Breakfast on Planet Weird

Dopey dadWhat a strange morning this has been: never quite emerging from the fug of a sleep ravaged and arrested; half-awake when I was sleeping and half-asleep when awake. 

Sleep did I say? More like a night-long stretch in the cosy horizontal dark, my mind spinning furiously, matters practical tossed in with a kaleidoscopic carousel of images and encounters that can only have come from my deeper self.

There I was, turning, gurning and adjusting, the retreating darkness my body clock, checking the real time on my phone; one minute it’s 3.30, the next I am around 12 years of age, judging by the familiar long-forgotten lino in the kitchen of my Tipperary childhood. 

Reminding myself — again — to call my daughter early as she has a maths test in school, then I am talking in the parallel kitchen with my mother‚ dead for many years, who has just walked in, only she has had a sex change. Which I can’t mention.

All these years living in this head and it can still surprise me with stuff like this.

I was to call my daughter before seven to study. I had been up at six-thirty to put on the immersion and back in bed, I had this image of her already sitting up in bed and working away. I obviously drifted back to sleep, as the alarm cut into my reverie, and I rose — again. Darkness in my daughter’s room … that was her up early yesterday! Continue reading

The calm after the storm


I have just been out with Bella for our morning ramble in Rush park, and I wanted to assess the damage from Hurricane Ophelia.

We definitely got off very lightly over here in coastal north Dublin.

The winds were high from late afternoon into the evening on Stormy Monday, and our windows did rattle and the wildly swaying trees outside did have their roots well tested in an epic game of tug of war. They held their ground, and it was nothing like some of those scenes on the TV reports, with poor old Paschal Sheehy looking like he was about to take off any minute. Getting a bit of the Theresa Mannion action. At least she remembered her hat, Paschal!

Then there was that older geezer in Salthill, Galway, going for a dip off the pier in a mini-tsunami.

The kids were off school and  some of the footage had them looking up from their iPhones for actual minutes. Continue reading

Dad, you’re such a loser

i_hate_you__daddy_Okay, maybe it’s time to come clean: this parenting lark can be such a downer. Brings out the best in me, occasionally, but brings out the worst in me way too often. I struggle to get it right, thinking I am doing it for the best, but sometimes I have to ask myself am I just trying to come out on top in a battle of wills? One ego versus another?  And me supposedly the responsible adult. The bigger ego. Bruised and brittle.

My dear, departed dad was a really good man, which I always suspected but luckily came to know as I got to share an adult relationship with him. My mum died when I was 14 and my complicated feelings towards her, I can only, retrospectively, frame in the context of them being the feelings of a 14-year-old boy, kind of frozen over.

But I remember as a kid hearing my dad saying certain things, in that horribly cross daddy way, and thinking I won’t ever be like that, or say anything so stupid or so obviously out of touch. Guess what, I’ve heard myself saying things, and I have reacted to my kids in ways, that have had left me red hot with shame and embarrassment right down into the pit of my belly.

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So who says it’s art anyway?


How big a part does context play in determining aesthetic merit? Not the conundrum I expected to consider on a morning’s North Beach ramble with Bella my seashell-crunching terrier. And all because of a discarded chocolate bar wrapper.

Tail wagging furiously, Bella led the way down the narrow sandy path and soon I could feel my tension dissipate with every scrunching step on the familiar carapace of crushed shells and sandy grains. 

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Letting those caged words sing


I sing out loud sometimes to stave off the solitude of mere reflection. The odd time I find myself in an exalted communion, even when I am just singing to myself. How good my song will sound to others, in time, only they can tell. That’s audiences for you.

Writing, for me, is like singing, and writing to be read like singing to an audience; writing out loud, if you will. 

As I write, the only audible sound is the rapid fluttering of digits on a keyboard, pressing home my frantic words letter by letter. But that’s not what I “hear”.

Sometimes my singing is flat and dull and ponderous, and my fists curl and my nails dig into my palms as I reach for notes that aren’t there. But still I sing. Continue reading

Shock as Taoiseach tells the truth — kind of


So Taoiseach Leo Varadkar finally let us — and Vincent Browne — know the real truth: his Government can’t solve the riddle of the loaves and hospital trollies, and neither will those selfless property developers who once slushed millions into his party’s funding coffers sort out the housing crisis. Like ever!

This was the top headline in today’s online Irish Independent, following last night’s appearance on Browne’s programme on TV3: “Problems in housing and health will not be solved by this government, Varadkar”.

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Diary of an unknown football legend


teds over 75s

He’s going to shoot any minute now: the All-Priests Over 75s Indoor Challenge match  … or my weekly five-a-side game?

The nights are drawing in and those ankle ligaments strained months ago are still not right. But it’s just a twinge now and as the evenings stretch out long — unlike my strung-out hamstrings — my Wednesday night indoor soccer game is calling me back. 

How dignified is it to be still drawn to that draughty old sports hall to run … trundle …  around red-faced and panting and kicking ball for an hour with similarly deluded/evergreen old boys? Sure even my 12-year-old son has told me I have no pace. Saying it like it is.

When is it over?  Continue reading