Big Tits - The Monastery Of Sound - Get Your Tits Out (For The Lads) (Vinyl)

His eyes conveyed intelligence, experience, mirth and pathos. He was often on the verge, or over it, of laughter. He could be obstreperous and petulant, bewilderingly so in a person so gracious, and he offended many at some point, but I never saw him wilfully cruel, arrogant, dismissive.

He was a natural democrat. He sang. He did recitations. He could be transported all on his own into strange, abstract movement. Sometimes he forsook language and spoke as a bird.

He told long and great stories. He could carry gatherings for hours. I often thought it must take a lot of fuel to be him, and I mean energy rather than drink. He was kind to a rare degree. He visited the sick and feeble and lonely. He was an abettor of others. He was both rigorous and generous in observing the codes of hospitality.

He listened. Large numbers of people loved him. It began not as books generally do, from image or incident or some sense of a character, but rather from etymology—the tragos, or goat, and the oide, or song, that together make Tragedy. He imagined the tragedy as circular, appearing to move towards a happy ending the reader yearns for, but instead, through authorial trick, as in Finnegans Wake, returning in time to the beginning, a beginning we know will be a path of desolation. He gives to the man who moves along this path the name Jack Ferris, perhaps to suggest the fairground ride that is a wheel.

The bad times are over at last, Jack Ferris tells himself in the opening sentence. Just when he thought she was gone forever he receives a letter. I love you and want to be with you, she writes. Meet me at the bridge some time Saturday afternoon. He watches sheep in a low field. He sees Christmas trees being hauled up Sean America Street. He talks with a bereaved man, goes into a paper shop, takes a lift out to her family home thinking he might have missed her, he sweeps and puts down a fire.

Then he walks the miles back to the bridge, where he waits. He enters a hotel yearning for a drink but instead takes coffee with a countryman who may be mad. Dusk begins to fall. Suds lay the landward side of the wrack. In the days that follow he walks the triangle that extends from his cottage to hers and down to the town. He makes increasingly bad-tempered calls to the theatre where she is rehearsing a play he has written.

He dreams of her and awakes weeping. He drinks through the day in the hope of dousing his virulent consciousness. He tries to get to Dublin to see her, the west of Ireland rushing at him like the roadside scenery in a video car chase game, but he collapses drunk in a bush in Ballina and is brought back to his reeking home with its starving animals by the Guards.

What is the drink that will get him where he needs to go? He thinks each day. The sherry he had put by as a surprise? We get every twist and turn of this through forty-five pages, pieces of his being falling off as he travels the oblivious road, all of it relentlessly, brutally present, and rendered with care. Finally he is brought weeping in a car to an asylum to dry out, where to escape his self-loathing he takes down the stories of the mad and infirm around him.

In time he is let out of the gate, he makes his way back to his cottage and he takes down a notebook. What he writes is the remaining several hundred pages of the book we are holding in our hands, the story of his exhilarating and ruinous love for Catherine Adams, an attempt to transcend her by turning her into text. It is also the story of the Ireland of his time, and times beyond. It takes in the wild splendour of the West, bohemian Dublin, the bracing austerities of Northern Presbyterianism, rain- sodden Midland towns, the corrosiveness of Loyalist East Belfast, war, drink, madness and both the recoiling from and the yearning for impossible connections.

Around and through it you hear the plaintive cry of the goat. They are like characters out of Beckett, crawling uncomprehendingly towards some dimly perceived light, some place or person where they hope to find completion, but then failing and falling back. It is the story of these people but it is also, as the writer Ronan Sheehan once said to me, of the country wishing to unite itself but being tragically unable to do so.

There are many things in this book you can find elsewhere in his work—the splendour of nature, the comedy of earnestness, the extraordinariness of the mundane, the sexual charge in the meeting of opposites, language that moves towards, and almost becomes, music, the act of writing itself. These are themes, tropes, literary garments of a kind. He had breakdowns large and small and seemed to seek them in everyday life, controlled detonations that worked as a release, a clearing away to allow things to be seen clear and fresh.

One brought about his first story. He had a terrifying night among flying candles in a haunted room in Roscommon in which the concrete objects seemed to dissolve, and then wrote it.

For the first three years they were lit only by candles, with the sea threatening to take down the cliff on which the house sat. The sea wall was reinforced, the three- room house extended southwards along the cliffline to comprise the outbuildings and they filled them with paintings and books.

He built flowerbeds like tiny ring forts by the side of the road. One night a neighbour called on him to help dig a grave and they felt then as citizens of the place. The work lightened. The poems were often of things he could see from his window and had the simplicity of Japanese ink drawings. They seemed to be happening in front of you as you read them. You felt the perceiving eye, the drawing hand and, with paradox, the thing itself.

He found an old diary from his youth and made the memoir The Bend for Home. The great floods of improvised language devolved at times to sentences of three single-syllable words. Humour and affection went into the ascendant. He told me on the phone he was writing a book about a flood, but no such book appeared. His daughter Inor became seriously ill and they set up a care unit for her in the house.

Later, the geese occupied him, and plays and community work. The advance sat heavily on him. He thought of sending it back. But then scenes began to accrue and he lined them up. He was hesitant to let it go but then Big Tits - The Monastery Of Sound - Get Your Tits Out (For The Lads) (Vinyl) did. We were on a golf course in Las Vegas, and as it happened he was talking about the dynamics of the swing.

Dermot told me he wanted to write a book that would be nearly all dialogue, in which he was all but absent, out of the way, and Long Time, No See came out like that. You hear the voices and just barely scent the faintest, powdery traces of him.

That may be what he was always aiming for. To disappear. I flew from Bydgoszcz in Poland to Dublin and then drove to Sligo. I got to the house after midnight. He reached beyond himself, spared neither himself nor his readers. No one asked him to do it, he did it because he wanted to, or had to, but there was nevertheless something of self-sacrifice about it, in the scale of what he had taken on and what he put himself through to do it.

Who is that there tapping the windowpane. Who is that there raking the fire for me. Who is that there tickling the toes of me. Who is that there pulling the blanket from me. He comes back. Westmeath town of Finea in the year would have been considered a neo-Gallic orgiastic hotbed of concupiscence, philosophical expatiation, peyote ingestion and persistently riotous disputes of a theosophical and political nature.

