St. Patrick s Day
149 pages

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149 pages

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On Saint Patrick's Day, an Irish American writer visiting Dublin takes a day trip around the city and muses on death, sex, lost love, Irish immigrant history, and his younger days as a student in Europe. Like James Joyce’s Ulysses, Thomas McGonigle’s award-winning novel St. Patrick’s Day takes place on a single day, combining a stream-of-consciousness narrative with masterful old-fashioned storytelling, which samples the literary histories of both Ireland and America and the worlds they influence. St. Patrick’s Day relies on an interior monologue to portray the narrator’s often dark perceptions and fantasies; his memories of his family in Patchogue, New York, and of the women in his life; and his encounters throughout the day, as well as many years ago, with revelers, poets, African students, and working-class Dubliners. Thomas McGonigle’s novel is a brilliant portrait of the uneasy alliance between the Irish and Irish Americans, the result of the centuries-old diaspora and immigration, which left unsettled the mysteries of origins and legacy. St. Patrick’s Day is a rollicking pub-crawl through multi-sexual contemporary Dublin, a novel full of passion, humor, and insight, which makes the reader the author’s accomplice, a witness to his heartfelt memorial to the fraught love affair between ancestors and generations. McGonigle tells the stories both countries need to hear. This particular St. Patrick’s Day is an unforgettable one.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 août 2016
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780268087036
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1100€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


The Notre Dame Review Book Prize
2013 Love beneath the Napalm , James D. Redwood
2015 Times Beach , John Shoptaw
2016 St. Patrick’s Day: another day in Dublin , Thomas McGonigle
another day in Dublin
University of Notre Dame Press
Notre Dame, Indiana
Copyright © 2016 by Thomas McGonigle
Published by the University of Notre Dame Press
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
All Rights Reserved
E-ISBN 978-0268-08703-6
This e-Book was converted from the original source file by a third-party vendor. Readers who notice any formatting, textual, or readability issues are encouraged to contact the publisher at Published in the United States of America --> Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data --> Names: McGonigle, Thomas, author. --> Title: St. Patrick’s Day : another day in Dublin / Thomas McGonigle. --> Description: Notre Dame : University of Notre Dame Press, [2016] | Series: --> Notre Dame Review Prize --> Identifiers: LCCN 2016025045 (print) | LCCN 2016025130 (ebook) | ISBN 9780268035389 (softcover) | ISBN 0268035385 (softcover) | ISBN 9780268101053 (pdf) | ISBN 9780268087036 (epub) --> Subjects: LCSH: Irish Americans—Fiction. | Americans—Ireland—Fiction. | Interpersonal relations—Fiction. | Saint Patrick’s Day—Fiction. | Dublin (Ireland)—Fiction. | BISAC: FICTION / General. | FICTION / Literary. --> Classification: LCC PS3563.C3644 S7 2016 (print) | LCC PS3563.C3644 (ebook) | DDC 813/.54-dc23 --> LC record available at --> ∞ This paper meets the requirements of ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper). -->
Armastusega Anna’le
It is not easy to think of myself as a man who is thought of as dead. I might as easily think of myself as dead. And perhaps some writers do before they begin to write. They think of themselves as dead. Or they think of themselves as thought of as dead.
—Gerald Murnane
4 November 1977 9.30 am. The capsules have been taken with some whiskey . . . It’s a bright sunny morning. Full of life. Such a morning as many people have died on . . . I cannot believe I have committed suicide since nothing has happened. No big bang or cut wrists. 65 was long enough for me. It wasn’t a complete failure I did some [At this point the words lapse into illegibility and stop].
—Keith Vaughan, Journals, 1939–1977
L’artiste qui joue son être est de nulle part.
—Samuel Beckett, on Jack B. Yeats
To lavish love on objects unworthy of it is infinitely better than living a cold, ordered life in a study, in an office, or even a garden tending flowers . . . it has not been the sinners, the degraded, the drunkards, the gamblers, the crooks, the harlots who have made me shudder, but the dead, the respectable dead; cut off like a branch from the tree.
—Francis Stuart, Things to Live For
2. In Grogan’s
3. Out on the Street to the Memorial
4. To Rathmines and Rathgar
5. Starting Out Again
6. Taken Apart
7. McDaids
8. En Route
9. Again, Grogan’s
11. The Corn Exchange
C ome, hear something, read some things, I was saying.
That spring I was staying at the Russell Hotel in the cheapest or, as I have been taught to say, the most reasonable available room. I have sat before the fire in the lobby, cold glass of Carlsberg in hand, realizing: traveling out the patrimony, a gift in my case, from all the years of my father’s fear of doing anything which would endanger his retirement.
After forty-nine years of work at the American Can Company he survived two years of doing, as he put it: nothing.
Died, he did, alone in a parking lot with strangers looking on at his performance.
Upstairs, built into the cabinet next to the bed was a radio which received only Radio Eireann—stories always seemed to begin: In 193 . . . In 189 . . . They, He, She, and . . . the words flowed into never remembering a fact except the pause before the announcer saying a birthday greeting to someone’s Granny of County . . . who wanted to hear “Apples and Oranges” as performed by the Metropole Dance Band and then the female announcer would say three or four words in Irish, allowing me to remember this announcer, Ruth Buchanan, who had taught English to foreign students in the same school where I would work in Baggot Street when I had lived in this city with the Bulgarian, this Ruth who could also still be seen in cinema adverts plucking a little shampoo bottle growing in the center of flowers then blooming down there in Stephen’s Green; this Ruth who was now saying three or four words in Irish every hour, reminding people there are two languages in this country—and for me, one of those languages drowned in the ocean across which my grandfather at the age of twelve was shipped from Donegal to New York where that Bulgarian lived BUT let’s not go into all of that just yet.

A fence of rocks piled one on top of the other, cement forced between, about an asphalt paved front yard. Will you come in? The house set back from the drive. Will you come in?
Down there in the street, troops of high school bullies have been formed up to strut and twirl and shake their behinds for all they’re worth: St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, imported from New York and points west—them showing them how it’s done; bands and marching units in between flatbed trucks on which shivering girls stand throwing sample packets of dried peas and frozen fish fingers. Looking down from my window I couldn’t tell whether this was the end or the beginning of the parade. His watch on my wrist had stopped.

In the corner a red plush straight-backed chair on which I had been stacking the books bought in an effort to catch up for the years since in Dublin. I put the books on the floor next to my suitcases. I thought to sit, watch them down there. The window sill is too high for my feet or the chair too low and either way I couldn’t see with ease what was happening in the street.
I couldn’t remember whether the pubs would be open so I called down for a couple of Carlsbergs to be sent up: three bottles and a glass.
Waiting in thirst I again twisted the problem, what was I doing in Dublin, when as before coming in from the airport there was the same identical sinking feeling of why in whatever it is, had I come back, again, because I always had that feeling, back here again , never remembered of course until after the rush to find the bus for Busárus, find the change, find a seat, get all the luggage into the bus because I wouldn’t trust them to put it into the luggage compartment.

