Thursday, August 8, 2013


When I was in Primary School, there was a caretaker called Jimmy.

Jimmy whistled and wore one of those jumpers that every man wore in those days.

He had black hair and was small. He wore steel toed work boots that had a sort of dimpled, leathery surface. He was nice.

He appeared to be assisted in his work by a man called Peter. Peter looked facially like Ronnie Barker and always wore black. He wore a black flat cap, a black jumper, black trousers, black boots and a long black coat.

I never heard him speak English. That's not to say he was a foreigner, because he wasn't. I just never heard him speak English.

He spoke gibberish, I remember. A mellifluous babbling of repeated noises and nonsense words. He rode a black bike too.

One day on TV there was a thing on the news about old people in an old people's day centre. I saw him there on the TV and said to my mum 'That's Peter from school'.

I never imagined him having a life away from school.

I can't even remember what he did in the school. Maybe he was a nuisance to Jimmy, and just fucked about. I vaguely remember my mum saying the school paid him by giving him a dinner at lunchtime. Fuck me, I thought at the time, that's scant reward. That's because in my early primary school years, I hated school dinners. I couldn't see them as being worthy recompense for picking up crisp bags and Umbongo cartons.

I remember that Peter was from Fermanagh- my dad told me. He was very religious and went to mass every day.

He was supposed to be from a very wealthy family, or something. He never married.

He moved among us like a visitor from another planet. I never spoke to him.

Imagine Ronnie Barker, all in black, riding an old black bike.

That was him.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I went to Edinburgh

I went to Edinburgh. It's the capital city of Scotland. It's not the biggest city in Scotland. It's like Canberra in Australia, it's not the biggest city there neither. Nor is Ottawa here. It's the capital city and not the biggest one. That was disappointing when I was younger, but I didn't mind now. Edinburgh is dead nice and very old. Lots of nice buildings. It is grey in colour but not depressing. I only saw two chip shops. There were no council estates in the city centre. The buses were very punctual. The best city I ever went to was Paris, it was class. Edinburgh wasn't a patch on it, but it didn't matter. I like Belfast better. I'm not sure, but I don't think they serve curry chips in Edinburgh. I didn't ask, but I'm sure they don't. I ate haggis twice. It was lovely. Edinburgh is great though. I would go back. The people were nice. We went to a cafe for breakfast and had nice food. The man there who owned it was musclebound. He was dead on. We were talking and he told a joke about two cows in a field. He said how do you know which one was on holiday. It was the one with the "wee calf" ( week off). I told a joke about why were 50p pieces shaped like they were. So you could use a spanner to get them off a Scotsman. Everybody laughed. It was a bit insulting though.