Baby I’m Amazed

Baby I’m Amazed

“Maybe I’m amazed at the way you’re with me all the time
And maybe I’m afraid of the way I leave you, maybe I’m amazed
At the way you help me sing my song, you right me when I’m wrong
Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you”

Paul McCartney

In the olden days, before Spotify and t’internet , if you heard a bit of a song on the radio, but missed the artist and title, the only way I found to try and track it down was to go into a record shop and trawl through the cds, looking for a song title that sounded like it was one of the lyrics.

I’d heard McCartney sing this song at the tail end of a BBC2 documentary as I flicked though the channels one evening in the 90’s in our first house in Clane. Again this was before you could rewind or download a programme, so all I had to go on was what I heard, and of, course I heard him sing ‘Baby I’m amazed…’ which is in fact what he sang. But that was not , it turned out what he called the song.

The next Saturday I went to HMV in Liffey Valley and went to the CDs and Paul McCartney’s section, and discovered that he used Baby in a lot of songs. But I loved that song , so bought the most likely three cds with ‘Baby’ related songs on then. None of them were correct.

The next Saturday I went back again and widened my search to include the word ‘Amazed’ or Amazing and the Wings albums..and bought another three CDS. This I might add was the golden age of CDs, and each one cost £12.99 !

I went home and tore off the impossibly tight cellophane wrappers and then skipped through all of the tracks. None were right.

I began to think that I’d imagined the song. Maybe he hadn’t written it at all.

The next Saturday I went back to HMV. The McCartney section was much bigger and there were three or four copies of each album, rather than the single copies I’d seen in the previous two weeks. This time I bought Wings Greatest Hits, and the two oldest ones, that hadn’t been there before Ram, and McCartney, his first solo album.

At the counter I asked where all the new albums and copies had come from.

“Our Saturday sales of McCartney stuff have been going up over the last two weeks. At first we thought he was dead, but it seems that there’s a die hard group of fans around here , so head office thought they’d offer more.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him.

I went home, put on ‘McCartney’ and there it was ‘MAYBE I’m amazed’ !

I must have played that song 50 times in a row. I was so happy to have found it. It still gives me goose bumps. The other two CDs are still in their wrappers , along with the other 6 , near mint condition McCartney cds.

What brought this back to mind this week was the occasion of our Silver Wedding Anniversary. A mere twenty five of your earth years ago my SoulMate and I got married. I’ve written about that glorious occasion before, and will include it in the P.S.sss below.

Over the years we’ve always tried to go away somewhere to celebrate our wedding anniversaries. We had a penniless trip to Paris, a wonderful adventure in newly not-communist Prague, and wonderful stays in eye-wateringly expensive hotels.

The habit was broken by Covid, and this year I have to restrict my movements because of the chemotherapy.

We gave each other cards , both of us stated on each other’s that it only felt like yesterday.

I posted a lot of our wedding album photos on social media during the day, and we’d say to each other, “This time 25 years ago we were …leaving the church…arriving at Cabra Castle…getting photographed to within an inch of our lives…having a minute to ourselves…starting the meal…making speeches….”

Around the time that , 25 years ago, we were taking the floor for our first dance as a married couple. It was Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful Tonight’. We’d picked that song because it was slow enough to hide the fact that I cannot dance to save my life, but mainly because we’d danced to it at my SoulMate’s Debs in 1984.

Twenty Five years later, at practically the same time, I’m lying on our bed and my Soulmate is replacing my nephrostomy bandage , a delicate and painful operation for us both.

My Soulmate is a gentle soul and says ‘Sorry’ repeatedly as I wince while the old bandage is removed. She’s much more gentle that the nurses who’ve performed the same task, which I’m immeasurably grateful for.

“This time 25 years ago we were taking to the floor.” She says, trying to distract me from the upcoming tricky bit.

Yeah, can you belive it’s..SWEET DIVINE JESUS ! Are you using a rake back there !!!

That’s what I said in my head, but it may simply have been expressed verbally as ‘ gnnnnrrrrghhhhfffftttmmmmppppp…..’

