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Music, lots. Food, some.



Last Build Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2014 23:00:05 +0000

 



The Púca

Fri, 13 Dec 2013 18:35:00 +0000

It began with a book we bought in Harten's newsagent and book shop in Navan Shopping centre. It was from a trashy series of weird phenomena books we loved called "World's Greatest." It was "World's Greatest Ghosts." The book was full of blurry photographs. We became quickly obsessed with them on account of their terrifying power over us. A moment with those photographs was all it took to leave the two of us feeling consumed by sucking dread, even nausea.

Despite the havoc they wreaked on our peace of mind, we filled our minds with ghosts during the weird and heightened months that came after the book. That's one odd thing about dread, it's an addictive feeling. During the period, I was completely open to the possibility of their existence. So much so, in fact, that I saw them, or at least I thought I did, which is the same thing really. I remember two ghosts, though there are probably more. I'll write about them both, over two blog posts, starting with the púca.


I wasn't the only person who saw the púca. There were at least twelve of us. But that's getting ahead... The púca phenomenon began in third class in the boys' primary school in Kells. Our teacher that year was an eccentric but deeply thoughtful old Kerry man. He was long past caring about the curriculum, and he'd completely neglect it for literal weeks on end, instead telling us rambling stories about Tír Na nÓg and the Fianna and such like. Many of his stories concerned the supernatural and he once told us a very disquieting and convincing story about the púca. We learned from it that the púca was an entity that lived in vegetation and could shift its shape. It quickly found its way from the teacher's story into our real lives. Looking back, I can see how all this is testament to what a masterful story-teller the old Kerry man was. He put us under an enchantment.

The gang I palled around with during lunch, the oddballs who didn't like soccer or handball, often played games that drew on the imagination. We couldn't wait to weave the púca into our ongoing narratives.

We began a daily púca watch. At lunch every day we would position ourselves in the grass at the back of the school field, and stare at some trees and a low wall, in the hope of seeing it. A mythology grew within days, with secondary ghosts and backstories galore for the púca. The púca was a green face, we decided, a green face with no body. It appeared in trees, we said, it had cursing eyes.

Of course, then we all began to see it.

First there were individual sightings of it, always in the trees. In my own vision (which came after staring at the crotch of a tree, like a believer waiting for a statue of Mary to move), I saw a great green face arrange itself, facet by tiny facet, from nothing. It smiled at me.

What happened next can only be described as a mass hallucination. Someone shouted, "the púca the púca is behind the wall," and we soon stood crowded, tippy-toed against the wall, all somehow seeing the same thing: a man marching towards us, stretching into the shape of a horse as he went. 




A Dance of Many Nations.

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 19:13:00 +0000

Brian sat on his upturned rucksack with a piece of card that said 'Winnipeg' resting against his feet. The night around him was full of the fluttery suggestion of mothsiles, and miles distant, he could see silent lightning dance a vast flashing dance across the mirrored surface of a lake. He had begun his hitchhiking a fortnight before, on the evening of his final day attending international school on the west coast. Throughout those fourteen days he had experienced many moments of loneliness, but nothing compared to how looking at that distant lake made him feel. Utterly alone. Utterly vulnerable. A speck on the curved, corn-covered darkness of the Canadian Midwest. He tried to think of Stephanie, as she physically was, in her bed in Winnipeg, far over the corn where it was already dawn. He recoiled from that thought too, from the rushing sense of distance contained in it. As dawn brightened, he watched a small red truck approach from some way off. It slowed down as it drew close. He stood up cautiously, raising the cardboard sign. A car had slowed down the evening before, but only so that the driver, a leering man wearing big reflecting sunglasses, could best aim a coke can at his torso. There were no projectiles as the truck pulled up with the fart of a handbrake. Its driver, a long haired man, beckoned him over. He smiled as he did so, revealing teeth the colour of decayed vegetation. As Brian bent into the passenger seat, he breathed in close air that smelled of alcohol and, oddly, because they were thousands of miles inland, dead sea life. “Where ya going?” asked the driver, adjusting the mirror, disturbing a dreamcatcher. “Winnipeg,” said Brian. “Winnipeg. The cloudy lake,” the driver's eyes became distant, “that's what they call it in the First Nations' tongue. It's not exactly a tourist trap. What brings a British kid like you there?” He looked quizzically at Brian who did not bother to correct the geographical error. “I’m travelling from Vancouver. I'm visiting my girlfriend.” “Vancouver, Eh? A sweetheart, Eh? You met her over here?” “Yeah her name is Stephanie. We went to a school together.” “Wow, good for you buddy, good for you. A Manitoba missus. And tell me, sexy Steph isn't worried about her white knight out roaming the province on his own? I've got to tell you, you're fuckin crazy doing that on your own.” “She doesn’t know where I am. I’m going to surprise her with my visit,” he said. He imagined her, possibly lying awake in her room. She'd wondering to herself why he had not contacted her as he usually did. He experienced a frisson of excitement at the spontaneity of it all. “Where does she think you are?” asked the driver. “Alberta.” The driver whistled low and slapped his knee, making the van lurch so suddenly that boxes shifted and fell inside its boot. The smell of dead sea life immediately became more intense. “Well, may God bless you my buddy. Or should I say, 'old chap',” the laughing driver said, “I hope it's a great surprise.” “I hope so too. She likes spontaneity,” said Brian, as his mind returned, once more, to their last night. On the last night of term, the international school's dance society had put on a “Dance of Many Nations,” for the school’s various local fellows, mostly elderly couples who were well-to-do. He had come to the performance laden with dark and secret humours. Though he had never told Steph, he resented the show because its rehearsals had eaten so hungrily into their last months at school together. He couldn't resent her, though. He could never resent anything about that laughing, dancing girl. The theatre building was so full when he arrived, that he had to crouch, like a human fire hazard, on the steps between cloudy banks of old ladies' perfume. As he pulled his knees close to his chin, the desire to see Stephanie in her element won over his resentments. He was soon smiling and laughing, as the performers began their first dance, the b[...]



The window near Manor Street.

