…the very smile and quip and jest of me…

…the very smile and quip and jest of me…

There can be nothing more beautiful than a smile on the face of your darling. I have a very special darling in my life, yet I use the term with caution.  Darling is an old word and from my understanding, its origin points to the term ‘favourite minion’. My love is no minion for she is indeed mighty. Time, custom and practice have altered the meaning of the word however, and for me the modern intention of the word is more suitable.

Yet,that she is dear to me, is an insufficient expression of how much my darling means to me. I have never placed my happiness into the hands of another. That hefty chore is a responsibility that will always rest on my shoulders. My love, is given to a girl who adds to my life in a way that tricked my imagination. I thought my mind could explore the world unfettered by restriction, yet she fooled me, surprised me by showing me what true love really means, and it is something I honestly could never have imagined if left to my own devices. She has outsmarted my senses, overwhelmed my defences and enhanced my life.

Today  I slipped away to work under the cover of early morning darkness before she awoke. This day is special for it is her birthday. If anyone should mark or celebrate this day, it should be me and all of those whose lives she has touched, for by the mere shadow of her existence crossing our paths, we have been enriched.

thI2UP9YBEHow lucky am I to have been gifted the chance to spend my life with such a beauty. Inside and out, through and through, I am by her grace made a little lighter each day, a little kinder perhaps, a result of her soft teachings, and because of her, I possess a broader smile.

There can be no love song written, nor ode to her that can ever do justice to the girl I love. And love her I do. My other self, my sad-faced boy with a soul that broods on too many things, is enriched and enlivened with the mere touch of her hand.

We look to each other she and I. We look for each other and take care to nurture that which cannot be made. My heart is my heart, to ache or break, but she fills my heart with the joy of love that I could never have wished for.  As a young man, I dreamed of such a thing.  I thought it would never come sometimes yet here I am, immersed in the tranquility that comes from loving the finest of women.

The best of me, the rest of me, the very smile and quip, and jest of me, could never find the way to top, without my darling Jo, without my love. And so I celebrate her birthday deserving more than she, for it is me… that is the lucky one… Happy birthday Joanna…My Darling…

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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

all 5

 

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Missing the big, agricultural men, who looked like they had spent their formative years pulling bullocks from ditches…

Missing the big, agricultural men, who looked like they had spent their formative years pulling bullocks from ditches…

Hi-Viz jackets and de-culchification has ruined the way we look at the police in Ireland. I was stopped recently by a young lad who looked like he was embarrassed to ask me a question. There was a time when a Garda was seen in an altogether more respected light.  If you come from outside these shores, I should explain that in Ireland the police force is called “An Garda Síochána” translated to the guardians of the peace. A single one is called a Garda and the plural is Gardaí (Gard-ee).

Now you see, back in the day you’d be afraid of your sh**e to cross a Garda.  He’d give you a puck at the very least and you’d soon be put in your place. I say he for while there were female officers, (Ban Gardaí) they were another thing altogether for which I think I’d need a whole other blog. In my experience, back in the days of yore from whence I came, they were all very much big, agricultural men, who looked like they had spent their formative years pulling bullocks from ditches, wearing flat Paddy caps, collarless shirts with the sleeves rolled up past their elbows, and tweed trousers held up with braces and a length of rope.

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They had proper Garda jackets with shiny buttons and in the winter, they wore thick long coats of navy blue. They were not men worried about being seen in the dark!  Not for them the Hi-Viz jackets that make our current Gardaí look like security guards in a car park, oh no.  They took pride in the fact that the only things likely to be illuminated in the dark, were the buttons on their tunics or the shine on their shoes.  There is something about Hi-Viz that screams small-minded, bureaucratic, health-and-safety obsessed box-ticker. I’m sorry folks, it had to be said and if that’s your actual job title, I can only offer my condolences.

The Hi-Viz is one thing but the de-culchification is probably a more serious matter. Again an explanation for the unfamiliar. A Culchie (Kull-Chee) is any Irish person not fortunate enough to have been born in the great county of Dublin. There was a time when it seemed that every Garda you came across was a Culchie and there is a difference between a Dublin Garda and a Culchie Garda.

You see it’s a well-known fact, though not always accepted by those outside the pale, (and yes the original pale from which that expression comes was in fact centred on Dublin) that Dublin is the centre of excellence when it comes to Gaelic football.  On the other hand, Dubs never quite got the hang of our other national sport Hurling.  That is more of a Culchie thing.

