Still in Ballyhaunis after the long weekend. Must say I’m always a bit surprised at how many people here seem to read this blog. The ones I spoke to over the weekend were unanimous on one point. “Fuck’s sake Butler,” an old school friend chided. “If I read that bloody International Bar story one more time, I’m going to slit my wrists.” He’s right. I’ve been recycling old blogposts pretty much wholesale on here recently. Sorry about that. The work I do week-to-week just isn’t always that interesting. Today I got around to transcribing an interview I did with Helena Christensen. No disrespect to the woman. You could interview Dr fucking Johnson – the transcription process would still be a mind-numbingly boring experience.
My mother has her school holidays this week. She’s off gallivanting somewhere with my aunt. My sister and Lola left today too. So I’m sitting in a big old house with some discarded baby toys and a bored Scandinavian supermodel to keep me company.
Man comes to the door—I say, “For whom are you looking?”
He says, “Your wife,” I say, “She’s busy in the kitchen cookin’”
Poor boy—where you been?
I already tol’ you—won’t tell you again
Helena doesn’t want to talk about modelling. Or the fashion industry. Or pretty much anything I ask her about. I don’t blame her. Anyone would get sick answering questions the whole time. But if you listen to the recording, you can almost hear the cogs turning in my brain, as I try to figure out what the fuck else we’re supposed to talk about.
My mother’s car is sitting outside in the rain. The keys are hanging on the mantelpiece. Strictly speaking, I’m not insured in her car. Hell, I don’t even have a drivers licence really if you want to get down to it. But I’m extremely bored. I’ll drive carefully. I swear.
Been workin’ on the mainline—workin’ like the devil
The game is the same—it’s just on a different level
Poor boy—dressed in black
Police at your back
First stop is Urlar Lake. Just on a whim. I haven’t been here since my father died. I’d like to report that I stand on the pier and think profound thoughts. But it’s cold and it’s blustery and this place wouldn’t be a bit different if I’d left it four hundred years instead of just four. I visit the abbey and stand a moment at my great-grandparents grave. But that’s it. I’m back in the car in less than five minutes.
The stereo is playing Bob Dylan’s Love and Theft, an album I haven’t listened to in years. I’m pretty sure my obsession with it was a factor in the break-up of a relationship I was once in. I really adored the girl in question. But if I could do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m enjoying the music so much, in fact, that at the crossroads, I don’t turn left for Ballyhaunis. On a whim, I turn right to Tavraun.
My mother was the daughter of a wealthy farmer
My father was a traveling salesman, I never met him
When my mother died, my uncle took me in—he ran a funeral parlor
He did a lot of nice things for me and I won’t forget him
My great-uncle, a bachelor, was a school teacher somewhere around here. I can’t remember where. It was thanks to his efforts, the local paper wrote, that a generation grew up believing the Monday after an All-Ireland final was a bank holiday. He died when I was very young.
When I was a teenager, I knew these roads like the back of my hand. I’d still fancy my chances driving them blindfold. I hit the N17, turn left for Kilkelly and soon find myself rolling by the graveyard where my grandmother is buried. Since I haven’t anywhere else to be in a hurry, I stop in and visit her a while too.
Poor boy in a red hot town
Out beyond the twinklin’ stars
Ridin’ first-class trains—making the rounds
Tryin’ to keep from fallin’ between the cars
After Kilkelly, I turn left at Frank Harrington’s quarry and barrel down the winding backroad that rolls unheeded through lonely Raith. On the brow of the hill to my right, I can see the graveyard at Aghamore. Two dear friends of mine were laid to rest alongside each other there a decade ago. I hadn’t intended to turn this into the most depressing joyride in history. But fuck it. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Back at home in the evening, my neighbours drop in for a cup of tea. They bring chocolate biscuits. They know I won’t have any. We chat about Google Street View and all the news of the day, then they leave me to finish my work. It’s just me and you again, Helena. I can change, baby, I swear. Can you?
Othello told Desdemona, “I’m cold, cover me with a blanket
By the way, what happened to that poison wine?”
She says, “I gave it to you, you drank it”
Poor boy, pickin’ up sticks – build yo’ house out of mortar and bricks