Last Of The Written Pages

June 16, 2021

I’ve spent the last 2 Years home Caring for a 94 Year old and a 88 Year old, had a couple of rounds with Testicular Cancer and there was that little matter of the Pandemic we all dug into , sure I might as well put out a record , recorded and written throughout this.

I’m exhausted.  The type of exhausted that only hits when you stop moving . I’ve stopped moving , I’m on the Aran Islands for a few days and I want to talk about Last Of The Written Pages,  and I only want to talk about it because I can . This places fixes me . Makes me stop .

This became a record of circumstance,  not the intended way  of working,  recording,  documenting , a recording of the circumstances I found myself in , and i suppose, like all Artists,  I adapted . A Record made with what I had around me and ultimately a record about who I had around me.  Ma & Da .

For the first time in my adult life I looked at myself in the mirror as an Artist , not a part time Artist doing something else to paper the cracks.  I’ve spent years , absolutely years ignoring this . I own it now . I have to own it .

So much of the writing of this  record is observational,  the everyday,  the channels so many don’t swim , they just step over . I’ve trained my eye and my heart for the simplicity and the beauty in the everyday . I’m more about the breathing in rather than the deep exhaling out . Neither glass half full or empty,  just glad to have a glass .

I’ll be writing about Last Of The Written Pages over the next few days ,and sharing photos of Pints , and Donkeys and rocks. 

Stay with me .. x x

Out here , on the Islands ,  I wear no hat , I don’t have to be anything,  anywhere , which might come across as something odd to say considering i generally so many hats . Writer , Dad , Carer , I’m never really sure the order they fall into . I prioritise caring , or talking about  within each role , at least I think I do . Sometimes forgetting I need it myself . There is a joy in unburdened freedom ,in allowing that different pace of breath .

Most Fragile I am from the record , is me voicing that to myself , how I,  how we ,  almost certainly always in all situations in life forget to look after ourselves. Some people see kindness as an open goal ,an opening up of someone. Kindness is kindness,  nothing more.  Self care,  easily preached not easily practised . I’ve learnt,  I’m learning. 

The song , like quite a few on this record ,came in a sitting,  chords , words , all in a single flow . I tend to tape , record , those single flows . Back in Hedge Schools days , those single flows were what Joe perfected and fixed with me .This time I have to fix it myself.

So yeah with this , there are Mic noises , stools creaking , imperfections,  perfect imperfections . I’m not a recording engineer by any stretch of the imagination , press play , record, and watch a rabbit hit the headlights . As is where I found me .

Stay with me xx

Arthritis Wedding Ring is a song which  begins the record,  again , an observation,  which turned into a real truth , a life. 

I helped this old woman with a shopper trolley onto a Bus in Fairview one morning.  ” Thanks Son ,I would  usually manage but my hands are bad today ” beautiful rounded inner city Dublin accent . She sat opposite me and we said nothing more.  Her hands , her fingers had seen life , had seen work and around her neck on a gold chain she wore 2 Wedding Rings one was hers and I assumed the other her husbands .

I thought of her life,  her devotion,  I thought of Ma , her life,  her devotion to us , 4 scraps hanging out of her tails , always trying for us , always wanting , watching for us . And then I thought of the woman she was , before all that . A beautiful singer,  classically trained , talented Tennis player , youthful pictures  in beautiful polkadot frocks , in Rome,  Venice , with her gal pals ,  a life before us .

What she passed through to us remains . What she painted us with , weatherproof.  It is the ultimate sacrifice,  Mothering. 

She is loved by us for it . It remains unforgotten. 

The vocal track on the record contains my voice and the background chirping of 2 yellow finches in a tree outside the window.  I left them there . It was meant .

Stay with me xx

There are 2 tunes about Dad on the album , Snowest Man , and Threads . These were the hard yards ,roads I didn’t want to go down , but in so many other ways I had to ,a step towards a forgiving I suppose , an unburdening.  I’ll talk about Threads,  because Snowest Man is a journey between me and him only . It will remain as such. 

When we were kids Dad never went into Town,  into the City , once a year maybe on Christmas Eve to Clerys to buy a new hat , that was it . His North County Dublin farming background most likely meant a City was alien to him . He never bothered.  I had to bring him across town during the first lockdown to a hospital appointment.  So off we went .

I didn’t notice it so much going in but coming down the North quays it struck me . This might just be his last ever trip to town . His eyes darting at the sights as we drove.  Unrecognisable as a place to him now. His Hometown.  There was that moment for me of lifting the weight of all his life off his bones and just letting him fly . We surely all carry a weight when we go . Threads for me is a lifting , a letting go , a forgiveness. He can fly if and whenever he wants now . I have some of the ballast.