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With that in mind, your average Garda being a Culchie back in the day, let’s say some big heap of a lad from Tipperary, would be familiar with swinging a caman (the big stick used in Hurling), so they had a natural ability with the baton carried by all Gardaí.  Dublin lads just haven’t got the same natural ability with a big stick I’m afraid, and like I said earlier, the sheer agricultural build of a fella from the bog compared to a soft-handed, soft spoken Dub, just held a bit more weight.

I haven’t even mentioned the hair.  They let them have hair now too. Skinny, soft-handed Dublin Gardaí with hair meeting the collar! No wonder there is so little respect for the men in blue, or should I say bright yellow these days. What was wrong with a proper short back and sides?  And… and… they have stopped growing moustaches. Once upon a time there wasn’t a sergeant worth his salt who didn’t sport a fine thick military moustache. 

But still that’s not the end of it.  They even removed the height requirement and replaced it with a physical competency test. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no giant myself but when it comes to me looking down on a small twelve year old, clean-shaven, long, haired, soft-handed Dublin Garda in a Hi-Viz… well I despair!

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I’ll briefly address the women for there is light at the end of the tunnel.  The Dublinification of the female side of the force has seen a significant improvement in the fashion stakes, at least that‘s my opinion.  With the influence of the more cosmopolitan style of the Dublin ladies in the force, gone are the past-the-knee woollen skirts and 500 denier tights in favour of practical yet stylish slacks. 

While the hair length for men has lowered their masculine threat level, the opposite has occurred with the women in the force as suddenly Gardaí of the female variety, (we can’t say Ban Garda anymore) actually look quite professional as opposed to something one might to expect to find holding a cell door open for you in Stalinist Russia.

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At this point, lest you think I’m a misogynistic, racist, sizesist, pro-mustachio, Culchie hating, Hi-Vizaphobic, Dubliner stuck in the past, let me tell you something important. I am not saying that ladies from outside our fair city of Dublin are less fashionable – God forbid they’d string me up – oh no and indeedthere has been a rebalancing in the fashion stakes in recent years. I am of course making a historical comparison, least you forget. STOP I hear you scream. Why am I focusing on the potential for brutality in the men and fashion when it comes to the women? What sort of twonk am I? Well pay attention if that’s what is going through your head, I repeat -this a satirical piece, focusing on historical values … memories and attitudes translated from a time now long past. (I’m turning into an old geezer)

So too with the notion of the Culchie Garda for while it may seem like a derogatory term to the outside eye, there is not a Culchie in the country who doesn’t have at least one similar term for the fine gentlemen and ladies of Dublin, or indeed for the fella down the road from the actual bog. We in Ireland have a fine tradition of slagging – we take the proverbial out of each other pretty much all the time so fear not , no offence has been caused except when it comes to the mention of Dublin being the best team at the football – In Mayo that’s a sore point, but it’s their own fault, there is the curse after all…

And Hi-Viz wearers, I mean you no harm; it is just not appropriate attire for Garda who has to take on knife wielding, gangsters.  It’s hard to take a man quite as seriously in a Hi-Viz, it just is.  Builders rock the look but apart from that there can be little argument.

So what of it you might say.  Well I’m not just picking on the fine men and women in blue, rather the way society has changed, expectations have changed and opinions have changed and how, little changes within the context of the big picture, can actually greatly impact on our perception.

Now that example has been exhausted let’s move on to politicians.. No… wait… that really is a whole new blog!

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

Something ancient stirring…

Something ancient stirring…

There is hole in my psyche.  I can never quite understand what makes me and I am constantly thwarted by the shadows that come and go in my life.  Happiness has always been a choice for me, but sometimes that choice is stolen by the unexpected.

The collateral damage that grief has on my life is significant. It is strange because as I get older, I encounter death and loss more often. Perhaps I should be better prepared for the future moments that will draw shadows from my past. It is embedded in the craft I chose to pursue and in my writing; I know I occasionally drip some of my pain from my pen. It cannot be helped and in a way it helps me find a voice for some of my characters, often the darkest of them.

Today I rekindled much of the sadness that has followed me as I opened my eyes in the misshapen light of pre-dawn. Alone with my thoughts, I felt that crush which comes with sad news and as always, my reaction is to figure out my smile for the world. I laugh loudest when the darkness comes, for I am not one to be defeated easily.

