We were due into the centre of Dublin around sunset from the inner suburbs, outer suburbs, inner city and elsewhere. A broad spectrum of Dublins young social classes: the brightest, students, most were working fellas and girls , some of us imagined ourselves as angels/demons floating above it all. But never apart. But as I say the rendezvous was city centre quays Dublin early summer circa 1995.
What attracted us all into this centre spot was the absence of an enunciated freedom of the spirit but not only that. Life was grey betimes. There were sparks too – hints of a cessastion of violence in the North, President Robinson, River (Fucking) Dance, Italia 90 etc. Life between sparks was very grey for most, the spirit crushing days of the 80s still lingered strong in memories, in emigrants fractured storylines, in clothes, in appetites, in the way your heart would out of blue-gray ache for the small island we all lived on. In our hearts however was something different, some dream or other handed down , visualised in song, poetry and wit, fast piercing wit. A chain of wit and deadly buzz,'story and linking long the liffey to a queue for access to an elevator to another place.
Some had jumped over the liffey walls down into the river to escape the madness flowing out of their eye sockets, hearinnnnnng, eyes glassy as they hit the cold grey waters streaked with reflected shards of street and car lights. An unravelling of their dream reel too fast too near no control, no net, just chatter chatter chatter of their fellow beings against a cooling azure sky over a Dublin that promised so much but delivered them instead into the grey liffey waters below.
The heat of the tar on the roads was testament to a blazer of day. The breeze danced about the collective heads diverting attention from the soft tar slide of boots and runners primed for dancing. " Too many people here. I hope the cops steer clear tonight especially after last weeks raid down in Columbia Mills @ UFO". "Fat chance, too busy protecting tourists from junkies and morphies" "Lead on McDuff".
An ache for a city in long decline, her gums and teeth rotten from decades of eating badly, dressing badly, moral compass gone askew – too few possessed of a moral centre of gravity to speak out and claim Centre Stage from Americo-Brit franked stains. Small but perfectly formed and freed from a centuries-old burden, unschackled from the chains of Zeus, walk the walk as walk of destiny ought to be. One soldiers runner into the softblack leaves a deep zebra striped foot print, sprinkled with dust of the dead and living, baked by the sun , cooled by the breeze into a hard glistening edifice, all on show but immobilised as spectators to a grand opening.
Crossing the Liffey by the ha'penny bridge full of stags head guinness. Shocking how much goes in when theres a will beneath a way. Feelings of useful but singular depression, overwraught, anxious to move past the tar shoed ones. "What, Im not still here am I ?" a distinct desperation underlies this absurd procession. Soft tar between my toes touching the air blown back from the faces in the queue. As the sun sets, the first bouncer banter echoes down the snake of heads.
There were the jumpers, those peaking too early. The chomping jaws , the banter. Breeze pushed my hair into my eyes and the setting sun flickered deliciously across my vision….
Theres a hotel built on top of this same spot now where we queued and danced. Anonymised, grafitti-free white concrete, chrome and glass interior, faux sophistication stepping not-so-gingerly over history, our collective memory shredded for prosperity sake; like a favourite coat, once a home, now full of rents, holes with stitching undone, hanging loose like matted hair on the face of a dead raver pulled from the Liffey. The unstitching of a coat protecting us all from each other had begun to unravel during this time. Silently the ties that bound prised apart by external and internal forces. Each stitch a precious jewel let fall to the ground, let tumble from a hand fumbling , stumbling toward a light without every understanding what was being lost, hearing only promises of a more modern society – tolerant, dog-shit free, smoker-free filled with triathlon junkies and peppered with those eager to share their ego-shell superiority elixir. What was visible through the rents and holes was a grotesque of modern proportions.
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Roll forward many years, the same streets albeit 100 times grown meaner, darker, most of the citys citizens dont realise just how dark. too busy coping. The sun cones up the same, goes down the same and businesspeople walk around as purposefully as before albiet with slightly greyer side burns, their brown brogues burnished by the continuous sandstorms of financial market sticks-n-stones. But there is a darker sound made all the darker by bright, shiny toys like the luas, a portable omnibus theatre if ever there was one. Occasionally upon this stage, the cracks show when a superficially ragged individual boards this fine example of 21st Century progression and slowly opens their bag of half strangled nightmares – "Dis, dis, dis, not a sandwich , not even a cup of tea, all bolloxy threating take me money into the bed for a night, lost I am without me tea, feckin feckers uueeeruuggwaaa.." from a mouth curdled in a face fracked from within by a tormented soul bereft of place, peace or quiet. Everyone else in the luas carriage freezes looks away, picks at the threads on their jacket as if they could somehow be called to address this impromptu theater audience with a soliloquay(sp?) or two from their own eejit life. Its enough to have that ravaged voice speaking in tongues like a mystic, telling you how it is, what its like to not be part of the upswing, to be caught out every time by downward forces that are simply blind to the presence, the hopes, dreams, desires of a gone-one. All Im saying is it pays richly to hear all the voices, let them roll through you like thunder so the words are remembered.
Lifes like that. You lose your mates in a crowd and all of sudden you're alone. Not deliberate abandonment, just alone, like a plastic milk bottle adrift off a plentiful sea of milk and fucking honey – mid ocean. Like Ireland at its worst. Ireland was never -male or femals. Shes just a bunch of rocks. What would she know about feelings, never mind dressing up for holloween ?!