Bits & Pieces of Everyday

 Driving into town the other day and Grandmaster Flash’s Eighties classic “White Lines” came on the radio. Immediately I was transported to Holywood lake in the summer of ’83 , lounging in the summer sun with my best friend Micky and listening to a mixtape we’d made being played on his AIWA radio/cassette player. We were there to meet girls. We went out there everyday for a week, cycling from town, and in that whole week the only girl we spoke to was Micky’s sister Una, and the only reason she spoke to us was to ask us to move away from her and her friends.

I haven’t heard the song in a long time, it was one of those that you played to death, couldn’t live without, until you couldn’t stand it anymore. But every time I hear it, I smile. Magical carefree summer days full of awkwardness and hope.

I cherish those flashbacks. They are like little shout outs from the past.

Conversely, I had no time at all the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh at that same time. He was from Monaghan, so there should have been a kinship, but to teenage boys, his odes to our very own stony grey soil, were tedious. But now, I love them,. Whenever I come across a piece of his poetry I’m transfixed. They are always beautifully sad. Or, at least, that’s how I read them.

“We have tested and tasted too much, lover-
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.”

Today I happened to be in Belfast and was wandering through the Botanic gardens on my way to the Ulster Museum when I stopped to take a photo of the statue Kelvin, the Belfast born physicist, which greets , or rather stares dismissively at you at the entrance. A mother and two young boys came up behind me. They stopped at the statue too.

“Who do you think that is ?” the mother asked.

“God ?” the older boy, about 5, answered.


“Jesus ?”

“No, nevermind, let’s go for ice cream.” The mum seemed keen to get away.

But the kid’s confusion is understandable. God always seems to be portrayed as a grand old Victorian scientist/politician/engineer. Or are all grand old Victorian scientist/politician/engineers portrayed as God ?

EPIC – Patrick Kavanagh, 1938

I have lived in important places, times
When great events were decided, who owned
That half a rood of rock, a no-man’s land
Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.
I heard the Duffys shouting “Damn your soul!”
And old McCabe stripped to the waist, seen
Step the plot defying blue cast-steel –
“Here is the march along these iron stones.”
That was the year of the Munich bother. Which
Was more important? I inclined
To lose my faith in Ballyrush and Gortin
Till Homer’s ghost came whispering to my mind.
He said: I made the Iliad from such
A local row. Gods make their own importance.

“Gods make their own importance” , I love that.



P.S. This song makes me cry , I think it’s the last line :

“At their bedside he brushed the hair from his wife’s face as the moon shone on her skin so white
Filling their room in the beauty of God’s fallen light.”

Author: paul

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