And never shut up saying, so far as I can remember. These images in his fiction are as striking in their opulence as a Harry Clarke stained-glass window, and I always looked forward to them with delicious anticipation.

There is a scene in One Hundred Years of Solitude where, in the aftermath of a pistol shot, a trickle of blood comes running out the door, crosses the living room out into the street, continues in a straight line across the uneven terraces, and trickles down some steps before passing along the Street of the Turks.

It was the world I lived in and one that I recognised—but it had never been approached like this before. I mean, I never found much of Borges in Patrick Kavanagh—but this! William Vorm, ; Dublin: Wolfhound, 5—9. My goodness, Beckett with Co. Cavan accents! Davora gavora! Jigs and reels! Subterranean inner-city London!

Drugs mixed in with the Irish language! Old women smoking fags quoting Shakespeare and Laurel and Hardy! Not readily, at any rate. We talked for hours about language and the importance of faith and place, with Dermot constantly referencing Babel and Higgins. And it occurs to me now how extraordinary that anthology of short stories edited by Aidan Higgins actually was—the one he had produced for Jonathan Cape entitled A Century of Short Stories—a compilation which, I daresay, in its breathtaking cheek and singular perception, would be pretty much close to unthinkable in these curiously conservative and commodified days.

But in this case, it really was. That became The Drumlin, a journal far ahead of its time. My mother wrote to him on my behalf—and I never forgave her. He used to come to the music sessions she ran. And he crucified it! Such a name for a story collection! Would you like to know what that was called?

He straddled epochs, instinctively comprehending both puritan and cavalier, cornerboy and captain of industry. Talk about Gogarty! One night I laughed so much I covered him in a mighty deluge of golden lager—Harp, as I recall. Of which we drank plenty. Once we were escorted out of a pub by the barman. But anyone looking to give it another shot might arguably have discovered it in the car that day as we fell on the tarmac, and descried the assembly of our astonished hosts gazing through a bungalow window.

But he never made it, I discovered, having made his way back into the pub, bewilderingly persuading the same barman to cash a cheque for five pounds for the bus fare. Not long after his funeral, in fact. For there has been no Irishman quite like him. Once, in Brixton, he had inexplicably erupted, presumably having been inspired by some stray calypso beat and compelled towards a snaring of the local demotic by the hovering, colourful spirit of Haile Selassie.

He proceeded to subject me to the worst three minutes of torture ever inflicted on a human being. But, to be honest, when I was a young chap going about the place, writers were almost universally regarded as fruit-and-nut cases. Is writing worth anything? When alchemised with that gentle filigree of language that characterises so much of The Bend for Home, then the wet streets might be moist from the paint of Monet, such is their arresting, made-new aesthetic wonder.

There are some memories that tend to wrench me more than others. Its resident viewers, our two daughters, who would have been eight or nine at the time, were getting ready for school. A year later we were out in Maugherow, enjoying the hospitality of Helen and himself in that little cottage-of-wonders by the sea, with Tiny the mongrel barking his head off. They were there again, pale, sitting in their wellies upon the dry stone wall.

They say he had an unruly mind; well, such was the order and precise meticulousness that I noted that night—as I had on many other occasions—that I feel this appraisal must be hotly disputed. I was back in Macondo the other night. You had to—because you knew my early influence on your work was too strong. You had no option but to do it. An old chap had come over to talk to him about donkeys, and before you knew it Dermot had launched into an impromptu series of arcane Irish ballads, tapping his toe in an old, long black coat.

And believe it or not, it kind of looked like him, sort of haughty and medieval. But the point is that he saw it straightaway— no one else did. I dreamed of his return. Flanked on the Granard Road by the twin great compass legs of the zenith-poised midday sun.

He was wearing a pair of dove-white wings, the tips of which came away down past his knees. I beat them down from three bob to two-and-six! But they had. O, they had all right. I went back recently to the Granard Road. Predictably enough, it was all boarded up. With Footsbarn Theatre Company cartwheeling and carousing, and the maestro at the height of his powers. Maybe there was a moorhen, a waxwing, a startled rabbit, or a party of geese like gentlemen and ladies at a wedding.

Two phantom figures made their way along the riverbank, murmuring genially after the fashion of elderly clerics. Chatting, as such men do, of superior breeds in the sprinting world, along that worn and winding track. Now going cheap! Only two-and-six!

We find each other on the pages of our books before life delivers us to each other in person. It carried us movingly through every page. The book is lyrical and moves into one at an effortless, truehearted level. One feels keenly and without sentimentality the deep affection, disappointment and general collapse of expectation a person suffers with such a father. Josie and I both thought the book unforgettable, and when we learned Dermot lived in North Sligo with his wife Helen at Ballyconnell, we somehow formed the notion of visiting him.

We must have been invited, for without intricate directions there would have been no way to find them on that far promontory above the lip of the Atlantic. We eventually arrived at a cosy cottage with add-ons of rooms and a huge stone fireplace at the centre. I recall Dermot backlit before the fire, his white hair and beard, his bluer-than-blue eyes flashing out as he moved, situating and resituating himself as he spoke—a bird-of-a-man in a checkered wool jacket. How could he be so welcoming and furtive at once, so genial and bedeviled?

Both of us were writers addicted to our seas— the way they roiled us, smoothed us out like stones; but also their overbearing, inexplicable inroads into our psyches. Dermot, wanting more natural light in his cottage, had punched in skylights. He loved his place and gardened with seaweed for fertilizer and mulch on a patch beside the house. He took us down to the ancient lava-pour of black rocks, slick as the backs of seals, jutting out over the sea. There he told us stories of immigrant fishermen seeking to supplement their livelihoods with fish they caught from those very rocks, some of these men tragically washed away by rogue waves.

He took delight as we marvelled at his daring proximity to the sea, his closest neighbour. Dermot was a bit like a rogue wave himself in his sea-strangeness. His intensities were gripping when he told a story or listened to Josie offer one. I think he prized us for our own attentive listening— for he was dramatic, a natural performer, and the right audience compelled him to his best. But getting things written alone could be an agony, one guessed.