To ensure a comfortable journey through this day an ITINERARY is provided:

Starting (obviously) in the Russell Hotel
Walking to Grogan’s by way of Stephen’s Green and Neary’s Pub
In Grogan’s
Out on the Street to the Memorial by the Grand Canal and Baggot
Street Bridge
To Rathmines and Rathgar
Starting Out Again
Taken Apart
En Route
Again, Grogan’s
To the Party
The Corn Exchange
Back here again riding in the bus across land being packaged up into housing estates and petrol stations, looking out at the old woman washing down her step into the pub and the same people still sitting in all the same places, maybe a little worse for wear, but who isn’t in this day and age (von Webern music) but knowing too, at least, they did have a place and after all I had spent years here which had been more alive than all the years spent in other places or was that another lie among others which had brought me back here to Dublin, as before?
A knock at the door. The kid was here with the beer on a silver tray. He was twelve, fourteen, or fifteen years old, how should I know? I signed the check and gave him 20p tip. He thanked me and backed out of the room. I skipped the glass. The beer wasn’t really cold. Back then, I would never complain about something like this, because Americans were always complaining about warm beer, cold rooms, and people who didn’t bathe. The Americans came dressed in white socks and London Fog raincoats. I lost my white socks and kept the J. C. Penney raincoat which was soiled down the right front side with dried red paint after brushing against wet posters in the anarchist office in Glasgow where I had visited: Americans never wore soiled clothing being afraid of getting run over by a truck . . .
Alone in this room, standing at the window, drapes pulled back, looking down at the rainy street now deserted.
Over there, at an angle across from the hotel: backroom of a chip shop where after the fashion I danced to Beatles records in 1964 with a shop girl who wouldn’t tell me her name because you’re just here looking for a good time of it and you ain’t never gonna come back here again, I know, so what do you want to go and know my name for, just for a dance, anyway, is that okay, you know, if not I’ll go back to my friends who’ll never talk to me ever again if I talk too long with you, just here for the joke of it, you are . . . A certain deep breath, look to the ceiling, hope people don’t notice but—in all of this: living at the Russell and thinking of going off to a chip shop.
I wouldn’t have anyone in this room unless they . . . not to dare beyond the beginning of thought—the fingers are long and tremble—never dare to say, though hearing all too clearly, as before: chopped your balls off, right, even if you say you never get mixed up in a sort of conversation of nounless feeling.
Beyond The Pale . . . a place never gone to because pints don’t grow on trees and a man could die of thirst in the middle of all that damp green scenery. Never wanted any part of the army who went tramping about Ireland looking for cemeteries in which their relatives had been dumped. Childhood was ancestry enough together with the years previously spent in Dublin, history of sufficient complexity I didn’t have to go seeking more muck to pile up in a closet with the dirty underwear.

The girl who took me across into sex reminded me rain heavy leaves when storm ended sun out slight wind gusting rain falls again on sidewalk standing close to the trunk of the tree avoiding the momentary wet smelling sweet mold coming as she did from Kinsale her father pensioned out from the British Army retired complaining, she, Barbara silhouetted by the light of the exposed tubes in the gramophone, said nothing, I said nothing grateful the silence her fingers
Laughter in the hall. A thud against the door. I am not in. During the day no pissing in the sink. The bathroom was across the hall. Never really sure which word to use: toilet, bathroom, men’s room, the shit house. Vance Packard was to blame for it because of The Status Seekers . Words give away class. In the whatever, a bathtub the size of an Irish coffin, wide at the top, narrow at the bottom, and next to it a chrome heated towel rack.
Another day when the hint of snow on the ground, now just a reminder of exactly how long the winter holds on to Dublin, I had gotten off the bus in Rathmines and was walking up the road toward the Stella Cinema when seen stopped in the traffic a hearse carrying a polished tan coffin. Six o’clock on a dark late afternoon, early night, a time rushing from/to, turned away from the hearse and, if I could have . . . to make the impact stronger: thrown into a pub and ordered a whiskey. Had a second and a bottle of Harp; finished, back on the street and just another night to get through. The sides of the coffin squeezing his shoulders—the large hands of the uncle just back from Korea grabbing my arms: he’s getting to be a big boy all right, yes, he is that.

Will you come in?
Be done with it. This is all so dumb. The past is fucking with the past in the grave and can only drag you down. Sounds in the kitchen.
Would you like a cuppa tea?
She is out of her shoes. She must be cold.
Yes, no milk.
The dishes rattle.
Has the fire come on good?
Yes. It’s warm.
Over the fireplace is a picture of a girl standing on a flat slab of stone wearing a wide floppy hat. To the right in the corner, a bookcase of tattered school texts, magazines from Denmark—Barbara’s brother was engaged to a girl from Denmark—and England, books by Hemingway, orange Penguins, and Françoise Sagan; across the room a sofa with a broken-down armrest, across it a shiny black raincoat with blue denim collar.
Just like my father, or your Uncle Jimmy, my mother would say and I’ve forgotten what it was I had done to get her to say it. Those activities of men which women are always putting up with.
You okay in there?
Can you hurry up, I’ve got to go.
That’s what I’m doing.
Footsteps go away, come back.
The person is small and wide. He doesn’t say thanks. Not expecting or doing so myself, back in the room greeted now by sun. That’s all I need.

Barbara brings in the tea tray: two cups, a kettle with repaired handle, a sugar bowl, two tea spoons, a small cup of milk.
Sip at the tea. She sorts through the records. Dusts one off with the sweater she is wearing.
I’m tired of just hanging around
I’m going to get married and settle down
And this sporting life is going to be the death of me.
He whines so, I say.
He doesn’t. He’s a good friend of my brother.
That’s what you like about him?
She changes the record. The Rolling Stones. “Under the Boardwalk.”
The third bottle of beer is warm and glowing blonde in the sun. Next to the typewriter is To Leave Before Dawn by Julian Green. I had started to write a letter to Green on the blank back page of the book, sitting last night in a corner seat in the Bailey, gone there to get away from the crowd in Grogan’s. Maybe I should write it out quickly, go over to Paris and hand it to him.
Now, with back to the Green, yes, I know the pun, looking at the scrawled writing: I told you, I’d only write when I had something important to say. Importance has ambushed me in Dublin. You are an old man and I am a young man.
We talked only one hour—the distortions and eccentricities of hurried conversation. I write to you only because maybe you can detect in my ignorance a certain innocence in hope, a desire to be happy. I write to you, now to ask . . .
I met Green in Paris in January . . . we talked for one hour. How had he come to write The Dark Journey , a book I could only read a chapter at a sitting. Malcolm Lowry took it with him on his last journey to Mexico. I do not have to read my books, Green said. Had he met Joyce in Paris? I was twenty-seven. My first book had just been published. It was before the war, the last war, a friend invited me to a party. James Joyce was there. He was what in French is called Le Grand Seigneur . He had perfect manners and seemed from a different century. He told me his children had fallen upon my book. Sadly I have not read it, he said. My days for reading are over.

