I’ve promised Grace I’ll give her a gift of some of my writing. Since she’s almost five, she may not read this blog for years - and then may not be interested in it for ages. Maybe even my grandchildren will value this most?
Rather than leave everything in Moleskine Notebooks, I’m going to do the "modern" thing - publish here…
The act of sharing my diary will help me too… I may surprise myself.
So this is going to be a very long blogpost. The Lourdes pilgrimage journey in June became spread over many posts. This time, I’ll put everything from Galicia together - gradually until I complete the task. There will be plenty of snaps too.
To set the scene, a few snaps
Give me a word to start the poem, Grace…
A double Bombay
laced the icebergs
floating in tonic
Maiz or Millo
salted, almonds crunched
- welcome to Pazo O Rial
The child on my knee is obsessed,
crisps on the brain,
her fruit juice neglected
My gin slipping down nicely
This was my first drink in Spain, after first swim in the pool, after the surprise that the shallowest part was 1.6 metres. The implications clear: I’d have to hold her up in the water - she couldn’t play without attention.
This is the new hotel - we’ll eat here this evening. It is fabulous the way the sun shines long into the bar.
This is pure cliché
stone lit, shadows firm,
the warmth of evening song,
the comings and goings,
Spanish movements through the bar,
my Bombay going down,
the Schweppes on ice
already … a little pissed
Martini Basarana Tanqueray
Ballantine’s Bacardi Beefeater
Zoco Drambuie Calisay
100 Pipers Ron Barcelo
Jack Daniels Cointreau
even the Cutty Sark is too much
now that the company’s gone
and "Prohibido Fumar" reigns
supreme behind the counter
- what price a coffee now?
It was so pleasant to feel the warm sun baking my shins, and see the pattern change on the old castle walls. I’d drunk a big Gin & Tonic - so that even the bottles looked exotically shaped, and the quiet attractive.
I will drink the sugar,
pour the stars of glucose
onto the tea spoon,
and sprinkle refined grains
on the surface of Galician
I will cherish the remainder
that lingers in the sachet,
wet the pad of forefinger
- licking it softly -
before cleaning the counter.
I like to flick fallen sweet.
I will go back to my hotel room,
leave behind a night sky
on hard wood.
There is Venus there,
Mercury, Mars, Neptune reflected
from the sapphire bottle of gin.
I broke open a sachet of sugar to temper the coffee. The sugar spilled on the counter, littered it so that I saw a clear night sky of stars in front of me. I then played with the debris, licking my finger.
Wisps of curled hair hung over ears,
the child’s necklace chimed,
her elbows sat glued to the story
told by her thirsty mother.
the sky formed
There’s a party coming.
I have to sign for
1. huge G&T €8
2. Agua Grande Sin Ga €3
3. Copa Rioja Tinto X 4 €8 (Albarino)
4. Ensalada Mixta €5
5. Copa de Halado €4 (ice cream)
6. Revuelto de Gambas €7 (eggs & prawn)
7. Pasta salsa carbona €9
8. Brochela de Polla €5 (chicken curry)
Friday 6 August 2010
on the sofa in the hotel lobby with Grace & iPad
I woke first. Omanimot & Grace asleep on the other bed.
Warm. Hotel wakes. Lights moving on & off. Voices. Sneezes & coughs.
"Angry Birds" on iPad.
A couple wheel their infant into the lobby, the man speaks Spanish - I can understand nothing.
The peace is now gone - we are now public. It’s warm - frighteningly hot promises the day - I am afraid we’ll be burnt. I’ll be fried.
There are five open locks on "Angry Birds", and no sound. This is an artificially lit place, the bowel of the castle.
Faux fortress battlements - a bit like Blackrock Castle.
The infant says something - sounds off. Mother bends over him? Is it a boy? Is that blue?
"Daddy, can we go for a swim?"
"Maybe when Mum wakes up…
"Dad, can I get a sweet?
"No, where from?
"Daddy, there’s a man in there, he said Hola to me… And I said Hola back to him… My oil’s a brown one.
"Do you want to swap?
