Jeremiah’s Journal – October 2017

First the storms and now the floods and the footpaths folded up by hand and all of the upside down trees down across the roads with their roots torn up, turned up to   the brash, indifferent sky in defiance and their branches crashed down onto the thrashed ground where there is now no difference either between the road and the river and ducks and seagulls and even a lost billy black diver waddle around like they own the town and for now they do and I am looking at it all and I’m thinking what a time for us to take our holidays.

We worked so hard on our house all summer the holidays were the last thing on our minds. The house had to be just right for the little one, the little one who shall not be named under pain of death or exile if I do what I want to do so bad, I want to post, to share, to like, what like, to love like a standing barmy army of ten thousand emojis at their animated best could not express, post and post and post any picture of her just to share my joy, and my joy unadulterated but as I say I dare not under pain of death or exile for poor old Jerry though Jerry has seen some pictures of her posted on Facebook in the recent past by her mother who’s perfectly entitled to so do and does not need my permission.

Made a start on Saturday afternoon on the new picture book, scary enough, why should I be so scared of poster paints I found in a wardrobe and had to bring back to life by adding a little water to each pot, each little promise of colour on another stormy, otherwise dull day, dull as Brian peering in the window at me at work. What a ridiculous name for a weather event unless it’s wet and it is wet mostly with some wind but there was more wind in the bed last night. Brian comes visiting now like an uncle so Sunday dull, scarily dull, I used to climb out of our back bedroom window and jump onto the extended kitchen roof to escape…

I have the background, blue sky and sand terrain. I’m not simple, I’m keeping it simple, it’s not the same thing.

The only thing I should be scared of is of being bored.        I must make mistakes, as many as I can manage, the more mistakes I can make by trying things, trying to make something, not of myself but of the world in front of me, for me first, and for the world sometime maybe, who cares about the world, the world is what I make of it. So I must try to make something of nothing and by so doing create drama, drama I find abhorrent in my life but perfectly acceptable on paper. The best mistakes come from trying not to make mistakes, of course, that’s the catch, that’s the caveat, deliberate errors won’t work, you’ll learn nothing from that except that you maybe are clever. The best mistake, the only mistake worth its weight in chicken shit and feathers is the mistake you are trying in all honesty not to make. The more genuine mistakes I make in the pursuit of excellence with my heart in the right place, wherever my poor old head may be then the better, the more will my positive results, results I can live with, be evenly distributed across all my endeavours and the more chance of an actual breakthrough as a result, a result now there is a scary thought, thought of a breakthrough… success? Where do you go from there?

I am not sure if I like these poster paints, patience is required. I’m sitting around writing Jeremiah’s Journal waiting for the last line I applied to the page to dry.

I was lucky, I was just a couple of years sober and I had the world at my feet when the boys were small and we lived in Willow Place in Togher. I had no job and wasn’t well enough yet to know that it wasn’t good enough to be happy to be alive, it was all well and good for the grass to be green and the sky to be blue and to have all day to fly a kite but I was told by the young mother, my wife, who did not have the luxury of dreaming in broad daylight that I would have to try to secure a mortgage too and to make myself at least as miserable as everybody else if I didn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb or be accused of living off my fellow man, all of these sad and fucked up, stand up young citizens I’d rather not eat at all and starve myself to death than be sitting eating in the canteen with where I’d have to listen to them regurgitate the mainstream media take on Donald and Theresa and Leo and Kim and Jim and Joe and John Joe and John John, my fellow men who knew what they were going to be doing in life even before they did their precious Leaving, Leaving Certificate, there’s a novel in that, that’s for another day, another writer too. All I can remember is drawing in the margins, heads of David Bowie, Bowie hairstyles, faces struck by lightning like Aladin Sane and Ziggy before that and that strange creature featured on a cover which worried my mother and father greatly, all fathers and mothers I guess, faced with the threat of an androgynous at the dinner table or worse parading in front of the neighbours. They needn’t have worried. I didn’t see myself in a dress, and I told them so, I told them everything was Hunky Dory.

Yes, if I ever truly wanted to be accepted by society and my peers I would have to find a job, any job, and if the job did not pay enough, I would have to go back to school, at night, there are twenty four hours in every day, study hard, the nuns said you were bright, what happened to you child, secure your piece of paper, your degree, use your college contacts to try to get a start, start on small money, smart money will come with the experience, experience comes by making mistakes, some mistakes in the health and safety game there is no way back from, you’re scared so you ask your boss to let you stay in the office photocopying and filing forever. You work your way up the ladder though the ladder is going along the ground now and the rungs have become a hazard. If I had any ambition I would be in danger of tripping myself up.

Risk assess…Risk assess…Risk assess….

Where was I? Oh! Yes! my fellow men, you work yourself up over everything, over nothing, you’re not so important. Is everybody not personally responsible for themselves, for their own safety. If it was not for insurance purposes you wouldn’t even be here.

Sure everybody from time to time needs reminding. Let us change the culture but how you ask, we ask ourselves, we don’t ask them, not by changing the record anyway if you were to listen to this old guff we’re giving all these men steeped in cynicism and why because Friday they could be told they’re gone, and they won’t be told till then for fear they fuck off after the breakfast and would you blame them, we’re in a dirty game where the subtext is telling them all they need to know, where safety is the first item on the meeting agenda and then the safety officer can fuck off if he wants to let the bigger boys talk time and money. So I am thinking till we clean up our own act they are not going to let us coerce them, let us cajole them, let us start threatening them with the gate, let us ask them to think of their loved ones, use their loved ones as screen savers which wouldn’t work with the boys on site because they don’t work with computers, they work with tools, tools like us sitting in offices thinking up more and more zany ways to motivate the crews to conform to the fascist dream of zero incidents and zero accidents, beyond zero in the workplace.

