People often say – “…I read Fisherman’s Blues and it goes fuckin’ mad in the middle….”
And it does. Initially it had been built around the telesales scam in England but then I came home and said fuck it and went cracked altogether.
I’d been wanting to explore stuff like modern Irish life, West of Ireland madness, nihilist boom time existentialism. This was going great until about page 70. Then it slowed down. Don’t know why. Wasn’t too sure how to proceed. The voice felt like it was getting whiny and indulgent and who wants to read that?
I was driving an Opel Astra at the time. 1995. Great car. Never let me down. Bought it off a couple from Lithuania in Ballinrobe for €650. They were moving to England. Taxed and NCT’d and twenty euro petrol in the tank. Couldn’t go wrong.
Drove a lot. Thought a lot. Drank in between but still no way forward for the book. Amateurs and shite talkers would call this a Writing Block. Say there’s no point continuing until the block unblocks. They wouldn’t write anything at all.
But I always think it’s important to keep the mind going until the moment comes.
So I wrote short stories, had them published here and there. Won a Poetry competition worth 25 English Pounds and spent it on a round of Jaggerbombs. Big Shtuff.
Also worked on some journalism and taught some writing classes. And drove some more.
The break came one evening about 6pm. I’d been editing all day, working on a Play. The voices echoed in my head. The conversations, the nuances, the inflections. Poetic lyricism of the language. The vast ocean of meaning; roaring in the silence of all the unsaid.
Not too sure how I ended up going the wrong way round the roundabout. One minute I was listening to the radio, cruising along, next thing there was flashing lights, lunatics running out on to the road to flag me down. A foreign lad on a bike, paused in disbelief. It was hard to know whether to keep going or try and turn around. Trucks were grunting somewhere to my right and I was starting to get a premonition of cops. I did the sensible thing and hit the brakes but that didn’t help. The roaring and flashing and beeping just got louder. Then I put it into reverse and there was a big tin bang. Shtiop, probably hit something. Hope it wasn’t that foreign fella’s bike. Checked out the rearview and saw the pissed off face of a parking meter. Not too bad. Hope I made shite of the fuckin thing.
Put her in first again and inched forward, trying to avoid the white Mazda that was after braking six inches from my headlight. Your man inside was looking out the window pure thick, like I was doing this on purpose, or his ignorance was going to help.
I played it cool, gave him the one finger salute off the steering wheel and moved forward. Behind the Mazda was a queue of incredulous cars parked in a zig zag dramatic fashion. Worse still, it was raining and it was dark. People were rolling down their windows and shouting things like: ‘You’re going the wrong way!’ And: ‘This is a fuckin roundabout ya clown!’ Can’t bate Irish people for sound advice in a crisis. It took a few minutes but eventually we all got unjammed and the cops didn’t come and I got home.
And I knew how to continue Fisherman’s Blues