down but somehow I managed to survive without a scrape.  Early 0600 a.m. starts, 12 hour days and driving cold winds made for an unfamiliar work environment, but it had to be done.

At one point along the Wild Atlantic Way as it is called, somewhere in Donegal, I was struggling with the terrain and the weather. I barely had a chance to catch my breath let alone enjoy the scenery.  But when I did take a moment to look out to the rugged coast on my right or the spectacular landscape to my left and despite the sideways rain, my breath was quickly taken away again.

I realise as a writer that I am truly of this place.  Home is for me, centred on a person, but I realise too that home is very much the Island of my birth, this beautiful green bauble at the edge of the Atlantic, this Ireland.

It is a part of me. I am its dramatic landscape.  I am the wind and rain that steals away the sky.  In my spirit, in my reasoning are the generations who came before me, shaping the land, marking their passage through time with their own unique culture and style. 

Ireland is an Island of accents.  You can change suburbs and there may be a dramatic change. Town to town it changes and while I consider myself adept at cutting through the local nuances, even I encountered some doozies on this trip.  A man in his seventies with one tooth, fell out of a ten year old Land Cruiser in a cloud of smoke and ash and approached me.  He had the look of a man dug out of the soil.  There was the hint of a life lived in harshness and a whiff of the wildness of the countryside about us on him.  He muttered something unintelligible and laughed and my colleague looked baffled.  It was written all over his face.  I just spoke to him in a loud voice for I suspected he might be half-deaf and the wind was catching each word and carrying them away along with the combed-over hair on the top of his head.

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“What did you say?”

He repeated something that sounded like,

“Sure an anarled garfunkle ina gombroiled ge ge gargo effing a dib.” And then he laughed as though I might enjoy whatever joke he had just made.   I laughed in agreement and answered,

“Ah but come ‘ere,  don’t be talkin’… and what would a Dub like me know about that anyway.”

He cracked up and agreed. I still hadn’t a feckin’ bog’s notion what he was talking about. 

“True – true, A jackeen maw dawb de finkler becnch, haw haw de hup.”  He slapped me on the arm as though we’d known each other for years and dug his hands into his pockets to settle in for a good chat.  Now I’m not tall, but I felt as though I was towering above him as he tilted his scraggle head and squinted up at me.

“And sure what in de grandooby aye a for naw hack in the shambeen.”

Still completely lost as to what the feck the auld lad was saying I rubbed my chin.

“You’re a man who knows his way around.  I can tell by the yoke you’re drivin’;  I’d say she owes you nothin’ at this stage.”

It was a diversion and it worked. He was clearly a man who knew the value of a shilling and he seemed pleased that I had noticed.

“Nawthin’ for sure.”  Finally a sentence I understood.

“You should trade her in for a nice flashy sports car.  A good looking man like you in this neck of the woods, sure Jaysus the auldwans would be queueing up for you after mass.”

The very thought of it cracked him up; I thought he was going to lose the last remaining tooth in his head he laughed so much.  But then he rubbed his chin and looked at me with a serious face and for the first time spoke quite clearly, or maybe I was getting used to him.

“A man id be tinkin you had money iffing you wore to be drrrivin’ somethin’ wid a bit a flash on her. Nooo I’ll schtick to me old girl.”

I stood there talking to a random stranger for a good ten minutes barely understanding a damn word he said for no other reason than he stepped out of his car beside me. And there in a nutshell is how I am off this place.  I have travelled the world and nowhere have I encountered such a natural gift for conversation as I have on this twinkle at the edge of Europe.

Home is who you are. I have lived abroad with comfort and I am not one to get teary-eyed an homesick for the old sod, but I do recognise the impact my culture, landscape and heritage has made on me and they are indelible.   Most people have a love for their homeland but it is often misguided and used in what for me can be an uncomfortable way.  When I see conflict and crises, it is easy to see how individuals, groups and even governments can manipulate this sense of identity into zealous nationalism.  It is not uan unfamiliar thing to us Irish.

For me, it is more an ingrained thing.  It is in my speech and in how I look at life and think, the way I look to nature or see other people.  It is stamped all over my personality and it is very much part of me as a writer.  Literature has a special place in Ireland.  We were thought in school that we come from an Island of saints and scholars and that it should be something to be proud of.  Pride is overrated but I am certainly grateful for those that came before me for they gave me the sky to write on and I do my best to write my story there. 


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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

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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