Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Don Bookered. Parting FAQ.

So, it has been a while. Not long enough, I hear some say.

In response to a 'Where's Don Booker gone?' question that's been asked in recent weeks, it's with regret I inform that the character has relieved himself of his duties and gone deeper into Ireland to pursue other avenues.

Will he be back?
Nope. His time at The Writing Life and Other Absurdities is over. Though, a follow up of Booker's World will be available sometime next year. Or the year after.
He may also turn up in unexpected places from time to time.

Why now?
As the old adage goes, 'It's as bad a time as any.'

Where's he gone?
Spare, I've heard mentioned.

What now for the blog?
A return to something that does more justice to its title. 

When?
In the coming weeks and months.

I'll miss reading his bullshit?
http://fbooker.blogspot.ie/p/bookers-world-ebook-series-2009.html

Final Muse?
He came. He saw. He ran.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Shocks

'What you think?' Gus asked as we stepped out of Linda's car. The cold morning stung like the government. Attempts to wean residue from my eyes only made matters worse. Before I could answer, I was off. One, two ............. seven.
   'Better than sex,' Leon used to say when ever he sneezed. I never got that. Not the sex! The comparison.
   'God bless you,' Linda said. I wish He'd hurry on sometimes.
   The morning had barely turned nine. I'd already been in the car for what seemed like an eternity. The sun began to paste the trees a sad orange as it rose. It didn't do much for my eyes either.
   Ahchooooooooo.
   Aftershocks!

'I think you have cold in your head,' Gus said. It was looking like it. More and more I've been waking up like an old tractor. Starved of oil. Coughing and spluttering - crying to be fed. Smokey. Rusty, tired and worn. 
   'No shit, Einstein,' I said back. Gus didn't know what I meant.
   'Come on,' Linda said. 'We'll show you around.'
    She slipped her hand around Gus' elbow and they began to walk toward the door of the house that stood no more than ten-feet away. I cleared my nose. My throat hurt as I attempted to go higher - into my head. See could I clear it a little. I must be coming down with something. That green belongs on the wall of some swish contemporary apartment with an nice red abstract contorting itself across the surface. 
   I began to follow them.

Word of this early morning nuisance had reached me the day before. Gus doesn't really ask. His way of asking comes across as telling. Like he's doing someone a favour by interrupting the lack in their lives. I wasn't even sure why I had been asked to come along.  They don't need a chaperon.
   They reached the door. Linda bent down and took a key from beneath a Mat outside the door. She opened the door. Good job the house was a little remote.
   'So, what you think?' Gus asked again. Give us a chance Gus. Books and covers and all that.
   'Looks (struggling for a word) big,' I said.
   It was big. Five bedroom dormer bungalow at the end of a quite cul-de-sac in wooded surroundings. Dining roon, reception room and a Gordon Ramsey kitchen. Conservatory and large decked area. Office. Upstairs and downstairs relief quarters. All rooms en-suite. Mature gardens.
   They were mature. Sort of grown up around the place. The house, cold and empty - like the heart of a government minister. Abandoned almost. Apart from the three of us and a distant wood pigeon there was little sign of life.
   'I'm thinking of buying it,' Linda said. 'Needs a bit of work, but it's going cheap.' She didn't part with a sum. I didn't ask.
   'You could do worse,' I said, starting to imagine it lived in. It definitely had potential. Lots of potential. Bit big for two, though.
   We went outside and out around the back. Large garden leading down to a wood. The grass was long and wet so we stayed close to the house. At the bottom of the garden lay the shell of an old house. It looked a hundred years old. It must have been the old dwelling before it got its modern makeover.
   'You smell that,' Gus said, breathing in. 'Peace.'
   Linda laughed. So i joined in.

   'Is it not a bad time to be buying?' I asked. Apparently not. Linda had bought her own house before Ireland thought it was Manhattan for a while. She told me that she could sell her own, buy this place, and hopefully have enough leftover to do this new place up. Sounded like a good plan.
   'If I don't do it now, I never will,' she said. I'd heard property in Spain and Greece was going cheap. Had climate not figured in her plans? Or does this climate not bother everyone?
   'Don...' she said - looking at Gus, who seemed excited. 'Would you think about moving out here with us - if it all goes to plan.'
    'Maybe rest you need is a change,' he added. His enthusiasm waned when i didn't answer. A hundred thoughts going through my head trying to seek an answer that might buy me some time and not kill off this unlikely friendship. Were they taking pity on me? Or after my rent?
   'Well have a think about it,' Linda said. 'There's nothing solid yet - no rush.' She beckoned us back to the car.
   'Yep, that's best,' I said. 'There's lots to think about.'
   The drive back to town was quite. I figured it hadn't quite worked out the way they had planned. But how could they expect an answer, right there, on the spot. This is a life-changing decision. Moving so far away.
    Twenty minutes later Linda had us dropped off. Gus yawned.
   'I better get eye-shut,' he said. 'I have work tonight.'
   'Might grab forty myself,' I said. He scooted off into his own house. I stood outside mine. Looking at it. Over 40 years written in her walls. In grime. Never painted. I could do with cutting the grass myself.