I had the notion that he courted his muse with cunning and solitude, then dashed out to his friends like guilty play. In Irish life my experience has been that one tends to know people in company—in couples or in a band of like-minded friends.

To know a person one-on-one seems a thing of my youth when I was roving about Ireland with musicians and poets. There was always red wine and nonstop chat. The poet and novelist Leland Bardwell, another neighbour, would usually be there. That Ray had managed his escape was manna in the desert to many writers I met, both in America and Ireland, in search of peace from that particular demon. Everything proceeded from that, I allowed—a true love of being alive, unencumbered by the soak of oblivion alcohol had brought to his former life.

Josie and I had been invited to spend the night, which saved the long nighttime journey back from N. Sligo to my Lough Arrow cottage near the Roscommon border. The evening could then be elastic into morning. Stories and poems would be given by the fireside at leisure.

That night Dermot read to us from his poems in manuscript. It was a feast, a bounty, an unforgettable rare pleasure. I asked to hear several poems more than once, the better to absorb them. Dermot obliged and seemed to experience his poems anew in our hearing. Sea-strangeness: Memories of Dermot Healy 53 It must have been three or four in the morning before it occurred to us to sleep. Big Tits - The Monastery Of Sound - Get Your Tits Out (For The Lads) (Vinyl) dreams reverberated with the rhythms of his poems.

The following morning Josie, to my surprise, announced after breakfast that we were bound for Dowra in Co. Leitrim to a sheep mart.

He needed directions. He had to meet a man with a truckload of lambs from the farm he and his eldest son managed. Dermot realised immediately that I had not been figured into this errand.

It was a delicate situation. Helen delivered a plate of food to a widowed neighbour, then settled herself into the car with us. It was an hour and more to my cottage, but our journey passed quickly, relieved by our conversation.

To be understood at such a level with no defense necessary, was more than comforting. Dermot had rescued me without fuss, just in the normal graciousness of friendship, and had also managed not to make Josie uncomfortable at having to head off for Dowra without me.

It was one of his pleasures that he supported the work of others. Some of his students once told us, at an evening after a reading, what a marvellous teacher he was. His fine magazine Force 10 gave many young Irish writers a leg up. His editing was passionate, a pure gift to his community. I served soup and salmon in the tiny entrance room. Then we gamboled on foot down to Ballindoon Abbey where Dermot began to take notes on a scrap of paper, jotting down names from the oldest gravestones inside the roofless abbey.

He knew some of the history of the area since he said some of his people had originated not far from there. How did he know I loved stones? You just know. And of course, he gave me something he loved. My own bird-watching in Ireland had been confined to my feeder—gold finches, coal tits, stonechats and blue tits, with magpies and the occasional flash of a pheasant in the field behind the cottage.

Dermot had a great knowledge of birds and wildlife. It fed his spirit and his poetry and made conversation with him, for a longtime interloper on Irish soil like myself, fascinating. We mill about wishing for magic. The moon is overly bright. Sean starts to sing and do a little jig in the roadway. Dermot joins in. Two grown men are dancing and singing before the seeming corpse of our jeep.

Finally, we all gravitate back to the problem and study our case. Leland offers to push the jeep with her disproportionately small car.

We shout our thanks as I jump aboard, waving at our moonstruck friends, who are in no hurry to close down the evening by going inside and leaving the festival of stars over their heads. When I look back they are still singing and dancing in the receding roadway. He had done them well—of which more anon. Sad to be speaking to you in death, to have to lay my pleas in passive ash, because the turning wheel has taken you from me—poor brother!

Thirty years previously, Garret and I had driven to a Cavan border town for the launch of Fighting with Shadows, also known by the Greek name for that idea: Sciamachy.

Now Garret was at my first meeting with Dermot, in We were photographed together at a reception for the Hennessy Literary Awards.

That day we were both winners. If my calculations are correct, I was 21, and he We both wore our hair long, as was the fashion for young men forty years ago. A world that Dermot was destined to know much better than I. We had a lot of fun that night and remained friends. Apart from meeting Dermot, I have two memories of the awards ceremony. The judges were V. Edna was strikingly beautiful with her red hair, peachy skin and black designer dress.

Dermot and I did not begrudge them the moment. The prize, apart from some money, was a statuette of the Hennessy dog; a St. Bernard dog with a little barrel of brandy hanging from its neck; the kind of dog which finds you and saves your life when you are trapped by a blizzard in the Brenner Pass. I had too much brandy on board and promptly dropped the dog. To my embarrassment, its leg broke. For the photograph, Dermot grips my elbows, keeping me upright. The flavour was intellectual.

Dermot did not go to university. In my view, the source of his power as a writer is his direct apprehension of the physical presence of people, animals and objects in the natural world. Yeats wrote: John Synge, I and Augusta Gregory, thought All that we did, all that we said or sang Must come from contact with the soil, from that Contact everything Antaeus-like grew strong.

He compelled all comers to wrestle with him and killed them when overcome. He was made stronger when thrown into contact with his mother the earth. He was defeated and killed by Heracles, who suspended him in the air. He introduces them to a real house, one with windows, doors, a garden, a roof. We cross a threshold and enter the world of Dermot Healy: For a few bewildering seconds, Jim Philips, on the day of his retirement, queried late morning sounds he had not heard in years.

Then his solitary sense of freedom began. He looked with leisure at the low pink boards that ran the length of the ceiling, yellowing at the fireplace, brightening at the window. Light was hammering on the broken shutter. Shadows darted across the mildewed embroidery of dogs and flowers. He cleared his womanless bed with a light heart, glad to have outgrown the ache in his smothered loins, outlived his job that he might die in a time of his own making.

The plot embraces a rural world—even underworld—which he does not explain to the outsider. IZZ G. JUS G. LAD G. LAM G. LED G. LEE G. LEI G. LEN G. LEY G. LIA G. LIB G. LID G. LIM G. LIT G. LOB G. LOM G. LOP G. LUE G.

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HIN W. HIP W. HIR W. HIT W. HIZ W. HOA W. HOM W. HOP W. HOT W. ICE W. ICH W. ICK W. IDE W. IEL W. IFE W. ILD W. ILE W. ILI W. ILL W. ILT W. Salam recognized a friend of his father striding out, his face flushed and his pockets bulging. In all his fifteen years he had never seen anybody behave like this.

