Cabbages in Kilkenny

Posted: March 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

Cabbages in Kilkenny

Jim had made it, top of the tree, no; he had made it to the “TOP OF THE FUCKING WORLD” as he said himself.

He looked out of the hotel room window….his hotel. The king of the world, surveying his empire.  At least it used to be his hotel and his empire, till they took it away from him.  Those fucking bankers, those fucking politicians.  The bankers were happy enough to buy him drink and whores and play golf with him a couple of years ago.  The politicians were happy enough to let Jim buy them drink and whores and play golf with him.  He caught his reflection in the window, raised his glass of whiskey and saluted himself.

“Fucking cunts, what do they know; it’s all about risk, fucking cowards”.  Joe had been steadily or maybe unsteadily drinking all night.

“Jesus that mini bar took a fucking hammering” he sneered, “still, it’s a long way from fucking cabbages in Kilkenny I am”.

The cigarette smoke still reeked from the bathroom where he had had to go to feed one of his many demons.

“£500 a fucking night and the fuckers won’t let me smoke, well pox to them” he said.

They could sort out the other mess in the bathroom too, Jim was nothing if not malicious and those who slighted him or those who he thought had slighted him always bore the full brunt of his anger.  The manager had called to the room an hour ago and told him to leave in the morning, the other guests on the floor had complained.  That stupid fucking bitch had wanted to call the police, the manager had sorted it out but now he’d had enough.  All the rich yank Jews, fucking Arabs and celebrity fucking arse bandits were welcome but “No, not Jim Folger, the man who fucking built it all”, he poured another whiskey.

“Getting fucked out of my own hotel ….” Jim sneered; well it had been his…once.

“Oh you’re right one” said Margaret as Jim carried her through the door on their wedding day.

“A right one am I” he laughed, “and who told you that?”

“My sisters warned me not to marry you” she smiled, “said I’d rue the day”

Mary Maloney had warned her too, but Margaret didn’t believe her, didn’t want to believe her, she loved Jim, he’d never touched her, never even put his hands where they shouldn’t have been.

“That’s ‘cause your sisters wanted me for themselves” he retorted and they both laughed together.

Jim had been around the block a few times with the women, he knew what went where and he knew where he liked it to go.  Margaret was as pure as the driven snow though on their wedding day and that’s the way Joe wanted it, didn’t want to marry a spoiled woman, not a dirty woman, not like the ones he’d often pay to meet in Dublin.  Jesus you could do anything with them and he frequently did, regardless of what they might have to say.  Joe’s thought he’d spent good money and they’d fucking well give him its worth.

Margaret never really got over their wedding night; she couldn’t look Jim or anyone for that matter in the eye for years after it.  He had gone from this tall, handsome, (by far the best looking man in the town), charming and funny man to….something….something else……a mad man.

Her sisters had sat her down and through many a laugh, had explained to her the night before her wedding, what would be expected by her new husband.  Although she was nervous, she wanted nothing more in life than to share herself with the man she loved.

At first it was gentle, stroking her hair the way she always loved, he undressed and she blushed, she undressed under the covers, he laughed.  Then…..her sisters had never prepared her for that, such things….

Margaret could have lived with the lovemaking, or what ever that was called, but the beatings were a different matter.  About a week after the wedding, that was when the first beating came, her sisters never told her that could happen, maybe this was real life and her sisters could manage…..maybe she just wasn’t a real woman or simply not woman enough.

Jim had seen her talk to Billy Duggan outside the new Supermarket in the town.  That was enough to set him off, it was the only time he’d actually hit her in the face though, after that his punishments were more controlled, he only hit where it couldn’t be seen.  But while his punishment became more controlled, his night-time machinations did not.  When he wasn’t in Dublin of an evening doing whatever he did there, Margaret would be tormented, sometimes for hours.  In later years she’d start filling him full of whiskey from the moment he got into the house, that way at least it didn’t last too long, although she may have to endure a few slaps if he couldn’t perform.