Bed is usually a good place to avoid having to think about stuff. Not this time. I've been sleeping with the enemy lately and the enemy has been keen on keeping me awake. Nights are long in the dark. In that silence. Writing might help. I used to be one. Back in the day.
   It only usually happens once a year. For a week - give or take a few days. It's been a month now. Not quite insomnia-tic  in nature, but not too far off it.
   Ever get those jumps? An excited nerve ending - reacting to something - while you sleep? Or when something or other made the veins jump randomly. I put into down to posture.
   'Nah. You're on the way out,'  as Leon used to say.
   These jumps though, they're like a lightening bolt. Usually happens in that micro-second - the one you take between the cross over from the waking to the dead - of night - of course. Bang. From Brain to foot and back again. Too quick to know for sure. It's usually enough to keep me up for the rest of the night.

It's funny the things you notice when you're wide awake in the black dark. The attic window gives much away. A kinda moving picture frame. Big. Live. Slow.
   Take last night. I'd just got a jolt and up I sat.
   'Jaysus, thought I was gone there,' I thought to myself - swallowing water like I'd rambled in from the desert. I lay back down, my back perched high on the pillow. Uncomfortable - like Eamon Gilmore. I wasn't risking another one of those shocks.
   I didn't do much night-sky watching in my time.  The odd glance up maybe - after they expelled smokers from pubs. Walking home from hovels with Leon now and again. No - maybe not. That time was usually spent following our feet with our eyes. Wondering why they wanted to wander off - following them, hoping something was still functioning that may get us home.
   I watched it last night. As the sky above moved around. Or should that be the universe? Or is it us? You don't really notice it moving. I mean who watches the night skies for hours on end in unemployed Ireland? I got up and opened the window and peeked out. I don't know much about what I'm looking at - Big Dipper I think they call it. Taking up the right side of my view - along with the rest I could never name. Orion - half in view to my left. It's belt open. Another few million stars keeping him company. Planets out there too somewhere. Pulsars. And big black holes.
   They reckon there are as many planets out there as there are grains of sand on a beach. Always wondered what beach?
   Still, if you think about, that would mean an infinite amount of planets for every single human on this planet at the moment. And for non-humans too!
    Assuming of course all those billions are vacant. And resource rich - can't forget the resources. We'd need a reason to, em, take care of it. Couldn't imagine us invading them. Could you?
   Pity we don't think about it that way sometimes. The size of it all - the potential in it all. How we could trade - not on rare commodities, but on abundant spheres, and minds that wander and wonder like a child becoming conscious of everything for the very first time. Each discovery made- a derivitive to be traded. Freely. Too further knowledge. Longevity. Perhaps, even form.

The tempeture soon had me running back between the sheets. I think it's time to get out the extra blanket. Must be just above freezing out there. The grass is still green. For now. Anyway.
   Perhaps it is time for a change of scene. Still the same sky out there! But little worse than that record, you know, that worn one.  That lie in attics.
  
Elsewhere.




Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hurl

'Sit yourself down there and watch real men play sport,' I muttered to Gustav, a rare cultural superiority causing me, at an atomic level, to pulse. Slightly.
   'Fastest game in the known universe,' I said as we sat down. Cheap beer. Orange colored can. Sounds foreign.
   'What are those in hands?' he asked. I went on to explain what they were, what the players could do with them and told Gus that in a few hours time, one set of them would be the Hurling champions of the world.
   'But it is only in Ireland you play?' he said.
   'Well yes. Professionally anyways,' I said. 'But - without pay.'
   'I not understand this country sometimes,' he said as a posse of people invaded the hallowed turf of Croke Park. Hallowed everywhere, it would seem!
   You and me both, Gus!
  
