Subject To Change

“And the caravan has all my friends
It will stay with me until the end
Gypsy Robin, sweet Emma Rose
Tell me everything I need to know
La la la la, la la la
La la la la, la la la”

My plan this week was to complete my Christmas shopping, write a Christmas story for next week’s blog, put away the empty Christmas decoration boxes that have been on the landing since last Sunday…or the Sunday before, repair a wooden piece above the kitchen press, fix the headlight on my Soulmate’s jeep, plan out a few more Drumlin Giants, send out Christmas cards, go to bed early, wake up early.

I achieved none of those things.

Instead of shopping, I met my friends Micky and Helena for lunch and a wander around the Deaf Village. We’ve been friends since we were 15, and when we meet we talk about everything and nothing. We talk very comfortably with each other. There is no bravado. There are no secrets. There are some mistaken recollections, but that’s simply because my memory is much better than theirs. Our conversation this week ranged from retirement, cancer, Bohemians FC, Micky’s loathing of running, Edinburgh, a missing horse, The Pogues, Blindboy, and Johnny Marr.

Mad Brothers opened a new café in the Deaf Village recently , so that’s where we had lunch and I had the most divine chicken fillet roll on a freshly baked Vienna roll.

I mentioned to Micky that a few of us were thinking of going to a tribute band playing The Band’s ‘Last Waltz’ set in The Olympia in January and would he fancy it.


They took me to a derelict pub where someone had done some cool graffiti of Dumbledore, Dickie Rock, Andy Warhol, and Al Pacino.

Later that evening when I was back home I got a message from Micky saying that an incredibly wise person , who had been quite ill, had told him that after his illness he stopped saying no to invitations, opportunities, or adventures. So in that spirit he had decided that he would join us on our Last Waltz.

I got a buzz from that.

Instead of writing a Christmas story I went for a 10k run on Tuesday. In order to get back into running, and without killing ourselves, my friend Ray and I had trained for the Dublin marathon by running for 15 minutes and walking for 5 minutes on repeat for however long we were running. On Tuesday I ran for over an hour without stopping.

It felt fantastic.

I went to bed after midnight on Wednesday having been consumed by the installation of Ailinn, our newest Drumlin Giant in Rossmore Park, which Marc Kelly designed and built with Sean and Davy. It got a fantastic reaction when I posted the photo online.

I , in turn , consumed a number of pints of Guinness and a cheeky Squealing Pig malbec, in The Pig with my brothers and our friend Simon. Whenever Simon visits we invariably end up in The Pig, and are , invariably, the last to leave.

Simon told us about the time that he worked for Adidas and managed to blag tickets for his brother and himself to go to a black tie Sky Sports football dinner. Simon’s taste in music is almost as good as mine, and he has always been a fan of the Cult. At the dinner his brother pointed out someone having a smoke at the bar and said to Simon “That’s Ian Astbury !”. Lead singer with The Cult.

“No way. What would he be doing here ?”

“Let’s go ask him.”

And they did.

“Excuse me.” They asked politely .” Are you who we think you are ?”

“Yes.” Ian Astbury replied, and bought them a drink.

It turned out that Ian was a huge Everton fan and that was why he was there. It also turned out that very few other people there knew who he was, and he was delighted to regale Simon and his brother with story after story. In the end they couldn’t get away from him.

While we were having our own dinner a dipping friend of my Soulmate’s came over to say ‘Hello’. Catriona is one of life’s shining lights. You can’t help but smile when she’s around.

When I eventually got home from The Pig, after Ray took me on a detour to get a Brunch , an iconic Irish ice-cream, after 1.00am, I stumbled into all of the empty Christmas decoration boxes that have been on the landing since last Sunday…or the Sunday before.

All day Thursday I thought about fixing that wooden thing in the kitchen…and going to bed. I was thinking about fixing that wooden thing when Marc phoned me to say that they were going to start installing Muireann, another Giant in the Park. I rang Ray and the two of us went out to the Park to have a look. We chatted to Marc, Sean and Davy for a while, and marvelled at their work. They’ve incorporated a bridge into this design, so kids can stand inside Muireann and become her eyes, and can in turn be photographed from another bridge. It is very cool indeed.

Ray hadn’t seen Ailinn yet so we walked on to see her. When we got to the walled garden there was an elderly gentleman examining her. We got chatting to him. He had remembered serving the last Lady Rossmore in McCalden’s in The Diamond where he worked. She came in to get her tonic and soda bottles refilled. He talked about the pony and traps that the well to do took to Sunday service in Ballinode and the Rossmores bequeathing the sexton’s house to the parish. The rector Banks and his 20 children, the lime trees to the old rectory. It turned out that Ray’s Dad subsequently bought the derelict Rectory and reared battery hens in it, which he then sold to the US Army for their troops stationed in West Germany.

A lovely gentleman, whom I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of meeting if I’d been repairing a wooden piece above the kitchen press.

Heading home from the Park I was only thinking of bed when my neighbour Kieran rang.

“What are you doing ?”


“Fancy a bite ?”


“Hilda  and I will collect you and Eileen at 6.50 and we’ll head to Wild Thyme restaurant for 7.”

And we did.

From the very first day we moved back to Monaghan from Belfast we have been firm friends with Kieran and Hilda. We’ve known each other through thick, thin, even thinner, and thick again.

At one point during dinner, which was lovely, Hilda noticed that I had a tattoo on my arm.

“Never knew you had a tattoo Paul. It’s lovely.”

My little tattoo is an infinity loop with a tiny heart in it. Eileen and I both got the same one earlier this year in Galway.

“Do you have any tattoos Eileen ?” Hilda asked.

“I have the same one.”

“I’m surprised, I didn’t think you’d get one.”

“I only got it because I thought he was dying. Now I’m stuck with him and this tattoo.”

Hilda started to laugh…and cry…with laughter…she then tried to apologise to me for laughing…but couldn’t because she was laughing so much.

I love my life, full of detours, and always, always, subject to change.



P.S. This is Simon’s mate, Ian.

Author: paul

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *