Halifax or somewhere.

Had this dream that we were on a plane somewhere, Sudan, Yemen, Sahara vibe. Brown boxes across the floor like we were doing some kind of food airdrop. Engines going, a good height up, scorching blue sky. Pilots in army gear, all that craic. The door opens and a fella walks in. Mid-air like, rocks up, opens the door, no wind, this how we were rolling. He had a leather jacket, brown flairs, fuzzy hair. He said how’s things and I said not too bad. He had a voice like caramel over gravel. It went on like that for a while. Nothing explained, everything surreal and yet normal. A smell like seaweed and clay, the engines humming their aeronautic tune. Then he got conspiratorial and said he was after getting a loan from the Credit Union. I asked him how much and he said 300 thousand. We let that settle, then he took a big thick envelope out of his pocket. It was like a sod of turf wrapped in brown paper, and he said: This is it, here.  

            I said: ‘What are you goin to do with that?’ 

            And he shrugged, looked around. He was wearing sunglasses now. Where’d they come from?  Next thing there was turbulence, and the door flew open and there was a big gust of wind, and screaming jet propellers, like on the films,  and he was hanging off the frame, screaming for help.  

            I ran over and he caught my hand, soapy and warm, and screamed at me to pull him in, but the force was too strong and he was gone. Good luck. No parachute, getting airdropped. I turned back to the pilots, but they didn’t seem to notice and after a while we were in a town like Nova Scotia, standing in some road with wooden houses either side, and your man was in bits all over the ground. Looked a bit like a sheep dog I hit with an Avensis one time around the back roads of Claregalway. Made an awful job of my front caliper.

            Here now.  People gathered in stupefied awe, looked, gasped, talked and gawked. They all had that odd numb gum accent of the East coast Canadian Irish. A priest landed, pompous authority, fat as a fool, reckoned we ought to have some kind of service so he organized a big band with lads in kilts playing bagpipes and we all stood around, surrounded by trees and grass and the out of tune noise. Then. There was a fella standing beside me with glasses and a long trench coat and he said how sad it all was and did I know him well? I said no, I only met on the plane before he got fucked out the door, and did you know him well yourself? He raised his eyebrows, yellow gapped teeth, bloodshot eyes, hairy ears, and said he works for the Credit Union and was only after giving him a loan for 300 thousand the day before and how about that for irony?

And what happens with it now, I asked him. Doesn’t matter, he said. Life insurance will cover it. He blew his nose, black fingernails, tobacco stained fingers, blotched red nose, a distang dog whistle wheeze from his tar tuned lungs. Now the service was over and we all walked into town. Fairly sure we were in St. John’s at this stage, or Halifax or somewhere. Definitely not Montreal, or Quebec or even Toronto. It was the place where the rescue boats went out to try and save the Titanic that time. Big shtuff.

Vandalism

She was taking the company van. I was going working somewhere else. Ireland’s best sales team was getting disbanded after a record breaking spell of hitting no targets whatsoever.

She hadn’t much experience driving. As far as I could tell she didn’t even have a right license. There was some version of a government issued Romanian document from back long ago but it was hard to know if it was something to do with being on the road or a gammy dole card from Eastern Europe. Didn’t matter a fuck to the crowd in Dublin. They were too tight to pay for the petrol to have it drove back and they wanted her out selling so it made perfect sense that way. The other minor stuff like insurance, experience, ability or general safety never came into the equation. I gave her the keys and she said: ‘Where is spare tyre?’ 

‘Wha…’ 

‘Tyre. For Spare. Where does this be?’ 

‘I dunno. Why?’ 

‘In case. Flat. Whoosh. Puncture. It’s ok for boy. What about me? Woman. Alone. Dark and no tyre…’ 

‘I had a transit one time and the spare was under the floor at the back. Probably the same with that…’ 

‘Under the floor? Oh my God. How will I take out?’ 

‘You can ring the breakdown….’ 

She laughed, said: ‘These fuckers don’t pay for breakdown. They don’t even pay wages….’ 

She had a point, but I was already gone and finding it hard to get excited. Then she said: ‘I can’t drive manual. I need automatic.’ 

‘You’ll figure it out.’ 

