I’ve been reflective of late, some would say morose. Last week’s Rant about meeting the Grim Reaper aka Mr Death drew a mixed reaction but the reality is none of us are getting out of here alive.
‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ is a curious movie were the protagonist, played by Brad Pitt, through some freak of nature is born with an ageing disease but survives it to get younger with time. As Benjamin was born with the physical appearance of a 70-year-old man, I’m thinking were it to be true I would now be a skitter of 16 summers because a skitter is what I was at that age. Rebel without a clue.
Now older and wiser it got me thinking as to what would I say to that boy with the ten pack of Embassy Regal down his socks, hair down over his ears in a Wrangler jacket running about Omagh Tech with more chips on his shoulders than Fabio Landi sells in a week.
“Come here you eejit” I’d say, “It’s me! you!… I’ve been down the road and it’s probably best you turn back but as you have no choice but to soldier on, take some advice from a man who’s been locked up, locked down, locked in, locked out, airlocked, ejected, dejected, rejected and met Jesus after a feed of mushrooms in Castlebar.
“I know you don’t like school but see it out. It won’t last forever and you will get an opportunity to drive your shoulder into the saggart with the red jowls and tell him to stick his yellow bed and religious guilt up his cassock. Don’t believe the priests. Listen to your parents more, they’ve done the hard yards.
“You really don’t want to be a mature student in 20 years time sitting in the front row with a recorder and washing dishes in restaurants to keep afloat. Get to university now, study hard and have fun! And by the way, Omagh bus depot is a transport interchange not a war zone!
“And another thing, go and play soccer if you want and don’t let the loud dinosaurs with their ‘foreign games’ rhetoric cower you. The loudest people are the most afraid. The ban was lifted five years ago and they are watching Match of the Day behind their curtains. Stay between the ditches and you’ll live to see Gaelic football players diving as well and mercenaries using the Association to line their pockets.
“Do you still have those 1970 Esso World Cup coins? Hold on the them, they’ll be collectors’ items one day.
“I’m not saying Tyrone will ever win the Sam Maguire or anything like that but don’t lose hope, there will be great days. I know you miss Frank McGuigan since he went to America. Keep the faith, he could arrive home on a flight with the white boots in his suitcase.
“A voice will scream at you to write. Listen to it. It will be your salvation. That’s what the Bible means by hiding your light under a bushel. You’ll find the natural highs of life won’t let you down. You won’t find fulfilment on a high stool. And while you’re at it, lose those cigarettes, they’re not cool and girls don’t want to snog an ashtray.”
By now younger-me will be shuffling his feet and looking over my shoulder for some action.
“Slow down kid, take your time and savour it, and go say ‘hello’ to her… she can only ignore you but at least you’ll know. You think you’d be punching above your weight but you could be shocked one day to see the geek she finishes up with; I’m just saying. But remember you will never understand women.
“Burn your flares! Brush Shields is not a rock God, in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king. Go see Bob Marley, Phil Lynott, Johnny Cash and Luke Kelly the next time they play anywhere on this island. They won’t be around forever. It’s unlikely you’ll get off with Debbie Harry. Live with it! Cool the jets kid.
“Bundoran is not a destination and you can’t get nine people into a Simca 1100. It’s a big world out there, after Uni go see it. It’ll be a blast! Live! When you do settle down to work, don’t stay in the same company for more than ten years.
“You’ll miss your Da more than you think. Go to more matches with him. When the world has you beat and it seems like there is no-one to turn to, your Mum and Dad will never turn you away.
“Ah lad, I know you aren’t paying heed to a word of this; I wouldn’t have. It’s okay, it’ll all work out in the end… most important of all, life is tough enough without listening to that critic in your head… be gentle with yourself.”