The shiver he squiggled down my tiny little spine…

The shiver he squiggled down my tiny little spine…

As it is Hallowe’en I thought I might share the true story of the killer at the door.  He rings the bell twice on Hallowe’en and those who answer are never seen again.  The only evidence of him at all is his calling card, a bloody fingerprint of his previous victim on the doorbell.  But before I share his story, I need to lead in with another true story of Hallowe’en.

There was an old lad who used to call to our house with two fresh eggs every morning without fail, when I was just a young boy.  We called him John but for some reason I always suspected he was the possessor of a far more interesting name, for he certainly looked like a man deserving of a less plain name.  He frightened me a little.

John you see was the overseer, the guardian, the protector as it were of a small orchard at the back of a very big old house, directly across the road from our humble little abode. He was more than that of course, but as he spent much of his time chasing kids out of the orchard, that was how we perceived him.  The house is long gone now, but in its time it was rather grand to our innocent little eyes.

But if you took a closer look, if you peered beyond the rusting high gates that gave only a partial glimpse of the old place, it was clear that the decrepit old building had seen much better days.  The same could be said of old John.

There were many stories about the man and none of them cast him in a favourable light. I chose to ignore the fact that for reasons unknown to me, he dropped eggs to our house daily, nor did I question this.  Despite his daily visits we never spoke and my mother always took the eggs in. The shiver he squiggled down my tiny little spine meant I tried not to think about him too much.

John was a tall, skinny drink of dour melancholy and menace. Everything about him was out of place. As far as I could tell, he wore the same raggedy old work trousers, every extra day the God seemed to allow his ancient, furrowed brow to borrow. Likewise he always wore a dirty old Paddy cap and a tweed jacket that may once have cost money, but was wearing thin on the fabric by the time I first encountered it. His nails were broken and dirty, and his boots tied like his trousers, with string.  He had the look of man that was somewhere between a farmer and a tramp, yet he carried with him a dignity and authority that none of us would challenge.

The man was always ready with the tip of his cap to my mother and father, and a scowl for any potential orchard thieving little scut like me, despite the fact that I was way too sweet to dare commit such a crime on my own doorstep. But I did have cause to cross his path when I was still a little boy and by a stroke of fate, it happened at Hallowe’en.

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I was never allowed out late, my mother would sooner scalp my arse for no reason, than assume I could be trusted on the streets after sunset.  You’d swear there were vampires about, although mind you, among us little ones, there were rumours. I never wholly dismissed such fantasy, just in case there might be an inkling of truth therein.  In fairness Catholicism had prepped me for playing the ‘just in case’ card. I went to mass without really understanding why and said my prayers at bedtime; largely because there was a threat that hell was waiting if I didn’t.  It was not even veiled, as I went to a Christian Brothers school and they made it pretty clear what awaited little wispy scutterlings like me, were I to even think of doing something vaguely sinful. In short, I was quite susceptible to suggestion when it came to things like vampires, ghosts,  Banshees or anything that might possibly, but most likely didn’t exist.  I denied my belief out of bravado, but crossed my fingers, said my prayers and hid under the blankets in the dark – just in case.  But on Hallowe’en night, the curfew was allowed an exception, as every other little squiddler was out roaming the streets collecting for the night that was in it.

There were caveats of course.  I couldn’t leave our road and I could not go beyond a certain house number.  I had to be back in a designated time frame and if it got back that I even smelled the smoke from a firework, my mother would have my guts for garters. Of course I agreed to everything despite the excessive restriction.  What she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her right?

The problem was that my route was too restrictive. There were only houses on one side of our road, as the big old walled house was on the opposite side of the road.  So I skipped about the place dressed as a ghost.  I didn’t need a sheet, because I was such a waif and because my mother probably couldn’t afford to spare a sheet just so I could cut holes in it for one night.  I wore a very well adapted old pillow case instead. I’m sure I looked fabulous.  I certainly thought so. I wrapped up in about fifteen minutes, running out of houses on the overly restrictive Mam list and besides, I had more than enough monkey nuts and apples after house number three.

