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BY lalone

03/01 Direct Link
Bernadette Moran is waiting in reception. 'Pauline told me what you said,' she says taking my arm, 'it sent shivers,' I'd mentioned to Pauline that the wind through the atrium sounded, to me, like children screaming. 'That wind sounds like children screaming,' I'd said. Now Pauline is saying, 'Tell her the story,' 'Here's where the unwanted babies of Dublin were abandoned.' Berndatte Moran says, 'A workhouse,' 'Oh, Jesus Christ.' I say. 'They unearthed things in the basement,' says Pauline, 'We need a blessing,' 'I tell you what I'll do,' says Bernadtte Moran still holding my arm, 'I'll call the priest.'
03/02 Direct Link
It was after she'd cooked us breakfast, after the others had left, that the housekeeper of Trinity College, Dublin, caught me in the doorway of the bedroom and asked where I was staying. 'I'm staying here,' I told her, 'sleeping on the blow-up mattress,'
'Oh no,' she said, 'you can't be. I'm feeling guilty already,'
Then she ran her fingers along the white piping at the collar of the blue uniform she was wearing.
'I'm going to see about getting youse all a mattress,' she said, and telling me again that me sleeping on the floor made her feel guilty.
03/03 Direct Link
Up at Carrie's and the dog's in the cage in the middle of the kitchen again.
'It's ripped a hole in the floor,' says Carrie. I look down and see the dog has ripped a large section out of the plastic flooring of the cage. The torn piece is laying in the other corner of the cage.
'Are you going to try to get rid of it,' I say, 'rehouse it, so to speak?'
Carrie stops chopping the onion she's chopping and looks down at the dog.
It's body nearly fills the cage.
'Oh, I've thought about it,' she says.
03/04 Direct Link
It was early and I was too cold to do anything else so, after looking quickly at the book of Kells, I went upstairs and looked at the rows of books. I walked the length of the busts.
And then back again, because I couldn't find the exit.
On the second go around I read the names on the statues busts lining the walls.
The first one was Plato, and the second I think, Socrates.
Maybe the other way round.
Then came Aristotle.
I thought they might have been chronological, but opposite them was Shakespeare and next to him Homer.
03/05 Direct Link
The train was empty when I got down to Howth.
I'd read a free paper and looked out of the window and not noticed everyone else getting off the train.
In Howth the sun wasn't out and I didn't feel like seeing the pier someone had suggested I see.
'What time's the next train back?' I said to the small man behind the ticket window.
He told me the times.
'Here's a timetable,' he said, giving me a small concertina of cardboard.
All the names on it are unfamiliar to me I thought as I walked out of Howth station.
03/06 Direct Link
In the cab to the airport we passed the oldest pub in Dublin.
'That's the oldest pub in Dublin,' the cab driver told us.
'Oh?,' I said.
The cab driver went on the explain some facts about the pub; the low doorways, the space where the horse and dray came through with the barrels of beer.
Hearing the cab driver talk about the pub made me wish I'd visited it and had a drink there.
As we drove on through some areas of Dublin that were less than pretty, the cab driver told us about the town where he lived.
03/07 Direct Link
At the airport smokers were hanging around the doorways, smoking.
A voice came out of a tannoy asking them to leave. None of them left.
Some of them were so close to the door that we had to walk through their smoke clouds.
I didn't feel sorry for them.
They didn't look unhappy. It wasn't as if they were begging for cigarettes, as if they couldn't afford their habit.
They just stood their, sucking quickly, their eyes squinting against their own smoke, their faces metallic, like they were made of dirty aluminium foil.
'Puff, puff, puff.' they all went.
Puff.
03/08 Direct Link
Sunday morning we drove to Cheltenham to have lunch with some friends who'd moved to a new house.
We'd come back from being abroad for three months the day before they'd moved.

We had some trouble finding the new house.
The satnav had sent us the the wrong place.
Catherine had been reluctant to call the satnav again. 'I don't want to call again,' she said, 'it costs a pound each time I call.'
So we spent 5 minutes driving around looking for the house, spending more than a pound in fuel.

In the end we called the satnav again.
03/09 Direct Link
In the afternoon I listened to the radio. I listened to John Humphrys interview the archbishop of Canterbury.
John Humphrys had once been a believer but had given up the faith and was giving the archbishop of Canterbury, publicly this opportunity to re-convert him, bring him back to the fold.
I listened to the end even though something in the archbishop of Canterbury's voice made me feel quite sick.
It's a slippery voice, too practiced. If a snake spoke, or a leopard, I would imagine that's how it might sound before it took the first bite from a gazelle's rump.
03/10 Direct Link
Being unable to get the top off the oil tin, the front wheel went unoiled again.
All the way to town the chain ground itself, dried up, against the cogs, the mudguard snapped the tyre and a spittle of filthy water came from the hole in the seat, moistening my crotch.

By the time I get home and unpack the groceries I've forgotten I've got the oil.
Now it's too dark.
Tomorrow I'll get on the bicycle and all of the above will happen again.

And most likely the day after.

