The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Saturday, April 04, 2009

out of the mouths of babes and lils

Morning at the Chateau.
The lady known as Lil is having breakfast with her favourite son.
Bright sunshine bathes the kitchen.
"I've got a card from an old school chum," sez the aged parent.
"What's it about?" quoth me.
"It's an invite to her eighty fifth birthday."
"Will you go?"
The Mammy shook her head.
My venerable mother paused as though preparing to broach an awkward topic.
"She's also asked me to write down my memories of our time at school together, and to send it on to her," quoth the Lildebeest delicately.
"I was wondering..."
"You were wondering what?"
"Would you write it?"
"Ah Ma, you want me to sit here for hours writing down your rambling interminable memories of Kilcullen schooldays circa 1935?"
"No," sez the Mammy reassuringly, "I want you to make them up. I don't remember anything about her."

Friday, April 03, 2009

houses at twillight

row upon row huddled in the dark
each house marks a dream declamatory stone
of life of love of being at one
a place to hope believe
a place to fret
a TV a playpen and a kitchenette
and in the hall these words are graven
may your love flower like a cedar in lebanon
a weighty tone for a concrete wall
all lives have weight
that is all


(our weekly chess puzzle)

Von Vortzel versus Klimmt
London 1962.
White has the black king trapped in a corner. Mate in three against any defence. Can you see how black avoided the inevitable?
Answer: Klimmt pointed towards the audience where Russian KGB agent Irena Kuksova was sitting in the front row. She had been in town to sort out some businesss for President Putin, and had decided to take in a chess game between assassinations. While Von Vortzel goggled at her beauty, Klimmt snatched the white queen off the board.

best ever scene in the history of cinema

(from The Vampires Of Dublin)

Scene: The ballroom at Castle Dracula. A large group of vampires are visible.
Scottish vampire hunter Jock Stroggart has infiltrated the castle with his nephew Mike to try and save the lovely Sonia, who is an ingenue of some considerable ingenueeness. Jock and Mike are behind a curtain. Sonia is enjoying some sort of tete a tete with the Count Dracula. She does not appear to be resisting as much as we might have hoped.

Mike: What are they doing?

Jock: They're having a tete a tete.

Mike: If he puts his hand on her tetes one more time, I'm gonna kill him.

Jock: Leave it tae me. (Leaping into view brandishing a stake.) Hey Dracula. Put down that wee virgin. Or I'll ram this stake up your arse.

Dracula: (Somewhat taken aback at the intrustion since the hall is packed with his fellow vampires.) Seize him.

Jock: (To himself.) Oh yeah, reet, out numbered.

Dracula: (In a loud voice.) You Scots are a musical race. Play for us. Play something Scottish. Before you die.

Jock: Well you see. I'd like to. But I can't play without my backing group.

Dracula: That's quite alright. My henchmen will be glad to assist you. (Barking orders.) Vladdie, base guitar. Igor, drums. Francois, second lead guitar.

(The vampire backing group take up their instruments and huddle around Jock for direction. The one holding the drum kit looks quite poignant.)

Jock: Reet. When we start singing I'll walk towards old fang face and give him a kick in the ghoulies.

Igor: (poignantly) Why would you want to kick the ghoulies? They're not doing anyone any harm. (He indicates a group of Frankenstein style monster ghouls chatting aimiably to one side.)

Jock: Not them. His ghoulies. His personal ghoulies. (The vampire backing group are still looking confused.) The family jewels. The stones of scone. The scrotum. The testicles. The bawls. (They still look mightily perplexed, exchanging confused glances, scratching heads, etc.) Alreet, forget it. It's impossible to get through to you. When we start singing I'll kick Dracula in the orbs of zorgonia. You guys keep singing. I'll race to the window and leap to freedom... (The others bunch up and a menacing look comes into their stares.) Oh reet. Ye're vampires. Ye're not going to help me escape. Okay. I suppose there's nothing for it but to get on with the song so. Do any of you know The Witch Queen Of New Orleans?

