Murf

family1

I have looked at it from every angle

yet do not recognise the geometry.

I can see you slip slowly into memory

though sharp and in focus.

It’s familiar, distinct,

recognised from our shared lives as brothers.

Remembered; snapshots in a biscuit tin,

Crawfords Scottish Shortbread eaten,

cleaned and saved from Christmas past.

And there you are, playing the clown to all but my Da.

There always was a frisson to you and Eddie,

an eddy that could stir a hornet’s nest.

Playing guitar on the bridge at Waterfoot

before the tent was up.

You, strolling to the ferry at Lough Derg.

Along this trajectory to a spot where I say farewell.

A line, a web, a net that will fail to reach.

For that I will go inside to that infinite connection

to the heart where Love dwells.

family2

Advertisements

Rock In Peace

Lemmy

The imminent return of the prodigal son has my mother on overdrive. My father’s on the late shift, that’s a blessing in disguise as the expected arrival home of the prodigal son is accompanied by the most unexpected. A grey Ford Commer van pulls up in the street bearing the trademark of its contents: crosses, graffiti, indecent proposals. It’s The Rocking Vicars. The Vicars, dog collared and dressed in unconventional ecclesiastical attire of long coats, long boots, long hair, greet my long-suffering mother as she answers the door to the prodigal son.

As they enter the buzz is definitely rock’n’roll. But I worry that this volume of vicars may further undermine a house already buckling under the weight of religious iconography. The Sacred Heart, bearded, long-haired and lit by the flickering votive lamp, with has his hands outspread in benediction welcomes the clergy.

I am dispatched to the shop for bacon, eggs, sausages, black pudding, potato and soda bread, the makings of an Ulster fry a traditional Irish welcome. My mother prepares the feast for the hungry travellers serving it up appropriately on her best Royal Dolton which is reserved for the clergy, Sunday visitors, and special occasions. This ample banquet will fuel ‘The Vicars’ rock’n’roll mission preaching to the converted at some smoke filled speakeasy in downtown Belfast. The prodigal will be there but not me.

I’m 14 and it’s a new school term. New exercise book, I’ve homework and I’m distracted. The lord will provide. “Let me help you kid,” says a vicar wearing knee length reindeer boots with the poise and confidence of a biblical prophet. If truth be told, he doesn’t look above mugging Santa and leaving the wellbeing of Rudolph in serious doubt. He takes up my pen and inscribes the inner leaf.

‘The Rocking Vicars are Great, not grate’ signed Lemmy!

I’m impressed by his mastery of common English usage and hope my teacher will be likewise. This brush with celebrity does have its pay-offs. My ‘street cred’ gains points on the Dow Jones. Friends ply me with cigarettes in exchange for first hand rock’n’roll gossip. But it’s my mother who deserves the attention and credit for giving new meaning in the neighbourhood to entertaining the clergy!

Joseph’s dream

Xmas15

Joseph had had a hard week on the tools making and hanging doors for the Netanyahoos. Today young Benjamin, an aspiring politico, had bent Joseph’s ear on his vision for the Jewish Homeland. Joseph, happy to get finished up and away, concluded that young Benjamin was a yahoo by name and by nature.

Knowing that Mary was visiting her cousin Veronica, Joseph decided to call by the DeBeers, ‘Stone Cutting Specialists’, to visit his friend Jacob. Jacob had been experimenting with a brew he called ‘debeer’ a successful and welcome balm to slake Joseph’s thirst. After several crocks of the fine nectar he set off home, somewhat the worse for wear, falling onto his ass, the unfortunate beast already laden with tools and what brew Joseph could carry out from Jacobs.

And the rest is ……history?type

The Adventures of Dr.Burlap

Granada

Granada: A sequel

With an itinerary set not to overtax Dr.Burlap, we took in the Alhambra, which, even with a cocktail of pharma on board, overtaxed the Doctor. Sitting in a regal chair against a backdrop of exquisite geometric tiles in an ornate courtyard by a pool bathed in evening sunshine was a cure, plus the promise of a fine Spanish brandy. The cultural visits continued: austere and gold clad church interiors, modern art galleries, the university, street market, tapas bars and that Spanish brandy. Of that trip to Granada two events are note worthy and set the scene for what follows.

As we strolled back of a late evening to our garret in the Pension, in danger of collapse from the weight of icons and students, a figure slipped form a doorway at some distance. He descended the steps looking furtively in both directions while clutching a rectangular object wrapped in a bin bag, crossed to the street-side dumpster, dropped the bin bag in and hastily retraced his steps. The door closed.

“That was a bit suspect, no?”

“Ho Ho. Do we have an artwork in the bag?”

“Might just check this out Doc, what do you think?”

Maybe it was the fine Spanish brandy or an over active thyroid, whatever, we’d created an international art thief dropping priceless works for an accomplice to retrieve before the cleansing department arrived. We sidestepped into the alternative reality with the greatest of ease, brandy included, and rescued the cleverly concealed art and took the bootie back to the garret, as Holmes and Watson would, to inspect content,

“We were not wrong, Doctor, this is pure gold.”