Until a few days ago everyone he knew had moved slowly, heads down, eyes averted. Now these same people — his neighbours — were wild in their desire, stealing anything they could lay their hands on and destroying the rest. Salam reached into a broken case for a necklace made of pale orange and amber stones. But someone grabbed his wrist before he could grasp it: a middle-aged woman, eyes ablaze, blocking Salam with her left hand, stealing the necklace for herself with her right.

He backed away. Suddenly he was pushed forward again: a new group of looters had arrived and they were making for the stairwell. Salam was swept along as they headed down a flight of stairs: a rumour had spread that the museum staff had stashed all the best stuff in the storerooms.

He saw a knot of men standing around a door which they had clearly just lifted off its hinges. Behind it stood a freshly-constructed wall of cinder blocks, the cement barely set. First one man, then two, began hacking away at the bricks with hammers; others Big Tits - The Monastery Of Sound - Get Your Tits Out (For The Lads) (Vinyl) them using bars, even their shoulders.

They turned to Salam. Soon the hastily-assembled wall gave way, a sandcastle crumbling in the waves. The leader of the group stepped through the hole and at once began to laugh. Others quickly joined him. Salam could soon see the source of their joy: the room was packed with treasure — stone carvings of princesses and kings; etchings of rams and oxen; statues of buxom goddesses and Nubian women; ceramic jars, urns and bowls.

There were copper shoes, fragments of tapestry and, on the wall, a frieze of soldiers fighting some long-forgotten war. That was soon carted off. Except these were not squashed tomatoes or bruised peppers, but artwork and tools that had survived since the birth of civilization. Salam could hear raised voices: two of the ringleaders were arguing. One slapped the other and the pair began to fight, bringing a metal bookcase stacked with pots crashing to the ground.

Someone produced a knife. A man gave Salam a hard push in the back, shoving him towards the violence. Instinctively, he wheeled around, dived out of the hole in the cinder-block wall and ran. He rushed down the stairs, hearing a new clamour at each landing. Every one of the eighteen galleries in the museum was now undergoing the same plunder. The noise scared him. Salam kept heading down, flight after flight, until he had left the crowds behind: no one was bothering to come this far down now with such easy pickings higher up.

He would be safely away from them here. Salam pushed open a door and it moved easily. In the gloom he could see a few boxes of papers overturned, their contents carpeting the floor. Whoever was responsible had been right not to linger: this was merely an office. He noticed a few decapitated wires, dangling like the roots of an upended tree: someone had stolen the phones and fax machine and left the rest.

Maybe they had missed something, Salam thought. He tugged at the desk drawers, hoping to find a gold pen or even a cashbox. But all he found were a few old sheets of paper. He headed for the door only to catch his foot on a ridge by the desk.

Salam looked down to find a loose stone square. Hardly thinking, Salam wedged his fingers into the gap between the squares and prized out the loose one. It being too murky to see, he felt for the ground below — but his hand just sank into a narrow but deep hole. Now he felt something solid; cool to the touch.

It was a tin box. At last: money! He had to lie on the ground, his cheek against the stone, in order to reach down far enough. His fingers struggled to grasp their target. The box was difficult to lift, but at last he got it out. It was locked; but its contents seemed too silent for coins and too heavy for notes. He stood up, peering through the darkness until he found what he assumed was a letter opener lying on the desk.

He slid it under the thin tin of the lid, leaning on the blade to lever up the metal. He did that all the way along one side, opening the box like a can of beans. By tipping it to one side, he could make the object inside slide out.

His heart was pounding. The second he saw it, he was disappointed. It was a clay tablet, engraved with a few random squiggles, like so many of the others he had seen tonight, many of them just smashed to the ground. Salam was about to discard it, but he hesitated.

If some museum guy had gone to such lengths to hide this lump of clay, maybe it was worth something. Salam sprinted up the stairs until he could see moonlight. He had come out at the back of the museum, where he could see a fresh horde of looters breaking their way in.

He waited for a gap in the line, then stepped through the broken-down exit doors. Running flat out, he slipped into the Baghdad night — carrying a treasure whose true value he would never know. The hardcore leftists, the men with their hair grown long after a year travelling in India, the girls with diamond studs in their noses, the people who always turned up for these Saturday night get-togethers.

They would form the inner circle at Rabin Square, whether handing out leaflets and bumper stickers or softly strumming guitars, letting the tunes drift into the warm, Mediterranean night air. Beyond the core there were newer, less familiar, faces. Yet here they were. Banners in Russian, held aloft by immigrants to Israel from the old Soviet Union — another traditionally hardline constituency.

An NBC cameraman framed a shot which made his director coo with excitement: a man wearing a kippa, the skullcap worn by religious Jews, next to a black Ethiopian-born woman, their faces bathed by the light of the candle in her hands.

A few rows behind them, unnoticed by the camera, was an older man: unsmiling, his face taut with determination. He checked under his jacket: it was still there. Standing on the platform temporarily constructed for the purpose was a line of reporters, describing the scene for audiences across the globe. One American correspondent was louder than all the others. The two sides are negotiating even now, in closed-door talks less than an hour from here in Jerusalem.

And the location for those talks? Israel has, until now, insisted that Jerusalem must remain its capital, a single city, for all eternity. But hold on, I think the Israeli leader has just arrived. Bounding towards the microphone was the Deputy Prime Minister, who received a polite round of applause.

Though nominally a party colleague of the PM, this crowd also knew he had long been his bitterest rival. And when he appeared, this vast mass of humanity erupted. Perhaps three hundred thousand of them, clapping, stamping and whooping their approval. It was not love for him they were expressing, but love for what he was about to do — what, by common consent, only he could do. No one else had the credibility to make the sacrifices required. In just a matter of days he would, they hoped, end the conflict that had marked the lives of every single one of them.

He was close to seventy, a hero of four Israeli wars. If he had worn them, his chest would have been weighed down with medals. He had been in politics for nearly twenty years, but he thought like a soldier even now. The press had always described him as a hawk, perennially sceptical of the peaceniks and their schemes. But things were different now, he told himself.