Tue, 03 Dec 2013 20:49:00 +0000

As I walked along the luas line towards Manor street, I saw the shining window. Against the remaining dregs of November daylight it looked like a lit emerald. It contained so much green. Forest green, lime green, unripe lemon green. All there, all resulting from the simple play of a light on wall painted a single shade. A vertical skirting board gave a dramatic bar of white.  I thought I'd seen the colours in that window before. And when I got home, I found that I had, in Van Gogh's painting of his bedroom. There they were, the same bejeweled colours, jumping from it. The light inside the window is not turned on every day, so the times I find it turned on are a treat. It is the first friendly beacon in my current Dublin neighbourhood, a place that I am only now getting to know.  I like picking out places like the window, and I actively try to do so. It is a forcible act of creating a psychogeography I suppose. A mental sense of place. Whenever I take note of something like the window, I permanently add it to my construct of my neighbourhood. And through gradual accumulations of such things, my mind map of the actual place becomes more vibrant and more enriched. More a part of me. I was not always like this. I spent long years depressed. And in those years, I'd often walk the harried walk of someone who avoids every pair of eyes they meet. My own eyes trained on the ground, I'd see little beyond my shoes and trampled chewing gum. Sometimes not even that. I'd be so lost in the self-lacerating loops of my depression (depression runs in circles), that I would sometimes not even notice the rain. I never want to live through such days again. As long as I am able to look at things like the window near Manor street, I believe I never will.  [...]



core of stone

Wed, 27 Nov 2013 17:11:00 +0000

I've put the book I'm writing away for a while. You can get far too close to something and then not see it at all. So it is parked, until I can see it from a distance, which will be after Christmas. Though it is not as finished as I rather hubristically let myself think until quite recently, it is finished in a way. The plot is there and the key moments are there and all of that. I've been very fortunate to have good people advise me about it (my girlfriend who is a wonderful reader, and an editor who I'm lucky to have a correspondence with). So I am happy enough. Let's say mild-persistent-feeling-of-accomplishment happy.


On my way to work this week I've been listening to Shifted's Under a Single Banner album. Ah here, you might say, not another one of these grimy industrial techno albums. I thought so too, at first. It is very much of techno of that ubiquitous stripe. But it has something more to my ears. There's a sculptural quality to it - the sculpture of huge solid objects, of heft. Like SunnO)))'s Monoliths and Dimensions and Sleep's Dopesmoker the music implies vast physicality, weight and traction. When I listen I think of objects of stone and steel, monolithic and weathered.

Weirdly enough, I also think of The Lord of the Rings. The Lord of the Rings was one of the last books I read before teenage self-consciousness somehow obliterated my capacity to imagine freely (I'll write more about this mystery again). It was the last book I really felt I was 'in' (until I taught myself to once more read mindfully a decade and a half later). Anyway, there is bit in the first book where a terrific evil creature called a Balrog emerges from the bowels of the earth to the sound of drums. Half asleep on the DART in the morning's gloom, with the corroded kick drum coming from somewhere deep beyond my headphones, I remembered the Balrog. 

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In which I eventually talk about music...part i

Tue, 29 Oct 2013 11:41:00 +0000

I'm off work for a week, so I am trying to write. I'm breaking up some of the time during the day by listening to music. Aware that I hardly ever post any more, I'm going to use this post to have a look at some tracks. They're taken from what I've listened to most, in recent months, on my last.fm account (oh btw it's really interesting to go back through your musical history and read it like 'a diary'). I'll do it in two parts. This is part one. DJ Rashad - Double Cup This is an album in the footwork style, which is an extremely high bpm mixture of bass music and dancing that developed in Chicago over the past decade. I can't stop listening to Double Cup. It's an album of contrasts. The high bpms and chopped vocals are played off against smoothly drifting samples and synths. It's similar to techno, in one way, I suppose, in that everything is composed with the function of dancing kept in mind. This track has a real acid house tinge to it. It's extraordinary. Acid Bit Double Cup... feel it... F.U.S.E - Dimension Intrusion. When Daniel Lopatin was composing his latest album R plus Seven, he kept a youtube account where he favourited lots of things, quite regularly. Following it was fun, because of the variety and strangeness of the stuff that turned up on it. For example, I discovered a real gem of a techno record on it, (loads of people probably already know it. Sorry if I'm ignorant), F.U.S.E's Dimension Intrusion.  F.U.S.E. is one of the Detroit techno producer Richie Hawtin's earliest pseudonyms. He's released a bunch of stuff on Warp Records under that pseudonym. The album Dimension Intrusion is the best of them. It's class. It's pure Detroit. Muscular, trippy techno from the later part of its early days.  Sweet classic techno Oneohtrix Point Never - Zebra There's a lot going on on this fellow's new album, more than I'd begin to know where to comment. But one of the things he seems to be doing, is something that Zomby does or tries to do. He's marking a course through all of dance music. You can hear bits of Kraftwerk in his album at one end, and James Ferraro's weird MS Windows music at the other. He maps out his own territory too, though. Nobody else could quite make those rising vapours of sound that hover around so many of his tracks. This track, 'Zebra', is one of the clearer references to a point in dance music's history. Synth Blitz Okay, I'm off to feed some birds. I'll do more of these again this week. [...]



The Tuesday scowls, The Wednesday growls...

Tue, 24 Sep 2013 19:33:00 +0000

Below is a little thing I submitted to a Totally Dublin feature recently. The question they asked was to tell them about a regret:

Like Watt in Samuel Beckett’s novel of the same name, who regrets everything he’s ever done, I have a closet full of mistakes to choose from. I've made some awful mistakes, some so awful that writing about them here would be tragic rather than instructive. But one comes to mind which might serve as an example for novice music journalists.

Seven years ago a music magazine gave me a free pass to the Electric Picnic in return for a few reviews and band interviews. I made my mistake halfway between Dublin and Carlow. I opened a can of Bulmers and decided that I would have no problem attending the festival both as a reveler and as a critic.


The next day, I crashed into the artists area to interview a band called the Dodos. If it wasn't for the dictaphone, I might never have known how drunk I was during that interview, but unfortunately every last moment of my shameful attempt to interview them was recorded. Days later and still hungover, I tried to transcribe my slurred, nonsensical questions of the band, who spent most of the recording laughing at my expense. What a karmic hell. I can still hear myself now, asking them come with me to the dance tent, begging one of them for a sip of his water, and finally announcing that I needed to puke.

Never again, I said; though it took me a few more years to actually learn that lesson.

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Remember 2008? Me either.



The man I saw in Connolly Station

Thu, 12 Sep 2013 16:47:00 +0000

I watched a man in Connolly Station this afternoon, making his way slowly to the entrance. He was a man who would be instantaneously identified by many of us, indeed most of us, as belonging to a ‘type,’ the stereotype of ‘junkie/skanger/knacker.’

