Tuesday, March 27, 2012
That same fucking nightmare!!!
'Christ another rainy Monday and another fucking hangover!'
His words steamed up the window, as he pulled back a smoke-clogged net curtain onto a street of striding legs. Legs reminded him of scissors and umbilical separation. Barbra had walked out on him after the hottest afternoon of sex and laughter they'd had in months. It had been like the old days before.... Archie. Shielding his eyes from the business of life and light, his right arm reached behind him for the brandy bottle on the bedside locker. Thank God, oblivion had come before the end of the bottle. Almost as soon as the brandy hit his stomach, he retched, but somehow managed to keep it down. Not as easy as it used to be .... to stop .... to start again. But then nothing was. Lying back on pillows that hadn't been laundered since she left, his eyes shifted unwillingly towards the door, where she stood to go three weeks before. 'I don't get you Barb. How can you say its no fucking good between us after this afternoon?'
' This afternoon..... is precisely why I have to leave you Hal. Yeah we laughed.... yeah we fucked, but it was frenzied as fuck! Jesus don't you see? One last final attempt to recapture something, that we never really had. We met in a drunken haze and we clung to each other in a drunken swamp! Think of it as a parting gift!'
Her words hammered in his head and getting as far as the bathroom sink, he threw up. Turning on the tap, he wished he could wash away the truth and her words as easily as the septic contents of his stomach. Falling back down on the bed, where they had shared so many drunken nights of love, he turned towards the empty pillow and wished he could watch her sleeping again. She had always succumbed before him.
God it hurt! Rolling onto his back, he noticed a spider spinning a web from one side of the lampshade to the other and thought of school and Robbie Burns' 'If at first, you don't succeed......!' What a fucking joke! Tears filled his eyes for the first time since she closed the coffin lid and the front door to their apartment and he sobbed uncontrollably as he remembered the morning of the funeral.
She had been sober from the time she discovered there was another living being inside her; depending on her, even if he had been a mistake. Sober....she was now a complete stranger to him and already he resented this needy rival. Instead of bottles of brandy, she brought home baby clothes and rolls of wallpaper splashed with balloons and terrifying clowns. He drank more and stayed home less.The child arrived eight weeks early and during the two weeks that he struggled to hold on to life, his father visited him once. He buried his head into her pillow, trapping it between his arms and his knees.
'Please....please....God.....Jesus ....Barb.... forgive me!' he cried. 'I could n't watch it ....his struggle to breathe... to live!'
Why had n't he been able to express these fears to her then or even to himself.
'Why now? What the fuck?' he slammed.
When he had been able to face going home after the birth, he slept in the half-clowned box room on a put-up bed. That morning, she opened the door just enough to show a thin, pale face and he knew, now, what he'd seen stalking those dark-circled eyes. Pleading....she was pleading....giving him one last chance....and he hadn't see it....didn't get it! Instead the words 'Kiss Archie for me!' passed through his teeth; sliding over dried up lips, from a cave in his stomach, where the stranger lived. And that was that. He didn't go to the funeral; He was too drunk; too hungover; too....too....yellow-livered scared!
He let go of the pillow and looked up at the spider's web, once more, and was reminded of his recurring nightmare. A labyrinth of washing lines.... thousands of them .... whiter than white, whites .... following him....assaulting; this way and that .....attacking his head....suffocating him....sheets wrapping themselves around like boa constrictors ...squeezing out his life's breath. He could smell his mother and he could hear her voice talking to the ladies that she washed for....but he could n't reach her....he couldn't find her....just the voice....her voice....!
Closing his eyes in the echoes of that voice, he pressed his hands together across his chest:
'Kiss Archie for me!'
Maureen Walsh - March 2012
Ciao for now!
Monday, March 26, 2012
THE GOOD LIFE
Contorted and splendid it shades
In dappled skirts of summer green
Feathered moments of knowing.
Age-spotted with lichen it soothes
Through tangled limbs of autumn's gold
Weathered battles of searching.
Majestic yet dormant it thaws
With fingers sharp in wintry white
Tethered chattels of thinking.
Awakened in glory it crowns
Midst petticoats of springtime limes
Pleasures wishes by being.
Maureen Walsh - March 2012
Inspired by working in my garden over the last few glorious days: my willow tree; the wisteria and lilac getting ready to burst onto centre stage; the joy of discovering two shelducks on the quarry pond down the road from me; and a scruffy, scrappy starling, nesting behind a rotting fascia board, surprised with the most beautiful birdsong of the weekend; and listening to another songbird, one of my favourite octogenarians, Tony Bennett singing and still rocking on this track, The Good Life with Billy Joel from his latest album Duets, thanks to my dear friend Chris.
Take a peek and listen, if you have a moment!
