365 days…..day 90

Standard

c/f £945……..stakes £20

Upton Mead 3.30 P lost + 20 £965
Quayside Court 2.40 T lost + 20 £985
Valrene 3.10 T lost + 20 £1005
Bright New Dawn 2.55 F lost + 20 £1025
Mount Belben 4.30 F lost + 20 £1045
Thedigout 4.30 F lost + 20 £1065
Pull The Pin 5.25 M lost + 20 £1085

<strong WELL WE FINALLY DID IT! BROKE THE £1000 BARRIER AND DID IT IN STYLE WITH A 7-0 WHITEWASH. SOME DAYS ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS! AND TO ANY BEGRUDGERS OUT THERE – PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE……

365 DAYS……day 89

Standard

c/f….£975……….stakes £20

Star Lahib 4.50 D lost + 20 £995
Oscar Magic 4.25 H won @ 7/2 – 70 £925
Mick’s Yer Man 1.50 M won @ 1/1 -20 £905
Excel Bolt 2.25 M lost + 20 (25
Ceviro 5.40 NA lost + 20 £945

STILL SEE-SAWING! CAN’T SEEM TO GET OVER THAT £1000 LINE. MAYBE TODAY!

365 DAYS…….day 87

Standard

c/f….£975…….stakes £20

NO RACING TODAY.

SO……..

KAVANAGH by Tom O’Brien

SCENE 1 : EXT. STREET SCENE. DUBLIN. DAY

SFX : voice singing in the background, getting nearer

PADDY: If ever you go to Dublin town, In a hundred years or so
Inquire for me in Baggot Street, and what I was like to know
O he was a quare one, Fol del the di do
He was a quare one, I tell you

SFX : Footsteps on pavement…high heels

HILDA : Are you waiting for someone, Paddy?
PADDY: Hilda! No, no…I was just…just…looking for…
HILDA: It wasn’t for me, by any chance? It’s just that I saw you in St Stevens
Green yesterday. And the day before. And weren’t you in Riordan’s Café
the other day? You’re not stalking me now, are you?
PADDY: I was, well…I thought a shilling for the gas meter
HILDA: Why didn’t you say so?

SFX: Jangle of money

There you are. We can’t have our greatest poet without heating now, can we?
PADDY: (MUTTERING) Or food. The cigarettes keep my pocket free from cash these
days. I have to tell you, Hilda, I’m as broke as bedamned.
HILDA: What’s to become of you at all, Paddy? No money, no job. I thought all
starving writers are supposed to reside in Paris.
PADDY: You can starve just as aisy in Dublin as in Paris.
HILDA: With nothing but your poetry to sustain you. What is it now?

Clay is the word and clay is the flesh
Where the potato-gatherers move

PADDY: Like mechanized scarecrows.
HILDA: Wha…
PADDY: If you’re going to quote me at least do it correctly.
HILDA: It’s a long poem, Paddy
PADDY: The Great Hunger is more than just words on a bit of paper.
HILDA: I know, but –
PADDY: Maybe I should give it up – go back to Inniskeen.
HILDA: No! You mustn’t say that. A job, that’s what you need to tide you over. And someone to look after you
PADDY: Are you offering? ‘Cos I’ll only marry you if you have ten thousand
pounds in the bank. And you’ll have to show me the dockets first.
HILDA: Show you the dockets…what an odd expression!
PADDY: Ah, I’m only joken’. I’d marry you for nothing. It was
something I heard a neighbouring farmer say back home, when he came
round boasting about the great match he’d made. The wife-to-be had
tubs of money according to him, but before the night was out we’d half
convinced him otherwise. ‘Be God, she’ll have to show me the dockets
first’, he kept muttering for days afterwards. (PAUSE) Well, what would
you marry me for?
HILDA: I wouldn’t marry anyone for anything – except for love.
PADDY: I’m bet then. Shure I know you don’t love me.
HILDA: I love your mind, Paddy. And your soul. Your beautiful poetry soul.
PADDY: But not my body.. Shure who in their right mind would? Look at me .
Like an orang utan.
HILDA: Ah, go on now! Everyone knows beauty is only skin deep. It’s what’s
inside that matters. Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with you that a haircut
and some new clothes won’t cure.
PADDY: Clane outside and inside, begod!
HILDA: We’ll make you the talk of Dublin when I get back after the New Year…
PADDY: Where are you goin’?
HILDA: Home, Paddy. It’s nice to be with the family for the festivities, you know?
A big turkey, all the holly and ivy, gathering the wren…I love all that.
PADDY: Can I come with you? For the Christmas. To Dingle. Can I?
HILDA: The arrangements have been made for a long time, Paddy. And you…
PADDY: I know. I wouldn’t fit in. (PAUSE) Does your father know about you and
me?
HILDA: You and me?
PADDY: Well, that you’re going out with me?
HILDA: A few coffees together hardly constitutes going out…
PADDY: Don’t forget the pictures.
HILDA: We went to see one film together.
PADDY: But what a picture. Gone with the Wind.
HILDA: You slept all the way through it.
PADDY: But I still enjoyed the film, none the less.
HILDA: It doesn’t matter, Paddy. We are not going steady. But you know that!
Anyway, I have my studies to think about, so I haven’t got time for a
steady relationship.
PADDY: And when you do get the time?
HILDA: I don’t know. We are friends, I enjoy your company…your poetry…that
will have to do for now. Haven’t you anyone…a girlfriend in Inniskeen?
PADDY: Ne’r a one. Only me mother.
HILDA: Ah, go on now! You must have had lots. (LAUGHS) All that wonderful
poetry to woo them.
PADDY: They weren’t my type. Besides, it’s only in Hollywood films that females
flutter around the lamp of genius.
HILDA: Go on with you.
PADDY: They were okay for other fellas around, I suppose. Fellas like Jimmy
McGough. (IMITATES JIMMY) ‘ Begod, look at that one! She’s got fine load-bearing hips…’
HILDA: I think you mean child-bearing…
PADDY: No. Load-bearing. They assess a woman by how she might hump a bag
of praties across a wet ploughed field or a bundle of turf through a swampy bog. I’d love to introduce you to them…see their faces.
HILDA: I’ll pass on the invitation, I think.
PADDY: I’ll have to settle for that then, won’t I? Go on, away with you. We’ll
talk again when you get back.

SFX: Footsteps receding again. Paddy sings another verse as they recede

PADDY: On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge
Of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion’s pledge
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay
I loved too much by such by such is happiness thrown away

So long, now, Hilda Moriarty.

HILDA : (VO) Of course, Paddy being Paddy, he followed me to Dingle. And stood his own mother up for Christmas, first time ever. He had it bad all
right. Not that his time in Kerry was very productive; he had to put up
in lodgings in the town, and wasn’t invited to my family home for any of
the festivities.

PADDY: Still, I was near my beloved.

HILDA: Paddy was like a…beached whale. He floundered around. He didn’t
belong anywhere; not in Dublin any more than Inniskeen.
PADDY: Inniskeen is a frightful, sordid, squalid place. Cities are the only place to
be for anyone not a peasant.
HILDA: Trouble was, he had no social graces – and never felt the need to acquire
any. He just lumbered through life, leaving a trail of destruction behind
him. There was something about him and…inanimate objects. He sat on chairs and they collapsed; he swung his arms during conversations, and it went through a window or sent objects flying. And his personal habits were, well…it was said of his flat that people wiped their feet on the mat when leaving.
Oh, he could be charming especially to good-looking women, or to people he thought could be of use to him, but in general…well…you can imagine how he must have come across to those in the refined circles of literary Dublin. This big lumbering oaf of a farmer boy, with an opinion on everything – and everyone. Sean O’Faolain was…
PADDY: No fecking good
HILDA: Austin Clarke…
PADDY: Useless. Bloody useless.
HILDA: Yeats…
PADDY: I never cared much for Mister Yeets.
HILDA: Ah, Paddy. How can you say that?
PADDY: Patrick. You know I like to be called Patrick in public.
HILDA: It’s only a name, Paddy. A term of endearment.
PADDY: I come from a family of nine children and all our names are to be found in
the calender of the saints. It was to that calender that my father went in
search of a name when a child was born and not back to some dubious
ancestor with a name like a gnarled stick. And I don’t remember there being a Paddy in that calendar! So, please,call me Patrick in public!
HILDA: But there’s no one about, Paddy!
PADDY: You’re never far from earwigs in this town. Clarke, Behan, any of them,
could be hiding under a stone.
HILDA: I can see why you have the reputation of being the most cantankerous man
in Dublin.
PADDY: The whole world, Hilda. The whole world.
HILDA: Paddy was quite mercenary, especially in his search for a woman. And fussy. Never mind that he was no oil painting himself; his ideal woman must be dark-haired – and beautiful.
PADDY: Like yourself, Hilda.
HILDA: His ideal woman must also love him for what he was; he wasn’t going to change. He wasn’t prepared to change! Anyway, why should he? He was Dublin’s poet-about-town; he had a reputation; he was a character. He couldn’t change! It was all a far cry from Inniskeen, when he first
tentatively put pen to paper…