See below: In a sign blinded world this is my favorite…

What I meant to say before I distracted myself with talk of work and I on my holidays mind, was that at the time I thought up the father and son stuff I am now working in earnest on, we had no money but we had time to build things, a town with houses, a bridge spanning a river of broken mirror, a farm with real grass the plastic cows were lost in till they were found by Tyrannosaurus Rex and the rest, to make and do, to do nothing and make stuff up, to dream of dinosaurs…imagine dinosaurs…

See below: Volvo Dumptruck with the boy driving, his dad buried to his neck in the sand.

The dad’s feet should not be buried but because I don’t know how his feet should look I have to draw from life my own feet crossed nonchalantly in a pair of slippers from a photograph I have just taken.

Below: No doubt any minute now my muse will walk in and ask me why the fuck I am sitting with my feet up on the table and what the fuck I am waiting for.

I’m my own model usually. I’m the one, the one and only one likely to be sitting around here long enough.

The wife is always going, always doing something useful, something eminently sensible.

She’s a farmer’s daughter and like all women who can handle a pitchfork she is a conscious disciple of the doctrine of Utilitarianism.

Poster Paints in many ways are easier to work with than wax crayons or coloured pencils. I’m not sure if I like them enough, though I could do all the backgrounds with them and like I have done here, do the figures separately… cut out with a scissors and paste on when perfected.

Ballyphehane Park after the storm.

October 20th 2017 is the last day my dog will ever be left out the front to wander at will around the crescent of corporation two up, two down houses where we live.

October 20th 2017 is the last day my dog will ever be trusted by me to do what’s right and come back when he is called.

October 20th 2017 is the day, being off work, I happened to meet my next door neighbour Flor who seeing me with my dog on a lead told me of the day he walked with her out of our estate, across Friar’s Walk and into Ballyphehane Park before the devestation visited upon it closed it for a couple of weeks. This is the day I discovered to my horror that my dog Marley, Marley we called him after Bob, not after Marley in the movie though Marley in the movie was also apparently called after Bob, had been living a lie, letting on like he was happy hanging around on the green raising a hind leg here and an eyebrow there when he was in fact gone off gallivanting. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear he’s been getting the number three bus into town on a regular basis. If he had the money and a list of what I wanted and he wasn’t a dog then he could have done my Christmas shopping for me. If I’m thinking this is a somewhat far fetched notion then I cannot help reminding myself how I’ve not had to reach as far as you might imagine I’d have had to, to fetch this notion from the realms of uncommon sense, for my next door neighbour on the other side of our house from Flor’s is John and John who knows Marley almost as well as Flor does, for a living, on a day to day basis actually drives a bus.

I have abandoned the paints for pastels and I have a box of twelve soft pastels 60mm by 9mm that has gone unopened now for seven months or more. Why did I even treat myself to them, they were not cheap. We shall see if I knew what I was doing intuitively at the time or whether I have learned how to make use of whatever my fingers feel for and find in the dark of my wardrobe to play with, how wonderfully exciting either way.

I love the way I have blended the colours on the terrain, red and yellow under the pressure of my finger drawn across the heavy application become orange. This is not possible with wax crayon on paper unless you melt them and I’m not going there.

This is the wardrobe. I keep the door locked while I work on a project. I have to.

There are endless possibilities within threatening to bowl me over, overwhelm me with their promises.

Once I choose a medium I stick to it, it’s all too obvious limitations after all, have I not chosen those to live with too…

Learning to live with them, circumvent them, gives rise to many interesting discoveries, all the more interesting for being inadvertent trespass.

The Cyclamen with it’s flame like flowers and interesting leaves  at the front door of our house warms the heart on sight and cheers me up when I’m coming in from work.

To say nothing of the cactus flowering in the living room.

See Below…

And the Lilac blooming in the gloomy hallway.

Look at the bottles in the corner, there was a time…seals intact, unopened since last Christmas, Christmas Miracle if I had time to stop to think about it, it isn’t something I have the time to stop to think about but there’s no harm now in acknowledging in passing how life has changed for me and by so doing reminding myself and cultivating in my heart a little gratitude for all the sweet mundanities of the life I lead now…

See Below:

A poem by Thomas Hood

No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! –
November! 

Thomas Hood

And at the back of our house, the Daffodils are up in November, early November.

I have used Derwent Pastel Pencils too where the sky meets the land and controlling the colours increases in difficulty they are ideal. There is a Cadmium Red, a Forest Green, Pea Green, Prussian Blue, Cyan Blue, Sepia, Violet and a Carbon Black.

I first did the drawings in pencil, pencils were all I had and was happy enough with them in black and white till my wife suggested I colour them in.

See Below: Before

See Below: After

The pictures for the first little book are done…

“We have a dumper to dump and a loader to load,

So lie down, lie down Daddy,

You’re supposed to be a road…”

Who stole the truck from under our noses, revved her up and drove over the hills and far away…

All art is an inside job…

This is he…

Trying in vain to escape his fate…

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