As was my tendency back then, I got distracted. The old house caught my eye and I wandered over to peek through the gates. It was Hallowe’en after all and perhaps, there might be some ghoulish goings on inside those high walls. There was a heavily overgrown, winding path to the front of the house and all I could see was a dim light through one of the windows. I squinted.  It looked like an old storm lantern.  I’d seen it before. For some reason there were never any lights on at night in the big old house.  Rumours were that the old man that owned the place, the man we never saw who old John worked for, was too mean to use his electricity.

Someone pushed me between my shoulder blades and I had to drop my bag of goodies to put my hands up so my face didn’t slam into the bars. By the time I turned around ‘Feno’ had grabbed my goody bag and tossed it over the gate. Feno was bigger than me, was always accompanied by at least two other mini-thugs and he pushed everyone around. He laughed but he had picked on the wrong little ghost. I kicked him in the nuts the way my brother had shown me and he started crying like a baby. He ran off with his dopey henchmen swearing to tell his Ma.  I didn’t care.  My only concern was the bag and how I’d explain its loss to my mother.  She’d kill me and I would have no goodies when I got back.  I didn’t hesitate, despite my fear of the place. My mam scared me more once she was crossed.

Like a baby monkey I scaled the gate and hit the ground running into the dark in the direction of the house, with only one thought. Grab the bag and leg it.  It was so dark.  I must have looked like a real ghost I thought, as I bent to collect my bag.  But there was a sound behind me as I gathered it in my arms, a sound that made me freeze mid movement.  I wasn’t alone in the dark of that place. Something else had been there all along, watching me peep through the gate in my little ghostly costume, waiting as I scaled the gates, and patient enough to hold its nerve until I had come too far… There was no escape… Hang on.. That’s the doorbell, there’s someone at the door…wait – there it goes again, I’ll have to get it, hold your whisht, … Wait there folks, I’ll be back…

 

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Happy Hallowe’en

 

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

all 5

 

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…this one is impatient… Something else for Hallowe’en

…this one is impatient… Something else for Hallowe’en

People shouldn’t be allowed to die on days that are marked by celebration or festivity. My mother died 23 years ago at Hallowe’en and it has changed the time of year for me without a doubt. In truth the day on which a loved one dies, doesn’t matter in terms of how you remember them, but when that day has some specific significance, it changes the day for you forever.

Now if you have already read any of my books you’ll know what I can do with a sprinkle of darkness. I have always enjoyed Hallowe’en and I have fond memories from my childhood of our rather meagre celebrations compared to the celebrations of today. Costumes were hand made, we didn’t trick or treat, we visited neighbours to look for help with the ‘Hallowe’en party.’ It is funny how American movies have transformed a tradition that began on this side of the world.

So I was reflecting today on loss, on ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night and I thought I’d share some of the more recent dark additions to my life. Regular readers of my blog, will be familiar with my occasional dark, shadow-man.  I call him Mr. Squiggles, to soften the fear he infects me with whenever he calls. I still cannot explain him away, much as I’d like to.  He has stalked me ever since I crossed back through the light, two years ago.

Perhaps some might believe that I brought him back with me from the other side. I don’t see that. He only comes when I least expect him and he has the feel of something portentous.  Mr. Squiggles is nothing if not punctual and he always turns up at precisely 03.35, my personal witching hour. But of course I don’t believe in ghosts.  I need an explanation and even in the absence of one, I still disbelieve what I see and experience, instead choosing to believe that I just don’t have the tools to answer the question. But an answer must exist.

 

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I have always been visited by strangers in the dark.  As a child an old woman with long hair and a little boy watched me and I never felt they were benevolent. Some things you keep to yourself and I feared what would happen if they became real by my speaking about them.  But that was my little frightened boy’s mind. I am long past boyhood now and sometimes I wonder if such darkness comes from a different place.

Our new house has had some oddities since we arrived.  We hear footsteps when no one is there and even our three dogs get alerted to the sounds.  Sometimes, we hear the front door close when there is nobody there and it is a heavy, double locked beast that makes an unmistakable sound.

