My Soulmate and I standing on the coast near Doolin pier

Off Script

“What was scripted, the day before it happened?”
We all give applause when people open doors
But on the way out it did your back in
See, everything in life ain’t silver and gold
But mining for metal gave you platinum.”

Gorillaz ‘Momentary Bliss’

Apart from all of the times I think about death and dying, I rarely think about death and, or, dying, so while on holiday seemed an odd time to start. And yes,, my life is indeed a holiday, but this time my Soulmate and the Monkees were with me.

We were in Clare, a lovely part of the world that is almost as beautiful as Monaghan, and having a wonderful time. We went out and about doing something during the day, wandering around Loop Head, jumping in the sea, before returning to our house , ( actually Liz’s house, but ours for the week ), and making dinner, drinking wine, gin, cider, Morettit, Peroni, and Guinness….not in the same glass, playing cards and chatting until the early hours.

All grand and dandy.

We decided to go out to Inis Oirr, so we did. We picked Inis Oirr as it was the closest to Doolin and would minimise the amount of time I needed to spend on a boat. I like boats. I could live on a boat. Just don’t move it away from the pier.

As soon as we landed on Inis Oirr, after our harrowing 20 minute sailing, we rented bikes and pedalled away to see the sights and wonders of Inis Oirr. It is a stunningly beautiful place. The stonewalls everywhere, the wreck of the Plassey, the lighthouse, ling & chips for lunch, the seal sanctuary, currach artworks everywhere, Enda’s Well, and ……

And then , as we made our way back to leave the bikes back Robyn and Elliott had gone on a bit ahead, and as we came to a massive downhill, I decided to impress them.

And impress them I did.

I roared out “WooHoo !” as I passed them and then realised that the next corner was much closer and sharper than I’d thought. I hit the back brakes, skidded, skilfully regained control…for a second…and then skilfully flew off the bike, skilfully using my right hip, elbow , shoulder ,and head to protect the backpack I was carrying full of our swimming gear. There was a flash of the brightest white and I heard someone calling my name. No, it wasn’t St.Peter calling me home, or Beelzebub calling me to the holiday home, it was my Soulmate. I wasn’t dead. Phew.

I hopped up. No idea why.

“My glasses ! Where are my glasses ?”

“You’re about to stand on them…again.” Jake answered.

Someone handed them to me.

Everyone looked concerned…or amused, I couldn’t tell in my distressed state.

“You should be sitting down.” My two lovely Soulmates said.

There were steps in the stonewall a little ahead, I hobbled over, assisted by both Soulmates…I was confused as to why they were both on my left hand side. One of them disappeared when I sat down. I miss her.

“Your arm looks like you were clawed at by an eagle.” Robyn said.

“Or a large chicken.” Elliott added.

Jake and my lonely Soulmate gathered up my bike.

“Is he alright ?” Jake asked, he sounded worried.

My Soulmate was rustling through her backpack for something, asking me “ Would you be able to eat something sweet, the sugar would do you good.”

“Maybe…is it gluten free, or a proper sweet , what have you got ?” I asked.

“He’s fine.” My Soulmate assured Jake, before putting the sweets back in her backpack.

After a few more minutes of feeling very, very, very sorry for myself, I got up and we cycled back to the pier and handed the bikes back in. Then we went to the wee beach to go for a swim. That’s when I noticed how sore I was. Standing on a sandy beach with a towel wrapped around you, standing on one foot as you try and get your swimming togs on is difficult at the best of times, performing this feat with my righthand side stiffening was positively Herculean. We went for a dip in the sea. My Soulmate had said that the sea water would do my injuries good. If she meant that the Irish Atlantic Sea water would numb everything so that I couldn’t feel anything at all, she was correct.

They all waited patiently for me to get dressed afterwards.

My Soulmate observed that there was no bruising to speak of, other than my dignity. I was stiff and sore, but would live, and set out for the pier to bravely face the 20 minute crossing back to the safety of Doolin…and beer.

I did not sleep well.

Everything on the righthand side of my body delighted in taking it in turn to hurt. As soon as I had slowly squirmed into a spot where my hip wasn’t moaning, my ribs under my right arm would then cry for attention, an awkward wriggle to appease those ribs would then antagonise the tiny wee ribs that you forget you have at the bottom of your rib cage…and so on until dawn. I did have wonderful dreams though.

Once upright and shuffling about I was fine, albeit much slower than normal.

After a few days of not sleeping and cursing at even louder volumes than usual if I sneezed, laughed or coughed causing a darting pain under my arm, my family were pushing me to see a doctor. I waited until we got home.

Everything was getting slightly easier, but I now had a dull sensation above my right ear, and seemed to be involuntarily opening my jaw to relieve pressure , the incredibly awkward way I invariably do whenever I was on a flight. It’s twenty months since I was on a flight ?!? That’s the longest time I haven’t flown anywhere since I was 17 ! At one point in my life I flew two or three times a week around Europe. It feels like it was someone else’s life now.

So , yes, concussion.

