A Charmed Life

“Ah, a jumped-up pantry boy
Who never knew his place
He said, “Return the ring”
He knows so much about these things
He knows so much about these things”

Marr /Morrissey

Last Saturday I got to attend a surprise 50th birthday party for a great friend. My Soulmate, my brother Stephen and his wife Sarah,  travelled to Clogherhead armed with a birthday card, a bunch of dried flowers for Davy’s sister Clare who was hosting the party, a sliced sourdough loaf and an apple tart from Matilda’s, and two bottles of Bog Boy Booch, all from The Local. The four of us regaled each other with memories of Davy on the way up. He had always been quite the character when we were growing up.

We chatted to Davy’s family and friends, many of whom we’d met before, and some who were new , while we all waited for his arrival. He seemed genuinely surprised when he eventually landed.

I was chatting to two of his friends from his work life away from Monaghan and our childhood, when he came over for the first time that evening. I was wearing a new Fontaines D.C. tee, as it was such a special occasion, and Davy commented on it and then told my new friends “ When we were kids Paul was older and always dragging us to see new bands, like The Big Geraniums. We were all having a great time in The Pig and he made us leave to go out to the soccer club to see this band that he swore were going to be HUGE. He even got us to take their posters off the wall at the end of the gig, saying that they’d be worth money some day.”

“Who are The Big Geraniums ?” Davy’s pal Seamus asked.

“Exactly !” Davy laughed, punched my arm, and started on another story.

I’d forgotten completely about that night.

They were a fantastic live band, and I have vague memories of seeing them in Galway, Dublin at the Olympia, and Monaghan of course…and even vaguer memories of a dog being on stage. A great big band sound of celtic/punk.

I must have a look for that poster.

 On Sunday morning I was chatting on WhatsApp with my friend Karl about dreams and books and it ended with this exchange :

Cool. Off now to run/stroll in the Monaghan 10 Miler.

“I did an aggressively painful 3k this morning. I hated every awkward and uneven step”

Did you stop and photograph any interesting walls or trees ? Did you stop and say ‘Hello’ to anyone, and take a selfie with them ? Did you run with a friend and talk about the town, the people you’ve just met, or the wall you photographed ? If you answered ‘No’ to any of these questions, you’re not doing it properly.

“I’m not doing it properly.”


“Enjoy the run chat, walls, and bants !”

And I did.

My Soulmate and I joined 500 others to run around the town , out to Ballinode, back via the Rugby Club, to finish in Church Square. Ray and I plodded around and chatted to all the marshalls and volunteers out on the course, taking photos and selfies with most of them. My Mum and Dad, brothers John and Stephen and my nieces and nephews all cheered us in Ballinode. I had a waterfight with Evan and Stephanie at the last water stop, and we got a huge cheer when we made it back into town and crossed the finish line in a great time…for us.

Ray got a little emotional at the end, and I pretended to, just so he didn’t feel bad. Or maybe it was the other way around, anyway it was just a mighty day.

My Soulmate and I headed to Galway on Monday to see Jake on his birthday and deliver a desk. We collected him from work and took him to his new house, a two story thing over a basement flat.

“Please tell me your room is on the ground floor.”


After I’d recovered from carrying his desk up three flights of stairs, we headed into town and met  Sarah before we went for a lovely Thai meal down by The Spanish Arch , followed by , perhaps the nicest coffee I’ve had all year in The Lane.

We dropped them off at Sarah’s , gave and received great hugs, and then headed back to Monaghan.

On Tuesday Ray and I went for a 6 mile run where we met our John and his new Basset pup, Barley, untangled a wee horse from a wire fence, took a selfie with a Giant Redwood, took more selfies with Duke and Gerry, and congratulated ourselves on being such amazing athletes.

I met my friend Freddie for lunch on Wednesday and we had a great chat about running, Barbie, the panto and Castle Leslie. I left him to meet Siobhan, Eimear and Glenn in Dinkins to discuss our upcoming Giants Movie event out in Rossmore Park. We did it a few years ago, a free open air cinema in the Park, and it was class ! This time we’re showing the BFG, I’ll give a wee talk about the Drumlin Giants, we’ll show Jack & The Beanstalk, there’ll be a short walk where a lovely tree hugger will show us the real giants in the forest, and then we’ll finish with The Iron Giant.

Noon to 8pm on September 9th, no tickets, no fee, bring bean bags and blankets, it will be a GREAT day !

Robyn was home for a couple of days, so I tried to get her to help me persuade Elliott to watch True Romance, a brilliant film, which he had pointedly refused to watch all summer. Robyn , being Robyn, got us all to watch Sing instead. It was fantastic !

Yesterday I did some work, and then met my writer friend Mary for a cup of tea, a homemade bun, and a chat about a collection of her short stories I’m helping her compile. We shared snippets of stories of our lives, and she said at one point that people just don’t seem to have time for themselves or others any more. I disagreed, politely.

I witness so many people giving their time to others at Parkruns, organising lifts for Sanctuary Runners, shouting encouragement, putting on events, volunteering , organising, looking after their own young families, looking after their own kids’ kids, kids looking after parents, fundraising for charities, mowing neighbours hedges, lawns, popping in to say hello, catching up, sharing moments, supporting people with a wave, a shake of the hand, a smile and a nod.

I’m surrounded by incredibly generous people, I see them everywhere , everyday, and most of them never appreciate that they are appreciated.

You may think that you didn’t have time for anyone this week, or that you didn’t help, but, just maybe, a simple message you sent, a wave to someone in a car, or a smile at a stranger, may have made the world of difference to someone at just that perfect moment.

Well, if you didn’t know it, now you do.

Thanks ,


Author: paul

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *