Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Woman Who Saved My Life By Sticking Her Head Up A Trifle.

This weeks What if writing challenge – What if you were a movie star character?

I didn’t have much spare time this week, how and ever, I’m still going to torture you nevertheless.  So stick this one in your ipod and press play!


The Woman Who Saved My Life By Sticking Her Head Up A Trifle.


Since Annie and I broke up, and before the trifle, I kept writing play after play after play after play about our relationship. After play. I couldn’t write about anything else. It was crazy, as if my pencil had a mind of its own – or no mind of its own to be more precise. I thought I was destined to write her for the rest of my life, until I saw her stick her head up a trifle all those years later, before the London Olympics. After play.


Don’t get me wrong, I made a good living writing her, they gave me awards, a few Oscars for God’s sake, but artistically I was so bereft that it was frightening me to the extent that I didn’t think I could go on living for much longer. La-Dee-Dah I hear you say, just like Annie, just another member of the petit bourgeoisie feeling sorry for himself who knows nothing about real pain, real hardship. Real life. La-dee-bloody-dah.


Well fair enough, you may have a point, touché, which doesn’t make this pain any less real you know. Hurt is hurt is hurt. In any language. I eventually moved to Dublin in 2012 to finally get her out of my head and pencil.


I was sitting in the Phoenix park in the Tearooms with a pencil and notebook before me, writing yet another play about Annie, when I saw my first trifle in years. Well it was actually six. Yes, six trifles had just ran past me like the wind, training for the Olympics.



Her name was Janey Macken Street, and after seeing her running with her head up a trifle, I fell in love, and immediately got down and started writing her. Bye bye Annie bye bye.


Janey was an elite athlete training for the London Olympics. Why six trifles ran past me in the Phoenix Park that day was easily explained – sure I had to stick my head up one later as well. She told me herself afterwards in the bar. We eventually got married. Janey Macken Street and Alvie Singer forever.


When Janey Macken Street arrived late into training that morning, everyone had a trifle on their desk for some strange reason, including her close friend and team-mate Basher Piggs.  She’d been practicing her sprints all morning, with a priest with red trousers, for the Olympic trials taking place in the Phoenix Park later that evening.

Her  coach, Gus the Gorilla, named for his abundant nose-hair, put his long finger up to his lips and shushed Janey before she could even open her mouth, then pointed at the blackboard.

“The Queen is coming to Dublin. Write an essay,” it read.

“What’s that got to do with running fast?’ said Janey but she wasn’t answered.

Janey sat down next to Basher who was straining to explain but wasn’t allowed to by Gus’s shifty eyes and hanging nose-hair up at the top of the room.

Fair enough, Janey thought, be like that. I’ll warm myself up for the essay by drawing a pencil-picture of the Queen on this rectangular sheet of white paper.  When she’d finished, Basher tried to rip it up into shreds. Bloody jealous he is. But she rescued it from his clutches just in the nick, and hunch-backed into the essay in a huff, beginning the page with the word bum. For spite. Some friend he was.

He whispered –

“Get rid of it Janey. Destroy!”

“Get lost!” said Janey.

Gus heard this kerfuffle and shouted –

“Silence! People are trying to work!”

He stomped up the training room and when he reached Janey he noticed the drawing. His eyes nearly popped their clogs. He stared at it forever and about a kettle’s worth of sweat dripped down his face and onto the floor.

He said –

“You better draw a trifle in front of her face forthwith or you’ll be shot Janey – shot!”

“But I don’t know how to draw a trifle,” said Janey. ‘ I’m an athlete not an artist.’

“Just draw!”


Janey put her hands down by her sides and sat looking straight ahead, then imagined putting white maggots into Gus’s mouth. For spite.

“Eat the trifle – it’s the rules! Tell her Basher,” said Gus.

Basher stood up, put his hands on his hips and lashed into the facts as if he were about to go on fire.

