The Day Before

“I want it now, I want it now
Not the promises of what tomorrow brings
I need to live in dreams today
I’m tired of the song that sorrow sings

And I want more than I can get
Just tryin’ to, tryin’ to, tryin’ to forget”


The day before is a funny day, in that you know it’s the day before, in fact , left to your own devices, you think of little else, and no matter what you do , it is still the day before, constantly shrinking until eventually it’s not.

Without actually planning to I seem to fill up the day before with random things so that I don’t think about it, or think I won’t think about it, but do.

I slept quite well the night before the day before. Recently I have been sleeping better, not stirring until 5.00am, which I have to attribute to my reflexologist Edel’s constant badgering to take magnesium, to my herbalist, Collette’s recent recommendation that I change from the magnesium I bought in the brown bottle previously because I thought it looked nice, to the magnesium that actually works, and most importantly of all to actually taking the magnesium before I go to bed. I should also point out that Janette is a herbalist, not strictly my herbalist. My random purchases of magnesium, ‘thinking tea’, ‘not thinking tea’, and natural Epsom salts , are unlikely to keep any herbalist in full time employment.

“But your monthly visit to your reflexologist is unlikely to keep her in gainful employment either ?!?”

Which is indeed true, but I feel I have a connection with both my reflexologist, Edel, and especially my kinesiologist, Ann,  that are deeply personal, almost confessional, and certainly spiritual, in that I still don’t really know what either of them does , but always feel the better for them doing it.

I’d read a couple of chapters of Dalrymple’s ‘From The Holy Mountain’, and then listened to at least one chapter of Josephine Quinn’s ‘How The World Made The West’ which is similar, but better than Naoise MacSweeney’s ‘The West’, and dreamed dreams of sandy places.

Although I woke around 5-ish, I didn’t get up. I thought for a bit, tried to say a few prayers, and then put in my airpods and fell asleep again listening to the Today programme and BBC 4 radio. I eventually got up at 8.30, switching from Today to the Fontaine’s ‘Sha Sha Sha’ which would wake Rip van Winkle, or even a statue of Rip v W, brush my teeth, spend 5 minutes picking today’s tee, and then went downstairs and have 2 Weetabix, before we hop in the car and travel for a whole 5 minutes to work.

I always do the important things first when I go into work. I make a proper cup of tea. Usually this has to be made in one of the two cups that I particularly like at work, which make a huge difference to what the tea eventually tastes like after it has been allowed to draw for the correct time, which is never less than 10 minutes, but can be any random amount of time after that. But this is the day before so you grab a random mug absentmindedly and recoil in horror at how terrible it is 14 minutes later.

Some work gets done.

Mostly by other people.

In fact, entirely by other people.

I am working on a new brand.

I am researching the market for our new brand.

I am doing this research online.

I am watching cat videos.

It is now time for Elevenses. We chat about football, Joe gives me the second stick of his Time Out bar, and Stephen asks us a question which seems genuine and random, but which we all know is leading to a point he is dying to make to us, and we all wish he’d just made at the start. But it’s the day before, so I’m glad this morning’s ‘Here’s a question for you …’ is one I know the answer to , and know he knows, but am more than happy to listen to his jovial preamble, and Vincent’s consternation, Joe’s laugh, Gerry’s earnest contrarion point of view , Ryan’s wonder, and Greg’s eventual eye roll.

Ray calls and says that he’ll definitely meet me in the Park to remove all of the sandbags and signs from the river that we spent all of last week putting in , at 4pm.

“We said 2pm yesterday.”

“Did we ?”

“Yes !”

“I’ll do my best.”

I know he will.

I also know he’ll arrive slightly after 4.

But it’s the day before, so I’m happy to go out on my own at 2pm.

He is still a bit giddy from the success of Saturday’s Boat Race and now wants to have another event for kids in the Park. He says he’s discussed them with The Hannon, and wants me to start planning them. I say that they are terrible ideas…and start working on them.

