When days have meaning…

When days have meaning…

Today is a special day…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Offering an empty hand…

Offering an empty hand…

A most diluted apology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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No time to say goodbye…

No time to say goodbye…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are broken a bit

as we sit and comfort each other,

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

A part of us is missing you see,

a part that is dear

You…

are not here.

We speak your name and sometimes it feels the same

As though you never left us.

But then it strikes that we will never see you again

and then

we are reminded,

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

angered by the thief of it,

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

that a part of us is missing.

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

The anatomy of a torturer…

The anatomy of a torturer…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Only Paper Fades…

Only Paper Fades…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

all 5

Is it just me…?

Is it just me…?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find details about Max Power’s books here : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
http://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 best of me is the worst in me… Who can smell toast?

The best of me is the worst in me… Who can smell toast?

I remember reading that if someone smells burning toast when there is no toast present, it is a possible sign of stroke. I always thought that was a pretty specific suggestion. It’s not like they said; one of the signs of stroke was a person smelling things that weren’t there. It specified burning toast. That tidbit, is courtesy of a small storage centre in my brain that hangs on to oddities. They get dragged out occasionally and the I use them for more nefarious purposes, than whatever they were stored for originally. Underneath my stoic, reserved exterior, I have a wicked side and I’ll get back to the toast later.

I bring this up because it is related to a few minutes of nonsense that occurred as my darling Jo and I, prepared to go to bed the other night. We were reminiscing and I was reminded of some of the flatulence related gags, I had pulled on the kids when they were smaller, and I honestly haven’t laughed as much in quite a while, thinking back on what a terrible father I must have been.

Now farts are a favourite source of humour for small children, of this there is no doubt. One day, long, long ago, I casually wondered aloud if it might not be possible to catch, and freeze a fart. The kids were instantly hooked and were keen that I might expand on the idea. So, I simply mused aloud on the notion and asked them to consider how it might be done, if indeed it could be done at all. You see, I explained, catching ones wafted exuberance, sounded like quite a challenge. It might not even be possible I suggested. That was the hook to their childish curiosity.

It led to a discussion the nature of which can only occur in a serious fashion, between small children and an idiot father. We debated the pros and cons, the challenges involved, such as what container one might use, and whether or not it would require more than one person to capture the elusive stank. While they generally agreed it would be harder for one person alone to do this, when I suggested we give it a try, there were no volunteers. None of them wanted to be down wind of my arse when the hooter was sounded.

Looking back it was quite hilarious how matter of fact I managed to be in hosting this discussion, all the while keeping a straight face. Finally, it was decided that I should go out into the hallway (alone) and attempt to fill a plastic Tupperware container with the aforementioned stinky pongaloochy. Now before you think I can crack one off on demand, I assure I cannot. In fairness I am one of the least flatulent people I have ever come across. It just so happened that on that particular day, I was suffering the after effects of a hefty feed of Guinness the night before. That and a spicy chicken curry will do it. I was brewing something that to my mind at least, meant I should really have my innards cleaned out with a damp cloth.

To cut to the chase, I returned triumphant to the kitchen, carrying the little sealed plastic box before me with both hands, almost as if it contained some precious, fragile object. I even walked very slowly, to make it look like I wouldn’t dare drop it. The kids went into hysterics laughing and backed off, as though I was carrying a vial of nitroglycerin.

“Behold… the mighty fart has been captured.”

I’m not sure what they thought they’d see. They were very young, but they were fascinated at the apparently empty plastic box that I held in my hands. They could see nothing. If I had indeed managed to trap a new fragrance, (L’odeur de parp) they had no visual guide. Maybe they had expected a green fog, I don’t know. What I do know is that while on the one hand they were doubters, because even at a young age they knew me and my shenanigans all too well, on the other hand, they really kind of, sort of wanted to believe in this mystical possibility. Oooh the tension. But then I asked the most important question.

“Who wants to smell it, to see if it worked?”

The suggestion created pandemonium, especially when I offered it to them. They couldn’t get away from the little box quick enough. Now I know what you want to know. There are a couple of key questions to be answered here. Firstly, which kid stepped up, peeled the lid back and sniffed deeply – those were the instructions that I gave the child?  – yes, I am a baxtard – and had I truly managed to capture the elusive stankernel?

When we laughing our heads off remembering this the other night, we decided to message the two (now adult) kids, to see if they could in fact remember the events of that faithful day. They both cracked up when we reminded them and they remembered the whole thing, except for one odd detail. Not one of them recalled which one took the plunge and sniffed the potentially poisonous potion. On hearing this, I told them that of course, I could remember, but as they couldn’t, that I’d take that secret to my death bed. I can’t help it, I am a cruel father.