There was a chance. We fight and we fight and we fight, but we are tired. Excuse me. His hair was silver grey, his chest barrelled; he was no younger than the Prime Minister. This wade through the throng was exhausting him; his shirt collar was darkening with sweat.

He looked as if he was trying to catch a train. He was getting nearer to the front now and was still pushing. The plain clothes guard in the third row of the crowd was the first to notice him, immediately whispering a message into the microphone in his sleeve.

That alerted the security detail cordoning the stage, who began scoping the faces before them. It took them no time to spot him. He was making no attempt to be subtle. By now the plain clothes officer was just a couple of yards away. Sir, sir. Then he recognized him. They recognized him too.

Professor Shimon Guttman, scholar and visionary, or windbag and rightwing rabble-rouser, depending on your point of view; never off the TV and the radio talk shows. He was marching on, squeezing past a mother with a child on her shoulders. Guttman ignored him.

Now the agent began making his own journey through the crowd, breaking through a small cluster of teenagers. He considered pulling out his weapon, but decided against it: it would start a panic.

He called out again, his voice was instantly drowned out by sustained applause. He was directly behind the older man; one long stretch and he could grab him. But the crowd was more tightly packed here; it was harder to push through. The agent stood on tiptoes and leaned over, just lightly brushing his shoulder.

By now Guttman was within shouting distance of the stage. He looked up towards the Prime Minister, who was coming to the climax of the speech. Security agents from all sides were now closing in, two on each side, as well as the first man advancing from behind. They were ready to pounce, to smother him to the ground as they had been taught, when a sixth agent, standing to the right of the stage, spotted a sudden movement.

Perhaps it was just a wave, it was impossible to tell for sure, but Guttman, still staring maniacally at the Prime Minister, seemed to be reaching into his jacket.

The first shot was straight to the head, just as it had been rehearsed a hundred times. No muscular reflex that might set off a suicide bomb; no final seconds of life in which the suspect might pull a trigger. The bodyguards watched as the silver-haired skull of Shimon Guttman blew open like a watermelon, brains and blood spattering the people all around. Within seconds, the PM had been bundled off the stage and was at the centre of a scrum of security personnel shoving him towards a car.

The crowd, cheering and clapping thirty seconds earlier, was now quaking with panic. There were screams as those at the front tried to run away from the horrible sight of the dead man.

Police used their arms to form a cordon around the corpse, but the pressure of the crowd was almost impossible. People were screaming, stampeding, desperate to get away. One of them flashed a badge at a police officer and somehow ducked under his arms and inside the small, human clearing formed around the body. He had fallen face down and now the officer rolled the lifeless body over. What he saw made him blanch.

It was not the shattered bone or hollowed eye sockets; he had seen those before. Still clenched, the fingers were not wrapped around a gun — but gripping a piece of paper, now sodden with blood. This man had not been reaching for a revolver — but for a note. He had wanted to tell him something.

One, two, three. She hated the mornings and regarded the Sunday lie-in as a constitutionally protected right. Not Edward. But once they had come here, he had adapted pretty fast. Now he was Washington Man, out of the house just after six am. Through a squinted eye jammed up against the pillow, Maggie could see he was in shorts and a running vest, both sweaty. I have a complete plan. She had a morning appointment, an overspill slot for clients who could never make weekdays.

If she was going to be up at this hideous hour, she might as well get something out of it. The Sunday talk shows. The show was hopping back and forth between correspondents in Jerusalem and the White House, explaining that the US administration was taking steps to ensure all the parties kept calm and carried on talking. What a nightmare, thought Maggie. She imagined the mediators who had brought the Israelis and Palestinians to this point.

Not the big name politicians, the secretaries of state and foreign ministers who stepped into the spotlight at the last moment, but the backroom negotiators, the ones who did all the hard graft for months, even years before. She imagined their frustration and angst. Poor bastards. If you start late, you stay late. You should be thanking me. He was still attractive, his features straight and strong.

Now an official at the Commerce Department, dealing with international trade, he was always clean-shaven, his Brooks Brothers shirts neatly pressed. His shoes were polished. He was a creature of DC, not too different from any of the other juiceless white males they would see at the suburban brunches and cocktail parties they went to, now that he was part of official Washington.

These days only she would know that somewhere under that button-down exterior was the stubbled, unkempt do-gooder, working for an aid organization, distributing food, she had fallen for. He had been transferred to South America soon after they first met.

By the time he came back to Africa, she had moved on to the Balkans. That was how it was for people like them, an occupational hazard. She was falling through the air after the episode they almost never spoke about these days — and he caught her. For that, she would never stop being grateful.

She stumbled into the shower and was still drying off when the intercom sounded: the clients, down at the entrance to the apartment building. She buzzed them in. Allowing for the lift journey, she would have about a minute to get dressed.

She scraped her hair back into a rapid ponytail and reached for a loose grey top, which fell low over her jeans.

She flung open a cupboard and grabbed the first pair of low-heeled shoes she could see. Just time for a quick glance at herself in the mirror by the front door. Nothing too badly out of place; nothing anyone would notice. This had been her habit since she had come to Washington. All greys and blacks and sweaters that a family could camp in.

You dress like a really fat person, do you know that, Maggie? Maggie told her to get away, though she knew Liz had a point. She guessed that Maggie had got that bullshit out of some textbook. And she was right. Nor did Maggie dare let on that this new look was also the preference of her boyfriend. With gentle hints at first, then more overtly, Edward had encouraged Maggie to start tying her hair back, or to put away the fitted tops, tight trousers or knee-length skirts that constituted her previous urban wardrobe.

If Maggie dressed differently now, that was her own decision, made in part for a reason that she had never shared with Liz and never would. Maggie had once dressed sexily, there was no denying it.

But look where that had led. She opened the door to Kathy and Brett George, ushering them towards the spare room reserved for this purpose. Normally, six sessions did it, the couple working out the terms of their break-up without any need to call a lawyer, thereby saving on heartache and money.

That was the idea anyway. She gestured to them to sit down, reminded them where they had got to the previous week and what issues remained outstanding. And then, as if she had fired a starting gun, the pair began laying into each other with a ferocity that had not let up since the day they had first walked in.

