Wracked !

“… You can’t stop these kids from dancin’
Why would you want to?
Especially when your already gettin’ yours
‘Cause if your mind don’t move and your knees don’t bend
Well don’t go blamin’ the kids again

… When the morning comes
When the morning comes

… Let it go, this too shall pass
Let it go, this too shall pass “

Kulash / Nordwind – ( OK GO ‘This Too Shall Pass’)

There’s a quote , most often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that goes “Do one thing every day that scares you.” , which never really appealed to me, as , well, I’m a big scaredy cat, and do not like getting scared. My brother Stephen can hear me switching off the sockets in my office from his when I’m leaving in the evenings and regularly hides behind his filing cabinet so he can jump out at me , screaming “SEE YOU TOMORROW !!!” when I call in to say ‘Goodbye’. Scares the living daylights out of me every single time.

But I don’t think being pranked by your youngest brother was what Eleanor had in mind…at least I hope not. I took it to mean that you should do something out of your comfort zone.

This week I came across another quote from a guy James Brandon, author of ‘Ziggy , Stardust, And Me’,which was similar, but clearer :

 “The things that scare you the most are the things that bring you closer to who you’re meant to be.”

Again I choose to believe that James was not talking about our Stephen, or advocating a scary movie. Before I get to what I want to say, mention of a scary movie reminded me that this week is the 45th anniversary of Salem’s Lot being shown on television, that was the proper one , with David Soul and James Mason. I was 11 at the time and was allowed to sit up and watch it with Mum and Dad, right up until the point in Part 1 when a kid hears a noise at his window, hops out of bed and pulls back the curtains to see through the fog the missing kid  scratching at the window and asking him to let him in.

“Bed !” Dad shouted.

I sulked across the living room and left them to watch the rest of it.

The next morning before school I asked Mum over breakfast what had happened in the rest of the episode so that I could pretend to the other boys in my class that I had actually watched it.

“Nothing. Rubbish. More toast ?” she answered, then left the kitchen abruptly, saying that she had to get ready herself.

Dad came in a moment or two later and as he sat down to his poached eggs and toast, I asked him what had happened in the rest of the episode after I’d been sent to bed.

“What did you Mother say ?”

“She said nothing.”

“Quite right. Load of nonsense. Wish I’d gone to bed early too. More toast ?”

Years later Mam told me that they’d watched the rest of the episode holding hands..and Rosary beads. They went to bed and after an hour or so, Mam asked Dad if he was still awake, and he said he was.

“Would you like a cup of tea ?” Mam asked.

“Yes, please.” Dad answered.

“Will you come to the kitchen with me while I make it ?”

“Oh , for God’s sake ! I’ll get it.” Dad harrumphed out of the bed and went to the kitchen and made them each a cup of tea. He was too terrified to look out any of the windows and thought he wouldn’t make it back to the bedroom alive.

They didn’t watch the second part the following night.

Where was I  ?

Oh yes, going outside your comfort zone..

Last Saturday I drank a non-alcoholic beer…and I liked it. Never thought I’d ever say that. I have had non-alcoholic beers before , but you’d never want a second one. This one was Stiegel. I did try another one, a craft beer one, but it was almost as terrible as an actual craft beer.

My reasons for drinking non-alcoholic beer were twofold. Firstly, my Soulmate and I are heading to New York for St.Patrick’s Day to run in their half- marathon, and I’d like to be able to keep up with her, so I said I’d give up alcohol for Lent, and secondly my regular running mate/counsellor , Tiny Ray, hasn’t run in 4 weeks, but has lost exactly the same amount of weight as I’ve put on since Christmas. Something drastic needed to be done…and has been.

On Sunday my friend Paul Doran told me that he was putting my talk from the TenX9 in Belfast last September out on that week’s podcast. I wasn’t nervous about that in itself, as I’d already stood in front of a wonderful crowd in the Black Box and told the story publicly. I was nervous about telling my family and friends that they could hear it now. You can listen to it here. I’m on second, at about 9 mins 34 seconds…if you’re interested….

On Monday I was on a recording for a podcast , I know another one ,with eminent psychologist and general bon viveur Mr.Shane Martin, and Shane Mitchell , founding member of Dervish, and squeezer of accordions. The two Shanes are recording podcast episodes for their new series ‘Music & The Mind’ and asked me to talk about how important music was to me during my cancer journey.

I was incredibly nervous. I can blag away about music to my loved ones and friends, but these guys knew what they were talking about. I’d sent their long suffering producer Amadine a list of the songs that I’d listened to most that year :

1. The Smile – album – A Light For Attracting Attention – in particular the song ‘Free In The Knowledge’, which I felt was written just for me.

2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – album – Ghosteen

3. Tom Odell – song – ‘Best Day Of My Life’

4. CMAT – album – If My Wife New I’d Be Dead – especially the song ‘I Wanna Be A Cowboy Baby’ 

5. Niamh Regan – album Hemet – especially the song ‘How About That Coffee’

6. Fontaines DC – album – Skinty Fia – especially the songs ‘Jackie Down The Line’ and ‘The Couple Across The Way’

7. Gorillaz – album – Demon Days Live – especially the song ‘ Don’t Get Lost In Heaven’

My nervousness stemmed from being challenged or judged on them, or being told that they were all the same song really.

It all went well. At least I think it did. Pretty sure it did.

That same eminent psychologist and general bon viveur Mr.Shane Martin called me afterwards to say thanks and that he’d listened to the TenX9 recording too and that it was incredibly different to hear one of my stories rather than to read them. He said that I should send something into Sunday Miscellany, the RTE radio Sunday morning programme. I told him that my Aunty Margaret had said something similar before.

“You should always listen to your Aunty Margaret.” he replied.

And as he is an eminent psychologist and general bon viveur I decided I would. And I did. Sending off a piece of writing into the slush pile for rejection or selection is nerve wracking.

My nerves are wracked and I only have non-alcoholic beer !!!

And then , as if that wasn’t enough , I sat down today and wrote the story of Thoth, one of our most recent Drumlin Giants.

“But you’ve written a number of them already ? Why would that scare you ?”

Yes, dear Reader, that is true, but I usually write them, correct obvious spelling mistakes , and then just upload them to the Drumlin Giants Facebook page. No biggie.

“So ?”

Well, as I’d been out around local schools before Christmas, getting our future Wunder Monkees involved in the project I thought it only fair that I send the story to the first school I visited , Rackwallace National School, and ask them their opinion and feedback before anyone else sees it.

I sent it to the second best teacher in the world, Mr.Grundy, today and asked him to read it to the kids . He replied that he would read it to them tomorrow, adding “Be very careful asking for feedback. If it’s from me it’ll be gentle and if it’s from the children it’ll be brutal and I’m typing this before I’ve even read the story!”

I’ll not have a nerve left by tomorrow afternoon.

When’s Lent over again  ?



P.S. And this is just magic, OK GO’s ‘This Too Shall Pass‘ performed live in one take with the Notre Dame Marching Band

Author: paul

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