Happy St. Brigid’s Day

“A certain woman who had taken the vow of chastity fell, through youthful desire of pleasure and her womb swelled with child. Brigid, exercising the most potent strength of her ineffable faith, blessed her, causing the child to disappear, without coming to birth, and without pain. She faithfully returned the woman to health and to penance.”
– Cogitosus, as translated by Connolly & Picard in 1987

That’s…an abortion. Cogitosus was a Kildare monk who may or may not have been related to Brigid but, in any case, penned the oldest surviving record of her life, Vita Sanctae Brigidae around 650 CE. This Life of St. Brigid has been translated at least twice in modern times, the aforementioned work by Connolly & Picard and subsequently by Liam de Paor in 1993. Both translations give roughly the same account of the abortion performed by Brigid.

So. Is there any reason why Cogitosus would lie? As a skeptic, I take all religious claims with a grain of salt…but assuming that you are the sort of faithful devoted Christian who fully believes that Jesus walked on water, surely this text is no more beyond the bounds of possibility than that cloak tale Brigid is otherwise renowned for? I mean, I don’t need words from 650 – words written by a man, no less – to justify free, safe and legal abortion…but if you are the kind of person who adheres to the moral values of Christianity, shouldn’t this give you pause?

Given that Cogitosus seems to have had no cause to fabricate the story, and that it is described in a pretty matter-of-fact tone, it’s possible to infer that the episode would have been much less controversial then than it is now. In other words, maybe back in 650 it was generally agreed that the miracle of life does not begin at conception – otherwise Cogitosus would have known that he was effectively outing Brigid as a murderer or murderess. Then again, I’m no mind reader – especially not of Irish monks who have been dead for over a millennia – so maybe he knew exactly what he was suggesting, and just wrote it in a remarkably nonchalant style to fuck with people’s heads centuries later.

I honestly wouldn’t put it past religious folk. The slippery bastards.

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Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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Febrile

There is a vibrancy to the last throes of visionary sleep that cannot easily be explained. Striking in its urgency, the unconcious mind’s purpose in providing invariably pulsating images is unclear, but it nonetheless offers an affirmation of existence by virtue of its consequence-free nature.

However, the rapidly-fading characteristic of these dreamscapes damns us, for now at least, to an infuriating struggle to recapture the fervent passion contained within the nocturnal moments of wonder. Even the worst nightmares serve to awaken in us an utterly visceral experience of emotion, one we may not encounter at any point during our entire waking life.

It is in these fleeting flashes of illumination that we are truly ourselves, free from the bonds of externality. Without the responsibilities of conscious thought, the tethers that keep our innermost desires in check and bind us to a behaviour of relative modesty, our subconscious reveals itself to us – albeit opaguely – via the fluid narratives we bear witness to.

So there. That’s what I think of dreams anyway.

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Solidarity, brothers & sisters… 

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What a Waste

Music played a massive role in his upbringing. Some of his earliest memories revolved around the tapes played during interminable car journeys on family holidays, parents and siblings all joining in with gusto. They weren’t all good vocalists, of course, but they enjoyed a sing-song as much as anyone. His mother sang in a choir, and every Christmas he would be brought to the concert hall to watch her belt out Handel’s Messiah. Thus the desire to recite music was inculcated in him.

For much of his teenage years, he desperately longed for a guitar with which to complement his singing. Something to give his thin and reedy voice a certain support, a musical instrument to at once distract from and augment his warblings. Eventually, at the age of twenty, he got his wish; an acoustic six-string was given to him as a present. He was giddy with excitement: Finally, he could accompany himself! Finally, he could actually write a song! Finally, he had an alternative to a capella!

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Trouble was, he couldn’t learn how to play. So lacking in any self-discipline was he that after only a short time plucking at the hard fibres he simply gave up. The instrument was discarded, its ungrateful owner quickly admitting defeat. Laziness, impatience, ineptitude… Whatever the reason, his first guitar now gathers dust.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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10 Things to do in an Emergency…

…as devised by a sufferer of Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

1.Panic: Begin internally, by chewing the inside of your mouth. The sustenance will give you the energy required to proceed through the ensuing steps.

2.Curl up into a ball: This is nature’s safety mechanism. You present a smaller target when you become a huddled mass yearning to breathe free.

3.Whimper: Moan, cry, shriek, howl, scream, groan… All are good options. What you want to do here is really externalise your fear.

4.Build a hovel: Once created, this will be perfect to burrow into and hide from the terrifying outside world. Sheets, clothes, towels, carpets… Insulation.

5.Curse Higher Powers: Be creative with your damnations. Desperately blaming your impotence on the actions of Gods unseen is absolutely vital for survival.

6.Craft Weaponry: The combination of a lighter with a can of deodorant results in a handy improvised flamethrower. This will scare/amuse predators and help cook what little food you have.

7.Read: You’re going to be in your hovel a while. Bring a good book, or at least some scraps of newspaper clippings.

8.Hunt: Bait can be arranged out of all sorts of bodily excretions. Snot, nails, skin flakes…even dandruff in a pinch. You probably won’t catch anything (apart from scabies) but it’ll give you something to do and keep morale up.