IT IS A GOOD LIFE!
(Even in your dreams.........)
Ciao for now
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Zohra Filali, above, showing a photograph of her 16 year old daughter, Amina, who committed suicide recently in Morocco. This was a young girl, who believed that killing herself was the only way out of a nightmare. A nightmare that started when she was raped as a minor at the age of 15, and continued when she was forced to wed that same rapist, who then abused her for five months following the marriage, until she could stand no more and ended her life by taking a tablet; the purpose of which was to kill rats.
Under article 475 of Moroccan penal code, the perpetrator of rape on a minor may not be prosecuted if he marries the victim. Apparently, the rapist, 10 years her senior, did not want to marry her initially, but was persuaded when he was informed by the prosecution that he could serve between 10 and 20 years in prison, unless he did so.
Amina's mother, who pushed her daughter into this marriage, is reported to have said: "I thought she would have no future, no marriage, but now it would have been better if she had just stayed home,"
Women’s rights leaders in Morocco say that they’ve long sought more legal protection for women who are domestically abused and sexually harassed or assaulted. Legislative proposals to provide safety for women who face violence, including marital rape, have been “stuck” in government review since 2006. Fouzia Assouli, president of the Democratic League for Women's Rights said:
' In Morocco, the law protects public morality but not the individual. We have been asking for years for
the cancellation of Article 475 … which allows the rapist to escape justice.'
There is currently no law in Morocco specific to violence against women. A study released by the UN in 2011– the first of its kind on gendered violence in Morocco–notes that in 2010, approximately 60 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 65 reported having encountered some form of violence, and 1 in 4 of those cases experienced sexual violence.
We are no strangers to the horror stories that tell of the absolute humiliation, degradation and violence visited upon women throughout the world, by cultural, societal and penal codes. It is difficult to grasp.... believe that any intelligent,compassionate mind could condone genital mutilation, for example, or stoning a woman, often resulting in death, for committing adultery. Perhaps it could be argued that the adulteress, at the very least, is 'supposed' to have made the decision to have consensual sex outside of marriage, for herself, knowing the full consequences of those actions.
Amina, this most unfortunate 16 year old, did not make the decision to be raped; neither did she make the decision to marry her aggressor. She was bullied into a marriage that killed her, by her misguided mother, a village community, and by article 475 of the Moroccan penal code, which should have been abolished within the Family Code of 2004!
Indeed, the women of Ireland, have had their hopes and dreams squashed by a society, crippled by cultural and religious prejudices. The Magdalene Sisters, a film based on true stories, paints a searingly painful picture of young women, who became pregnant; who were raped; who were, in some cases, considered to be a temptation because of their attractiveness, being thrown into laundries to slave for nuns and in some cases to be further sexually-abused by priests in the name of penance and social justice.
The last laundry did not close until 1994!
However, in a relatively short period, equality for women in Ireland, which HAS to start with a protection from violence, domestic or otherwise, is becoming the 'norm'; well-rooted in legislative support. What about Morocco (and countless other countries) then?
Being fascinated by colours, fabrics, interior design and architecture, Morocco has long been on my 'must visit' list. This tale of sadness and gross injustice caused me to consider my touristic approach; to question what we as Westerners; The Other, looking in on Morocco, or any other place outside our own environmental experience, considers to be exotic. Enraged by this horror story of 2012; my first thought was to cross it off the list, but then I stopped suddenly in my tracks. Of course I want to see Morocco without any pre-conditions; warts and all and have no hankering to see only what the Moroccan government and tourist agencies want me to see, or to stay in the hotel compounds of Marrakesh, Agadir, etc. Furthermore, Moroccans have become dependent upon tourism to feed themselves and their families ! So where does that leave us?
We must sign petition after petition; we must send emails; we must write letters to the Moroccan government in the hope that nothing like this ever happens again.
Throughout history, women have been FEARED by men, and then, as a possible consequence, were ABUSED for their enormous physical, mental and emotional strengths. These qualities were designed as essential elements for the NATURING AND NURTURING of MOTHERHOOD not WAR or TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD. Bodies of thinking, religious and law-making institutions (mostly men) have done their utmost to keep women down. Thankfully, that is beginning to change; quite quickly... quite drastically!
However, I have to make one final point: Amid these rapid changes, we must not forget that this is all 'new' to the 'New Man', who, more than likely, finds himself without the support of a role model. Men are increasingly taking care of the home, as their wives or partners assume the role of breadwinner. Role-reversal and unemployment may be a crucial factor in the rise of suicide figures among young Irish men.
I hope the Moroccan government is feeling the outrage of the outside world at this time, and that it has the courage and the heart to abolish clause 475 of the penal code and to begin the legislative crusade against any violence against women as quickly as possible.