And the car for that matter. She had just about had it with the Georges. The two of them had sat there on that couch, slugging it out for four consecutive weeks without taking a blind bit of notice of a word she said. She had tried it soft, saying little, offering a gentle nod here and there.

She had tried it hands-on, intervening in every twist and turn of the conversation, directing and channelling it like a stream running through the middle of the room.

She preferred it this second way, firing off questions, chipping in with her opinions, no matter if Little Missy over there turned up her nose or if Mr Rod-Up-His-Arse squirmed in his seat. They still came back in as much of a mess as when they first started. Do you see that thing he does? It had made sense at the time. OK, this was not quite the area she was used to, but mediation was mediation, right?

How different could it be? She had become frightened of it, ever since she had seen what could happen when you failed. I am more than happy to pay whatever maintenance budget we all decide is reasonable.

Do you hear this, Maggie? Like a rambler spotting a new path, she decided to follow it, see where it led. I wonder if Brett kind of likes me being dependent. You know his first wife was an alcoholic, right?

Well, did you also know that as soon as she got better, Brett left her? It was a trick she had learned during negotiations of a different kind, long ago. Forgive me. What do you make of all this, this suggestion that you are somehow trying to keep Kathy weak? I think that was the word she used. Maggie nodded throughout, but she was distracted.

And, worse, by her ridiculous slip of the tongue. She wondered if Kathy and Brett had noticed. OK, she thought, we need to move to final status. Those things on which you absolutely, positively will not compromise. Red lines. Go on. Write them down. Except this time she was one of the nuns. At last, she thought. A moment of peace.

She looked at this couple in front of her, two people who had once been so in love they had decided to share everything, even to create three new lives. When she had met up with Edward again after, after. No more war zones, no more anonymous hotel conference rooms, no more twenty-hour days fuelled by coffee and cigarettes. On the wrong side of thirtyfive, she would settle down and have a family life.

Fifteen years later than the girls she had gone to school with, admittedly, but she would have a family and a life. What about you, Kathy? All right, Kathy. Give us your three red lines. You kidding? My kids have to have financial security. I have to have the house, so that the kids can have continuity. First you gotta give me your red lines.

I need three. I want that. Access whenever I want. No child support unless Kathy is a full-time mom. And that means the kids get looked after by their mom.

Just like old times, she thought to herself with a smile. After all, this was what she was used to. An image flashed into her mind, which she quickly pushed out. But it helped. It gave her an idea, or rather it made her see something she had not realized until that moment. These sessions have become useless.

The two people on the couch opposite suddenly turned their attention away from each other and stared at her. She could feel their eyes on her, but she ignored them, busying herself with her papers instead. Course you have. At last, Brett forced himself to speak. There is no way we can get through this without you. The lawyers will get it sorted. What was going on? Right here. You heard those red lines. From now on, he would pay his way even if she carried on working, though she would have a genuine incentive to stay home.

The children would live in their own house with their mother, except for alternate weekends and whenever either the kids or their father fancied seeing each other. The rule would be no hard and fast rules. The captain wiped his beard. Boerhaave, my fowling piece, if you please. Roderick warned me. Autua was awaiting his trial in the cotton trowzers I purchased in Port Jackson he had climbed aboard from Mr. His back was exposed. My ally, Henry, was still abed, unaware of my jeopardy.

Ewing, who knows nothing about how you boarded my vessel, says you regard yourself a seaman. Boerhaave thrust at the chink in my armor. When was this gift awarded?

Autua answered with primed percipience. Molyneux nodded. Molyneux ordered me to shut up or swim back to the Chathams. No American captain would cut a man down, not even a nigger, so odiously! Soon Autua had the sail down—a difficult operation even for a team of four men.

It is grown too dark to see. My Ailment is a parasite, Gusano coco cervello. It breeds in the stinking canals of Batavia, doubtless the port of my own infection. Ensconced in the brain, it enters a gestation phase.

Less than half a drachm leaves Gusano coco unpurged, but more kills the patient with the cure. Henry bridled when I mentioned his fee. You are no valetudinarian viscount with banknotes padding his pillows! Providence steered you to my ministrations, for I doubt five men in this blue Pacific can cure you!

All I ask, dear Adam, is that you are an obedient patient! I shall look in after the last dog. Even as I write these words, I am tearful with gratitude. My senses grow alert, yet my limbs grow Lethean. In vain Gusano coco hides, dear Adam, in vain. Earlier, I stepped on a squid that had propelled itself over the bulwarks!

Autua knocked on my coffin door yesterday to thank me for saving his neck. He said he was in my debt true enough until the day he saves my life may it never dawn! It is pleasant merely to breathe the cooler air. Rafael was next coerced to take his turn. Oh, Shenandoah, I love your daughterI love the place across the water.

The ship sails free, the wind is blowingThe braces taut, the sheets a-flowing. Silence from rude mariners is a grander accolade than any erudite eulogy. Why should Rafael, an Australian-born lad, have an American song by heart? It stuck in me. His luminous beauty is chipped away, revealing the timber-muscled seaman he shall become. How I wish I could help him! Were it not for the intervention of my Mr. Fish similar to borettoes pursued fish similar to sprats.

To confirm these portents of nearby islands, the man at the lead shouted a depth of only eighteen fathoms. Boerhaave ordered the anchor to be weighed lest we drift onto a reef in the night. Henry assures me this symptom is welcome, but has obliged my request for an increased dosage of vermicide. Exactly what happened, but instead of a crashing noise, an august chord rang out, half-cello, half- celeste, D major?

My wrist knocked a Ming vase affair off its pedestal—E- flat, whole string section, glorious, transcendent, angels wept. Ah, such music! A monstrous Laughing Cavalier flung against the wall set off a thumping battery of percussion. Had no choice but to exit swiftly via the bathroom window before the brouhaha summoned the manager to discover that the young gentleman in Room had no means of settling his now-hefty balance.

Escape was not hitchless, sorry to report. Drainpipe ripped free of its mounting with the noise of a brutalized violin, and down, down, down tumbled your old chum. Right buttock one hellish bruise. Learn from this, Sixsmith. When insolvent, pack minimally, with a valise tough enough to be thrown onto a London pavement from a first-or second-floor window. Insist on hotel rooms no higher.

