I hesitate to write this essay, but not for long. There are some things I just have to get out of my system before I get down to business. Sex looms large on the horizon. This monster must be slain. Ask Freud.
Lord make me good but not yet was saint Augustine’s prayer when young, he of Apologia Pro Vita Sua, Apology for his life. To those attracted by the title of this piece, don’t worry, the good bits are coming. Stories from my teenage years, when I was Jung and easily Freudened.
I bought Beckett’s novels when young when they were banned here but readily available, looking for the dirty bits. There weren’t any, but I very much enjoyed them. There were two lists of banned books in Ireland then, in holy Roman Catholic Ireland, the state one and the index, so called, the church one. The Irish were the best read people in the world because they read those lists then all the books. In Ireland we have laws, we just don’t obey them. We’re Irish, we don’t do rules as some guy said.
There was no sex in Ireland before television some politician said, so where did all the people come from then, immaculate conception? Official Ireland and private Ireland are poles apart. One is imaginary, the other real.
Will I get around to telling the sins of my youth, now or never? Or hardly ever. As I said I want to get these things out of my system before I progress to sainthood.
Here it comes. Here comes the night. At the age of fourteen I lifted a cigarette case from a shop display while with my best friend of a similar age. A horde of boys were looking at the pile of imitation gold cases being watched like a hawk by an attendant. Doing something with my left hand I used my right hand to put the loot in my pocket, as conjurors do and walked out successfully into the world. I showed it to my friend. Good man, he said. He had money, I had none.
We went into a shop and bought twenty cigarettes. I put them in the case but only fifteen would fit in, which I complained about. Where did you get that cigarette case asked the attendant. The king of England presented it to me I said. We returned to buy matches which I asked to be given free, but no, we paid.
Down the street a pretty thirteen year old walked towards us. I opened the case asking would you like a cigarette? She said no. Would you like anything else I asked? Not from you she said. We walked on.
A couple of years later when sixteen years old I said to my friend as we walked out from a cinema the girls in films are all girls you would like to go to bed with. That’s what its all about he said.
I thought it was looks that got girls, he thought it was talk. I was good at talking, he had looks. He was a great girl getter, I got his leavings. Share and share alike, that’s what friends are for. Some guy I knew in later life, he would go into a pub and girls gravitated towards him. By the way, he wasn’t gay. Anyway, this girl said she would like to go home with him, he wasn’t feeling like it, he said he was gay. She said she could cure him. Now, where was I?
Okay, when I was fifteen I stood in our school playground opposite another guy. I said I went to a dance last night. He said did you get a feel?
When I was sixteen I was with my best friend and another guy who was a sort of solo artist. He was tall and good looking. My friend said he was thinking of asking such a girl out, is she any good? That does not mean does she say her prayers. The other guy said of course she is, I trained her.
When I was fifteen in class a few minutes before the teacher came in, there was a guy Barty Egan. Barty stood up on his desk in his blue jeans with his hair slicked back and his hand going up and down from his crotch saying well its six foot, seven foot, eight foot, nine. That’s from a song at the time, the Banana boat song, about hauling in nets, not about a crotch.
Some other boy whose house we were gathered at said when we were about to leave about going home to our hobby.
Do I go to Hell for all this or what? Protestants say Catholics suffer from Catholic guilt. What about Hindus? There aren’t only two religions in the world, how are people so small minded?
I gave up religion when I was a teenager, I had other things on my mind. I am not a puritan. Everyone has religion, religion is what you believe and belief is proved by action.
Its not what you say, its what you do. There are many religions, the great god self is very important, and so is the god nothing. Not to speak of money, wealth, power and fame. There are many worshippers, praying they win the lotto or whatever turns them on.
President Kennedy was a Catholic. The Catholic Standard newspaper said a Catholic is running for president, they had a head and shoulders shot of him. I thought he was a glamour boy, someone else said he was. When he was running an opponent said if he was president the Pope would be telling him what to do. He never told me. Kennedy made some reply and they stopped saying that.
Kennedy played around with women. Marilyn Monroe anyone? Anyway, his wife Jackie was in the white house bed and put her hand under the pillow and took out a pair of panties, not hers. She held them up and said to Jack I think these belong to a friend of yours. Ladylike behaviour is pretty good but not in all circumstances.
Some girl I was with when I was twenty-three, I steered her into a doorway, I’m not much good at this sort of thing she said. What a wet thing to say! I did not say stick around me and you’ll learn. I wasn’t going to walk her home without even getting a kiss. There’s a time and place for everything, and I do mean everything.
Is flippancy one of my sins? Or is it just the way I’m made? I don’t appear to take anything very seriously. But that may be misleading. I’ll wait until the real thing comes along. Whatever that is. I have dedication, I am dedicated, to writing poetry and having a good time, conversation and friends and so on, this is not the subject at issue. That’s for another day, that’s life.
Anyway, that girl, I dropped her. She was lovely in appearance. Locals were awestruck at the idea I was going out with her. But looks are certainly not everything. She was certainly the loveliest girl I ever kissed but not danced with. How you are as a person matters most of all. She scored high in many ways but I’m not a piece of furniture and nor was she, Sheraton or otherwise. Neither people nor life are just for looking at.
The perfect wife has been described as a hostess in the diningroom, a cook in the kitchen, a governess in the nursery and a whore in the bedroom but that was in the old days when people said things like that. I want a woman, not a lady. So much for etiquette. People were much better spoken long ago and had larger vocabularies but simplicity suits me best of all. That’s how the great talkers and thinkers wrote and spoke. Leonardo said simplicity is the highest form of sophistication. Faberge eggs no thanks, I’ll take hard boiled.
This writing is not at all turning out the way I thought it would, the question is should I be ashamed of myself? Should the world, should my acquaintances and friends be ashamed? I can’t do anything about the world but as far as I am concerned life just happened. It happened to me and I happened to it. And am still happening.
This is my life and its not over yet. When I get it right I’ll let you know. Only God is my judge, so if you are God right, go ahead. But why did you make me this way and in this time and place? Isn’t it all your fault or is the fault all mine? I need a good lawyer. Are there any? They are best at defending themselves.
I throw myself on the mercy of the court. I am no prude, sometimes rude, life is what you make it, can you take it? Bits of it were good and, Hell, it makes me laugh. If laughing is a crime I’ll do my time.
How can this be all there is to say? No way.
Judge yourself, not me. The best is yet to be.
Each day ends, this writing too. I had a life, had you?
This is not written on my deathbed in ink blood red.
I have said what I have said.
Go to bed.
P.S. You don’t know the half of it.
12th July, 2019