6.05am Woke up… fell back to sleep.
7.30am Woke up…check my phone. It’s very early and it’s Saturday and I don’t want to be awake at this hour. Have to get up now, must pee. I don’t ‘wake up, fall out of bed, drag a comb across my head,’ for a whole bunch of reasons.
The first is very painful arthritis. There comes a time in a person’s life – no specific time, just a time – when your body will, no longer, do anything at the speed you wish it done. Hence that old adage, the spirit was willing but the body wouldn’t get its ass out of fucking bed. It can be frustrating.
But, while you fight it, tooth and nail – and God bless Dylan Thomas for putting these thoughts in words and verse, as in
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light
But the body, and the spirit, make concessions and compromise, because, well, it’s quicker than arguing and it’s certainly a lot less painful. So I get out of bed, slowly and carefully. And, while I wake up, I never, if I can avoid it, fall out of bed. The second thing is I was losing hair from my mid-teens – ‘you’re not losing your hair, son, you just have a high forehead’, Gog bless mothers, but I’ve always had my own spin on that one. Y’see, I’ve never lost hair, I’ve just gained face and well, I ended my relationship with combs, more than 40 years ago. So, I’m not missing anything.
Now, I’m out of bed. I turn on the tap in my shower but since I live at the top of my building, it won’t come on until I flush the toilet. It becomes a seamless, mechanical and methodical act.
Showered, I sit down at the edge of the bed and test my blood sugar, before setting injection quantities on two tiny pen needles and jab myself, with both. That completed, I dress. This involves, first, having a look out my bedroom window to check the sky and the state of the day, hmmm, blue sky, sunny and it’s what time?
8am Shorts and a loose fitting linen shirt chosen, I hobble in to my kitchen and put on the kettle. It’s another essential part of my daily routine, the morning pot of coffee. While the kettle boils, I take two pills, one is an anti-inflammatory, the other is to tackle the crystals that form and lodge in my joints and make just about every contact I make with the solid world around me, painful, sometimes wildly so. Again, with the compromise. I keep my touches to a minimum and I can predict some dictation software in my future.
Coffee made and breakfast of wholegrain bread with an avocado spread, I step out onto my roof and rooftop garden, sit down at a table, open my iPad and run through news headlines, emails, Facebook updates and finally, about the third cup of coffee, the Word Press Reader, for a quick run through, before, last cup almost finished, I start to plan my day.
There are just three things I need to do; the first, is walk to the local farmer’s market, The Green Door, to buy some essentials, like bread, eggs, fish and, maybe, meat, the second, is get a haircut and the third, having got home and fed myself, sit down and watch the European Championship Cup Final, a big derby game between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. And, when all that’s done, I’ll do something on Word Press.
Three months ago, going to the market took a ten minute, leisurely stroll there and maybe half an hour back, because I’d take the long route around, up the main street of the local shopping area so I can take in the street market, the greengrocers, the fishmongers and maybe, the butchers.Nowadays, using a walking stick and walking, tentatively, step by painful step, that ten minute walk now takes 45 minutes, which is ok when the weather is good, like today, but a total bitch, if it’s wet, windy or cold. Some days, because it’s Ireland, I could get all four, sunshine being the fourth.
At the market, I buy fish, meat, bread and then a natural twig brush for scrubbing my vegetables – they don’t like the synthetic shit, it hurts them and it’s not very good for me, either, or, so they say. I leave then, hobble towards the main street, stopping to chat with a few people, along the way.
There’s a vinyl fair on in my local pub, today, so it opens early and that means, my barber, Mick, The Demon Barber, will be on duty.
1.30pm The Thomas House and I’m Mick’s first customer. Things are looking up. No, he’s going out for a sandwich. No problem, I’ll grab a beer, while I wait. Yes, you’ve worked it out, the barber shop is in the pub, at least, every Saturday. So, we chat, catch up, listen to music, discuss events, the state of the country and the latest gossip.