Miserable spirits. Laboring types surrounded me with bad teeth, parrot voices, and unfounded optimism. Those shopworkers, cabbies, and tradesmen had more half crowns and threepenny bits squirreled away in their sour Stepney mattresses than I, Son of an Ecclesiastical Somebody, can claim. Had a view of an alley: downtrodden scriveners hurtling by like demisemiquavers in a Beethovian allegro. I, a Caius Man, teetering on the brink of destitution.

Indecent hotels demand cash on the nail. Am barred from any reputable gaming table this side of the Pyrenees. Anyway, I summarized my options:— i Use paltry funds to obtain a dirty room in some lodging house, beg a few guineas from Uncle Cecil Ltd.

Come now. Would validate every poisonous word he said about me. Mean it. Problematic, for same reasons as i. How long could I conceal my starving pocketbook? How long could I stave off their pity, their talons? Across a crowded platform, a guard announced that the Dover-bound train for the ship to Ostend was delayed by thirty minutes. That guard was my croupier, inviting me to double or quits.

Downed my soapy tea and strode across the concourse to the ticket office. A return ticket to Ostend was too costly—so parlous has my position become—so a single it had to be. We were Big Tits - The Monastery Of Sound - Get Your Tits Out (For The Lads) (Vinyl) way.

In the Belgian backwaters, south of Bruges, there lives a reclusive English composer, named Vyvyan Ayrs. The only Briton of his generation to reject pomp, circumstance, rusticity, and charm. My daydream had me traveling to Belgium, persuading Vyvyan Ayrs he needed to employ me as an amanuensis, accepting his offer to tutor me, shooting through the musical firmament, winning fame and fortune commensurate to my gifts, obliging Pater to admit that, yes, the son he disinherited is the Robert Frobisher, greatest British composer of his time.

Why not? Had no better plan. You groan and shake your head, Sixsmith, I know, but you smile too, which is why I love you. Uneventful journey to the Channel … cancerous suburbs, tedious farmland, soiled Sussex. Dover an utter fright staffed by Bolsheviks, versified cliffs as Romantic as my arse and a similar hue. Changed last shillings into francs at the port and took my cabin aboard the Kentish Queena rusty tub that looks old enough to have seen service in Crimea. Spud-faced young steward and I disagreed his burgundy uniform and unconvincing beard were worth a tip.

Suited me fine. Dinner was balsawood chicken, powdery potatoes, and a bastard claret. My dining-table companion was Mr. Victor Bryant, cutlery lordling of Sheffield.

Not a musical bone in his body. He expounded on the subject of spoons for most of the meal, mistook my civil deportment for interest, and offered me a job in his sales department on the spot! Can you believe it? Three mighty blasts on the foghorn, engines changed timbre, felt the ship cast off, went on deck to watch Albion withdraw into drizzly murk.

North Sea wind had me shivering, spray licked me from toe to crown. Glossy black waters invited me to jump. The spud-faced steward, his shift over. Gave him rather more than a tip. No Adonis, scrawny but inventive for his class. Turfed him out afterwards and sank into the sleep of the dead. One part of me wanted that voyage never to end. But end it did. Saw my first aboriginal Belgians, hauling crates, arguing, and thinking in Flemish, Dutch, whatever. Packed my valise sharpish, afraid the ship might sail back to England with me still aboard; or, rather, afraid of my letting this happen.

Set foot on Continental macadam and asked a Customs man where I might find the railway station. He pointed toward a groaning tram packed with malnourished workmen, rickets, and penury.

Followed tramlines down coffinesque streets. Ostend is all tapioca grays and stained browns. Will admit, I was thinking Belgium was a b.

Bought a ticket for Bruges and hauled myself aboard the next train— no platforms, can you believe it? Moved compartment because mine smelt unpleasant, but all compartments had same pong. Smoked cigarettes cadged off Victor Bryant to purify the air. Soon steaming through a foggy landscape of unkempt dikes and blasted copses at a fair old clip. If my plan bears fruit, Sixsmith, you may come to Bruges before v. Why, thank you—leery Gothic carapaces, Ararat roofs, shrubbery-tufted brick spires, medieval overhangs, laundry sagging from windows, cobbled whirlpools that suck your eye in, clockwork princes and chipped princesses striking their hours, sooty doves, and three or four octaves of bells, some sober, some bright.

Aroma of fresh bread led me to a bakery where a deformed woman with no nose sold me a dozen crescent- moon pastries. Only wanted one, but thought she had enough problems. Gave him a pastry. His filthy hand was a scabby claw. In a poor quarter alleys stank of effluentchildren helped their mothers at the pumps, filling broken jugs with brown water.

Finally, the excitement all caught up with me, sat on the steps of a dying windmill for a breather, wrapped myself against the damp, fell asleep. Blue sky, warm sun, not a wisp of fog to be seen. Resurrected and blinking, I offered her a pastry. She accepted with distrust, put it in her apron for later, and got back to her sweeping, growling an ancient ditty. Shared another pastry with five thousand pigeons, to the envy of a beggar, so I had to give him one too.

Walked back the way I might have come. Girls fascinate in different ways. Shook her head but got an amused smile. Asked where I could find a police station. She pointed over a crossroads. One can spot a fellow musician in any context, even amongst policemen. The craziest-eyed, unruliest-haired one, either hungry-skinny or jovial-portly. This French-speaking, cor anglais— playing, local operatic society—belonging inspector had heard of Vyvyan Ayrs and kindly drew me a map to Neerbeke.

Paid him two pastries for this intelligence. He asked if I had shipped over my British car—his son was mad keen about Austins. Said I had no car. This worried him. How would I get to Neerbeke? No bus, no trainline, and twenty-five miles was the devil of a walk. Told me that was most irregular. Repeated my request.

Implausible truth can serve one better than plausible fiction, and now was such a time. The honest sergeant took me to a compound where lost items await rightful owners for a few months before finding their way to the black market —but first, he wanted my opinion on his baritone.

Pleasant enough voice in lower registers, but his breathing needed work and his vibrato quivered like a backstage thunder board. Gave a few musical pointers; received the loan of a Victorian Enfield plus cord to secure valise and folder to the saddle and rear mudguard.