I eventually went to see a doctor , because a number of people had suggested that I may have concussion and of course I did the stupidest thing you can do when you think you might be suffering from something. I Googled it.

“JESUS ! I have all of those symptoms !! “

The doctor convinced me otherwise, or at least he did his best.

“Have you any bruising ?”

No, I assured him, explaining that I was most concerned about the pain when I laugh/cough/sneeze, and my possible concussion. He looked at my chest and back, prodded me, and seemed happy that I hadn’t broken a rib and that it was just muscular. He looked in my ear to rule out an infection causing my fuzziness.

“You mentioned that you’d hurt your hip ?”

Yes, but there was no bruising, so I think it’s OK.

“Let’s have a look anyway, as you’re here.”

I pulled down my tracksuit bottoms on that side to show him.

“I don’t know what you think that is, but in the medical profession, we call that a bruise.”

I looked down and there was indeed a bruise, and what a bruise ! It was about the size of my hand, a very disturbing yellow colour with pink, red and purple splodgy bits dotted about for dramatic effect.

“That’s bizarre” I said “ I was swimming up until a day or two ago and hadn’t noticed it.

“You’ll be fine. I will prescribe some painkillers to help you rest and recover.”

“And the concussion?”

“Are you dizzy ? Have trouble balancing?”


“Vomiting , nausea ?”

Not really, a bit off…sort of…

“ That would be because you’ve had a shock and aren’t sleeping well. Headaches ?”


“Blurred vision ? Change of vision ?

Yes ….but most likely because I stood on my glasses.

“ I’m happy that you aren’t concussed. I will prescribe an anti-sickness tablet to help. Anything else?”

No….not really… I felt that now was not the time to mention that the little toe on my left foot was uncomfortable when I wore certain shoes….

I went and got my prescription and had a slightly better night’s sleep. “I’m on the mend” I convinced myself. I battled bravely through the next day.

That night I slept until 3.00am , I woke from a dream, a good dream, a possible chapter in a book. But then as I tried to get back to sleep the fuzzy feeling on the righthand side of my head felt more noticeable. I dozed, woke with a fright…my head…no different…no improvement…if I wake my Soulmate now we could be in Cavan A&E within an hour…I that fuzzy feeling worse or better…is it there at all…maybe Drogheda A&E would be better…that’s where Cavan would send me anyway…dozed…it’s not really fuzzy, sort of blocked…like on a flight…. It’s twenty months since I was on a flight ?!? That’s the longest time I haven’t flown anywhere since I was 17 ! At one point in my life I flew two or three times a week around Europe. It feels like it was someone else’s life now.

MOTHER of the Sweet Divine Jesus ! I am concussed !

OK, let’s be brave. Get up go downstairs, stop tossing and turning, let her rest before she has to take me straight to Beaumont, they have a neurological unit, no point going to Drogheda, they’ll just refer me to Beaumont anyway…cup of tea while I wait..things are always better after a cup of tea..things are better…two Weetabix, with some granola from The Local also help…watch an episode of American Pickers…feel tired…go back to bed.

My Soulmate calls me at 10…from work.

I bravely make it in … at 12.

My hip bruise is now only the diameter of a coconut, the yellow isn’t as horrible. It now has to be a really, really good laugh to hurt. The fuzzy/pressure thing is still there, but I forget about it , the same way you do on a flight.  It’s twenty months since I was on a flight ?!? That’s the longest time I haven’t flown anywhere since I was 17 ! At one point in my life I flew two or three times a week around Europe. It feels like it was someone else’s life now.

Other than that, I’m fine.

I have thought that, if it were to be my time to re-join the Universe, I would have very little to complain about. I’ve been the luckiest sod I know. When God was giving out luck, She turned the hose up to full pressure when she filled my can…and then gave me a second can.

Obviously I do not want to go anywhere, I would have a slight regret that I didn’t see that book finished, and the inevitable Hollywood blockbuster that would follow…and getting to pick SunSetShips, Post Party, Pillow Queens, Rachael Mae Hannon, For Those I Love, and The Flaws for the soundtrack. I would think that my life had meant something , or at least helped someone somewhere in some way. I would be sooo grateful for the family I grew up in, my Soulmate, the family we are, my friends, the books I read, running, the music I heard , the safety and security I lived in , the stupid things I had the incredible luxury to worry about, the absolute miraculous technology I witnessed, the ‘’ s I’ve met, the wonder and awe I experienced, and got to see again through my kids, and the absolute fucking gift it has been to be involved with volunteers that give their precious time to clubs, communities, social causes. I would not worry about our kids , I  am in awe of them already. My God what a pleasure the whole thing has been.

And then again,  if it was my time….I would fight TOOTH AND FUCKING CLAW…for a single extra second.

For Eileen McKenna, and the way she might look at you.

God these painkillers are good…they go really well with Rioja…

We are simultaneously only human and wonderfully so.

Don’t get bogged down in meaning, look up, appreciate yourself, I wouldn’t be me, couldn’t be me without you.

Yes you ,, you ROCK STAR !



Author: paul

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