Of course, the topic de jour is not Obama’s visit to Hiroshima or Donald Trump’s bizarre reaction to it. No, there are more gripping stories, one, in particular. There’s a guy called Barabbas – no-one knows his real name, he’s always been known as Barabbas – who looks like a red bearded pirate captain from an Errol Flynn swashbuckler, drinks pints of Guinness and has a wit so sharp, he could cut a man down where he stood, from ten paces, or more, depending on the size of the pub. Anyway, says Mick, did ye hear the story about Barabbas?
Now, I must digress here to explain part of the strategy and tactics of good pub gossip. You must start with a question that can’t give any hint of the answer but just enough to get the fish circling the hook.
Of course, I said, no, but my curiosity was twitching, as if a person’s curiosity was some kind of tangible entity in its own right. And it was, er, twitching, since, one, I hadn’t heard a story about Barabbas for a while, maybe six months, and two, because stories about Barabbas could often combine three things that can make a good Irish pub story; a joke, a song and/or a fight.
Barabbas, it must be said, is a man who lives up to his biblical name, he is a big tall man, as we Irish like to say, meaning, he’s almost as broad as he’s tall, with a wide forehead, a head of red curls and a massive, pre-hipster beard, that was once as fiery red as his hair, but now grey, with white patches.
Mick, the Demon Barber, continued. “I was cutting Joey Magic’s hair,” he began. Joey Magic is another character, with almost the same notoriety as Barabbas but not nearly, the gravitas. We all listened, attentively (of course, by now, there were more fish in this particular pond, all circling the nuggets that Mick, the Demon barber, was sprinkling, as to the manor born.
He continued, “And Joey says to me, ‘did you hear about Barabbas?’ now, I thought Mick was stretching the boundaries and, by the rumbles among the listeners, I figured I wasn’t the only one, but like an expert, he teased, before dropping the bombshell.
“He came out.” The news fell like a two ton wrecking ball on the floor before us.
“He what?” several disbelieving voices chanted, at once, and when I say, disbelieving, it was more of a doubt of their own hearing. Whatever the reason, it bore repeating, as Mick, the Demon Barber knew well.
“He’s gay. He announced it in Grogan’s, last night.”
There was complete silence. Then someone said, “Jaysus, that’s the strangest thing I’ve ever heard.” That he should make such a pronouncement in Grogan’s, lent this revelation, even more weight. Grogan’s is a haunt of literary dissolutes, poets and artists, from down the ages to the present day where a pint of Guinness is poured with the reverence of a sacred ceremony and drunk with, equally, spiritual fervour.
And this after we’d already discussed the nauseating sight of watching the Prime Minister, a gobshite, by general consent, dancing to Bruce Springsteen at a concert in a Dublin football stadium the previous night.
Someone else said he’d known Barbabbas for 20 years and he’d never shown any sign ‘of it.’ We all nodded in understanding. Someone else mentioned a woman who had been Barabbas’s constant drinking companion for most of those 20 years. She’s probably a ‘he’, quipped another wag and with that the conversation descended into general, as in completely gender specific and politically incorrect jibes and jokes.
I had my own reservations,, since I knew Barabbas, by acquaintance, almost as long as the rest of them, if not longer and I also knew his brother, himself a very out and well known, gay man and an actor. But I said nothing.
5pm, Time to go, put some food on and watch the match. For the record, I made bruschetta with anchovies and a chorizo tortilla, well, I was about to watch two Spanish football teams play a European championship final in Milan, Italy, so, mixing my sporting metaphors, all my bases were covered.
The food was great, the match exciting (Real Madrid) won by one goal, in a penalty shoot out. Now, I’m sitting here, at my desk, finishing this account of my life in one day. End of Days is the late night movie. I’m going to crack open a cold beer and then get ready to crawl back in to bed. Not jump. I don’t jump, anymore. I might think about it, but I won’t and don’t.
00.35am End of Day.