What was this? The posse stretched themselves out into flags of welcome. A cry to the Irish masses who find themselves abroad. From RTÉ.
   Come back we call. Next year. For a time. Too dwell. Too spend.
   The Gathering.
   By all means come. We are a land of a thousand welcomes. Run ragged through the ages, the melancholy hides in the rain for those that remained. Too squabble. Too drink. Too play...

'Why he hit his friend with stick?' Gustav asked.
   'It's a Hurley,' I said.
   'Yeah. Hurley.'
   'He's G-ing him up,' I said. 'Getting ready for battle.'
   'I think I like this sport,' Gus said leaning forward. Lips drying up.
   'What's it name again?'
   The roar went out from within the cauldron and could be heard in every door throughout the land such was its might.
   OK, that's drivel. But it did go up and it does carry. Impressive also.
   I wish I'd surround sound.

Just an hour an a half later and both of us were exhausted. Gus' hair whipped east and west. I didn't bother pulling at mine. He's opted for the Tribesmen - because he 'don't like cats.'
   For a time it looked like he'd picked a winner. Galway, the men from the West - the provincial champions of Leinster - looked like they were picking up again from that Leinster final day when they whipped the cream from the Kilkenny whisker in a ten-point mauling. It's not often it happens, but it did force the Black Cats to think that perhaps, this year, they might not have things all their own way.
   But the Cats are a strange bunch. Instead of bickering and analysing everything, they closed their training camps to the public and held their enquiries behind closed door, before demonstrating the look of the Kilkenny of old in an successful, but unexpected, detour through the playoffs.
   It's rumoured throughout the island that Cats are born with a Hurl in hand. They have won five of the previous six All-Ireland finals. 33 in all. Star man of an age, Henry Shefflin, stood on the threshold of becoming the first Irishman to hold nine All-Ireland winning medals won from the field of play.
   But at half-time it looked like Galway were on to something as they left the pitch with a healthy five-point lead. It looked like the Tribesmen could bring the Liam McCarthy cup back across the Shannon for the first time in 24 years. 
   In the end, Shefflin came within seconds of his place in history, before Galway's Joe Canning slotted over a free, having just missed one from a similar range the minute before. A sighing Shefflin at the final whistle was left reflecting on a thunderous personal performance - but one that could have been that little more, perhaps enough to have seen his kittens over the line.
   Trading scores with Joe Canning for much of the match, both players ended up scoring twelves points each. Canning, in his first final, scored 1-9. Shefflin's scored an even dozen points.The same number of Leinster titles he holds as it happens.
   Shefflin looked to set his own personal bar early on with a goal attempt from a close-range free - only to see it saved. When faced (twice) with similar situations in the second half, he opted for points.  But when Kilkenny were awarded a late penalty, Shefflin once again assumed the leadership role - and opted for a point instead of going for goal, despite having hit the net on four occasions in previous All-Ireland finals.

'So what happen now?' Gus said at the end.
   Converted or what?!
   He was none too happy when I told him there was to be no extra-time. Cashing-in and all that.
   'I think this game is well for 3-D,' he said. 'It be awesomeness. That how you say?'
   Sure is, Gus - and what an idea! We should grab ourselves some suits and BS our way into RTé. An unemployed writer and a foreigner. In to save the day at the cash-strapped cash cow. Selling Hurling to the world - through green tinted glasses. Few pints of the black stuff and away with ye. Might be interesting on whiskey too. Get the NFL involved. Keep all our athletes in good jobs.  Ones that pay a little.
   'So, did you play this game?' Gus asked, as I flicked the TV off.
   'Nope,' I conceded. 'Far too windy.'
   Have a think about that my foreign buddy. I heard him mutter 'ah, the weather' as I went to relive myself. That supermarket stuff doesn't half run through ye.

He left a few hour ago.  Human contact done for another week. Opens a writing window.
   'I walk Linda from work home,' he said.
   Sap!
   Clouds closing in. Hope he doesn't get wet.
   Yesterday was a Vitamin-D stockin'-up day. Make hay while the sun shines - or something like that. Glad the weeks done with. A chance to put behind one of those cage rattlers that pass through us all from time to time. Just to let us now how fragile most things are. To remind us to take it all in whist we can.
   I don't like weeks like that. Weeks that make you think. Weeks that don't make sense. That kinda pull people about a little. Giving folk a little shake.

Too remind of whatever, wanted or 'wise.

*************

The ramblings here are three-years old this week, so great to see the blog shortlisted in the categories of Personal, Pop Culture and Humor  blogs this week in the Blog Awards Ireland.

