Monthly Archives: January 2014

Ford Transit Rolls Royce

Card_Players-Paul_Cezanne

Cezanne -the card players.

Monday morning.Ten to six.There were a few new lads in the back.One particular gent,with a Belfast accent,without regard for the hour,was whining on about how the people of Castlewellan had chased him out. Some time before.I explained to him that it might have been something to do with his tone.I didn’t catch his name.Branley,up front beside me, demanded the driver pull over at the crossroads.Out he got ,vaulted the fence and began to chase sheep about through the field.Pure badness in him.He soon climbed back in,announcing in his deep baritone ”  ’tis a great mornin’ for skull draggin’ cats.” He was a three day-a-week man and it had nothing to do with Maggie Thatcher.Pints surely. But he was wonderful when he did come in for he was ,in his own parlance, gifted.          Two of the English chippies,who were against blood sports and could not therefore comprehend Branley,sat still, dumbfounded.It was clear to me that they would be unable to deploy him properly on a cricket field.First slip I would have said,or wicketkeeper if he were not hungover.A foreman is expected to know these things.Like how to get a man out,or how to put draw on the ball.                       None of the Irish lads let go even a chuckle at Branley,to keep the tans in the dark.Sure why enlighten them? They’d have you weeping in sympathy when they got down near their last fifty thousand.Might have to sell the Honda or increase the mortgage.A lot to worry about.                                                                     Having heard my accent when  I had admonished the refugee from Castlewellan a man called Joe the Bear spoke up ,” you wouldn’t be far from Rostrevor if you were at home.” We were on the M20 now, in Kent.Turned out to be the same Joe the Bear over whom Jimmy Hughes cried tears telling how he had carried four bags of cement on his back one dinnertime, to put a boaster in his place. And he was indeed the kind of man you could weep for,with his great broad white head and kindly eyes.A right royal refugee banished by want from the fairy glen to this cursed place.He was barred from every pub in Ashford and had redd most of them at one time or another.He was death on Kerrymen in a huddle,gobbling on and talking about him and would go to battle over a slight.He once showed me how to keep your thumb inside your palm in a melee,so as not to catch it on something and break it.This kind gesture was wasted on me but treasured just the same.Perhaps I had become too highly evolved,too much bloody Hamlet.Anyhow,I had crossed over.I was a thinker now.I never did get to tell him how much he reminded me of my mother who was also a Sloan.He cried when I left him in England.” About  six mile out the road looking over at Greenore”, I replied.He was quiet then for a while and we both could hear the foghorn out in Carlingford bay.                                                                                                                                                                   ” What does d-i-a-p-h-a-n-o-u-s mean?”,inquired a gypsy lad who was a dead ringer for Ryan Giggs and liked crosswords.He was a decent footballer too  and could speak Romany.He guessed the answer  when I explained,chastely,that it was like a woman’s dress that you could see through.It was sheer.Sheer delicious sometimes. Fitzgerald woke up and went to get out at exactly eighty-four miles per hour.He had the door half open before we saved him.A motorbike we had been passing was blown off up the embankment.But it was not possible to save Fitzgerald.He was far too beautiful.His middle name,I suspect, was Caravaggio.Women he had known for just a few hours would turn up  for weeks looking for him.And did he cut a dash.He’d remind you of the Spanish Don of the Madre Dolorosa in Westward Ho!,a high ,proud, swarthy, moustachioed aristocrat bent by a will of iron on victory or destruction.
As sure as the speed of light is the crux of the universe,he was born for the stage.And he from Limerick too.With a voice like Richard Burton after a Cuban cigar,which voice he could propel like a shimmering javelin through space,across any raucous tavern.Gerald Fitzgerald.With a ring and an echo to it.Gerald Fitzgerald!. And he knew the Peri system better than anyone and could take or give orders and get the work done.As for subbies he knew “’em all”.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 All the while,spewing roll-up smoke and snot about the back of  our chauffeur’s infinitely patient neck,perched Bootsy,all seven besuited stone of him,cursing and spitting vitriol at traffic and fortune.He had not washed after the war and shit himself frequently,for he ate poorly and was in continual fear of jeopardy.He had crossed the Pennines on foot, starving, in the sixties, after the hiring fair.So you would never insult him,only take the gentle mick.I never saw a man who loved a woman as he loved Mary.It made me proud to be married to her then.He would never  let me buy a drink. And ,with a grace bestowed  only on the debonair ,and those in love,he would exclude me,out of the room.By this means he restored my faith in human nature and from that day on I knew, when the time came I would lie contented in my grave

A bottle of poteen appeared beside Keohane,who could fathom all about a job or a man with a sideways glance.Mondays were not good for him and he was, I feared,beginning to slip.The finer the man the sooner he is undone by slight deficiencies in the promise of hope or expectation.Calamity he can withstand but the dull ache of emptiness destroys him, inexorably.Sometimes,even the love of a good woman cannot repel disaster.When he cast his eye across me I knew he had lost the fight today and would be heading for Basher’s.” Take James and send him back after,”says I.