After a little more weeping and gnashing of teeth I calmed down and all I could hear in my head was McCartney singing “Yeah, maybe I’m amazed, I’m amazed with you, ooh ooh” …with heavy and repeated emphasis on the ooh oohs. Now that I think about that too, all my SoulMate may have heard were a few mournful sounding ‘ooh oohs’.

Yesterday I was back up in Beaumont for another chemo session and the nurse asked if she could check on the nephrostomy. While checking the bandage she asked :

“Did the public health nurse do this ?”

No , my wife did.

“Very neat, is she a nurse ?”

No, she’s just excellent at everything.

“You lucky thing.”

I know.

I texted my SoulMate to tell her what the nurse had said. She asked if they were serving me gin.

On our way home we stopped at the Applegreen and I treated myself to 9 nuggets and a large fries from Burger King. When we started off again we accidently tuned the radio to Q102’s ‘The Love Zone’ where they seemed to be playing 80’s power ballads…we knew all the words and sang along. As we got further away from Dublin it started to fade out so I went on to Spotify and we roared along to :

Bananarama’s ‘Robert deNiro’s Waiting’

ABC’s “All of My Heart”

Ultravox ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’

OMD’s ‘Locomotion’

Howard Jones ‘ Like To Get To Know You Well’

Thompson Twins ‘Doctor ! Doctor!’

Alison Moyet’s ‘Love Resurrection’

And  a few more. Didn’t matter how terribly some of them have aged, and , in all honesty a few of them weren’t great even back when they came out. But we knew the words to all of them…almost.. and she only laughed a little when I introduced more Ooohs than Bananarama had intended.

I told her that I’d listened to Llyod Cole a lot this week. I always think he’s written the songs about her. I love Rattlesnakes. I played that one , and we involuntarily sang along as we knew all the words.

It was only after we got home, and looking back on them, they were all from 1984, when we started dating.

On Tuesday night, when we went to bed, and after I’d harrumphed about with strategically placed pillows so I don’t rupture anything during the night, and settled down to sleep.

 I love you something rotten Mrs. Bond.

“I know.”

She dozed off. I listened to book on my headphones…Dan Jones’ Powers & Thrones – A New History Of The Middle Ages… I think I dozed off and woke around 2.00 am listening to the history of the Byzantines. I switched it off, and my thoughts drifted back to this time 25 years ago.

The band and dj had finished around 1.30am and everyone headed down to the residents bar, festooned with suits of armour, family crests, and general, ye olde castley things. It was jammed and the craic was, literally mighty. We had an eclectic mix of guests. A lot of my friends from Skechers UK,  and my  Soulmates work colleagues from Peter Mark on Grafton St. in Dublin, a number of whom now pop up as celebrity hairdressers/stylists on RTE,  had bever been to a ‘country wedding’ before, by which they meant ‘outside of Dublin’, but they were having great fun with the lack of licensing laws and general mayhem.

Something else, it transpired, they weren’t familiar with was the ‘tradition’ of a few ye olde ballads sung at the bar to hushed attention. I was never overly fond of this part of a wedding myself, but the Aunties and Uncles seemed to thrive on it, and they usually tired themselves out after 5 or 6 songs.

At around 2.30am my SoulMates’s Dad, Jimmy, called out “Ciunas ! Ciunas! We’ll sing a song.” Ciunas is Irish for ‘hush’ or ‘quiet’. All the locals hushed, and the Dubs did eventually after being hissed at by my Soulmate’s Aunties and Uncles, an intimidating lot…especially the Aunties. A lady duly started into ‘Carrickfergus’. It may have been something else, but all of those songs sound like Carrickfergus to me at 2.30am.

My Soulmate’s friend , Stephen, was unaware of any of this, as he was making his way back from the toilet. Stephen was the leading stylist in Grafton St, and got us into Lillies, The Pink Elephant, The Pod, anywhere we wanted, because he was cheeky, brilliant ,and irreverent wherever he went. On one occasion Stephen, Lynda ,my SoulMate and I met for Sunday lunch in the Boulevard Café on Exchequer St. in Dublin and ended up having 5 bottles of Champagne, before going to The Chocolate Bar, and playing the longest game of pool by four incredibly happy people, who took aaages to play a single shot, and thought it was the most hilarious thing ever to drape ourselves over the table when it was someone elses’s turn… while drinking Mississippi Mud Pies…anyway, that was Stephen.

