Out Of The Ordinary

“Do not let this thing you got go to waste
Do not let your heart be dismayed
It’s here by some random disclosure of grace
From some vascular, great thing”

  • David Le’aupepe

There is magic in simple things. Sometimes there is great comfort and reassurance in the ordinary, the day to day bits and bobs that make us us. Days that just hum along , without any planning or forethought, that are nearly over before you’ve really thought of anything at all. Days that allow us to recalibrate, to recharge, without us even realising it. Magic out of the ordinary.

I got up early to go for a run in Rossmore Park before it got too hot. I met my friends Gareth and Chris at 7.30 and after the first kilometre it was already too hot to be running. We ran on anyway, chatting about everything and nothing, putting the world to rights. I should say that in actual fact they ran on and waited for me to catch up periodically. I have a habit of praying when I run. It’s not a terrible habit , as habits go. So in the bits when they’d run on ahead chatting, I said prayers for people that I thought needed them, I said prayers for people I don’t know , the sun beaming down, surrounded by the forest, and I prayed for Gareth and Chris to slow down.
I can’t remember who told the joke many, many years ago during the Troubles about Paisley meeting the Pope and them arguing about which of their religions was the best. At one point in the argument Paisley claimed that he had a direct phone line to God , and for £5 a minute he could call on him at anytime.
“£5 a minute ?” The Pope exclaimed in mock horror “ I have a direct line too, but it only costs me 10p a minute !”
“10p ???” Paisley roared “ How can that be ?”
“Well Dr.Paisley” the Pope said , smiling  ” for me, it’s a local call.”
That pops into my head sometimes when I run and pray in Rossmore. It’s a local call.

We finished our run back in the car park, met Francis and Hero, and arranged to meet again on Saturday. I tore off , as I had to get showered and changed and be in Dungannon for 10 to meet my optician. I stopped in Ballinode on the way to get a  coffee, water and a banana. I’d intended to get sausage rolls , but they had sold out and were baking more. So I was healthy by default. For many years we had no local shop, it closed in the downturn and we lost the post office as well. It’s fantastic to have a shop in the village again. We very quickly take it for granted.

I texted my optician to say I’d be 10 minutes late. He said that was fine, no hassle. My optician is my great friend Milo, whom I met on my very first day in St.Macartan’s College , 42 years ago. One of his staff told me once that when I make an appointment with him he writes “Paul, sometime within an hour of promised time.” I parked around the back of Northland Row and made my way inside. I hadn’t made it as far as reception when I heard him shout “Pol de Bond !” , the way our Irish teacher used to. We spent the next hour catching up on each other’s kids’ progress, shared memories, running, and very briefly, looking at my eyes. No change. Wonderful as always.

I drove home to Monaghan, stopped in The Local, bought some wheaten bread, gooseberries and blackcurrants. I’d had no intention of buying gooseberries or blackcurrants. I don’t even particularly like gooseberries or blackcurrants. But as soon as I saw them I was in Granny’s garden in Fr.Murray Park in Dundalk, picking gooseberries and blackcurrants off the bushes and carrying them inside where she added industrial quantities of sugar to them to make jam. She had this gigantic metal pot and equally enormous spoon. She told me that she had lived in Fivemiletown with Granda during World War II and that there were US soldiers stationed there before the D-Day landings, and when they broke camp they handed over lots of canteen equipment to the crowds that had come out to cheer them off.

I loved my Granny. Wasn’t terribly fond of the jam. So I ended up with a punnet of gooseberries and a punnet of blackcurrants. I took a gooseberry as soon as I got back to the car and…my mouth caved in on itself, becoming a blackhole of bitterness. No wonder Granny added so much sugar.

I went and had a look at the fantastic new mural that Elaine Agnew and the St.Macartan’s transition year students, led by Aaron Maxwell , have painted this week along the wall of the Northern Standard, opposite the Courthouse. Absolutely stunning ! While I was there several wee kids came over to look at the animals and plants that make up the painting. The rabbit and the bumble bee seem to be early favourites. I tried to convince some of them that the painting of the bumble bee was actually life size, and that there was a giant one called Frank that lived up in Bragan.

On the way home from work , yes, I did some work, I called to Mum and Dad’s , and had a cup of tea with them , swapping blow by blow accounts of each others’ days, with animated political discussions in between.

I made it home in time for tea. We had salad. Not as a side dish, we had salad for tea. There were no chips. Didn’t really feel like tea at all, more like something older people used to serve to unexpected guests , and they’d complain on the way home “They only gave us salad ! And I know I saw a whole chicken in the fridge.”

And then I sat down to write this, but didn’t. I wrote a bit more about our newest Drumlin Giant, The Morrigan, our giant red wolf, in a story “The Trial Of The Morrigan” :

“I stand here today, wrongly accused of a crime I did not commit !” The Morrigan pleaded.
“Seriously ?” The Judge asked in astonishment.
“Yes your Honour !” The Morrigan answered indignantly. “ I did not eat three children !”
“Really ! This is outrageous, even for you ! When you were caught, you were lying on your back , using what the coroner is sure was a young boy’s thigh bone as a toothpick, and complaining that the last child had given you indigestion, and asking if anyone had any Rennies ??? How in the name of Banba and all that’s holy, can you say you are innocent of the charges ?”
The Morrigan smiled her most enticing smile “It’s quite straight forward your Honour, I’m accused of eating three children, but I ate seven. Honestly, three children ? That’s not even a decent starter !

I wrote another piece in the other book involving stolen Hindu prayer stones, but still couldn’t think of anything to write for this blog. I started listening to music , hoping for inspiration, and ended up watching all of Radiohead’s 2016 Berlin concert. Class.

Then my Soulmate, Ger, and I went for a swim in Hollywood Lake, at 10.20pm, on a Thursday, and it was still 20C ! In Monaghan !

When we arrived, the place was a bit of a mess. Cider bottles, pizza boxes, the usual ephemera of a sunny day by the lake. After our swim My Soulmate went to the car to get a bin bag to collect the rubbish. She asked one of the ten or so teenagers that were still there if they’d help us. “No problem” Ryan answered, taking the bag from us. All of his friends joined in and in less than 5 minutes the whole place was cleared.

Monaghan kids are cool…if you give them half a chance.

We went home, had a cup of tea, chanced another Gooseberry….nope, not for me.

I got up this morning with no idea what to write.

And here we are.

There’s wonder in the ordinary.

You might have to squint a bit to see it, but it’s there.


P.S. Love this ! Mellah Hitchin4(100%)

Author: paul

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