On Grafton Street, that Spring, I turned and walked away
In the mountains of northern Bulgaria, I told Green, I met my wife’s grandmother, she is a large ball of black wool out of which dance two blue eyes about a single tooth. Her son said she is only eighty-six. Julian Green said she must be happy. She had seen much. It was good to have seen much, happiness is a mystery like God.
Green is a convert to Catholicism so I told him I had been an altar boy when I was young. How I envy you, Green said, I did not have the chance, I converted too late.
He asks me to write out my name so he will not misspell it as he inscribed The Other One. I had been reading it in Virginia, I tell him, knowing part of his family came from Virginia, reading it when I received the call that my father had died in Saugerties, in a parking lot. We are never prepared, Green says, never prepared but we try to be and we try to be, forgive me for repeating that I was at the university in Virginia after the war, mathematics defeated me so I came back to France, one never knows.

I took her hand and felt the veins against the bone. Felt the dry chill.
Barbara says nothing. She takes my cup and carries it to the kitchen. I heard the sounds of it being washed. Met her in the hall. The kitchen light was off. A black figure against the gray. Her lips high. She bent and met me on the tips of my toes, kissed. Walked back to the room. Sat on the floor. Her head lay in the crook of my arm. Traced the outline of her face.
So, I have left the room, my room, and walking down the flights of stairs as the ceiling gets higher and the plasterwork more elaborate while the staircase gets wider, carpet thicker and the brass rods holding it in place, brightly polished.
It looks to be clearing, the girl said, taking the key at the front desk.
It does.
A pity about the parade, she said.
Did anything happen?
Thank God, no, wasn’t it awful.
Yes. But you were saying.
The weather. All that planning and all those people coming all that way.
That’s the way it goes.
I suppose, but at least no one was killed, like a bit ago.

Embraced her with all the passion of the word embrace . Hands on her breasts. Against the boy chest—I think—for the length of her body; against the pelvis, along the legs under the denim skirt. She wouldn’t open her eyes. She grasped at me. The sticky warm flesh and then her face like a painting in a . . .
Walked toward Newman House but before getting there crossed the street and entered the Green. Antonioni had painted the trees of a park in London to get the exact shade of brown and green he wanted for Blow-Up.
In the kitchen of Newman House, a dozen large fish had been lying on the floor waiting to be hacked up for Friday lunch. The cooks and the helpers moved about the room dressed in soiled white uniforms. Blue-jacketed waiters rushed in and out. The Green was filling up with people walking up a thirst. The head of Mangan on its pillar. Crossed over the bridge Ruth used in her search for that flower containing the bottle of shampoo. Back and forth in front of the pond walked the duck counters.
A swan was out in the middle of the pond with an arrow in its neck. Kids must have done it. It was just a ratty-looking swan in the middle of the pond with an arrow through its neck. Cupid had missed a couple fucking in the bushes. Leaving the Green by way of the South African gate.

a drafty corridor.
In time I lead her out to the hall; am led to the other room. I push off my shoes. I watch as she rolls down her stockings. Let me help you. Undress her in the time she undresses me.
On the bed: chest to chest. Under the blanket, goose-bumped. Her long fingers guide me away from her belly button.
Guide me.
Assertion ends in passage. Eyes shut closed. Joined lips. Pull away drooling on her leg. Her fingers across my back. I am shaking. She guides me again. Retracted. Shaking. My hands cold. My hand over the stiff curls of hair, there. My hands feel waxy. Rub her breasts.
Jelly on the bone
Walked up Grafton Street . . . or down . . . or up. No matter, going in the direction of Trinity but made a quick turn at the first lane, into Neary’s by the back door.
Holding on in life is a matter of habit, sitting the wall to back, a bottle of cider at the table in front, the boy having poured before the chance to tell him, I’d pour it myself. They always dumped the cider into the bottle (a couple of cubes of ice, please) destroying the carbonation—but said to release the flavor though cider was drunk in the morning for the bubbles.
A satisfying burp and the day was off to a good start.
So! The lads were polishing the large brass lamps at either end of the bar. Neary’s is a theatrical pub. Behan’s parents were in there years before drinking up the money that came to them as gift from . . .
Susan had liked Neary’s and when the downstairs got crowded we would go upstairs and order Bloody Marys.
This is cheaper than going to New York, Dickie would say.
The only way I’ll ever go, Susan would reply.
Pessimistic as usual.
No, for a change I’m being reasonable which is worse, I know.
Dickie was in love with Susan and Susan was never in love with men who were in love with her. I went to the Trinity Ball with Susan and Dickie went with a woman who was in the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was in love with her and she was not in love with Dickie so when she went back to England, Dickie was in love with Susan. I was never in love with Susan, not even for a moment because that would ruin, as I thought, a more interesting, what I called, a relationship, to be consciously ironic.
Reading the salmon-colored pages of the Financial Times was a way of being elsewhere. Susan and Dickie were said to be back in England. No goodbyes. Since it was a holiday, a second bottle of cider.
At the Trinity Ball, Ian Whitcomb sang “Nervous” in a tent erected next to the library reading room, years before, he had gone to Trinity and sang in the beat clubs down by the river. A French writer is said to have written with different colored pencils to mark the shifts of time, but the cost of such reproduction, and even knowing it.
Bring on the violins for the poor but honest, said the bartender back in Wisconsin when he found out I had heard Ian Whitcomb—the bartender with the green hair for St. Patrick’s Day—and breaking out the Jamison instead of the peppermint schnapps but here I am in the routine of a cider in Neary’s and soon enough over to Grogan’s for a bottle of Carlsberg followed by a pint of stout.
A cold one for Mr. T., Tommy said, and as he will say, sitting that first week in Dublin . . . all of that comes later, though all of that, THAT year in Dublin . . .
An Englishman is ordering a whiskey, Scotch please. He has a large white moustache, yellowed at the corners. His eyes are blue and watery. He looks in my direction and I disappear. I look back at him. He does not turn away. He takes a sip of his whiskey, puts the glass back on top of the table in the exact spot where it had been placed. He picks up the Daily Mail . He takes another sip of whiskey. He does not look in my direction again.