Francois: I think I met her once at a party.

Jock: (Rolling his eyes.) Just follow my lead and try to keep up with me.

an open letter to gordon brown prime minister of great britain

Prime Minister.
This week your office will have received certain proposals from newspaper publishers in the United Kingdom.
The Observer newspaper has reported that something it called "The Big Four" newspaper groups would be asking you to relax regulations relating to the newspaper industry.
Specifically: The Observer says the Big Four want to lay aside certain takeover, acquisition and merger rules within that industry.
Of course The Observer itself is a part of this collection of losers whom it dubs The Big Four.
Also in among the immortal losers are my old pals at The Johnston Press.
You couldn't make it up.
By "Big" apparently The Observer means "possessing no readers."
Gordon, these clowns say they want you to relax regulations governing market share.
Here is my analysis of the request you are receiving.
It's a put up job.
They don't care about market share.
None of them care about market share.
Not The Observer and The Guardian. Not the Invidious Johnston We Fired James Healy Press. Not Lord Rothermere at the Daily Mail. (That's really his name Gord. I could hardly believe it myself. I wonder will Jesus call him Lord on Judgement Day.) Not Trinity Mirror. Not Newsquest.
I say it again.
These clypes don't care about market share.
They've got no market.
Here's what they want Gordon.
They want free money.
They've decimated their workforces, alienated the public, collapsed their share prices, and it's everybody's fault but their own.
It's the fault of an international downturn.
It the fault of the internet.
It's the fault of the people they've fired.
It's the fault of some evil voodoo witch doctors from Jamaica.
Here is the news Gordon.
The fellows making representations to you haven't got a clue.
The only thing they're good at is firing people from their companies while awarding themselves six figure bonuses and pensions.
Downsizing they call it.
It's murder if you ask me.
My advice to you Gord, when their real intentions become clear, is to tell them to get knotted.
You and Barack are intent on spending your way out of trouble.
Gord, these schmucks will spend everything you've got and come back for more.
Tell them to f--k off.
James Healy
PS: You need to get to work on Haut La Garenne Gordon. Remember you and me are going to have to face the real Lord on Judgement Day too.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

miscellaneous extraneous aneous

The Naive And Sentimental Voyager
Wandered into a pet shop in Dublin this afternoon. It was a seedy enough joint. Walls festooned with ads for a taxi owned by one of the city's better known hoodlums. My fellow browsers exuded all the positivity of your standard dangerous deprived city kids from Central Casting. I felt sorry for the South American parrot serving her purgatory in the corner. Presently I approached the counter. "Have you got any hamster balls?" sez I to an earring bloke on point duty. He goggled briefly. "I'm noh a foon hamster," he riposted in rich Dublinese. The general mirth this caused among the clientele compelled me to retreat from the shop forthwith.

Quotes Of The Day
British Foreign Secretary David Milliband: "The War On Terror was a mistake."
James Healy: "The British are still lions. But they are led by millipedes."

Idea For A Charity Rock Song
The video shows me hurrying through the streets of New York. I ask someone for directions to the nearest toilet. He indicates an adjacent skyscraper and tells me the loo is on the top floor. I race up the stairs. On the top floor I enter what appears to be an extremely shadowy lounge bar. Its denizens are slumped in meditative inebriation. Again I express my need for toilet facilities. A rough hewn stubbly chap at the bar turns. "Do what we all do," he suggests. "See this window here. You step out. No it's alright. Really that's what we do. There's a vent on the fiftieth floor that sucks you in. It gets you every time. There's no danger. It'll leave you right at the toilet door." I express disbelief to the man. He says: "Watch." He jumps out the window. At a floor some way down, he is sucked from view. He returns to the bar a few minutes later having used the stairs to get back up. "See," says he. I nod. Without further hesitation, I jump out the window and fall screaming to the pavement. A barman from Central Casting pauses from cleaning a beer glass with a dirty dish cloth, to address the stubbly man. "F---ing hell Superman," says the barman. "You're a b-ll-x when you've a pint in you." At that moment the music starts. I burst through the swing doors, grubby, scratched and but very much alive. I am singing. The camera moves back. I am singing the only good song to emerge from the Punk movement. I sing:
"Whatever happened to,
All of the heroes,
All the Shakespearos,
No one can find them.
Whatever happened to,
The heroes!
No more heroes anymore..."
As the camera pans back we see that the lounge is packed with drunk superheroes, Spiderman, Batman, the Hulk, Maggie Thatcher, they're all there. The song plays out around their tables. I think this can work. Get Spike Jonze to direct.