9.Curse Deities Again: This time for the failure of your shit bait.

10.Expire: You can pass away safe in the knowledge that you did everything you could.

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Tbh, this is all that’ll go through your head in an actual emergency

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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میں اچار میں ہوں

Bit of a pickle. Massive pickle. Monster pickle.

The kind of pickle that would make an excellent antagonist in a trashy 1950’s sci-fi B movie. A pickle of gigantic proportions.

Dunno how I got myself into this epic pickle, but we are where we are, as a great man once said.

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Thing is, I really don’t like people. Actually, that’s not fair – it’s not that I dislike anyone per se, I just prefer when I keep all social interactions to an absolute minimum. Ordinarily, this preference isn’t a problem; I keep to myself, others keep to themselves, everybody’s happy. As long as we all, as much as is humanly possible, refrain from communication, things go pretty smoothly.

Only now I’m completely and utterly lost, in the middle of a foreign country. So, on top of my fervent disdain for engaging strangers in conversation, I now have the language barrier to contend with. Bollocks.

Alright. How do you say, “I am in a pickle” in Urdu?

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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Transfer Window

Dear Mr & Mrs Hughton,

As you have no doubt learned by now, your son Cathal has decided to seek pastures new. Beech Park Under-11’s regret this turn of events, particularly as it means that we shall now have to find a replacement bench-warmer. Nonetheless, we wish Cathal all the luck in the world in fulfilling his ambition of actually getting through a full game – he is, no offence intended, going to need all the help he can get.

Your son left over a difference in tactical outlooks; he felt that our football was more enjoyable when he played…and I disagreed. Compromise is the key to teamwork, however my mature and magnanimous gesture of substituting him in for the last 2 minutes of matches was apparently insufficient for your entitled sprog. Suffice it to say, Beech Park feels that has been a certain lack of gratitude from the little shit.

In an entirely unrelated incident, it appears that Cathal – demonstrating his all round lack of clever footwork – tripped over a fellow footballer’s boot and stumbled through a second floor window. Fortunately, the window was open at the time, so there will be no need to bill you for any damage, but your whining spawn has been lying in my garden for several hours now and complaining of various broken bones. Clearly, Cathal’s overactive imagination and penchant for exaggeration knows no bounds.

Please collect the runt of all litters at the soonest opportunity.

Yours in no way, shape or form,

Brendan Murtagh

P.S. He’s gone silent now, which is some relief. I don’t know how you stand him.

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Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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Person of Interest

Caucasian. Pale skin. Blue eyes. Brown brush-like hair. Defined jaw. Lean figure.

Black-rimmed glasses. Often a hoodie, jeans and worn sneakers. Occasional black wristband and/or bracelet consisting of brown beads, invariably on right wrist.

A gaze at once piercing and soft, according to those who have spent time in his company. Simultaneously friendly but distant, by turns canny and yet naive. He skirts the intricacies of social interaction, frustrating any who wish to pigeonhole him.

**********

Handcuffs and Folder

“This it?”

Lieutenant Sanders let out a grumpy sigh. He didn’t like the Detective’s tone, but what else was new?

“The guy ‘confounds the understanding and analysis’, Pete. That’s what the Psy-Op nerds told me an’ that’s what I’m telling you.”

Peter Griffith let out a snort.

“What is he, some kinda mystery man? Jesus Ned, we gotta have more intel than this…garbage.” He dropped onto the desk the thin, empty folder and single piece of A4 paper.

The Lieutenant put fingers to his throbbing temples; he really, really did not need this shit from subordinates.

“That’s ‘Jesus SIR’, Detective, and you’ll swallow all the garbage I can shove down your throat! You think our knowledge is a little light? Big fuckin’ whoop – get some more info on the prick. It’s only your goddamned JOB, after all!”

He stood up and came around from behind his desk, deciding to strike a more conciliatory tone; the men usually responded well to that.

“Listen Pete… He’s an oddball, no more no less. Been writing some kooky things and sticking his nose in some unwise and unhealthy places. Nothing we can prove, nothing we can stick in the file…” He gestured to the folder and paper with obvious disdain. “…but he’s got Psy-Ops worried. And when Psy-Ops worry, the Commish worries. And when the Commish worries, I worry. And when I worry, I get an ulcer. And when I get an ulcer, my wife hits me over the head with a rolling pin. Is that what you want?”

Griffith smiled uneasily, but his superior wasn’t joking.

“Don’t get me wrong, Detective; this freak ain’t worth your admiration. He’s no enigma, no mystery to be unravelled. He’s just a confused complexity, stumbling into many a faux-pas or derring-do purely by virtue of his fortune. He is, it must be said, a strange case.”

There was a bewildered pause while Peter did a little double-take at the Lieutenant’s sudden shift in vocabulary. He knew Sanders was a die-hard fan of Arthur Conan Doyle, but it still jarred whenever the archaic language of Victorian England sauntered into the station.

“Erm…okay boss. I’ll get on it. DeFreitas an’ I will check him out, see what we can come up with.”

Lieutenant Sanders nodded, obviously pleased.

“The game is afoot.”

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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