Another New Day

“Take from my heart a splinter
Carrying wood for the coming winter
Spied her in the pile
There all the while
Leave me beguiled
Part of me”

( Cass McCombs ‘Absentee’)

This blog is late….I blame Laura.

We had an early start ahead of us on Thursday, due in Beaumont Hospital for a review with my wonderful consultant, Ms. Little, at 8.00am, so we went to bed early on Wednesday night. I have a habit of falling asleep listening to an audio book, and currently I’m listening to Shelley’s ‘Church History in plain language’, which is interesting, but read in a dull monotone so I do eventually fall asleep.

I went asleep listening to chapter 13, ‘Exiles from Life : Beginnings of Monasticism’. Giving up everything and moving to the desert to live alone in contemplation seems to have started in Egypt in the fourth century. The book said that Anthony was the first hermit monk, going out into the desert to live alone, but I already knew that Paulus was the first monk, having headed out into the same desert 100 years earlier, and that the only reason that Anthony became a monk at all was because he had a dream about Paulus and went looking for him.

Monks lived a very long time, apparently, and Anthony found Paulus, aged 117, and they had a conversation.

“What are you looking for Anthony ?” Paulus asked.

“How did you know my name ?” Anthony replied.

“I was in your dream, so it must be you.”

“Why did you send me a dream ?”

“My owner felt that it was time for someone else to take my place, and here you are.”

“Your owner ?”

“My owner.”

“Your owner ?”




I woke up, Tuna was sitting on my chest. It took me a moment to realise where I was.

Miaow ?

I looked at my phone …2.36am…FFS !

Miaow ?

I hoofed her off the bed…

My Soulmate’s alarm went off at 5.15am.

“Did you hear Tuna ?” I said sleepily.

“The McMahons heard Tuna !”

“Why didn’t you get rid of her ?”

“It was my turn to pretend to be asleep.”

We got up, had proper tea, and headed off to that Dublin.

The hospital is now back to pre-Covid operational status. The temporary desks checking that you had an appointment are gone…and everyone is given an 8.00 am appointment.

I was in no hurry.

At these moments I have Schrodinger’s cancer, in that until I meet Ms.Little, I feel great and don’t believe that I have cancer, but already on a file in her office, on her desk, are the results of my most recent x-rays, CT scans and blood tests, which may, or may not say that it’s back.

Being wildly optimistic, I always believe that I’m fine, so don’t worry…until I’m sitting there.

This time , due to Paulus The Hermit, Anthony The Great, Tuna, and my Soulmate, I was so tired that I actually dozed off while waiting . I know this , because my Soulmate took a photo of me , asleep in the waiting room, and then woke me to show me.

We hadn’t even sat down in Ms.Little’s office before she told us that everything was fine.

She thanked me for sending her my marathon medal, said I was a model patient. She did say other things , but my take away was that I was a model patient.

I’ve never been a ‘model’ anything before.

We asked some questions, my Soulmate’s were serious, mine related to where did she hang my medal, and should there be chapters about me in Urology text books in the future. My Soulmate got answers, I got tolerated.

Arrangements were made for future scans, x-rays and bloodtests, but they were all in the future, so no need to worry, until 5 months, 6 days and 23 hours time.

We headed back down the road, where I , like Laura, would be late for something.

The truly wonderful Dee, and Audrey, from Creative Monaghan were hosting a showcase event in the Iontas Theatre in Castleblayney.

It was due to start at 10.00 am, and by the time I arrived, at 11.20am, 9 people were due to have spoken about projects they’d worked on this year with Creative Monaghan…I made it in time to see the 4th spaeaker, Liam Bradley , talk about the Monaghan Murals Project.

It sounded great, was well presented, and detailed the collaboration between the Museum, the Patrick Kavanagh Centre, Monaghan Tidy Towns, local businesses and artists. He also mentioned hating Kavanagh while at school, and only appreciating him later in life, which rang true for me as well. He also said it was a real delight to be able to ‘enhance’ our local bus station with it’s Soviet era café, with a stunning wildlife mural.

Darren McCreesh gave a great talk about the Kavanagh Centre, which myself and our Jake spent a whole afternoon in a few years ago, and it’s continuing spindling out into the community and weaving itself into our whole arts scene. I was only sorry that I hadn’t worn my Warhol-esque Kavanagh print sweatshirt.

Such was the passionate enthusiasm from Aisling O’Reilly for her Music Generation project, that a lifetime’s disdain for anything involving a flute and a fiddle, left me in a Damascene like conversion. She talked about her joy at seeing so many young and old people getting involved in expressing themselves through music, and highlighted the work Michael Rooney had done with the CrossBorder Youth Folk Orchestra, which was stunning !

Karen McCague spoke about the Creative Cafes Project , and Pamela Kerr and Francis Verling gave a presentation on digital creatives, and all sang the praises of Dee, Audrey and Creative Monaghan.

David Maine, who , as a side gig manages the Iontas Theatre, when he’s not writing plays, producing plays, acting in plays and hosting Fighting Words in Monaghan, talked with wonder and awe about the arts community in this place.

I had missed my friend Francis McCarron’s story telling piece, which I take for granted was brilliant, as always, and people told me in the break, that I’d missed something special in the talks about Ceol Connected, Stray Maker, and the incredible Orlagh Meegan Gallagher’s ‘Arts In Motion Project’.

But perhaps like that original wedding coordinator, the best wine had been saved for last, and Declan Gorman talked about the Colorful County project, it was EPIC. Bringing plays into communities, making communities into players, it was wonderful from beginning to end. And he said that he was glad to have lived long enough to see arts being appreciated in his own county, and to see the vast amounts of love and support engendered for participants, facilitators and creatives though this Monaghan zeitgeist…or beginning of one.

Of course , as the event involved Creatives, everything overran, technology imploded on contact, and no one observed the timetable.

And it was all the better for it.

I left with an extra skip in my step.

My Soulmate was reading when I got back to the car.

I hadn’t even said anything when she said “You enjoyed that.”

“How’d you know ?”

“You’re glowing.”

“I’m sorry for keeping you. Everyone spoke for longer than they were scheduled to, and they broke all of the computers, you know what creatives are like.”

“Boy do I know !”

Toodles ,


P.S. This is gorgeous, like you, Absentee by Cass McCombs.

Author: paul

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