Booker's World will be free to download tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday at this link.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pepperoni

Seasons, like people, are subject to that passage of time sometimes referred to as the 'come and go.'
For those that follow the Gaelic Calendar, Summer already ended nearly a month ago. If Met Eireann - Ireland's weather service - is anything to go by, then Summer here in Ireland ends this Friday. Not that all agree with our national forecasters. Just ask the good people of Donegal. 

For most though, myself included, the damn thing didn't even start. A climatic washout. Yet another one. With a change promised over the coming days, I felt it was time to clear the work diary so I can work on that tan I keep promising myself. It won't take much clearing.
   It used to be quite full. Lots of to-do notes and ideas amongst other little things. Not anymore.  Total apathy have left wordless pages. Weeks of them. Months on end. I didn't really notice much until I had to check back on something I had wrote earlier in the year. A phone number. I couldn't find  it - most probably torn from those A4 sheets that contain no dates. A makeshift diary. One for the unemployed.

I wonder how long, rain-filled and soulless grey days affect others whose working life constitutes trying various means of keeping busy while reading the blabber portrayal of a country that hasn't created a sustained job in nearly five years, but yet to be a statistic in that trend gets people targeted as social parasites. Labelled. One and all.
    Like half a million people are all exactly the same. It's little wonder people live on stress. Until they don't
 
Rubber was how Gustav appeared at my door last Wednesday. Or was it the Wednesday before?
   'I pass. I pass,' he said, holding a piece of paper in his hand. He handed it to me as he stepped forward. I took it. He took two steps back.
   'I can not believe it,' he cried, tears rolling down his face. By this time he was nearly half way back down the path doing the Gustav shuffle. I looked at the piece of paper.
   English. Ordinary Level. D. The results of his exam.
   'That's brilliant,' I weighed in enthusiastically, stepping outside to retrieve the inebriated Gus. Since when did a D lead to this.
   'I happy - like piggy in shite' he said as i pushed him back up the path and ushered him into the house.
   'So what now?' I asked, as he fell on to the couch, his feet still trying to walk.
   'Next year I get C,' he said. 'No stopping now.' I left him there and went to make coffees. I think he needed one. When I returned he was in a coma. I drank them both.
   When I got up next day he was gone. To be expected. It was nearly evening. I saw what looked like a fifty note close to the couch. It wasn't. It was Gus' prize possession - his results.
   Result. So much for achievement.

An evening breakfast of cornflakes peppered with the remains of the milk carton somehow turned into a season-span in the company of Dexter Morgan. That turned into a second season, interrupted rudely by the onslaught of sleep. Fought. Till the bitter end.
   When I woke I continued on my way until I ran out of box-sets. Just in time too. I needed food. And paper. The toilet variety. I had my head set for a long weekend of procrastinating vagrancy. I'd get round to tackling that best seller next week. Planning it anyways. Best laid plans, hey?!
   The DVD shop was closed. A giant black wreath dressing the window of the door. I guess someone died. Odd though. They never turned the lights off at the back of the store. Must have been sudden. I slipped Dexter into the return box under the main window. Season 3, 4 and 5 would just have to wait.

I ran into Linda at the supermarket. My head was returning from being buried in a freezer gathering a pizza from the bottom. Fuck sake, it was only mid-day. Wasn't Gus working last night. Keeping up with the stock.
   'Hello stranger,' she said before I had even returned my head above the sliding panels. How did she know it was me?
   'Hello,' I said, my head grazing the side of the freezer. Gathering wisps of ice. Don't they de-frost these things?
   'Long time no see,' she smiled. Not long enough, I thought. The state of me. I should make more of an effort when I step outdoors. Shave at least. Cut the sides of my hairline. Stop wearing Bermuda shorts whenever the sun even threatened.
   'Been a while alright,' swiping the thawing fluff from my head.
   'You looked like you lost something down there,' she said.
   'Grabbing a pizza,' I said.
   'There's been a run on them this morning,' she said moving me to one side. Without me really noticing. Like a Barber does.
    Did.
   'Three for a fiver.'  Half of her disappeared into the freezer. I was just averting my eyes when they caught those of some old ladies, throwing me a look in disgust. What the hell? She seemed to run into something that I couldn't see with her trolley. I pictured her flying off through the air, but before I could think of a suitable ending -
   'There you go,' Linda said. She'd skimmed the freezer wall as well.
   'Thanks,' I said. I didn't think it was a good idea to tell her i was just rummaging. Never could take to Pepperoni. Bit too Italian for me.
   'How's Gus?' I asked. She told me of the state he had got himself into the night of his results. I was just about to tell her I knew when off she went again about how distressed he was ever since. Drink can do that you.
   'He lost his result paper,' she sighed. 'I told him they'd give him another one, but he's up in a heap over it. Even took time off.'