Late yesterday evening, we had a strange experience in our house, one that set me on edge and not to be reported here.  Rarely do I have a witness to what hovers around me when I am at my lowest, but we both witnessed an unexplainable event and yet I am not surprised. This morning my shadow man returned as I waited in to silence of the early morning.

While he never changes in appearance, each time he is different. Those familiar with my Mr. Squiggles, will know the name I gave to him, has not had the desired effect of lessening his menace. I watched him in the darkness and he drew closer than he has in the past. Although he did not touch me, I felt him. People often use the expression, the hairs stood up on their neck. I felt them rise along my whole body, my arms, and my outer thigh. There was a touch of frost about me but I wasn’t afraid.

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What I felt was involuntary.  Something ancient stirred, to remind me to be afraid and my body reacted but not my mind.  So I looked straight at my shadow man and he was neither distinct nor vague. He was just there, perhaps a foot from my face, examining me.  I could feel the tightness in my chest and he lingered, as if he knew something and had come for me this morning at last. But then he drew back.

There was a moment of hesitation before he slithered away, sinking low and then he disappeared beneath the bottom of the curtains. I watched the flurry of silent movement and the faded shadow of Mr. Squiggles beneath them, and then he was gone.

And what of it you say? It has been some time since last we met he and I. There is no reason for him to visit me that can be perceived as good; there is no version of the world where Mr. Squiggles is benign. We all have our ghosts and our own version of Mr. Squiggles, though few I suspect are as manifest as he.  It is just that despite what you may think from reading this, despite your beliefs, disbeliefs or incredulity, my Mr. Squiggles is very real. No one is more sceptical than I, yet here I am again declaring my strange shadow man to be tangible.  My creature of the night, watching and waiting, knowing something, sensing something in me and always there almost it seems, in the hope of acquiring my soul.

I know he will be back.  His visits are infrequent, often portentous; sometimes I suspect they are born of his curiosity. It is as though he is impatient with me, wondering why I have not yet succumbed to his darkness.

I have written some very dark tales, especially in my Darkly Wood series, but none as dark as Mr. Squiggles. My day has passed without event and I dragged the light from the darkness with a smile and a quip as I always do.  It’s what I do.  But I know he will return.  He will be there again, a shadow man hiding in the shadow of the night, on my window ledge or in the corner of my room, impatiently checking in on me, hoping. It always seems as though he knows something that I don’t. Perhaps he does. If one day I figure out his purpose, I will surely tell you, or perhaps by then, it will be too late…

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, 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 dirty smokes, loads of cheese and New Year resofeckinlutions…

The dirty smokes, loads of cheese and New Year resofeckinlutions…

I think I might have had one too many chocolates over the Christmas. I might also have had a bit too much turkey and ham. Then there was all that pork, beef, and I did eat a lot of bread for some reason. And who bought all that lovely dip, that quite literally forced me to eat all those crisps and nachos?  Of course there was also the matter of Joanna’s lovely trifle, which to be fair would have gone to waste had ‘someone’ not finished it off. She also made her very special sausage stuffing which needs to be tasted to believed, then tasted again and I must say I’m a believer.

Some people hate sprouts. I love them as long they are cooked in the water from boiling the ham and while I’m not generally a big potato fan – that’s potatoe if your name is Bush (who remembers that one?) – the Christmas spuds were to die for.

What the feck is wrong with us at Christmas?  I haven’t even mentioned all that yummy cheese, the Tunnocks Tea cakes or Caffrey’s snowballs. Somewhere between December 24 and New year, I ate my way through more calories, than the population of a small Mediterranean Island could manage in a month.  It’s unnatural I tell ya’.

The problem now of course is that it has all come to a sudden, crashing stop.   Over the coming days, I will have to adjust to getting back up off my arse as I return to work, in addition to resuming a ‘normal’ diet again. What a shock to the system that is going to be.  For me it’s not so much about the calories as the fact that I have a dodgy ticker, so I have to be careful in general.  I can’t afford to eat unhealthily if I want to stay alive, so it is back to eating good stuff. To be fair, I like the good stuff, it’s just that I know my brain has been re-set to craving junk.  I’ve even started to eat lots of bread. I’m a carb craving calorie monster at the minute…well up until last Monday anyway. Of course, I’m quite peculiar when it comes to food anyway. Not that I am picky, I will eat just about anything.  By peculiar I mean in relation to my appetite.

