The Blissful Trough of Decrepitude

Today at Mass, yes indeed Mass, the priest told a salutary tale about respect for our elders, of valuing their contribution, on remembering that if God spares us, we too will one day be old and decrepit. We would wish to be well treated in our aged infirmity would we not? Therefore his tale cautioned, do not make old people eat from a trough and be treated like livestock, a burden on us all lest the same fate befall us when our time comes. Deo Volente. Treat others as you would be treated yourselves. Ponder that.


I have always looked forward to the certainty of decrepitude. Being institutionalised in some sort of Fold or old people’s home. I was brought up near one, I found their slow ambling and rambling fascinating these geriatric folks, slowly drifting hither and thither. Sometimes one would escape and there would be a full scale search.


There in my Fold, or home, I will get an old man’s pardon for being disruptive, degenerate and dysfunctional. At the minute people just tolerate it, but when I am old (I am already grey) I am looking forward to a bye ball on my many indiscretions.


Some things I will not welcome open armed. Incontinence would be a drag, sitting there in the damp stinking waiting for some hag to come and sort me out. ‘That’s the tenth pair of underpants this week’ she would gulder at me. One of my beautiful daughters would of course visit with fresh supplies as a mark of thanks for all I did for them when they were wee. I live in hope I should add.


I’m not looking forward to the watery gruel that will pass for food, over-cooked steak and oily spuds. Custard with skin tight as a drum. These are not for me. In my infirmity I want the girls to bring me hampers from the deli on the Prom. Salamis, cheeses, and fig and almond loaf. Perhaps a flagon of fine red wine too to wash along the memories, the sadness and the regret. And also to liberate the sheer happiness I would feel to be there, in the home. Maybe even with a sea view I could never afford when undecrepit.


The matron-hag would tear into them for bringing me contraband. ‘It aggravates his condition’ she would roar, my daughters no slouches themselves in the verbal stakes would stick up for me. None of the King Lear nonsense here I tell you, all of them would defend their dad to the death.


There is a terrible sadness in the eyes of old people in a home. Blue gleam faded as if left too long in the sun. Bags below filled with tears ready to overflow down wrinkled meandering cheeks, by jowls, to see slowly the future slipping away.


I’ll have wrinkly saggy arms, and hands. Chipped nails and stand out veins. My nose will drip, drip, drip and my teeth ache from too much eating. My belly will be flaccid then like an empty pillow case. Ass-saggy and sore-legged I will not speak of any other anatomical details suffice it to say the Gout will be a terrible affliction for a man of my age.


And I’ll sit, bent on destruction watching the waves coming in, going out, coming in, going out, the way they always do and always will. Waiting and waiting and just waiting for my turn.

The Fountain of Knowledge

The Irish Times & Powers Whiskey recently ran a short story competition. This is one of my two entries. Neither won but I like them anyway. The subject was to write 450 words on ‘What Really Matters.’

McCool, man-big-boy, arrives by the Pool. Surrounded by nine hazel bushes, leanto under overhangy rock, little fire wisps smoke thonder.

From the undergrowth emerges a dishevelled figure. Old, craggy, birdsnest of a beard home to flora and fauna galore, and more. Torn britches, baggy woollen jerkin. Behind trails a shaggy dog.

McCool, by the pool, observes the scene unfold. The oul boy calls the dog, sounds like Endamine, sits down by the pool and flicks a spinner off the end of a rod into the blue water.

Eyes gleaming, he fixes his gaze on McCool.  “I saw you arrive with yer iPhone, yer sneakers and yer shades. If ye wanna stay, ye can help.’

“That’s cool.” replies McCool. “Help what?”

“Catch fish. Salmon. I catch, you cook, we eat.”

McCool the fool, says “As a rule, don’t eat fish, only dolphin-friendly tuna.”

Whatever. Beady eyed, the oul fella glares, ignores, continues:

“Been after it this years. Gold with a red triangle. What a fish, some dish.’

Suddenly the line yanks, yaws and pullies – huge, the golden Salmon arcs out of the water. Golden, beautiful, knowledgeable. Gleams in the evening sun.

“Holy Mackerel’ says McCool, falling off his stool, “Can we catch it.”

“Yes we can” replies the oul fella, knee deep in the drink. “we will fight and we’ll be alright.”

Struggle continues, line-pulls and calms. “Hasn’t gone away you know” says the  oul boy. Authoritatively.

McCool, no longer cool, reaches for the net, salmon-leaps again.

“It’s got magic Powers.”

“Something like that” mutters the oul boy, salmon-steering to the net.

Ashore. Despatched. Fishgutted. Washed.

Spit speared searing sitting above smoking fire. McCool receives his barked instructions:

“Cook, don’t taste. Understand, the fish is mine. Whomsoever tastes firsts sees the light.”

McCool intrigued: “You what?”

“I’m first, you’re second. That’s the way it is. Now, I’m for the yard”

Spit-turning, McCool, still a fool, drops shades in the flames. Reaching firewards, dripping Salmon sauce scalds his hand.

McCool, definitely not cool leaps himself. Salmon-like, handsucks, yowling in pain.

Old fella bolts from the bogs alarmed, distraught, crestfallen, severely peeved.

“You taste the fish?”

McCool, mouth-a-drool: “Just a soupcon…” Eyes a-bright, no more the fool.

“You may have the rest, now you’ve a taste for it.” And, with that he roaded McCool.

Sad perhaps, seat-settled by the fire, beside the pool. A single salmon soars from the water.

Dogwards says he: “Well Endamine, canine friendamine…”

Cap-snaps the golden bottletop, laughs aloud.

“Plenty more fish in the uisce eh….? It’s not what you know that really matters. But how you use it.”

Jug dips a little poolwater diluting slightly his Powers Gold Label. The real Fountain of Knowledge.

Summer Starts Here

So today is officially the first day of the summer holidays.

Cáit has gone off to her music residential, I hope she gets on OK. She was tearful when she left me earlier when Angela was leaving her down. She has no mobile phone so when she is homesick, I dunno how she’ll ring home. Maybe better if she doesn’t.

The boys as usual bollockin about the garden, playing golf, hurling and football and a combination of all three. Spoke to my-friend-John and I reckon I’ll get them a lesson a week to ensure they learn golf the way my da learned me!

The other two, having forcibly befriended the neighbours’ children over the last wee while, have been running back and forth for the last few weeks. Sorcha got a medal for coming third in her schools sports in her class. When I asked her what events she had won she confidently replied ‘Bow and Arrow.’

I was at the sports day. There was no bow and arrow competition. Still, she really did come third.

So here comes the summer and the pursuit of happyness.