   The old lady had made her way down our aisle. I'd seen her encroaching over Linda's shoulder.
   'He doesn't remember a thing,' Linda continued.
   'Where's do ye keep the cabbage, young wan?' the old lady said to Linda, but looking at me. Just like me Granny did once when she caught me with that Swedish book.
   'Come on and I'll show ye,' Linda said, faking a smile. Good thinking. I don't think the old dear could handle directions.
   'I'll see you around,' Linda said, heading off followed by the old lady. Starting another conversation with everyone's favourite subject. The damn weather.
   I wondered if it was just ritualistic subject with us Irish? An abstract way of communicating with everyone around us that we don't necessarily want to communicate with. An ice-breaker. A subtle shaker. Of the human kind. I stood there thinking about it until I became aware of it. Strange places, supermarkets.

I decided that the twist of fate at the DVD shop was a sign from somewhere to hit the writing once again. But words fail me for some reason. I've heard about muses. Not sure if I've ever had one. But if I have, it's deserted me.
   Shadowed attic walls lit by the environmentally friendly dim light from the laptop. Not a scene for pondering over the ins and outs of process. Listening to that most sacred one of all. The breathe. Not exactly doing fight scenes with James Cagney all day before heading to a bar all night, is it?

   I let Gus stew for another few days. Not intentionally mind. I was just waiting for Gus' memory to return. It didn't.
   'What's this?' he said, as I handed him a plastic bag. Green and white stripped one. Recycled wrapping - what can I say? Sealed with tape.
   'Open it,' I said. It took him a few minutes, but that was the intention in the Nietzchean way i had taped it. Vertically angled horizontals, looped over - twice.
   'You wrap well,' he said. He gave up the fight and just ripped it asunder. He took what was inside out.
   'Frame,' he said, looking at it closer. His face lit up.
   'Results,' he said, looking even closer. I filled him in on his visit.
   'I remember nothing,' he admitted. Jagerbombs. What ever they are?
   'You go to lot of trouble,' he said.
   Not really. It doesn't take long to empty a frame of its contents and wrap it up in a plastic bag. OK, I did insert the result paper.
   'Achievement needs to be recognised,' I said. 'You should be proud of yourself.'
   'Me is,' he said. I left before it turned into a thank-you festival. He promised to hang it up. In a prominent place too. I felt like Jackson Pollock.

Soon the leaves will shiver off the trees. Might throw a bit of color around the place. Might make the muse return. It's probably hiding out in a breezy beach side studio somewhere. Helping some hippie out. With the taking of it in. All it throws. Hail, Rain or Sunshine. 






Monday, August 13, 2012

Trips & Double Majors

I'm just in the door in time for the golf. I've been away too long. Longer than I had intended to be. Was it worth it? Can't say it did me any harm. On a battery level.

I don't know what it is about this particular year but, be it a US presidential election or visits to the nursing home, I seem to be tuning out. Seeing little benefits from certain things. Tiring to the point of - nonchalance.
   French word I think. General meaning. I really couldn't be giving a certain four letter work made famous by a fictional priest with a liking for alcohol from the Isle of Craggy. Desperate stereotyping - the genius type - but the subject of stereotyping couldn't have been further from my mind as I turned on the computer and prepared for another week writing for myself.
   Shortly after a deep sigh something unexpected happened. My finger just kinda stopped short of the 'on' key. Stayed there for a few seconds. Then moved again. Away.
   I gathered it up and closed the laptop down, grabbed a bag full of clothes and 37 minutes later I was sitting on a bus heading West. Spontaneity, I think they call it. I left the key of the house with Gustav who I woken from his sleep.  He'd just got off the night shift.
   'I'll be back in a week,' I said. 'Keep an eye on the place,' handing him the key to the house.
   'Hold it a second,' he said, still half asleep. He went back inside, returning with his camera.
   'Where it is you go, take picture. I keep it for scrap.' He handed it to me. Cool.
   'OK, 'I said and hurried off. The bus to the big smoke needed getting if I was to make Mayo by nightfall. I could do it. It was 8.35. In the morning.