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 I can go all day without eating, something that is certainly not good for you.  Some people get grouchy if they don’t eat, they het ‘Hangry’ if you will, overcome by an irritability that makes them rise to anger easily once hunger strikes. I can work away without noticing that I’ve not had breakfast nor lunch, and can even drive on past dinner time as though I have a full belly.  It is only when I actually eat that I get hungry.  It is the strangest thing.

The problem is that when I am at home for ten days over Christmas, grazing my way through anything and everything, I just keep eating.  Yesterday was my first day back to work and well, so far not a twinge.  I was even offered choccie biscuits but I declined without batting an eyelid. My challenge will begin when I get home for dinner and start eating. Ahh the lure of the left over Christmas junk food.

But  it is really not a complaint now is it. The solution is quite simple. Close the fridge, step away from the sweet bowl, and don’t go hunting for crisps. Choice is the key.  It is how I gave up smoking.  I made a choice. 

I gave up the ciggs thirteen years ago.  Like most people  who want to quit, I had tried everything and failed- many times. So I analysed what I was doing wrong.  I realised that it was never the quit part that was an issue.  I could always manage that part.  It was the staying off cigarettes that presented the problem.

So in the spirit of New Year and for all those with resolutions, especially the one to stay off the fags, I will share with you, the secret of my success  giving up the fags. Pay attention now campers. 

Usually when I quit, (and I had tried many times( day one was hard but that was when my resolve was strongest. By day three, I was weakening and if I dared have a drink I was fecked altogether. So in my analysis I came to a few conclusions. I realised that I inevitably had a cigarette ‘eventually’ which always meant I was back to square one or ‘back on the fags.’ The other thing I realised was that if I was honest with myself, a part of me wanted me to stay a smoker.  I liked them so why wouldn’t I?  Usually what happened (and this is only me of course, it’s different for everyone) was that I began to miss them. Then that missing turned to desire and because of the addiction, my desire inevitably won out.  I would panic if I got stressed out when I had no cigarettes – especially if I really ‘needed’ one which of course was a self-fulfilling prophecy. During withdrawal I was constantly looking for an excuse to go back on them. 

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I chose to do several things to overcome my multi-layered problem. First, I dealt with the notion of re-set, by which I mean one cigg and you’re back to square one. Simple, I decided to forgive myself any single indiscretion i.e. if I slipped up and had one cigarette after say ten days for example, I would not press the reset button by which I mean the next day would not be day one again, but day eleven. This removed one common excuse. “Ah sure I smoked so I’m back on them now.” 

Next I overcame the problem of the feeling of panic because I had no access to cigarettes. Again –simple.  I placed a full, unopened pack of fags in the door pocket in my car. Should I be overwhelmed, then they were available to me. Out of sight importantly, but available, just in case.  But I knew from experience that wouldn’t work on its own, so I added two more key elements, choice and penalty. 

The penalty for opening the pack was that in order to smoke the cigarette, I had to first drive to a shop, buy a fresh pack of 20 and place them in the door of my car.  Then I could open the other pack; smoke only one before crushing and binning the remaining 19 cigarettes in the bin outside the shop.  It sounds ridiculous and it is, however it has a surprising impact on the old brain when you realise by default, how much money you spend on cigarettes. More importantly, as I was focusing on every cigarette being a choice, it highlighted the power they had over me. I began to gain control over my addiction through the power making it a positive choice to quit gave me.  The stupidity of the process, made me understand  just how much control nicotine had over me and I didn’t like it.  I became more determined to overcome the addiction from the very first time I opened the pack in my car and threw away the remaining nineteen cigarettes.  

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Choice was the key.  I asked myself a simple question every day. “Do you want to be a smoker or do you want to overcome the addiction.”  This allowed me to leave the pack in my car unopened, while its presence gave me comfort and eliminated the sense of panic.  It allowed me to work with the strange set of rules I had created.  It allowed me to forgive myself on the very few occasions where I lapsed and went through the throwing away ritual, but I never reset back to day one.  I knew they were there if I wanted them, but what I had to go through to have one, reminded me that I really wanted to give them up more than I wanted to have another one.

The upshot was that after a couple of lapses, over about four months, I finally lit but didn’t even finish my last cigarette.  I realised that I really didn’t want to smoke anymore and eventually chucked my support pack away altogether. The important thing is that unlike many former smokers  – I don’t miss them because I don’t’ feel like I am depriving myself of something I loved.  Quite the opposite. I chose to quit and I was successful. Focusing on the fact that I was making a choice, gave me power and control over the demon nicotine.  Just as well…ten years later I had a heart attack and that could have been a lot worse had I not quit.  But even without my trip to the light and back, I know that  I will never smoke again and there is no sweeter feeling.  I think for all things in life, you have to make a choice and take responsibility for that choice.  That’s the key.