"You’re brown like me.
"We can swap anyway. I’m going to wrap mine in a wrapper.
"I’m going to wrap wrap wrap it up like me… (sings)
"You’re like an ee." Pops sweet in mouth.
"Will we go exploring?" I suggest.
No reply, ignored - she’s in her world…
"Will we go exploring?" More ignoring. A man walks by in pristine runners - looks as if he’s been out running.
"Can we go swimming?
"We can but not now" - I wonder what’s up that stairs?
"Just bedrooms & bedrooms & even more bedrooms" - still sucking her sweet.
What’s this Daddy?
"It’s a thing for a curtain."
Grace dives on top of me, like a cat… grabs my sweet.
Going on a mission, a special mission, to see, to find out what’s upstairs from the half-landing…
"Daddy, there’s even a better place upstairs…
"It’s fantastic, double fantastic, it’s so pretty, even better than this room… wait til you see it, you’ll like it too."
First breakfast (0940-1010)
Cold meats X 3 Coffee X 1
Croissant X 2 Peach X 1
Tea (Barry’s) X 1 Roll = chorizo + cheese X 2 + tomato
Almond Cake X 1/2
The coffee’s bitter here,
beans dark roasted hard,
flavour for waking up
- I see Cezanne on the wall,
a fire extinguisher,
a smoke-free zone,
even water can’t soften the taste,
echo of earlier conversation,
poplars wave, leaves flash,
sunlight shortening shadows
under the apple trees.
A bronzed girl hangs her jacket
on the back of a chair.
- Pimentos de Patron
- Awesome bread
- Grace = gambas
- Fish soup - monkfish + another (peas, red peppers, onion, potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes) X €22
- Albanina 2009 12% Rias Baixas €9
- Coffee X 2
Saturday 7 August 2010 @ 0811
Bright light in hotel lobby - I’m up alone, though I imagine Grace will disturb my peace soon.
It’s morning after sunset in front of the Lighthouse.
My back aches. A general pain all over my lower & middle right side.
It’s the heat that tired me.
I snook out of the bedroom - crept over from bed to table to pick up iPad, Rough Guide, Moleskine & pen. All the time I expected "Daddy…"
It’s frustrating not having long enough yet to test the iPad - I am so slow - I need about an hour for each function
(1) How do I print?
(2) How do I deal with PDFs?
(3) How do I … deal with the photos ?
Most fundamental of all: the iPad shows up my lousy understanding of 3G & WiFi zones. I keep conflating them.
Glyndebourne on my mind : I have two tickets for tomorrow to sort out (tickets for "The Rake’s Progress").
The Wine Festival
dregs of the bottle
opened last week.
ringman born in England,
a girl with braces,
a stall on which to taste
the languages of X,
shish, almost extinct
thanks to Franco from Fustar,
charcouterie from Léon
to Combarro with love
a playground cooking,
Embutidos (cold meats) X 1 €9.90
Gambas ajille €9.50
1 Lager + 2 Water
1 X Halado
The day flowers
a sunshine bloom
on baked stone
- time reclines
the table supports
crumbs of rustic bread
loiter in crevices
Saturday evening @ 2117
Sitting in hotel room - omanimot gone to find the beach - Grace watching basketball Spain V Lit (Lithuania?) (her choice)
I fell asleep for about 40 minutes - while the others went to the pool. Unusual for me: went to WiFi zone in hotel lobby - intended to start putting up "The Galician Writing" - frustrated by iPad.
It let me into my blog via Search (not Wordpress) - let me start to compose blogpost, write the title - but not the body of the post.
iPad would be great if …
(1) I knew how to work it better
(2) It was better
(3) I was different
(4) It was different
"The Simpsons" in Spanish - Grace got fed up with basketball - how long before she tires of Bart & Co.?
The window cells
against sky and homes.
Evening spreads its quiet
- the heat of the day
stays in my cheeks.
I saw a bat dash across the courtyard,
flit faster than a swallow after a fly
You may be content with moths’ wings
and other electrical thicks in the light
This is an evening with Venus.