Go on Rory Mac. Whey! 3 shot lead in the final major of the year.  Ooh, Tiger there's too. Nice.  I'm glad I didn't extend my holidays into another week. There's no place like home on the last day of a golf major - however good it was to touch base with Mattie once again.
I tend to avoid impulsiveness since - well, you know.  Never seemed to work out for me. Finding myself half way to Dublin on a whim was a surprise.

   'Anyone sitting in there?' an elderly woman asked me, pointing down to the seat beside the window. Was she blind? She didn't look blind. Was quite obvious there was no-one sitting there.
   'No,' I said, rising to my feet.
   'Oh, you could have just shuffled across,' she said, grazing past me toward the window.  Bloody hell. What does she think I am? A poker dealer. A disco dancer.
   'You're very kind.'  How little people know about others.
    'My pleasure,' I said, disguising my voice unknowns to myself. Like I do. Hiding who I was - where I came from - for reasons I don't even know. I sat back down. It's times like this I wished I'd brought a book.
   'So where you headed?' she said. Deep sigh. My mistake for sitting so close to the top on a near empty bus.
   Oldies.
    I looked at her face. Late sixties, I'd say. How could I fib?
   'Out West,' I said. 'To see a friend.'
   'I've never been,' she said, before telling me her life story. She's been to England once.
   'My sister died. Unexpected,' she said. 'I found thousands of pounds hidden everywhere when I was clearing out her flat. Her daughter was delighted. We could have had her brought home if we'd found it sooner,' she said. 'She'd have liked that.' She seemed sad all of a sudden.
   'Was too late be then. We'd cremated her. My niece said it was more environmental friendly.' I wasn't sure where to look. At least she had the window. Not that she cared as she went on to tell me how hard it was for adventurous women back in her day.  Seems her sister was one of those.
   'Shocking to see them still leaving today,' she said, shaking her head. At last. On my level. Something I'd heard about. Emigration. I was just about to go into a rant at the expense of the present administration when the bus stopped suddenly.
   'Mrs McGuire,' the bus driver shouted.
   'My stop,' she said. For feck sake. I got up again and stepped out into the aisle.
   'Enjoy America,' she said walking forward. A little rustically. Age, I suppose.

Woo! Ian Poulter. What you at?  Five birdies in a row. Leon would be proud.
Better watch your back, Rory Mac.

I was early for the bus to Castlebar. Three hours early. I parked on a bench and waited. The back of the bus felt like a seat from the heavens when I finally took it. I could have stretched out along them. 
   Gone to sleep. Would have felt like home.  There was no such luck. A few fellows took up their own residence on the back seats. Avoids. Luckily no one decided to use the seat beside me. You know the one? The one you don't pay for but still feel is yours.
   Buses. Strange places.
   The last time I came this way I found the trip bleak.  We weren't long out of the city and I'd drawn the same conclusion again. I decided to do what I do best. Sleep. I dreamt of Granddad Booker making his way up from Mayo all those years ago 'walking barefoot in winter.' Never could tell me how long it took him. I tried to draw Granny out about it. One of her finger wagging 'don't mention that again' times, it was. Man, they fought like tigers. Funny stuff.
   A cleaner woke me when we got to Castlebar.
   'Last stop,' she said.
   'Barefoot,' I said, trying to remember where I was. She looked at me. Tired. Drawn. Beaten.
   'Just get off the bus,' she said. I hope I wasn't foaming from the corners of my mouth. I quickly moved on and stepped out on to the street. A Tesco's the only thing I recognized. Phew. Some bells rang six. I'd made it. Before dark. Hours before dark. I'm sure Mum was fibbin' to me when she said I'd never make it in out in the real world.
   'Is this Castlebar?' I asked a random passer-by. She kept walking. I put it to one side and built myself up to ask someone else. They look friendly.
   'Excuse me, is this Castlebar?' They stopped. They looked like students. I'm not sure what they thought I was.
   'Yes,' said the one with the messy hair. 'Where do you think it is?' Aggressive little git.
   'Sorry,' I said. 'I fell asleep on the bus and wasn't sure.'
   They looked at me - this freak. In off the bus. Clothes in a hold all. Had I even shaved?
   'Thanks,' I said after them. The natives were friendlier the last time. If a little more eccentric. I walked on up the street in the opposite direction and popped into a newsagents.

 Tiger to -4. Normally starts falling away by this stage since his crimes against matrimony. Not today. Not yet anyway.

