Celtic Illumination, part 322, Litterarum in exorcismo.
Someone suggested to me the other day that these daily blogs are very similar to that German fellow and his Nuremburg Rallies. On one level I would have to disagree as the Nuremburg Rallies were an annual event, and were pure propaganda whereas this blog is a daily occurrence, it’s in English, well; sort of, and it’s all true. On another level I would have to agree with the suggestion as I suppose we both are aiming for total world domination. This comparison unfortunately allows me to remind you, The Illuminati, of the enormity of our mission and also to alert you to the fact that we should expect casualties along the way. I have detected ‘rumblings’ in the distance and expect an onslaught to begin soon but I never expected to have to inform you, The Illuminati, of our first casualty so early in the campaign.
It was with great sadness yesterday that I learned of our very first casualty. Ken Clare, a Liverpool fellow from Liverpool, admitted yesterday that he is addicted to this blog, that he needs his, ‘Daily fix.’ This is a very serious situation because it requires, as prescribed in the Writers and Artists Yearbook, a literary intervention. Of all interventions, the literary intervention is perhaps the worst, for all concerned. First of all the addict has to be cornered, caught and tied to a wicker chair. It has to be a wicker chair, so that it can be burned easily afterwards. The lights have to be dimmed and then French sea shanties have to be chanted at the addict for three hours forty seven minutes. I know, not just dangerous, but where can we find a person so deranged and contemptible that they would enjoy chanting French sea shanties while sipping Pernod and eating cheese and garlic flavoured potato crisps for three hours and forty seven minutes. Luckily for us John Clancey is both deranged and contemptible and has a keen interest in French sailors, so should fit the bill and with a bit of luck should complete the task within the week, which he will have to do, as it looks like poor old Ed Mooney is next to be most likely to succumb. Good luck with the treatment Ken, or perhaps as I should say, Bon Chance.
Strange that John Clancey’s name should pop up like that, for, according to my notes, I was about to tell you about his wedding on the Isle of Man today. I was in Liverpool again but not for any exorcism, or literary intervention, this time I was catching the ferry to the Isle of Man. I was at the Pier Head, with my rucksack on my back, standing, leaning forward, at a forty five degree angle. The more meteorologically advanced amongst you will automatically realise that this indicates a slight breeze in the air, which would suggest that the sea crossing might not be calm. At any indication of a rough sea normally the Isle of Man ferry will cancel sailings, truthfully it is rarely because of the weather, it really is because the crew and captain have enjoyed rather far too long a lunch in some of the bars along the Dock Road. As we set sail the motion of the boat began to suggest to me that my original assessment of us encountering a ‘slight breeze’ may have been a bit too lenient.
By the time we were in open water I felt like a cowboy, this as you understand was not a sexual preference, or some form of exotic Irish cocktail, but the American type fellows who ride angry bulls, for the craic. People were running about like steel pinballs on a pinball table, looking for somewhere safe to hide and hold on to. I did really feel like a cowboy, for what I needed was not a safe place to hide or hold on to, but a pair of reins so that I could ride the beast. On the roughest of sea crossings the only place to be is at the front of the vessel and I don’t mean inside the bar sipping pink gins, I mean right at the front of the boat as if you were a rodeo rider yourself. I left the bar and made my way out on deck and went forward. It really was rough and the sea was beautiful, there were so many white horses it was a fecking saline stampede. Carefully, I made my way to the front of the ship and was surprised to find my old friend Paul standing there.
The pair of us just smiled at each other and shook hands, for the weather was so fierce we could not have spoken. Paul and myself had known each other for a good number of years. Paul was ex SBS, Special Boat Service, which is the Naval equivalent of the SAS. How or where we met is none of your business and as a lot of you are beginning to realise there is a lot more being left out of this blog than being put in. Paul had left the military and was now a deep sea diving supervisor over in Saudi Arabia. Suffice to say that Paul and myself would race each other home from the pub, but I would be driving his Rolls Royce and he would be driving whatever I had pitched up in, usually a JCB with front bucket and go faster stripes. We stood in silence, enjoying the ride, till we both had had our fill and went back inside to the bar.