Sunday 0905 The sofa in hotel lobby with Grace & iPad
Random doodle (saved to photos)
This is like a train station, people passing by in couples & individuals. I’ve had a lousy night - woke dehydrated four times - so thirsty - didn’t get up in case I’d wake the others.
The plastic back & backpacks leave the hotel speaking Scandanavian. Benjamin is in Ibsenland now.
We’ve learned how to move on to a new work of art.
"The iPad did a parp."
"No, that was me,
excuse me, I said excuse me…"
I’m so glad it’s 9 - I feared it might be 6, and I’d be awake, annoyed, tired. This means I must have slept - even tho I had the impression I was awake for hours.
Oh I am tired, hot, another day of hot sun is here - the heat takes it out of me.
Artificial light inside.
"The snakes are kissing each other…
Look at this, I can even draw a white snake.
Look at this, they are hugging
poor black one…
There, his is very sick, all those spots
cause he is leaning over
He’s ill, look, all those spots…
That snake said
‘I will make you better.’
That’s the yellow
mommy, mommy mommy [squeeking]
I want mussels for dinner tonight
I want a song that’s ever so tight
Let me have my favorite sweet
Nothing you do would be such a treat.
I woke at 0915, with a pain all over my back. Showered in hot water, hoping the warmth would tend the aching muscles.
Slowly I forgot about my back.
I had a while without glasses - couldn’t find them in bedroom - they’d been handed into Reception..
Still trying to get iPad to let me update my blog on Blogs.ie + add a blog to Reeder
- so irritating that I’ve vowed not to Tweet. Bet I could get an answer of help on Twitter.
Also, I can’t put my photos on to iPad.
Grace plays on "Angry Birds" - we all do. I read "The Google Story".
There’s a woman on her iPad in lobby, another woman on laptop & son on notebook.
We’re going to go to Muros. How far is that from here? The four hours from 2pm are fit only for driving & sitting in cafés.
They say it’s Spain’s Ireland
where the temperature’s not so hot -
the coastline’s rough and crude,
unsophisticated, undeveloped land
they say it’s like going back
to the tone of the 1950s,
but the Irish don’t visit Galicia,
this is an English-free zone -
corn-on-the-cob, vineyard plots,
eucalyptus and honeysuckle…
wind, sun and independence.
It feels so far from Madrid,
a Donegal from Stephen’s Green,
a Belfast from Tralee -
Monks carried the Albarino seeds
from across the Rhine they say
but the razor-shell clams are homegrown
Pimientos de Padrón fly the green flag
sweetening the oil, salted, occasionally fiery,
a surprising explosion of chilli
reminds me of Franco’s birthplace Ferrol
El Caudillo - the shipyards of Harland & Wolff,
the fishing fleet in Killybegs,
memories of the Lanes in Limerick.
I can set my clock by the heat of the sun,
feel the call of the shade through skin of Irish genes
‘Estrella Galicia, cerveza especial’.
There is no place like stone for refuge,
no far, far better place that I drink now,
than I have ever been
to slake a thirst
conceived by the morning’s pool.
We have plans to go out for the afternoon & evening, north to Muros, driving with the windows open, or air-conditioning on. We have no map for distances - the WiFi…
Monday @ 2105
Restaurante Marsquéria in town, harbour of Fisterra
- as the light thins
- on a white paper tablecloth
- the day chills to a close
and the people gather to eat.
Tues @ 0708
Received 1.7mb Why so high?
The end of the world
the coast of death
the Camino finish
people wait for an apparition
boots suspended from metal
cameras for eyes
taking up position on the rocks
the tiny flotilla below
a speedboat rounding the Head
inside an Exhibition
the sun on the sea
The God of the Sea is expected,
an air of a gathering
bodies arranging themselves
1043 Getting up for breakfast
fried egg X 2 Pineapple X 2 X 1/2
bacon X 6 Plum
grapes X 1 big bunch Bread
After writing more of "Social Media for Beginners"
After leaving a blog comment on MWN
After lying on sofa in pajama bottoms
After Grace coming to find me @ 1015
Shower & shave
Can’t believe I’ve been up 4 hours
After looking at photos on iPhone & Fugifilm
Let’s go to Gui on way to Vigo - agreed
Lot’s of cake & more pineapple.