She lived in Rathgar.
We left and walked along the rain night sharpening streets. Her hand was cold. The fingers long and bony under the skin; her blue-green eyes were set in the narrow face between two curls of dark hair.
Along through the side streets to Rathmines Road. Modern faces gashed into Georgian forms. The chips were too hot. Teeth stinging hot mush inside. We shared a bottle of Coke. Walked as if toward the mountains
And the photographs in the Irish Times of Anglo-Irish couples marrying to carry on the fair skin, frail bodies, and ignorant as shit, man, Joe (for Stalin) was telling me in McDaids. They are that. As stupid as your political leaders in America who get described as simple but honest and straightforward. They always know who to put the knife in. I’m not having any of your American romanticism about a class of shit-smelling lumps who only know the difference between one end of the horse and the other because they got stuck on one before they were born.
Joe could be right. But he was sitting in McDaids or in Grogan’s; had been to America and come back. There must have been something wrong with him. Or me? This morning in Neary’s. Parents dead. Wife in New York. Sister in New York. Money in my pocket. Not a care in the world.
I have to be getting out of here. Nothing wrong with Neary’s, but the morning was over and it was time for the serious business of the day, not like all the others: St. Patrick’s Day in Grogan’s.

Are you cold? No really. I pushed her collar up against the back of her head. Squeezed her hand as if to extract the cold. She smiled. Said nothing. You are very shy, I said. Yes. One shouldn’t be. Why? You prove the worth of the wrong people, the loud ones. I can’t help it. It’s my way. Some things I can’t alter. Do you believe in ghosts? No. I do. Why? Because they exist. She pointed to the shadows between the houses.
Out of Neary’s, across the street into Balfe Street, knowing Balfe was the middle name of Donleavy’s Sebastian Dangerfield, some sort of composer, now just a length of street and cutting across a car park to enter by the front door Grogan’s The Castle Lounge, or The Castle. Closer to the meaning of, “To the Castle, get your Alien’s Book, registered up with the police, photographed and established that you got to be out of the country by 31 August.”
In Grogan’s
F ront room stuffed with the people who don’t mind the couple of extra pennies laid on the cost of the drink for the privilege of being in a carpeted room. Briefly sunlight comes in through the smoke-stained windows, and the bright effect is too much for those of us heading back there beyond the swinging door to be among people who . . .
Tommy’s behind the bar and placing bottle and glass on the bar. A cold one for Mr. T., he’s supposed to say, resting his hand palm up on the bar top.
That’s what I need.
Right you are.
Tommy counts out the change for the ten pound note very slowly. Giving the lads a chance to see: how can they get a taste of it.
Liam’s got himself sitting snugly into the corner seat where I want to sit. The seat down from him is empty.
Ah, the American delegation arrives.
He does.
And in what mood?
Not talking.
Liam sips expertly at the pint bought with his own money. A tailor without a shop. I turn to the foreign exchange table in the paper. Liam looks around the pub. His fingers are yellow. He was interned with the boys, you know, the boys , during the war and learned Russian through Irish. I don’t keep up the language because there just isn’t the interest in things Russian, but with the Russians in Rathgar I expect I’ll get out the language and give it a run for the money.
I’ve gained a penny on the pound and go up to the bar and order a pint.
You going to the commemoration? Liam asks.
What one?
For Kavanagh.
He’s been dead for years.
True, right you are there. But every year his friends get together and read some of his poems and remember him around the bench by the canal.
He didn’t like me.
You’re an American.
I even bought his collected poems.
And you wonder why? Americans are thick . . . not you in particular, just thick. That’s what Kavanagh knew.

. . . you are the brother of Barbara. Now many years ago I was friends with Barbara and lost track of her. I saw her from the distance, I think in 1968 when I came back there from Sofia, and I might have seen her in London in 1978 getting off a bus in Notting Hill. Back then she lived just off the Rathgar Road, worked for an insurance company and had a sister who was going back/forth to England.
If I remember correctly your father lived in Kinsale and had been in the British Army. Can I ask you to forward this letter? I remember she said you had gone to Trinity but she had not gone to university and I believe she eventually married a night student who was going to UCD
In the corner Mr. J. sits for easy access to the end of the bar, and against the wall a padded bench broken by shoulder-high partitions and five round tables with stools scattered about. Liam and I are sitting near the swinging door so we get first sight of anyone coming in from the front room or coming in by the back door. Not to be caught unawares.
Mr. J. is talking to himself. His hand is a claw about the glass of vodka and one ice cube. Should we say all the sad woe of his life and all the busted potential down the drain?
Jocelyn has arrived with a half pint of Harp and is sitting between Liam and myself. Liam has nothing to say to her.
As before, I see, Jocelyn says, reading the paper.
I am.
Didn’t I explain to you when you are in a pub you’re here to talk and carry it all on.
You did. I just didn’t feel like it.
That’s just it. None of us really feel like it as you so quaintly put it. If any of us felt like it none of us would be here in the first place but we can’t stand the fucking walls we got ourselves stuck between at home. Get it!
I do but some days.
Then you should stay at home with the sheets up about your head.
The parade woke me up.
We all have excuses. I have three kids and I don’t know where the next meal is coming from.
It’s a public place.
Then act like you’re in public. Liam here knows what I’m talking about, don’t you?
Liam drains his pint and is up the bar.
My American friend, you’ll never learn.
You’ll never learn.
It’s too early in the morning.
Afternoon. It was afternoon when I hit the street.
Afternoon, still, I think . . .
That’s them Americans, Liam says turning from the bar. Always thinking, they are.
Liam is saying, I know a lot about the States and the cousins there come over to visit with their long complaints about the life here. But what do they know: at least we don’t kill our president and his brother and then kill the only hope of the Black people, now do we? And the way you were slaughtering the yellow people in Vietnam, not that I’m a communist but even saying what I’ve said would get me put in jail in your great free country, wouldn’t it?