SFX: Classroom sounds

PADDY: (VO)I mind the time when I was thirteen – just before I left
school – and I overheard a girl in the other class reading a poem

GIRL: I walked entranced
Through a land of morn
The sun, with wondrous excess of light
Shone down and glanced
Over fields of corn
And lustrous gardens a left and right

PADDY: (VO)I knew then that I wanted to be a poet – not a shoemaker and small farmer, as had been ordained for me. Oh, I knew what lay in store… winter
spending time on the sate learning shoe-making, the rest of the year being
a trainee farmer only. But it was mother and father had the vocation – not
me. I wasn’t cut out for any of that. I was…different.
But maybe I wasn’t that different after all. Talk on the farm had the
romantic beauty of reality. We were as close to life and death as we could
be. And I was part of that existence. I lived within the protecting fog of
family life. Although i had been writing verse for some time, I felt I had
not become a denizen of the literary world where only spectres flit. I was
never more than half a poet. A true poet is pushed up by the under drive of
a nation. Yet having knocked and knocked at the door of literature, it was
eventually opened to me. But by then I was reluctant to enter. The clay
of wet fields was about my feet and on my trouser-bottoms. But I wasn’t a
literary man, more a country gobshite and poetry is not literature. Poetry is
the breath of young life and the cry of elemental beings. Literature is a
cold ghost-wind blowing through Death’s dark chapel.
But listening to that poem when I was a mere boy of thirteen, I was rapt to
that golden time in which poets are born. I felt as though I was in the
presence of a magician, and I was. There was witchery in that poem.

In those days I had vision. I saw upon the little hills and in the eyes of
small flowers beauty too delicately rare for carnal words. If a man loves
nature then he can see beauty in everything. He can see the finger of God,
even in a nettle

You do not come down the road anymore
Past the ash trees where the gap in the hedge revealed
Your blue dress the trimming to the bottom of Callan’s field.
And the free-wheel of your bicycle like the whirr
Off the breeze in the black sallies. If you could see
The clay of time falling away from my feet
When you appeared this side of Callan’s gate,
You’d come…

THE SCENE NOW IS IN PATRICK’S MIND – BACK IN THE LOFT ABOVE THE KITCHEN OF THE FAMILY HOME, WHERE HE USED TO WRITE HIS POETRY

MOTHER: Patrick, Patrick! The cows are broke into the oats you lazy robber, and you
lying here like a churn a-drying…and you broke every tool about the place
except the crowbar, and you bent that…I’d be in pocket if I paid you to
stay at home. You should have been a preacher.

PADDY: I tried to be a good son, a good farmer. For more than twenty years I
tried. (A SUDDEN PAUSE) Shhh…do you hear the corncrake? And that’s a cricket…d’you hear it? It lives at the back of the fireplace. Or so
my father was fond of telling us when we were young…
And this is my hideaway. Where I like to get away from it all. After a hard
day in the fields. Cutting the oats…stooking it, drawing it in…saving the
hay. Milking the cows…feeding the hins…Ah, it’s only an auld loft, I
know. But it’s mine. Where I can be…
I am sitting on a bag of oats in the loft. The moon is shining most bright
on me. Look! See? It’s a grand starry night for a ramble…

SFX: He lights up s cigarette and enjoys the sensation

(sings) Oh, to be in Doonaree
With the sweetheart I once knew…

MOTHER: Patrick, Patrick, what did I tell you about smoking up there? You won’t
be content till you burn us out of house and home. And don’t forget, you
have to take them calves to Carrickmacross in the morn. And there’s that
field of turnips to be thinned…
PADDY: And if I stick a shovel up me backside I can clane out the cowhouse at the
same time! Work, work, work, that’s my life. When do I get a chance to
write anything? (LOUDER) Ma, where’s the thirty bob you promised me?
MOTHER: Money doesn’t grow on trees, son. And you only waste what I give you.
Smoking, gambling, and maybe drinking too for all I know.
PADDY: There’s nothing wrong with a bit of gambling. Gambling is living by the
sensations.
MOTHER: If your poor father was here…

PADDY: But he’s not! He’s buried the last six month. And I’m the eejit trying to keep the place goin’. It’s too much for any one man. And she’s goin’ on
about smoking, the only bit of comfort I have. And gambling! A few pennies down at the cross at the pitch and toss… Tis enough to drive a man to drink. There’s a dance over at Billy Brennan’s barn Sunday night. I hope she comes up with the few shillings before then. May Crawley said she’d be goin’. I think I’m well in there. I might try her out. Oh aye, May could be hot stuff…not pretty to objective eyes but young and gay and innocent – a butterfly with not the slightest interest in poetry. Not that it matters

Oh woman shapely as the swan
on your account I shall not die!

They’ll all be down at the Cross now, laughing and joking…(LOUDER – SO MOTHER CAN HEAR) Spendin’ their money!

(sings) The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay.

Oh stony grey soil of Monaghan
The laugh from my love you thieved
You took the gay child of my passion
And gave me your love conceived

You told me the plough was immortal
O green-life conquering plough!
The mandril stained, your coulter blunted
In the smooth lea-field of my brow

You flung a ditch on my vision
Of beauty, love and truth
O stony grey soil of Monaghan
You burgled my bank of youth

MOTHER: Patrick, Patrick, are you comin’ down, there’s a man here wants a heel on
his shoe…

PADDY: My purpose in life was to have no purpose in life. Well,
maybe it was to write pomes. But that wasn’t anything tangible, like being a carpenter, or a farmer, or a…bishop. And besides, I didn’t even
have to write it. I could make it up in my head…when I was ploughing a
field, or digging the praties…

MOTHER: Patrick, come down, we’re goin’ to say the rosary…

PADDY: And as for my mis-spent youth, I count that time as the lost years of my
growing up. Once I had left school, I squandered the precious coin of life
on the roulette table of fate. There was no deep thought then, no profound
spirituality – just an emotional moment that left no dregs of beauty when
the flood had passed.

MOTHER: Patrick, Patrick, the cows are after breaking into the turnips.

PADDY: Ah, Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Will I ever get any peace!
At that very moment the last line of a poem was dangling within my reach and now it was gone into the limbo of all unwritten things.

I turn the lea-green down
gaily now,
and paint the meadow brown
with my plough.

I dream with silver gull
and brazen crow
a thing that is beautiful
I may know.

Tranquility walks with me
and no care
oh the quiet ecstasy
like a prayer

I find a star-lit art
in a darkened sod
oh joy that is timeless! Oh heart
that knows God!

(TO HIMSELF) Shall I leave out the word ‘darkened’, I wonder?

SFX: Paddy opening a letter

PADDY: I’ve done it! I’ve done it! Macmillan in London are goin’ to publish. It’s after being called Ploughman and Other Poems.
MOTHER: How much?
PADDY: Five pound down and ten per cent royalty.
MOTHER: It’s a start, anyway. It’ll pay for that plough you broke on the high field the other week.
PADDY: It’ll pay for my keep in Dublin. That’s where I must go nw, mix among the rale poets. I know I can do it. My poetry can burst the road.
MOTHER: And who’s goin’ to set them praties while you’re away gallivantin’?
PADDY: You wait, I’ll be rich yet. It may take twenty year of apprenticeship –
MOTHER: I’m not against you writin’ if I could see you makin’ anything of it.
PADDY: Christ, I’m only at it a year or two. Shaw only made ten pounds before he
was forty and now he’s a millionaire.
MOTHER: The next thing is the people will be callin’ you ‘the bard’, if yer not
careful.
PADDY: Shakespeare was called the Bard of Avon.
MOTHER: You and yer Shakespeare!
PADDY: To be a poet and not know the trade
to be a lover and repel all women
twin ironies by which great saints are made
the agonising pincer jaws of Heaven

HILDA: (VO) It was now nearly ten years since his father’s death, and his poetry had
taken second place to his farming. The publication of Ploughman, was his
first real breakthrough, the first intimation to the larger world that he had
arrived. Oh., he had a name as a poet back home in Inniskeen, but that was
a derogatory term more than anything else. It was –

FARMER: (VO) Ah, shure that fella is a bit of a gom, a class of an eejit who dreams and idles the day away. If it was left to him the cows would be bullin’ still.