The other two questions are; did I manage to capture my blustery perfume in the little plastic box at all and if I did, what did it smell like. Well let me answer that in reverse order, the second part has to be answered hypothetically as in answering it factually, it could prove or disprove the first part, if you follow.

To answer the ‘what did it smell like’ part, I will refer to a follow on piece of chat that we had the other night, for as surely as night follows day, I can’t tell one story, without it reminding me of another. My second tale was met with equal hilarity, if indeed not more so from my darling Jo, who hadn’t heard of the story I was about to tell her before. I’ll share it with you. Don’t worry it’s short.

When I was a teenager, I had a favourite fart trick. Please feel free to use this one, it’s not patented. On the occasion of one letting slip an S.B.D. (silent but deadly) there is always a moment between where you know what you’ve done and just how bad it smells, and the rest of the room being enlightened as to it’s presence and potency. In that moment you ask the person or persons there present, to do something that they simply cannot resist doing.

You tell them a simple fact and then ask them a follow up question that makes them do the one thing they should never do in the presence of an S.B.D. You say;

“I can smell burned toast!  Can you smell toast?”

No one can resist answering that call. Works every time I swear. Everyone inhales deeply, trying to smell the toast that they believe you are smelling. I’m sorry but that cracked me up as a teenager. And so, the answer to the what did it smell like (hypothetically) is…definitely not toast.

As to the answer to the question, “did I manage to trap the beast in the first place,” that my friends, is something you’ll have to try for yourselves to find out… Enjoy the weekend.

 You can find details about Max Power’s books here : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
http://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 broken bits of me…

The broken bits of me…

I like the broken bits of me, including the pieces that aren’t all there. My missing pieces are the unconnected things, that make me stare at my life and wonder if I could have done better. The cracks in my psyche and the folds in my skin are akin to lifelines. They keep me grounded and without my history, the so-called wisdom I have gained with age, those flaws I have collected and display daily, I would be far less a man than the one who sits here today.

I could say perhaps that these days, the mirror is less kind to me than it once was. But to be fair, what I could choose to see as the cruelty of time as I am being slowly ravaged by each the tick of the clock, is nothing more than a reflection of a life lived. There is beauty in the worst of me.

These days, Covid-19 has put paid to any ideas I might have had about seeing more of the world, for a while at least. Instead I must live this life within the constraints that bind me to my home for the most part, but so be it.

My crinkles, as my daughter used to call the lines on my face when she was small, have got crinkles of their own, my hair is less fulsome and sometimes the stress of life takes its toll on the windows to my soul. Tiredness shows on my face as does pain, perhaps more than anyone I know. My darling Jo knows exactly when I am struggling with pain, simply by looking at my eyes. She’s not the only one. I try to hide it when things get bad, but my give-away eyes hang me.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize the auld fella looking back at me. I’ve changed so much and life has left its mark. Some days he looks so tired, other days he looks positively sprightly. Lord knows what my insides look like. I come to this on the back of my latest medical checkup. I was contacted by cardiology last week, cancelling my appointment for Wednesday last, due to Coronavirus. Instead they told me I would have a virtual consultation. That was yesterday.

I’ve never virtually consulted with a cardiologist before and I was rather curious. Normally I go through a barrage of tests which I can’t undergo online, so I wondered how they would assess me over the phone. It seemed likely we could both be wasting our time.

I hate talking to consultants. I always feel like they think I’m lying if I tell them the full story. Better to tell them 50% of the problem, it sounds more believable that way. I swear that’s just what I’m like. If I lost my arm in some terrible chain saw accident right before the consultation, I’d probably play that down as well.

“So tell me Mr. P, is there something wrong with your arm as well?” To which I would reply looking at the shredded, bloody stump hanging from my shoulder, “This? It’s just a scratch.  Probably a 3 – or maybe a 4 out of 10 pain wise. It’ll stick right back on.”

When the phone rang yesterday, I sighed. ‘Here we go’ is all I could think, a waste of 5 minutes of my life. The voice at the other end of the line was surprisingly rather pleasant. She sounded young and competent. The voice introduced herself and told me her name was Jess. She explained what I already knew, which was that due to Covid-19, they wanted to do some assessment over the phone. That much I expected.