I’m not sure if this strategy will work for anyone else giving up the little devils, but it did for me. Now I’m off to see if I can fit a box of biscuits, a kilo of cheese, some sliced chicken and a large sliced pan into the door of my car.  Happy New Year 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

So much man…in just one man…

So much man…in just one man…

Hard as it might be to believe, I have been known to engage in a little hyperbole from time to time.  I know what you’re thinking, it can’t be true right? Well sorry to burst your bubble but I can’t help myself.  It is a sort of guilty pleasure if you will.  I blame it on my genes and my culture.  Yeah that’s it, a genetic and cultural addiction.  There is probably even a self-help group for it somewhere.

Not so long back, I was on a trip to Spain with a group of work colleagues and while out for dinner one evening , I was called on my tendency to exaggerate.  How very dare they!  Usually, I get away with murder, but it only takes one idiot cook to spoil the broth and one Smart-Alec to dig his heels in…and there’s always one isn’t there?

Anyhow it began with a simple enough exaggeration. I ordered beef carpaccio for my starter and the ‘idiot’ who poked the bear, was a younger member of the group, foolish enough to open the door. He had to ask “What’s carpaccio?”

Now there are a variety of versions of this classic dish, but on a basic level we explained, it is raw beef served with in this case rocket,  pecorino cheese and a balsamic dressing. It would have been fine if he left it there and we all thought he had.  It was sometime after the starter arrived and just as I dug into it, that the follow up question came from the same young man, “How’s your carpaccio?”

OK, I only have myself to blame for what happened next. I could have said, “Delicious.” Oh no not me. Instead I said, “Not as good as the one I make.” I formed a circle with my forefinger and thumb and kissed them, “mine is far superior.”  Most of them would have let it go. But there’s always one.

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“You make carpaccio?”  I acknowledged that not only did I make this dish at home, but it was the best version to be had anywhere.  Again those who know me well, usually don’t want to go beyond this point because they know, I will fill the room with BS.  Now of course I went into some detail about my delicious carpaccio until Alec the smart interrupted.

“Where do you get your beef?” I answered, “From the butchers,” but made the schoolboy mistake of gilding the lily. “Well – Joanna gets the beef.”  It was the beginning of my unravelling.  By the time smarty-pants had finished I was defending, “…so basically, someone else gets the ingredients and  all you do is put meat and rocket on a plate with a sprinkle of cheese and dressing on top?” I was caught rapid as we say in these parts.  But I never go down without a fight. 

“Well on that basis, you could say that basically all Michelangelo did was splash a bit of paint on the ceiling of a big church.  A recipe is more than just the ingredients.  The great chefs are all artists. Anyone can make any dish of your choosing.  All recipes are ultimately about arranging food on a plate… if you are a Philistine! The great talent is in how you create your own signature dish.”  The more experienced members of the group smiled as he looked for support.  They knew better and he retreated.

Now of course I had to change it so carpaccio was my ‘signature’ dish as though this made it somehow special but it worked.  We now place bets  on various work related events and if I lose, I will have to present my signature dish for lunch. If I win it’s doughnuts from the others.   So far it’s been doughnuts which I decline for health reasons (the old ticker) but in truth I’ve never been fond of them. Turning defeat into victory is never easy, but there would be no fun in stretching a tale if it was. But it doesn’t stop there.

This week I was tradesman extraordinaire.  What began as slapping a bit of paint onto walls, ended up as a full kitchen redesign and overhaul and electrical installation? How incredible you might think.  Surely we must have employed a range of highly skilled crafts persons to complete such complex redevelopment you are thinking, I know.  But it was just me, all by my lonesome… well sort of…

After I did a bit of painting, the auld knees and back were knackered so I had a sit down and a cup of tea.  It was at some point along here, the real tradesperson in our house came in and identified some of the many flaws in my delicate handiwork, before taking over.  I thought it was probably  unnecessary but I chose to be the better person and allowed her  feel a little superior in her ability… largely based on fact…  but  for the sake of this blog, let’s say it was a kindness on my part.

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Unfortunately  the pump for our heating system gave up the ghost and while my darling Jo rolled up her sleeves to help sort that one out, ( I had some small input, but I didn’t want to overshadow her) I got on with the major electrical installation.