He wished me bon voyage and fair weather. Adrian would never have marched along the road I bicycled out of Bruges too deep in Hun territory but nonetheless felt an affinity with my brother by virtue of breathing the same air of the same land. The Plain is flat as the Fens but in a bad shape. Along the way I fueled myself with the last pastries and stopped at impoverished cottages for cups of water. Nobody said much, but nobody said no. A lane with harebells and toadflax growing in the middle led me past a deserted lodge house to a once stately avenue of mature Italian poplars.

Spied a girl riding a horse over a low hill crowned by a shipwrecked beech tree. Passed a gardener spreading soot against the slugs in a vegetable garden. In the forecourt, a muscle-bound valet was decoking a Cowley Flat Nose. Seeing my approach, he rose and waited for me.

In a terraced corner of this frieze, a man in a wheelchair sat under foamy wisteria listening to the wireless. Vyvyan Ayrs, I presumed. The easy part of my daydream was over. Leant the bicycle against the wall, told the valet I had business with his master. Ayrs a husk of a man, as if his illness has sucked all juice out of him, but stopped myself kneeling on the cinder path like Sir Percival before King Arthur.

Our overture proceeded more or less like this. I borrowed the bicycle from a policeman in Bruges. Like pilgrims climbing hills on their knees. Why might that be? He took it personally. The valet showed me into a drawing room decorated in eggshell green, a dull Farquharson of sheep and cornstooks, and a not-very-good Dutch landscape.

Ayrs summoned his wife, Mrs. She kept her own name, and with a name like that who can blame her? The lady of the house was coolly courteous and inquired into my background. Answered truthfully, though I veiled my expulsion from Caius behind an obscure malady. Of my present financial straits I breathed not a word—the more desperate the case, the more reluctant the donor.

It was agreed I could at least stay the night at Zedelghem. Ayrs would put me through my musical paces in the morning, permitting a decision on my proposal. Ayrs did not appear at dinner, however. My arrival coincided with the start of a fortnightly migraine, which confines him to his rooms for a day or two.

My audition is postponed until he is better, so my fate still hangs in the balance. Encouraged my hostess to talk— think she was flattered at how much I know about her illustrious husband, and sensed my genuine love of his music.

People are complicated. Gone midnight. Sincerely, R. You ass. Hearing Hendrick wheeling his master this way, I stopped snooping and faced the doorway. Impress me. Ayrs did not comment. Amble over to the lake and see the ducks. I need, oh, a little time to decide whether or not I can find a use for your … gifts. Scarlatti was a harpsichordist, not a pianist. Crossed the courtyard, where a beetroot-faced gardener was clearing a weed-choked fountain.

Made him understand I wanted to speak to his mistress and pronto—he is not the sharpest tool in the shed—and he waved vaguely toward Neerbeke, miming a steering wheel. What now? See the ducks, why not? Mood was that black. I greeted her. She cantered around me like Queen Boadicea, pointedly unresponsive. Shooting guns crackled across the fields, and Eva reassured her mount. She stroked back some black, corkscrew locks from her cheeks.

Fired artillery shells after her in elegant parabolas. Remembered what country we are in and stopped. Past the sundered beech, the meadow falls away to an ornamental lake, ringing with frogs.

Seen better days. A precarious footbridge connects an island to the shore, and flamingo lilies bloom in vast numbers. Now and then goldfish splish and gleam like new pennies dropped in water.

Whiskered mandarin ducks honk for bread, exquisitely tailored beggars—rather like myself. Martins nest in a boathouse of tarred boards. Under a row of pear trees—once an orchard? An idler and a sluggard are as different as a gourmand and a glutton. Watched the aerial bliss of coupled dragonflies. Even heard their wings, an ecstatic sound like paper flaps in bicycle spokes.

Gazed on a slowworm exploring a miniature Amazonia around the roots where I lay. Not altogether, no. Was woken much later, by first spots of rain. Cumulonimbi were reaching critical mass. Just had time to change into my one clean shirt before the dinner gong. Nothing suited me better. Stewed eel, chervil sauce, the rain skittering on terrace.

C told me a little about her family. Warmed to the woman somewhat, I admit it. She holds forth like a man and smokes myrrhy cigarettes through a rhino-horn holder. Assured her my parents had suffered the same way, and put out feelers re: my audition. Doing so caused him great pain. I mentioned my earlier encounter with Eva, and Mme. My hostess topped up my glass.

My husband has taken very little interest in rearing her like a young lady. He never wanted children. Fathers and daughters are reputed to dote on each other, are they not? Not here. Your sisters are immaculately mannered English roses, I am sure, Monsieur? Made us all sound so gay, almost felt homesick. This morning, a Monday, Eva deigned to share breakfast—Bradenham ham, eggs, bread, all sorts—but the girl spouted petty complaints to her mother and snuffed my interjections out with a flat oui or a sharp non.

Ayrs was feeling better so ate with us. Hendrick then drove the daughter off to Bruges for another week at school—Eva boards in the city with a family whose daughters also attend her school, the Van Eels or some such. Eva does so poison the air of the place. At nine, Ayrs and I adjourned to the music room.

If I proved my worth as V. Sat at his desk, sharpened 2B at the ready, clean MS, waiting for him to name the notes, one by one. Tar-tartar tattytattytatty, tar! Quiet part—tar-tar-tar-tttt-TAR! Old ass obviously thought this was amusing—one could no more notate his shouted garble than one could score the braying of a dozen donkeys—but after another thirty seconds, it dawned on me this was no joke. Sunk into deepest misery while Ayrs carried on, and on, and on … My scheme was hopeless.

Dejected, I let him work through his piece in the lean hope that having it complete in his head might make it easier to duplicate later. Ayrs pinched the bridge of his nose. I asked him to repeat the melody, much more slowly, and to label his notes, one by one. There was an acute pause that felt about three hours long while Ayrs decided whether or not to throw a tantrum. In the end, he released a martyred sigh. Remembered my monetary difficulties and bit my lip. Slowly … Tar! What note is that?

Ayrs verified or rejected my guess with a weary nod or shake of the head. As I fled, I heard Ayrs pronounce for my benefit? Willems—housekeeper—laments the damp, blustery weather and her wet laundry to some unseen underling. Should never have come here. No wonder the poor are all socialists.

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