What I didn’t expect was the thoroughness of her enquiry. She asked all the right questions and elicited replies from me that I am normally reticent to give, specifically… the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In hindsight, I was so impressed with the skill of the doctor that spoke with me. She wasn’t my consultant, she was a S.H.O., junior to her consultant. My experience with S.H.O.’s in Irish hospitals has not been good. Generally, they are over worked and ill prepared for each person who walks into the consulting room. They usually look at test results from whatever barrage of tests I had just gone through, pretty much tell me nothing and are reluctant to do anything other than send a report to their consultant at the end of the day.  I always feel short changed and none the wiser. Yesterday, I found someone willing to look at my profile, dig deeper and ask the right questions. She was clear, precise and was up to speed on my current condition. Maybe it was precisely because she didn’t have the usual tools of test results at her finger tips, that she had to draw on a different skill set.

When I came out of the CCU unit 5 years ago, my cardiologist came visiting with a gaggle of students in his wake. He had saved my life, quite literally. While it wasn’t he, that straddled my chest and squeezed fluids into me, and it wasn’t he that had provided CPR mid operation, he was the man who asked one more question, and that led him to sending me for my first heart scan and that ultimately saved my life.

I recall that he told the students about how he first met me and that based on my tests, I was quite a healthy man. He told them that my blood pressure was normal, I had passed my fitness test with flying colours, my diet was good, I was not over weight, I didn’t smoke, there was nothing unusual on my E.C.G and the only significant factors were a family history of heart disease and high cholesterol. In most circumstances, he told them, he would have prescribed medication for my cholesterol and told me to get a recheck in 6 months.

What he then did and I recall it so well, is that he asked them to think about that, given I was recovering in a hospital bed only a few weeks after he had met me for the first time. He told them I could quite possibly have dropped dead on the street had he not done one simple thing. They looked at him blankly as he asked them if they knew what that was. Like the suck-up kid in class who knows the answer, I nearly put my hand up. Luckily, I realized that he wasn’t asking me. They all looked at their feet or at their note pads, hoping not to be chosen to provide an answer they didn’t have.

When no one answered, he simply explained that his decision to look a little deeper came from 2 things. One was experience but more importantly, because experience takes time to acquire and patients don’t have that time to play with, the driving factor was that he had listened to me very carefully and took in all the little details that I had revealed. He had a niggle and that niggle led him to go backwards, to re-question for a little more information on my family history, and ultimately, he made a decision based on suspicion born from a thorough interrogation of the facts. He told them not to aimlessly take notes to pass on responsibility to someone else, but to listen and be present in a consultation and to be a courageous advocate for their patient in deciding what to do. The one thing he had done, he said, was he had listened.

Yesterday, young Jess did all that over the phone. She was monstrously impressive compared to all that came before her. I couldn’t help wonder if she had been one of those students at the foot of my bed 5 years ago. Perhaps she had learned something.

Unfortunately, it means I seem likely to go back into hospital in the near future something that doesn’t sit well with me. The plan begins in exactly the same fashion as it did 5 years ago, only this time I know what went wrong the first time around. I was unafraid the first time until my heart stopped and I ended up in a critical care unit, once I had done a U-turn from the light.

I try to be unafraid always and I think for the most part, little frightens me. But going back to a place where I vividly remember my life passing and all that came with that, no matter how unlikely it is that I could be so unlucky the second time around, is somewhat disconcerting. I have been given no timeline due to Covid-19 restrictions, so I have a wait ahead and I would much rather face the unpleasantness as soon as I can. I write books with stories that play on anticipation to generate fear. I am all to familiar with that notion.

But really, it’s no biggy. I am fine, will be fine and the world will tick its tock regardless. In the meantime, it’s the waiting that could get to me. A time worm, burrowing into my thoughts, poisoning my courage, diluting my self-confidence. If I’m not careful, I will turn up in hospital in a couple of months, with a big fat worry worm resting where my courage once sat. Isn’t it funny, how despite your best efforts and regardless of how much common sense and logic you think you possess, there is always a nemetic thought to unravel your best laid plans…

You can find details about Max Power’s books here : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
http://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

On being fabulous…

On being fabulous…

Oh, to be Mr. fabulous. You know the type, lives under the illusion that they are just gorrrrrgeous regardless of the state of them. That is one of my favourite Irish expressions, “The state of ye.” It is a great Irish leveller, so when Mr. Gorrrgeous comes into a room with his flowing locks, white shoes and the auld baby blue jumper trun over his shoulders, some woman in the room will quickly say, “would ya look at the state of yer man.” I love it and forgive me the odd phonetic spelling or two above, I was in the zone.

Of course, some might think I’m jealous…oh no! Not me. Many’s the lady has had occasion to say, “would you look at the state of yer man” in reference to me, I can tell ya. I am not one for standing back to step forward, if you know what I mean.  I like clothes and suspect I have multiple fetishes, from shoes to hats and watches, and particularly jackets. I literally struggle to not try on a jacket every time I visit a clothes shop. There are jackets in my wardrobe that never see the light of day…yes, I have a problem.