“The Prime Minister of Ireland found out over his tea and scones yesterday that there’s a rusty old statute still on the law books in relation to the Queen of England (who was on her first state visit at the time) and Irish people. It’s still in force today Janey, more than three hundred years later. It’s never been repealed. A Lord Barnsley was responsible for it.

“Irish people aren’t allowed to look the Queen directly in the face. If an Irish person wants to look at the Queen then they must do so through a trifle – and through a trifle only – on pain of death.”

Gus put a trifle in front of Janey and said-



“So you won’t eat the trifle, eh?”


But Janey give in and ate it as instructed, for if you didn’t obey the trifle, then you had to eat it as punishment in one go. Otherwise you were shot. Yes, shot in the testicles by the Prime Minister’s gloved left hand. She was sick afterwards, of course, for ages.

“The Bloody Queen! Even worse than the recession. It’s the last time I do as I’m told. I tell you that for a fact Basher. The last.”

At five O’clock she went up to the Phoenix Park for the 100 metres trials and the Darren the Donut, the man who has a different celebrity for a big toe every day, held the starting pistol aloft and shouted –

“On your marks! Get set! Stick your heads up your trifles! Go! Go! Go!”

Darren had told them that The Queen might look this way accidentally that evening on her way back from town to the Phoenix Park to have dinner with the Irish President, so everyone in the vicinity had to encase their head in a trifle just in case – including elite athletes like Janey trying out for the Olympics.

At the starting line, Janey looked left and saw Alan Purple, the giant electronic frog with pink lips, ramming his head full-force into his trifle and getting down on his mark. Bad Barney, the old-age pensioner with a rat for a wristwatch, to his right, did the same.

Janey said –


“What the heck. I’ll do what I’m told one last time and see what happens. In for a penny, as it were,” and rammed her head up his trifle before she hunkered down and waited for the  crash, bang and whiff of the starting pistol.

It turned out that encasing her head in a trifle lent bionic speed to her stride and she and her colleagues passed me like the wind as I sat drinking my tea and holding my pencil in the Phoenix Park Tearooms.


As a result, Janey won the race and thus competed at the London Olympics last year, the first 40 year woman to do so. So sprinkle that on your trifle and eat it Lord Barnsley! And there’s no truth to the rumour that she trifled the Queen first chance she got. None at all. Tra-la-la.


(It started as Alvie Singer from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, and ended somewhere else).


Paco’s Poem on Tuesday – Hello From The Moon.

Paco’s Poem on Tuesday


Title: Hello From The Moon.


St Patrick’s Athletic 2 Dundalk 0.

 Yes -we’re top of the league.

We scored two goals

a big number 2.

Something solid to build on.


I jumped over the moon at full time and the only

ouch this week was when I hit my head on

M1 in Cancer, the crab nebula – making those

neutron stars spin even faster at its centre.


The Pats fans unfurled a banner before the match

which read –

Come Out and Play –

a reference to The Offspring’s

punk song from 1994 entitled

Come Out and Play (Keep ‘em Separated) –

It did what it said on the tin:

Three points separate the two teams.


Five games left.

More turbulence to come  for sure –

our first title since 1999?

In my first season as a Pat’s fan?

I’m afraid to even dream.


I can’t stop now.

Only poetry can help make it all

come true.

Until next week

Toodle ooh.


(Written by Paco aged seven and a half on  20th September 2012 standing on the moon, looking down on Richmond Park and singing When the Saints Go Marching In quite loudly, scarf in the air).

The Giant Electronic Frog With Pink Lips. Alan’s Story.

What makes a teacher great?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us GREATNESS.


The Giant Electronic Frog with Pink Lips.

The Purple Lumphammer is not just for people, it equally welcomes giant electronic frogs with pink lips. I’m Alan by the way. This is how it happened for me.