Women AND men should stand together; shoulder to shoulder; heart with heart, to fight against the injustice of violence and discrimination of ALL kinds to ALL peoples.
Ciao for now!
Monday, March 19, 2012
Shot into town early Saturday morning to buy wellies with my niece and nephew, Thi and Daniel, who stayed with us for the weekend. They are city-slickers from the Big Smoke, who forget that wellies are an absolute must when visiting their country cousins in Tipperary. I had no upbeat music in the car for the journey, only some Dvorak, Sibelius, Handel and Barbra Streisand. Daniel opted for Barb. as he'd sampled some of the classical stuff before and wasn't that impressed. Thi sat in her car seat in the back and Daniel mused beside me in the passenger seat in quiet appreciation of Ms Streisand as she sang her version of the beautiful song, Windmills of Your Mind .... a great start to a really lovely day.
Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand from the film The Way We Were
What a movie !!!
I took them, along with their mummy and daddy to see the St Patrick's Day parade in Ballylanders. Ballylanders, Co. Limerick rather than Tipperary town, as is my norm, because the band of my Lisvernane National School, which lies at the foot of the Galtees, were marching and playing music there. (I say 'my' because I have the privilege of teaching drama there!) The band marched in the Tipperary parade last year, but for some reason this year, Tipp were having a parade, then they weren't, then they were, but Lisvernane had already signed up for the Ballylanders gig. Every pupil in the school is a member of the band and they looked magnificently resplendent in their white and blue, as they marched on this very green day. Enormous credit is due to the teaching staff of this school; their families and the small, but industrious community of Lisvernane as a whole. There was a wonderful sense of community and occasion in Ballylanders that day. We arrived in the village only to find that the parade had been pushed forward a half hour to 3.30pm, because some of the floats were on their way back from the Mitchelstown parade. I smiled to myself and sighed wistfully. Thankfully there are still some things that remain spontaneous and sparkling about this beautiful island and its culture, at a time when Irish bureaucracy has quite possibly overtaken that of Britain.
Then.......there was the rugby match !!!! What rugby match I would say! I'm not really that familiar with the rules of the game, but I have watched quite a few high profile games, and have never seen so many scrums or so much scoring from penalties. What did the Irish team do to deserve so many penalties against them? Penalty try....?!?! Crikey I was going nuts watching it and it didn't help that I watched the match with a soccer fanatic, who doesn't know much about rugby either. Despite the fact that I am English, I consider myself to be Irish now (after 36 years of living here) and always, always, ALWAYS shout for the Republic of Ireland, whether it is soccer, cricket, tennis, golf or even rugby. Naturally, if Ireland is knocked out of a tournament, I then fly the flag for Britain. If that had been the first rugby match I had ever watched, I'm pretty sure it would be the last! Rugby fiasco did not, however, hamper Thi's enjoyment of her spare ribs!
Sunday was Mother's Day and once again the weather was unusually warm and bright for March. Daniel had made his confirmation quite recently and was mad to buy a fishing rod. We tried our luck in Ballylanders the day before, but to no avail. Fishing nets were a last resort. Mum and dad entrusted their babes to us for the afternoon, and we went off in search of fish in the River Suir. Daniel caught only weeds in his net, but we had great fun, crossing ditches and fences; getting stuck in swampy sand and water gushing in over the rim of our wellies. At least they saw fish (not sure whether they were trout or salmon, as I grew up coarse fishing in canals with my dad) jumping for flies under the bridge at Bansha, which at least proved the river wasn't empty. We went home wet, but warm-hearted. My girls were in touch from London and Canada to wish me a happy Mother's Day. The picture below was taken the afternoon before both Emma and Katy left.
Today, following a stroll down the boreen and making wishes in the fairy ring across the fields, the house is quiet once more and I am left with a windmill of 'strawberry moment' memories. I am sitting alone at my kitchen table looking out at the birds who appear to be relishing the silence of the garden; singing; swooping; sparring; spiraling with the joy of just being.
Then I notice that the greenfinches are back in their droves after a year or two's absence.
Perhaps the return of the greenfinch is a sign of a long, hot summer. Let's hope so!
WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND (1 verse)
Round, like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel.
Never ending or beginning,
On an ever spinning wheel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that's turning
Running rings around the moon
(written by: Michel Legrand/Marilyn Bergman/Alan Bergman)
Ciao for now!
Monday, March 12, 2012
SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW
The handle came off
Grandma's pewter coffee pot
Coffee-d memories lost.
Wheel rolls down steep hill
Car startles cross busy street
Car startles cross busy street
Brakes fail .....siezing death.
Piling auburn curls
Burn on black and white tiled floor
In mirror ....shaven head .