The years went by and Margaret both yearned for a child and at the same time begged holy sweet Jesus not to send one.  After 9 years though, little Matt was born.  At first things changed at home.   Jim calmed down, he only smacked Margaret once in the first year of Matt’s life and he left her alone completely in the bedroom for that time.

It was one afternoon when Matt was a little over one when Margaret suffered her worst hurt.

Jim had taken the pram from Margaret while she sorted her purse. John Byrne saluted them as they crossed the road and when they got home, Margaret put the kettle on while Jim brooded in the sitting home.  When the kettle started to whistle, he calmly came out to the kitchen, picked it up and poured it over Margaret’s shoulder and back.

“Now you fucking Bitch, don’t ever let me be humiliated like that again” he said.

In the bedroom a week later, Margaret’s faced Jim’s wrath for the last time, he never touched her again for the rest of their marriage, perhaps because of the burn scars.  On the morning after that, he moved into the spare room.

It was around the early 90’s, about the time those two prostitutes had gone missing in Dublin, that Jim was invited by the local politician to join a “little group” he was putting together to buy Casey’s lower field.  They were going to build houses on it and make a fortune.  Jim gladly accepted the invite and relished his new position in life, “See Matt” he’d say, “Your old man is the big man now, TOP OF THE FUCKING WORLD”.

That was when the whiskey started to mean more and more to Jim and when he’d get bored sitting down stairs at night while Margaret lay in bed, he’d make Matt get up and drink with him.  He’d tell Matt about his plans, the wonderful future he was making for his son, he’d even tell him how to treat women.

As it turned out Jim had quite the head for business and for cutting a good deal.  Pretty soon, not only was he building houses in rural Ireland, but he was buying large tracts of land in Dublin, London and anywhere else he thought he could turn not just a few quid, but millions.

He moved Margaret to a big house in Dublin, even let her learn to drive.  At that stage Matt was going to college and Jim gave him one of the apartments he’d built.  “Not one of those fucking dog boxes either son, I proper pad, a shag pad” he winked.

It was 4.00am when the phone beside Margaret’s bed rang, “Mrs Folger?” came the lilted London accent, “Mrs Margaret Folger?”

“Yes” she replied, heart thumping.

“Mrs Folger, my name is Inspector Bill Walsh of the Metropolitan Police…I’m afraid I have some very terrible news concerning your husband”

Margaret couldn’t remember the rest of the call, only how she couldn’t wait for it to end so that the police man wouldn’t hear her laugh and scream with pure unadulterated joy.

Like the dutiful wife, she followed behind Jim’s coffin as it made its way from the church to the old graveyard on the hill.  She dabbed her eyes and received hand shakes from respectful neighbours along the route.  She played the grieving window with grace.  It was a nice warm July day, so she decided to wear that dress she bought years ago, the black one with the little straps….the dress that she never could bring herself to wear.  She watched as people scanned her shoulder and winced at the scars.  She felt no guilt or shame for exhibiting the marks that life had given her.

Neither did she feel a sense of guilt or shame that when Jim had transferred all of his assets into her name to avoid his creditors two years ago, that she had hired a solicitor to have a restraining order placed on him.  Why should she, it was her right, the money was hers now, Jim had signed the papers to prove it.

Epilogue

Six months after Jim Folger had climbed the railing on the 30th floor of the best hotel in London, Six months after he had fallen into the void of that wonderful airy atrium, two maintenance men where cleaning out the air conditioning ducts  in the lobby.  One of the men reached into the duct and pulled out what he thought was a rag, on closer inspection he brought it to the attention of the hotel manager who then called the police.  Jim Folgers heart, perfectly preserved by the cool, dry and sterile air in the duct, was sent back to his loving wife and son.

Late one night, it was thrown into a trench on one of Jim’s many unfinished housing projects, a hungry rat rushed to it, sniffed and scuttled away, still hungry.

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The Crahan

Posted: December 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

A post from a while back, hope you enjoy 🙂

The Crahan

Pyjama legs stuck to me, rolling on the floor crying, head pounding where I’d banged it.  The whispers; just whispers all around and nowhere, fading away, into the shadows.