Watching him, I tried to wish the stereotype away, so that I could better see the person. What I saw was sickness. I saw a terrible physical sickness that had consumed his body. It was the sickness of a body on the point of death. His eyes the colour of metal in a face that seemed tinged all over with greys, greens and blues. And how skinny his face was. His skull showed through it, implied in the hollows around his cheeks and eyes. No more than four teeth were visible in his mouth. They were custard and chocolate coloured. As he walked, he tried to speak to the friend who assisted him, but he could manage only mumbles and hums.

I wondered what age he was, this man who appeared to be so close to complete physical deletion, never mind death? And it hit me with a chill that he was likely younger than me, a couple of years off his thirtieth birthday still. A few years younger than me and close to the end of life.

The pair walked past me and I followed soon after to get my Luas home. Approaching my stop, with the tram bell hammering, dinner already simmering away in my head, I thought of how easily I might forget him. But it was not just forgetting. My mind wanted to turn away.





Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk

Mon, 29 Jul 2013 17:58:00 +0000

I finished Don Quixote. I'd recommend it to anyone, but with one warning, the first part of it is very sadistic. The poor heroes are tormented by the author, being set upon, losing teeth and breaking bones all over the shop. And that's not to mention the amount of vomit and shit they have to contend with. Reading it made me think of an episode of South Park where the characters realize that every new adventure they attempt has already been done by the Simpsons, leading to the refrain, "Simpsons did it," which is repeated across the episode. Don Quixote manages so many tricks with its form, and asks so many questions of literature, that I'll be reading books thinking "nice trick, but Cervantes did it" for the foreseeable future.  Me on a helter skelter I'm exactly halfway through my two month break from work. It feels like I've made good progress with my writing, but it's also a case of the more I do, the more I realize I still have to do. I decided to do something unusual for me, and entered my novel in the Guinness patron project that you'll see doing the rounds on facebook and twitter.  Here's my project. I am not entirely sure how the scheme works. It is clear that there is a voting element and a judging element, but it's less clear how much weight is ultimately given to either. The whole thing is a shot at the moon for me, but if you read this and decide you would like to vote for me, I'd certainly appreciate it. If I secured an amount of funding, it would be used to simply take some time off work in order to finish the novel. You'll notice that I call it "The Cared For" on its project page. It will most likely be called something else, but the competition requires a name, so that is my temporary name for it. Music music music. I've upgraded to spotify premium to make the voice go away (Oh God that fucken voice), and I've made a few playlists.  Here's a good one - long live rockathon. It is a compilation of songs from Guided by Voices and Robert Pollard side projects.  Here's another - Jazzberries. I watched a few documentaries about jazz last year and have slowly been feeling my way into it. I listen to jazz before I go to bed most nights. The playlist is mostly bebop stuff, all well known, I'm sure, and nothing to frighten the horses.  I've also been listening to, and enjoying, a young American lad called SFV Acid. He makes bedroom techno. The clip above is a promo for his album The Dwell, which is a deeply intriguing listen, an album of floaty agar plate electronica in the tradition started by Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 85-92. [...]



Reach for the Dead

Fri, 05 Jul 2013 13:49:00 +0000

It feels like there's a heatwave on the way in Dublin. On account of working in a primary school I have the next two months off. This used to feel like forever when I was a child, but the first week has already glided past alarmingly. While I intend to spend some of the time out of doors enjoying the city with my girlfriend and friends, I think I'll be indoors writing for most of the two months. Which is pretty much all I got up to this week. I wanted to update this blog all week, but the other writing can be exhausting. I'm at a stage where I feel like I'm living inside of it and, no matter where I might be (Aldi, for example), I find my thoughts continually poking and pulling at words to see how they fit. You read all these clichéd things about writing novels, and sort of mentally discount them, yet when you attempt the task yourself it's a surprise to find out that some of them are true. Even if nothing comes of it, publication-wise, I'll benefit from the new ways of thinking the writing of it has gifted to me, some of which I mentioned in my last post. I find my patience has increased too, which is a major thing for me who used to hate delayed gratification in so many aspects of my life. I also notice my own thinking in a healthier and more observant way. I listen in on myself, these days, and I ask myself whether the ways in which I think are good for me or not. While these are all probably things that come to most of us with age and experience, I'd like to think that they've come, at least in part, from my undertaking a project as big as a novel, the biggest thing I've tried my hand at since my PhD (which was far less daunting, as a matter of fact, because of how well-supported I was by my academic supervisor and research team). Sitting down to work at it every day, gives me a purpose, while the feeling of pushing through from a first draft into a second is very gratifying. It feels great, in fact. I'll be reading something from my writing at an event called 'Siteation' pretty soon, July 17th. There will be a few other readings from people like myself. Naomi from Harmless Noise organized the event and I think it looks pretty cool. Click here for the facebook event if that sounds interesting and you would like to go. It's going to be somewhere near Smithfield. One of those BYOB 'spaces' that used to be a fruit hanger or something, I'd say. I won't even pretend to be on trend with music these days, but I've been listening a lot to Boards of Canada's 'Tomorrow's Harvest.' I find it to be a deeply moving and elegiac album, if unsettling. I think they have tried to say something beautiful about death and entropy, to conceptualize these things with subtlety. I think they have succeeded. In that regard, it is in the unlikely position of sharing something with black metal and doom music. This is my favourite track from it. We've gone from the impending heatwave to the 'cold earth.' I'd say that brings us full circle. Chat to ye soon.[...]



this summer...

Wed, 26 Jun 2013 18:50:00 +0000

This summer... in a world... a blog returns...

(Don Quixote by Goya - I'm rereading the book this summer)

I'll be posting regularly in July and August. Two posts a week. See you Monday.