Stay with me xx

Pasty Cline & the Wichita Line is a Love Song . Inspired by a 5 minute encounter of a couple on the Bull Island Road one afternoon.  Sun shining,  windows down eating an Choc Ice each and Patsy Cline playing on the stereo.  There’s a bench where Pat Ingoldsby used to sit to sell his Poetry Books and I sat there,  taking it in , probably taking a bit of Pat in too. 

I suppose I’ve trained my brain down through the years , particularly in the last 2 to the simple beauty of our every day’s . This might absolutely be my own somewhat romantic notions of this particular situation,  but part of me just hoped  it wasn’t.  It was companionship , a weight carrying for each other , a balance ,a simple joy in the moment , in each other . Love as it ought to be . Uncomplicated, full of Country Music and Choc Ice’s .

Stay with me xx

The Books are piling up is mine , I own this . A hymn to the falling apart and the putting back together.  The Testicular Cancer thing I  went through last year really didn’t hit me because I was dealing with lockdown , with Ma & Da , so yeah , I just pushed through,  I bought books , read , and pushed through . The support that came at me from family and friends , huge , overwhelming,  but there is always that loneliness of the inner self dealing with it . Often not spoken about.  They are tough days  . The outward bravado hiding the inner workings.  Books measured me , walking measured me , always will . The soundtrack of the solo feet with some dear trusted friends sharing the miles with me .

I count people dear , I always have , I always will . Lifelong friends dug the trenches,  I was sitting just reading books , watching . Mending , just keeping the cogs spinning . Biddy Early my Urologist in Beaumont,  your kindness , your magic , remembered .

Stay with me xx. 

I caught sight one morning of a really old Raleigh Triumph Bicycle down at the wooden bridge in Clontarf.  I stood looking at it , same colour,  same saddle , same basket on the front, same backer or luggage carrier as a bike Mam used to have .

Myself and Ben , being that bit older than the other 2 had the same memories of what the bike meant . Mam used to use it in the afternoons to cycle to a little part time job that she had . The 80’s financial elastic was always tightly stretched,  so Mam worked . Again , a sacrifice.  Ben would cook dinners for the 3 of us . St Bernadette,  the best big sister 3 young fellas  ever did have .

When I sent a photo of the bike to them all , Dermot & John only remembered it for pulling Wheelies and ramp jumping in the back garden . Mam no longer had a use for it then so it got thrown around the place .

Little Triumphs is written again about that,  the significance of the efforts Mam made for her 4 .The sweets pictured ,the Pez sweets are an absolute childhood memory for the 4 of us . I know they are . I passed them in a shop in Ennis,  and stopped,  and stood , and snapped . The childhood crevices . The journey back ..

Stay with me xx 

There were always little wisdoms from Dad , I’ve held them , I think we all did . A lot based on common sense and simplicity of pure decency . The News was on one evening on the Radio in the kitchen and he was behind the evening paper reading it . That old man type reading where he whispers every word to what he thinks is himself , but really .

There was a news segment about an incoming storm weather front . Now that we’ve given them names of people they seemed more ridiculous to him . From behind the paper ” Sure we used to call it the weather ” .

The Bees was written literally around that phrase . A harking back to days when you’d meet someone where you said you’d meet them,  no phones , no change of plans,  Tea dance afternoons where Dad would have met Mam , promised glances , Jams jars of honey suckle flowers catching Bees and summers wasted doing the same . Wandering. 

Last Of The Written Pages , the debut Arrivalists Long Player will be released on Hedge Schools Records on September 24th .

Limited Digibook CD edition will be available to pre-order from the Hedge Schools Records Bandcamp page only ( Click Link Icon Below ) The investment from an emotional point of view with this record has been ,challenging, beautiful, deep digging , mining, mending, but most of all , it is now written.

Thank you for staying with me . I’m handing in the words and melodies gun and badge for a while . The expression within everything I’ve ever written , or sang , pen to paper, the writing of words, feelings , is quite often just so impossibly hard to sustain. A lot of Creatives find this , need the life raft , in truth , I’ve needed to find the shore for quite a while now , I thought sharing words might help , so . It has been beautiful but I have to find it’s new paragraphs . My relationship with it , with writing, with having to always know hurt to write has become so distorted . I sometimes can’t justify sharing it in a public space , it becomes unhealthy for me . I have to find somewhere else for that to live , some other way of dealing with it . There will be Music , trust me there will , some seeds already sown , just no more words for the now .

Going back to the Aran, to the start of this piece I’m writing, I am exhausted , I am immensely grateful ,all too easy to push through , all to easy to keep moving . Not this time , this time I’m deciding to sit , stay still , and just see, just mind , find the life raft , let it set the rhythm , and to once again find the shore . X x

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