'Can I help you?' a girl said from behind the counter. Ah, this is more like it. Smile too.
   'Could you point me in the direction of the Pontoon Road?' I said, mirroring a smile back in her direction. Lord, but I must sound like a plank.
    'We have little maps of the town,' she said, pointing up to a stand displaying postcards. Enda Kenny's office? No way.
   I was sure I'd remember - Castlebar wasn't Dallas.  But smiling she stayed until I reached up and took one.
   '€3.'
   Never broke the smile. I gave her it in change. She didn't seem to mind as she told me there was an 'alphabet' thing at the back and I'd find where I was looking for there. I didn't realise I looked so odd - so out of place - that I looked like someone who couldn't find their way around a map. I was a scout once. For two weeks. 

Paddy Harrington! -4.

I stepped back out on to the street. It was busy. I continued on up the street and found a quite spot. I sat down on my bag against a wall and folded the map out.
P.
Pontoon.
 To Pontoon.
Pontoon Road.
   Here we go. Quick turn 90 degrees. Booker luck. Back down where I'd just come from.
   A car horn. I looked up. Police. Irish ones.
   'Lost?' They had pulled up on to the footpath. I hadn't even noticed. I got to my feet.
   'I am, be dad,' I said. 'I'm looking for the Pontoon Road.'
   'Hop in,' one of them said. He didn't look old enough to be driving. 'We'll run you over.'
   I did as instructed. You don't mess with the law. Unless, you're from Rossport.
    'Thanks lads,' I said getting in. 'Very decent of you.'
    'New in town?' the passenger Garda said as his mate pulled off down the street.
    'I am,' I said. 'Just off the bus.'
   Silence.
   'Where you from?'
    I told them.
    'My aunty lives down there. Una Gangley. Do you know her?
    'Can't say I do,' I said.
    'What's in the bag?' the driver said.
   'Clothes,' I said. 'I'm here for a few days.'
   'I didn't ask you how long you'd be here?' said the driver. Pause. The two of them laugh.
   'Where will we drop you?
   'Little cafe,' I said. 'Tessy's.'
   'Mattie's joint,' they said together before laughing again.
   'How you know Mattie?' the passenger guy asked. I couldn't go into it. I'd need all night.
   'Old friends,' I said.
   'Ah, Mattie's alright. Best breakfast in the town.'
   The driver guy took a sharp turn right and then another almost immediately. I was glad i was sitting in the middle of the back seat. I'd definitely have been kissing window.
   Two minutes later they screeched up outside.
     'Mattie's place is down the alley at the back.'
   'Thanks lads,' I said, missing the door handle at the first attempt in my hurry.
   'We'll be seeing you about,' the driver said with a serious face. He then pretended to smile before they began twittering to themselves again.I shut the door over and they drove off.

Rory's taking Kiawah Island asunder. -10 at the turn.  Two ahead of Poulter. Oh, who's that? Justin Rose. -6 for the day.

 I kind of knew I'd find Mattie at something. As I walked down the alley, there he was. Mowing the lawn with one of those old mowers. The 1 hp. Keeping busy.
   'Do you never stop?' I called out.  He was facing my direction. Head bowed. Watching the newly sharpened cutters scalp blades from the grass. He looked up and stopped.
   'Well it's about fuckin' time...' he said walking over to me.
   'Great to see you,' I said.
   'Aye, it is,' he said shaking my hand firmly. He's re-discovered a depth to his accent since he moved back over here. Sounds like Granddad used to - when he'd be telling his stories. His bullshit stories. Great bullshit stories.
   Within minutes normal service was resumed. Mattie cooking and serving me. Like the old days.  Cabbage, bacon, spuds, onions and carrots all in the one pot. He filled two mugs from it as it fermented. If vegetables ferment - which I doubt they do. As good a soup as I've tasted in a while. Nice and salty. Great for the heart.

I could bore you into a coma with scenes of serenity as Mattie closed the cafe early each day so we could cycle some ruggedness. He damn near killed me on Day 3 - a four hour round trip to the place the road led off to. A little pub on a bend on the road, a lake for as far as the eye could see.
   I was a little worried as we set the bikes down up against the side of the pub and went inside. Mattie opted for a cordial when i went for the black stuff. Two to re-hydrate, two for pleasure - and one for the road. We got back by bike light around eleven, taking breaks to grab Gustav his snaps and to water the bog. Not that it needed it.
   By the weekend I was talking about going home but Mattie would have none of it.
    'What you going back for?' he said. 'Stay another week.'  I didn't need convincing. There was something about getting lost on a bike in the middle of no-where which was appealing to me. A different state of recluse. A more natural one.

