Toast, Spaghetti, Paula and a wombat called Ezekiel

oast, Spaghetti, Paula and a wombat called Ezekiel

(Wednesday Morning, 3AM)

OK, let’s clear up two things first. It was actually Thursday, and it was 3.45am, but Simon & Garfunkel hadn’t written a song called Thursday Morning 3.45AM , so…Yes, it was very early, I made my way out of bed quietly so as not to disturb my Soul Mate and immediately walked into the open wardrobe door that the aforementioned Soul Mate is always telling me to close properly. “Morning “ she said sleepily, “Travel safe”.

In the hall I tiptoed around Tuna, our lovely cat, and lightly kicked Pasta, our not so lovely cat, as payback for her normal 6.00am alarm call. I made a cup of tea and popped on some toast. The cats came into the kitchen , stretching lazily , and I fed them, giving Pasta a little extra by way of apology. My toast popped, slightly burnt at both ends, so I lathered it in butter to make it more palatable and ate it apart from the crusts. I was tempted to put on more toast, but didn’t have time, and then, without thinking I dipped my crusts into the tea. As I now ate my delicious soggy crusts I was flooded with childhood memories of plastic mugs and picnics up the Cooley Mountains on Sundays with the Whitmarshs…and then I was late. But isn’t it magic how a taste, a smell, a song can transport us across time ?  

“A marshmallow, 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of Sellotape and a yard of string.” Our lecturer , Dr.Karl,said ominously as he introduced Monday evenings exercise. I was sitting at a table staring blankly at four classmates who were blankly staring back. This was a practical exercise. I am the least practical person I know. Even at home, both cats are more likely to correctly wire a plug than I am. The marshmallow, spaghetti and the other bits and bobs landed on our table and on the other 7 tables. “OK everyone, you now have 15 minutes to see which team can suspend the marshmallow the highest from the table. Go!”.

“Bugger !” I thought, teamwork is second only to poking myself in the eye in the list of things I really, really shouldn’t do. In fact for a long time my favourite tee was a No Fear one which had a large back print stating “Does Not Play Well With Others”.

I promptly demonstrated my complete lack of any DIY capabilities by picking up two of our precious strands of spaghetti and accidentally snapping them into several pieces. The rest of my team looked at me in horror. I immediately put my hands behind my back and promised not to touch anything else. We argued a little about the proposed structure. I could see what one member was suggesting , and it made the most sense, but the others couldn’t follow what she was saying. And then I apologized and broke my hands curfew and crudely drew out a sketch of what our engineer had proposed. “Ahh !” the others said and then a few moments later, after one or two minor mishaps, our team, after I returned my hands safely behind my back, erected our winning tower of spaghetti !

(One of the other teams suggested that theirs was equally tall, and out of politeness, and pity, we agreed)
Maybe there’s something to this team malarkey after all. No one sat back, everyone listened and each one seemed to be able to do something the others couldn’t. Magic.

So having got up at such an ungodly hour on Thursday morning and accomplished my mission, I now found myself in Dublin with a few hours to kill. I treated myself to scrambled egg and coffee and then ambled round to the National Library and sat in the reading room and devoured ‘The Accomplished Art : Gold and Gold Working in Britain and Ireland During The Bronze Age’, because why wouldn’t you ?

Then I wandered into Trinity and dared to use my student ID to go into the library there, I felt like I was trespassing. I then sauntered over to Georges St.Market to meet my great friend Paula for lunch and a chat. Paula and I share a passion of wanting to write a book and consigning bazillions of ideas to numerous unfinished notebooks. I told her about a short video by Ira Glass that our lecturer Gillian had shown us in class on Wednesday, the jist of which was that only through practice , volume and actual writing will you become a writer ( video link in the P.S.’sss). I also mentioned that I’d written a child’s story about a boy called Ulysses and a talking wombat called Ezekiel. ( a snippet in the P.P.S ) She told me about the story she’d written about a homeless heron in Dublin. We committed to each other to pursue both projects until the piles of rejection letters grew so tall that they would blot out the sun. I can see hers in print already. That would be magic.

I hope you found some magic in your week, if not I wish you some over the weekend.


P.S. I openly admit that I have listened to Harry Styles ‘Watermelon Sugar’ repeatedly this week and that I stole it from my daughter Robyn’s playlist.

P.P.S This is the Ira Glass video

P.P.P.S Meeting Ulysses & Ezekiel (Snippet )

Up until a week ago , John Smith was exactly the same as everyone else in his class at St. Epicurious The Imaginary’s School For Very Ordinary Children, in almost every single aspect . The boys and girls in his class were all moderately good at Maths, English, and Science, and absolutely awful at Irish, and so was John.

The boys and girls in his class were all moderately good at football, soccer, athletics, and absolutely awful at tennis, and so was John.  

The boys and girls in his class were all moderately well behaved in Mrs. Hudson’s class, in Mizz Johnson-Jonson’s class, and in Master Thunderzz’s class, but they were all demons in poor Mr.Master’s class, and so was John. 

They all had equally appalling taste in music, games and movies. It was hard to see any differences at all. Except one. John Smith’s family had a tradition of naming their first born after both Grandfathers.

“So what ?” you say, “Lots of families do that.”

Granted. But John Smith was not a first born son, he was a middle child, and in his family the tradition was that this child was given the names of all of his uncles. So John’s full name, which was revealed to his class a week ago by the hapless Mr.Master by mistake during roll call was John, Arthur, Sean, Sean, John, Francis , Frank, George,Ryan, Ulysees Smith.

Before you feel it necessary to point out that there are two Seans and two Johns in there, I’d like to assure you that this is not a typo, oh no. John had two uncle Seans and two uncle Johns, one each on his mother’s and father’s sides, and they felt it wasn’t fair to leave out one. I should also point out that John did not actually have an Uncle called Ulysees, but his mother had bought a book with that name long before John was ever born ,and even though she’d never actually read it, she loved the name and when John was being given so many other names she decided to throw it in for good measure.

So, John, Arthur, Sean, Sean,John,Francis, Frank, George , Ryan, Ulysses Smith now stood out from the rest of his class in spectacular fashion , and they let him know it. As Mr.Master had read out his full name the class had giggled at the second Sean, laughed out loud at the second John and shrieked with malevolent joy when they hear the name Ulysses. “ULYSSES !” they’d all roared together. And when they saw the bright shade of pink that John had gone they proceeded to shout at the top of their voices “ULYSSES! ULYSSES !ULYSSES ! ULYSSES !” until Mizz Johnson-Jonson came hurtling into the classroom to tell them all to be quiet, assuming that there was no teacher there or they wouldn’t be making such a racket. Now Mr.Master and John were both the same shade of pink.
Any thought that John had that the class would have forgotten about it by breaktime were quickly banished when kids from other classes started shouting “Ulysses !” at him in the playground. At lunchtime every single child he met, older, younger it didn’t matter, yelled “Ulysses !” as soon as they saw him. After school he was pursued the whole way home by a gang of children he didn’t even know chanting “Ulysses !” repeatedly and laughing out loud each time he turned around.He thought he’d never get home.
He went straight to his room and only came down to the kitchen when his hunger overcame his … I was going to say ‘shame’ , but John was not ashamed, he hadn’t done anything wrong. He wasn’t angry, well he was a bit, but his overriding emotion was confusion. He simply didn’t know why everyone in his class , even those that he considered his friends, had decided to pick on him this way over a name…well several names. His Mum and Dad asked him about his day, but he simply mumbled something and quickly hurried back upstairs to the safety of his room.
At least it would be different tomorrow.
And it was. It was much worse.

Author: paul

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