This week things have moved around by themselves. They are small, but significant items whose movement carries no explanation.  To be fair, even though I cannot attribute specific logic to these events, there is the potential that there are logical, physical reasons behind these events.  Floor boards stretching with heat and cold, wind blowing other doors closed that may sound like the front door, our forgetfulness or absentmindedness, leading us to mistakenly believe things may have moved when they haven’t.  Yes it is easy to dismiss one thing or maybe two, but as the frequency and variety grows, one might begin to think that there is something else at play here. But then there has been another thing.  Something far more sinister and disturbing, and while I have to repeat my scepticism, I have no explanation to satisfy the new change.

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There has been the sense that someone is there or watching us, someone other than Mr. Squiggles.  We’ve both had our visitors but I  can only speak to mine. The latest was something new and while I didn’t recognise him, I felt him and he frightened me.  Now I don’t scare easily but this creature of the night  walked across my eye-line and paused to look through me for just a moment.  It was long enough for me to know him and know he meant me harm.

The night is setting in now, darkness is bedding down and soon the souls of All Hallow’s eve’ will skit about the place looking for a place to settle.  Amateur ghouls will knock on doors carrying bags to be filled with goodies and finally all will go quiet on this very  dark night.

My thoughts will go to my Mam. I miss her very much.  I chose not to talk of her this weekend and  instead I kept the sadness of her sudden departure  from my life to myself.  I will never really get past that loss.  I thought I had but I think perhaps not.  I don’t believe in ghosts nor am I religious but when she died, I prayed that her ghost might visit me but my prayers were unanswered.  How can there be ghosts when the ones we love and need the most abandon us?

I don’t believe in ghosts but I know something is happening here. Something has shifted and my Mr. Squiggles has gone quiet of late.  Perhaps he is busy elsewhere, maybe it’s not yet my time to go with him and he only tends to visit when I am at my weakest. But it’s not Mr. Squiggles  I am worried about. There is a new dark shadow man in town, and this one feels more impatient… Happy Hallowe’en everyone …

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

all 5

The clink in the glass of my soul…

The clink in the glass of my soul…

I don’t know what it is that makes me who I am. I have had so many influences in my life and not all of those were good. If some of those influences were reflected from me I don’t think I would be the type of person that I would really like. Most people who know me will joke that I love myself, but in reality that notion couldn’t be further from the truth.

The best of me I think, is a reflection of the marks that the best of others have left upon me. I write about love even in my darkest books, perhaps because it is the most important thing. As a child I loved my mother dearly. As a grown man, my love for my own children shaped me in many ways. But there has been one love that goes to the heart of me and her reflection in me is something rather special.

I somehow found a woman stronger than me. She gives me the dreams I already have and sprinkles them with meaning. Playing with the fire of death gives one perspective. There are no darker places one can go, than to the brightness of the light that draws you in. My journey to that place could well have been different at another juncture in my life. Perhaps I might have continued on that journey with little to draw me back.  I never let go because of my children and because of the very special girl, whose love I daren’t deserve.  She has always been a slip of a thing to me, a delight in her charm and loveliness, a beauty undeserved for a dark soul like mine.

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Of all the things I write about, I rarely write about the woman who is always there when it matters and always there when it doesn’t.  Make no mistake I would probably be a disaster alone. I possess way too much melancholy to live a happy life and yet I do.  I have her to thank for the clink in the glass of my soul.

The darkness when if settles is always very loud. It drowns out the logic of all that is good and it calcifies, clinging on to make sure one is left with the memory, the scar, and of those I have many. I’ve been writing something dark again and as is my want, as is my need, I dip into the darkness to make it real.  I test the murkiness fingers first, then my wrist slides below the black pool of fear  and on until I am elbow deep, feeling every breath of anticipation and terror, knowing something is lurking beneath.

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It gives my belly fire, stoked up to drive the darkness out and onto the page.  The trouble is that I must feel it first and I really don’t know that I have the strength. If I cannot feel it, I cannot write it, or is it the other way around? But where else would it go if not to the page and how else would I find it, if not through its exploration? I must close my eyes to wonder and listen to the darkness to feel the fear, to tell my best story. It is a risk, a gamble that I am addicted to. My bleeding mind to bleeding page, may well be what readers like about my style I don’t really know for sure, but it is a mighty price to pay sometimes. I could get lost in the silence…But then I go back to her.