He came back into the bar paused for a moment, looked around , leaned back  and roared at the top of his lungs “JAYSUS ! THE PLACE IS HAUNTED !” before collapsing in tucks of laughter at his own joke. The place erupted.

Carrickfergus was the only song sung that night.

Sorry , half of ‘Carrickfergus’, was the only song sung that night.

My Soulmate and I went to bed around 3.30am, and may have been the first to leave. A number of our guests went directly from the bar to breakfast. And some of them even tried to play golf on the Castles’ nine hole course after breakfast.

I wrote on the 25th Anniversary card I made for my SoulMate :

“Second only to today, the 5th April 1997 was the best day of my life”



P.S. This is ‘Maybe I’m Amazed

P.P.S. This is Rattle snakes, which was written about my Soulmate

P.P.S This is an older recollection of the day that I gave at TenX9 in Blefast.

A Grand Relaxing Day

We first went out on a date when we were 16 , and apart from  the odd interruption, joining the priesthood, moving away to London, dating other people , moving to Galway, we were together pretty much consistently and got engaged when we were 24 , and then we took a very relaxed approach to actually getting married, finally getting around to it when we were 30.

When I told a work colleague that we were getting married he said “Congratulations, I didn’t know Eileen was pregnant, when’s she due ?”

“She’s not pregnant.”

“Really ?” he replied “How posh !”

We were living in Kildare, but we wanted to get married at home in Monaghan, the True Centre of The Universe. So we did. Traditionally the couple gets married in the bride’s home parish, which would have been Monaghan Town itself, the actual centre of the True Centre Of The Universe, but for reasons I can’t recall we decided to get married in Tydavnet , my parish.

We booked our wedding reception in Cabra Castle, in Kingscourt. The manager there asked how many people we were inviting. Ours was a small wedding by Monaghan standards, an intimate gathering of 196 people. The manager reassured us that , generally , 25% decline the invitation due clashing holidays/commitments, or acts of God.

We were relaxed either way…which was just as well , as we actually had 198 people show up.

Eileen organized her dress , the flowers, the ceremony, the band, the menu, the hotel reservations for guests, the honeymoon, the invitations, and the cake. All I had to organize were my own shoes. This was no problem, as I worked in the shoe trade, I was the Irish agent for Skechers at the time and dealt on a daily basis with the best shoe shops in the country, any one of whom would have been only too delighted to  send me any shoes I desired from any brand you can imagine. So I was very relaxed about getting them. So relaxed in fact that I forgot, and ended up buying anything I could find in my size the day before. A minor detail.

A few days before the wedding we left our house in Kildare and went home, Eileen spending the next few days in her family home, me in mine. Visitors called with well wishes. On the night before our wedding all of our friends gathered in The Squealing Pig and we thought it would be an awful shame that we missed out on the craic, so we joined them.

Many people commented on the fact that we shouldn’t be meeting the night before our wedding, but we were very relaxed about all that. I think Eileen left the bar at midnight-ish , I went home with my brothers at 2.00 am. The wedding wasn’t until 1pm , so naturally we stayed up and played pool and drank whiskey until 4.00am. The next morning I was rudely woken at 11.30, but then had breakfast in bed and a bath.

Got dressed leisurely , and headed over to the church for 1pm.

We were to be married by two priests, Fr.Joe from my parish, whose church we were getting married in, was the co-celebrant, and Fr.Larry, who was the parish priest from town, Eileen’s parish. Fr.Larry is now the bishop of Clogher, and yes, before you ask, it was as a direct result of marrying us…I imagine.