It will go on for weeks.
More than likely.
03/11 Direct Link
Holding the receiver to her ear, the bathroom door knocking against its frame, she let the phone ring until it rang out.
Her call having gone unanswered, there was nothing else to do but sleep.
To do that she needed a book.
To get a book had to reach down under the bed.
Which she did.
She reached under the bed, coming up with a book and dust on her knuckles.
'Look at that fucking dust on my knuckles,' she said.
Then, facing the book, she looked for that dog ear that would tell her where she'd got up to.
03/12 Direct Link
'Are you all sweltering in here? I know I am,' she said, an old woman who'd just arrived in the waiting room.
Some people looked up at her, including me, but nobody said anything.
The old woman went out of the door again, saying something to a nurse about how stuffy the room was.
Then, after staying a split second out in the hallway, came back in to the waiting room.
'Dreadfully hot in here,' she said, very posh-like, 'I feel like I might pass out,'
Again no none replied, no one acknowledged her words.
Then she sat down, tsking.
03/13 Direct Link
I was reading a book about Africa, a novel by Elspeth Huxley, when a teenage guy came up the aisle of the bus and sat 3 seats along on my row.
Within seconds I could hear tinny music so I looked over to see if he had headphones on.
He looked over at me just as I looked over at him and we looked into each others eyes.
He did a little smile.
I did one back.
Then his phone rang and he began to talk about a weekend in which he'd met up with someone who'd had no money.
03/14 Direct Link
The baths are old.
Victorian.
In the 1970's someone lowered the roof by installing square sections of plastic.
Or some other synthetic material.
Some of the original lacquered boards are still on the walls.
The Victorian tiles have been replaced with white ones and are cracked in places.
In a small room to the side of the relaxation room a tiny woman is making salads.
'It's a good job you have,' I say.
'Yes,' she says, 'I get to do what I love. Which is food,'
I give her 60p for the teas.
'See you again soon.' she says.
03/15 Direct Link
The pub billboard said roaring fire.
The fire didn't roar, though. It whispered to me and I blew at its embers, helping it on.
The gravy was very dark on the roast that came later.
However the whiskey was weak in the Irish Coffee. There wasn't a newspaper when I asked for it, so we talked instead of doing the crossword.
'I would have felt guilty anyway,' I said, 'filling in someone else's crossword.'
Back on the street wind got under my scarf, onto my neck and chest.
'Turn the fucking heat up,' I said on getting in the car.
03/16 Direct Link
The waitress was friendly.
So was the other one and the man behind the bar, he was friendly too.
He was wearing a jumper with a high rolled neck. The high rolled neck had a zipper running down the front.
From the table where we sat the zipper looked like a shiny thin waterfall cascading timidly from under his chin.
I was distracted from the zipper by some people coming in the front door and talking loud.
'Sunday Roast?' one of them called out.
'White wine,' said someone with a lot of black hair, soft fat-hair.
Hair like a child.
03/17 Direct Link
As I was leaving the house this morning to go out to the shops, I saw the mailman coming up the road.
'Have you got any mail for me, for number 8, anything that won't fit through the mailbox?'
'I'll have a look for you, darlin,' he called back.
I went over and stood next to him while he went through the mail that he had left in his bag but it turned out that my letters were there, right in his hand.
'Here you are, darlin,' he said.
Funny how it doesn't bother me the mailman calling me 'darlin'.
03/18 Direct Link
Catherine came into my office yesterday afternoon and told me she had been upstairs watching the cat from her office window.
The cat had been in the next door neighbour's garden. 'She was sitting in the grass licking her backside,' 'Didn't the goose say anything?'
The neighbours have a goose.
There had been 2 geese, but one died well before I had come to live here.
'No.' Catherine said, 'The goose did nothing. I think they get on well, the goose and the cat.'
I laughed at the thought of them getting on well and wished I'd seen them together.
03/19 Direct Link
In the morning Carrie came over.
'I'm starving, dude,' she said as soon as I opened the front door.
Then she asked me if I had any toast.
'Of course I do,' I said, 'Come in and I'll make you some,'
After I'd given Carrie's children a min bar of cadbury dairy milk each, and then put the bread in the toaster, I started making us coffee but the milk was frozen.
'Have you got a microwave fetish?' Carrie said when saw me getting the milk out of the microwave.
'No. The milk was frozen,' I said.
'Oh,' said Carrie.
03/20 Direct Link
Sitting on a bench outside the train station, a cold, spiky wind blew across us.
'It's so cold here,' he said.
My hands in were the pockets of my coat.
'At least the sky's blue,' I said back.
He was wearing gloves and a long black coat.
'New York,' he said of his coat, '30 bucks,' 'I'm not that into shopping,' I told him.
'Oh, Darl, you would be if you went to New York,' It's too cold now,' I said, 'go inside, I'm going home,'
We hugged goodbye and both said how great it was to have caught up.
03/21 Direct Link
The band played in the corner; acoustic covers of tunes from the 70's, 80's and 90's, every song sounding the same.
The old men in the window ignored them and played dominoes.