From the top of my head down to the tips of the toes on my feet

Thu, 16 May 2013 17:43:00 +0000

I promise, I resolve, I will blow the cobwebs off this dusty old internet hole over the coming weeks, to keep it ticking over so that the moss doesn't grow over it and the squatters don't move in. rad owls: because, why not? As I explained before, I've been dividing my time between work and writing fiction, and I'm hovering in an anxious limbo, where everything is a work in progress, incomplete. Because of this, whenever my thoughts turn to this blog, it is with a bit of guilt, the guilt that the time could be spent writing the draft novel or whatever. And it is a properly anxious limbo, because, not having submitted the draft to anyone yet (it's some ways off that), I have no idea whether or not the whole endeavour will amount to any more than a big hill of beans.  Though that's not entirely true. Because even if I never get published, the process of taking the time every other day to write something as long as a novel has enriched my life. It has enriched my reading life for a start. I now notice how books are engineered, how some novels might as well be cobbled together from pritt-stick and sellotape, though others, the ones touched by greatness, still seem as smooth as hewn marble from where I regard them. So, yah, I suppose that writing has taught me (slow learner that I am at the age of thirty two) to become a more discerning reader. Writing has also taught me to notice things. And noticing things has put the brakes on time in a way. I carry a journal with me everywhere, and scribble down anything that strikes me as worth filing away for future reference. These are the writerly little details that will help me win my battles against cliché, I tell myself, as I jot something like "dapper old fella with snaggle tooth and cane... a parakeet among dun-coloured sparrow ppl on no. 11 bus." The more of these details I write down, the more I record my days in this way, the more time seems to slow. Nothing makes the days rush by like blind habit does, that shuttling along through workaday routines. Slowing down and noticing things, savouring the world, mitigates against this.  Try it. In music news, I'm going to see Danny Brown play the Sugar Club at the end of June and I can't wait. I might go to the Longitude festival thing too, probably on the Kraftwerk day. My favourite album this year so far is John Grant's Pale Green Ghosts though Vampire Weekend are currently threatening to usurp this. GMF from the John Grant album is easily my favourite song in yonks. You can watch it below. If you still read this blog, a very real thanks for sticking with it through a fallow period. [...]



taken by trees

Mon, 08 Apr 2013 19:02:00 +0000

Of all the dumb shit my father has gotten up to in his back garden, last Friday's dumb shit was the dumbest shit yet. And before anyone calls me out for being a bit hard on the man here, I'll add that I was very much complicit in the dumb shit. A couple of weeks ago, the monstrous leylandii trees which towered over my family home for three decades were cut down by a tree surgeon hired by the local residents' committee. The endeavour left the back garden looking very baldy and grim, though I'm sure summer's growth will temper some of the severity. It also left one tree behind, a silver birch that had forced itself up among the leylandiis, becoming shaped by lack of light into extreme, spindling lankiness. Imagine a 40 foot twig. That is what this silver birch looked like. The tree surgeon told my parents that there was some sort of clause in his contract preventing him from cutting any trees other than leylandiis and this is why the silver birch was pardoned. My father couldn't bear the sight of the silver birch. He anthropomorphised it (like he anthropomorphises all things, animate and inanimate), and the first thing he told me when I visited last weekend was, "that's an awful sorry looking excuse for a tree. The other ones destroyed it. We'll have to put it out of its misery." Not long later he was sitting in its crotch, twenty feet above the ground, ready to engage in some DIY tree surgery with my mother's least favourite item in the entire universe, a chainsaw that he impulse bought in Lidl last year (actually, the chainsaw might be her second least favourite thing. Her least favourite is the portrait of Michael Collins that my father keeps placing in innocuous places around the house in a game of cat and mouse that has been going on with her for years). While my father sat perched in the tree with his chainsaw, and my mother (and all of our neighbours, I later found out) watched with dread from the kitchen window, I stood in the football pitch behind the garden, holding a rope tied to the piece of the tree he was to cut off. The idea was to pull the piece of tree free and into the football pitch so that it didn't damage the shed on its way down. As ideas go, it turned out to be a pretty bad one. When I pulled on the rope and the chainsawed piece of tree came away, I knew that things were going to go tits up, mostly because they started to happen in slow motion. I watched my father flail in slow motion, then topple sideways in slow motion, then fall fourteen feet onto the shed roof in slow motion. The next thing I remember is holding him in place on the shed roof as I screamed down the garden at my mother, who stood frozen and ghost pale in the window. "Ambulance. Ambulance. Call a fucken ambulance." I think that's the gist of what I shouted. This is the actual tree - the red arrow shows the point from which he fell. My father was bleeding from his nose and he looked at me with an intense, weirdly innocent gaze I never saw before - confusion, desperation and fear all mixed up together. His trousers were torn and one bare leg jutted up away from him at a bad angle. He made a low croaky whistling noise - air going back into winded lungs. Naturally, I thought he was dying. So did many of the neighbours. It transpired that almost every neighbour with a line of sight on our garden must have watched my father's ill-judged battle against the birch, because, within moments of his falling, the garden filled with people. They all helped out in a cool, sensible manner, calming my mother's nerves and helping me put my father into the recovery position. In stark contrast to the neighbours were my parents' chickens, which streamed maniacally through the back door, into the house, squawking an[...]



The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea

Tue, 02 Apr 2013 07:58:00 +0000

I'm acting upon a dream I had last night where, I shit not, popular Irish music blogger Niall Byrne was trapped within the trunk of a Leylandii tree in my back garden (turning into wood like something out of this radiohead video) and we had a lengthy conversation about music blogging. So here I am, driven by my vision of Nialler, trying to dust off the compost heap for the second time this year. In the meantime, I've still been writing. Here's something I wrote for Siren magazine, who have relaunched with a great website. Stick around and look at other stuff on the site. They ostensibly cover feminist issues but their remit is very broad - there's a lot of great writing there. Good luck to them, I say. I've also entered a few short story competitions. These things spring up all over the calendar like mushrooms - every small town in Ireland would seem to have a literary festival and short story competition attached. So I sent a few stories off to various corners of the country and will continue to do so as I write more/ the rejections pile up. chipper lane is in my ears and in my eyes Which brings me to something very cool and Kells related ("oh, look, he's put the words 'cool' and 'Kells' in a sentence together again: YAWN" - you, probably. But wait... this is very cool. I promise). Kells, through some desperate gimmicky fluke (or, more likely, astute maneuvering by bookish people in the chamber of commerce) has ended up attached to Britain's biggest literary festival, Hay. So, at the end of June, the town is going to play host to a bunch of well-known writers such as John Banville and DBC Pierre. I wonder will Banville have a full Irish in Taypots? Will Margaret Atwood survive a lock-in in Smokey O'Rourke's pub? Will DBC Pierre pass out with an open batter burger on his chin in chipper lane? Only time will tell. EXCITING, ISN'T IT? The format of this blog dictates that after I waffle for four or more paragraphs I should mention music in passing. So here's some music in passing. My favourite producer, DJ Koze, has a wopper album out named after a deeply primordial part of the brain, the Amygdala. Perhaps too wopper (it's 80 minutes long and feels a little bit stout around the middle), but the highlights are a blast, such as the following collaboration with Matthew Dear which, in addition to being a squiggly neon techno slow jam, gives great life advice: when life throws you lemons... take a bath. I've always thought DJ Koze's colour is purple, and this album has a nice purple tinted cover (with the man sitting on a reindeer and wearing a crash helmet, I might add) to go with the very purple music - purple's funky, right? Get on it, like a sonnet. Fun facts: I'm on the bus to Kells and this blog was written between Cabra and Navan. Not bad, eh? I'll be back again very soon. Promise.[...]



