Saturday, May 27, 2006

Jim's story

Check this out, it's superb.

The invigilator

Exams, exams, exams. It feels like everyone's finished but me. I've still two more to go. My exams started at Easter because I had a couple of subjects from last year to repeat. I went into the exam hall early for the first one because I got the time wrong. I got chatting to the Invigilator and he seemed a likeable enough chap. Unfortunately, I mistook his level of laid-backness. Grin on face, I asked if he had the answers in addition to the question papers.

He did a double, no a quadruple take and answered very gravely - No, oh no. We couldn't do that.

I started to explain that I was only kidding but there was no way back. He looked around him to see if anyone was listening in on us. Was I a plant? Was this a test? A test of his invigilation prowess?

- I mean, he went on - I mean, we don't even have the answers here. They wouldn't give us the answers. They'd be back at the college. So, even if I could, I couldn't... not that I would.

I swear to God, I got some invigilating done to me for the whole of that exam.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Brothers in America

I've been thinking about three different albums lately. And I've been thinking that my older brothers have a lot to answer for. (So does my younger, "little" brother, Karl but we'll get on to him another day.)

One summer in the eighties, when we were living in Satrissaun, Patrick came home from New York for a couple of weeks. He brought a tape home with him. It was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I remember guessing who it was before the tape even played. I don't know how.

Whenever Patrick had to go back to NYC, it would quite simply break my heart. I'll never forget the day Daddy brought him back to Shannon after this visit. The house seemed so empty and boring. Someone put on Sgt. Pepper's and I went for a walk up the meadow.

My mate Derek has been supplementing My Music folder with CDs he's sent up from home. Amongst them was a bunch of Beatles albums including Sgt. Pepper's. When I put it on the next day at work, I realised I hadn't properly listened to it for years. And I'm not kidding, when I heard "Within You Without You", it was a little emotional.

The distance from New York used to seem so vast. It would kill my heart to see Patrick leave after a visit in the summer. When he would ring home, it was such a big deal that all of us would gather around the phone and talk to him one by one. Nowadays, if I wanna say hi, I send him a text. A text!?

Bit torrent's mighty. I've been downloading loadsa stuff. Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Band of Brothers and music. Albums and albums of music. One of these was Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads. This album was first brought into our house on vinyl by Jim when he was in college in Sligo RTC.

Jim studied electronics after Paula suggested it. He got his cert. in Sligo, diploma in Letterkenny, degree in Belfast, masters in NYU and returned to IT Sligo as a fulltime lecturer where he taught, among others, yours truly wonderful.

He's now back in NYC, teaching nuns how to boil eggs. He still listens to David Byrne.

When I hear "Slippery People", I think of Jim dancing and miming to the music in the hall, giving it loads. For some reason, when I hear "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)", I think of his wife Siu and I think of his son, Liam, who I've yet to meet.

The other morning, Bob had a mix of songs playing on the laptop. I was in the middle of my daily wake-up routine when "The Man's Too Strong" came on. I hadn't heard it in years. I remember re-finding Brothers in Arms in Leaving Cert. (again, thanks to Derek) and becoming obsessed with "The Man's Too Strong". I wanted to know where Mark Knophler came up with the story, was it based on fact, what was the significance of the line, "your sister gave me diamonds... and I gave them to your wife." The song provoked Leone imagery of the wild west that cried out to a young lad who didn't want to be in school.

Garrett got Brothers in Arms for Christmas. Christmas '85 I think it was. I remember our old turntable wouldn't play the new type of vinyl it was produced on.

I long stopped thinking that Dire Straits were the be all and end all - some of the solos are a tad long - but I was always worried what Garrett would think of me losing the faith like this. However, the last time he was home he made the unbelievable statement that "Money For Nothing" wasn't up to much! (Non Dire Straits fans have long since departed to the next blog.)

My older brothers have a lot to answer for. Without their influence, who knows what sort of mucic I'd have grown up listening to. The lads in New York are the business. They've helped me out more than a lot. I'm heading over for a few of weeks next month. I'm sure I'll spend hours in Patrick and Garrett's bar, Slainte and I can't wait to meet my new nephew Liam. I wonder what music he's in to.