Tonight I will open the door to the home we have made together and the first thing that will greet me will be our three dogs.  They are always eager and fast and hungry to reunite with me.  We have three now, somehow growing from our original puppy love for Daisy, through our sorrowful boy Hokee who needed love the most, and on to our poor little lost boy Kevin. Their love is unbridled and a gift that always makes me smile.

Behind their wagging tails my eyes will fall to the girl I love and my smile will broaden. I am lucky to have someone in my life whose splendour I can aspire to only partly emulate. Keeping the company of fools will bring you down; living with wonder, will sent you flying with a lightness to lift you from the darkness. What did I want to be as a boy? A cowboy. A pilot. An astronaut. A writer.  All of the above, but I am a man now. What do I want to be as I go forward in life? Perhaps the answer is simply, to be better.

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My darling Jo inspires me through all that she is and all that she does. Inspiration is a special thing to have and maybe I’m just lucky to enjoy the feeling it gives me and so I am always looking up both physically and emotionally.

It’s all too one sided of course. She gets me on the other side of that equation and despite my obvious charms (of which you all know there are many) it is hard to imagine that I could ever light the darkness for her, the way that her light shines and guides me. There is no doubt that  I am a lucky man, for I have come to love someone better than I will ever be.

I never step outside without looking to the sky. I am in awe of the starlit heavens and the splendour of simple cloud formations in the day.  It may sound silly, but a dark soul needs the light, be it even the tiniest dimple from a far distant star in the night sky.  My emotional light comes from many sources; especially my children and I have been blessed. Other people, friends and family all shine their light and I am grateful. Even our three little dogs (one especially – my personal guardian-angel Hokee) help me look up and pull my arm safely from the mire, protecting me from what I might find in its depths.

But the girl who makes me dream the dreams I already have, the splendour in my life, is the girl I share my life with. I say girl, for the mighty woman that she is, makes me feel young at heart and as I grow ever older, it’s nice to feel such lightness in my life. It is not often that I dedicate a piece to one person, but I could never say enough about the wonder that she is, the splendour in my life so maybe just this once eh…

LII

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

all 5

Faux-Ho Chic in the chipper…

Faux-Ho Chic in the chipper…

Well thank Fup that’s behind us! Red alert, Hurricane warning, lock up your daughters the Vikings are coming! I don’t know. I suppose the auld met office have to give us the heads up, but social media gets hold of it and it’s wall to wall Storm chat.

Just when you think it’s all over we have another storm warning.  Apparently this one’s called Brian. Yes you heard it Brian.  Now, I have a brother and nephew called Brian so it’s quite a nice name to me, a familiar name and it sits easily on my tongue as a result.  It doesn’t sound scary- not like Ophelia!  That one sounded like an Opera, all grand and loud and dramatic.  Now we have Brian.   It nearly sounds cuddly.

Close to two billion Euro worth of damage, at the worst point almost half a million homes without electricity and many without water as a result, all numbers from our recent hurricane.  Perhaps the only number that matters is the number three. Three people died in the storm and to the families they left behind it is surely an enormous, painful weight.  We were fortunate I suppose that the number is so small, largely I suspect due to the cautionary warnings we had in advance of the event.  But each and every one of that number carries a weight that will be a huge burden to those left behind.

When I wrote of its impending arrival, I joked about the stories that people would have and there were many.  None of them matter in the face of such personal tragedy. That being said, we were lucky in the grand scheme of things and now we face into more ‘normal’ Irish storms.

I’m well used to them.  These ones howl through and rattle the bejaysus out of us and oddly because there is less emphasis on them they can present just as much danger, as we take them less seriously than the ones labelled with the dramatic word hurricane.

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But I know what you want to know. You want to know how I fared don’t you?   Well there was that rescue at sea and that other thing with the collapsing roof, but I don’t think I was actually present for those. However I did actually go outside near the end of the storm and what I witnessed is hard to describe. 

