Wednesday, 13 January 2021

That Explains Everything

You know that feeling you get when you’ve taken a DNA test and three weeks later you get a 1st cousin match for someone with the surname Niland and you think that sounds a bit like Hyland no wait oh fuck…



You know that feeling you get when you’ve finally met your mother and she gives you the relevant details to help you find your father like his name Christopher Hyland and his date of birth 6th or 8th September 1940 and his place of birth Dublin and his occupation telephone engineer and you go to Dublin to start the search et voila! there he is in the Register of Births Christopher Hyland born Dublin 6th September 1940 and you think well this is going to be pretty straightforward you fool but when you follow all the leads up over the next nine years and there’s no trace of him anywhere births marriages deaths internet GPO overseas employees list GPO pensions records UK telephone directories letters to all 180+ Hylands in the Dublin telephone directory letter to local paper church records contact with illegal access to National Insurance database revealing nothing so much as nothing nothing and yet more nothing so you go back to Dublin to start all over again because you must have missed something but after four increasingly frustrating days of further despair you have a Eureka! moment because what if his mother died in childbirth which leads you to checking Deaths for the 3rd quarter of 1940 might produce a lead and you find the impossible the absolutely totally unbelievably impossible truth but there it is in black and white like an anvil leaping out of the page and smashing you simultaneously in the face the guts the heart but there it is and you read the recorded death the actual death on the 10th September 1940 in Dublin four days after he was born on 6th September 1940 in Dublin the death the death of your father Christopher Hyland aged 4 days old wait what actually no really I mean what and you can’t quite believe what you’ve just stumbled across as you deduce that your father whatever his name is appears to have done a Day of the Jackal identity theft number for he seems to have assumed the identity of a dead child for reasons which must surely be nefarious but you don’t quite abandon your search and some time later quite a long time later you realise that you’ve now been searching for twenty six years and all you have are some insane conspiracy theories about a man who assumed the identity of a dead child came to England to work on telephone exchanges was he IRA was he a spy and during your weekly therapy sessions you slowly work towards the realisation that you are going to have accept that you will never ever never ever ever never ever know who your father is because there is literally nowhere else to look well you know that feeling right it’s quite shit really isn’t it?

Monday, 4 January 2021

Oh, What Fun!

Don’t be taken in by the propaganda:

a one-horse open-sleigh is no sane person’s idea

of a comfortable mode of transportation

in which to go gallivanting about

during the immediate aftermath

of a period of low atmospheric pressure

which has contributed to the formation of ice particles

somewhere high above your head, resulting in

the eventual transformation of a previously sensible-looking landscape

into a scene of uniformly bland whiteness,

otherwise known as, ‘Oh, fucking hell, it’s been snowing again.

Do we really have to take the children outside

and thereby give birth to the lie that we are somehow

fun people who enjoy life?’

But back to the one-horse open-sleigh.

To start with, horses are prohibitively expensive to buy,

to maintain, to keep fit and healthy, exercised and fed,

(yes, that is an example of unnecessary repetition, isn’t it?),

and the horse itself probably isn’t exactly thrilled

about the whole harnessed to a sleigh part of arrangement either,

seeing as horses are, by nature, wild animals,

who like to go around doing wild things –

like ‘being a horse’ –

and who have not evolved to live in a shed full of their own shit

only to be taken out to – for example –

pull a group of giddy and over-excited, simpleton, idiot humans

in an open-sleigh during freezing conditions on hazardous roads.

Horses are sociable beasts,

much like people (well, some people),

and a singular horse attached to an open-sleigh

will be acutely aware of the terrible juxtaposition

between the moronic humans it is slavishly pulling –

without, I might add, the horse’s consent –

and its own sense of alienation, isolation, and enforced equine solitude.

‘Oh, what fun it is to ride on a one-horse open-sleigh.’

Unless you’re the horse.

And even if you’re not the horse,

but one of the exploitative open-sleigh passengers/tossers,

the phrase, ‘Oh, what fun!’ will not be flying around your head

as you fly through the freezing air,

which is afforded the opportunity of freezing your face off

due to the open-top-ness of the sleigh.

But by all means jingle some bells –

even ‘all the way’, which seems unnecessarily suggestive

and has me wondering if the whole song isn’t some

veiled metaphor about misbehaving al fresco style

during the anonymity afforded by the cover of a blizzard,

and which no one else has yet noticed.

Oh, what fun it is to stay in a centrally-heated home

indulging in whatever method of oblivion-inducing

ingestion is your thing,

while waiting for sensible weather to return.