After …and Before

After….and Before

Call me the wind
Call me the breeze
Call me the north
The south, the west, the east

(Call me the earth
Call me the stars)
Hear my call
Hello, lo, lo, lo
Lo, lo, lo, lo

  • Simons / Rowlands / Orton

Yesterday I completed my 12th and final Chemolympic trial. I brought up some Dinkin’s cream buns and a buttercrust apple tart for the staff, and a packet of Muji pens for a nurse called Jenny who’d admired mine. I had a CT scan booked as well while there.

A number of the nurses commented on the fact that it was my last treatment, wishing me well for the future, and , kindly, saying they hoped they never saw me again.

And then I left.

And that was it.

No balloons.

My Soulmate met me at the front door of the hospital, took my rucksack , held my hand, and , as we walked back to the car, asked “Are you OK, you seem a bit down ?”.

I think I was.

It was the end of the treatments, but like the real Olympic trials, there aren’t any medals yet, they just qualify you for the main event. My operation awaits…after the results of the scan.

By the time we got to Applegreen and I’d had post chemo treat of  Burger King’s divine six nugget super meal with garlic mayo dip, and a Coke bigger than my head, comfortable sensations started to return… gratitude and optimism !

I’d just been scanned in a million euro Star Trek machine !

I’d just received incredible care on the Day Oncology Ward.

I’d just received life saving chemicals.

I’d just received steroids !

And I’d just had Burger King’s divine six nugget super meal with garlic mayo dip, and a Coke bigger than my head.

I now pass back into the care of my other consultant, Dilly, who knows what she’s doing , and who I’m fortunate to have been referred to. So , really, I’ve nothing to be concerned about.

I’m wildly optimistic.

It reminds me of those heady teenage years when we would go to The Hillgrove on a Saturday night, with 3,000 other souls, crammed into a nightclub venue with a license for 999 people, all looking for romance,…or a fight, or both.

The Hillgrove popped back into my mind this week in response to someone tweeting a question about nightclubs you went to that are gone now.

The Hillgrove hotel is still there, but the nightclub, sometimes called Suzy Q’s, mostly simply referred to as The Grove, is long gone. At one point we would go every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night. It was also open on a Sunday, but with a “cowshite” band, so we avoided that one.

Wednesday night was, sort of, for couples, or people hoping to be couples.

Friday night was mostly for working people celebrating the end of another week.

And Saturday night was all of the above, plus people returning from college for the weekend, kids , like us, going out for their one night in the week.

When we went for the first few times we were there at 10pm , as soon as it opened, in case we missed anything. Nothing really happened, including no one dancing, until around 10.30pm and they played Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’ and all the girls from The Hill would headbang and the night would begin.

After a beer or two we’d pluck up the courage to dance when we heard the first beats of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ and wondered at the crowd leaving the dance floor just as we joined it, and then the cold realisation that Looby Smyth was the only person we knew that could dance to Blue Monday…and we were not Looby Smyth. And then the colder harsher realisation that ‘Blue Monday’ was a long playing 12” ,which the DJ had put on so he could go to the toilet, and which we were now trapped .

By midnight the place was jammed, the dancefloor was jammed and everyone unattached, or simply not dancing was circling the floor in a rolling ruck, until someone would half look at you, and you’d smile nonchalantly, and move past and then circle the whole dancefloor again like a lap of Rollerball, so you could casually ask them out to dance…if you could find them.

The perfect time to ask someone out to dance was two songs before the first slow set, that way you could simply carry on dancing into the comforting melee of accidental close body frisking that was the ‘slow set’. The hive mind of The Grove could sense the approach of the slow set and one song out from it girls who had no intention of getting mauled made a hasty retreat to the toilet, or at least they said that’s where they were going so they couldn’t dance with you, in hindsight that ladies toilet would have to have been equal in size to the dancefloor itself to cater for all the girls that declined my offer of a dance, if they had been going there. But knowing that anyone asking them to dance now was simply thinking of the sweaty Pleasure Dome that was about to erupt on the dancefloor, who could blame them.

The slow set in The Grove always started with Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsburg’s asthmatically erotic ‘Je T’aime’ Moi Non Plus’. She deserved that handbag, God bless her. This was usually followed by George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’ which is perhaps one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard ,and always struck me as a strange choice for a slow set. No one else seemed perturbed , as they were busy beatin’ into each other…or standing looking forlornly at the others beatin’ into each other.

The fight usually took place in between the two slow sets. I’m not sure if it was rampant testosterone in search of an outlet, or some people just fancied a fight on a Saturday night. A couple of lads would start giving a few digs, the crowd would move away, the bouncers would move in , separate the lads, give them a hiding, throw them out , and then ban them for a couple of weeks.

After giving up quickly once the second slow set started, we’d head off, not waiting for the lights to go up and everyone stood to attention, even if they were mid-shift, for the national anthem. At least we’d beat the queue for the chip van at the Cathedral.

And then , the very next Saturday, we’d head back again, convinced by nothing than each other’s blind enthusiasm, and hormones, that this Saturday would be different.

It wasn’t.

Neither was the next one…or the one after that…

But then it happened.

Someone smiled back at you. She was still there as you hurtled around the lap of the dancefloor, and she had a robust bladder and wasn’t hurrying away to the Tardis Toilet, and she said ‘Yes’ she did want to dance with you.

And you danced.

And danced.

And you’re still dancing.


All will be well.



P.S. This is Beth Orton’s ‘Call Me The Breeze

P.P.S This is a snippet of a story/novel I’m working on..if you’re reading the email newsletter..if not , you’re   now wondering what it is…and why didn’t I sign up to the newsletter…

Author: paul

3 thoughts on “After …and Before

  1. G’morning Paul, thanks for the giggle as I recalled my own passage of youth journey at the ‘grove. Jackie Crawford was our man on the decks, then Leslie Crawford ere our Tiesto back in the day. Wishing you well on the journey of recovery, and many more stories!!

  2. Many nights sneaking out to go to The Grove! Walked home to Ballybay one night from the Grove. You forgot Two out of three ain’t bad, Zoom, Gonna wrote a classic… for the ‘are you dancing?’ Set. X

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