A few years ago I entered  this Janey Macken Street writing class, The Purple Lumphammer, as a man carrying a grey notebook, wearing grey clothes, and thinking grey thoughts with two faded go-faster stripes up the sides.

The teacher placed a lumpy potato on the table for us to write about and waved her magic wand. I looked and saw my legs stretching. Then I noticed Roddy Doyle down the back teaching a ferret how to use the internet. This was of course part of their Famous Writers Not Writing series. My skin turned green.

The chap next to me explained that they had John Banville eating a trifle lined up the following week. My voice went all croaky when I read my first piece of flash fiction to the  class finishing with a ribbit ribbit.

I noticed a picture of Anne Enright on the wall playing a chocolate guitar just as my lips turned pink and my insides electronic. So I hopped over the teacher and wrote a poem on the blackboard about happiness.

So as you can see, anyone who doesn’t love The Purple Lumphammer, is a scoundrel.

Sign up now! And tell ‘em Alan sent ya!  Ribbit. Ribbit.

It’s Finger Friday – for Fairness. Yes, it’s Give-Fingers-Fungleton-The-Finger Friday.

Today the Daily prompt was –

Tell us about something you think is terribly unfair — and explain how you would rectify it.


Today it’s Finger Friday. Yes, it’s ‘Give-Fingers-Fungleton-the-Finger’ Friday!’

Fingers Fungleton is a rat in a fedora.  He used to be a famous banker.

He broke the country.  Which isn’t fair at all.

Here’s what to do.


‘Hello everybody! Call me Fingers. Oh please do. I know you want to.’

Fingers needs to eat one human finger a week in order to survive. Otherwise, he’ll die.

‘I’m doomed darlings. Doomed.’

He can smell time.

‘Sniff. Sniff. It’s half six – dah-dah! Time for me to vamoose out of here. Wink. Wink.’

Who is he?

He’s Fingers Fungleton, the rat that can smell time!

‘But darlings, please remember, I do need those fingers to survive.’

Bad Barney is the person who sources these human fingers for him.

‘A gorgeous fellow indeed.’

Barney gives him the finger every Friday.

On finger Friday.

‘One finger a week and the job is oxo Barney, the job is oxo.’

Barney – ‘Hey Fingers – today is Friday! Rah! Rah! Rah!

And this is Stony Flourface.’

flour 2

‘Why how do you do Stony?’

‘Hi Fingers. I used to work in a shop Fingers. It went bankrupt recently and I lost my job. You know what? I’m only too willing to give you the finger. Only too willing indeed.’

‘Well then, that’s marvellous, bring it on my boy. Bring it on. Give me the finger now Stony Flourface. Come on, give me the finger!’

And he did.

Barney chopped it off,

Stony fainted –

and Fingers ate it all up.

‘Half seven precisely,’ said Fingers. Wink. Wink.


He’s Fingers Fungleton, the rat that can smell time!


Would you, yourself, like to give Fingers Fungleton the finger? It can be arranged easily enough. Apply to Howie in the Fiver shop today post haste. Usual terms and conditions apply. i.e. it’ll cost you a fiver.   An offer not to be sniffed at indeed.

It’s Toni Thursday! Spokes-Snail of the ISBM at your service!

Today, the daily prompt was –

What’s the most dreadful (or wonderful) experience you’ve ever had as a customer?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us SERVICE.


It’s Toni Thursday!

Toni Thursday

Hi! I’m Toni Thursday, spokes-snail of the Irish Slow Book Movement: the ISBM.

Service with a smile.

 Be among our number.

Valued customers.

 Order your membership today by special snail delivery service

i.e. the slow-coach.

i.e. me

Toni Thursday

The ISBM motto is: If you want something done right, then do it slow, preferably after a nice cup of tea.

All that talk of tea has made me thirsty, so I must, ahem,’ dash’, and have a cup.

But before I slither off and have that cup of nice tea, remember this, if nothing else,

from Tone T himself:

Don’t do it fast folks, do it slow – and twice through.