Tui (say Twee)
1515 Hot: 31 degrees now - up from 27 degrees
- across from Portugal
19.40: Kyle from San Francisco, spoke Spanish, Portugese,+ Russian, daughter 3 Maiah
= heading south towards Algarve
Live near Bilbao, 30-40 mins Calabria
Born 1969, knows Santana’s music
In Portugal I met a man
looking for a church,
his shirt was black
his head was bald.
Wednesday begins here ….
- Columbus’ Pinta in harbour [10-2pm]
- Medieval walls - walk around parapet
- Footpath beneath walls - small beaches
- Praia de America 2 kms east via village Ramallosa (Roman Bridge)
- Picador Conde de Gondomar (visit)
- A Guneda = Celta (pre Roman hill fort) = Cromlech (stone circle)
- Ferry €3 X 2 to Caminha Portugal
1010: Sitting at the counter twirling round, taking macrophoto of toothpicks
A hundred wooded toothpicks
sitting on the bar,
noble little toothpicks
standing up for par.
One particular toothpick
a poppy from all the rest
cries out to all my crevices:
"Use me, abuse me…"
Wednesday in Baiona
I will write my way through this. This shyte time, this maddening series of incidents that I’ve hated.
This is good for me - sent to me to develop my ability to recover, my ability to change. This time - at the bar, after toilet - is sent to let me see.
I will tolerate, I will anticipate, I will leave my ego at the door. I have no needs that matter. I will live in this moment.
It won’t matter to me what happens next. I will have no projects, I will be indifferent to whatever the other person throws up. To me it will be enough to simply experience, to breathe the fresh air, to take the sun, to be with my child, and my most challenging companion.
If it was not for this morning’s upsets, I would not be here now - in an authentic Spanish bar, standing at the counter, drinking a simple Americano. I am developing the taste for the bitter coffee flavour.
Life moves, On we go. Another unpleasantry. Another play of the gods.
Incidents sent as gifts to teach me again the value and practice of Indifference
- it is good fortune when I enjoy, and another fortune when I don’t enjoy, either way it is fortune.
There goes a man with his right leg amputated at the knee. He limps forward on crutches - he goes on with his day… I will go on with my day - without rancour, without hangover, leaving my baggage behind me.
This is practice - I will need more practice. Hopefully I will be sent more practice. The Other had been sent to me as a gift - a partner with whom to practise Indifference.
The most new thought sent to me today is the thought of "Indifference" - I don’t recognise it - it is a fresh face on my horizon - my internal dialogue. Maybe I will be able to practise it all-day today. Certainly I’m practising it now.
This is the Café of Indifference.
Thursday in Vigo
The others sleep on. I’ve been iPhoning - in Apps Store.
I see coffee, newspapers, toothpicks, sugar
I see photos, paper napkins, orange juice machine
I see the time confirmed
and the first misunderstanding of the day
I see a strange young woman in black
pour milk into my coffee
I see the first disaster of today
I see a cigarette, and nicotine smoke
distributed over the bar
my reflection looking back at me from the mirror
I see the taste of the thing they call coffee on my lips
I see "The Google Story" with it’s edges frayed
the iPhone in a leather protector
I see the proprietor hand a short-trousered man a slip of white paper
I see the ash over the sweet toasted croissant
a bangle on tanned wrist
a flash of an engagement ring
I see breakfast through haze
a handbag sack dumped on a stool
I see the young lad’s question before the sachet is torn
I see a mouth wiped, lips dabbed, and cheeks munch
a thick glass of iced tea swallowed
another pair of bare knees
I see spectacles, his hand touch the small of her back
I see neon lights flash
a cup and saucer made in Portugal
and three fingers raised to say thanks
and goodbye until the next time
I see my cup taken away for an Americano
a newspaper suspended between elbow and ribcage
a hotel receptionist staring at the Vigo Times
seven empty stools, whole oranges squeezed
a white linen shirt sipping the result
I see my writing on the Moleskine page
the way dark roasted beans change the look of my throat
I see the time has moved on to nine fifty-one and thirty-eight seconds
I see "Slide to Unlock" on the iPhone screen…
- the Café of Indifference, the memory of Indifference
1100 On the boat as it leaves dock
Chattering crowd, excited voices
in-doors out of the sunshine
the heat, Barbie Thumbelina
on the table
In a bar under shade of Schuckler beer, Edel - Grace gone to find a place to make lunch
- rather than here at the table
- Compostela tomorrow, on the way to A Coruna?