***

I remember when I was five years old, sitting in my Grandmothers bed, her drinking a glass of Guinness, me dipping my finger in the head, bitter, sour.  I would sit with her for hours, her telling me stories for the fairies and the fair folk.  My granddad would come home from work, smelling of wood and brylcreem.  He would take his dinner and sit beside the bed, food on tray and we would watch the news, magnifying screen in front of the PYE cabinet telly, black and white pictures yearning to be colour and almost making it.

My dad would come home too and they would lift granny up the stairs for her bath, I would watch as her polio twisted legs would flop, granny barking orders but always thankful.

7 O’clock; nearly time for bed and granny smelling of 4711 and baby powder would tell me my story.  Often it was of the Crahan;….preparing me.   Looking back, I would never tell my children that story but then maybe I should; perhaps she knew she needed to tell me that I needed to know.

The Crahan, if you don’t know are the cast aways from the fair folk, they took the side of the evil one in the great battle for souls before the world awoke.  They served his evil purpose but became even too much for him.  He too cast them away and they found no place in either the dark or the light, always living in the grey, so many shades of grey.

Casting out

The Crahan have been mostly forgotten about, we prefer to think of the little people as happy, fair, singing, beautiful and not as vicious, snarling, ravenous creatures.  A few people remember them, a few people have “the fear” as it’s sometimes known.  The people with the “the fear” are the unluckiest of all.  They come from families or have learned from others who keep the secret of what the Crahan really are.  My grandmother had “the fear”, I think she knew I did too, but she had to bring it too the forefront.

At the moment of death, the soul leaves the body; waiting for the soul, can be either a dark angel or a light angel to take that soul to it’s eternal reward.  Sometimes both angels appear and battle for the soul.  Always are the Crahan, waiting in the shadows whispering, mouths dripping, licking lips with bile and acid spit.  Sometimes neither angel arrives on time and the soul is left to be devoured by the Crahan, torn, ripped, shredded, devoured by these slobbering creatures, the soul lost forever, feedstuff for the scavengers of eternity.

Souls are the Crahans food, their only food, their own immortal beings have been damned to the shadows, they seek out the dying, snarling at their bedsides, always hunting, always hungry.

My grandmother told me these things and taught me how to listen and how to feel “the fear”.  To overcome the fright and fight for time for angels dark and light to rescue souls from the nothingness.  “Nothing” she told me “is worse than nothingness, the soul, good or bad, deserves a place go, punishment or reward is a better fate than the Crahan”

“The Fear”, oh yeah, that’s a feeling, a sense when they are near, you hear the whispering, evil beyond evil, the grinding of razor teeth, the drip of spit; you see a sharpness in the shadows, a huddling mass broken with a ping/a flash of malice but mostly that whisper, a piercing sound, not a whistle, something older, if your not careful, something maddening.

***

The nurse picked me up,

“Jesus John, what happened ya?”

“Just a nightmare” I said.

“Do you normally walk in your sleep” she asked

“Sometimes”

She led me back to bed and I asked about Mr Peters.

“Ah he’s gone, the poor auld divil…” she said, “…but sure he looks happy now, no pain”

“Get yourself back to sleep now John, you’ll be getting out in the morning, bet you’re glad all those tests are clear…nothing to worry about after all…night night John”

I smiled.  That had been a hard one, if the angel hadn’t shown up when he did….I wouldn’t have been able to hold them off for very much longer.

***

I don’t know how long more I can do this, it’s not that I don’t want to, I’ve known all my life, well at least since I was five, that I had to do it, but I’m just getting older and there aren’t many of us left…….that’s why I’m telling you all of this.  By reading this, I’ve given you the secret, if you have “the fear” within you, you will now realise it.  You see, I need someone to help me fight, I’ll teach you all you need to know.  I need someone to make sure they don’t get my soul, they will come after it.  After all that I have denied them, they will.