“ And there are two canvases, excellent one each.”

We removed the oiled canvases of distinctly Spanish origin from the School of Twentieth Century Naïve Art. T.Corovetto you are a true master of the hobbyist movement, or was that caginess to conceal your abhorrence for the work of Senora Corovetto as you trashed it?

The fast moving drama was followed by the fast removal of our rental car. Was it the revenge of the International art theft syndicate? No. In the clear light of a piercing morning hangover the realisation dawned that the car had been scooped by the clampers. The evidence: a curbside sticker with details of a fine and a location for recovering. Arguing with the urban authorities about injustice and damage to tourism is stressful with a hangover and a language deficit, that raised finger and raised voice were as naïve as the art. The fine was paid and we fucked off in the rental for a hangover cure and breakfast.

But revenge was ours. We kept the canvases in the bin bag. We put them through the scanner at Malaga Airport. We carried them through security at Belfast International. We’re discussing a visit to the Prada in Madrid with a couple of bin bags.

 

To Nathan

Letter from America

wave

The tourist map for Valentia Island on the Iveragh Peninsula, Co.Kerry, marks a location ‘Candles’. An explanatory panel describes this as an attraction offering tourists the opportunity to join a candle-making workshop, or to purchase handmade candles. The approach is a steep descent on a winding road, through a cluster of houses, to a cul de sac and farmyard buildings with signage: ’Candles’. The location is possibly the most western piece of land in Europe, or within a Puffins fart of it. I stood at a five bar gate, a foot resting on the bottom bar, surveying this stretch of coastal beauty while ‘a swell’ brought gigantic waves crashing against the rugged coastline.

As with another location at 2km as the Puffin flies, St.Brendans Well, a site of pilgrimage, is marked on the map and with a sign on the county road. When Ireland was the land of saints and scholars Brendan, as he was known prior to being saintly, would visit the well to fill his kettle and make a drop of tea for visitors, a customary welcome round these parts. The site is remote and visitors few which probably explains why he built a boat and got to hell out of there. Better known as St.Brendan the Navigator confirms that he met a few folk on his journey but the Well may well be the only pile of stones he ever built.

The naming of places by association is common, and I would posit that at some point in the future ‘Candles’ will be a de facto location with its own road sign, and searchable on Google maps. I have good reason to speculate so. On the N70 between Cahersiveen and Waterville there is another noteworthy road sign; Letter. Most would drive past on the Ring of Kerry not giving it a second thought. But how wrong they would be. This tiny Hamlet, a scattering of new builds, was formally the hub for mail from the emigrants to loved ones back home, containing much needed financial support. Formally known as ‘Letter from America’ and abbreviated in more prosperous times.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Weapons-of-Mass-Destuction

We are approaching the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, March 2003. That’s around the time of the release of the final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy ‘Return of the King’. ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ was released 2001 the same year as the invasion of Afghanistan. Box office success for Bush/Blair and Jackson/Tolkien, Is there a pattern emerging? Can they kick the hobbit?

The Great Crusade against the forces of darkness had prayed together at Camp David as they preyed upon the innocents of a failed state and prepared to fail another.

As Iraq fragments and Afghanistan implodes the foot soldiers of the Great Crusade are preparing to depart leaving a trail of destruction, abuse, broken promises, vulnerable population, and females who will become prisoners of an ideology.

Meanwhile the Crusaders, still at large, have returned to business as usual. Burning Bush has a bit-part in Dallas and Mr.T is aspiring to rejoin the A Team of political life in Britain, as do some of his War Cabinet cronies. The British electorate will not be fooled by the Faith Foundation flag of convenience, will they?

This year will hopefully see the publishing of the sequel to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It has been much delayed and an eager readership await the revelations of Frodo and Sams suspected war crimes in Lord Chilcot Inquires.

 

6 Degrees of Separation

6deg

 

The proposition of 6 Degrees of separation, that we are never more than six people by acquaintance, away from anyone on the planet, has a certain intrigue when you consider there are nigh on 7 billion citizens of Planet Earth. It reinforces the notion that we are all related regardless of ethnicity, religion, or politics.

What about the Banks, remember to mention the Banks.

Meanwhile a metaphysical tsunami sweeps the earth, surfs up for the multinationals so the greedy have just got greedier. Current figures suggest since the crash of 2008 the 1% of super rich in the US saw an 11.6% increase in income while the 99% saw a 0.6% increase.

The Banks, remember.

Here in Britain there have been a slew of stories of corporate and personal tax avoidance schemes, offshore accounts where Nutkin can squirrel away a fortune, and European stars and celebs who opted to become tax exiles rather than contribute to the community purse. No doubt all fully paid up members of the Ivana Trump ”Only the little people pay taxes” Society. All the more unfortunate as some who were hailed for their leadership have proven to be self-serving and advocates of double standards. In common parlance, shysters.

Now the Banks.

As if that weren’t enough to deal with before breakfast, Communism is being challenged or has failed while Capitalism seems to be a crumbling edifice. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, what a pickle we are in.

Come on man, the Banks.