‘And I never drive left side of road. Right only. Romania is right.’ 

‘Oh right.’ 

‘Yes. I will call Tom.’ 

‘Who’s Tom?’ 

‘He is my friend. He will help me with everything.’ 

‘Sound, I’ll go.’ 

I called back a week later. Tom was there. A saintly type with a van full of tools and a desire to help at all costs. They’d had a few driving lessons during the week that didn’t go well. There was talk of a gate getting a smack in Ballymahon and a pillar getting knocked in Moate. There’d been plenty of road range and a few parking confrontations around estates in Tullamore. And still no sign of the spare tyre. But Tom had a plan. The back doors of the van were open like a horrified mouth and Tom was climbing inside with a black and decker drill and tufts of grey hair under his cap and over his ears. ‘Tis down under here, I’d say….’ 

And he started on the screws around the base. Pulling up the timber, tearing it where necessary, announcing progress as he went along. ‘No sign of it yet, anyway…we’ll try another one…’ 

Soon there was hammers, drills, screws and broken bits of timber and stuff like sawdust strewn around everywhere inside and outside. Meanwhile she was up in the cab, tearing up the front seat in case it was under there and she might save Tom the trouble of destroying the van entirely. The screws had an angry growl as the drill caught grip, bit like a big dog when you try to pull a bone from its clenched teeth.  

‘You find?!’ She shouted from the front. 

No… said Tom, but sounding determined. ‘Not yet….’ 

I had a feeling this wouldn’t go down well in Dublin. Maintenance, repairs, destruction, generally having to pay for anything always caused a wide eyed look of wonder and mystery at the audacity of being required to spend money. They might even blame me if they heard I was there looking at them. Shtop.

I’ll keep going, I said. I’ll leave ye at it.  

 

 

 

 

M50 – Last Exit to Tallaght

Things used to be quiet for a while on the M50. There was a time you could make Dublin from Athlone in an hour and you didn’t feel electrocuted. But these days that’s all gone. The change was gradual at first. Busier at Enfield, slower at Lucan, and now it’s all wonderful chaos. That lad with his car on fire last week, and the two women arguing about the Fiesta stuck in the back of the BMW. And then there was your man that overturned the truck full of round bales. It was on the other side, outbound as they say, but it still somehow held up the traffic on the way in for two hours. Think it was from everyone slowing down to look at it and the long line of lads in trapped cars, like monkeys in road zoo cages. Some drivers get creative. Up the Hard Shoulder, skipping in and out of the traffic. I got a bad look and a BEEP! from a woman last week because I pretended I was going to Tallaght and skipped a ball of cars and then pulled back in over the white Zebra bit before you take the exit. Pure thick head on her, she’s probably still up there somewhere, BEEPING! at someone else. Other headers chance the bus lane but I’m still waiting on the NCT, and the new windscreen, and I don’t want to be drawing the guards on me in case. So now it’s WFH in Mayo. Fully remote. Computer, WiFi, kettle going full blast, how’re ya fixed for a bit of peace and quiet compared to the M50?  

But sure it was all go here too. Your man came last week and put down the seeds in the lawn Now there’s crows all over the garden trying to eat them. They’re like a crowd of out of work extras from a Hitchcock film. The oul fella is flat out trying to scare them away. He shouts out the window in a sort of garbled bird dialect, like an angry German dictator trying to order steak in a Shanghai restaurant. The birds don’t give a fuck. They were a bit afraid of the dog at the start but now they just wander around, casually eating what they see, like it’s an all you can eat buffet for birds. Eventually we located a clapper that does what it says on the tin and goes clappety clap clap, like a game of table tennis between two lads on some kinda super cocaine. It had the feeling of a light bell, reminded me of that time John Barnes rang the school bell too early for the craic and we all went back inside and missed half our small break. 33 years later and most of the class are still thick about it.

All up, it might be time to locate that windscreen. The insurance weren’t amenable to a mid policy change, and someone else said to “…try upgrading to Comprehensive…” whatever that is, but no other options besides, except the hard shoulder and a good story if the blue lights come on and they take a good look at the growing concern, like the first signs of ice breaking on a shallow lake, only a matter of time if ya don’t sort it out. Clappety clap clap. BEEEEP!