PADDY: My father loved me and I loved my father, but he didn’t like my day- dreaming way of living. He said I’d end my days in the workhouse if I
didn’t change my gait of going. There’s no love of beauty
where I come from. We’re no better than barbarians just emerged from the
Penal days. The hunger had killed our poetry, making us mere animals
grabbing at the leavings of the dogs of war. And as for my neighbours, they saw me as a stranger within the gates. Some of them were afraid of me. In the
country places of Ireland, writing is held in a certain awe. A writer was a
desperate man from which people recoiled. Well, I was going to change all that; I was off to Dublin, where I was sure to be appreciated.
HILDA: (VO) He realized that as long as he remained in Inniskeen he
would be primarily a farmer, only a part-time poet. It had to be Dublin
where –
PADDY: Art, music, and letters were the rale thing. I’m thirty three today. They crucified Christ at thirty three, and I haven’t even got a job
yet. Oh, the Parish Priests Gazette offered me reviews at ten bob a go.
And how many have they sent me in the last two months? Two. I won’t
get fat on that. No, I had to be off, I had to journey down the road of my
dreams.
HILDA: The Irish Independent – known colloquially as the Parish Priests’ Gazette – and The Irish Times, both tried to put bits of work Patrick’s way – reviews and the odd article – but his reviews were generally so savage that they became wary. And an article he wrote about a pilgrimage to Loch Derg turned out to be such a sneering dismissal of the event that The Independent declined to publish it.
PADDY: I thought I would have no trouble getting a job in Dublin. A dacent job
that would lave me free to write, not the back-breaking, never-ending
drudgery that was farming. But I soon found out that though Dublin is
overrun by patrons of poetry, all they do is praise the poets and give the
jobs to their own fecken relations! True patronage is the art of keeping the
wrong kind down rather than assist the right kind up.
HILDA: As you might guess, Paddy was met with indifference and scorn because he came from the country and wasn’t considered intellectual enough – whatever that meant!
PADDY: It meant I was unlearned. But I grew up to despise learning. What good is grammar to a man who had to work a spade and a shovel? Working in a field is not the stuff of muses. When the tide in the affairs of most men is at the full, I missed the tide. But a man is what he is. Under the skin – we’re all ninety-eight per-cent chimp – and if there is some mystical quality in the nation or the race it will ooze through his skin.
HILDA: However, Paddy did have the support of one John Betjeman. Much to the annoyance of fellow writers such as Brendan Behan.
PADDY: John Betjeman appreciates my talent. He thinks The Great Hunger is the best poem since The Waste Land. You wont find any trace of ‘the mean Dub’ in John Betjeman.
HILDA: Paddy had been writing an autobiography off and on for years, and it was now being published by Michael Joseph, who titled it The Green Fool, despite Paddy’s reservations. It was an instant success; the critics loved it. It was going to be published in America too, and Paddy was rubbing his big hands in glee at all the money he was going to make. No more scrimping and scraping; he had hit the big-time; he was going to be internationally famous. And then disaster struck
PADDY: Looking back, The Green Fool was a ridiculous book, written by a bollix.
A bollix who knew nothing about himself, let alone anybody else. A man
who writes a book libeling his own people is burning his bed. And sure,
the fragments cannot be put together again.
HILDA: And Paddy didn’t intend this to happen to him, so he made sure there was nothing derogatory in the book about his neighbors, who, he knew, wouldn’t be slow in coming forward if they thought they could make a few shillings out of suing him for libel.
PADDY: Although I have to say, I was sailing a bit close to the wind at times. The people of the locality weren’t too particular about morals. There were six pubs in the parish and the illegitimate children equalled all the others.
HILDA: I think you’ll find that in most Irish villages, Paddy.
PADDY: And as for the market women, I began then to realise that women are cruder, more of the earth, then men.
HILDA: But in the end, his neighbours were fine about it; it was Oliver St John Gogarty who took umbrage…
PADDY: Did you see what that pox-doctor Gogarty is after doing? He’s after suing
me for libel in the High Court in London. Well, not me; Michael Joseph.
That’s the book banjaxed now.
HILDA: The passage Gogarty objected to was where Patrick described arriving at
Gogarty’s house in Dublin and the door –
PADDY: ‘Being opened by a white-robed maid, who I mistook for his wife or
mistress, expecting every poet to have a spare wife’.
HILDA: It was meant to be a humorous couple of lines. Paddy never even visited
Gogarty’s house.
PADDY: Gogarty wasn’t a rale poet; no sense of humour. Anyway, that wasn’t what
really upset him. What happened was when I first came to live in Dublin I
went to the National Library looking for the addresses of any Dublin poets, and I was given Gogarty’s. I said ‘Is Gogarty the fecken’ best you can do?’ I suppose he got to hear about it. (PAUSE) I got a forty pound advance for the book, losing the case in the High Court cost me four hundred pounds.

HILDA: Michael Joseph was the one who had to foot the bill, not Paddy. The book
was withdrawn immediately after the case, so what it cost Paddy in unsold
copies is anybodies guess. Probably a lot more than four hundred. The
immediate result was that Paddy was back among the poor of Dublin for
another while.
PADDY: I knew nothing about the new poets of Ireland. There was not a word in
our school books about the writers who were bringing about a renaissance
in Irish letters.
And as for my own verse making, as soon as I began to dabble and my
dabbling became a deep involvement. I began to warble my native wood
notes wild. There was nothing deliberate or conscious about my poetry
except in time I began to study iambics, rhyme and stanzas. I counted the
feet in the verses I read, I wrote verses myself but the number of feet per
line varied to break my heart. But for all that, verse-making was getting a
grip on me. It grew unawares like an insidious disease. But I had imagination and a poet without imagination is like a blind man in an art gallery.

And of my art, I soon learned that simplicity is the ultimate in poetic
sophistication. My poetic roots were within my schoolbooks and from the
age of twelve I took to the poeming. My poetry had a meaning and a
message that had come from the hills of imagination far beyond the flat
fields of common sense.
I wrote of the excitement of primrose time, the music-filled silence of little
fields in March and April.
And I wrote about other matters too…

PADDY: O he loved his mother
Above all others
O he loved his ploughs
And he loved his cows
And his happiest dream
Was to clean his arse
With perennial grass
On the back of some summer stream:
To smoke his pipe
In a sheltered gripe
In the middle of July.
His face in a mist
His two stones in his fist
And an impotent worm on his thigh
But his passion became a plague
For he grew feeble bringing the vague
Women of his mind to lust-nearness,
Once a week at least flesh must make an
Appearance.
So Maguire got tired
Of the no-target gun fired
And returned to his headland of carrots and cabbage
To the fields once again
Where eunuchs can be men
And life is more lousy than savage.

The Great Hunger isn’t about the Famine. It’s about the hunger for…love, food, land, life…everything. But mostly it’s about the hunger for sex…

SFX: The voice of a priest on a pulpit

PRIEST: The Great Hunger is a filthy poem and we call for it to be banned. The
Bishops of Ireland urge all good Catholics to have nothing to do with this
scabrous book. And to pray for strength from our Holy Mother the Blessed Virgin…

PADDY: Paddy opened his trousers wide over the ashes
And dreamt himself to lewd sleepiness.
The clock ticked on. Time passes.

PRIEST: What’s that all about, Mr Kavanagh?
PADDY: Masturbatin’ in the fireplace, what d’you think!
PRIEST: And ‘sitting on a wooden gate’…’sitting on a wooden gate’…What
was… Maguire doing sitting on a wooden gate?
PADDY: Masturbatin’, what else!
PRIEST: And this? ‘he sinned over the warm ashes again…’
PADDY: More masturbatin’ in the kitchen…
PRIEST: You’ll be hearing from us, Mr Kavanagh!

