Me wearing a bucket hat

Deadline ! This too shall pass

“Who’s there for you
Laying in the dark, laying in the dark?
As the headlights start to fade
And we kiss like runaways”

James Vincent McMorrow

My lockdown wardrobe has largely consisted of :

3 x tracksuit bottoms ,O’Neills, Under Armour, and Nike respectively.

5 x crewneck sweatshirts , two Th3rd Level, one No Music On A Dead Planet, one James Connolly , with the ‘plough to the stars’ quote, and an absolutely gorgeous one.

10 x teeshirts, two Pillow Queens, one Fontaines DC, one No Music On A Dead Planet, two Th3rd Level, one For Those I Love, one Notts County away strip, sponsored by Jake Bugg, one Ye Vagabonds ( long sleeve), and one Nightingales ‘King Rocker’ limited edition.

2 x runners , Saucony Endorphin, one black and one white.

Yesterday I wore jeans for the first time in forever. They felt heavy, awkward, like wearing someone else’s shoes, or your Dad’s suit to your first wedding. Because she hadn’t seen me wearing jeans in so long, my Soulmate commented later that day “Where did you find those ? They look terrible.”

“They’re my old ones.”

“They’re too old for you.” She said, reaffirming all of the many, many reasons that I love her sooo much.

Later I showed her my new Th3rd Level bucket hat.

“Robyn will love that !” she said referring to our daughter/artist/force of nature/frustrated concert goer/permanent borrower of heirloom tees.

“It’s for me !”

“Really ? Isn’t a bit…I mean aren’t you a bit….”

She didn’t finish the question, she didn’t need to.

Robyn is now the proud owner of a brand new , unworn, Th3rd Level bucket hat…and I’m in the market for a new Soulmate.

So deadlines…..

Deadlines usually make me very anxious. The obvious answer to deadlines is to simply complete the work/submission/application as soon as you become aware of the job/competition/contract , usually three months in advance of the deadline.

But what sort of boring lunatic does that ?

No. You simply ignore the deadline for the first month, as there’s loads of time. This will give you the time to gather all of the information that you need and start weighing up the best reply. You do not gather any information…sorry, that’s not fair, you do gather lots of information, but most of it’s from Twitter or late night BBC 4 music documentaries and not relevant to the deadline…but did you know that Jack Black’s mother, Judith Cohen, corrected a problem for the Apollo 13 Abort-Guidance System, while in labour, solved the problem , saving the lives of the astronauts, and then gave birth to Jack Black ?

In the second month you actually spend some time on the project. Almost a whole hour. You read the brief/rules/documents, and after an hour you determine, that yes. You are very familiar with everything, you already have everything you need and , honestly, there’s no point starting the new series of Line Of Duty without re-watching the previous five series so you can lord it over any newcomers….” Yes , quite entertaining, but not a patch on episode 5 in series 3…yes, yes, I always knew it was Dot…”

And then it’s the deadline month !

But fear not , there’s at least three weeks, with weekends if necessary to get the job done.

Weekend one is spent enjoying the unseasonably good weather, a run, a jump in Hollywood, mow the lawn, steak, Rioja…..and it’s Monday. Head down, still in control.

Weekend two is spent indoors , due to unseasonably bad weather, watching a Shrek marathon, with beer…you do forget how clever they were , you know, they aren’t written for kids at all… and it’s Tuesday…you’d forgotten about the long weekend.

OK, stop messing , get this done ! Now you sit down and actually read the thing , Jesus , there’s a lot of stuff in here…really should have started this weeks ago…you start looking for previous things you’ve done similar to this and start the greatest gift ever given to anyone facing a deadline , yes…CUT & PASTE !

You still are up to midnight every night of deadline week , discovering a new requirement each day that you hadn’t noticed before and then employing the thing you swore you’d never use again when facing a deadline….Guff.

But you get it done, and it’s submitted, with a whole 10 minutes to spare.

Next time will be different….next time there’ll be 20 minutes to spare…

Last night , when I would usually be writing this, I was coming up with a story for the RTE Francis McManus Short Story , deadline…today. I mean to enter this competition every year. They start advertising it around St.Patrick’s Day, so I have ages to think about it….and then …well , you know.

But this year was different. This year I had the jist of a story already written before they even announced the competition. I’d started writing down snippets of dreams I’d remember each morning when I woke and one night I woke very upset from a dream. It had been a wonderfully sad dream, so wonderful and sad, that I thought , this would make a great short story, so I goy up and took my little notebook and pencil into the bathroom and scribbled down what I remembered. It was so powerfully wonderful and sad that I cried while jotting it down. I just wrote down the bullet points of it and then crept back into bed and went back to sleep.

I didn’t look at it when I got up. It was too wonderful and sad. It needed to be left on it’s own for a while.

Weeks passed and then I heard an advert for the Francis McManus competition on the radio.

“Bingo !” I have it this year. I could already see myself being interviewed by Sean Rocks on Arena.. he’d be charmed by the Monaghan references in the story.. and we’d laugh at the fact that although we both went to the CBS school on the hill, and that I was good friends with his sister Grainne, we’d only ever met once at Micky McCormick’s 50th birthday party.

I still didn’t open the notebook.I knew the story was there and I knew that it had been written in one moment,  was perfect as it was, and didn’t want to mess it up by thinking about it too much.

Every time I heard the competition mentioned I would smile to myself. This year…..

So, on Monday I decided that now that it was deadline week, I’d look up the notebook and write the story in one sitting and have it sent in 4 whole days early. I waited until Monday evening. Everyone else in the house was busy doing something else, so I made a cup of tea and sat at the kitchen table, laptop charged, and opened the little notebook. There were lots of little snippets of dreams, happy, sad, weird, wonderful , or horny. Or combinations. Anyway I read them all, but the story that was to woo the judges in the Francis McManus competition wasn’t there.

Maybe it was in one of the other notebooks.

I had two other notebooks beside my bed, a muji one, and a red Moleskin one that I’d been saving for a different story. I went through them both , page by page. Nothing. At work the next I went through three other notebooks that I’d been using, even the one full of stuff about cows..long story, but not suitable for Francis McManus. Nothing.

Where the hell ?

Wednesday came and wet in a flurry of looking through old diaries, folders for that damn story. I verged between panic, anxiety, joy at finding bits and bobs I’d forgotten about , and then panic again.

By Thursday I finally admitted to myself the truth. It had been a dream. I’d dreamt  that I’d dreamt that wonderfully sad story and written it down…but that was the dream.

What would the poor Francis McManus judge lives be like now , deprived of my wonderfully sad story ? I couldn’t do that to them.

I wrote a new story. It was about an empty shelf that was waiting for the works Ciara O’Keefe had yet to make. It was  about an empty space on the wall for the next Denise French picture that she hadn’t imagined yet. It was about an empty book that Colm Keegan had yet to write his greatest poem in. It was about a piece of music that sounded a bit like …nothing else, but Karl hadn’t put the words to yet.

And then I remembered that the Francis McManus story was supposed to be fictional.

So I started again.

And I finished…more or less.

I’m finished now.



Author: paul

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