Last wave at the gate
Eight hours new place new time zone
Youngest .....old enough.
The key broke turning
Keeping him on the outside
And lust.... in its space.
Thought train pulled out with
Somebody that I used to know
For a while .... .estranged.
Take a listen to this hugely creative piece by Australian singer/songwriter, Gotye. He produces everything himself, including graphics and videos.
Ciao for Now!
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Freckled faced boy .... awkward inside his body;
Mousy-haired boy.... awkward outside his body.
They cut a trail through burnished wheat,
And together, they finally fold ....
The insider and the outsider,
In a heap of blue-soaked sweat,
Beside a copse familiar since childhood.
Awkward meets Awkward.
Drawing an ironic rabbit from its hat,
The Master Painter reflects his blue tranquility
Across awkward, cobalt eyes.
His sighing cohort combs through tangled youth,
Whilst prompting green tufts to wave in grey;
And birches to bristle in their silver.
As he sleeps, she kisses him .....she knows.
Beauty meets Beauty.
Maureen Walsh - March 2012
Ciao for now!
Thursday, March 1, 2012
I was saddened to hear of Whitney Houston's recent death, following a long battle over many years with drug and alcohol addiction. It would appear from media reports, that her departure from this world was not premeditated, even though many would have said her death was inevitable. The above picture is from her latest album, and even with perhaps a little help from digital enhancement, she was still a stunningly beautiful woman. A friend, who works in the music business gave me a copy of this album, and in spite of years of abuse, her voice is still glorious, with that extra edginess that comes with more downs than ups in life. She would be best known for her starring role in The Bodyguard alongside Kevin Costner, singing such hits as, I'm Going to Run To You, Share My Life and Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You. Whitney R.I.P.
The classic, I Will Always Love You was one of Emma's (Pictured Above Left) early teenage party pieces. When Emma began her studies in UCD after her Leaving Cert, I thought I would never stop crying every Sunday evening as the train for Dublin pulled out of Limerick Junction. Of course these weekly departures were planned and very necessary, but it still didn't stop the dam of tears bursting every time I heard I Will Always Love You being played on the radio. Now, she is based in the heart of London chasing her dream of becoming an opera singer, and each time I take her to the airport, my drive home is always a watery one.
My other daughter, Katy (pictured above right) left for Canada today, and I find it difficult to describe the ache and tightness I feel around my heart this evening. This departure had been on the cards for at least two years ... so therefore planned for some considerable time. Katy is a musician/singer/songwriter/sound engineer and as that business is thriving over there, her leaving Ireland makes absolute sense. She is also a born traveller, who wants to taste the world and what life has to offer, and just recently home from six weeks travelling in India and trekking in Nepal, she is chomping at the bit. Emma came home last week to a house filled with family and friends who wanted to wish Katy the very best of luck and Bon Voyage. They both departed from Cork airport this morning on two separate flights to London to follow their dreams. As much as you reason with yourself, the plain truth of the matter remains. The love for your children is so bloody well unconditionally juicy, that their departures have to hurt!
The picture above of my father and I, was taken at my graduation from UCC Cork in September, 2009. Dad fell a few months after that picture was taken and has been in failing health since. He spent two of the most formative years of his life from the age of 2 to 4 yrs old as a TB patient in a special TB hospital, which consequently left him with a weakened chest. What appears to be a genetic curvature of the spine does not help the performance of his lungs either.
I departed for the UK on Jan 5th to celebrate dad's 84th birthday on Jan 9th. I was supposed to be only staying for one week and because he developed pnuemonia and fluid on the lungs, I ended up staying for 7 weeks. My dad and his 91 year old wife, who can only get about with a walking frame and wheelchair, were completely independent up until this point, apart from the fact that dad hasn't driven his car since his fall, and therefore my brother does the weekly shop etc. Dad is home from hospital now and naturally I couldn't come home until all sorts of care and safety alarm measures had been put in place. Physically, dad has improved and according to my daily phone calls since returning home, he continues to do so. However, dad's memory, which has been slipping over the last couple of years, deteriorated dramatically with this latest bout of pnuemonia; so much so, that he didn't know who I was on many occasions over the last few weeks. At times, he thought I was his nurse. I rang him tonight and reminded him of the girls' departure; he said a couple of words and for the first time ever, just passed the phone over to his wife without saying goodbye.
It would seem that part of my dad has departed too ... albeit unplanned, but it still hurts!
Another picture of departure: My friend Diane and myself saying 'Goodbye' To Emma in London after listening to her singing in a recent concert.
A tribute to the departure of Whitney and that of family and friends..... planned or otherwise! Below a much edgier rendition of I Will Always Love You. Mushy for some perhaps. But ain't it LOVE that makes this life beautiful!
Ciao for now!