Bogey-bogey, Ian Poulter. Rory by four. Barring an Adam Scott...

My phone rid itself of some dust when it rang on the Tuesday night of the second week.
   'Are you alive?'
   Gustav. I'd filled Mattie in on our Gus. I sensed Mattie was glad I had a neighbour. I re-assured Gus I was well and good.
   'Maybe you come back this week?'
    I didn't know if that was a question or not.
   'Maybe,' I said. Jaysus. The freedom.
   'Please try,' he said. 'Linda's friend. She come for weekend visiting.'
   I knew there and then I wouldn't be going back. I wasn't going through that again.
   'I'll see what I can do.' I'd have asked him to feed the goldfish but I don't have any, so I bid him a quick goodbye. Mattie laughed as I told him of that fateful night. 

There was days I just sat in his little cafe. Reading a newpaper. They still exist. Just watching the world go by. The two young Guards were in and out. Could be a comedy duo. Sonny could have done something for them. If the law didn't work out. If Sonny was here...
   They were drove off their feet. Some lorry with part of an drilling machine had jackknifed in the county. Heading to the coast. To drill. Who'd have thought? Oil - in the West of Ireland. Being given away.
   I couldn't resist. I stole away and found an internet cafe to find out what had happened. Shell had tried to sneak it under cover of darkness. Big escort. Media silence. Then the old bog road had her say. I find them hard enough on a bike. I had a snigger to myself as i read how Mother Nature had her say and thought to myself- only in Ireland. But when was planning ever a concern in this country?

Oh shut up. You're on holidays! Or were. 

Rory. Can't see him doing anything but winning from here. Six clear. Two-majors at 23.


You can't help but deal with the issues at hand when with close friends for a time. It was no different here. I took what Mattie had to say seriously. Hadn't listened to many this year. Gustav's occasional rabble and that's about it. Mattie was always worth listening too. The coherent Mattie, that is. He's still hanging in there. Fighting like the Irish boxing team at the Olympics. And after spending a little time here, he seems to be winning as well. Funny where he found his place. Back home. Where he probably always belonged.
   We said what needed saying and no more. I promised return visits as i packed to leave.
   'You're always welcome,' he said. 'I don't forget.' I knew he didn't. He was one of life's good ones. Rare. Occasional. Proper friends. 

The two boys in the squad car picked me up earlier today to run me to the bus. They had insisted. I'd got to know them by name. Larry and Larry. The two Larry's. If only Sonny were around. I made one last request.
   Within five minutes there I was. Standing in front of Enda Kenny's office. Jaysus, it's small. Bit drab. Depressing color. It seemed fitting. For the times that are in it.
   It was Sunday. I decided to take the chance that he wouldn't be in there. That he'd come out and tell the two Larry's that he wanted a word in me ear. Out the back!
   I got passenger Larry to take a quick snap of me. Outside the seat of power in the West. For prosperity. I giggled at that thought.
   They dropped me to the bus.
   'Add us on Facebook,' they said.
   'I'll do that,' I said, waving a backward five. Like we were buddies.  I know I won't. But, good lads. The pair of them. Doing their job in a jobless country.
   I felt a little less stooped as the bus made her way back to Dublin. Raining one minute. Sunny the next. Cars racing along - Galway flags trying to escape from car windows. Heading for Croker. Hundreds of them. Cris-crossing. Too and fro across the island. In no time at all.
   Great country.
   Lousy government.

I don't think Gus knows I'm back. I'll knock into him tomorrow. With his photos. Can't have him ruining the golf. I'd missed the whole Olympic games. We did good. For a little country with feck all going for her. Our athletes have rarely let us down. This team certainly didn't. In youth I'd have been absorbed in it. Everything. From dusk to dawn.
   Things change I suppose. As people get older.They say a change is as good as a rest. For once, I think they're right.

Go on Rory. Roll it in. Nah, I don't believe it. He has. Win by eight. One of the Golden Bears records seems safe as Tiger faded.  Just can't see him taking Jack's 18 now.
 With no-one really knowing who is claiming who this weather isn't it  great to watch someone as young as Rory McIlroy shove criticism back down his critics throats.

USPGA champ. Double major champion. Not bad, wherever you're from.