A couple sitting in the back, where the walls were white and lights bright making the space look like someone's living room, were reading a pictorial on the history of the town.
Then the band broke for cigarettes the raffle was called.
Outside there was no sign of the snow that had come down earlier, and that the weather report said would be coming again.
03/22 Direct Link
Sunday afternoon and the cold wind blowing up the street that lead to town didn't stop smokers collecting on the footpath.
Inside pubs and bars men sat and stood facing televisions.
Over in the concrete square opposite the bus stop and bank, the take-away fish and chips shop charged extra to sit and eat.
Down in the shopping mall the coffee shops and the book shops, the butcher and the jeweler were all closed.
The newsagent was empty and teenage girls stood staring at strings of plastic beads and glittering earrings through the window of an accessories shop next door.
03/23 Direct Link
In the cafe I'd asked a girl behind the counter what time they shut.
The girl had looked at me, smiling, saying sorry 2 times.
Then she went into the kitchen bringing another waitress out with her.
'What time do you shut?' I asked the waitress who understood me.
'Depending what day it is,'
Monday,' I said, but it's a public holiday. Maybe your closing times are different,'
'No,' she said.
'What time do you close then?'
'9.30,' she said, 'like it says on the window.
03/24 Direct Link
Half way up Corn Street 5 men on a building next to the New Inn are putting up scaffolding. 'I love scaffolding,' I say to Catherine, 'I'd like to have a high platform made of scaffolding and put my bed up on it,' She laughs slightly. I start thinking about erecting some kind of platform in the bedroom, but I realise the ceilings wouldn't be high enough. I wonder if it would look nice having a tent atop the platform. 'Do you think putting a tent atop the platform would be a health and safety issue?' I say to Catherine.
03/25 Direct Link
'I'll wait here,' says Catherine so I leave her and the trolley outside Waterstone's while I go into Boot's the chemist to find a pair of flight socks. 'Where are the flight socks?' I say to a woman coming out of a storeroom. She's wearing a Boot's uniform and carrying boxes. 'Down the back, under those big orange suns,' she says. I walk down the aisle of the orange suns and see the little boxes of flight socks hanging on the wall. There's a complicated sizing system on the boxes and 2 types of sock to choose from-sheer and black.
03/26 Direct Link
Unusually there's no queue in the post office this afternoon so I don't have to wait at all.
'I have some questions to ask you about weight,' I tell the woman behind the counter.
'Okay, shoot,' she says.
I put my envelope on the scales.
'How much for second class?' I ask her.
'40p,' she says.
'When does the price go up, at what weight?' I say. '100 and 1 grams,' she says.
'Okay, thanks,' I say.
'Careful though,' she says, 'because if it's a tiny bit over, they'll have to pay at the other end,'
'Right-oh then.' I say.
03/27 Direct Link
'I love soup,' I hear someone say.
I was at the bar ordering another vodka, lime and soda.
When I looked to my right, where the comment about the soup had come from, I saw that it was the waitress who had brought our lunch.
'I love soup, too,' I said. 'My boyfriend just called and asked me to bring a tin home for him too,'
I looked in her hands and saw she was cupping there a tin of pea and ham soup.
I could have said more but decided against and waited quietly for my drink to come.
03/28 Direct Link
It was at the Indian restaurant after dinner that I made the comment about English teeth.
Everyone else at the table was English and they all asked me, indignant like, what I meant by 'English Teeth,'
'You know, great big ugly yellow kinds of teeth. Even the English say thing about English teeth. Mark, Alison and Catherine's jaws drop.
'What about that guy from 'On the Buses,' I say, 'Jack? His teeth were practically green, and longer than a tusk,'
They start laughing.
'There wasn't dentistry for the poor, was there? False teeth were made out of wood.' I say.
03/29 Direct Link
'2 thousand pounds,' I tell Alison when she asks me how much I'd be charging for one of my pictures.
'2 thousand pounds?' she shouts back at me, 'Who the hell's going to pay 2 thousand pounds for a picture,' I start laughing.
'How long does it take me to do one?' I say to her. 'I don't know,'
'A month, maybe a bit longer. How much do you get paid for one month of work?'
'Well when you think of it like that,' she says.
'And,' I say, 'you'll be the only one to ever have that picture. Ever,'
03/30 Direct Link
It's after the 5th time the phone has rung that I decide to wait on the line and speak to the call center operative to ask them to stop calling me.
'Stop calling me,' I say when the man comes on the line.
'The phone has rung 5 times this morning and it's your fucking automated service. I can't even stop them calling me, they just keep calling,'
'I'm sorry madam,' he says.
'Can I authorise the payment you're calling about,' I say to him.
'No,' he says, we need the account holder.
'Fucking typical.' I scream and hang up.
03/31 Direct Link
Just before I'm about to make myself some lunch the television arrives.
'Is it huge?' I say to the driver, a man with no hair.
'It's big,' he says, 'and I've come alone,'
'I can help,' I say, thinking that if I help him I'll ask for a fiver off the delivery charge.
I walk to the van with the driver and he hands me a box, a dvd player. 'That's the smallest,' he says.
Then, looking into the dark end of the van I see a very very big box.
'Fuck me,' I say to the driver, 'that's enormous.'