I think of a tea party in the walled garden in Rossmore. The Westenra’s, the great and the good, in Edwardian dress, drinking tea and eating tiny sandwiches…and not allowing kids to join them. The Drumlin Giants are not pleased and decide to shrink all of the adults to teach them a lesson. I message Glenn, Ray and The Hannon.

“What about a Tiny Hoomanz Tea Party where the kids wear their parents, or oversized clothes, so that they look like they’ve been shrunk, and we could have a really long line of picnic tables, loads of old china, Coke and 7up, poured from old teapots, flans, jelly and ice cream, and over sized games, giant chess pieces….”

They all say it’s stupid.

They all say lets do it.

It is now lunchtime on the day before.

I meet Freddie for lunch.

I do not tell Freddie it’s the day before.

I listen about ‘the week I’ve had’.

I listen about his plans for the summer, which Wednesday’s won’t suit him for lunch over the next three months. Three months seems such a long, long time away. But so did tomorrow , three months ago.

I love his barely contained excitement about the impending Country Muzak Festival. He’s hoping for good weather.

After lunch I tell him I have a letter to post and he says he’ll walk back that way with me. We see his brother Terry in Church Square. Terry crosses over to meet us.

“I suppose you’ll want to take a photo of me for your Face book ?”

Of course.

We line up together.

Terry is heading for lunch.

Freddie decides to have another.

I walk up Mill St and post my letter.

I then walk out to The Park, passing Stella and Charlotte , walking a pace faster than I run, out past Teach na Daoine, Killyconnigan, the Twin Lakes, before arriving at the CoffeeDoc and chatting to Tom over an Americano.

It is a gorgeous day.

I walk along the river Muireann to the weir, put on Dad’s Muck boots, and take out all of the election signs from behind the sandbags and then start lifting out the sandbags at the small fall. Mrs McConnon and Mrs McArdle pass by.

“Back out again ?”


“Are you doing this on your own ?”

Ray’s helping.

They look around the weir, into the trees.

“Where is he ?”

Clones, their opening the new canal.

“How’s he helping you from there ?”

I can feel his joy and positivity.

They laugh.

Ray’s son Ryan arrives.

“You hop out here Paul, and I’ll hand the sandbags up to you.”

Thanks Ryan. Is your Dad here ?

“He says he’ll be half an hour.”

It’s 2.30.

We chat and make great stead progress , taking turns getting into the river and hoiking up the sodden sandbags. I have never seen Ryan not smile. It is hard not to smile a lot when you’re in his company. I smile a lot.

A girl called Chloe comes along the path and starts chatting to us.

This is not a random meeting.

She , it transpires, is Ryan’s girlfriend.

She is lovely.

But she does not lift a single sandbag.

She does tell us that we’re great, and the sandbags seem lighter, or Ryan is putting in more of an effort because she’s here.

We lift out 132 sandbags and pile them neatly on the edge of the path. Donagh Development are going to use them down at Emy Lough.

It is 4pm.

We head to the car park, Ryan has to go to work. We get a missed call from Ray, and a message to say that he’ll be there in half an hour. I say goodbye and thank you to Ryan for all of his efforts.

I go and have a coffee.

A kid points at me and says to his mother “What happened that stinky man ?”

I look down at my muddy , soaked tee, my mud splattered arms and the drying sand on my legs from the sandbags.

“ I was burying cheeky children at the bottom of the lake.” I scowl.

I have another coffee and miracle of miracles , Ray arrives 30 minutes later and hops out of his car wearing pristine wellies. We head up the path to collect the election signs. Ray marvels at the amount of sandbags when you see them all together. We carry smiling big headed Aughey’s , Blayney’s, and a not quite smiling Cowan, down and load them into Ray’s car.

Ray says that it’s been a good day’s work.

He buys us rum‘n’raisin ice creams  and drops me home.

I thank him for the lift. He wishes me well for tomorrow. Neither of us had mentioned it for a week.