spotterflies

Sun, 17 Feb 2013 14:27:00 +0000

Walking to the shop in Ranelagh I noticed a touch of Spring in the air. A few small things - the bright sunshine, a small breeze running over a pygmy daffodil in a garden, and construction workers laying down tarmac in the main street - heralded the change. So, I took out my phone and texted to myself "write a blog about Spring being in the air" - because that's how us bloggers perceive the world, as potential content. Then, at that precise point, when I was thinking of new life and regeneration, what should roll slowly through the main street? Only a full funeral cortege. The universe having its laugh. I spent a lot of my extracurricular time on two activities this past week, curating the @Ireland account on twitter and messing around with spotify (which I only began to use recently). The moon over Ranelagh last night - photo, as usual, from my crummy phone The @Ireland account, which you can view here, has 12,700 followers, so it was very interesting to experience twitter through that lens. I can see how having so many followers might go to your head. For example, any tweet you write, no matter how mundane, will gather at least a few favourite stars and perhaps one or two retweets. That's for 12,700 followers. Now, imagine being a celebrity with ten times that figure. You'd surely end up deluded, feeling like Moses coming down from the mountain, your every word, even the clichéd old "toast for breakfast" tweet, taken as wit or wisdom, gathering retweets, favourites and responses galore. Ahead of doing the @Ireland account thing, I figured that I would have a lot to say. It turns out that I didn't really. I found it hard to maintain a daily presence and I ended up waffling about relatively tame stuff - garden birds, things in Kells, etc... There's no doubt that I'll probably spend all of the coming week having little ideas and saying "fuck, I wish I was still @Ireland." One last funny thing about the account - there were people who treated it as if it were the official face of the country, like the office of the Taoiseach or some shit. As if the person curating the account at any given time has an obligation to pass comment on news stories relating to Ireland or the Irish. On the day the pope resigned, I had an apoplectic man tweeting "on the evening the pope resigns, what does the @Ireland account do? Tweet pictures of his dinner #fail." Clarifying his tweet later, he said he "at least expected some comment" - and then I briefly wished that I was, in fact, Muslim - as I might well have been - so I could properly show up the assumption about religion that was inherent in his angry tweet. Spotify was my other distraction this week. I downloaded it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and began using the service deeply, in that I tried out features such as the radio and playlist tools. I love it. I love: (i) Being able to nose on my friends. Apart from the kick (don't call the guards. It's non sexual) I get from looking in townhouse windows at nights, I never thought of myself as much of a noser. Yet, looking at what my friends are listening to in real time on spotify is an unusually gratifying activity. I'll give a specific example. I have a friend, Ciarán, who is entirely obsessed with historic pop charts, and of a Sunday evening, I can watch his weird, hyper-specific, almost certainly OCD behaviour from afar - "Ciarán just added Joe Dolce's 'Shaddap Your Face' to his playlist 'English Pop Charts for the Week Ending Februay 21st 1981.'" (ii) Making weird playlists. This is always a work in progress. Here are some of my playlists. Drone lake Songs that are probably perfect Jazzberries I like the app so much that I think I'm going to upgrade t[...]



you'd nearly swim in it

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 23:49:00 +0000

Suddenly, coloured lights swing up through the dark... a silver flurry of ribbon and paper falls from the ceiling and over the upturned faces of teenagers who dance awkwardly with their arms... here's a glam rock drumbeat and some descending guitar chords... Gary Glitter begins to sing... HELLO, HELLO, IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK. gently, we sail back out onto blog lake I took a couple of months' break to work on what I vaguely called 'a project.' It's actually a novel, but I was reticent to say much about it because that's a cliche that leaves you open to snark, isn't it? At least that's what the self-effacing chickenshit part of my brain (which is pretty much all of my brain) told me. I also remembered a pretty funny Peter Cook joke I read somewhere: "I met a man at a party. He said 'I'm writing a novel'. I said 'Oh really? Neither am I.'" I've tried to say "I'm writing a novel" out loud without cringing, but I can't do it. I'm clearly battling some deeply ingrained prejudices of my own in that regard. Yet the writing itself is coming along well. Up until shortly before Christmas, it felt like I was working on a dozen little vignettes and I feared that I lacked the skill or vision to draw them together. Then (in a moment analogous to one I experienced during my PhD write-up) I passed some invisible divider and found myself working on a relatively cohesive single thing. What a lovely feeling. As with the PhD, once I got to this point I realized that vision might have less to do with it than bloody-mindedness; repeated evenings spent squeezing out reluctant words have brought about an accretion of material that reads more harmoniously than I dared hope. Whenever the blinking cursor tries to take the piss out of me, as it often does, I breathe deep and easy and then remind myself that anything - even one sentence - will move things along. So far, (55,000 words so far to be precise) stubbornness has served me well. "But is it any good?" - Kells accented voice at the back. "umm... here's some music." "Is it drone? It behher be fucken drone." "...none more drone." frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F60589884&color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=false" width="100%"> Over the past couple of weeks I've listened to Mountains' new album Centralia a lot, so much, in fact, that I can second guess every little bleep, bloop and musical curlicue in its rich textures. It's as good a drone album as I've heard in years, especially in and around its middle section where a piece of music called Propellor manifests slowly and quite majestically over the course of twenty minutes. At 9 minutes and 40 seconds all goes fuzzy, fuzzy, fuzzy - and it sounds so inviting and warm that you'd nearly take a swim in it. Yum. [...]



blog, interrupted...

Mon, 10 Dec 2012 09:09:00 +0000

Hi all,
I am going to take a break from the blog until January or February. I am working on another writing project that is taking up all of my spare time at the moment. Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for coming back if ye come back.
See yis on the flipside of Oh Thirteen.

Me IRL




Destroyer in Whelans

Thu, 15 Nov 2012 16:48:00 +0000

I've waffled long and hard about Dan Bejar on these pages, and about his knotty songs that can sometimes disappear up his arse but which are more often redeemed by an unappropriated romantic sincerity that is all too rare. Live, with his band Destroyer, he is great value. I saw him at ATP years ago and came away from the gig converted (who'd have thunk it, I thought: the cranky oddball from the New Pornographers has a big back catalogue of his own. And I plundered the fuck out of it with enthusiasm).


