My daughter Nairobi asked: Why are you working today, daddy? It’s Sunday.
I tried to explain but didn’t do a good job. Hard to define a trip across the country with a boot full of books. But here is I. We were in Mr.Price in Athlone. Spending an hour together before I hit the road. She asked other questions too. What does the sign on the door mean? Why is Friday not the day after Sunday? When are we getting the black car back? The black car is the Qashqai that blew the engine on Easter Sunday and she hasn’t seen it since. She cried when the tow truck took it away. I picked up a cheap Insignia not long after. Side of the road job. Big Engine. Automatic. Decent boot for the books. It was time to go. So we went. Car seat. Straps. All that. Through Church Street and over the Bridge and around by Connaught Street and got her back to the house. Told her I’d be home this evening. And we’d do something. Plant a tree, maybe. We’d get an apple and cut out some seeds and get a pot, and plant it and see what happens. Her eyes lit up. She couldn’t wait.
The first reading was in Mayo. Down the M6. Through the rain and dark clouds and the toll before Loughrea. I was on at 1.30pm. Got there at 1.25pm. It was a pub on the edge of town. Punters working on pints at the bar. Festival going on at the back.
Stage, microphone, foreigners and families in for a Sunday afternoon feed of culture. The rain was belting on the roof now. An angry roar off the galvanise. It was time to read. Started with my first book. The first chapter. Hadn’t read it in a while. It went down well. A woman even bought one. I was followed closely after by a man playing a harp. It was an interactive piece where everyone was required to sing the chorus. It hit the spot and got people going. But I had another reading in Galway and it was time to slip out. Another man stopped me on the way, said he liked the reading, and bought a book and then I was gone. Through Mayo, passed Seamus Hughe’s corner where I crashed an Avensis one night. In through Hollymount, Ballinrobe and on to Galway. I was reading at 5pm. Got there at 4.58pm. Empty seats. Two volunteers and one girl in the audience. Left it til quarter past and then went ahead. Did the gig. Talked about writing, style, genre, publishing, theatre, film and then read a bit. They all asked questions. It was intimate, honest, and a decent evening overall. And now it was time to go again.
Back up the M6. What’s that pain in my elbow? Some disease, some ailment, some condition. No, carrying Nairobi around Mr. Price, then moving the books in and out and steering around good roads and bad roads and Mayo roads. I was in Athlone again for 9pm. The rain still fell relentless. Parked the car in the car park and went up the stairs. Nairobi was asleep. Had been to a party with her friends. Delighted and exhausted. Had been wondering why I wasn’t back, why I missed it. Made a plan to put some time aside tomorrow, maybe plant that tree. Went and did the count for the day. It didn’t take long. Covered the printing costs and the tolls and a coffee in Corrib Oil. Good coffee in fairness.