The Ones That Got Away
More great photos I missed. Many happy years ago on holiday at the Galway races with my gambling cousin Vincent and the brother who would one day become Doctor Barn. We had pitched our tent in a field across from the race track. Early one morning Barn became alarmed by the sounds of cattle outside. "They're going to trample the tent," he warned. The rest of us were too sleepy to care. "Go outside and shout Up The Yard at them," mumbled Vin. Barn opened the zip on the tent door. A bullock head immediately intruded into the tent. For one moment Barn and the bullock were eye to eye. They stared speechless into each other's souls. Then the bullock quietly withdrew. I'm telling you folks, that would have been the photo of a lifetime.

Great Memos Of Our Time
From: National Union of Journalists.
To: All those employed in journalism.
When the Johnston Press takes over your newspaper you have nothing to worry about. Nazi British overlords are our friends. Er, that's it.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

dialogue with the enemy

The following was left as a comment here yesterday.

Date: 31st March 2009
Time: 8.47am
Computer IP number:86.46.193
And you wonder why they fired you?


Ah "Conor" indeed.
Clearly your inability to write in simple English, as evidenced by your newspaper articles, is more than matched by your inability to comprehend sublime mellifluously worded English that has already been written by me.
I have never wondered anything about the Johnston Press.
From the moment they arrived on the scene I knew precisely what they were.
A cabal of amoral mercantilist British spivs with a wodge of cash borrowed from idiotically corrupt banks, intent on buying a 120 year old Irish newspaper which had nothing to do with them and which they knew nothing about.
No, I have never once wondered anything about the Johnston Press.
And certainly I haven't wondered why they fired me.
I know why.
I know what they are.
Any questions I have posed here Conor are purely rhetorical.
Your failure to understand anything I've written is not surprising.
You're just the sort of person the Johnston Press thinks can be hired cheap to produce a newspaper.
Good luck with that.
I say it again.
I've wondered nothing as to the motivation of the Johnston Press in their mistreatment of me.
But I do wonder why the Johnston Press removed so many other people from the company.
I do wonder why the Johnston Press got rid of the printer who had been on the staff fifty years, and only gave him a few hours notice that his job was gone.
I do wonder what sort of people treat a human being in that way.
I do wonder what the hell they were thinking of.
I do wonder what the Johnston Press thought it was doing getting rid of the advertising executives who had delivered record returns over the previous decade.
I do wonder how in their wildest dreams the Johnston Press thought it was going to run the Leinster Leader without the very talents which had made that paper what it was. (By talents I mean me Conor.)
I do wonder how the idiots failed to appreciate that getting rid of me, the only journalist on the staff who could speak and write English, would collapse the company.
I do wonder what class of people they are.
I wonder.
But really I know the answer to all these questions Conor.
As do you.
You haven't had my experience Conor.
You've played no role in building up the Leinster Leader over the past decade, seeing off the challenge of the first wave of internet publications and then the rise of the free sheet newspapers, enabling our publication to reach new demographics among young people, the elderly and middle aged, building a new brand through the sheer inventive brilliance of my writing, providing the raw material of an expanding readership for the ad execs to turn into profit, while every other Irish newspaper was going down the toilet.
