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This has been a tremendously interesting week. Before we begin on our usual chat and conversation, there is one item which is outstanding and which we simply should reflect upon, and that is the rescue of the 12-member boys soccer team and their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand.
Well, we’re overwhelmed with topics to chat about this week, what with the GAA games, the looming soccer finals, the presidential election, the mayhem in politics in London, the visit of Prince Harry and Meghan to Dublin – so many talking points and overshadowing them all, the beautiful summer weather.
It is two years almost to the day since the people of the UK dramatically voted to leave the EU. Since then Brexit has been a constant backdrop to political discourse in these islands, and a dominant one when it comes to the discussion of international affairs.
So many dreadful things appear to be happening throughout the world now.
Well, so much happened in the last week, and most of it during the weekend.
IN THE pristine minds of the inoffensive middleweights who like to think they dominate Irish literary culture post-Heaney, Ken Bruen is problematic. He writes novels people they describe as ‘ordinary’ like to read, with no higher aim in their devastatingly average minds than pure pleasure.
WHEN AL Porter first discovered Kenneth Williams and Frankie Howerd, he declared "I have found my people", seeing in their bawdy, innuendo laden, humour, a sense of mirth chiming very deeply with his own.
I’m here so I am, like. Where’s me thunder clap? I’m your real culture…coming here thirty year or more, so I am, with me fadder and me fadder’s fadder and me fadder’s fadder’s fadder… though not at the same time like…Sun rises in the capital of culture…the real one, ate a clock in the morning like…waking up in a crumpled hape…smartphone alarm beep beeps into me ear...one hand picks up and smashes it again the wall...not so smart now is it…Pokemon Go, Pokemon go and feck off with yerself…’tis Race Week…where am I...recessed lights in ceiling shine into me eyes...discover me pyjamas have a hood in them… …and jeans…fell asleep in the clothes again...where am I...not Mrs O’Brien’s b & bloody b this year…no a cheap hotel I found somewhere on the internet thingy… jaypers the state of me…open shirt buttons and spray deodorant under arms and head for the lift…head on me like Boris Johnson…close buttons, push buttons and fella in the lift mirror does the same...full Irish with bacon rashers and eggs... throw back the lugs and dive in...lash back the orange juice...parched I am...try to walk sober like, wan foot then the udder, repeat...I’m Racingman, I’m wide out…I’m part of Galway. I’m its culture too. Don’t look down on me ‘cos I don’t know Chekhov or ballet… I’m Racingman…there’ll be racing in 2020 too, don’t forget…down the square check out paddys ladbrokes boyles muls get the odds... and ends... too early to go out yet...sit on bench and look at fountain knocked on for the few weeks…knocked on for 2020…For the day…the trickle, they’d needn’t have bothered their...whole week I’m here for…sit on steps, legs sprawled…then light up, brighten up... wink at young wan heading to work down town, get scowl but scowl back at her... I’m in love, besotted, but she don’t know what’s she missing...missing in Racingman... me. the man. I’m a cultural ambassador…for Galway…I can be a cultural icon…I back Galway…I back everything in Galway…Everything I back in Galway normally falls coming up the hill towards the stand…I light another... hand shakes but ‘twould by now anyways Wednesday and all... phone dying just two bars...head dying just 25 bars...need cash...act fast...shaky fingers dance on vomit-splattered keypad at hole in wall...good job don’t need numbers 3, 8, 2 as they’re splashed pretty bad... cash comes out crisp clean only gives 300 so go to other machine... clean pad, thick wad jammed in arse pocket but switch to front... can’t be too sure... cute hoor watching ya catching ya but not me. I’m wide out me so I am, sham ya have to get outa the scratcher early to catch out Racingman…some fecker murdering a violin in the Square...where’s Lee Harvey Oswald when ya need him...get the Racing Post...to look cool like…in the know…and the Star...dash into Debbinghams cosmetics section and when the wimmen aren’t looking over, Racingman is lost in a spraycloud of Calvin Kyne, Packie Rabanne and Ralph Lawrence eau de sweat…lash on the lot of them…the cognac combo….then a splash on ur hand to look like ya know your stuff…spray some on that little card yolk… doubles up as a toothpick…smelling grand...looking good, give the auld Jogi Loews a scratch...ready for the road...ready for the course...hop into taxi...sit in front…legs sprawled…talk the talk…big head on him...air stinks of air freshener and stale conversation...he tells me country is fecked...emigrants should shag off home…to Mayo…Brexit. Tells me about the 2020 judges and how they were only here for the day but got the clap before they left…Asks me if I read Rita Ann’s poem…and how he agreed with it. Told him that I’m not into poetry that doesn’t rhyme. Then he said something about a rising tide lifting boats..knows his stuff this fella…crabbing on about emigrants taking our wimmen, can’t get jobs…and he’s from Lagos...three ways to racecourse...green, blue and red routes…an hour later we take a bit of blue and red and he drops me in a cowshit-spattered field near Castlegar church...walk that way he says... the brown route...and I walk...go to ring the boys but smartphone still smarting from batin’ I gave it… walk straight...shoes covered in dung...sham says ‘any wan want to try the three card trick the three card trick, watch out Char-less the shades are lamping the scene’... don’t fall for that not after last year not me cos I’m wide out...Racingman won’t fall for that...this year...in the gate...meet yer man from home he waves and says he knows a fella who knows Weld is the man…get card and biro...rip page from card and jam in raffle drum to win another shaggin’ night in another gombeen hotel...always been lucky, mother said, when I won the teddy bear at the sale of work but she didn’t know I stole it then sold it then stole it again...Guard nods at me I nod back ‘howya guard’ what does he know... probably has a file on Racingman... Maybe a whistleblower will get it for me…the big happy Templemore head on him and eyes red-out from reading Pulse all night…met the boys... the boys from home...lads shout yahoo at Ted Walsh and some others... twenty years since he rode her mother...run to the stand... spilling plastic pints down new Next shirt, it’ll live up to its name tomorrow...horse romps home...plastic pints go skywards...beef sandwiches all round... grease is the next stain for the Next shirt... Lads have quare wans’ mobile numbers… they want 200 notes for an hour of the bould thing... lads laugh when I ask for group discount….an hour I laugh, an hour of drinking time wasted...she says for 400 she’ll bate me with a whip til I cry and give me a happy ending…told her I can get a batin’ for nawthing outside the chipper…and if I want a happy ending, I can watch What A Wonderful Life…and the lads laugh…I know my culture…and then the streets...Latin Quarter with not a word of latin on me…nil desperandum and all that…from wan pub to another.…with the boys…Not a sign of any Latinos in the Latin Quarter… Racingman’s head’s in a spin...time for food...tuna melt with extra dolphin...staggered up the pedestrianised streets, avoiding the bikes and the rickshaws, like fecking Tianaman Square ‘tis...hops into taxi and shows him card from hotel...Lagos man again......more stale conversation...he’s up from Carlow with all the other taxidrivers…tells me he loves Trump…drives me around town nine times and then drops me back at gombeen hotel where room was chayper than taxi...birds are singing when me head hits the bed...zzzzzzzzzzzzz..ate a clock...smartphone about to beep its alarm, but decides not to...now that’s a smart phone...still only Thursday morning…but I love it. I love Race Week, part of my culture…part of what we are…there’ll be racing in 2021 as well...never forget…i back Galway and I back whatever Weld sends out. Hup ya boyahs…..
“In Flanders Fields the poppies blow