Especially when it comes to reading good books.

Why do it fast and forget everything you’ve read within a week?

Savour it.

I know you want to.

Do it for Tone T.

This week I am enjoying Roberto Bolano’s Nazi Literature in the Americas, slowly and twice through with feeling.  Andante con animato!


So much imagination in the one book, on every page, in every paragraph and sentence, that there’s just not enough tea in the world to accompany such smileyness. My cup overfloweth. Truly , madly, deeply.

Just tell the naysayers – “I’m not rushing – I’m Irish!” (insert appropriate nationality).

And make yourself another cup of tea.

So see you all next time on Toni  Thursday!

– but don’t wait up y’hear! Wink. Wink.

Toni Thursday

Yes, technically I’m still here but these things can’t be rushed you know. I’m going, going, not gone.

Toni Thursday

In a minute, right? Just have a bit of patience.

I’m having a cup of tea before going off for a cup of tea. I’ll go then for sure.

Grand, I’m off.

Toni Thursday

I promise.

Toni Thursday

This time.

Toni Thursday


Toni Thursday


Toni Thursday


Toni Thursday


Y’all come back now!

I value your custom.

Bye bye.

Licking Paedophilia From The Mind Of An Irish Priest.


9/15/2013 The What-if writing challenge for this week was:

What if you let your dark side take over?

Another what-if challenge that went very dark on me. Next week, the jokes! Hopefully.

This isn’t as frightening as the title may suggest.


Licking Paedophilia from the mind of an Irish Priest.

The devil took my soul and rammed it into his left trouser pocket. It was the same shape and size as that of a plastic CD cover, strangely enough. Big pockets alright. He then jingle-jangled it in situ for a few seconds, before withdrawing his big lump of a hand and zipping it up beyond further reach.

‘A gun,’ I said.

‘Fine, but I’ve seen mass murder before many times. You’ll really have to do better than that to impress me Tweak Tweak. If you want your soul back this side of Christmas like.’

I never had the balls before to rob from a rich person’s house, but now I could do anything I wanted, I had the devil’s imprimatur. I walked straight into Lidia Roseprick, the schoolteacher’s house, and smashed open a sealed box in her living room and had me some sort of  a pistol in my hand, fully loaded, seconds later.

I swivelled towards him and spat –

‘A mind-licking dog called Lenny.’

‘Sounds interesting, Tweak Tweak. Now you’re talking. I can make that.’

‘You don’t have to. My dog Lenny is in the other room. All you have to do is give him a tongue that can lick a person’s mind right out of their head. ‘

‘Very interesting indeed Tweak Tweak. I don’t know where you’re going with this, but I like it already.  Okay. That’s no problem. A mind-licking dog. Voila!’

‘Oh yeah, Devil, that gun, can you make it so it’s everlasting , like you don’t have to re-load?’

‘I told you Tweak Tweak, mere mass murder is blase.  It doesn’t tickle me in any w-‘

‘Will you do it?’

‘Yes. Yes. Yes. Go on then.’

The devil is an arse, everyone knows that, if he really exists that is, and wasn’t just mere mind games in the night on the part of all my inside anxieties.  When the devil gives you free reign to do something shocking, there’s just no hesitating in it at all. Only fools or the greedy need time for thought in this instance and you should be ashamed of your filthy self if you do count to three and give yourself this tick-tocking mind-space and time. In my book anyway.

I’m not terribly post-modern or post-structuralist. But I am willing to learn. For now history is still my reality. Despite Baudrillard. The Gulf War actually happened in my world. My own personal metaphoric Gulf War. An entire nation’s Gulf War; Ireland’s. Each Irish generation has suffered under its yoke for years from the 1950s, before that even, up to the noughties; no gaps. A holocaust some say.

Now it was time to blast these experiences from reality and history once and for all, the devil watching me closely, into meaningless textuality.  What could be more righteous than that Sir? I ask you humbly Madam?