***

Souls and stuff have always fascinated me, do they exist, I don’t know, but here’s the story of one man who fights for them, in an unusual way, most definitely.  The bit at the end, where you’ve been suckered into fighting along side our hero, that occurred to me a few years ago when I got one of those stupid and annoying chain letters, full of the usual crap and dire warnings about not breaking the chain, after I’d ripped it up a thrown it in the bin, the notion came to me that wouldn’t it be funny if by reading something, you had entered into a contract of sorts, but you didn’t find out till you’d finished reading.  Interesting idea, anyway thank you as always for reading my little pieces of nonsense….oh and by the way….listen out for those whispers……

Rage

Posted: May 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

This is Ireland, one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, in 2018, and yet we are not competent or caring enough to protect the women of our nation

So Long Fuckers

Posted: March 25, 2018 in Uncategorized

Sometimes you are very lucky and find a great book.  A book jam packed full of characters that you want to know all about; where they come from, where they are and most importantly, where they’re going.

Rons and Harrys, Lunas and Hermiones, Mad eyes and Malfoys and Snapes, who you find out in the end were good guys all along.

Books however, are like all things in life, they end.

And when you read the last line and close the cover, you know that you have grown very fond of all those characters and that you are going to miss them.

But know this, just because the book is ended, doesn’t mean you forget it, it becomes a chapter in your own book, a well remembered chapter and a happy one to have.

The Haunted Glen

Posted: March 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

When I was a kid we used to go camping in a place called Glenmalure, it’s a valley located between East and West Wicklow and many of you familiar with hill walking will know it well. We would pack up tents, sleeping bags, pots & pans and bags of rashers and sausages and all pile into my dads friends cars and head off on summer Friday evenings for adventures, sing-songs, TK lemonade for the kids and Large bottles of Guinness for the men folk.

We would arrive around 8 o’clock, with the sun still shining, a sun which only ever briefly set in those summers. The dads would set about pitching tents, (and polishing off a few bottles of stout) and the kids would set off to gather dead wood and dried cow pats for the camp fires. By 10 o’clock we’d all be settled in, fire blazing and bread toasting on long sticks. The lemonade would be broken out and rations given and the empty bottles of Guinness would be piling up.

At this stage someone would turn to my dad and say, “Right Kevin, time for song”, he’d beam from ear to ear and crack into “The rocky road to Dublin”, followed on by the “German clock winder”. He’d pass the batten on and we’d be entertained for what seemed like hours by sad songs, happy songs and songs about war, fighting and killing that we didn’t all understand, except that they were sacred in some way and told the stories of brave men, good and true who died for Ireland, rebel songs, I know now, but back then to my father and his friends they were holy in some way.

Then the good part would start, as the evening had worn on and the short hours of darkness began, as a billion stars came out and danced above us, the Ghost stories would begin. We would pull our jumpers tight and listen, looking all around us, quivering at tales of deathly apparitions of legions of ghostly soldiers, of long dead rebels in the hills and rocks around us, of ghastly tin miners going to and from the local pits but best if all, the fabled, (at least to us), ghost horse of the Glen. A horse that gallops up and down the Glen when the moon is full. Neighing and stomping, listening and smelling for his rider, a gallant young captain of the guard, shot down and fallen to the swollen river, washed away to to sea and never seen by mortal man again. Oh how we feared that ghost horse and pitied him too, always to roam the haunted Glen among the unsettled soldiers, rebels and miners, always searching never finding.

I bring my kids there now and although we don’t camp, they’re far to genteel for that and prefer a serviced camp site, (so do I to be honest), we have picnics and I tell them the tales of the haunted Glen, especially the tale of the Ghost horse of Glenmalure, it still rattles me if truth be told.

So long folks and as always, thanks for all the fish.

Ah not again

Posted: March 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

Hello dear reader, been a while. Busy man you see.

So I changed jobs recently and my commute has gotten a bit longer, “what to do with all that time sitting in the car”, says I.

“Why not listen to the Bruce Springsteen back catalogue” I answer, “haven’t done that for a few years”

So off young Brophy goes, CD’s in boot, on his merry way.