The chipper was packed! I’ve never seen so many people in a take-away in my life and that includes chucking out time in Dublin in the eighties on a Friday night. It was like a scene from The Walking Dead. The absolute state of everyone’s hair! Now I’m not sure there is designated hurricane attire, but there certainly seemed to be on the day and it isn’t good.  It is sort of a cross between Faux-Ho chic and homeless ex-circus performer. Honest to Jaysus one six foot five heavyweight guy was wearing a hoodie, combat shorts and sandals with socks and he was carrying a man bag!  The look on my face must have been something special because someone asked me if I was hurt.

“Hurt?” I replied. “My sense of style is highly offended!”

As for damage? Well I did a fairly good tie-down before hand and we walked the perimeter several times in advance of the hurricane to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything, so we were pretty well sorted.  That being said, we nearly lost a watering can and only by the grace of God one of our hanging lanterns survived. Oh the horror of it all!

Personal injury? I broke a nail packing away garden furniture and it will take days to grow that one back.  Other than that? Well to be fair, my hair was a mess because I wore a Beaney when I went to the shops and I can’t really be sure that no one saw me so you know… I’ll have that hanging over me for some time.

Now here comes Brian! Storm Brian no less. I don’t remember them having names when I was a kid, probably because they didn’t.  This lesser-storm naming thing is a modern phenomenon.  I suspect it is designed for the world of 24 hour news and stupid people. When we were kids it was easy.  A fella stood in front of a map of Ireland and talked about areas of low pressure and force ten gales.  He’d point to badly drawn clouds on the map and say it was going to be windy or very windy.

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If it was going to rain, there’d be rain drops falling from the cloud and if it was going to be heavy rain then the rain drops would be closer together and the cloud would be darker.  Sometimes he’d point to a little spikey yellow sun picture but for the most part it was always half-hidden behind a cloud.  It is Ireland we’re talking about after all.

Now they give us the weather in the Pyrenees and throw in the snow quality as if we’re all just waiting to pack our skis into the 4X4 and hit the slopes at the drop of a hat! For the love of Mike, all we want to know is if we have to bring a coat to work or not.  Can I leave the washin’ out, or will I be fecked if I go to Tesco and come back to find the shirts wetter than when I went out?

I have a game I play in the car listening to the news.  When they say “and now the weather”  I look around and before they say a word I say out loud, “Its rainin’” or “It’ll be windy” depending on what I see.  Do you know what? I’m always bang on!

The good thing about Irish Weather is that it’s generally crap and it gives us a chance to take the p**s out of ourselves. We talk about it a lot and I know from talking to my friends overseas, that many thought we’d never seen anything like Ophelia before. In fairness, we don’t get full force hurricanes too often,  but we do get the bejapers rattled out of us on a regular basis.  I remember  driving down Dorset Street one Saturday morning in the eighties. I was doing fifty miles an hour when I was overtaken by a bin doing at least 70! 

So tonight it’ll be Brian’s turn. Four days on after the hurricane, it’s two in a row but do you know what? I’ve seen storms that last a week here. Wind and rain are all par for the course. Why do you think this place is known as the Emerald Isle?  All the feckin’ rain that’s why!  Strap yourselves in folks its going to be another week in paradise…

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

IASD - globe 2

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

all 5

 

Here Come the Stories of a Hurricane… If My Auntie Had Testicles…

Here Come the Stories of a Hurricane… If My Auntie Had Testicles…

The first tentative drops of rain, a precursor to the on rushing Hurricane Ophelia, tip-tapped on my window pane as I bushed my teeth this morning, and I reconsidered my choice of coat. It is unseasonably warm in the mouth of this behemoth, but I’m Irish, it rains a lot, we always prepare for the day ahead coat wise.

In the car I watched cyclists and motor-cyclists clearly ignore the strong advice of ‘not to travel by bike’ that has been issued over the last couple of days. Schools and colleges are closed, hospital outpatient appointments cancelled along with air, bus and train services on some routes. We are being warned in the strongest possible terms not to take this storm lightly.

Now this is where this little island runs into trouble. Taking things lightly is a national past time.  We can be serious when we want to, but in general we can’t help ourselves. To be fair, we get a lot of wind and rain anyway so we tend to build and organise accordingly. But this is a hurricane the likes of which we are told, hasn’t hit our shores in 56 years.  I have never seen such strong warnings in all my life. Hopefully damage will be limited although inevitably not everyone will escape. Some people will have their house damaged in the storm, trees will fall and hopefully no one gets seriously injured or worse.  There are far worse things that can befall us in life than a bit of wind.

