Sometimes we simply cannot go through the day with a smile and skip in our step. Some days sorrow and confusion can threaten to overwhelm us. I am having one of those days - or more accurately one of those weeks.
The Cluatha Vaults played a large part in my development as an artist and thinker. It was there I stood up on many a night to perform in front of an audience, along with other poets, singers, musicians, ranters and what not. One of those poets died eight years ago and the wound has not yet healed. Over the weekend news came that another was sitting in the bar on friday when the helicopter fell through the roof of the bar. Old griefs were awoken by new fears.
I’ve been distracted since Friday night. Saturday passed in a strange surreal way. It was my son’s sixth birthday. Lots of children, lots of laughter, noise and occasional tantrums from over excited weans. In the evening I checked in with friends on facebook, shared thoughts and fears. I watched the movie Rushmore; and managed to wind down.
Sunday, I made the point of not watching or reading the news. I hung out with the family tried to have fun and relax, but suddenly I would find myself distracted. I would feel an awful sense of angry dislocation. Or else memories would burst into my head, images and sights and sounds of lang gane events and peoples
When I was in my late teens and early twenties I was determined to be a poet – well being the man I was (and am) I should say that I was determined to be the greatest poet. One of the most important things in my development as a writer was joining the Castlemilk Writers Workshop. Among those who welcomed me and helped me take the first steps towards being the writer I am now was the poet John McGarrigle. Tuesday morning the news confirmed what we had all dreaded. John was named as one of those who died in the Clutha.
I’m lucky that I’m based on the campus of NUI Galway. The place is filled with support services, if needed, not least Health Promotion office but also the Chaplains and Counsellors But for the moment I’m doing fine by myself. I’ve lightened my workload and allowed myself space to think or not think; I chat with friends or not, depending on how the mood takes me.
I make occasional phone calls or internet chats back home and hear the same thing from friends and family;
- that great bustling, gallus, brash city - is a sombre place right now. Glasgow
I keep my journal close at hand; jotting down passing thoughts helps keep me grounded. I choose to lose myself in fun stuff; playing with my children, listening to music. I don’t brood or pick at the events of the last week, but neither do I block it out. I just let it settle in its own way and remind myself that some days its okay not to be okay.