Mr. and Mrs. Greedy will probably never read this but if you happen upon, or know the whereabouts of, the Greedys pass on the regards of those who survive on less than $10 a day, that’s 2.5 billion human beings, a conservative estimate upwardly adjustable like the Greedys amassed fortune. They wont be sending a card.

ET if you happen upon Voyager out there in the universe, and can decipher the Planet Earth Promotion disc on-board, now 25 years old, celebrating human creativity, a postscript to content, destruction is trending. So don’t visit just yet we’re doing a spot of spring-cleaning, well the little people are.

Sorry out of time on the Banks.

 

Fluoride.Whats your poison?

Sadhu1A Minister in the N.Ireland Assembly has decided to put Fluoridation of the water supply back on the agenda. Some years ago a protest was mounted to remove Fluoride from the water in the two ‘study’ areas of N.Ireland, Holywood and Tandragee. The protest was a success and had wide backing from both towns and the wider community. But history has a remarkable ability to turn back on itself in this backwater.

The Minister of the Environment, Edwin Poots is planning to put this industrial waste product back into the water. He is from farming stock and trained, in the field, at Greenmount Agricultural College where the use of phosphate fertilizer would have been taught. Far be it from me to suggest there is an ulterior motive, but fluoride is a by-product of the fertilizer industry.

The history of the practice goes back 60 years plus, but the reasoning is not altogether clear. The premise is that fluoride prevents tooth decay. Dentists promote its use hence you will find the additive in toothpaste. I’m not sure what the fertilizer industry has to say apart from thank you very much for purchasing our waste.

What does cause tooth decay? Would sugar fit the bill? Dentists once upon a time focused our childhood attention on tooth decay caused by over indulgence in jelly beans, butter balls, clove rock, coca cola…..  If you take a cursory glance at processed foods and drinks a recurring additive is sugar and the advertising for some of these products is focused on children. Many of the health problems facing our society can be attributed to bad diet and tooth decay is one such. The Food and Drinks Industries must bear some responsibility.

In conclusion Mr. Poots, medicating the entire population of N.Ireland for a non-communicable disease with a ‘one size fits all’ dosage, regardless of age, weight, or health, seems nothing short of immoral.

p.s. still waiting to see the results from the previous ‘study’ which the Dental Branch have no record of.

Juggling nothing

ImageThis post is about nothing, in particular zero. Zero the absence of everything is a very abstract concept, which, I believe, originated in Mesopotamia and was given form in India. Yet zero plays an important role in our daily lives. Take for example the binary code on which your computer operates. Ones and zeros. Or as a simple illustration of the importance of zero, place any number of zeros in front of a whole number and its value remains the same, however place the zeros behind that number and magic happens.

In Paris on the square in front of Notre Dame set into the cobbles is a brass ordinance plate. This is Point Zero, a geographical point from which all distances in France are measured.

The notion has a parallel in us as human beings. At an intellectual level we make decisions daily on the basis of a pre-learned or accepted Point Zero. On a conscious level we have an innate or unlearned Point Zero which has many names to many people. Lets call it an essence, or essential, our default setting.

As a human being, and all other notions I may have of myself to include ‘artist’, it is in this essence where the muse hangs out that I seek my INSPIRE-ation. BREATHE IN and be inspired. You have taken delivery of Life itself the source of all inspiration.

And a cautionary note on the subject from Thomas Ediison ”Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” This from a guy who obviously knew nothing.

Apropos to nothing, I met a donkey, a tolerant unassuming and patient creature. A farmer will tell you that if you place a donkey in a field with young cattle they will not attempt to breach the boundaries. That’s a calming influence. I decided on this basis to run the notion of zero past the donkey, like brain storming with one brain… not the donkeys. I told it about Paris and Point Zero and then I had the idea that maybe a donkey could be Point Zero in Ireland. Well route distances marked rarely refer to the distances travelled. I didn’t get a response nor did I see the donkey again. Two months after the encounter I received a postcard from Paris, Notre Dame, Point Zero in the foreground. No message. Nothing. Zero

You may wonder what relevance this has to anything under the sun and I am only too happy to point out that you already know the answer.

Flag waiver

 

waiver It’s January 2013, it’s cold, it’s raining, it’s Belfast. It’s been raining for forty days and forty nights, and before that. On the streets of this backwater the natives are restless, again. What this time? Some upset about a flag, not just any flag of course, the union flag beloved of one section of our community, and loathed by another. The police play pig in the middle, the politicians play politics, while the rest of us play dead. Alternatively you can speak out and receive your free bullet-in-the-mailbox, a generous gesture practiced by all non-democratic movements and dictatorships.

A population of 1.5 million souls is N.Ireland, an extended family where the notion of six degrees of separation does not register above 0.00 something. We have made it to the world stage many times mostly for our bigotry, sectarianism and violence, yet pride ourselves on our hospitality. Quarantine and quarantine for all the bigots on the planet to review the flag, the sash, the beret, the burqa, the turban, and all manmade textiles that cause human beings such difficulty. Naturists have got a point and they could probably hang a flag on it.