My brothers John and Stephen were my best man and groomsman and we entered the empty church and proceeded to the altar where we ran through again where each of us was to stand at various points. My brothers were more nervous than I was. Fr.Larry came out and told a few jokes to put the boys at ease, and we were all relaxed and having a good time when it happened… I looked around and saw a church full of people smiling up at me.

“Oh Sweet Divine Jesus, this is all real ! This is all happening now !”

I felt myself wobble, I needed to sit down.

I took my place in the front row, John and Stephen sitting either side of me, telling me I was going to be fine. My head was resting on the handrail, I was concentrating on breathing. Mam and Dad were sitting behind us, getting concerned. They passed forward a packet of Throaties…I ate 5 immediately. I looked around to say thanks to Dad and he immediately said to John and Stephen, “Get him outside now before he faints!”

I’d only ever fainted twice before, as a child, and oddly both times at mass, once in this very Church. I’d always joked that it was a low boredom threshold , maybe God was punishing me now for those jibes…She can be funny like that.

I was helped outside by Dad , John and Stephen. I sat on a small wall beside a side door, my head between my knees, breathing heavily. Stephen went to the front corner of the Church so that he could keep an eye out for Eileen’s arrival. John and Dad kept saying soothing words, I think, I just kept hearing a rumbling noise in my ears which changed slightly in pitch as I breathed…

“She’s here ! Get back in !” Stephen shouted as he ran back towards us. I snapped to attention and regretted it immediately. Everything was brighter, pleasantly so for a second then blindingly so…and then…And then somehow I’m standing at the front of the Church facing Fr.s Joe and Larry , holding on to the handrail in front so tightly that my knuckles are white. “Nearly there “ John whispers.

“Don’t faint, don’t faint, don’t faint, don’t faint…” I mutter under my breath. I step out into the aisle. 

“Don’t faint, don’t faint, don’t faint, don’t faint…” I continue.

Eileen kisses her Dad on the cheek and then turns to me.

“Jesus !” she whispers.

She holds my hand.

“Don’t faint, don’t faint, don’t faint, don’t faint…”

She squeezes my hand, as we sit down.

“Don’t faint, don’t…” Wait , I’m smiling, I’m OK.

I gradually calm down. We make it through the readings, Fr.Larry’s homily, charming and about us…This guy will go far , I think.

And then we’re standing to make our vows.

Fr. Larry is holding the microphone to his mouth “Do you Paul, take Eileen to be your lawfully wedded wife ?”

As I lean forward to the microphone to answer, he tilts it towards me and “I DO!” booms around the church. “There’s no doubting that answer” Larry quips, there is much laughter….he’s a bishop now you know.

Eileen says she does too.

We kiss.

Larry says , Ahem loudly, we stop kissing.

As we sit down everyone can hear my sigh of relief. We hold hands. I relax.

Communion, signing the register , applause, photos, photos ,photos.

We’re in an old car, a vintage car no less, on our way to Cabra Castle…very , very slowly. This delightful old car will not cross 30mph. We don’t care, we’re married and we have the world’s tiniest bottle of champagne. We relax.

The car starts to make loud disconcerting noises, our chauffeur, curses loudly. Our guests start to overtake us. It starts to rain. The single tiny windscreen wiper makes it halfway across the windscreen and then stops. Our cursing chauffer pulls over and gets out with sheets of newspaper and mops the screen. He gets back in, we drive another mile and he pulls in again, to clear the screen. I am no longer relaxed.

Eileen squeezes my hand “Relax, everyone’s having a drink at the hotel, as long as we’re there by six and they get fed they’ll all be fine. We’re not in any rush.”

And we weren’t….which was just as well, it took us another hour to get the 10 miles to the hotel.

We got there eventually, everyone had just assumed that we were getting photographs taken and hadn’t missed us at all. My brother John was actually hoping that we’d changed our minds and gone straight to the airport, so he wouldn’t have to make his speech. He looked even worse than I had in the Church. I gave him the last of the Throaties and told him all will be well.

The photograph shows how well his speech went.

He relaxed.

We relaxed.

Everyone relaxed.

We went to bed at 3.30am….we were the first ones to leave the bar. It was a grand relaxing day.

Author: paul

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