Ah Yes I Remember It Well

“I looked at the Rubens and Rembrandts
I liked the John Singer Sargents
He told me he liked Turner
Never have I turned since then
No, never have I turned to any other man”

  • (The Art Teacher – Rufus Wainwright )

Someone asked for help with a business thing, and I said yes. They wanted to do something different with their business and I had a think about it and then agreed to go and meet them and explain what I’d do if I were them. So I did. I met the three managers in their office.

Everything went well, you can just tell sometimes that people get what you’re saying.
And then it happened.
It was during my explanation/presentation/Ted Talk that I made a passing reference to Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and got blank stares.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood ? Relax ? Two Tribes ? The Power Of Love ? Three #1’s in a row, 1 million advance sales for their debut album “Welcome To The Pleasure Dome” ? No ?”

They looked at each other, then back to me. No.

And then it hit me.

They were probably toddlers, or maybe not even born when all of this greatness occurred…1984.

And for the briefest of moments I doubted myself. How could I possibly give them any advice when we had such a gap in cultural points of reference ?
For reasons that will , hopefully, be apparent in the Spring, I also showed them a picture of Big Tom, and was about to explain who he was, but I could see from their smiles that they knew who he was.
“Seriously ?” I chided “ You didn’t know anything about FGTH, one of the best selling and influential bands of the 80’s, but you know who Big Tom , who’s last Irish #1 was in 1974, is ???”

So, it wasn’t an age thing after all, they just liked the Country ‘n’ Irish genre, or Cowshite as I affectionately call it.
Sometimes I think I live in a parallel universe.

Or maybe it’s just that I look at things differently, or simply remember things differently than others.

In the particular instance above, the guys were sufficiently impressed to ask me to work with them on a new project and to do it in the way I outlined. Then they asked the question that all good/honest/creative/generous/cat-owning/god-fearing/music-lovers hate.

“How much would you charge us ?”


In our course this year….
“Oh did you do a course this year ,Paul ?”
I did Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship, no less. In Trinity. I may have mentioned that once or twice before.
My Soul Mate’s favourite joke now is :

“How do you know if someone went to Trinity ?
They tell you.”

 So, on our course this exact thing came up, our tutor, course-leader/Svengali , Dr.Karl Thomas had advised to reply “What’s your budget ?” and then answer accordingly. Last week, in preparation for my meeting I’d contacted my classmate and all round comedy genius, Anne Gildea, to see if she’d maybe help out with part of my proposal and I asked her what she’d want for it.
“What’s your budget ?” she replied without pausing for breath.
I replied with something rude that perhaps took the name of your Saviour and Dr.Thomas in vain.
I just couldn’t see myself being that confident.
Over the last few years I’ve been asked by numerous companies for help or advice and I’ve always helped if I could or directed them to someone else and introduced them. I’ve never asked for a penny. I have asked that they bring chocolate biscuits with them, and generally they have.

One company was so impressed with the help my brother John and I gave them that they sent us each a voucher for Nevin Maguire’s fantabulous restaurant, one sent me a case of a rather cheeky Rioja, and another company sent us Donegal pottery mugs with our names on them, well my name, they thought John was Martin, but luckily we do have a Martin , and he loves that mug. Other companies that I’ve spent a lot of time helping simply remember me in their prayers…at least I assume they do.. as they never acknowledged it in any other way. A number of companies that our local LEO office have either asked me to advise , or told their client to ask me directly for help seem to have assumed that I’m a paid consultant by LEO. I’m not. It doesn’t matter, I like to help…and yes, mostly because I love the sound of my own voice, a captive audience…and chocolate biscuits.

But this was different. This project would take some decent time and would benefit greatly from all of the mistakes I’ve made in the past and can help them avoid. I also know other great people who they can work with because I’ve worked with them in the past and know how incredibly brilliant their own creativity is.

My Aunty Anne passed away far too early a few years ago. She lived in Dundalk. I was at the wake and my cousin Geraldine came looking for me saying that there was a gentleman from Monaghan ,who no one else seemed to know, who had arrived to pay his respects. He had asked if any of the Bonds were there, as he knew we were also from Monaghan. I brought him a cup of tea and sat down to chat. I asked how did he know Aunty Anne and he said that he’d only met her once or twice many years before when she had visited Dernasell, her father, my grandfather, Frank Sally’s farm in Monaghan. He told me that he remembered one time that Granda had sown potatoes in the whole front field, 5 acres, and that when it came time to pick them he asked all of his old neighbours to help.