I do remember you, though not very well. It would be nice to hear from you about yourself. In 1966 I married Pat Farrell (who you met) and we lived and worked in London (Notting Hill) for five years (exciting times, exciting place). There we had a daughter Fiona. Then we split up and Fiona and I came to live in Dublin.
Jocelyn’s upper lip has begun to wrinkle and was covered by a fine tracing of gray hair: where she was from, who was the father, what was she doing in Ireland, someday could I read what she was writing since she said she sometimes wrote poetry, what had she done in America where she had hitched back and forth across the country two years ago—where had the kids been?—questions you asked a friend of the friend.
What are you doing here, man? Jocelyn asked for the third time.
Visiting again. I lived here for three years at two other times back in the ’60s.
That’s complicated.
Not really. I went to Bulgaria, got married, lived in Rathmines until the job ran out. I was teaching English on Baggot Street in the school Jan Kaminski owned, do you know him?
Does he own a club, Liam asked.
It was a late night place. Lilia used to be the cook and I taught in the school. Jan had a place down near the docks.
The quays you mean, Liam said.
Yeah, the quays near the Four Courts. People said things about it but I was never there. On Baggot Street he had his restaurant and the school. Now I’ve seen him in a travel agency on Baggot Street. Last year my mother and father died and here I am.
So? Jocelyn said.
So, nothing, you asked what I was doing here.
You haven’t said what you are doing here, just how you got here.
I’m here.
I don’t think that’s enough.
It’ll have to be for now and now I need another pint.
Can you get me half a pint.
Okay. I don’t like to.
I know what you mean but today is different.
It always is.
I’ll take care of you next week.
It doesn’t matter.
It does. I’ll write it down on my list.

I don’t go to city centre pubs much anymore. Sometimes we go to the theatre. The opera is in the Olympia at the moment—“the gods” has been reopened (did you ever go?) especially, which is a wonderful place to see opera from, the sound rises up and fills the ceiling and you are right up there
Jocelyn wrote The American and 1 pint after it. This way I know pub debts and I’ll have to go out to pay it back and I always pay my debts. I make sure to get out. It’s the only way to get along when everything else is going bust.
I don’t know about that, I said.
Well then, you haven’t learned much.
Yesterday, didn’t you say one should never be personal when talking in a pub?
That was yesterday. Today is today.
Today is today, Liam said.
It is, I said. Feast day of the Irish. Put to boil the new potatoes.
I think you’re being . . .
What, Jocelyn? I am Irish so I . . .
You are the American, Liam said. We must keep these things straight.
I am American born, to quote Julian Green.
Talk to Mr. J., Liam said, about these foreign people.
He’s busy. I point to Mr. J. who was taking a nap with his eyes open in the corner. He had been stunned by some terrible memory dragged to the front of his mind by the vodka. And I am not American made, to complete the quote.

When you are young you have so many friends and you are so careless. I lost touch with some dear ones and now I am sorry. I sound like an old crone, I’m only a year older than you
A half of pint for the lady, Tommy says as he puts it on the bar, and a pint for Mr. T. I give him a pound, take the drinks to the table, return for the change. Have you seen Liddy today?
The fair or dark one?
The fair one.
He was here last night and he’s expected I’m sure, not expecting.
The pub has filled while this has been going on: this chat with the barman, this chat with Jocelyn, this chat with Liam, this chat, this chat and the smoke, and the swallowing and the spitting and the coughing and the close observation of newspapers for the afternoon racing about which I know nothing except I once won a pound and lost it in the next race when I was out to Punchestown where Audrey’s father was racing, where we stood in the owner’s circle as they walked the horses about before the race, and before we were into the Kildare Street Club tent for a quick taste.
I didn’t hurt your feelings did I? Jocelyn asked.
I’ve learned a little, mark you, not understood or liked this whole business of gotta run catch the bus , you know, you string out your tale of woe and when your listener doesn’t even reply, just up and out, gotta run, which I remember reading in Flann O’Brien, to make sure no one thinks I’m stealing without giving fair warning.
Flann O’Brien, you say, Liam says.
Yes . . .
Is he being read in America now?
I’ve read him and I guess others.
A pity, then. They’ll be having tours and what not, like they do in June for Joyce.
Without the Americans Joyce would have been forgotten.
You’re wrong there. Joyce has always been read in Ireland and known for what he is, a clever lad who made his man a Jew.
How’s that?
Killed, as Paddy said, with one of them PHD’s to the heart.
I guess . . .
No guessing about it. Dead, Joyce is, and now they’ll be killing O’Brien.
You can’t kill a book.
They have in this country, Liam said and up to the bar. Leave ’em with no possible reply.

Through the village of Rathmines, past the Stella Cinema, Slattery’s pub, the petrol station. PUT A TIGER IN YOUR TANK . The pump man dressed in a Tony the Tiger suit: what do you get after buying five gallons of petrol? ANSWER: T.S.R. What is that? Tiger shit remover.
Somehow our cheeks touched and our legs brushed for a second. Her bones peer forth from her face and ribs ridged the feel of her coat. She was a little taller than I.
A fence of stones piled one on top of the other with cement forced between, about the asphalt paved front lawn. Will you come in? The house set back from the drive. Will you come in?
There are spots of shine on Liam’s suit jacket: impressions of coins. Jocelyn is wearing a patched Irish knit sweater. I am wearing my father’s brown lumber jacket and jeans blacked at the knees from the sweat of my hands and not washing them. The drink isn’t doing its job.
Do you think Liddy will be in this morning, I asked Liam.
It’s possible. There’s the what do you call it out by the canal for Kavanagh.
The reading, you mean?
That’s it, a sort of memorial, I was along to it last year and the year before.
I read about it. Near the bench, right?
Yes, that’s it. Liddy will be in, I should guess, and Mrs. Kavanagh.
I don’t like her, I said.
The feelings are probably returned if she knew you, though she probably doesn’t.
I am glad for that. He married late.
You know our funny country. Liam did not smile when he said it.
Jocelyn, are you going along to the canal for Kavanagh?
I don’t think so. I should get back to my kids. I don’t leave them alone for too many hours. It’s just to get out for a little, not to escape them. They are my children. Yes, my children and I wouldn’t let their father within the same city with them.
Do you want another glass of lager?
I can’t afford it.
No matter and Liam, a pint?
No, I’m fine but why not, it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Should live up to the stories they tell about us, drunk to our knees but in there at church every Sunday morning where you’d think they were brewing up the stuff in the basement to tell by the amount of gas in the place.
So, a pint?
That would do nicely.
Liddy hasn’t come in, Tommy said. I’ll let him know, if he’s up front with the gentlemen , that you’re back here. His mouth closed with an exaggerated chomp. I put the pints on the table and not forgetting the lager, back to the bar for it, and then to the men’s to . . . not about to go into all the usual business about turning Guinness into water and gas and if only you could recombine them at that end you’d have the whole problem licked in one fell swoop into a big house and servants polishing your toe nails.