I marched up the road and smashed into Father Clump’s house and put the gun to his head. Straight off. Of course, he recognized me instantly from all those years ago, sensed what was happening to him, catching up with him, like acid in his face.

I now had the priest up against one of his living room walls, spreadeagled and with my gun pressing harder and harder into his temples, you’ll be pleased to know. The devil stood at the open front door, with the broad daylight behind him in his background, stroking his beard pensively, licking his lips.

I knew  my plan was rolling down Janey Macken Street Hill as if it had grease on the soles of it’s shoes. So far, so good.

I screamed and simultaneously pressed the  gun even harder into his temples –

‘Lick his mind out Lenny – right fucking now!’

Lenny rammed his tongue up the priest’s nostrils and it landed in his mind. Lenny’s tongue grabbed paedophilia like a black noose around the its neck.

His tongue tightened its grip and yanked paedophilia out into the living room which made the devil retch violently almost immediately.

‘My God, Tweak Tweak, something as dark as that out in the open air catching rays. Well done. But I’ve had lunch with Hitler, Stalin, Thatcher for God’s sake.  Tell me, do you really want your soul back? You aren’t really trying, my son.’

I lost control of all my senses for about twenty seconds just then, with the smell of this paedophilia standing before me, akimbo, head bowed. However, I picked up the gun in time and shot it once, twice, three times, until it didn’t move anymore. It just lay there on the priest’s cheap carpet in pieces.

I walked over to the priest and said –

‘I forgive you. ‘

Then I walked out the door straight past the devil heading for priest number two on my list. I had to kill all the paedophilia in the country. You don’t get a chance to do something like this too often in life, to help humanity. I had to while I had the strength.

‘What about your soul Tweak Tweak? I’ve still got it, remember?’

‘Keep it man. What use is a soul to me today?  After what I’ve seen. What use at all?’

‘It’s your loss so. See you at midnight for your death.’

He took my soul out of his pocket and started to examine it –

‘Hey, this really is a CD. Your soul is a CD! Mighty Love by Damien Dempsey, singer-songwriter. What’s all this about then Tweak Tweak?’

‘If I want my soul back all I have to do is listen to that CD . That’s all. Keep it. It’s yours.’

‘But I’ve got it, Tweak Tweak.’

‘I know. And it’s available in all the shops. I can buy it anytime I want. I won’t see you at midnight at all. I’m not dying tonight by a long stretch of the legs.  Look at my record and book collection for God’s sake. How could you have been so stupid?’

And the devil did look.

‘William Blake, Bach and The Smiths too! Bloody hell. Too much soul. Too bloody much. I’ve seen enough here.’

It took me a while, but when I was finished, Ireland lived happily ever after without history or reality to upset it any longer.

If you cock both your ears right now you can hear all the generations, past and present, cheering Lenny and myself  on indefinitely, for changing the world with just a long mind-licking tongue and a gun.

However, the real thanks should go to the devil actually. If you can handle that truth, that is.

Willie Wednesday Goes Public! The Post that Gives You The Willies.

Today’s Daily Prompt was –

Are you comfortable in front of people, or does the idea of public speaking make you want to hide in the bathroom? Why?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us PUBLIC.


Willie Wednesday Goes Public.

It’s Willie Wednesday folks – again!

Well, If you have to go all public-speaking like on me,

on Wille Wednesday,


the only way to do it and impress them properly,


with the most romantic Willie in English Literature: Willie Wordsworth.

This Willie will knock  ’em bandy.

A promise.


He does exactly what it says on the Tintern Abbey. Ho. Ho. Ho.

That’ll definitely put the willies up ’em, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Now go in peace and

be not afraid to speak out loud in public

ever again.

Here’s one of his old chestnuts.

Flower Power does it again.



I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth
Tune in next time, for more Willie Wednesday.
If you dare.