Used to play this song when I was doing the hovering in the Bonesgate Pub back in the eighties. Nine in the morning, on my own, normally hung-over – at least I had the keys to the Jukebox and it didn’t cost me anything. I think it was a quid for three in those days. So there I was leaving a rock club in Ahoghill at midnight stone cold sober, taxi waiting at the door and all on my lonesome. This is not a problem for me by the way. It only makes the bigger picture a lot more clearer.
After a whole day of tormenting myself should I go – shouldn’t I, what if, what about what if. I’d spent the day with my Mum at Ikea so this afforded me some welcome company and much parting of cash. I knew it was going to be a late night so I had wee kip about half four, which isn’t a problem as I can fall asleep standing up these days, especially as the pressure cooker looses it’s volcanoe-ness. It’s still there, under the surface, but it definitely is getting better. Nearly four weeks now and I’m so relived I haven’t strangled anyone. How does one risk assess this? Seriously, where’s the Likert scale for this psychosis!
Q. “On a scale of 1 – 10 how would you consider your mood swings?”
A. “Uhm, naught to ninety in 0.3 seconds!”
Some say this is just a panic attack, maybe it is, but it feels pretty much bigger than that and I simply cannot write down what goes through my head in those 0.3 seconds. Was going to do a U-turn at the Antrim (Train station, I was on the train) when I received a tweet from a lovely person I’d met at the BSC (cheers Mr George Best, well nearly) which made me take another deep breath and gather my composure. I think that’s what’s making me so tired, constantly trying to take deep breaths and relax.
So I gather myself together and make it to the club, I’ve been told by an old prison friend to say hello from him to the doorman and all would be cool. I did and he told me to have a good night and offered me a pint. I thanked him but declined and grabbed a lemonade and managed to get a stool in the corner. I spoke to no-one else the whole night, only the doorman on trips to the toilet. I’d positioned myself so I could see people come and go and hopefully I would recognise some old friends.
It seems they are all on holiday or recovering from the two days of serious drinking associated with the twelfth of July in Norn Iron. OR? Maybe I’m out of friends, maybe all this friends and family thing is balix. I’ve definitely got my family but the only people in the friends department who’ve contacted me have been the same ones who wrote to me whilst inside and the one’s I met there. The longest chat I had last night was with the taxi driver on the way home. This is not like me for a number of reason’s but the main one was because I wasn’t pissed. Another reason is that I couldn’t be arsed. Really enjoyed my mates performance but at the end of the day I’d invited myself back into this world hoping to make some re-integration with friends.
As a result I woke this morning clear headed and of the notion that I’m not alone but am a shadow passing through other people’s lives, there one minute gone the next, I’d silently hoped for more, maybe it’ll come but I’m not going to dwell on that. I’ve been comfortable in my own skin for a long time now but my thoughts always turn to those who are not. The thought crossed my mind last night to have few beers, get pissed, get up and start making a fool of myself and try and hit on the nearest female who looked half interesting but it instead it left me wondering. Is this how guys get back into it again. Are they sitting searching for something or someone and if it that certain thing doesn’t come along do they revert to type. What if someone was with them. It’s a kettle of fish I know but something worth hanging on too. In fact all these interactions are worth thinking about. The taxi driver dropped a fiver off the fare because I was sober and didn’t give him brain damage.
My Mum turned up at ten thirty and we got stuck into the garden, went to B&Q and bought a hose and some wood chippings and made my Narnia look a bit more pleasant. The peace I have with my family is enough to keep me going, it’s all I need any extra’s will be a bonus but for now I’m doing a bit of ‘night swimming’ by REM and going to sleep with that slightly toasted summery feeling one gets. As I mention in this poem – I’m never alone in my own mind.
Me ‘N’ My Tod
By Michael Irwin
Sitting on my tod, sun setting, guy walks past;
Cast long gangly dancing shadows,
As they limp across the page,
In the horizontal hamster wheel we call a ‘yard’,
Sun low this time of year, this time of day,
Officially the end of summer,
‘When did it start?’ I have to ask.
There’s ‘no movement’, prison speak,
For a temporary lock down, a drama,
In some other part of the jail,
Nothing to do with me, s
it and chill for ten,
For there’s definitely a chill in the air,
A subtle bite to the night.
The very same crows I hear in the morning,
Cawing away in the distance, The hooded crows
On or around the clichéd image of a hooded prison wall,
Not more than a stone’s throw, as the crow flies,
They too cast their shadows, bobbing, doffing to the fading day.
Glanced up just now, to see the sky bow,
This moment outside, now, reminds me of then, Way back then,
HMP High Down 2008,Sun curtsies to a row of pine trees,
There and then, now and now On the freedom side of the wall.
This image, virtually the same, way back then,
Only then I was inside, locked in my cell,
Now here, now, this time, here, this minute,
I’m caught in it, between then and now,
Holy fuckin cow, even the chill,
The same, then as it was just now.
Name rings out, shatters the illusion,
My mind flits between sunlight ‘n’ confusion,
Sit and unwind, hand in my key, get my card,
Walk up the phase, through the vastness of the jail, the yard,
All on my own, happy as Larry, to find,
I’m never alone when in my own mind.