PADDY: (SHOUTS) The bad things is aisy remembered! By the Grace of God the experiences of sexual perversion passes us by as an idle wind. Through the filter of innocence no tainted water passes!

HILDA: (VO) The Great Hunger was never banned. Well, not
officially anyway. It had been championed by John Betjeman, which may
have had a bearing on the fact. Paddy had shown it first to Betjeman, who
immediately recognized it as a major work, and set about helping to get it
published. The ‘banning’ came in the form of seizing copies at Easons,
and ‘visiting’ several more bookshops, which frightened them away from
stocking it. It was probably more of a political act than anything to do
with obscenity; Paddy’s vision of Ireland was slightly at odds with that of
Mr. De Valera – and Dev was pretty thin-skinned about things like that.
PADDY: Up Dev, me arse! He’s made paupers of all the small farmers in the land.
And drove all the young people across the water to find work. Someone
once described England as ‘the land of small shovels and big money’.
Well, it’s better than the land of big shovels and no fecken’ money. Are
You listenin’, Mr. De Val-uer?

SCENE 2 EXT. STREET SCENE. DUBLIN. DAY

PADDY: Hilda! Let your hair down.
HILDA: Why?
PADDY: I like it down.
HILDA: I like it up.
PADDY: Women who pin their hair up are sending a signal.
HILDA: What signal is that?
PADDY: They have found whatever it is they are looking for.
HILDA: What nonsense! It feels better up…much more refreshing on hot days
PADDY: (sings) And eer dark hair would weave a snare –
that I would one day rue…
Hilda, let your hair down, please.
HILDA: If you are going to be like that I’m going…
PADDY: No! Stay, please. I’ll shut up. (PAUSE) I haven’t seen you for ages.
HILDA: I’ve been busy. So have you. (LAUGHS) Did the Guards really come round to see you?
PADDY: Two Special Branch boyos!
HILDA: Go on or that!
PADDY: I’m telling ya. ‘Kavanagh’, says the big ugly one, ‘we’ve come to burn that filthy pome of yours’. ‘You’re too late’, sez I, ‘Dev has already called with his box of Solus’.
HILDA: And what did they do then?
PADDY: Well, one of them asked me to sign a copy for him.His grandparents came from just outside Inniskeen. Small farmers like ourselves.
HILDA: I read it all. Every line. It’s your best work by far.
PADDY: You didn’t think it ‘obscene’ then?
HILDA: Ah no. Ripe, raucous…but not that. I thought it was about yourself.
PADDY: Is that how you see me? Paralyzed from the waist up…Or is it from the waist down? Half-vegetable, half-man…(LAUGHS) A human scarecrow…
HILDA: It’s how you see yourself that matters.
PADDY: I see myself chatting to the most beautiful girl in the whole of Dublin, and
her big smile gives me hope that she’s as delighted to see me as I am her.
So delighted in fact that she’ll do me the honour of coming to the pictures
with me tonight.
HILDA: I can’t, Paddy. I really can’t.
PADDY: Why not?
HILDA: I’m…dining out with somebody…
PADDY: I knew it! That’s why you have your hair up. The ‘Not available anymore’ sign.
HILDA: How dare you! Here’s another sign. ‘The feck off Patrick’ sign

SFX: Sounds of Hilda walking away.

PADDY: Hilda, no – please – I’m under – my mother died a few weeks back

SFX: Sounds of Hilda returning

HILDA: I am sorry, Patrick. I really am. She meant a lot to you.
PADDY: She did. Among her earthiest words the angels strayed.
HILDA: Is that where you were? In Inniskeen?
PADDY: Yes. We gave her a good send-off. She loved me, Hilda. You can’t beat a
mothers love.

Oh, you are not lying in the wet clay
for it is harvest evening now and we
are piling up the ricks against the moonlight
and you smile up at us – eternally.

HILDA: But it still doesn’t give you the right to speak to me like that…
PADDY: I know. You’re right….
HILDA: (PAUSES) If you must know, I am seeing someone. And it is serious. But you and I can still be friends. We’ll always be friends…

PADDY: (REFLECTIVE) I ‘member the times I’d be goin’ to the market in Dundalk in the cart with a load of turkeys or hins, and my ma’d come out and sprinkle holy water everywhere. Or when we were sick, and she’d make us drink three sips from a bottle of water from the Holy Well at Kednaminsha. She was never sick a day in her life. (PAUSE) She was at the fair that morning. She came home and went to bed. Just went to bed. And never got up again…
HILDA: At least she didn’t suffer. (SILENCE) Did you hear what I said about seeing someone…?
PADDY: You have only one mother…
HILDA: Maybe you should go back there altogether…
PADDY: No. There’s nothing left to go back to now. Nothing.
HILDA: It’s where you grew up Paddy.
PADDY: Ah, the country’s a great place to write about but a dreadful place to live in
HILDA: I really must go…
PADDY: I know. I heard you. You’d better not keep him waiting. The grey dawn is
breaking and it is almost noon.

SFX: Hilda walks slowly away

PADDY: So long now. (SILENCE)
Deep down I knew it was over, but I kept telling myself that
where there was life there was hope. The feller she’s seeing might break
his neck, or fall under a train, or something like that .And if I could get
close to him I might even help him on his way!

(sings) I gave her gifts of the mind I gave her secret signs
That’s known to artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And words and tint without stint, I gave her poems to say
With her name there and her own dark hair
like clouds over fields of May

SFX: interlude

365 DAYS….day 86

Standard

c/f £995…..stakes £20

Qualviro 2.20 FL lost + 20 £1015
Qalinas 4.00 FL lost + 20 £1035
Rosie’s Peacock 5.05FL won @ 1/1 – 20 £1015
Elenika 3.00 L lost + 20 £1035
Leviathan 4.40 L lost + 20 £1055
Pure Style 4.35 S lost + 20 £1075
Regal Hawk 3.50 W won @ 2/1 – 40 £1035
Ishikawa 4.20 W won @ 3/1 – 60 £975

Hoping to break the £1000 barrier today. We shall see.

3 winners today, so not great. I must repeat that the prices I give are the prices I lay at, not the starting prices. I do not calculate at starting prices. Sometimes you can get horses that wind up at 5/1 that can be laid in the morning (or the previous night) at half those prices or thereabouts.

365DAYS…..day 84

Standard

c/f £955…..stakes £20

Master Cardor Visa 3.10 F lost + 20 £975
Iron Butterfly 4.10 F won @ 2/1 -40 £935
Buy Art 3.50 L lost + 20 £955
Wordiness 4.50 L lost + 20 £975
Jacob’s Son 4.30 S lost + 20 £995

365 DAYS….day 83

Standard

c/f £935…..£20

Elusive Hawk 3.10 L lost + 20 £955

We are kind of stuck in a rut since Chel. Seesawing, I suppose, is the word. Cheltenham was better than I expected, 10 lays with 2 winners @ 1/4 & 3/1. Laying to win £100 on each horse would have brought in £800, with outgoings of £325 – so a profit of £475. ( less betfair comm.) I would settle for that every week!

365 DAYS……….day 81

Standard

c/f £925….stakes £20

Dubai Hills 3.10 S won @ 6/4 – 30 £895

Very slim pickings today.

Something to while away the lonely hours.