His latest album, Kapput!, was one of my handful of favourites of last year. On it, the excesses of his lyrics are tempered a bit (prior to it, people sometimes accused him of parodying himself) and the band's music explores a new style, a sort of warped and vaguely psychedelic take on Yacht Rock, the genre's keytar and saxophone tropes subsumed into into haunting swirls and squiggles that communicate sadness and loss.

Destroyer play Whelans (Wexford Street, Dublin) tonight and you'd be nuts to miss them.

Tickets are €18.50

MP3: Destroyer-Blue Eyes



Interruption to a Journey

Wed, 07 Nov 2012 22:31:00 +0000

Last weekend saw me emerge blinking and pale from my Northside box-room to take a train down to Waterford to visit my good friend Frank, a man so filled with curiosity and enthusiasm that being around him is like taking good medicine. We took the car to Kilkenny and walked a forest trail along the river Nore. What a tonic. We picked mushrooms, climbed mouldy tree trunks and even ended up chatting to a pair of nine-year-old boys for the twenty seconds it took for us to realise how incredibly ropey it was for two thirty-one-year-old men to do this in a secluded wood. As the young lads ran off (to revise their stranger danger civics homework, one hopes) they managed a cheery parting insult about my silly jumper and hat, which reassured me that the future might not be that fucked after all - things seem right enough in the world of young lads anyway.

me, looking at some trees

What else did we get up to? I pretended to drive a digger that was stalled in a field and we tried to sneak through the thick hedge of a very fancy eco-house in order to take photos of it (impossible, sadly). Then we chilled by the river and philosophised, as we always seem to do when we hang out. One subject of conversation was a poem that I remembered from the 1996 Junior Cert called Interruption to a Journey. In that poem, a car journey is interrupted when the car hits a hare and the occupants find themselves standing out in a dark, unfamiliar landscape of cornfields, suddenly becoming aware for the first time of surroundings that they often passed through on their way "...from one/ important place to another". The hare's sacrifice wasn't in vain, the reader feels, as it brought the car's inhabitants closer to their environment.

On the way back to Waterford, Frank played a track from Grandaddy's Sumday called 'Lost on Your Merry Way'. "This is fucken class" I shouted, temporarily forgetting that I had chucked Sumday into a bin back in 2003 so disappointed was I with it. 

Come back into the fold, Sumday, all is forgiven.

MP3: Grandaddy-Lost on Your Merry Way



regrettable drunken incident #1

Wed, 31 Oct 2012 18:54:00 +0000

Know the one that's one too many, said the TV ad, and I liked to think I did. As I necked what was surely my sixth pint of Guinness in that raucously packed pub, I figured it'd most likely be the next one. That, sadly, was my last coherent thought of the night. It was three days after my 21st birthday and my twin brother, my father and I were out celebrating in Geesala, which is my mother's homestead in Mayo, a tiny village crouched between two cruel geographies, the bog and the Atlantic (the name literally translates as "the salty wind"). The pub was full of so many emigrants home for Christmas, that the word "home" itself seemed to fill the air, peppering every red-faced and laughter-filled conversation under the glinting tinsel. This atmosphere was a drug in itself, and it emboldened me to engage with first and second cousins in the sort of banter that didn't otherwise come naturally. As pint after pint disappeared, I brayed nonsensically about Gaelic football and politics, my voice loud and false and full of shite.  Soon, I found myself propped by one hand over a urinal. The world had narrowed down to small handful of sensations, the cold of the tile on my palm, the smothered hubbub of noise in the pub, the smell of urinal cakes; it was one of those inlets of calm I often experienced during the churning chaos of a session. I breathed deliberately to keep nausea at bay, and told myself to "cop on" between breaths. The urinal suddenly coloured purple. I watched the liquid drain away and realised I must have switched to rum and blackcurrant. I wiped my mouth and went in for another. A second rush of euphoria swept me along, but this time all was chaos, a tinsel fairground of shouts and faces and faces and shouts, and my own disembodied voice dropping in from time-to-time, communicating terse little one-sentence commentary on my decrepit state - "you're in ribbons, man", "go to bed". Was I saying this stuff out loud?  Shakin' Stevens played distorted over the PA and I slumped in a seat in the corner nodding in and out of sleep, verbally chastising myself in the interludes. My brother was beside me. "We're walking home", he said. "I am home. I came home with Podge", I replied. "Get a fucken grip. Podge is in Kells. We've to walk home. Daddy left hours ago" - he was drunk too, but different. He was capable of making sense. This would always be the difference between us. I got up and walked away from him, towards the bar. That night was the coldest night of the year. Outside the pub, a peat wilderness stretched under hard stars, glittering silver all the way to the sand-bar and the sea. Minus eight degrees inland and minus four near the sea was how the RTE weather had it earlier in the day. I walked out into it without my coat, my thin shirt clinging to shoulders saturated with sweat. I'd had enough, and had decided I was going to bed.  My brother tells me the rest. He tells me how he only looked up by chance and saw me exit the pub. If he had looked one second earlier or later, he'd have missed me. He followed me out and shouted after me as I crossed the frozen road. I didn't look around but walked purposely on. Then I vanished. I had fallen through briars into the eight foot drainage ditch cut alongside the bog. When he had eased himself down into the ditch, he found me sitting in freezing running water, completely oblivious to the cold, carefully taking one shoe off and then the other. I was getting ready for bed.  It took us two hours to walk home. I remember the journey in fragments[...]



My favourite albums of 2011 (#1 Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica)