Now Mr Springsteen has 18 studio albums and another 7 or 8 live albums as well as demo releases and so on, so I’m no where near through even a half of it at this stage but I’m working at it and maybe by the middle of the summer I’ll be done.

I decided to start not at Bruce’s beginning, but mine and off I went. I’ve told you before about my fist full of birthday money and my copy of “Born to Run”, all those long, long years ago.

I’m trying to remember and to keep to the time line of albums I bought and to listen to them in that order, I think I’ve battened that down and the effect of it all is quite astounding.

One of the things I have noticed is how listening to an album brings back so many memories. Different songs on albums remind me of people, places and situations that I haven’t thought about in years.

Listening to “Born to Run” and a song called “Meeting across the river”, I’m 13 years old again, looking out my bedroom window, watching rain rolling down and thinking about whatever long ago sorted calamity was bearing down on me at the time.

“Dancing in the Dark”, “Bobby Jean”, reminds me of, well…..my “Glory Days”.

“Racing in the Street”, a song I owe so much of my emotional health to. The song that got me through and still gets me through the death of my cousin.

My favourite lyric of all time “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come through, or is it something worse?”, from “The River”, I had it scrawled on my school bag and after I told my son Cathal that, he had it printed on a tee shirt for me.

So, what have I learned from my continuing trip down memory lane?

Well, along with the love of my beautiful wife, kids, and the very best of family and friends, these songs, I’ve realised, have contributed massively to me, at nearly 50 years old, being the man I have become, and I humbly submit that I’m not a bad aul sort.

I know it’s corny, I really do, but I’ve a debt of gratitude to Bruce for his part in that. I’ve never met him and most likely never will but I owe him, he helped me grow up, in fact he’s still helping me to grow up.

My Little China Girl

Posted: January 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

I had a coat when I was a young fella. Navy blue, big collar, reached mid way between my knees and ankles. I was about 14 or 15 at the time and I bought it a few days after seeing the video for “China Girl” on MT USA or top of the pops. 

I had a few bob at the time and was walking by a shop in Liffey Street, saw it in the window, went in and tried it on. Before I even saw it in the mirror, I knew I was going to look like the coolest fucker who ever wore shoe leather. 
I had a bit more, (ok, a lot more), hair then and it was brushed to the side, Simon LeBon style and when I eventually looked in the mirror, I pulled up the collar and there standing looking back was David Bowie in all his Thin White Duke style but with my face. All I was missing was a little China girl and I was all set.

It’s funny how songs, with all the thousands we hear in our lifetimes can sometimes stick in your head and bring you to a place and time in your life like a anchor pulling you into place. 

“China girl” is one of those songs, it reminds me of a young man full of dreams and probably fuller of shit but with his whole life ahead of him, standing there looking impossibly cool, to himself at least.

The coat is long gone but about ten years ago I found another, same length and navy blue, with a cool collar that’s begs to be turned up.  It’s kind of dressy so I wear it with a suit in cold weather and you know what, when I put it on and look in the mirror, I’m David Bowie again and singing, “Oh baby, just you shut your mouth….she says…..shushhhhh, she says…..shushhhh” Perhaps more Fat White Commoner than Thin White Duke, but we all have our dreams.

And Life Rolls On

Posted: February 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

33 years today, that is a long, long time.  I can still remember it, Starsky and Hutch was on the telly, I heard the door open and mam, aunty Norah and Uncle Gerry walked in. Mam and aunty Norah looked at me and put their heads down. Uncle Gerry put one hand on my shoulder, held my left cheek in the other and said “I’m sorry son”.  My mam took your watch and your gold Parker pen from her bag, gave it to me and said “these are yours now”.   My grandad sat looking in the fire, tears in his eyes, shaking his head.  My cousin Stephen, cried his eyes out, I went to my room, picked up my book and read it.

So here we are Dad, 33 years on today, that is a long, long time  I looked at each of my kids this morning before they went to school, each of them so like you in different ways.  I can see you in their eyes, hear you in their laughs, listen to you in their voices.  All so much like you without even trying, without even having met you, that makes me smile, and life rolls on.