But you see, my internal Mr. fabulous is a construct. Despite what I suspect most people believe about me, I am rather shy by nature and don’t actually have a very high opinion of myself. My counter to that, is to outwardly pretend I do and then try to have fun with it. It’s all one big cover up. I suspect there are many just like me, but of course none exactly like me .. sure, aren’t I uniquely fabulous. Even if I’m getting a little creaky.

Getting older doesn’t help. At my age, I have already become invisible to the fairer sex. Not that I want to attract anyone, I am happily and blissfully in love with my darling Jo, but the odd glance to reassure me that I still have ‘it’ wouldn’t be a bad thing. I have to satisfy myself with the knowledge that octogenarian ladies do occasionally think I’m fit for an auld lad, and strangely enough, a lot of Indian women give me the head to toe once over. I don’t think it’s out of admiration, more in the way of a ‘where do I know him from’ thing. I’ll take what I can get and pretend it’s because I’m irresistible. Lord knows I’m Irish through to the bone, but there are some sordid rumours about my great grandfather and great grandmother who spent time in India. I was once told by waiter in an Indian restaurant, that I looked like a former Indian prime minister! I googled the bejesus out of that one but couldn’t make sense of it. Mind you he fancied my daughter, so maybe it was his way of trying to impress me.

Now when I was younger, I experimented with my hair as many young men do. It was flung about with abandon whenever it was long and I went through multiple hair phases. For example there was my Leif Garret phase, my “Don’t give up on us baby” David Soul phase and so on. Of course both examples were icons to the girls in my neighbourhood, they fancied the arse of those lads, so I tried to capitalise and failed with my own iconic versions of their hairstyles.

The hair of course, eventually got shorn and for pretty much the last twenty or thirty years, short has been best for me. From a practical stand point, I have a shower, shake my head and it’s dry. No styling required. Ah men, we are lazy baxtards aren’t we?

But Covid-19 has changed all that. They closed the barbers for months! My usual barber only opened last Monday. It’s by appointment only and now it’s done with all the PPE and shielding, social distancing etc, so there is potential for queuing outside. I’ve never been one for queuing. Now I will let you in on a writing/editing secret here. I originally wrote I’ve never been a queuer, but it looked wrong. Coincidentally, a queuer is also a braid of hair usually worn hanging at the back of the head – how apt. Where was I – yes, I don’t so queues, so I decided to leave it for a couple of weeks until the rush dies down.

Now here’s the problem. My longer hair is back. I won’t say I’m quite the aging hippie just yet, but it’s a lot longer than I am used to. It actually blows in the wind when I walk the dogs…You are picturing it aren’t you… me in my fabulousness … think prince charming from Shrek… got it… now add a few decades, a few pounds and a lot more grey and wrinkles and you are heading in the right direction.

It’s very odd. My hair has been so short for so long, that I forgot just how flicky it gets as it grows. I was even eyeing up Joanna’s straighteners the other day, I swear.  She thinks it’s great or perhaps funny, one of those, I’ll stick with great. Jo keeps urging me to keep it and grow it until I have to go back to working from the office in October. Jebus can you imagine? It’s bad enough now! She loves me, but I suspect she might be having a little secret laugh at my expense here. What’s the expression…taking the… something?

The beard was bad enough. That got so long it was annoying me and I’ve gone through three versions of beardyness since this whole pandemic began. My hair on the other hand, has lost the run of itself completely. I think it has become a conscious, sentient, independent thing. I may write a horror story based on it. It has a sense of itself, it’s becoming arrogant though not yet overbearing, if you get me.

I wake up every morning, wondering what will greet me in the mirror. It can be quite a fright some days. Styling is possible, but only if I apply tonnes of product and aim for a look akin to A Flock of Seagulls or maybe even Albert Einstein crossed with Christopher Lloyd. I can eventually sort it out to look somewhat normal, but I never know if I’m heading for an old version of David Cassidy or a current Willie Nelson. I’m telling you, this thing has a life of its own. As I write this I was just thinking – anybody under the age of eleventy-seven will have no idea who these people are. I’ll throw in Chris Hemsworth for the young folk… What? Can’t I exaggerate a little? Leave a man his fantasies!

The easy thing would be to get it cut, but like I say, I don’t like queues or if the truth be told, maybe there is a piece of me, just a little piece mind you, that secretly wants to know where this goes. Who knows what possibilities lie ahead for an aging piece of fabulousness like myself – if I just wait that little bit longer… Maybe I’ll just cut it.. Maybe.. Maybe tomorrow… Maybe…

You can find details about Max Power’s books here : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
http://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