Ok now she might say “You put up three spots.”  But I’m afraid, there is a bigger picture. There was, as I later explained to the love of my life, multi-disciplined work going on with those ‘three spots.’ There was the electrical work, which did involve a bit of cable and there might even have been a plug re-wire involved let’s just leave it at that – I’d hate to overstate the detail of the task.  impressive as the end result was, I’d prefer not to blow my own trumpet. There was, as I explained to my darling later, all the carpentry involved.

“CARPENTRY?!!” I think that’s how she responded but there was a pelmet made of wood and some cutting and drilling and screws into wood type stuff going on so technically …yes carpentry.

When I mentioned the plumbing she drew a line.  I reminded her about the work around on the new taps, to which she replied, “Working your way ‘around’ the taps doesn’t count, but I think that’s just semantics. At the end of the day, the pump was fixed…and I did have some input, we have the kitchen painted, let’s not get bogged down on who did what or how much of it any one person may or may not have completed – in this regard, that’s not important and ultimately I ‘installed’ a new lighting ‘system’ as I prefer to call it. Yep I basically redesigned the kitchen when you add it all up.

I excelled across all construction disciplines, electrical, carpentry, plumbing, we might add fitting, architectural even… and finally as I left for work this morning, feeling quite manly, I laughed off my dearest sweetheart’s attempt to reduce the grandeur of my efforts, by reminding her that I’d forgotten about the tiles.

“Tiles?” she laughed. Now to be fair, she had done some tiling and I hadn’t been a party to that, but I wasn’t talking about the walls. 

I asked her how many floor tiles were left over, after they had been laid and as I had assumed, there were only a couple.  “There you go.”  I explained. “Another example of my many construction related skills.” When she asked, in fairness through laughter, how I could possibly exaggerate any connection to the floor tiles to my new found expertise in building, I told her straight that I had measured the floor and got it bang on the money – expert measurement.  As she tried not to choke from the laughter she wondered aloud, “and what does that make you?”

Now I think she may have had a different answer in mind, but I clarified in my usual modest way.

“Quantity Surveyor” I told her.  All she’s thinking about that point is “A woman’s work is never done.” Me? I’m thinking “Yep there is no end to my talent…”

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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Crimblemas, the solstice, the smell of sh*te and a dead head in a box…

Crimblemas, the solstice, the smell of sh*te and a dead head in a box…

Today being the shortest day of the year brings back a particular memory for me. It reminds me of school trips when I was a nipper. God be with the days when school trips were crap and educational.  Nowadays they seem to have injected some element of actual fun into them which God forbid, the Christian Brothers of my day knew little about.

In a time when pleasure was sinful, yes sinful or so it seemed, you wouldn’t want to be enjoying a school trip now would you.  When sex was eventually explained to me by the fine De La Salle Brothers, it involved not mentioning the act but making clear that it was something that happened inside the sanctity of marriage and was only sinful if you derived any pleasure from it.  As far as they told us it was only about making good catholic babies – heavy on the procreation please, hold the pleasure.

This day, specifically the 21st of December, reminds me of a trip to Newgrange. For the unfamiliar, Newgrange is older than the Pyramids and is a passage tomb which has a central chamber lit by light through a roof box on the Winter Solstice.  It is an amazing place and today there is a very modern visitor’s centre at the site, with lots to do and see.  When I was a nipper, we were brought there, not I might add on 21st December as there is a waiting list for that, but we got to see the chamber long before the site was developed into the tourist attraction it is today.

Now while, this holds fascination for me now, when I was a little maggot of a fella, I had about as much interest in going to stand in a dark stone cave as I had in watching the news.  Some auld lad (probably about twenty five but back then anything older than eighteen was old) explained something about something, yadayadayada , snore fest, where’s the shop to buy some sweets kind of thing.

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It wasn’t easy being a kid sometimes.  Those days out, were meant to be fun in our heads but they seldom were.  The Brothers had a way of sucking the life out of everything. It always seemed that other kids from other schools went to interesting places. Us? We went to see rocks and religious relics and to add insult to injury; we’d have to spend hours on a smelly bus to get there.

Some kid who’d eaten all the goodies his Ma gave him before we even got on the bus would always puke half way there.  The smell would fill the bus and we’d all try lean as far away from the poor beggar as we could. It never seemed to be sunny.  Now I know we have a lot of rain in Ireland but for feck sake, it was like the Brothers had prayed for rain.  You’d be cold and wet and miserable, and a little travel sick from the bus whenever you got to where you were going.

