Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Hegs

I'd a terrible go of the 'Hegs' there the other day. I think it must've been after all my crying up in the office of the ombudsman's ombudsman but I was hegging all over the place afterwards, I just couldn't shake it. The first one came when I was on the tram. It was pretty crowded and I was standing with my armpit in some young one's face and this pair of middle aged women were chatting about the menopause and looking at me and holding their bags of shopping and it was then that the first heg got me. It completely throws you. You think you've finished crying, you're not even thinking about the thing that upset you anymore and then - BOOM - out of nowhere, a Heg.
My whole body convulsed with the force of it. I nearly lost my grip on the overhead strap and everything. I felt unsteady for a moment in the rattling tram and by the time I'd straightened up everyone was looking at me like I was pure mental. I could feel the heat of colour rising in my face and took a run for the doors as soon as the tram had stopped. They're a dreadful affliction, the Hegs. It's some small grace that they're temporary, it'd be an awful thing to be going around, hegging all over the place the whole time like you'd some kind of spastic, moshpit tourettes.

The second one was even worse than the first (it almost always is). A big, shiny 4x4 pulled up while I was in the street and the daddy, who was driving, asked me the way to someplace. The mammy was in the other front seat, looking at me and wearing a tight t-shirt and big black sunglasses that made her head look like it belonged to a giant bluebottle. The two babbies were in the back, the bigger one knocking lumps out of the little one with half a GI-Joe. I was just pointing up the road and saying "You see the second traffic lights, after the first traffic lights," when the second heg got me. It rushed right up my spine in an undulating wave, shutting down nerve endings as it passed.
My knees buckled and I pitched forward, right in through the passenger side window and on to the heaving chest of the mammy. Faintly I was aware of her cries of horror but I was in the throes of it now.
Another wracking convulsion snapped me back out the window as the daddy yelled, the mammy screamed and the babbies began to cry. Then the third and final wave - the forlorn and pitious crescendo of the heg. I'd lost all control of my body now, my shoulders and upper torso heaving with dry sobs, arms flailing, hands slapping against the side of the car and the noise, oh, the noise!
With a final, outrageous spasm, one of my flapping hands ricocheted the wing mirror off the side of the jeep and into traffic. That was enough for the family, as I heard the mammy's panicked wails of "Go go go go..." dopplering away whilst the daddy accelerated off in a smoking, blaze of rubber.

As suddenly as it comes, it is gone and I am left standing, outwardly calm and collected, as though nothing at all had happened, watching the cars pass by. My hands were feeling a bit sore from where they'd gone mental on the car and I think the mammy had hurt my eye with one of her boobies so I decided that I should step into a café for a sit down. A cup of tea and maybe a little cake. I stopped into a place that was full of little old ladies and got a window seat with a pot of tea and one of those cakes that looks like a load of squashed flies sandwiched between a pair of wet cracottes. I was just taking a bite out of my cake and gazing out the window when the third heg got me. I was feeling fairly content, what with my tea and cake and a nice seat by the window but then that's the downright insidiousness of the hegs - they strike when you least expect it. The ragged, retching inhale takes down half of the oblong of confectionery and jams it firmly in my throat, at the same time throwing me forward, face first into the double-glazing.
A little scream from the waitress, gasps and worried silence from the old ladies.
"Aaaah Aaaaaah Aaaaah - Hoooaaahhh - Haaaggghhh..."
I'm on the floor now and the heg has moved seamlessly into choking territory as the morass of squashed flies and cracotte expands to entirely block my throat.
"Whoooggghh Whooooaaaghhh Heghhhhhheeeuurrrghhhh..."
Someone has me from behind now, lifting me bodily and driving a fist underneath my sternum. It is the pretty, young waitress. A sticky explosion of soft fruit and undigested pastry showers the semi-circle of tartan-clad old ladies watching my plight but I am saved. On my knees, I weep with relief. Shuffling, feet swim through my blurred vision and I feel a hand upon my shoulder consoling me. As I try to stem the tears I find myself thinking that if I'm crying again now, then I'll be hegging again later. It's an odious cycle - my psyche and my body duking it out for control whilst my head and my heart try to get on with living.
"Nnhh Nnhh Nnhh Nhh - UhUhUh..."

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Ombudsman's Ombudsman

...and something about its shape makes you feel safe

I was in the offices of the financial services ombudsman the other day to complain about the state of things and the queue was bleedin' massive. I took my ticket and sat in line and pretended not to see the aul wans who came in after me and were looking at me hoping I'd give up my seat to them because they're aul wans and I'm still young and virile and I was there ages and the smell of hoi polloi and pinstripe suits wasn't mixing well and I got a headache and in the end I just had to get up and leave and I was right too because there were still twenty-seven people ahead of me and one of the aul wans gave me a dirty look as she pounced on my seat and the whole experience was pretty awful so I went across the river to the office of the ombudsman's ombudsman to see if I could get some satisfaction there.

The office of the ombudsman's ombudsman is at the top floor of a tall, narrow building that looks a bit like Heather Mills' leg with windows. When you enter the building a man in an official looking hat nods to you and turns a key that opens a door to a lift. Inside the lift is one button with the letters OM bevelled into it. On pressing the button, the lift ascends to the sound of a Buddhist "Ommmmmmmm". Already you begin to feel more at peace - one with things. At the top floor, the door of the lift slides silently open and you step through a curtain of warm air that carries with it the tantalising edge of soothing aromas - chocolate and cinnamon; baby-head, the smell of your first love's knickers. Stepping into the room beyond, you are struck by how perfectly, pristinely white it all is. With no identifiable light source to cast shadows, it takes you a moment to see the shape that stands at its centre. You approach and something about its shape makes you feel safe. You lean against it and realise that, if you stand just so, you can slip into an effortless and comforting embrace. It is soft but strong to the touch. Your face is cradled, your body supported and suddenly you find yourself weeping. Slow, scalding tears run fat and silent down your cheeks but the shape, the space, the implacable office of the ombudsman's ombudsman does not judge you but listens calmly to your wordless complaint.

When at last you are finished. When all the anger and frustration and horror has been purged, you take the Om lift back down to the ground floor where you depart discretely, through a private rear exit.

As you quit the building a camera, mounted upon a pole across the street, takes your photo and adds you to a database of people who will have all of their financial affairs audited, visas revoked, communications disrupted and children deported because we are where we are and you need to just shut your hole complaining and put your shoulder to the wheel son! That's how we get it done in the new Ireland.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wasting Time

When you have finished reading this, stand up, turn around and leave the room. The building you are in, leave it. Get into the street and turn left. Walk for about ten minutes until you come to a right turn. Take it and walk down this road until you see a lane way on the left hand side. Go down this lane. It kicks to the left a little but keep going and you should see ahead of you an old, dirt-blackened, red-brick wall. The bright orange, panelled timber door looks completely out of place but it should be unlocked, just push it open and go inside. Ahead of you is a wide, stone staircase. Climb it, seven flights, to the very top. Pass through the low arch ahead of you and go over to the shadowy shape in the corner. Pull off the mildewed, canvas dust cover. It's a time-machine. Climb in. Set the time to about an hour before you started reading this blog and pull the lever. Now, climb out of the time-machine and, as quickly as you can, retrace your steps to the room you are currently sitting in and wait for yourself from the past to show up so that you can warn yourself not to waste any more time reading this shit.