Nothing’s Changed

A song for America ..

“Stop me, oh, stop me
Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before
Stop me, oh, stop me
Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before
Nothing’s changed
I still love you, oh, I still love you
Only slightly, only slightly less than I used to, my love”


Like an idiot I sat up through the night to watch the ‘greatest democracy in the world’ act in a bizarrely undemocratic fashion very, very, very slowly…


Nothing has happened !
Let’s go to Todd. Todd, what is your reaction to our news alert ?
I’m stunned ,Bob, but not surprised.
Indeed, Todd, I concur…

Sorry , Todd, we need to go straight to Barbara, for breaking news, Barbara ?
Thanks Bob, it’s just been announced that there is no update at this time. Back to you Bob.
“Todd ?”
Well, I can’t say I’m surprised, but I am stunned.
Yes, Todd, wise words, please stay with us. Thank you Barbara….
I sat up until 5.00 am and that was the most interesting exchange of the evening.

I went to sleep for a couple of hours and got up and went to work. This was another mistake. I spent the day in a fog of what I can only describe as a weird combination of depression, a hangover, and jetlag. Even sausage rolls  from Mallon’s deli-counter failed to lift my weary spirits.

I struggled into the afternoon and helped out a friend by doing a couple of pharmacy deliveries for him. I hadn’t done a volunteer pharmacy delivery since sometime in June. Back in March there were 10 of us calling twice a day to several local pharmacies and doing multiple deliveries all over the county. Yesterday there were 2 individual deliveries for the whole day. It felt good to help out, and it was encouraging that the demand wasn’t as acute as it had been before. So, of course I treated myself to a chicken goujon roll , with red cabbage coleslaw, a coffee and a packet of Tayto cheese and onion crisps from McCleary’s.

I also stopped listening to the radio, and managed to do some practical work in the afternoon.
Home, Blasta tacos for tea and the world was starting to seem better.

A bath. That’s the chap.

I took last Sunday’s ‘Culture’ magazine from the Confused Fascist Times with me and as I sank into the suds there they were …my nephew’s new band… Zen Arcade.

I dozed and remembered their former incarnation’s visit to McKenna’s in Monaghan…5 years ago…

I love The Strypes.  The Cavan four piece belt out raucous rhythm and blues  , have great stage presence and are consummate musicians to boot. But I was tired. Jake wasn’t taking no for an answer, so off we traipsed into town to meet up with his pal Colin and my mate Benny and his family. The concert was taking place in McKenna’s, the liveliest bar in Monaghan, in their upstairs music venue, The Brewery. This was the first date on the bands “Roadtest Tour” – coming to a small to medium sized town near you.

As soon as Colin and Jake gained access to the venue their mission appeared to be to put as much distance between themselves and myself. This being an ‘intimate’ venue, this meant that they were never more than 9 feet away from me.

The Brewery is a slightly unusual venue in that the ‘floor’ is on two levels, the one nearest the stage is two steps higher than the rest. When we went in there was a decent crowd already there, but they had all gathered at the foot of the two steps and being such polite Monaghan folk no one had dared step up closer to the stage. Benny is from Clontibret and is no shrinking violet, he marched us all up to within three feet of the stage. This was great for us. But as the lady who poked me in the back pointed out it was not so great for her.

She said that she’d been there for two hours to get a good spot and now I had casually walked up closer onto the higher bit. I apologised, saying that I hadn’t meant to be rude, but why hadn’t she simply positioned herself up here closer to the stage. She said that she had thought that the ‘higher’ area was reserved ‘family and friends’ of the band.

“I’m the bassist’s uncle.”

“Really ? Can I come up there ?”

“Of course, and if anyone says anything to you , just say I said it was OK.”

Within minutes the ‘upper’ area was mobbed with a crazy bunch of hyped up teenagers. The band ran on to the stage and a solid 90 minutes of explosive R&B ensued. The band play with a maturity and competence way past their years and their stage presence was electric. This jaded old soul loved every single moment of it. I could see my son and his friends pogoing away to their hearts content in front of the stage, in awe.

If you get a chance to catch them on this tour, it would do your heart good to see such a great band in a small venue.

When they finished, in a crescendo of bonhomie and blues, they stayed around and chatted to their fans, posed for photographs and signed autographs. And they did all of this with a grace that was humbling. I got the photograph above with my ‘nephew’ Pete O’Hanlon a bassist who easily out-Townshends the Who’s Pete Townhsend.

Jake and I walked back to our car at about 1.00 am chatting about how brilliant it all was. I told him that it was indeed one of the best concerts I’d ever been at and , half –seriously suggested that he never go to another live gig, as , after witnessing the Strypes, he would most likely be disappointed.

He looked at me the way most 15 year old boys look at their dad’s , rolling their eyes to heaven with a look of pity on their face. And maybe like most 15 year old boys it takes half another lifetime to realise that maybe, just maybe, their dad was right after all.

A year later Jake, his pal Ethan from Galway , and I went to see The Strype’s playing in the Olympia in Dublin and a year after that Jake, Robyn and I went to see the Strypes again in McKenna’s. This time Robyn wanted to queue up to meet the lads after the band had finished their gig. She posed with Pete and I asked if I could take a photo, somehow I managed to say that we saw them here a couple of years previously and that some people now thought that I was his uncle.

“Are you the big bollix that writes the blogs ?”

Robyn laughed as I went bright pink. It transpired that Pete’s Mum read my blog and gave out to him for telling people in Monaghan that he was related to them.

I wish Pete and his new band the very best of luck…from the big bollix that writes the blogs.


P.S. With apologies to those looking for the next chapter, it’s being edited for th e4th time…it was shockingly me…and I wrote it !

P.P.S. this is the video of the story I told on Halloween… 

Author: paul

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