This is all a foreign language to you Conor.
Like English.
You played no role in making the Leinster Leader what it was the evening the Johnston Press fired me.
Yeah, those of us who'd been on the staff for more than a decade had seen off all the challenges.
We buried em all.
Although personally I didn't want to bury any of them.
I considered there was room in the market for everybody.
It's called morality Conor.
Another foreign language for you.
Then along came the Johnston Press.
They fired me and brought in you Conor.
And in less than two years you've practically finished off a 120 year old company.
A company that had weathered World War One, the 1916 rising, the War of Independence, the Crash of 29, the Great Depression, World War Two, the twenty year recession of the 1970's and 1980's, the rise of the internet, Nine Eleven, et al.
Tell me Conor.
Do you touch the forelock to your English masters as they pass you in the corridor at the Leinster Leader?
Do you say: "Top o' the mornin' to you Sorr?"
It won't save you.
What they did to me in November 2007, they'll do to you tomorrow.
Karl Marx once said: "The truth is what you think when you have no trousers."
Marx in his atheism brought hell to earth.
But he wasn't wrong about everything.
I always failed to understand in discussions with my Chinese friends how they could fail to reject absolutely the Marxian murderer Chairman Mao.
Mao had killed at least 70 million of them.
He was so blatantly satanic.
I couldn't see why the Chinese people were blinded to it.
Or how even today some Russians fail to reject the actions of their former Soviet communist government which in my estimation killed at least 100 million people.
How could anyone side with such devil worshipping killers?
Now I know Conor.
Life has humbled me.
I have become a kinder gentler man Conor.
I know that there but for the grace of God go I.
And I know this.
The truth is what you think when a bunch of low life British spivs have fired you from your job and then crashed your newspaper into a wall while a lowlife like you Conor chips in with a debilitatingly anodyne comment to wit: "And you wonder why they fired you?"
By what right do you dare to address me Conor?
You unmitigated swine.
You haven't contributed anything to the Leinster Leader beyond hammering the final nail into its coffin.
Your family haven't supported, written, bought and advertised in the Leinster Leader for over a century.
Your family are nothing.
You have no standing.
You bring nothing to the party.
You have no influence.
And that's why the Johnston Press can pay you pennies.
You useless pig.
You are not held in any regard among the general public.
Your attempts at communitarian journalism read as arid twee formulaic condescending paeans of insincerity.
Even when you essay enthusiasm for the opening of a new girls school, or an interview with Councillor Mark Dulltone of Athy, or the launch of Care Of The Aged Week, even then, your every word rings with hollow hypocrisy.
This is because, in spite of your best efforts Conor, your every article reads like it was written by somebody who's capable of saying to an unemployed man: "And you wonder why they fired you?"
It's dangerous to condescend to your readers Conor.
Even if you have a contemptuous view of old people, or country people, or people who get fired, or the human race in general.
It's dangerous Conor.
Because once people figure you out, they won't want to know you or the rat infested newspaper you work for.
The truth is you are a talentless cur Conor.
You have all the professionalism, culture and panache of a Shoreditch rentboy working the docks for buttons.
A useless fervourless courageless waste of space.
Your conformity won't save you from the Johnston Press.
And your lack of ability will not save the Leinster Leader in its hour of need.
May your soul rot.
James Healy