I remember one year the destination was a surprise! Wo-Hoo I hear you say.  Well hold your whisht. We got off the bus, delighted to get some fresh air at last after travelling an hour and a half on the bus, only to be told we were in Drogheda. Now don’t get me wrong, Drogheda is a fine place if you like that austere, what the feck is the layout of this place all about, sort of way. But we weren’t just in Drogheda the fine Brothers told us …oh no. We were actually standing outside the church, were the relic of the head of St Oliver Plunkett was kept. Don’t ask look it up, he was basically hung, drawn and quartered by the English in the 17th century during a time of religious persecution, something the Christian Brothers took personally and seemed to not be able to forgive the English for.

Now to be fair, our first reaction was “deadly… a human head in a box!” We were ten year old boys with wild imaginations and the notion of a dead man’s head preserved in a box on display, sounded like the coolest thing ever.  When we finally got to go inside, we were mightily underwhelmed.  What followed was a half hour lecture on the wonderful St Oliver Plunkett and yadayadayada, stuff about religion, snore, snore, boring stuff, now where’s the shop to buy some sweets.  Eventually we were brought to see poor auld Oliver’s head and it was a bit of a let-down.  We should have seen it coming. I had a little bit of interest in that my mother’s name was Plunkett, but other than that frankly I probably would have preferred to stay on the bus.

The worst thing about that trip was that essentially once we’d seen the head, we were only given half an hour to wander around before getting back on the bus and heading home. That was the long and short of it.  What a lousy tour. Of course it did mean we were not in class so there was that element.  We did get to sing the odd song about the bus driver, until we got too rude and one of the Brothers shut it down.

pig

The nearest thing we had to a fun trip was when they brought us to a farm, only we weren’t allowed touch any of the animals and there really weren’t that many.  I think they thought that because we were city kids, we’d never seen farm animals, but we had of course.  One mucky old pig looks pretty much the same as the next one and once you’ve seen a cow covered in its own excrement, then that box is ticked.  There were apparently some chickens on the farm, but it was cold and wet that day so apparently they had the good sense not to come outside so we didn’t get to see them.  We wanted a talking pig or at least a bunny rabbit.  There was nothing fluffy to pet, and I remember thinking that life should be better than this. 

Aah, I’m making myself a little sad thinking back now.  But I guess times were different.  There was the memory of course and the stories to bring back. In the case of the head of St Oliver Plunkett, it had already developed worms crawling out of its eyes by the time I got to tell anyone who hadn’t been there and  the smell of sh*te on the farm was good for a few tall tales and laughs.  I guess we made the most of it.

But back to today.  The shortest day of the year, you wouldn’t really notice now would you?  When I was a kid I thought it meant the days were literally shorter, as opposed to there just being less light. The good news is that it’s all downhill from here as the days inevitably get brighter.  Something to smile about …oh yeah and there is that Christmas thing just around the corner.  A Crimblemas  it always makes me nostalgic…

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

C’mere ’till I tell ya…

C’mere ’till I tell ya…

Someone just told me they were getting more and more scorpy the older they get. I told him to get up the yard and that he was already a scorpy auld bowsey. His reply was to say that I might be living in Kildare but I’d a mouth on me like a true Jack, followed by him imploring me to go on te’ feck with the big Dublin head on me.  Ah words, aren’t they great?

The Irish have a particular fondness for bastardising the English language.  We are said to speak the best English (in some parts) even better that the English themselves – whether you’d want to believe that one now is entirely up to you.  That being said, we have more accents than you can shake a stick at and you can literally cross a street to find a different local accent in some parts of Dublin

Now accents are one thing, but words, well we like to make them up as we go along.  The yis, yisser and youse group of pronouns are a classic example of Dublinese for example. “is that yisser bike?” for example, or does da belong to youse?”

Grammar, now that has its own special treatment in the city of my birth.  How can I describe it?  Well what you do is take the rules of grammar and then apply them  to words that they don’t have any business being associated with, so that you create new words within the context of a pretence at speaking the ‘proper’ way. Let me give you an example… Work this one out if you’re not Irish, if you are then you’ll be familiar – “Woh’en e noh?”

