A Few Things

“And little did I know you were here all the time
In the garden you’d lie
In the depths of my mind”

  • Conor Joseph O’Brien

This is my week off from chemolympics and I have used it to wallow in delicious nothingness. I have had no plans and I have executed them perfectly. Yesterday I didn’t even leave the house !

This will be a mercifully short blog, as I’ve been working on a short story for the RTE Frank McManus competition, and the deadline is today. And when I say ‘working on’ I mean thought about , but haven’t written down yet.

But I did learn that we get our images of witches from ale wives. Up until the 16th century ale was produced at home by women. Initially it was simply for the household’s own consumption, but some became popular and there was a demand from the wider community for it, and some women became independently wealthy as a result.

Because the ale was freshly made from malt , oats and barley, the women kept cats to keep rats and mice from their stock. They wore pointy black hats to signify on market days that they were brewers, and the taller and pointier the hat, the more successful they were. And to signify that a new , fresh batch was ready , they hung their broom above their front door.

Of course jealousy ensued. A wealthy independent woman with uppity notions ? Something evil going on there surely ?

Enter the loving and forgiving Catholic Church and their charitable witchfinders.

Making ale by women was quickly outlawed, and hundreds of ale wives were murdered by the loving and forgiving church. No one wore pointy black hats anymore.

Daytime TV is a revelation. Irish daytime tv isn’t terribly different from any other time, and the ads are a regular mixture of cars, banks, and supermarkets. English daytime TV is a revelation and, apart from me, based on the adverts, is watched by people obsessed with their impending deaths. Ads for cremation , savings policies towards the costs of your funeral, more cremations , and people who cheerfully receive the wrong post , drop it over to a neighbour and spontaneously start talking about lafe assurance. These people look to be in their 70’s, but the ads say they’re for ‘over-50s’. I’m ‘over – 50 ! And not once in my life have I discussed cremation or funeral cost life assurance with my neighbour Kieran… or anyone else for that matter.

There is another ad on English TV for varicose veins that has a jingle that I can’t get out of my head “We just do veins”. Catchy and eloquent.

The picture for today’s blog is the one I designed for the booklet that contained my Sgt.Pepper  story and was given away in the goodie bags at the recent Monaghan Gala. I was contacted by a journalist this week asking if he could use the story in his national column. I said of course he could…but that it wasn’t 100% true.

If you’d like a copy of the booklet message me and I’ll send you one.

I’m reading ‘Being You’ by Anil Seth which is tagged as a new science of consciousness. I’m enjoying it immensely and understanding some of it. It starts with the author setting out his experiences undergoing general anaesthetic, the only time when we experience nothingness, the only time when our neurons go quiet. Nothingness and nothing to fear.

My experiences of general anaesthetic usually involve mad Alice in Wonderland like dreams , with extra wombats.

Talk of conscience and consciousness is fascinating, but can seem inward and cold. I think that it’s others, the love of others , the love for others, that makes us us. My nephrostomy bandage has to be changed twice a week by my Soulmate. It protects the little tube going into my left kidney from my back. It can be sore. On Wednesday after my Soulmate put on the new bandage she simply placed a hand on my back and I was flooded with warmth and love.

Such simple , beautiful things we are.



Author: paul

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