Mon, 29 Oct 2012 22:46:00 +0000

Just in time for me to begin my list for 2012...here's Daniel Lopatin with my favourite album of last year. Oneohtrix Point Never's Replica begins with a playful bait-and-switch. 'Andro' starts with a hiss followed by the slow revealing of the sort of deep space synthesizer that will sound familiar, perhaps even comforting, to listeners acquainted with Lopatin's music on his previous albums as Oneohtrix Point Never. And then something disquieting proceeds to happen. Voices, just on the brink of intelligibility, begin to layer on to each other, rising up around the synth, crowding it out, and foreshadowing the enigmatic postmodern Babel that Replica is. Lopatin is making a huge sidestep in both his music and in his themes, and his signposting of it for us in this way underlines how important he feels that transition to be. Replica not only sounds unlike anything Lopatin has done previously, it sounds unlike, well, anything. On its surface, it is an album of ten microscopically constructed and deeply, weirdly, evocative pieces of music. Each one of these compositions is assembled from sampled shreds of old advertisements archived on youtube, some looping tightly, others just playing out, all layered on top of each other in such carefully interlocked arrangements that the effect is nothing short of staggering - an orchestra where the instruments are replaced by tiny unrecognisable bits of ads. As Replica succeeds musically, drawing the listener into these alien sound-worlds (each with a very distinct mood), it also succeeds conceptually. Lopatin is very careful in how he presents his work and it is no coincidence that the official promotional video for Replica is made from the flotsam of uprooted TV material (a cheap looking cartoon) edited, like the music, in such a way as to be lent deeper meanings as it plays in sync with the track. Like Duchamp, who famously turned art on its head by placing banal "readymade" objects such as a urinal and an upside down bike wheel in a gallery, Lopatin is challenging us to perceive something familiar made alien and investing this stuff, this junk, with all sorts of significance and indeed beauty. It's magical really. It's alchemy, transformation. Lopatin isn't the first to do this sort of thing in electronic music. Replica feels like an end point of sorts to what Boards of Canada began with their Music Has the Right to Children album, which draws (albeit to a much lesser extent than Lopatin's use of ads) on samples taken from old educational television shows. Of course, many artists in the so-called 'chillwave' genre have tried this stunt too. But they seem to have failed where Lopatin and Boards of Canada succeed and it seems to me that their key error is the inability to re-purpose the source material in such a way that it transcends what in lesser hands remains a simple exercise in making nostalgic musical gloop. Lopatin and Boards of Canada are above all conceptually high-minded composers, and they have created their music so that the layers of ambiguous meaning that accumulate like sediment around their samples are not happy accidents but rather the deliberate end result of brilliant composition. And what does it all mean? Well, the mode of composition is a definite key to unlocking some of Replica's conceptual layers. Lopatin is perhaps telling us something about the relationship between the contemporary adult consciousness and the material that shaped it in its formative years. How much TV did adults, who are perh[...]



I'm waiting/ please come back/ I've got the guts now/ To meet your eye

Mon, 22 Oct 2012 12:28:00 +0000

My wisdom teeth have come back to haunt me. The lower gums on both sides of my mouth swelled up a week ago and refuse to deflate. After a week of gobbling nurofen and rubbing clove oil on them I went to the dentist. He prescribed me an antibiotic with the caveat that I might need surgery to get both teeth removed. Teeth - the cause of and the solution to, actually just the cause of life's problems. They say men think about sex every few minutes. Well, I can't say that statistic makes any sense to me. Teeth, however... On my way back from the dentist, which is in Kilbarrack where I now live, I saw this house... ghosts and goblins yo It's typical of the area. I remember a few years back, during the Celtic Tiger, houses in the working class areas used to run so many Christmas lights that it surely cost them thousands on the electricity meter. I reckon the Halloween thing is motivated by the same good-natured desire to show off, but without the bill. Another house, which I couldn't photo because a hostile old lady (she became hostile the second I held up my phone - and who could blame her? I didn't ask permission) was in the garden, had a luminous skeleton (it was day but it had the luminous colouration) sprawled over a privet hedge, legs akimbo, in a pose that could only be described using sex prose. I wonder if it was deliberate? Weird stuff. Kilbarrack's soundtrack is the magpie's dry chatter. They sound like the old fashioned clacker children used to bring to football matches (according to the Beano anyway). They perch on every chimney, commandeer every bin, fight over every scrap of cod batter outside the chipper, and generally appear in such numbers as to render the old folk poem about them meaningless. These birds are taking over urban Ireland with ease. A confluence of things - a dry leaf rustling past my shoe, a bus turning a corner lit brighter on its inside than the dimming suburbs outside, a child on a bike shouting "wahoo", something (a bin?) rattling, the DART slowing down to a stop - drew me back to Vancouver Island in 1998. I spent two years in a scholarship driven international school there. One of the things we had to do there was a community project. I ended up working with a couple of my school mates and some hippies in their twenties on a bus called "the sustainable living bus". It was a gutted school bus that we worked on, filling it with tiny interactive exhibits about living sustainably and minding your ecological footprint. Looking back honestly, I can see I was only half committed to what the bus was about. It didn't help that I felt alienated from the well-to-do and well-adjusted Canadians who worked with me (all lovely). But aside from that, I had lazy ignorant attitudes to the environment that I never checked before then. Put stuff in the bin, forget about it - that was me. Anyway, my overriding memory of the experience is the sense of North American 'Halloween'. The bus was parked on an avenue in a wealthy suburb of Victoria. The street was flanked on either side by old trees with leaves turning all the autumn colours. Late in the evening, as we worked in the bus by the light of a generator, we'd watch the odd child cycle past the window in a flurry of leaves. I would feel at those moments like I was in an 80s kids' movie. The houses nearby had pumpkins and bunting. I felt like I was in a pleasant dream.  I bought a cassette tape in Lyle's Place which was Victoria's cool record store, and played it during t[...]



Fennesz: Unitarian Church

Fri, 19 Oct 2012 16:33:00 +0000

Christian Fennesz is the artist I probably write most about on here. He is a true compost heap hero. He'll be playing Dublin tomorrow (October 20th) in the Unitarian Church at 7.30pm, where he will surely create sheets of grainy cubist music to fill the darkened air. Donal Dineen will provide the visuals, but your mind's eye will probably bring some visuals of its own (I always listen to Fennesz with my eyes closed: true story).


Get there on the button to see the talented guitarist (and sometimes singer) Cian Nugent too. You can get tickets at tickets.ie for €19 or for €20 on the door.

