“My subconscious and I are back on speaking terms
He is sending me colours and beautiful words
And far, far away are the harsh city folk
I’m surrounded by country, surrounded by night

As the rain pours down in the yard
Rain, a most haunting sound
Rain makes beautiful music and
Rain brings peace upon all whom it falls”

Martin Stephenson & The Daintees  ‘Rain’

My Soulmate bought me a Huku Balance Board for Christmas. For the uninitiated it is a medieval torture device masquerading as a piece of exercise equipment. Basically it is a piece of wood , like the top of a skateboard, which balances on a cylindrical piece of wood…with you on it.

Equilibrium was never my strongpoint.

In any warm up exercise where you have to balance on one foot I wobble all over the place as if I’m on a tightrope. This proved particularly comical when I was an assistant to the assistant coach in Monaghan Phoenix Athletic Club and had to lead the coaching.

“Aren’t we doing the  Quadriceps stretch ?” One of my 8 year old charges asks.


“Damien says it’s an important one.”

He’s not here. He said you did too many last week, so just do extra squats today.

“Damien said it was the most important exercise before you go running.”

OK, OK, why don’t you come up and show the group how to do them.

“Can’t you do them ?”

Of course I can do them, I just thought you’d like to try.

“I don’t think you can do them.”

I have medals for doing them.

“Prove it !”

OK. Are you ready ? Three, two…Oh My God is that a kangaroo ???

The group all looked around, and as they turned back I put my foot back on the ground.

OK, off you go on a warm up lap.

“But you didn’t do it.”

I did, you were all busy looking at that kangaroo.

“Are you lying ?”

What ? No ! I just did an Olympic standard Quadricep pull.

“Do it again !”

OK ! Jeez , are you like this at home ? No wonder your Mother takes you to every club going…

And there , beside the long jump sand pit at Beechill College, on a Tuesday evening , in front of 25 eight year olds, I tried to stand on one leg and pull the foot of my other leg back towards my butt…I fell into the sandpit. The kids howled. I made them run three laps.

I stared at the Huku board for a while before asking my Soulmate, whom I love dearly, what, in the name of Jehovah , she was thinking when she bought me this….thing ?

“What were you told after your operation ?”

That I was a very brave soldier ?

“After that !”

That I had really cool pyjamas ?

“You were told that it was VERY important , to avoid the risk of hernia, that you do your core exercises.”

Oh, that.

“Yes. And how many times have you actually done your core exercises ?”

Loads !

“How many ?”


“Honestly ?”


“That’s why I got you this. It’ll be fun and it will replace your core exercises.”

My first go on it required Elliott, Robyn and Jake trying to hold me up straight while my Soulmate, whom I love dearly, fell back into an armchair laughing like a banshee.

Equilibrium evades me.

There is a phenomenon in celestial mechanics called the Lagrange Point. I came across it first in a documentary about the Apollo 11 moon landing.

“The moon landing that wouldn’t have been possible without that chap from Monaghan ?”

Yes ,, that one.

On it’s return to earth the command module reaches a point between the Earth and the Moon where the gravitational pull of both is the same on the module, this is the Lagrange Point, a position of equilibrium for a smaller thing between two larger things.

I am often the smaller thing between two larger things.

That moment when the alarm goes and you’re due to meet Ray for a run/walk/counselling session, but you’re soooo cosy in bed. You put a foot on the floor. There is a slight chill. This is the Lagrange Point. At this point I can push on, put the other foot on the floor, and go forth to meet Ray in Rossmore…or pull that first foot back into the warm embrace of lefty, the foot still in the bed and pretend to sleep in.

That moment when you’re standing at the edge of a lake, in Monaghan, in December, in your delightful ‘It’s Christmas…’ swimming togs, cosy in your DryRobe, and your Soulmate says it’s OK if you don’t feel up to going in, and you think “Hallelujah !” and have a mental picture of yourself drinking coffee back in the car…and then immediately also think about how good you’ll feel in 10 minutes after you’ve been in for a dip.

That moment just before you called to ask her out that very first time. Before you call, your dignity is intact, you can dream that she would say yes, and just leave it at that…or make that call and throw caution to the wind…hoping, praying…trembling with fear and anticipation, until she answers.

That moment when you have lots of great ideas for a story in your head, and imagine the ending, the reactions…or start writing…doing the work.

That moment when you had all of the great reasons for not going out to meet your brothers and old friends…it was nearly Christmas…you were tired…the fire was lit…you had the last three episodes of Wednesday to watch…and that bottle of Rioja. Or you could have a shower, get dressed, get a lift into town….

That moment, this moment, when you reflect on a wonderful Christmas holiday, with the kids home, the whole day in pyjamas, presents, Bucks Fizz for breakfast, fantastic food, great craic, just the five of us, and we all watch ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ together, and we all cry…OK, I cried… I cried enough for five. And you never want this to change…EVER ! Or, you appreciate the Christmas you had, but know that you have to let them go at some point to have their own Christmas, with their own traditions…

Although the Lagrange Point is nice, it’s like Dublin…nice to visit, but couldn’t live there.

You go to the Park and run with Ray.

You jump in the lake with your Soulmate.

You made the call.

You scribbled something.

You had one of the best nights ever with your brothers and old friends.

You let them go…………

Equilibrium is overrated



Author: paul

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