Here you have a whole range of confusion starting with the fact that I’ve spelt this phonetically. It should read, wonten he not? Any better?  You could bring it closer to the source by trying ‘won’t he not’ or ultimately ‘will he not.’ Double or even multiple negatives abound in this part of the world. ‘Doesn’t he not be doin’ nothin.?’ There is nothing like a little local flavour to spice up a language. 

“I will in me” or “you will in your” followed by an appropriate part of the anatomy, hole for example,  is a good way to say no.   Why use one word, when five can do the same job more effectively.  Some words have gone out of fashion and when I hear them occasionally, I get quite nostalgic.   An older generation than mine can still be heard using the word Idle for people who are unemployed.  While it may sound politically incorrect, if not downright offensive, it was a term used without any disrespect intended, in the not too distant past.  “I remember when my Mick was idle for a couple of months.” From the mouths of an octogenarian this would simply be explaining that the person was unemployed not lazy, as it would be perceived today.

There are a million and one made up words, colloquialisms and mangled words that you would find hard make sense of, but every language has these.  There are terms and words that come from folklore, tradition, stories etc. and they are often the most fun.

Skinny Malink was a name I was often called as a chiddler.  I remember the rhyme from whence the term came. “Skinny Mallink melodeon legs, umbrella feet, went to the pictures and couldn’t get a seat.  When the picture started, Skinny Malink farted, Skinny Mallink Melodeon legs umbrella feet.” Skinny Malink being a thin person of course, melodeon legs referred to the shape of his legs and the pictures is of course what we all called the movies as kids.

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My Ma used to make us walk away from walls or railings for some reason.  If someone walked along by a wall she’d refer to them as “Go be the wall and tiddle the bricks.”  She’d use the full expression in a disapproving tone ,to indicate that it was not a behaviour she wanted to see replicated as if it was demonstrative of some mental illness perhaps.  “There’s go be the wall and tiddle the bricks” she’d say if she saw a fella doing just that and maybe even throw in a tut or two.

Things can be rapid (Cool) deadly (great) banjaxed (Broken) bollixed (again broken), people can be gombeens , gobdaws, gobshites, eejits, hoors, scuts or wagons.  The best part of it, is that depending on the relationship and context, many of these words can be either insulting or complimentary.

“Sure, he’s a cute hoor.”

“He’s a hoor for the drink.”

“That feckin’ hoor of a bollix, wait till I see him next.”

If one girl embarrasses her friend she might laugh it off with “I’m scarlet -ya wagon” On the other hand if she doesn’t like a girl, then she’s “a wagon.”

“C’mere ‘till I tell ya.” While it is not strictly necessary for you to actually come here, this is an invitation for you to listen to what I have to say and it is a particularly common phrase in this part of the world where we all love to talk.

“Would you ever” can be followed by “feck off” and the word feck of course is typically Irish and is the acceptable form of the more vulgar ‘F’ word. Fr. Jack in the series Father Ted made it more familiar to a global audience. “Would ya” is certainly a useful precursor to a favour or a brush off. “Would ya give us a hand.”  or “Would you ever go and ask me Bo**ix.”  Even “Would ya go away out of that” if you want to express disbelief in something.  Honestly, we can be hard to understand sometimes. 

fr

As a writer, I love words and language in general. The problem of course is that it is a difficult thing to put into the mouth of a written character, for unlike speech, the written word doesn’t have the same natural ease, flow, rhythm and cadence, so much of what a writer wants to get across can easily be lost in translation. I have to consider an International audience and as I always say books are more radio than television, so much should be left to the imagination.  Everyone imagines characters in books differently to some degree.  Their speech is very much a part of that. If I wrote some of my Irish characters speaking like much of the above in any detail, many readers would tune out.  There is a delicate balance to be achieved and if done correctly it shouldn’t even be noticed. 

I’m not fond of the phonetic approach.  I prefer to sprinkle my books with occasional colloquialisms to give the flavour of a character’s origin, but then let the character and story direct my readers to the accent.  I think it is more comfortable to sneak the accent into a reader’s head than to try to place it on the page to be read.  Sometimes it misses the mark completely.

But look at me rambling on.  I guess that’s probably the key factor in how us Irish speak.  Yep, I admit it… I do talk a whole lot of Sh*te.  Everywhere I travel, people have their own little twists on their own language, whether it’s Swabish in Germany, a good northern twist on the world in England or Glasgow v Edinburgh, we all have our own idiosyncrasies.  But look at me, I’m still rabbiting on,  I do like a good auld ramble now and then even if it is only on paper…. 

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