The gammy howya.

‘I was just walkin up the road when it happened.’

‘And he definitely used three fingers?’


‘And you didn’t recognise him?’

‘Hadn’t a clue.’

‘What was he drivin?

‘Black yoke.’

‘Not an SUV, like: Here’s me driving this big bus and I want you to see it?’

‘No, it was a: sleek here’s me after putting in a new exhaust and leather seats and the car smells like lemon, wagon.’

‘Christ. Was he on his own?’

‘Missus in the passenger seat I think.’

‘Did she notice?’

‘No, she was on the phone.’

‘That helps. Was the window open?’

‘Don’t think so, wrong side of road anyway.’

‘Did he lean forward, or just lift the three fingers off the wheel?’

‘Lifted them a good bit.’

‘Like if he leaned forward, that’s serious, that’s a big howya, ya can’t just leave him hangin.’

‘I know, sure one finger wouldn’t be too bad.’

‘One is like: Howya now, know ya kinda, might think you’re a prick but it’s awkward so I’ll say hello.’

‘I’d take that.’

‘Two is like: I know your brother, met ya at your sister’s wedding, put in a cabinet for your mother one time, least ya could do is say hello.’

‘That’s what I thought he might be, but it was fuckin three for sure.’

‘Three’s like: Howya now, knows your name, we got drunk 25 years ago and shared some life changing shit at the time, and we had all that craic in school, and how can ya not remember?’

‘Still I gave the good wave back.’

‘Like how?’

‘Like the long left hand, Pope mobile style.’

‘Was he still in sight when ya took it down?’

‘My hand? Yeah, like I wasn’t leavin it up there all evenin…’

‘Well that means you’re checkin out of the wave, like. You’re not sure and you don’t want to commit, like you’re sayin: I never really liked you anyway, this wave was a social mistake. Don’t be gettin big ideas.’

‘I was committed though, even looked right at him.’

‘And you still didn’t know who he was?’

‘Not a fuck’s clue.’

‘Three fingers and no recognition, that’s tough. Was there anyone behind ya?’

‘Don’t think so.’

‘Happened to me before.’


‘I was on the bridge in Galway and some lad was givin the camp wave, like: Wasn’t it great last week at the party, and maybe we should stop all the traffic and talk, and I just lifted the hand and gave the gammy howya, and then I heard someone behind me.’


‘Sure they were wavin at some other lad. They just stared at me then. Think they thought I was some kind of escaped imbecile weirdo…’

‘Least that was Galway. What if I see this lad again, around the town.’

‘Sure ya won’t even recognise him.’

‘But he’ll remember if I wasn’t committed.’

‘You should’ve just pretended you didn’t see him at all.’

‘Not with three fingers off the steering wheel in a self done up car with the missus in the front.’

‘Yeah, that’s social blasphemy. You’re fucked. You’re now a snobby bastard that thinks he’s big shtuff and left him hanging.’

‘I could walk around for a while and try rectify it if I see him again?’

‘Yeah, but what if he ignores you this time, leaves you there like pennywise the clown on the side of the street?’

‘Yeah, fuck that.’

‘It’s done, etched in the history books forever. Can’t be undone. You might just have to live with the shame.’

‘I might just emigrate.’

‘Probably better off.’


MK Ultra

The bouncer looked me up and down, and said: ‘English or German?’


He swallowed, looked over at my shoulder to the black gate for inspiration, said: “Ok…let me tell you something….’

I had flashbacks of the The Valk in Ballinrobe in the early 90’s, or Cp’s in Galway, except there they just told you to fuck off and that was it. Here I felt a speech coming, an explanation, and I was right. 

‘You won’t be getting in here tonight.’



‘At all?’

‘Not at all.’

‘Not at all, at all?’

‘Never. No chance.’

Beat. That tree in the German night, dipping her leaves to listen, wondering what’s this Irish lad going to come up with now. Could be a gem, the besht yet. 

There was an instagram hopping with trendy tips, see,  and this was one of them. But the rumours of the must see, hippest spot in town were looking shaky.

‘Any reason why?’

‘The way you’re dressed for a start.’

