When I Grow Up

“People help the people
And if your homesick, give me your hand and I’ll hold it
People help the people
And nothing will drag you down”

– Cherry Ghost

I still call Mr.McConnon, Mr.McConnon, despite now being older than he was when we first met. At his own encouragement everyone calls him PatJoe , but I can’t , maybe I will when I grow up.

I haven’t worn a shirt in over 10 weeks. I’ve lived in tee shirts, even managing to reclaim some of my older ones from Jake and Robyn. My two younger brothers wear proper polo shirts and button down collared shirts. When anyone calls in to our office for the first time they usually ask me if they can speak to the boss ,nodding towards either John or Stephen.

The other day was warm, I wore an Amnesty ‘Love is a Human Right ‘tee , and took a black jumper with me in case it cold later when I had my online ‘class’. The jumper was a v-neck and l passed a mirror at one point and immediately I was 17 again in the front hall at home, about to head out somewhere with my SoulMate and Mam called after me :

“Paul, you’re not going out like that, are you ?”

“Like what ?” I asked , genuinely perplexed.

“A v-neck without a collared shirt ? Seriously ?”

“Seriously !” I answered back.

Mam then turned to my SoulMate for support, “Eileen, can you not have a word with him ?”.

She simply smiled, and then Mam realized that Eileen was wearing the exact same. Mam just raised her eyes to heaven and then laughed saying “There’s no hope for either of you.”

I’ll stop wearing tee shirts when I grow up.

The last time I wore that Amnesty tee-shirt that I’m conscious of was a few weeks ago. I was running around doing local pharmacy deliveries and called to a house that I’d passed many, many times before, but never called up to, or knew who lived there. It’s just off the road, surrounded by a tall  hedge, well, it’s tall for a Laurel hedge. I pulled into their driveway , an elderly lady was sitting on a garden chair outside her front door , chatting away to someone on her phone. I got out of the jeep and held up the pharmacy bag, and she nodded , and then pointed to her front step indicating that’s where I was to leave it. As I got closer I could see her expression change as she saw the bright pink lettering on my black tee more clearly :
Love Is A Human Right.

I left the delivery on her front step and smiled. Her smile was much more strained now. I turned to leave and that was the first time I noticed that inside her hedge, facing the house, but hidden from the road was a gigantic Mother Teresa sign, in fact, sign is the wrong word, it was bigger than my jeep, it was a billboard, against a hedge, facing a house, on it’s own , with no neighbours, only fields of Friesians either side. I stopped in my tracks for a moment. It was so…BIG !

This billboard had Mother Teresa advocating human rights also, albeit with a very, very, very , narrow definition of them, but hey ho , same menu, different choice, who am I to judge ? I turned back to the lady who now seemed cross and was talking furiously to someone on the phone and  pointing at me. It was then I remembered that this tee has a giant rainbow on the back. But who could take offence at a rainbow ? This lady apparently. I pointed to her billboard and gave her a thumbs up sign. That seemed to confuse her. She stopped talking. After a moment of silence she shouted “Thanks…for..” she nodded towards the parcel on her step, “…you know.”

“You’re welcome” I shouted back “God bless.” And hopped back into the jeep. When I turned the ignition, my Spotify kicked in and Cherry Ghost’s ‘People Help The People’ started to play.

I’ll stop reading significance into small things when I grow up.

I am the worst person in the whole wide world to ask to do anything practical. Which is why my SoulMate never asks me to do any such thing. She gets an adult in to do it. She still remembers that we had to get the bathroom in our first house in Clane re-plastered due to my many, many attempts to attach various things such as mirrors, towel rails, toilet roll holders, to the poor innocent walls.  I mean , there are two types of drill bits, one for masonry and one for wood ? What a bizarre and wonderful world we live in. The hardware shop in the village used to love me, I think I bought every wood drill bit they had before they asked me what I was doing with them all, they supplied one of the construction firms building the new FAB over in Leixlip for Intel, and I was now buying more drill bits than they were. I told them I was attaching things in the bathroom. “For how many houses ?” they asked. When I replied one, they started calling each other over and asking me to repeat what I was doing. They gave me a set of masonry drill bits for free and twice afterwards on Sundays, when Baz and I would leave our respective first homes to go down to Manzor’s to watch the football, if any of the lads from the hardware shop spotted me, they’d buy me a pint.

So this week it was decided that our front step needed fixing, and my SoulMate duly asked Greg, an adult, to do it. I was happy with this arrangement. Very happy. I was having enough trouble completing a two page reflection for my course. And then Greg rang me and asked me to bring home a couple of extra bags of cement and sand. No problem. I’d gone to collect some with my Soulmate the day before , so I knew what size to ask for. “You leave this to me Greg.” I duly drove over to the hardware store , queued responsibly and then approached the lady at the counter and asked for three small bags of cement and five small bags of sand, and smiled.

“What type of sand ?”