It only takes a moment for someone’s life to be turned upside down. A minor accident can become a tragedy, a tree in the road can be a disaster so while I might speak lightly of the onrushing hurricane, I know that there is always the potential for someone to be hurt by this whirling beast so I place a caveat on my light-hearted musing. May we all see this through safely.

That being said our reaction here will be predictable.  Whenever we have a storm that misses us let’s say in Dublin then it’s, “Ah sure it was only Cork.” (No offence Cork people but you’d say the same in reverse.)  If a fella’s roof gets blown off then “Sure no one was killed” might be appropriate.  All the animals from the farm were blown off a cliff? “Beef prices are so low now anyway, the storm’s probably done him a favour.” The house fell in on the pair of them as they lay in their bed. “Sure at least they died in their sleep.”  The car was crushed by a tree! “That auld Vauxhall was due for the scrap yard anyway.”

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Prepare for the worst, hope for the best and make light of it so it doesn’t seem so scary. The Irish have been pessimistic optimists since Jesus was a baby in nappies. They say it’s the worst storm in over fifty years and there’s bound to be severe storm damage and maybe even some casualties – but sure I got the day off work! (Not me unfortunately) I heard one fella describe today as the Ophelia bank holiday. We tend to make the most of things here.

For me it’s hard to imagine the difference between what we are about to experience and what happens when the same force of nature hits landfall in a third world country. For all the hype surrounding this storm, we are a first world country in terms of infrastructure and support services. We generally build everything out of bricks and mortar so we are that little piggy whose house the wolf cant blow down. Despite our semi-permanent debates over underpaid nurses and an underfunded health service, they will not be found wanting if called upon and that applies to all national services.

Of course we are a nation of story-tellers and gross exaggerators.  There is nothing like a good auld yarn so by the time it passes, it will have been the storm of the century that we survived.  Hopefully, we’ll all be safe and sound and no one gets hurt and while I make light of this monster in advance of its arrival, that’s just the way of it.  No use crying over milk you haven’t spilt yet.

This time tomorrow, the worst of it should hopefully have passed ( I can hear the wind getting up now)  and any half-decent yarn-spinner, who will have had to as much as gone outside to right his or her overturned bin, will turn that into a tale of survival in the face of overwhelming odds.  There will be tales of someone being blown off their feet into the path of an oncoming bus, well nearly – they always say nearly to explain why they survived, even if the bus was 50 yards away – “well ten seconds later and I’d have been dead.”  We have a saying to cover that, “If my auntie had testicles she’d be my uncle.”  

Nonetheless, there will be stories if nothing else. The ones that are true and tragic will be precisely that, and where I a prayerful man, I might pray for them in advance. But for the most part, and hopefully for the entire part, aside from felled trees and slates missing from roofs, the odd hoarding blown away or someone losing their trampoline from the back garden, the bulk of the tales from Ophelia will be well crafted, over the top exaggerations from creative minds, who enjoy the telling of a good story. Well mine will be anyway… I have to go out into the storm myself later, that should be interesting…If it isn’t I’ll do my best to make it so…Stay tuned…

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

IASD - globe 2

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

all 5

Caught in the moment? No problem …Just benda Ju Knees.

Caught in the moment? No problem …Just benda Ju Knees.

We all have our moments don’t we? I suppose like most things in life, you could read this opening sentence in at least two different ways depending on your frame of mind.  You could consider it to be a reference to a good moment, a moment in the sun perhaps. On the other hand maybe I’m referring to those moments where we need to be alone, or perhaps even, those moments when we need to be loved just a little louder.

I’m a bit of a moment man. To be absolutely truthful my melancholy me, perhaps the real me, dresses up 90 percent of the time in loud bright colours, dances to Uptown Funk, and performs to the gallery at the drop of a hat. I did it this very morning.  It’s never hard. Someone referenced an item of clothing, the detail is not important and one guy said it made him look like Matt Lucas in Little Britain.  We all got the reference and laughed.  I immediately said that I had tried one on and I had looked great.  There was a chorus of “You look great in everything” and the room erupted.  