‘I thought I wasn’t too bad.’

‘You need to be kinky.’

I let that settle. Definitely never heard that in Ballinrobe. Said: ‘How d’ya mean?’

‘And you need a woman on your side.’

I was thinking: Are you a sex therapist or a bouncer?

Then he continued with: ‘It’s swingers night.’


‘So you need someone to swing with, understand?’

‘No exceptions?’

‘There’s a nice place around the corner. Goes all night. Probably suit you better.’

Three more came along. Globish broken English. Her in the blue jeans. The two lads in runners and gammy t-shirts. The bouncer looked at them, asked: ‘German or English?’

English, said the girl.

Ok, he said, let me tell you something… 

At least they could swing, but the runners made a shite of them. Come back next time he said, but dress appropriately. Black is good, sexy, fetish, latex. Something unique but nothing you would wear normally at home, in the office or going to the supermarket. 

The trilogy walked away, their serotonin somehow assaulted but not in a bad way. This’ll be good on phones, status updates, somewhere in the ether of the digitized soul. It’s all about relatable content and gammy runners. 

Buses went by on the road, heads stretching, spinning and  swiveling through the windows, Jacob’s ladder job. Tim Robbins shtuff. The club around the corner had a queue alright and all the gang from the Instagram group were in there after getting ran from the last place too. More tourists sidled up, adding to the line, waiting for the door to open and tick some tickled box of the Berlin nightlife. The Gods of indecision were in a fierce debate. The queuing craic and getting turned away, had enough of that down in Mantra in Castlebar one night. And the place half empty, just trying to make it look good. Best of luck. Is that a bus, where’s it going, who cares, sure hop on and see where ya land. Wonder will the driver want me looking kinky or am I alright the way I am. Fuck it sure, chance it. 

Life on Mars.

It’s a God awful small affair to the fella at the airport. There’s a different system now, see. You were over at the other machine the last time. This one is the old one, I know it’s confusing, I’ll throw these liquids away. Here’s your bag, thanks, said the girl with the mousy hair. The walk through the terminal was long and haunted with missed flights and a failed trip back down on the bus to Galway. Wonder if the same fella would be driving. Nice crayture, loves talking on the mic through the speakers. “It’s not a race folks…” Did his best with the traffic but was late anyway. Now here we are through the mice in their million hordes. Shops, duty free, cosmetics, lenin on sale again. The priority boarders got to check-in first. Fast tracked, confident, assured, entitled to the front seats by the door for a fast exit. Then the rest of us come and we all board at the same time anyway. The fella beside me was a dub partial to overpriced cans of small German beer. Up for the chat, the weather, the seats, the flight, great to be out of Ireland. He found a soulmate across the aisle and talked shite for the whole flight. Golf, the government, the price of Spanish holidays. We landed through fog and the expanse of wind farms in the distance, and the small rustle of stirred brain chemistry, like plants yawning into a new light, a photosynthetic birth on the tarmac of Berlin. The security was important inside. Through the silver screens of facial recognition and scanned passports. Efficiency herself a crucial character in the great play’s machinery. Found a train, a heaving heifer going somewhere with a name like a Welsh town on acid. Took that, got off. Walked through the maps recommendation for how to get to the place. The girl behind the counter said the systems were down, and they couldn’t take cash, and they had liquids, but they couldn’t sell them because they had no way to accept money but there was places all around she said, with a wave of her finger in a circular motion, and you can get anything you need. The walk to the places all around yielded a pale faced boy in a pharmacy in a white jacket and big blue eyes and awful dear deodorant. 11.90 euro a bottle. I said I won’t, no, you’re grand, thanks. I followed the girl’s imaginary finger a bit more but never found the places all around and went back to the place where everyone was on phones, and headphones, and laptops, and somewhere else. The machete cold outside had a siberian bite, even the trams seemed to shiver and the sun was on her way down, clocking off early, calling it a day. And then it was night and the dark crept over the scene like a quiet glove and everything looked like a cold war trailer for a film about cyborgs and people hiding under manholes from tattooed gangs with too many piercings. That’ll do now, we’re landed.