JOHNJO’S TALE
Tom O’Brien
You can never go back, they say. And maybe they’re right. They can’t stop you going back in your mind though. And right now mine has me sitting on a hill, looking down on some windswept, craggy fields. In the distance I can see the faint outlines of farm buildings. Our farm buildings.
Come all ye loyal heroes wherever you may be
Don’t hire with any Master till you know what your work will be
For you must rise up early from the clear daylight till dawn
Or else you won’t be able to plough the Rocks of Bawn
My father was always singing bits of that song. I don’t know, maybe he didn’t know any more of it, but those are the only words that stick in my mind. I suppose, though, they had a certain ring…Plough…Rocks…Bawn….I mean, look at it…More rocks than bawn…By God, if I had a penny for every stone we picked…For every furze bush we cut down. I can still hear him now:
‘Fifty acres, boy…and five of them is a hill. What good is a lump of limestone to a farmer? You can’t feed beasts on rocks. By God, if I had my way, I’d blast the whole lot to kingdom come…’
Then he’d be off singing again
I am a little beggar man and begging I have been
For three score and more in this little isle of green
With me sikidder-e-idle- di And me skidder-e-idle-do
Everybody knows me by the name of Johnny Rhu.
That was his favourite song He would sometimes sit me on his knee, and while he was reaching behind him trying to locate the drop of poteen hidden under the rock, we would hear my mother calling;
‘ Johhny, Johnny where are you? Out there in the cold with the child! Come on in now and milk the cows…’
‘Shh…we’ll be as quiet as two mice, boy…’
He would locate the poteen and take a good mouthful, then rub some on my lips.
‘Better than mother’s milk, that is…’
Then he would tell me one of his stories
‘Did I ever tell you about the time Finn Macool picked up The Giants Causeway and threw it into the sea? He huffed and he puffed, and he humped and he jumped…
Anyway, he finally managed to get a hould of the Causeway in his arms and he heaved it into the water. And do you know why? So he could walk all the way to Scotland.’
Then he would laugh. ‘Twas a long way to go for a job…’
The laugh would get mother going again.
‘Johnny…what ould rubbish are you filling his head with now…?’
He’d wait until she stopped.
‘All quiet on the western front, boy. Your mother is like Epsom Salts…best taken in small doses. De Valera is up there now, boy. Sittin’ on the throne. The one he’s always wanted. I only hope he knows what he’s doing. Up Dev.’
That would set her off again.
‘You and your ‘Up Dev’. When he gives us the extra land that he promised, then you can sing all about Mr De Valera.’
‘Have no fear, Dev is here…’
‘Come down from there you drunken fool. And bring the child with you.’
Course the extra land never materialised. Politicians don’t change, do they? Oh, some got a few acres here and there. Maybe they knew Dev’s mother-in-law, or bought an ass from his cousin. But most, like my father, got sweet fuck-all. Mind you, Jackie Nugent over in Carrickbeg got some. ‘How much?’, I heard my father ask him one day. ‘Fifteen acres’, he says…’when the tide is out’
You don’t mind if I take a sip of this, do you? I like a drop of diesel. I always have. There’s no harm in having a little of what you fancy. Or a lot.
You can see three counties from here. That’s Tipperary over there… Up Tipp!
And there’s Kilkenny. Ah, Kilkenny…
And in Kilkenny it is reported
They have marble stones as black as ink
With gold and silver I will support her
But I’ll sing no more now till I get a drink..
That’s a grand song. Up the Black and Amber, boys! And them’s the Comeragh Mountains over there…see? If I reach out I can almost touch them. And up there…look! Crotty’s Eye. That’s where Crotty, the highwayman used to hide, waiting for his chance to rob the poor feckers passing by below. They called him a highwayman. I might have been a highwayman myself in different times. Well, why not? Not much for disenfranchised young Irishmen to do in those days, was there? Not like Crotty, though.He was stupid; he got hung for his trouble in Waterford City.
The English…they loved hanging Irish people. Still do, given half a chance, I expect.
And there, see…that’s Croughamore…all two thousand acres of it. You can just pick out Croughamore House. See…over there, where those trees are…well, what’s left of it, anyway. There’s no rocks in Croughamore. Least not unwanted ones.
And the grass is so sweet the cows bellies are almost touching the ground…
And Lord Croughamore – or whatever his title was – was an English bastard, born
and bred.
D’you mind if I take another drink?
Burn everything British, ‘cept their coal – that’s what I say…
The Big House, that’s what we called it. Everyone did. It stood for something. A symbol, of…everything English. I would come up here with father and watch him look at it with loathing. We used to throw stones at it…and it two miles away for fuck sake!
I can hear him again:
‘See that place, boy? Your ancestors and my ancestors were thrun off that land by his ancestors. Never forget that. Put out on to the side of the road, and their biteen of a house sent tumbling down behind them There was nearly fifty families received the same treatment…all tenant-farmers like our-selves. Mind you, they did get two pounds each in compensation…
And what was it all in aid of? Greed, boy. The more land they had, the more they wanted. Not that it’s changed much since…Land does something to a man…affects his brain. Men have been known to kill for a bit of ould bog. Look at the range wars in America…and the wiping out of the Indians and the buffalos…wasn’t that only about one thing? Land. And when countries invade other countries…what’s that about only land? Ah Jesus, boy, I wish I had some land…real land. And when I had it, I’d let no…bastard take it away.’
He was never going to get it…not that he’d know what do with it, anyway. He was a farmer in name only; by nature he was a……I’d say he was a throwback to the Tuatha De Dannan. Able to do many things well, but not farming. He could tell stories; he could sing; he could dance.
Of all the trades a going, sure begging is the best
When a man is tired, he can sit down and rest
He can beg for his dinner, he has nothing else to
But to slip around the corner with his old rigadoo
Mother knew him only too well; I suppose that’s why she kept on at him. Who knows what he might have done if she hadn’t? The only thing she couldn’t control was the poteen and the Woodbines. He’d smoke Woodbines till the cows come home.
Then the war came and everything was rationed. He’d cycle into Town every now and again.
‘ Fifteen miles!’ she would say. ‘Fifteen miles for a fag, and you wouldn’t walk half a mile down the road to get a loaf of bread for the table.’
Sometimes he’d be gone for days and I would be sent to find him.
He was usually down by the quay, watching the ships coming and going.
On the rocks…high up. I was always afraid he might fall in…
‘And who’d miss me if I did?’ he would ask, before taking another drink
I’m a rambler I’m a gambler, I’m a long way from home
And if you don’t like me just leave me alone
I’ll eat when I’m hungry, and I’ll drink when I’m dry
And if moonshine don’t kill me I’ll live till I die.
I often thought he was thinking about…you know, jumping…but I never let on to mother…Everything seemed to be going okay until the day we heard the sound of a plane overhead. He got very excited and dragged me with him to the highest point on the hill
‘Come on, boy! That’s a German plane, If ever I heard one…’
And he’s away, making firing noises all over the place, running this way and that.
‘That’s it…that’s your target… the Big House…you can’t miss it…’
In his excitement, he tripped over a rock, and crashed head-first into a bigger one.
He lay there, blood pumping from his head. Somehow, I knew it was over.
‘ Daddy! Daddy! Don’t die. Please don’t die…’
I cradled him in my arms as his life ebbed away and the only thing I could think of was that he had never told me he loved me