They all know me so well. I strut around like a matador, all proud and fabulous in manner despite my lack of actual fabulousness. I give off the air of a man who knows just how wonderful he is as though I believe it and for the most part, that shell works.  It only works because I allow a tinge of vulnerability to seep through and those who know me.  They know I believe none of it but they admire the guts of my swagger nonetheless.  I think they enjoy the balls of it all and have fun watching new people figure me out. 

Confidence is an illusion and I am the master illusionist.  So I have my moments. I need them.  Usually I try to tuck them away where no one can see them.  I’m like the kid writing answers in an exam covering what I write with my free hand so no one else can see, perhaps not realising that seeing the cover up is enough to tell a story in itself.  I guess I’ve learned over the years to even disguise the cover up.

When I write I never cover up. I suspect every writer spills a little of themselves into their work. It’s what gives me my voice I guess, my unique flavour. I suspect if I wrote a children’s book you’d still hear it because it isn’t restricted by genre.

But back to my moments.  I had one when I was canyoning last year, an activity which I have to say while it was enormous fun, isn’t for the feint hearted. I remember being asked to slide down a rock face on my back into a pool of water.  The ridiculously handsome and fit young Spaniard offering advice on how to ‘pencil’ into the water, didn’t tell me that while he was standing chest deep in water, the space I was sliding into just a few meters away, was for all intents and purposes a bottomless, dark, cold pit of man-eating water.  Nor did he tell me that despite its buoyancy, my wet suit would facilitate a speedy slide into the water and the mini waterfall that encouraged my decent would become a hand, to hold me under once I hit the freezing cold water below.

Did I have a moment? Too flippin’ right I did. Cockiness is a mistake let me tell you.  I saw a six foot slide into maybe six feet of water and I didn’t even bother to take a breath.  I closed my mouth and when I discovered the light disappearing above my head as I descended into the depths of Hades at one hundred km per hour, let me tell you, I was no longer cocky.  OK…I may be taking a few liberties with the truth here, but I was having a moment – Alright!  That’s how it felt… in the moment.

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Now this type of moment… the fearful kind, the bringing you back to reality kind, can have knock on consequences. No sooner had we all had our little slide into the depths, than we were hiked up the side of a rock to jump thirty feet into the water below.  Now Ok it sounds bad, but I was sort of up for it until I stood on a ledge eight inches wide, waiting for Miguel to say “Go.” But first he offered some advice.

“When ju jump, ju mus keepa straight…lika before…lika pencil. Puta jour hands over jour jewels lika this.”  He cupped his testicles, not a confidence building gesture. “Thena stay straight and jump.” He wasn’t finished. “Butta whatever ju do… Benda ju knees when ju hit the water. Not before – but after.”

Foolishly I asked why.

“Rocks.” He simply said.  “Itsa not so deep here. Ju bend ju knees – or ju keep going until ju hit rocks… but only after ju hit water OK?” He gave me the thumbs up and smiled as though I might somehow feel reassured that my life was not suddenly in danger. “OK Ju ready?”

Despite his best efforts to inadvertently put me off, I was ready. I had been ready throughout the instruction hoping he’d hurry up as I was concerned I’d slip off the ledge before I got the chance to jump.  It was my time so I looked down. It was quite a drop now that I looked.  This time I took a huge breath – something he had still failed to instruct me to do, clearly assuming I was intelligent enough to work that one out for myself – I pressed my hands against the rock, leaned back to get a good push off when Miguel says …

“NO!”

I nearly fell.  Sweet divine …

“Not there…Rocks… There…”

Four words. “Not there” was said as he pointed to the place I was clearly intending to jump. “Rocks” meant not there, because there are giant boulders six inches below the surface you idiot can’t you see them?  Of course I couldn’t. I was blindly following half-arsed instructions from a way too fit looking Spanish man and I never considered the possibility that I had to actually aim for a particular spot.  Now when I say fit looking it is to put him in perspective, to give you a sense of him. The younger men with me ,sucked in out of competition and because they felt inadequate standing next to the feckin’  Spanish version of Thor.  I sucked in to pull the zip up on my wet suit. “There ” was accompanied by his pointing finger which I followed and yes…right then and there I had a moment. Bugger!