About noon the police came on to the job and arrested a Scotsman who had killed his wife over the weekend.He came on into work anyway.He was bereft and knew not what else to do .His was no cold heart and he had no history of violence.A bit of the Dane in him, maybe.I had been slightly acquainted with him and had seen his wife once,a fine handsome girl.They found her in a field of ripening barley nearby,in the evening. I heard later she had given her love away, to someone else. Tennessee Williams once said that the greatest difference in people, he found, was between those who found love in the world and the rest, who did not. But he never rode in a Ford Transit Rolls Royce or worked with Joe the Bear. Still, like me, he loved,but could make neither head nor tail of Hart Crane. Sure , isn’t a glimpse now and then enough to be going on with.

 bhutan_himalaya-glimpse

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Lord Soper

downloadlord soper
When I was young and handsome in lonely London town.
For solace of my spirit to Hyde Park I’d go down.
And there at Speaker’s Corner  free speech was in full flow.
And a hungry soul might  hop aboard and let the sadness go.
 
The issues, they were high and fine,  Immigration, Ban the bomb, 
Apartheid, Euthanasia, Bangladesh, Strontium.
And any man who owned a box and spoke the English tongue
Could build a castle in the air and converse with everyone.
 
The first one to fill my eye was a giant Irishman
He had found religion, all evil could withstand
His God , not a tailor, could not understand
How such a very  small coat fit so big a man
 
And if Benny, the heckler, would try to raise the sneer
“Now Benny that’s enough from you – I’ll come down and clip your ear!” 
Eschewing valour for discretion, Benny would lope away,
A hyena on the prowl, for a more enlightened prey.
 
The next was an Englishman, he liked to stir it up.”When in Rome be Roman, and do as Romans do,
or else get out of England, go back to Timbuktu.”
And he could handle Benny if he tried to open up,
“I’ll use your wiry hair, boy, as a scrubber for my cup.”
 
And with the sunlight now cascading,
Its blessing through the air,
From China, the Indies, Africa, tourists came to stare
To wonder and to marvel at freedom’s  bosom  bare.
 
The cameras clicked on incident and high and low debate,
And no blood spilt – t’was holy, this side of heaven’s gate.
And to cap it all Lord Soper, a man both good and true,
His mind filled with a pure white light, and a sense of humour too.
 
He would first rephrase your question more articulate, more refined,
Than answer it succinctly both rigorous and kind,
And smiling down benignly on inferior intellects,
Yet according always, evenly, to each his  due respect.
 
And Benny would never fence with him, engage his repartee,
He had seen too many pretenders fall to the Lord’s epee.
Myself I never listened close to Soper’s true attest,
I never knew  spoon feeding compare to a mother’s breast.
 
And belong to a Celtic breed that don’t acknowledge sin,
And  naturally run  contrary, are wefted hard agin.
But I loved those hazy afternoons, melancholy eased  to joy,
When  reverie rekindled the innocence of a boy.
 And the times at Hyde Park corner when I wandered there to seek
What a lonely soul hungers for and the strength for another week.
 
 

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For Ruth

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The Greeks they launched a thousand ships                 
To bring Helen back to shore                                               
If she had been a patch on Ruth
They’d have sent a thousand more.
 
And the Trojans would have left the horse
Outside the walls of Troy
And kept Ruth hidden in their hearts
And disguised her as a boy.
 
Then stole her away to Egypt
In some fragrant caravan
And built for her a pyrmaid
While she burnished off her tan.
 
Cleopatra would have sulked and stormed
And berated Anthony
“Who is this sphinxy beauty
She dare invade my territory?”
 
And as she shimmered in the desert
Like Salome’s silky veil
The Greeks, now all crestfallen
Turn for Athens and set sail.
 
Ah, then would Heaven heave a sigh
Of cherish and release
And Ruth  recline across the sky
A goddess, at her ease.
 
Laocoon 
Laocoon”beware of greeks bearing gifts”.

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