‘Johnjo! Come on down from there. You have things to do in the morning.’
I had indeed. I was taking our last remaining bullock to Buckley’s level- crossing…putting him on the train, and taking him to the market in Dungarvan ten miles away. Everyone was sorry for my trouble. I was myself. But the time for sorrow was over. Life had to go on. And the funeral had to be paid for…
‘Twenty eight pounds, twenty nine…and ten shillings for luck…’
I had twenty nine pounds and ten shillings in my back pocket, and the bullock was heading in the Cork direction. I got the bus back to the village, went round to the undertaker and paid him his twenty three pounds. Then I called on the parish priest and gave him his three pounds for the funeral service and the Mass. When I got home, I gave my mother the two pounds ten shillings I had left. She said it was all we had between us and the poorhouse.
I wasn’t long changing all that.
It was something father had said…another one of his stories.
Francis Wyse, a self-righteous bastard of a landlord…oh back in the time of the famine…had evicted all of his tenants the day after they finished the harvest. Not the day before, mind – the day after. Anyway, they all ganged-up and stormed the place a few nights afterwards, shouting; ‘your corn or your life’. They cleaned the place out.
Your corn or your life!
I need another sup of this diesel.
Nothing so dramatic for me. I was green but I wasn’t gormless. Just the odd sheep. There was a butcher I’d heard about in Dungarvan who wasn’t too particular where his supply came from. And it was always cash up front.
Occasionally he’d kill one for me. I’d salt it and store it for our own use. Me and Ma.
I know what you’re thinking…stealing from people no better off than myself.
No, that wasn’t it. Croughamore House, that’s where I got them. They had so many sheep they’d never miss a few. Least that’s what I thought…
Isn’t it funny how a few shillings in your pocket changes your outlook on life?
You could go to the pictures…a dance…maybe have a few jars in a pub…
You think I was a bit young for the pub?
I looked older than my age…and to be honest, they weren’t too fussy.
Carrick – where I used to go – was like a ghost town as far as men were concerned.
I suppose the war had a lot t do with it. Even though it was an English war, a lot of Irishmen were away fighting in it.
But it was the times as well; there was no work. Dev’s vision of a homely, self-sufficient nation was a joke – and those who weren’t off fighting were over in England working in the factories and on the farms…sending home money to their families – when they thought of it.
And places like Carrick were full of women looking for a man. Any man. A young fella of seventeen was in great demand…
One of the hotels used to run dances, and were so short of men, they used to send the barman out in an old Transit van. Round-up time, he called it.
It was the beginning of a life-long association between me and the back of Transit vans. A lot of the time it was all innocent fun; a few drinks, a few dances- and if it wasn’t always like that, sure, isn’t that what made the world go round.
There was one song that always got me going at the dances.
Flow on lovely river, flow gently along
By your waters so sweet sound the larks merry song
On your green banks I wonder there first I did join
With you lovely Molly The rose of Mooncoin.
Another of my father’s songs. And whenever I heard it sung everything would well up inside me. He had been singing it in the field as we rebuilt a stone wall just minutes before the German plane came into sight. I never knew what that plane was doing in our vicinity, but I guess the pilot must have got lost. He was certainly well off the mark if his target was London or the South Coast of England, and I guess if he hadn’t strayed then father wouldn’t have died like that. A casualty of war is how it would be described I suppose, though in my book German stupidity had something to do with it.
Everyone called me Blondie now. Well, I was as blonde as a…Viking. Maybe I was a Viking…not my father’s son at all. I mean…when I thought about it – and I was thinking about it a lot more lately – there wasn’t much resemblance.
What was it I read somewhere?
‘The natives are ugly, squat people, with low foreheads…’.
That was him to a tee…Looking back on it now, I remember him looking at me out of the corner of his eye sometimes…sizing me up. I suppose he was wondering the same as I was.
At first it was great. Women all over me. And drink. I wasn’t getting home till all hours. Mother knew something was going on…but I think she was too afraid to ask. I said I was helping the butcher out, to account for the money. Well, he had an ould slaughter-house the other side of the hill…I think it half convinced her.
She had this idea in her head: we’d sell the farm and move into Town, and she’d buy a shop. I’d be able to get a decent job, and after a while I could take over in the shop. There was one flaw; there were no jobs – decent or otherwise. And if there were, what was I qualified for? Apart from making piles of rocks? Anyway, I wanted to see a bit of the world. Somewhere that didn’t remind me of a hill farm. I had already made up my mind;
Oh Mary this London’s a wonderful sight
Where the people are working by day and by night
They don’t sow potatoes or barley or wheat
But there’s gangs of them digging for gold in the street.
I was off to England as soon as I could get a few more shillings together. And pluck up the courage to tell her!
It was St Patricks night, and everyone had been wetting the shamrock since early in the day; singing, dancing and generally acting the eejit. I went to watch the Parade in town – they had a band and marching girls down from Down. Down from Down!
Anyway, I bumped into the butcher… Wet the shamrock? We drowned it! And in the course of it I outlined my plan. I would…liberate ten sheep from The Big House – well, who would take a blind bit of notice on St Paddy’s night? – and drive them to his slaughterhouse.
The rest was up to him. He hummed and he hawed – I thought he was a bit off-hand to be honest – but in the end he agreed. There was only one little problem; I would have to wait a couple of days for my money.
Have you ever tried to drive sheep in the dark? Well, not completely dark; there was a bit of a moon, but the state I was in wasn’t helping things…
How’s ever, I managed it. Well, five sheep anyway. That’s all I had left by the time I got to the shed. That’s all his slaughterhouse was…a big bloody shed.
I expected the door to be open – and it was. What I wasn’t expecting was the reception when I drove the sheep inside…They were waiting for me; O’Shea, the farm manager, and two others who I didn’t recognise.
It was a set-up.
I can still hear that fucker O’Shea ‘By jaysus, McGrath, by the time we’re finished with you, you’ll wish you hadn’t been born. I suppose you think you are carrying on a long line of tradition. Your father’s gone, and now it’s your turn. Your sheep-stealing father. They hung sheep-stealers not so long ago. How would you like to be strung up like your ancestors? Your fucking sheep-stealing ancestors?’
I wasn’t waiting to find out how I would like it. Christ! I felt like I was going to choke. I could feel the rope tightening around my neck as he spoke.
There was bench with several butchers knives…I grabbed one and made a run for it…
Somehow…I don’t know how – I think they must have stepped back when they saw the knife – I was through the door.
Then I realised there was blood everywhere…and when I turned round O’Shea was lying there in the moonlight, the knife sticking out of him. I don’t know…I must’a seen red…It was all a blur. My father as a sheep-stealer? He never stole anything in his life…I must’a just…just…
I cleaned up myself as best I could in the stream, then I went home, put a few things in a bag, put the few shilling I had saved in my pocket, and woke mother.
I can hear her now;
‘Ah, Johnjo, don’t go. Johnjo, why? Why must you go…?’
I couldn’t tell her why. She’d find out soon enough.