Monday, March 30, 2009

professor markensteyn unleashes a monster

The writer Mark Steyn has a rather interesting article on his normally light hearted little blog which I recommend you all take a look at.
It's a reprint of one he wrote about the Shroud of Turin a decade ago for a magazine.
The Shroud of Turin is a cloth bearing the shadowy image of a man.
Some believe it to be the cloth used to wrap Jesus' body after the crucifixion, and that the image has been miraculously imprinted on it as a sign to the generations.
Steyn's view is that the shroud has been proven to be of recent origin through a carbon dating test.
He suggests that those who have asserted the dating process is in error should instead focus on the extraordinary and still unexplained nature of the image itself.
I stress the Steyn article is republished from one he wrote ten years ago, and he may now harbour different feelings about the shroud's possible authenticity.
Anyway in typical Steyn fashion he's brought back into the limelight a most curious plot twist.
At a certain stage in the 1990's a writer called Lynn Picknett attempted to infiltrate the world's most respected group of shroud researchers.
(I say she was infiltrating. Steyn is more neutral in his assessment.)
Lynn Picknett had much to gain from such an infiltration.
She was seeking credibility, credentials and academic respectability among those involved in Bible related studies.
Lynn Picknett is most famous for writing works of pseudo scholarship in partnership with London accountant Clive Prince, denying the divinity of Jesus, asserting that he had married Mary Magdalene, postulating that he fathered her children, and implying that this bloodline of Jesus survives to this day.
She sued Dan Brown for plagiarism when The DaVinci Code went platinum. She lost the case and rightly so, but there's no doubt Brown based his story on some of her speculations.
There's also no doubt that those speculations have been around since Adam was a boy.
Well you know what I mean.
A ten year old girl walked up to me at my brother's ordination to the priesthood in 1998 and said: "How do you know Jesus wasn't married to Mary Magdalene."
The little girl should have sued Dan Brown as well.
She was more intellectual in her arguments than Picknett, Prince or Brown himself.
Although that wouldn't be too hard.
But I digress.
By infiltrating the shroud group Lynn Picknett intended to improve her non existent credibility as a Biblical scholar and shroud researcher. She was already on the money making trail with regular appearances on poorly produced television documentaries.
While infiltrating the shroud group she supposedly had an affair with one of the most academically respected shroud researchers, Ian Wilson.
Wilson is a high brow collossally erudite British scholar who claims to have had a Catholic conversion while researching the shroud.
I have recommended one of his books on this site, with the proviso that I don't entirely trust him.
By this I meant he's a bit of schlub.
In the book of his which I recommend, he includes nude pictures of himself in the shroud pose.
Part of the research of course.
But still a bit of a schlub.
I say the same thing about Jim Cavaziell who played the Lord in Mel Gibson's film version of the gospel.
Cavaziell is also a bit of a schlubb.
A damn fine actor.
Just don't let him talk without a script.
Because he's a schlub.
But I digress.
Lynn Picknett whose life's work has been to discredit the Christian faith, infiltrated the shroud group, had an affair with Wilson, and then got turfed out when her agendas became clear to other group members.
Afterwards Ian Wilson revealed that she had been involved in occult practices.
Lynn Picknett for her part accused Wilson of endorsing a mystic nutjob who claims to channel the spirit of Jesus and who also claims the Lord told him the shroud was genuine.
Folks, it's better than a Dan Brown book.
And unlike The DaVinci Code, this actually would make a great film!

rhapsody in blue

to the overthrow

the worm things from the soft earth
in the rainfall night crawl forth
onto pavement doorstep or road
into the concrete certainty of death

they do not think but they know
that in a darkness yet to fall
there will be an overthrow
and those who rule will crawl
and those who crawl will rule

though tonight in their impossible thousands they die
crushed under wheel trampled under foot
conquered by a nation
that knows them not

(Dedicated to all my pals at the Johnston Press who have so lately come down in the world. Now you know what it is to live in fear.)

memories of my colleagues in journalism

Dim lights.
Moral dim lights I mean.
I'm not assessing their intelligence.
They thought that it wasn't their problem when people started getting fired.
I told em to go to war when the first person got fired and to make it the war to end all wars.
But they thought they could avoid confrontation simply by keeping their heads down and hoping someone else got fired.
They thought that any downsizing taking place would probably only affect ten percent of the workforce.
Leaving the other ninety percent still in employment.
They thought that as long as they themselves weren't being fired on a given day, then that day's firing was someone else's problem.
They failed to figure out that if a company downsizes just ten percent of the workforce every year, by the end of ten years the company will have downsized everybody.
They failed to figure out we were all going down.
Or apart.
One way or another.
One hundred percent.
No one gets a pension.
Except the genius dealmakers of senior management.
But then.
That was the game all along.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