Barbara pulled down the sweater that had crept up her back. She glanced at the pile of unopened letters lying on the table. He had not noticed them.
My sister would be home by this evening telling me how nice it was in Manchester and the club they had been to and the band they had seen and the pamphlets she had read and the boys she had winked at and her boy, her man who led her about on the ring from room to room. Maybe she would bring home a new pin this week. I feel so stuck in my routine in Dublin.
My hands felt cold along her neck. She looked at my head leaning over hers and she closed her eyes saying, is it supposed to rain?
Mr. J. noticed my return from the men’s with a jerk of his head; mouth opened but forgetting what he wanted to say. It would come to him eventually.
I knew more of the people in the pub looking and walking. Ben the painter and friend of Ralph Cusack now in the South of France whose book I found in the Strand when I had been back to New York: Cadenza . Hoeing an obscure row, if asked, Leland was in with her American boyfriend. She had the basement flat on Leeson Street with the kids living in the back rooms to either side of a long spine of a corridor leading to the back room where people slept in combinations not seen since the Kokavia Club of Athens before the Colonels. And this in Ireland, in Dublin, the largest village in Ireland as your man Denis at UCD was once heard to say.
Leland wrote poems, plays, and novels and once entertained the taxi driver, Fintan, who won’t be around until this evening because he simply does not like the daylight when things seen in night as reasonable are cut up by the light of day—I was going to say eviscerated in the clear light of day, but no, Fintan ain’t coming in until evening when he has out on offer checkbooks and if only you will loan him a pound, a fiver will be coming back your way with the promise of a good time to be had by all.
The poets’ doctor is in with watered gin in front of him and the night’s watch behind him at the hospital. Wouldn’t let him open a can of sardines for me.
Joe was in on a break from McDaids. Named after Stalin by his father and a Spanish St. Joseph by his mother. His house was divided, and unlike all those other families heard about growing up where the husband and wife hadn’t talked to each other in twenty years here was a mother and father who hadn’t talked to each other as a matter of religious and political principle. The argument had been about the Pope’s armies or lack of them, according to Joe, who told me this one night and was embarrassed the next morning, didn’t talk to me for a month because never do you talk about something THAT personal. They had pads of paper all over the house, and it was Joe’s job to keep the messages up to date by throwing out the last exchange. Things had to be kept current, otherwise they would end up having to compose a Swiftian sort of book in which all the notes began to refer to other notes and they would be living just to keep the notes about the notes up to the minute.

I turned and walked away
she turned and walked away
that year
on Grafton Street
We were wondering what had happened to you, Jocelyn said. The pint is still here.
As well it should be, Liam said.
I was thinking, I said.
Always a dangerous business, Jocelyn said.
You are getting close, Liam said.
Close to what?
You’ll know when you’ve gone past it.
Liam drifted away from us. Jocelyn and I were talking. People did not join couples: male/female—something about invading privacy or the possibility of triangles.

Will you be around tonight?
I have to go to the shops later but I will be in for sure tonight.
What time would be good for you?
Anytime you wish.
Around nine then?
Your man Liddy is in the other room, Tommy told me when I was to the bar for another round. I wondered why he had not come to the back.
Jocelyn saluted with a tip of the glass, it’s the same all over the world. Thems that have, have and hold on to it and shit upon the rest that ain’t got a hole to dig in . . .
You’re right. In America there’s the illusion things get better.
Ah, the famous American Dream.
Don’t I know it. The disease of optimism given with the birth certificate.
Excuse me. Jocelyn stood.
Don’t break anything.
Very funny. I’ve read the paper too.

A 49-YEAR-OLD mother of a large family, who was stated to have received “a nasty injury” when using a toilet in a licensed premises just before closing time, was awarded £68.31 damages and costs in the High Court, Dublin, yesterday, although the judge had found that she was 80% negligent.
On the brown round table stood my pint nearly drained, Jocelyn’s glass empty, the ashtray full, a beer coaster in the middle of the table as if surrounded by the glasses. There were numbers on the coaster in blue ink. A gully of silence suddenly in the room and the talking begins again, louder than before. I . . . with nothing to say. Here in Dublin. When, where, and I’m not going to ask, Why?
Liddy is a wide person with a ruddy face and blondish hair. Evelyn Waugh comes to mind if you can subtract Waugh’s Englishness, his snobbishness, and remember only the drunken parties at Oxford and the moment when Waugh is trying to kill himself by swimming out into the sea and at the moment when exhaustion sets in and relief is at hand and about to do the job he gets stung by a jellyfish; the hurt is too much, and Waugh to be posed with ear horn when in the vicinity of visiting Americans. Liddy had been the editor of ARENA and had actually paid contributors out of the money from the death of his father who had made his money in America and come back to Ireland to live out his life in the style he knew he deserved. Liddy went to America and taught in Ohio, San Francisco, New Orleans, and installed himself in Milwaukee where there were no more socialists; just bars and angel boys.
Liddy was in love. He was always in love. I do not know all the details. Gossip sucks dry the heart.
Ah, go on, tell us.
There had been one of those parties, beginning in the pub, McDaids probably it was that year, to closing time when stocking up with sixes and sixes and sixes of Guinness in paper sacks, people left for the party in Hatch Lane.
There’s a radio playing: Radio Luxembourg with Dateline Dating at 23 Abingdon Road, London . . .
Liddy was in the corner working on a pint of whiskey because he was watching his weight and someone had been kind enough to give it to him as a gift for his return. Liddy wasn’t feeling the ache of having to be out of Ireland nine out of twelve months. His friend wasn’t around when he looked for him but his wife was, though no one was talking to her, for some reason, Liddy noted, and then remembers waking in the morning. There was an inch of whiskey in the bottle which he drained to avoid waste and his friend’s wife was crying.
Paddy had hanged himself some time during the night in a closet upstairs after finding his wife on the bed . . . we hadn’t been doing what you think, never thinking that, but the story was they had been doing it and been seen so by the friend in the closet which seemed much too symbolic to note and you could never write of him hanging himself in a closet because he had never gotten out of the closet because Ireland is a closet . . .

that night on Grafton Street . . .
we had met earlier in the New Amsterdam Café
in South Anne Street
I seem to think it was raining or had been raining,
and on Grafton Street—turned or Barbara turned
I went into the front room, after collecting my pint and over to where Liddy was sitting with four young men, one of them an American who lived down in the country.
I am here.
That is to reiterate the obvious, he said. Let’s make room.
I sat next to this guy who was sitting next to this other guy on the bench against the wall. The fit was tight but it was better than being out on a stool in the middle of the floor. Liddy introduced the four guys, and I caught a Liam and Conor but couldn’t put face to name.
And how is the Russell treating you? Liddy asked.
It’s ok. There were murmurs of approval, envy, and what the fuck are you doing in a pub like this.
You know they’re tearing it down like all the good things of Dublin, Liddy is saying, not that my parents approved of the Russell, being newly rich they liked the Shelbourne.
I thought that was for Protestant bishops?
And the newer rich. The Gresham is for Americans who don’t know where O’Connell Street is and the Hibernia is for our English visitors.
Liddy, I rushed down to the Hibernia when I saw the picture of Ezra Pound in the Irish Times , when he came to Dublin after going to the service for T. S. Eliot in London. I missed him by a day.
Would he have seen you?
I didn’t care.

