Better or Worse

“Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.”


“No Friday blog ?

Have you elevated it to a subscriber service ?

You OK ?”

Yes. I am very fine. Very fine indeed.

The reason for the break in transmission :

This time last week I was in Dublin for an eye injection, which sounds a lot worse than it actually is. Your eye is numbed by drops , so you only feel a slight pressure which lasts seconds and then you’re done. Before the eye stabbing takes place I’m examined by a lovely nurse who’s office is on the 5th floor of the hospital. There is always a large seagull on her windowsill because she gives it some of her lunch everyday. I only realised this on my third or fourth visit.

“Is that the same seagull as last time ?” I asked.

“Yes !” she answered, happy that I’d noticed. “He’s my friend, keeps me company every day.”

“What’s his name ?”


“Pardon ?”

“Tagak. It’s Tagalog for seagull, I’m from the Phillipines originally.”

“So you’ve called your seagull, ‘Seagull’ ? I said, laughing.

“I hope I don’t forget to put the right drops in your eye before the doctor gives you the injection today….”

“Sorry, I just thought it was funny.”

“What would you call your seagull ?”

“Jonathan Livingston Seagull.”

“That is a stupid name. I’ll stick with Tagak.”

Each to their own.

She then asked me to cover my left eye and read the chart. Whenever I reach this point in my regular visits to my optician, Milo, he then puts a contraption in front of my eyes with various lenses in side that he can switch between to determine what new lenses I may need. And each time it changes he asks “Is that worse or better ?” and selects the next lens accordingly.

It occurred to me this week that the chart itself is never ‘better or worse’, and I’m never ‘better or worse’ its just the bit between us that changes.

After my eye injection I have to wander around for a couple of hours until the blurring subsides, so I sauntered down to Declan & Donal’s Deli on Bolton St. for some lunch. I’d never been to it before, but had heard that it was good.

It was very good.

I ordered a club sandwich, a coffee, a packet of crisps, and a bottle of water, and the chap wrote my name on the order.

“That’ll be ready in 2 minutes Paul.”

“Cheers.” I replied, a little chuffed that he knew my name, even though I’d just told him and he’d written it down.

 The guy taking the payments told me that the water was behind me in the fridge and I got myself a bottle of water and placed it on the counter.

“The water on the bottom shelf is twice that size ,Paul,  but only 10 cents dearer.”

I said thanks and swapped them, but smiled from ear to ear, that he’d used my name. And again I knew that he had it written down in front of him on my order, but it still felt nice.

When my order was ready ,I paid and as he handed me my receipt he said “Thanks Paul, see you again.”

It’s a tiny little place, but there had been three people ahead of me ordering and when I left there were 6 people waiting to order.

The food was excellent, the coffee delicious, but it was the nice way they treated everyone, and used all of our names that will mean I go back again.

Someone else may have gone there and taken it for granted that they were just using my name to differentiate my order from the next guys, and it meant nothing more, but it made me feel that it was my deli, and they appreciated my custom. That’s better.  

My Soulmate sometimes says, lovingly, that my blogs can read like a diary of my week. And when I bumped into my old friend, and the People’s Poet, Colm Keegan, recently he made a similar comment on my writing sometimes turning into a series of “….and then…”s

Anyway, on Tuesday I went to Coral Leisure with my friend Joe to support the coffee morning they were running in support of Crocus and we bumped into one of Monaghan’s good guys, Dermot Foley. We had our coffee, chatted to some very nice people , donated some cash, and generally felt better about ourselves…and ate our own weight in cakes, scones, and cheesecakes.

That evening , for the first time in a year, Ray and I went for a run with our Monaghan Town Runner buddies, introduced a new member, and went for a run around the town with Mary and her group, who promised that they were going for a short, slow run. Mary is a liar ! Or at least she’s much faster than we are and has a  very different conception of distance. But we enjoyed it immensely !

It’s good to run with a group. In fact it’s fantastic !

I got a lovely thank you card in the post from my consultant , Miss Little, for sending her my marathon medal.

I went to Olivia Johnsons ‘Adult Art Lab’ on Wednesday night in Tyholland and with my six  fellow creatives made little bird sculptures. For those 2 hours we are led on a gentle adventure, we chat freely , honestly, openly. No one looks at their phones, we listen to really cool music , ( MINE !), we have tea, homemade chocolate and raspberry cake, and get consumed in our creations.

I made my wee bird from cuttings from the Northern Standard, and call him Smiffy.

On Thursday I went for a run with Ray in Rossmore at lunchtime and then headed off to Dublin to meet our Elliott and Robyn’s besties Tori and Aoife in the Eddie Rockets near the Point Depot before we went to see Greta van Fleet in concert.

A meme went around last year based on their song, ‘Heat Above’. I hadn’t heard of them before that. And when we met in Eddie Rockets I confessed that it was still the only song of theirs that I was familiar with. Aoife said she knew two, Tori knew seven, and Elliott said he hadn’t even been sure who we were seeing until that moment.

The support band, Mt.Joy, were new to me, but were excellent.

There was a long build up to Greta Van Fleet making their entrance, but Boy, was it worth waiting for ! They arrived to strobe lights , flame throwing, and an ear splitting rapturous welcome from Dublin. The first song , ‘The Falling Sky’ , lasted about 12 minutes and was so incredibly energetic that if they’d walked off stage at that point, I’d have said that they were good value for money.

There were theatrics, costume changes, incredibly long guitar solos, and copious amounts of glitter. Someone asked me before I headed up to see them what were they like and I said if  Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Queen , and T-Rex had a love fest, Greta van Fleet would arrive 9 months later.

They played ‘Heat Above’ about 5 songs in and we all collectively lost our minds, the hairs were sticking out on the back of my neck throughout. I tried to record a bit of it, but Tori and Aoife were screaming so much that you can’t make out the band.

There was more glitter, the flame throwers went into overdrive, dozens of white roses were handed out to the crowd, records were set for longest guitar solo ever, and I absolutely LOVED it.

I drove the girls and Elliott to their respective homes , we had to shout everything at each other as we were temporarily deaf,  and made it back to Monaghan at 2.00am.

I fed Tuna, filled a hot water bottle, and crept into bed and was fast asleep in a minute.

I woke with a shock thinking I was on a very loud airplane, and discovered Tuna purring away on my pillow. I hoofed her off and tried to get back to sleep…dozed off and then felt something pressing on my chest…Tuna again. I gently threw her towards the bedroom door, and drifted off again.

I could hear Josh Kiska, singing Heat Above in the distance…and then realised it was Tuna again, miaowing an apology. This time I just told her to Sssh, and we both went back to sleep. I dreamt of Greta Van Fleet, Tuna dreamt of all the tiny defenceless things whose destiny she controlled.

So , for better or worse, That’s why I couldn’t send a blog last Friday morning.

“Why didn’t you send it over the weekend ?”

Well, let me tell you about meeting a bunch of friends for dinner, some of whom hadn’t seen each other in 39 years….

Maybe next week.



P.S, This is Heat Above

Author: paul

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