MP3: Fennesz-Shisheido



My favourite albums of 2011 (#2 Tim Hecker - Ravedeath 1972)

Mon, 15 Oct 2012 19:14:00 +0000

#2 Tim Hecker - Ravedeath 1972 not a single fuck was given that day "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold" writes Yeats in his famous poem The Second Coming. Throughout the poem he uses the language and imagery of apocalypse and revelation to indicate humanity spiraling towards a moment of terrible change, and in its wild last line ("...what rough beast, its hour come round at last/ slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?") there is palpable horror at the unknown future that lurks around the corner. It's no stretch to read Tim Hecker's Ravedeath 1972 as musically analogous to Yeats's poem. Ravedeath 1972's cover art depicts a group of lads about to drop a piano off a tall building as part of a student ritual carried out in MIT university. It's a cunning image as it is impossible to look at it without imagining the ferocious sound it implies. We are spectators at the scene of the instrument's imminent and violent death. And with its howling and droning treatments of pipe organ music, Ravedeath 1972 seems to invite us to spectate at a death ritual and funeral service that might be for music itself, but which, because it is so powerfully metaphorical, should not be limited to just being about music or indeed 'the LP' as plenty of critics have speculated. Like Yeats' poem, Ravedeath 1972 could be about the fear engendered in any violent change or transition. A key aspect of Ravedeath 1972's dreadful power to fascinate is how there something not whole about it. Things are not just falling apart, they have been corroded too. The music is loud and visceral but gibbering ghosts roam over it in the form of that stereoscopic flickering that Hecker does so well. It must be noted here too that there is no percussion on the album; by having a piece called 'no drum', Hecker seems to want us to notice this. Are some of these tracks former rave songs, moaning in a death-trance after having their percussion tortuously removed? Interestingly, Leyland Kirby has released a series of singles, close in their sound and themes to Ravedeath 1972, called (if you can believe it) 'The Death of Rave'. 'The Piano Drop' in particular sounds related to Kirby's explorations - another one of dance music's ghosts. Sitting at the heart of Ravedeath 1972 is the music of an organ playing inside an Icelandic church. Over the course of the album Hecker does many unnatural things to this organ yet he never lets us lose our sense of it entirely. Even as the accumulating layers of its collapsing parts pile on top of each other, passages of beauty remain. When I sense the organ communicating to me from different distances within Ravedeath 1972's slow chaos, I am hit with the full complexity of Hecker's extraordinary achievement. He gives us a final glimpse of beauty and life even as we spiral slowly into Yeats' "widening gyre" of uncertainty, violence and fear. MP3: Tim Hecker-The Piano Drop[...]



compost mix 4: the clouds are piling up

Thu, 11 Oct 2012 21:54:00 +0000

This is the first continuous compost mix. The main reason it is continuous is because it is full of techno tracks that would have me busted in a second if I individually hosted them in dropbox. The secondary reason is that I wanted to create a mix with a feel (cold and plunging) without learning the sophisticated tricks of proper mixing. Kingscourt brickworks in the early 90s. I found this cool pic on flickr If compost mix 4 sounds too relentlessly techno, fear not. My next mix will be very pastoral and dreamy. Sure the last two tracks on this one are a clue. MP3: Compost Mix 4 - The Clouds Are Piling Up 1: Mr Kirk's Nightmare - 4Hero (Mr Kirk's son is dead. The news is broken over a mean breakbeat) 2: Morphosis - Too Far (A cool thing that happens in Berghain sometimes is the portentous vocal that explains to everyone in the club that they are fucked up and have gone too far in their hedonism. The vocal normally gets the knowing cheer of the night or morning) 3: Silent Servant - Moral Divide (Endless)  (This is a track off one of the Sandwell District producers' latest albums. It's completely representative of the current resurgence of 'proper techno'; i.e. it's beefy, completely melody free, and white label) 4: The Groove - Austin Cesear  (Some American freak smoking skipfuls of dank and corroding his techno down to a fascinating toxic weirdness that you probably could not dance to. See also: Actress/ Vessel) 5: D'marc Cantu - The Power (John From Solar Bears turned me on to this. It's just muscular, paganistic house. Pretty effin class) 6: Peter Van Hoesen- Nefertiti-Always Beyond (If you own a pair of Beats by Dre headphones...) 7: Drexciya - Journey Home (Kraftwerk had an Autobahn. Drexciya proposed an Aquabahn. This is a pitt-stop along the Aquabahn). 8: Robert Hood - Drive (The Age of Automation) (The ghost in the machine - techno's love affair with the automobile continues) 9: Neu! - Negativland (Winding down now with the first motorik song. I was wrong on what was actually the first motorik song until my friend Dan corrected me a couple of weeks ago) 10: Grateful Dead - Ripple (None of their songs are catchy but this has so much love) [...]



The sun-comprehending glass

Mon, 08 Oct 2012 20:01:00 +0000

A funny feeling crawled over me as I walked back from the shop and saw an ad for Fosset's circus snapping against a lamppost in the windy half-light. I remembered an afternoon spent mitching from school years ago. I had gotten into the habit of mitching towards the end of sixth year because I won a scholarship to a fancy international school and had arrogantly ceased to give a fuck about the leaving certificate (something I'm still punished for in anxiety dreams 14 years later). Using a deep hedgerow as cover, a friend and I circumnavigated the wide fallow field that fell between the secondary school and the housing estate where we lived. At the end of that field, and at the corner of the estate, was another small field where travelling circuses and carnivals decamped whenever they came to Kells. That afternoon, a circus was setting up for an evening performance. We decided to poke around in the trees and stinking elder bushes behind it all in order to spy on what was going on. The circus must have been English because the chatter of swear words and jokes around the afternoon's activity was mostly cockney accented. In my memory, which might not be reliable, it was all "facking this and facking that". There was a peculiarly domestic routine going on, llamas being fed like pets, costumes being hung on a clothes line, all that sort of thing. We felt like we were spying into something genuinely unusual and unseen - the secret life of the circus.  I moved further along the ditch and climbed into a familiar place where I used to sometimes sit, the nook of an ash tree at the very corner of the field. It overlooked the back of a caravan, and, craning my head, I could see the jumping glow of TV set behind the caravan's net curtains. My friend had climbed up beside me. We sat in the tree for a while and soaked things up, sniggering about the double German class going on without us. Then the door of the caravan opened. A clown emerged. His face was not fully prepared. Only the lips and one eye were done. A fag dangled from his lower lip. He stretched unhooked then dropped his dungarees, squatted, and began to shit. All this occurred about fifteen feet away from the tree that contained us, two gawky leaving cert students sitting awkwardly in full sight. I don't know what went through my friend's mind but I felt a slowly churning and sour mixture of clown-terror and mortification rise through me. I also saw the clown raise his head, so inevitably, before it actually happened. A hot coil of poop had barely hit the ground when he clocked us. "YOU FACKING [SOMETHING, SOMETHING] FACK OFF [SOMETHING] PAY FOR THE SHOW [SOMETHING] YOU CAAAHNTS".  We were already leppin' through the elder like hot snots before he had his dungarees back in order. I remember laughing like a drain but it was hollow. Inside I felt bad for the clown. We had violated one of the most private moments of all, the unguarded human shitting. Later that night it was myself I felt bad for, because every shadow beyond my bedroom curtains took on a wriggling clown shape across a mowed lawn in the landscape of my imagination. MP3: The Beatles-Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite [...]