I told him I remembered that day. I think I was 3. I remember it clearly as Mam, her sisters Anne and Margaret and Granny were in the old farmhouse kitchen making tea and sandwiches all day and I had a Basildon Bond letter pad, with blue pages, and a pencil, and I was so impressed with the pictures I was drawing that I kept getting in everyones’ way showing them my creations.
He said he remembered me too, as I was always with Granda when he visited Monaghan from Dundalk. And then he told me that that day Granda had paid all of the kids who had helped. I smiled and nodded; sure what else would he do.

“No, he paid us real money.”

The visitor stressed ‘real’, and he went on to say that it was the first time anyone had ever given him money. All of the neighbours were accustomed to helping each other with no expectation other than that they would be helped in turn. This obviously meant a lot to this guy. He had felt appreciated and it had never left him. Here he was at my Aunty’s wake, where he knew no one else other than me, to pay his respects, because this lady’s father had shown him , what I know to Granda would have been a tiny amount of, appreciation almost 50 years earlier.

That just popped into my head, sorry.

But I think of it sometimes. We are appreciated more than we know.

Jeepers, I’ve just had another thought , sorry.

Back in 1984 I was in the Holy Ghosts and after we’d been in for a while we were encouraged to do some voluntary work in the community and I opted to help out with the Simon Community, in their house on Summerhill. This house was manned by three live-in  volunteers and sheltered a few of the older homeless men on a more regular basis. I volunteered to stay in the house on a Friday evening from 7pm-11pm to allow one of the live-in volunteers to have a few hours off. There was a girl, a little older than me, who volunteered as well so, we had us two teenagers and one of the full time volunteers to look after 4-6 elderly gentlemen. The girl was Louise, from Donegal, and she was studying in UCD. We’d both arrive on our bikes each Friday evening, help out and then head off into the smoggy Dublin winter night. We didn’t chat very much, as we were there to help the old men. When I say ‘help’ it was mostly making tea and listening to their stories. They had great stories and could drink gallons of tea.

I think we had volunteered to do 8 Friday nights and it was only really on the 6th Friday  that Louise and I properly chatted. She’d got a puncture and we walked the bikes to O’Connell so that she could get the bus. I think that was the first time she knew that I was training to be a priest. Anyway , we chatted more the next Friday night with the old men and one of them asked if we were a couple. We both went red and I said I was with the Holy Ghosts and he chuckled and said “Sure that doesn’t stop ye !”. We laughed.

The next Friday night was our last Friday volunteering together and when we finished and said our goodbyes to the old men we walked to O’Connell St. chatting away about music, this and that. When we reached O’Connell St. she asked if I’d like to go get something to eat, and I was embarrassed to say that I didn’t have any money, vow of poverty and all that. She said she’d treat me.

We chained our bikes to the railings of the toilets that used to be in the middle of the street and went into Burger King. I had a Whopper , fries and a Coke. I savoured every morsel. We laughed and chatted about everything and nothing. I felt happy in a way that I hadn’t in ages.
It was midnight when we left, unchained the bikes and I held out my hand to say thank you and goodbye. She laughed, kissed me on the cheek and hugged me. She stepped back after a moment and said “Sorry. Good luck.” And then hurried away.

I can remember her now ,her hair in a small ponytail, the jumper she wore, the jeans, the runners.

I think I knew that evening that I wouldn’t be a priest.

If I ever met her again I’d say thanks. She changed my life and has never known it.

Where was I ?

Yes, real money.

“How much would you charge us ?” The non-FGTH-aware people asked.

I couldn’t ask what their budget was, I’d just told them what their budget was, apart from my contribution.

And so…

“How much would you charge us ?”

 I answered.

“Best money we’ll ever spend.” They answered.

Damn right !

Appreciate others.

Know that you are appreciated.

I appreciate you ,

And most importantly of all, appreciate yourself.

Got there in the end.

Thank you.


P.S. We binged on Queens Gambit this week, it is CLASS , and consequently have been listening to a lot of 60’s music too. This is brilliant , Tut Tut Tut Tut by Gillian Hill

P.P.S. A number of people have asked that I don’t include the latest chapter as they either want to wait to read the whole thing in one go and don’t want to miss one, or they just don’t like it. If you do want the latest chapter just email me back.

Author: paul

Leave a Reply

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