The great thing about rough seas is that usually the bars and restaurants are empty as the normal people are throwing up everything they think they have eaten for the previous week. The only real problem is that you have to hang on to your pint of Guinness as they tend to slide all about the place, which might involve spilling some, which as you all know is irresponsible drinking, which I could never tolerate. We were chatting away with each other and we really were bumping up and down on our seats. Paul explained that he had bought a small hotel in Laxey on the Isle of Man. He wanted a quiet rural life for his children, but more importantly was receiving all sorts of grants from the Manx government and breweries. The other tiny problem was that he had recently received a criminal conviction on the Isle of Man which now would not allow him to become a licensee.
Seems that he was driving along, his wife on the passenger seat, his children on the rear seat, when some buck eejit cut him up and almost caused him to crash. His quick reflexes allowed him to rectify the situation, avert the crash and head after the buck eejit, whom he caught up to, dragged from his car and beat to a pulp. He wasn’t in his Rolls Royce as he had sold that. According to Paul it was forever being vandalised and the silver lady was constantly being stolen. The final time it had been stolen the police found it tied to the front of a youths moped in Douglas. After that he gave up and sold it. The initial problem of holding the landlord license had been overcome as his wife had managed to apply for and be awarded the license. Now, seeing me heading for the Isle of Man, he asked in I would be interested in running his hotel for six or seven weeks so that he could return to Saudi Arabia and earn the shortfall he needed to complete the hotel deal.
It was one of those bureaucratic overlaps where if you got one grant you were not entitled to another, the sort of thing that pops up at the last moment. He was thirty thousand pounds short and could earn that much for six weeks work in Saudi. I said that I shouldn’t see why not, I explained that I would need a couple of hours every day to myself for my writing, but otherwise would enjoy the task. Paul offered to drive me to Tony and Mary’s house as we arrived in Douglas. I explained that Tony would be waiting for me and thanked him agreeing that we would meet within the next day or two where I would go and visit his hotel and we could finalise our arrangement. It was nice to see Tony and we chatted and laughed as we drove back to his farm. Nothing much had changed apart from the fact that he had had the whole place double glazed, to keep the sound of the motorbikes out.
As usual we enjoyed our evening meal and rather than nip off to a local pub opened a bottle of whiskey so that we could relax and allow ourselves to catch up with each other’s world. I was surprised to see a huge four by four pull into the farm yard and see Paul leap out. We all knew each other and were great friends so Paul was immediately invited in and joined our little soiree. He began to explain his predicament and then told me that he had been on the telephone and could start a new contract the following week in Saudi. He needed an immediate decision from me; if I would run the hotel he could take the contract. That’s when Tony started to ask questions and get involved. None of us expected what happened next, to happen. Tony threw a cheque book on to the coffee table and opened it. “I’ll lend you the thirty thousand Paul,” says Tony. “You can pay me back when you can.”
There’s an old Irish saying that goes, “What you give away with one hand, you lose with the other.” It was no great shakes, it’s not that I was depending on Pauls offer, but I was looking forward to meeting a whole new range of characters while running his hotel for him. Just as well really, as it probably would have ended up as the Isle of Man’s equivalent to Fawlty Towers, with me at the helm. Paul took the loan from Tony and the following evening we all went for a celebratory meal in Douglas and then on to a casino, where I stood back and watched mesmerised people pray for more money, I still refused to gamble. The following morning I rose and, after recording the seriousness of the pillow abuse I had suffered, began to prepare myself for a certain change of direction, socially speaking of course. It was nice hanging around with people, who some might say had more money than sense, but now I was off to the other end of the social spectrum, I was off to Clancey’s wedding.