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Now I’m no coward, but the near drowning moment earlier and the near jumping into rocks moment seconds earlier, reminded me of my journey to the light the previous year and I felt a creeping doubt.  For sure it was a moment and I call it a moment for a reason. If nothing else the one thing I am as I mentioned earlier, is someone who can fake a swagger. I couldn’t linger beyond the moment.

Now here’s the thing. The moment once it arrives, tends to stick.  There’s no getting around it.  Balls of steel are one thing and having a neck like a jockeys trolleys is all very well and good but testicular analogies aside, a moment’s a moment and there is no getting away from it.  That particular moment wasn’t a joyous “Oh my God it’s a girl” moment or one of my more familiar moments of melancholy.  This was a ‘Nah I shouldn’t be doing this’ moment or perhaps it can be better described with the more accurate vernacular term. “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuu*k” if you’ll pardon the French, moment.

It is moments like these where knowing your limitations are important.   You either know them in which case you don’t climb up there to put yourself in the predicament in the first place, or you don’t. In the latter case, you’ve pretty much made your bed and the only way out is to make a complete arse of yourself or bypass the moment altogether.  Fear is subjective. I’ve seen fellas jump off cliffs in nothing but a pair of speedos and take half an hour to hit the water they are up so high.  This was nothing in that context.

But the moment is the thing.  It’s literally a moment.  If you allow it to be anything more it becomes a ‘thing’ and you don’t want that, believe me. When a moment extends beyond five or six seconds you start to make logical estimations.  You work out odds; remember images or stories of some poor kid falling six inches and hitting his head on the way down.  In that context you are jumping from a plane without a parachute and you really aren’t.

Before you know it you’ll be saying “Get me down I can’t do it.”  Then it’ll be the embarrassment of everyone else being supportive and encouraging, to help you make the leap of faith.  But I’m Irish.  The lads I was with were Irish.  They’d support you until you belly flopped into the water and then they’d slag the livin’ Christ out of you until you died.

But worse still, if 5 seconds creep to twenty then you get stuck.. There’s no more hope of jumping and the eight inch ledge becomes your prison as you panic and start to cry for your mother. Oh No! Never!  That wasn’t going to be me.

“There” he said and with one big intake of breath, another lean back and a push I was airborne. “Pencil” he said. A pencil I was. “Cup jour Jewels”, he had advised – My jewels were better protected than the gold in Fort Knox. “Bend Ju knees after ju hit the water?”  You’d swear I’d done it before.

Fear is a funny thing.  You either get brave or get beaten and it all happens in a moment.  Most fear comes when we think too much about anything. Telling your Ma that you are the one that broke her favourite plate when you are seven? You know that one… The longer you leave it the bigger it gets.  Afraid to tell someone the truth because you don’t want to hurt their feelings, but instead you hamstring yourself and have to put up with crap you don’t need in your life? How many times do people do it?

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Fear of the dark, fear of the unknown, just plain old fashioned fear of someone else, all of them have a moment. You find yourself, in that moment.  As terrifying as those fearful moments are, they are the opportunities to change everything about yourself.  The moment can set you free or enslave you and the only person who can make that choice be free or enslaved is you. 

I write about the moment all the time.  The thing I have discovered throughout my life is that the moment will always come around again.  It’s like life gives you a second chance.  You don’t have to be defined by one moment.  You get another go.

I have my moments.  I don’t get carried away by the great ones, nor overwhelmed by the fearful ones.  Sometimes the darker ones get too close for comfort for I think that is in my nature, but ultimately, I decide what to do with each one.  I am grateful for my moments for they light the way for my stories. I sprinkle my books with moments and they help define each and every one of my characters, even the minor ones. 

Sometimes they require a leap of faith or you have to just take a gamble and you don’t always get it right.  I know that’s true in my case but that’s the nature of having a moment. Now I’m afraid I need to go and lie down, all this blogging is taking its toll.  I think I’m having a moment.

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

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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

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