My Soulmate is making tea, she tells me there is hot water and to go have a shower.

She is heading out to a Pilates class and then to her Women’s Circle. This is her day before too. We hug before she goes.

Aurelien arrives home, we have our tea watching the end of the Germany -Hungary game. He chats about work. It’s hard to believe that this is his last week with us. I offer some opinions on the match and he tells me what is wrong with each of them. He goes to his room to do some work before the Scotland – Switzerland game starts.

My friend AnnaMarie messages me to say that my Evil Goddottir Caitriona has won a story telling competition on her last day in primary school. She told a story about her favourite place, Second Christmas in Mum & dad’s on St.Stephen’s Day.

A message pops up on Instagram to say that mu original Evil Goddottir , Eimear, has been selected for the Irish Women’s Canoe Polo team and I message them to ask what is the frecord for the fastest sending off in Canoe Polo.

I’m wrecked.

My elbow is sore, my wrist is sore. I’ve been bitten on my knees and arms. I am quite content with myself.

I watch last week’s Dr.Who , again.

The Scotland game starts. Aurelien predicts the score, frustratingly accurately, and not like my 4-1 Scottish victory proposal. My Soulmate arrives home. The match ends. I take my magnesium. I wearily make it up the stairs.

I will sleep tonight.

I don’t.

I listen to 45 minutes of ‘How The World Made The West’…then another 45 minutes…then I fall asleep. I wake. It’s 3.28am. I listen to the book again. I fall asleep.

Eileen gets up before the alarm.

“Morning Gorgeous.”

The Day before is gone.

We have tea and toast.

We drive to Dublin.

She dozes sometimes.

It’s a beautiful day.

Nick Cave sings ‘Ghosteen’.

I almost cry.

The Smile sing ‘Free In The Knowledge’.

I cry.

We park and make our way to Clinic A.

“Hi Jessica.”

“Hi Paul. Take a seat there.”

My Soulmate and I are the youngest people waiting.

There is something on the television. At the point of a gun I couldn’t tell you anything about it. I watch different people being called. Other people being told they are in the wrong clinic and then patiently being given direction to their correct destination.

Eileen holds my hand.

“Paul Bond ?”

A young doctor is looking around the room. We stand and nod and follow her. She leads us to a room we’re familiar with. My file is open on her desk. We sit down.

She smiles and asks how we are.

We mumble something politely, but we’re both staring at my open file at her desk.

“Everything looks grand..”

That’s all I hear for the next few moments. Eileen has squeezed my hand as she actually pays attention to what Stephanie is saying.

“..scans don’t show anything coming back…kidney function good…bloods all positive…PSA bumbling about the bottom. We’re happy to book you in again in 6 months for the next scans, and review. You look great. Any issues at your end ?”

I am beaming at the ‘look great’ comment and it takes me a moment to realise that Eileen has mentioned a few things I never consider issues in the grand scheme of things. I catch up.

“Can I have a look at your stoma ?” Stephanie asks.

I sit up on the wee bed and reveal my stoma.

“Looks great.” Stephanie says as she pokes around my tummy, gently touching old scars.

“Yep, all good. You can get dressed. Anything you need help with ?”

Do you know anything about elbows ?

“Anything you need help with related to your condition ?”


We chat amiably.

We are relieved.

It is starting to hit us that we are OK for another 6 months.

My Soulmate knows that I will now get steadily then wildly giddier over the next few minutes, so she hurries me out.

She squeezes my hand.

It’s today.

We can look forward to tomorrow.

I message my family:

“Had my consultant review just now, all tickety boo ! Said I was great, coolest tee shirt they’d seen in 6 months, and the only thing that they were concerned about was that I wasn’t drinking enough Rioja !”

Hydrate ,People !



P.S. For my great friend John Baloney and all those facing the day before, this always gave me comfort, hope it does for you. The Smile’s ‘Free In The Knowledge

Author: paul

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