‘How’s she cutting, Blondie…?
‘Hey Blondie, get your arse over here and get the beers in…’
Oh the crack was good in Cricklewood
But t’was better in the Crown
There was bottles flying and Biddies crying
And Paddies going to town…
‘Are you goin’ home for the Christmas, Blondie…?
Home for Christmas? I hadn’t been home for more than thirty years…
What’s that saying? You can never go back -unless you have a hundred pounds in your pocket….or haven’t a charge of attempted murder hanging over you.
What’s the statue of limitations for that now, I wonder?
I was a wanted man. I almost expected to see my picture on wanted posters.
You know…like Jesse James or Billy The Kid…
WANTED -DEAD OR ALIVE – JONJO MCGRATH -ALIAS BLONDIE. LAST SEEN HEADING FOR LINCOLNSHIRE….
Why Lincolnshire? I don’t know. It was farming country; I read somewhere there was loads of work going there. And I thought I might be well away from Mr Hitler’s doodlebugs. I was – and so were a lot of others…wealthy Englishmen who had bought up a lot of the farms in the area – with the sole intention of keeping their sons out of the war. Doing their bit for their country?…Hah! They knew fuck all about farming. That’s why they hired eejits like me…They treated us like shit. We had to live in stables and haylofts. Working all hours. Picking spuds…muck spreading…milking…harvesting…you name it. We had no names.It was Paddy this…Paddy that…Paddy you thick cunt.
The prisoners-of-war were treated better than us But what could I do? I was on the run. And to make matters worse I had to report to the local police station every three months. Otherwise I could be deported. I was bollixed whichever way I turned…
Oh, the praties they were small over here
The praties they were small over here
The praties they were small
But we ate them skins and all
They were better than fuck all over here…
There’s Big Houses wherever you go in the world. And people to go with them
Did you ever hear tell of Elephant John? No not the Elephant Man.
Mind you, he was an ugly fucker, I will say that. Not that his looks held him back; when you look at all the millions he has now you might even conclude that his looks were his fortune. The right mixture of brawn and brain, I guess. Well, what else? We both started off on the same level – and look at him now.
He has a lot to answer for… Elephant John. I suppose he was a trend setter of his time.
Setting a style in fashions that thousands followed. The badly-undressed look, I guess you would call it…
Just take a stroll through Cricklewood or Kilburn
You’ll recognise him half a mile away
On his backside is tattooed the map of Ireland
And a big black wart stands out on Galway bay…
Elephant John had a lot in common with Finn McCool. He could move mountains…or mountains of muck anyway. Trouble was, he expected everyone else to do the same. Stuck you down a hole in the morning, and expected it to be an underground car-park in the evening. The subbies friend, until he became one himself.
Mind you, there were plenty more like him. Re-building England…what was left of it after Mr Hitler had finished.
I didn’t hang around Lincolnshire too long after the fighting was over. I’d had enough of those bastards. And as for the police…I thought I’d keep them in the dark too. I might as well be hung for a lamb as a sheep!
Building the motorways kept me busy. And we were always on the move – which suited me. We lived in camps you wouldn’t keep a decent dog in. And with fellas like Elephant John dogging you day and night, I often felt I had jumped from the frying pan into the fire. But I was free.
You know…FREE.
Whatever that meant.
You know the great American Dream? Life, liberty, and freedom for all…
Or something like that.
Well, this was the Irish version…Work, drudgery, and sweet fuck all.
BUT I WAS FREE.
We played cards to pass the time. Ah jaysus, I was a martyr for the cards. Thirty and forty five…
‘Hey, Blondie, you reneged that one…’
‘Tray of spades…I led the tray of spades…’
‘Ah Jaysus lads, can’t someone stop the jink…’
You could lose your week’s wages in one night And some of us did. Then you’d be stuck in the camp for the weekend, the lucky ones living it up in Kiburn and Cricklewood at your expense.
‘Take your partners for a Seige Of Ennis…’
The Buffalo…The Galtymore….The Banba …We rubbed bellies in all of them.
The Banba…. where they held a tea-dance on Sunday afternoons- and us drunken Paddies went to sober up for the night ahead. Or fought running battles with members of the Sunshine Gang who saw that particular stretch of the Kilburn High Road as their exclusive territory.
They say that behind every drunken Irishman is a sober Irish woman…and all trying to wean their fella off the bottle. I suppose it’s true. All those doe-eyed colleens slaving away in the sweatshops of Kilburn and Cricklewood during the week; McVities, Heinz, Smiths, Staples; and looking for love in the Galty at the weekend.
Keeping their legs so tight together that jackhammers couldn’t prise them apart…
If marriages were made in heaven, they were negotiated in places like the Galty…
And if you wanted to get your leg over, you had to put a roof over their heads first.
Maybe that’s why I never…took the plunge. I never cared for the game in the first place.
But there were other…considerations.
Not least of them being that I was now living in a totally male environment. There were no women digging holes for McAlpines or Murphys. At least I never saw any.
And I was quite happy for it to be that way.
If you get my drift.
There was no big revelation. No big dawning. I just kind of…drifted into it. Weekends at the camp. There were others like me…
Ah, fuck it – I wound up sleeping with men…
I liked sleeping with men…
I still do…
It was better than sticking it in a sheep -like I saw plenty do in the wilds of Lincolnshire and Bedfordshire.
And so what? It was no big fucking deal. And it’s my business, anyway.
The other thing that put the kybosh on marriage -oh aye, it was still in the back of my mind then, get married and have children – was the fact that I was on the run.
In two countries.
There was no future for anyone with me. Unless I was prepared to give myself up.
And that was one thing I wasn’t planning on.
I was thinking afterwards, that if I had killed that fucker O’Shea, and had been convicted, I could have been swinging from the gallows in Kilmainham before the year was out.
Hang down your head Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head Tom Dooley.Poor boy you’re gonna’ die
Poor boy you’re gonna’ die…
When the lads first started calling me Tom, I’d be looking around to see who they were talking to. Well, I couldn’t use my real name, could I? So Tom Dooley it was. Mind you, most were calling me Blondie soon enough.
It was great gas, seeing the names going down on the worksheet on a morning. Robin Hood. Gene Autry. Donald Duck. Even Nelson Rockefeller.
‘And what’s your name?’, the subby asked one fella
‘Sammy Davis Junior’, came the reply
‘Where have you come from?’
‘Holyhead’.
‘Oh aye. And where are you heading… Hollywood?’.
Some of them should have been actors. Hollywood navvies, we called them. You know the type; designer wellies, shirts off at the first hint of a bit of sun. You’d know, in the back of the Transit van, after the first day, that they wouldn’t be back…
Ah, the crack was mighty then…
You don’t mind if I have another drop of diesel…?
Whenever I had a few shillings to spare, I’d send it to my mother. I used to get one of the lads to post the letters, all from different places.
You couldn’t trust any of those fuckers back home; The Gardai, the Post Office, they’re all the same. They could be steaming open the letters…how the fuck would you know? And then I heard of a way.
You could have letters sent to you, addressed to a named post office. It was called post restaurant or something.
I took my friend, Fergal, along the first time. Well, if they were waiting, and they picked him up, they’d soon find out he wasn’t me.
I needn’t have worried. I was investing them with qualities they didn’t possess…
Oh, don’t let the cut of me fool you. I mightn’t have went to school, but I met the scholars – as they say.
Then I had a letter from Ma:
Dear Johnjo,
Are you ever coming home again? That
was an awful thing you did to Mr O’Shea,
and he married with five childer. He was in
hospital for six months. Sergeant Foley says
it would be best if you gave yourself up. He
says he’d speak for you. Mind you, I wouldn’t
trust that fecker to spit straight.
The bank is being very good, letting me have
money and all. I told them it might be a while
before we could pay it back, but they said
not to worry. Wasn’t that nice?
I don’t do much these days, but Jim Foley, the
butcher, the one you used to do the bit of work
for, has taken some of the land for grazing for
his sheep. They say he got them cheap from
the Big House….
.
Got them cheap! The slimy bastard…!
I suppose I should have gone home, took the medicine, as they say. But what good could I do mother in goal? Besides, I was afraid of what I might do – to certain people…you know?
After about six or seven years the letters stopped. Just like that. When six months had gone by I knew something was up, and I was thinking maybe I should sneak home – just to see what was going on.
Then one more letter arrived. It was official-looking, so I knew it was bad news.
To Mr John McGrath, or his representatives;
Over a period of time, we advanced your mother
sums of money against her property at Knockbawn.
Since her death last year, we have been unable to
see any return on our investment, and have
now foreclosed on the mortgage. The land
is now the property of the bank, and will be
sold by public auction in due course. Should you
wish to negotiate re-purchase of the property, you
may of course do so any time before the auction date…
Since her death last year…
That was the first I heard of it. I know she drowned herself. Oh, the inquest said it was accidental, but I know different. She couldn’t swim a stroke, so what was she doing out swimming? And why Clonea Strand? She never went there. We never went there. It was always Bonmahon.
Do you know how I found out how she died? I hired a private detective
The Acme Detective Agency. I’m not making it up. It was the only way I could think of…I think he thought I was mad. But what did I care?
In Dixieland I take my stand
To live and die in Dixie
‘Cause Dixieland,
That’s where I was born
Early Lord one frosty morn
Look away, look away
Look away, Dixieland
They fuck you up, don’t they? People I mean. I don’t mean my mother and father. I fucked them up. Well, my mother anyway. The way I left her like that. My father was always fucked up. In the conventional sense. He didn’t conform, you see. I mean…a farmer who didn’t farm. You can see how it looked to others.
He wasn’t a fucking sheep-stealer!
I fucked up. That’s what I did. I fucked up my whole life. I mean, who am I? Look at me!
I’m not Blondie. Not anymore. Am I Johnjo McGrath?
Who is Johnjo McGrath?
Who am I?
I have a library card that says Tom Dooley. It’s got my signature. That proves it’s me. That’s the only bit of paper I have with my name on it.
A bloody library card!
I don’t exist officially
I never have.
Yet I got by.
No tax, no insurance, no driving licence.
Never paid any. Never had any. Yet I got by.
I was fifty last year. Or is it this year? See how difficult it is when you’re…
Certain dates stick in the mind. But not my own birthday.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy: Dallas, Texas, November the twenty-third, nineteen-sixty-three. I well remember where I was that day. I was up to my goolies in shite, digging a trench for Mr Bannaher. But then, I was most days.
July the twentieth, nineteen-sixty-nine, when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, where was I? Up to my goolies in shite, digging a trench for Mr Bannaher. But then, I was most days…
If you listen closely you can hear the sound of aTransit van revving up in the distance, and shouts and laughter coming from inside. It’s half past six on a frosty March morning, and most of Kilburn is turning over for its second sleep. And us lucky ones are all aboard the Orange Blossom Special, calling Kilburn, Cricklewood, Hendon, Watford, and all stations south of the Gap…
‘Jump in there, Blondie. I see you spent another night looking at the stars’.
But not from the gutter. Ah…you’re nothing but a shower of tinkers. I’ll have you know I slept the night in a grand warm bed. Mrs McGinty. She keeps lovely rooms. Round the back of the Elephant
‘You slept at the foot of the fucking Elephant, pissed as a fart!’
I’ll have you know that not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips for a fortnight now…
‘You must be dying for a dhrop then. Here…’
‘Twas down the glen came Bannaher’s men
Like a troop of Bengal lancers
One in ten were time-served men
The rest were fucking chancers.
The mystery tour, we called it. Arses plonked in the back of that Transit van, then off to God-knows- where. Heads down, arses up for the rest of the day, up to your goolies in muck.
‘Hey Blondie! Are you pulling that cable or what?
‘Leave him alone, he’s pulling his wire’
‘Keep the big mixer going, boys’.
After pulling Bannaher’s wire all day, you wouldn’t be in much form for pulling your own that night. Or anyone else’s. A few pints in the Crown or the Nags Head,
Then back to a damp room – if you were lucky. And nothing to look forward to the next day except more of the same. And the day after that. All pissed up against the pub walls. Left in the clubs and betting shops of Kilurn and Cricklewood…
Isn’t the craving an awful affliction? I do see men in the morning and they on fire for a sup of the craythur. That fire do be burning all your life. It’s what keeps you down that damp hole. What keeps you putting your hand out to men like Bannaher. ‘A sub, a sub, my soul for a sub’. That’s what you do. You sell your soul to the subby.
Well, who else would want it. Sure isn’t that where we lord it over the English?
We can breed bigger and more ignorant bastards than they can, any day of the week.
Bastards like Bannaher. And to cap it all, we’re all in here…in the bar of the…Heartbreak Hotel, propping it up, or being propped up, falling over each other to ingratiate ourselves with the Big Man. You could understand all the forelock-tugging and arse-licking if he was a Sassanach – after all, we’ve had centuries of practice – but a jumped-up bogman with the skid-marks still showing…
They’re happy…They’re fucking happy!
Some say the devil is dead,
The devil is dead, the devil is dead
Some say the devil is dead
And buried in Killarney
More say he rose again,
Rose again, rose again
More say he rose again
And joined the British Army.
‘Shut up Duggan, you ould bollix!’
That’s Dougie. Another of Bannaher’s wire-pullers. He’s on a special assignment at present. Instead of digging one of Bannaher’s holes, he’s buried in one. In a coffin. In the back garden of the pub. Oh, it’s only a temporary arrangement. We hope. And it’s all for a good cause. Charity.At least that’s the official line.
I asked Dougie if he was doing it for charity and he nearly choked himself laughing. ‘Charity me hole! I’m getting five hundred quid off Bannaher for it’.
I only hope he asked for his five hundred in advance.
I mean, look at him. Look at the Big Man. The crease on them trousers is so sharp you could cut yourself…
I can see what’s in it for him, of course. The publicity. When he bought this place a few months ago, there were more pigeons than customers. Look at it now! He’s even got his own tame bank manager. Every Friday evening. Changing cheques. Five percent. Oh, it’s big business. Well, how many the likes of me have bank accounts? Or would want one? It was easy in the old days – cash in the paw and no questions asked. And they’re his own cheques for fuck sake! He pays you by cheque, then charges five percent to change the fucking thing! And most of it finds its way back over the counter again before the weekend is out…That’s why, come Monday morning, you’ll find us out there again, bleary-eyed and broke, looking for a start. And more importantly, looking for a sub. Anything to tide us over till next pay day.
I’m too old now, to lie next to anyone. And, to be honest, I don’t want to anymore.
Keep myself to myself, that’s my motto. And play with myself too. It’s less…taxing.
There was a time when I was in demand. Blondie was in demand…big time.
Ah, but what can’t be cured must be endured, as someone once said.
Besides, there’s no one I would want to lie with anymore.
You’ll excuse me am moment now while I wet the whistle.
A bit of shuttering, that’s all it wanted. A bit of fucking shuttering…
‘Oh Christ, Fergal, hang on under there…I’m digging, boy…I’m digging…oh Jesus…I’m digging…’
I gave Fergal the kiss of life, but I knew it was too late.
And do you know what that pointy-toed fucker, Bannaher, had said a few days before? ‘I’m paying you pair to dig a trench, not put up shuttering’.
They should have put that on Fergal’s gravestone.
All for the want of a bit of shuttering.
And now he’s after twisting the knife a bit more.
‘I think now, Blondie, you’re getting too old for this game’.
Too old…!
Sure, maybe he’s right It’s a young man’s game…
But not some young men. Take Terry over there.
How’s she cutting, Terry? Terry now, he’s a different generation. No better educated, but he has a different outlook…
‘I’d rather starve than work on the fucking buildings’…that’s his outlook.
Not that he ever would.
Starve.
Or work.
‘London’s a great place for people who don’t like getting out of bed in the morning’, says he to me once.
The time of the first race dictates when he gets out of bed.
He’s steal the cross off an ass’s back, that fella. He’s just after doing eighteen months inside. They deported him, but he’s back again.
‘Looking for work, Terry?’ I says to him the other day.
‘Maybe’, he says
‘Bannaher’s big mixer, is it?’
‘You must be fucken joking’, he said. ‘I have plans that will put Bannaher in the ha-penny place’.
Well, so have I.
He comes from near me at home…Terry. Not that he knows it of course. Or that I would ever dream of telling him.
He tells me that Bannaher has bought the Big House. He probably got it for a song. It was falling down, anyway. Crows flying in and out of it. Lord what’s-his-fucking-name long gone .Lord Croughamore. I think the IRA put the wind up him. A few bullets through his dining room window one night spoiling his after-dinner port.
Terry is a mine of information.
There’s an ould hill farm next door he bought too, that he’s turning into a concrete batching-plant. Well the hill bit anyway. They say he’s going to make a fortune out of it. Ah, it’s been derelict for years. No one would buy it or go near it. They say it’s haunted. A weird family lived there.
Apparently, the father hung himself and the mother drowned herself. And the son…well he stabbed several people in a fight, and was never seen again. Mind you, he must have been the weirdest of the lot because afterwards they found all these blonde wigs in his room…
‘Ah, maybe it was all made up though’ says Terry. ‘It all happened a long time ago…’
That’s the story he told me. ‘Course I didn’t tell him my story…
I always wanted to see Nashville And The Grand Ole Opry; Roy Acuff. Bill Munro, Patsy Cline.
From The Great Atlantic Ocean
To the wide Pacific shore
From the queen of the flowing mountains
To the south bell by the door…
Look at him there behind the bar. Bannaher. In his counting house. I’ll wipe that fucking smirk off his face…
Hey, Bannaher, were you ever in Nashville? I was thinking of goin’ there one day soon. And I was thinking you might like to come too. What?…I can’t hear ya. Stand back there Terry will ya – and let the dog see the rabbit….
‘ Hey lads, Blondie is doing a striptease! Jaysus, Blondie, that’s a fine chest you have there.’
‘What’s that yoke with all the wires? Is that your pacemaker?’
‘For Christ sakes can’t ye see it’s dynamite.Ah Jesus Blondie, no! Run for it, lads!
End (c) Tom O’Brien