- Spend the last part of the holiday at seaside, rather than Compostela?
- Cancel the booking for hotel in A Coruna, to find a place with an outside pool?
Questions… Indifference - I remind myself
The Temple of Indifference
I worship before the presence
of Almighty overwhelming,
I rest in the arms of my Saviour
"Save the Ocea" strides past
a pair of tattooed thighs
I revel in the bosom of my god.
Indifference you beauty,
you excommunicating soulmate
beyond the beyond
as an Elvis the Pelvis look-alike
carries beer bottles to his muse
and more baguettes… more stubble
This is the altar, the sanctuary
where nothing matters,
all passion spent
where the turquoise is on the move
2000 pairs of Shag
colonise this Head.
Friday @ 0958 with Grace in Cafeteria Compostela…
Café (no milk) Americano
Orange juice + 1 ham sandwich
Fuente di Val (small bottle of water)
Street with a photo that tells the intro to the day. From Vigo to A Coruna via Santiago. I’ve become a regular here. Newspapers on counter.
What time is Mass?
The green teeshirt for Compostela
the "Hairy Baby" one…
it fits the day,
slips like a glove
over tummy and chest,
proclaims the humour of the Unbeliever
to the people of Vigo.
in Cafeteria Compostela,
alongside a ham sandwich,
a glass coated in fresh orange juice,
a child too young to unbelieve
asks "Daddy, why do you always snore in Cork and not here?"
I’m at Mass, serving in soutane,
kneeling, palms joined,
wondering how long it’ll take
for Father Guinane to race
through the Latin
"in ne nos inducas in tentationem
sed libera nos a malo"
- a long way from Mallow
to the second Americano.
All the men wear spectacles for breakfast
across tables made to resemble marble
- none of them look like they’ve been to Mass today
1533. Restaurante Las Vegas
Field of stars
sticks and shells
bread for giants
service for lichen
We are sat outside. Unimpressed again, annoyed again at the slow service in yet another Spanish restaurant. Never enough staff, no method to their busy-ness
- challenges your patience. Challenges you to become more patient.
They bustle, even trot, back and forth, carry plates with nervous tension.
Kids run round tables, play their way, as adults sit around, and a pigeon lands to peck crumbs from the footpath.
I see that waiter with the smig run as the other emerges with a tray of six crayfish…
So I tear another chunk of bread to chew and wash down with lager.
By the light of a gap in the cloud
the warmth of the sun flooded in,
the shades came alive with the shadows.
The ripples of wine in the glass,
the chatter of travellers, abroad
- by the legs of the table, the birds
Al-Gattars Aguardiete Blanca 40%
2343 Lobby of Eurostar (or something) Hotel A Coruna
- great fun place A Coruna , a couple of G&Ts do the trick
- a sandwich of chorizo
- a bit of WiFi and battery dying.
My 3 top highlights so far
- Finesterra & all
- Santiago de Compostela
- the Islands @ Vigo
Winnie the Pooh featured this evening, after Alice the Wonderland child. I read chapters 1-3 on the iPad. As I spat on the screen, I admitted I’d never read the book.