dublin iconography

funny lamps fake castles old buses the rain

two roads diverged in a yellow wood

Gentle travellers of the internet, have a look at these. Over a decade ago I began work on a poem called The Poetic Manifesto. It was intended as a sort of statement of intent. That is to say, it was intended to set out what I hoped to achieve in poetry. At the time, I actually ended up writing two poems with the same title, each setting out a quite different agenda. I chose one for publication. Those of you who've been with me a while will be familiar with it. Today I'm going to show you the two together. It seems that I was making a bigger choice than I realised all those years ago. The first poem shows pretty much the artistic path I've followed. The second will show you what might have been.

the poetic manifesto

half heard melodies at dawn
dreams or the traces of dreaming
a woman's name said soft like breathing
memories of faces gone
footsteps in the hall on winter nights
sadness in the heart where love has been
softness on the fields after a storm
shadows bright with remembering

we will go
through cowardice to bravery
into the timeless eye of mind
across the ungovernable sea
to where all poems have their end
and their beginnings naturally
come with me

Okay. Now for the other. It was dated 13th Feb 1997.


frosty mornings
the mountains and c (especially c)
wandering in the streets
wandering in other places
ordinary blokes who think they're Sir Galahad
ordinary blokes who think they're Mordred
me thinking I'm Hamlet
le tribu de femmes (the tribe of women)
Chinese accents
great harmony of the Universe
subtle incongrueties
the relentlessness of time

sunshine lollypops and roses

An apparent well wisher has forwarded the following rather finely written Irish Times news article to me. It first appeared in The Irish Times in the Autumn of last year. I reproduce it without permission. I know there will be no problem. The Irish Times has never asked permission when reusing, rehashing, purloining or proroguing any of my work.

From The Irish Times Fri 26/09/08
THE SENIOR advertising manager of a well known provincial newspaper has secured a High Court order restraining his employers from terminating his employment.
At the High Court yesterday, Raymond McGowan, who has worked for the Leinster Express since 1969, secured a temporary injunction preventing Leinster Express Newspapers Ltd, Johnston Press Ireland Ltd, Main Street Naas, Co Kildare, and Leinster Express, Dublin Road, Portlaoise, Co Laois, from dismissing him from his position.
Mr McGowan claims that no reason was given to him as to why his contract has been terminated and he has been left "greatly upset and traumatised."
The court also made an order restraining the firm from appointing any person to Mr McGowan's position with the company or from assigning his functions and duties to anybody else.
Mr Justice Peter Charleton said he was satisfied to grant the interim injunction, which was made on an ex parte (one side only) basis. He made the matter returnable to early next month when the new legal term begins.
Ercus Stewart SC told the court that his client was not informed by the newspaper as to why his contract was being ended. He said the decision was a breach of Mr McGowan's rights.
His client's role as the senior advertising manager at the newspaper group involves managing the advertising accounts.
In an affidavit to the court, Mr McGowan said he was informed that his contract was terminated by the firm's regional managing director Debra O'Neill on September 19th.
He said he was not given any reason nor was he furnished with any document. He said Ms O'Neill was unable to say if the termination had anything to do with the performance of his duties.
He claims that in late August, he was called into Ms O'Neill's office for a chat. During that brief meeting, Mr McGowan said she told him that if he "went down the legal route" he "would not get much after legal costs" and that Johnston Press would have itself well prepared if he took that option.
He claims he was asked to consider an offer of one and a half year's salary. At a following meeting with Ms O'Neill some days later, Mr McGowan said he asked for clarification of the proposals in writing.
On September 12th he was furnished with a severance agreement and was given four days to decide. Mr McGowan sought legal advice.
However on September 19th, he was informed by Ms O'Neill that his contract was being ended.