365 DAYS….day 80

Standard

c/f £985…stakes £20

SHAWKANTANGO should not have been included as a lay yesterday because its price was never within my lay range. Hence the new c/f total.

Shotavodka 4.25 N won @ 3/1 – 60 £925
Trouble Digger 5.00 N lost + 20 £945
Bob’s World 2.20 S won @ 6/4 – 30 £915
Travis County 2.20 S lost + 20 £935
Walkabout Creek 4.00S won @ 6/4 £905
Akarana 8.00 K lost + 20 £925

3-3 today. Not great from a profit point of view. Historically 1st or 2nd favs win 50% of all races so it performed as it should do from that point of view, but my improvements should have reduced that % to around 20%. Not today, I’m afraid!
However, overall the picture looks good. Here are the total figures fro Jan 1st;
TOTAL LAYS…348…TOTAL LOSERS 260…TOTAL WINNERS…88…75% SUCCESS RATE APPROX.
IF EVERY HORSE HAD BEEN LAID TO WIN £100 SINCE JAN IST THE FOLLOWING FIGURES EMERGE;
260 WINNING BETS…260X100 = £26,000 RETURNS
88 LOSING BETS @ 2/1 AVERAGE…88X200 = £17,200 OUTGOINGS
PROFIT (BETFAIR COMM. NOT INCLUDED)…£8,800

NOT BAD FOR A FEW MONTHS EFFORT!