My face fell.

“There are types of sand ?”

“Yes, mortar or plaster ?”

“ Do you know the big shed with the one way system ?” I said pointing randomly in a large shed with a one way system direction.

“Yes” she said, and for some I reason I thought, if this was a bank , she’d be furiously pressing a hidden button under her till, calling for police assistance.

“Well, when you drive through the shed, and you’re leaving by the side door there’s a pallet of sand at the door, on the left, what one’s that ?”

“Mortar sand.”

“Cool, I’ll have five bags of that please.”

She started tapping away on her terminal.

“Oh !” I said, interrupting her. “Are there different types of cement ?”

She looked me up and down and then returning to her tapping she simply said, “For you ? No.” And then she handed me an order for to take to the big shed with the one way system to give to “the man”. I duly drove over to the big shed, gave my order to “the man” and helped him load up the cement and MORTAR sand, and drove home, pleased as punch with myself that I’d actually done something DIY related properly.

Maybe this is what it’s like when you grow up ?

Doing my reflection for my course this week made me , what’s the word.. yes, reflect on lots of things. Some course related, some not. With regard to the course we’d had to reflect on a recent group exercise that we’d had to work on. This was done remotely due to the thing, and involved classmates from another class that we’d never met before. I’ve always hated conference calls and Skype, so the thought of conducting meetings , interviews and pitch practices via Zoom was even less appealing than the masses we had to go to the day after a wedding in the olden days when we did such things. My god I still remember the trauma of mass in Gweedore the morning after Stephen & Maria’s wedding , where I was Best Man, I know, me , right ? I recall not being able to eat anything at all throughout the meal, wracked with nerves about my upcoming speech. When I finally mustered the strength to rise and start , I noticed that the hall was half empty. Mary Robinson had recently been elected our first female President and was staying in the same hotel. Someone had spotted her in the lobby and half the wedding guests were outside taking photos with her.

It all went swimmingly after that, people laughed appropriately , loudly,  and no doubt sympathetically. We left the wedding reception at midnight-ish to go to another hotel to see ‘Goats Don’t Shave’ and I vaguely remember sitting in that hotel lobby drinking with them, Ger’, Liddy, and my SoulMate at about 4 in the morning. Mass the next morning was mandatory as my SoulMate’s whole family was there, and , that’s what we all did in the olden days. You went to mass. I was very, very, unwell, couldn’t even face a Weetabix. I was at the mass for a good 15 minutes, thinking I was in delirium, before whispering to my SoulMate “I can’t understand a word of this” , she whispered back, “It’s the f#cking Gaeltacht ! He’s speaking your mother tongue.” Ahhh.

So , yes, this group exercise was going to be like that, I thought. Lot’s of stuff going on around me and me thinking I’m dying and making various impossible half promises to Mary & Joseph, roping in the Holy Ghost for good measure “Get me through this and I promise not to do that thing that I shouldn’t…during the week.Amen.”
Anyway It proved to be interesting, great fun and … And it made me stop and think. I know ! Me ! Not just saying the first thing that came into my head. Well I did , but because we were using a thing called Collaborate, which is Zoom-lite, they couldn’t hear my interruptions , so it appeared that I was listening to them ! So this is how groups work. It’s not just doing what the one who talks all the time says ? Intriguing. Again I was very fortunate in that everyone in my group was super cool and they knew what they were doing , so it looked like I did too. We came second in the pitch competition. Woohoo !

Maybe when I grow up that’s how I’ll conduct myself ?


We’ll see.

Oh, before I forget, Ryan that works with us, has started making bucket hats out of his old Liverpool jerseys and he’s selling them on eBay. They look cool, apart , obviously for the terrible source material. He offered me one, but I declined, because, even though I don’t really follow the footie anymore, I still couldn’t wear a Liverpool hat. I think they’re great and deserve the title and all that. And who couldn’t love Klopp, super human being, top man. But no, I couldn’t. And then he offered to make a busket hat out of any old tee shirt I brought him. Brilliant ! So last night I went through about 30 old tees and each one I picked I thought “ Nope, bought that one in Santiago with the kids/ got that in Grenada with the SoulMate/ at Nick Cave with Baz / Neil Young with SoulMate, Micky & Helena/ wore that the day Robyn was born/ bought in Tucson with John and Stephen/ bought in Zagreb with John  and Stephen…and so on. Everyone had a story. True they’d still have a story  as a hat, but I just couldn’t.
Do you have a favourite tee that you can’t let go of ? Oh, oh, or even better a tee shirt that you wished you could have again ? Like a Frankie Says…or the Zooropa tour tee, yeah, the navy one with yellow writing  ?
Let me know and I’ll see about getting you one of those ethically sourced cotton SuperJetRobotDinosaurs ones that all the cool kids are talking about.

Happy and hat less,


P.S. This is ‘People Help The People’ by Cheery Ghost

Author: paul

Leave a Reply

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