He was visiting with Mrs. Yeats, whom I saw in that theatre behind Trinity where the Abbey was before it moved to the new place.
Are you giving a lecture? You need a new pint?
I can’t get into round buying.
You’re staying at the Russell.
It’s much cheaper than you think.
Reasonable, is the word, is it not . . .
Yeah, but I always forget. I really wanted to see Pound. Now he’s dead.
Like all the very best.
That sounds like Mr. J.
His influence does travel.
But Dahlberg used to say the same thing. I finally did meet Dahlberg in New York and had an argument with him. Dahlberg was here in Dublin, wasn’t he?
Yeah, he lived out in Ballsbridge, I think.
Like your man Berryman.
Him too, Liddy said, but I didn’t hear him, only about him and the man we honor today.
Kavanagh, I said. Are you going out to this ceremony they’re having for him?
Can I come along?
It’s open to the public. I’m going out in somebody’s car.
I know where it is. Is anything going on afterwards?
Yes. Here’s the pints. One of the young men, with dark scars on his jaw, where a beard should be, set the pints down.
To Kavanagh. Glasses raised and drank.
Were you at the Kavanagh and Berryman thing?
No. Liddy said.
It was in the University Club off Baggot Street. I was there.
Americans, it has been said, Liddy says, are good at picking over the garbage of sensations, and gobbling like carrion birds.
Your friend’s American, I asked Liddy.
I met him in San Francisco, we were both pilgrims to the shrine of Jack Spicer, may he rest where he no longer wants.
I’ve not read Spicer but I know he was a poet.
A poet? A poet. Liddy stood. A poet you say. I have to . . .
Liddy went toward the back room to the little room.
We both got to San Francisco too late, the narrow man said. Spicer had been dead for years but you could still feel his presence. Liddy learned everything he knows about America from Spicer. The liver dissolving into hospital sheets.
Are you Conor?
No, Liam. I know who you are, the American Liddy published in ARENA who almost met Allen Ginsberg.
That’s how I like to keep it.
I know what you mean, Liam said. Kerouac is the key. Ginsberg is a corpse fucker if ever there was one.
He’d probably take it as a compliment—the worst thing you could do with Ginsberg is ignore him. I have to get myself a pint and look back in at Jocelyn.
She’s back there?
A good place for her.
You don’t like her?
There is so much you can take and the record gets turned over and it’s the same as you’ve been listening to.
I didn’t hear side two.
You did if you heard side one.
Walking to the bar, stuffed with so much rubbish knowing rubbish is part of it.
Tommy, you’d better make it two pints.
We’re not locking in anybody today. The holiday. The fresh air is demanding your lungs.
An awful fate.
Far worse has been demanded of our poets.
While Tommy was drawing the pints I went into the back room. Jocelyn was getting ready to leave.
You’re off?
You’d deserted me.
I had not. I was talking to Liddy and got distracted.
Good, I’ll come and join you.
Sure, we’re sitting over against the wall. Liddy was coming from the bog and the expression, as the men’s magazines would have it, on his face said he wasn’t glad to see me talking with Jocelyn and himself now in the same room.
Jocelyn, you know Liddy, don’t you?
Of course.
The same. Your friend Teresa is over there. He pointed back toward where Mr. J. was and yes, Teresa was standing at the bar. She had not seen me and it would matter little because she probably wouldn’t remember me.
She’s married now, you know, to someone I don’t really know, Liddy said.
She wasn’t married when I knew her. She just had the child and was always going back and forth to London.
That’s Teresa. Now she lives in Blackrock or some such place.
I’ll be going, Jocelyn said.
Liddy pushed on into the front room and I went over to Teresa who is taller than I remembered, but then I only remembered her sitting in the Bailey or lying on the floor of the room off Dame Street. Or sitting on the toilet.
Teresa, I said. She turned in the direction of my voice. Annoyed.
Excuse me, I knew you . . .
Ah yes . . . you were going off to someplace.
Yugoslavia . . . I asked you to come along.
You did. I remember. It was nice of you. Are you living here?
No, I just came over. And the child?
He’s fine. Let me pay for this. Teresa turned to the barman who was at the same time called to by Tommy to come and collect two pints for the Yank.
I’ll take them down there. I’m not running away. Just a minute. It was nice seeing you Teresa . . . do you come in often?
Occasionally. I’m married and when I can or when we can . . .
Teresa took her glass and moved toward the door where a group of men and women were standing. I didn’t recognize anyone. I didn’t know who her husband was. I could never have been her husband. She was thought to be the most beautiful woman in Ireland.
One night and never a chance for another. She must have been drunk. Or just lazy or too tired to get herself home. Kavanagh had been there that night and Hobsbaum, the English critic. Teresa stayed after Kavanagh finished the bottle and was helped out by Hobsbaum who was looking for one last sentence of insight from Kavanagh before going back to the exile in Glasgow where on Robbie Burns’s birthday he read a selection of Wordsworth’s poetry.
There’s some believe a pint grows stale if you don’t have at it within two minutes of it being pulled . . .
And there are those who believe in five, I said.
Like yourself, yes, sir, like yourself. Right you are.
Liam and Liddy were talking as I sat down. They stopped talking.
So strange to see Teresa after all these years.
She’s in here frequently. Liddy said. Not my type of female. There’s a streak in her.
I thought she was supposed to be the most beautiful woman in Ireland.
Some say it and have painted her in those colors, Liddy said.
And written poems to her, Liam said. Awful poetry of bodies flinging themselves at each other.
Trifles without being witty, Liddy said. Our Irish boys and girls have just discovered their organs and are run amok. They don’t have time for guilt anymore.
I liked Teresa very much.
You were supposed to.
I did of my own free will. It was that summer before I went to Venice and Yugoslavia.
You’ve been to Venice? Liam asked.
Three times.
I would like to go, Liddy said. I have slept the Proustian cities of France and am saving Venice for my old age.
I had gotten that last bit of money from the government and was going to go as far as I could. Instead, I got off the train in Sofia. I had wanted to take Teresa with me and I even said I’d take the child.
That was good of you, Liam said.
I was just being practical. Teresa was . . .
Tears, tears, Liddy said. I am tired of tears masquerading as poetry.
I cried no tears for Teresa.
Then it was not love, Liddy said. Tears and love go together like moon and June.
This is awful, Liam said. But at least you’re not talking psychology.
That is the American malady, Liddy said.
Not all Americans are so affected.
You were brought up Catholic?
I was and am now a practicing bad Catholic.
Thus a believing Catholic?
A practicing bad Catholic, though practicing for who knows what?
Clever, Catholicism has saved you from psychology. That’s why I published your poem. Poets are always the first to know, in this country anyway. You can’t say that for America. There it’s just another business.
A growing business, I said.
Kavanagh knew it, Liddy said, Who killed James Joyce? I did with a PHD from Yale.
I always remember the line as being Harvard, I said. Did Kavanagh have it in for Yale?
I just think he needed a name and it was the first one to pop into his head. I worry about you, Liddy said, when he was sure Liam was up at the bar. You are eating yourself alive and it is an awful diet.
How do you mean?
You talk too much of the past and your part in it.
That’s all I got.
That’s all any of us have, Liddy said. But we try to get away from it for a little while.
I’ve heard that somewhere?
Maybe. But it doesn’t matter. There are only so many clichés, and we are always using them.
Liam must be up there massaging the tit for all we know. Liddy looked about the room emptying. I went up to the bar to get another pint just as Tommy was opening his mouth: Time Gentlemen, Please. It’s time, Gentlemen, please.
One last one.
For today yourself, Mr. USA. Don’t you wish you were in New York on a day like today? They say it’s a fine old time. I should want to see it someday. Here you are. Tommy put the pint up on the bar top and I paid with a pound note.

