Rural Ireland, September 2000
The Virgin Mary follows me round the room every morning. She presides over the bath in stain-glassed judgement giving my vacant look a run for its money. The bathroom is next to the double-room, not quite en suite but close enough to save me the run up the cold stairs the other bedrooms would demand. I could have any one of them; the house is all mine. For now.
Above the hearth hangs a painting. It’s of a group of musicians with over-sized lips and an assortment of raven and red heads. In the centre a flute rises to the lips of a woman frequently mistaken for me but the extent of my musical prowess has not been bettered since the five years of piano lessons grudgingly surrendered to in exchange for my parents’ satisfaction. This excludes the later air-fiddling I have been known to break into with a breadknife when I’ve had just enough beer to tip me into the moment of now. The moment when all that matters is sustaining the bonhomie ricocheting off the walls in the painting, and getting to bed by a then semi-respectable 4am.
The painting is an interpretation of a scene from my local, where your character is judged according to your ability to hold your own in conversation on a variety of topics, not what you do for a living, or the number of letters that trail your name.
The man who maintains he has made radio contact with the crew from the Mir satellite station sits at ease alongside the blow-in bank manager who has been crossing over and back the threshold of everyone’s finances for the last thirty odd years, occupying the status of half-bishop, half-counsellor.
I live here for three years.
Results from the 1st fifteen minute writing exercise on the first night of the writers group. I was forced to lean on a book entitled ‘A Parental Guide to Preventing Homosexuality’ from a nearby bookshelf and very nearly gratuitously used it for the title of this post. The painting now hangs in our kitchen.