There it goes, the iPad dies, the battery fades, the door shuts. I’m left with an unfinished Bombay Gin & Tonic, the last wishes of the day, and a glimpse of Ken Follett carried by the lone man who shakes his head as he reads to himself. (2353)
I’m fascinated by the bald patch on top of vigorous growth seen from the back…
He flips into conversation as soon as the hotel’s penguin makes an unexpected entrance. I admire his shorts…
I sit alone among the empty legs of chairs. This is a lobby without humanity, a thoroughfare, a throughput. You have to smile at blank walls.
I am reasonably pissed. (0002)
I have a smile
for you alone
a smile you’d love
a time for pleasure… (0007)
0913 Arrival for breakfast of Edel & Grace
Grace wearing her new teeshirt from ZARA Santiago
This is a white room, so bright.
Carnota hotel search
Corcubíon = El Horreo
- low on staff nos.
- good scrambles eggs
- poor coffee
- Barry’s tea turned bad
Santiago ———————————————- Bicycles (1107)
My Camino to Compostela
Ten thousand miles I’ve walked this road
Santiago Compostela, whatever the name.
Fifty-nine years ago, I took first steps.
Unsure of myself, I crawled from Limerick,
out from under the shadow of the Redemptorist Cathedral,
stumbling by way of the Holy Rosary Parish church,
My pilgrimage path to this field of stars
took me through a desert where I missed Sunday Mass
and fell out of love with mortal sin and Original sin,
where I began to doubt Purgatory and the mystery of Salvation.
In A Gramola Cafe, a corner of Cervantes Place,
a Sunday afternoon in August,
to bagpipes, I do my best to rest
both feet in the memory of Dublin’s resurrection.
On Grafton Street and Stephen’s Green
there was a path I wore,
as my baggage grew lighter.
I walked to the Ferry in Dun Laoighre,
kept going until I rested in London,
not far from the Isle of Dogs.
The bones of Saint James
buried in the bank of the River Thames
a gentleman Apostle,
the sort who did no harm while alive,
I strode past him unaware of his potential:
I can still smell the nicotine smoked by my neighbours,
the woman on white wine and crisps,
the man coughs
Five thousand miles took nothing out of me
that I wouldn’t have lost otherwise…
From London west … towards Bath
From Bath west to Cork
From Cork south to Galicia
After a beer, a few notes towards a poem that turned into prose, after the batteries died on the camera & I found no WiFi…
time to write from this shade
to follow my curiosity… to see where it’ll lead.
Around the corner of Praza de Cervantes
past Keltu Idionas
come the sticks, the shells, the gourds, the knapsacks and boots,
the songs, smiles, the confidence that it’s downhill now
to the Square in front of the Cathedral.
2145 - 2245 Dinner (buffet) @ hotel.
Campo da Rata July 1936 - August 2010
(Monument to the Executed - by Isaac Diaz Pardo)
I walked up into the rising sun
as it come over the horizon.
I walked, I prowled
I laid my iPad and Moleskine down
so as to photograph the monuments.
I poured over the Images of Hercules
and Stonehenge, Avebury standing stones.
back to collect my belongings
The horror of what I’d lost
Who could have taken away my life
IPad new child, barely suckled
Moleskine packed with memories
lines written on far-off land
lines never to be again
Work, play, creating hours…
The cleaners, they were the only one who passed by…
What will the woman say?
How will she howl?
Panic, run, skuther & helter & skelter, panic
Gone to be sold on
like a child ripped into slavery
the black (of iPad)
the red (of Moleskine)
Life shot out from under me
One night in 1936.
My wellbeing executed
I ran over the rocks and field
I stop-started I was all over the place
An unbeliever coming face to face
with his own created stupidity.
A lorry, an open door
with a red notebook
The iPad? Where?
At least I had the book of work…
Under the seat
three men Spanish
I understand nothing but my own stupidity
Creativity put to crazy use
The field where I nearly lost my life…
El Parque de Punta Hermina
el Jardin de El Moro 29/11/2004 Opened
Campo da Rata
Governor Francisco Carballo
Mayor Alfredo Suarez Ferrin
We are breakfasting on egg - scrambled to solid lumps -
frankfurter and slabs of bread
the slices of pineapple
alongside prunes & apricots
one packet of Special K
another of "Smacks"