after the night lying together walked “home” and felt something for which I only had the word loss but knowing it was the wrong word or something like that, confused you could say
Liddy, are you going to the reading out by the canal?
It’s not a reading. People stand around and say what comes into their minds. We try to remember. Paddy would have hated anything formal, inflated, or official.
I think I’ll go along to this Kavanagh thing. Kavanagh didn’t like me.
He was the poet, Liddy said. It’s as simple as that.
Don’t you people ever get tired, Liam said. The dead are supposed to wrestle with the dead. The living get stains on their hands.
And stains are becoming the cliché of this minute, I said, proud for a second of finding just the right phrase. Liddy nodded his head. He laughed out loud. People turned thinking someone had begun to die, argue . . .
The New World, Bless them! All my sweet pink children. Bless them. Liddy stiffened his back and drank with delight a long swallow of stout, burped and eased himself back into the chair. There was noise in the back of the pub. A loud screeching female voice demanding a whiskey for me friends . It was that woman. I knew her and she did not know me and hated me anyway. She was the widow of the Poet
Liddy was up and into the back room saying he’d see me out by the canal, later, you know?
I’ll see you there.
There might be something afterwards.
That would be good. I’m so tired of pubs and the hotel. A party would be good, I’ll see if they’ve changed.
That woman, the Wife of the Poet, would follow a coffin hoping it would spring a leak and she could lie under it with mouth open ready to sup on the fluids to nourish her through the rest of her miserable life of hanging out, having waited for him to finish up the drink for the night so she could get him home so he could vomit in the privacy of her scorn for him.
Pick ’em out just before they’re good for nothing but dying would be the slogan.
Liddy is laughing. There was a pause and he was laughing again. Liam was still sitting next to me in the room now nearly empty except for a couple of old newspaper sellers over by the door bent over their pints. Liam was asking me where I was from back in the States . . .
I was born in Brooklyn but my parents moved out to Patchogue which is about sixty miles out on Long Island. It was country back then. There was no one around. My father wanted to get away from his family. His parents had come from Ireland.
Have you looked any of them up?
No. My father didn’t know any names but his parents had gone over to America as twelve-year-old kids and worked as servants in rich people’s homes . . . they probably forgot all about where they came from.
My parents are from here, Liam said. They’ve never been back. There’s nothing could get them to come back. They’re as happy as . . . whatever it is that makes you happy in Los Angeles. There’s nothing there to remind them of this.
After they got rid of the Latin my parents didn’t go as regular as they used to, I said.
The biggest mistake the church ever made, Liam said. There was something about the church being permanent and just there. Now it’s almost like going to a Protestant service—that’s the next step, they’ll start talking about “going to services.” Liddy can’t stand any of it.
He goes? I asked.
He’s Irish.
How did we end up talking about things like this. Ireland was the last place in the world where it was still possible to talk about such things without irony or that terrible Protestant idea of being saved.
What it is, I said, if you’re born Catholic and are brought up Catholic you have memories that are somehow very poetic: the liturgy, the priests and nuns in black robes, a Christ figure, all love and lambs, blonde Virgin Marys—saints who have done fantastic acts of bravery and were sure of what they were doing.
Fantastic stories! Shit on toast, Liam said. There was a nun in the school who made you kneel down around the toilet bowl.
I’ve heard those stories, I really have. I was a teacher out in Wisconsin in a Catholic school and the kids told me the nun in the fourth grade made them kneel down by the toilet bowl and there was a kid she kept locked in the closet just because she got tired of him . . . but that sort of stuff didn’t happen to me. I was a good kid and the nuns liked me.
I hated kids like you. I knew they had it in for me. And it wasn’t the school because most of the kids were Irish backgrounded, if you know what I mean. The Mexicans had their own schools, but I guess what got to me is my parents didn’t give a shit.
Are you going along to the Kavanagh thing? I asked.
I suppose so. Liddy likes it, but THAT Kavanagh and the wife of his.
I think the same thing. I’m sure it’s unfair.
Life is unfair, to echo those clichés.

my room was in 5 Orwell Park, Rathgar. On the wall a large painting of an open-chested Christ with blood dripping from His Sacred Heart
The room is closing in. Emptied of people the words are too clearly heard. Liam is waiting for Liddy to call him to get a move on otherwise you’ll have to walk on your own legs.
You better get going, I said.
You’re right. You going along?
I’ll come along by myself.
Yeah, you know where to go?
Baggot Street at the canal.
The time has been called, Tommy said. Thump of glass against table top. You’ll be missing your friends.
Puck off.
Out on the Street to the Memorial
T here is a wobble in the step.
Out in the street without an empty whiskey bottle to take along to the Carmelite Church to fill with Holy Water. They do use a lot of that stuff in this country and it’s a damp place so you can’t be chalking it up to evaporation. Sons slinking down the stairs in the early morning hour to get a cup of the stuff to take back to the bathroom and let it run over the hand.
Which misses the point wonderfully but not tripping on the low curb so passed the closed McDaids

ARENA lived without regard for exactness of fact and typography, which angered people for whom a magazine was judged only by its regularity and correctness in both. However, ARENA lived with flair. Its editors and contributors cavorted, were reputed to run the periodical from McDaids, refused to take life seriously.

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