Tag Archives: Dublin

NaNoWriMo 2010: Preparation Update

There are seven more days to go before the madness known as National Novel Writing Month begins. That means there is exactly one week to get that outline fine-tuned, those characters fleshed out and your plot in working order.

So, no pressure there.

As I mentioned previously, I didn’t fully commit to last year’s competition because of lack of preparation. I felt I could write on the fly and see what happened. Well, not getting further than 12,000 words is what happened. This year I have promised myself (and others) not to fail. I cannot allow this to happen. Barring natural disasters or circumstances completely beyond my control, I will write a minimum of 1,700 words a day, every day for the month of November.

This time I’m prepared. My story has been in my head for nearly a month and now my outline suggests I’m good to go. I have – unlike last year – a beginning, a middle and an end. I have my characters named and their motivations worked out.

The Main Players

Tim “Bucktooth” Fanning: 22, five nine, 160 pounds, round face with close-cut blonde hair. He likes wearing hooded tops and denim jeans, sports an earring in his left lobe, and has tattoos on each shoulder; one supporting Manchester United, the other Celtic FC. He has blue eyes, is state educated and is angry – a lot. His parents are Robert and Marie and he lives in an inner city Dublin housing estate. Single and unemployed, he likes soccer, GAA kick-boxing and WWF. His best friend in the world is Lester Drumm and together they go to rock concerts; though Bucktooth’s secret passion is the music of Leonard Cohen.

At the beginning of the story he’s looking for some work to pay for anger management therapy, and that’s where the plot kicks off. If I say anymore I’ll be in danger of spoiling how he progresses through the novel. Needless to say he changes – but not too much that it becomes ridiculous.

Valerie D’estang is a 20-year-old Parisienne and becomes Tim’s kind of love interest. She meets him while having her photograph taken at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. This will be my novel’s first major set-piece. It will involve her father, Nikolas, a journalist with AFP, who’s also in league with the major villains of Bucktooth, the clandestine organisation known as FILTH, controlled by the mysterious Mr. Sandross.

Tracking Tim’s every move, unwilling to help when he runs into trouble, is the equally shadowy MeerLin Corporation, a philanthropic organisation with headquarters in Dublin. Are they a force for good or evil, or are they somewhere in between?

Supporting Cast

Charles Formly: CEO, MeerLin Corporation.

Frank Lord: Chief of Ops, MeerLin Corporation.

Deandra Rimes, Security Chief, MeerLin Corporation.

Dicky Boyes, Press Officer, Meerlin Corporation.

Mr. Sandross, CEO, FILTH.

Dieter Hassberger, Security Chief, FILTH.

Frau Kessler, Mr. Sandross’ Personal Assistant.

Georges Matelot, UN Representative, Geneva.

Various goons, minions and henchmen.

The Locations

Dublin – Berlin – Athens – Geneva – Paris – London – Dublin (again)

The Plot

It involves a powerful historical artifact, a group of Neo-Nazis, some Chinese assassins, a little bit of sight-seeing, fights in airport lounges and a man who may or may not know who killed Pope John Paul I in 1978.

I have this and much more besides, ready to go for this day week.

How is your own preparation going?

A Portrait of the Artist as a Ticket Tout

So I’m standing outside Croke Park with 50 bleedin’ tickets to the Dublin match, That’s 50 bleedin’ tickets at 40 quid a pop. Work that one out with your fucking calculators. I can’t. I never did my Leaving Cert. The only time I can add numbers is when I’m working out the odds on my three horse accumulator. This is before every poxy one of them falls, goes lame, gets brought down, or just plain won’t bloody jump. The pox-bottles! Anyway, because I’m losing my bollix on the horses, I decide it’s high time to think of an easier way to make money. So, with the Dublin match around the corner, I borrow from Peter, Paul, and the rest of the fucking Apostles, and soon I have enough spondoolicks to bulk buy a shit-load of match tickets from ticketmaster.ie.

You see, I know what them Dubs are like. As often as not, they turn up at the pubs around Croker with nary a ticket between them. Stupid muppets. Don’t they know the match is sold out? And that’s where I come in. Once they’ve had a skinful of cider they’d sell their mother for a Hill ticket. (That’s Hill 16, for those of you who don’t know. The real Dubs will only have a ticket for the Hill. No, you eejit. A real Dublin supporter would have bought his poxy ticket three weeks ago.) I’m like the bleedin’ Messiah to these cretins. I have in my possesion 30 Hill tickets, 10 Canal End and 10 Cusack Stand tickets. Come to mama, you pissheads. 70 quid a ticket, no questions asked.

Only…there’s no one biting. Not a sausage. I’m up to me armpits in match tickets. Not just any match tickets — Dublin match tickets. The only show in town. But no one gives a flying fuck, do they? And I’m not the only one suffering. That arsehole selling the flags, scarves and funny hats has enough left over to send off to the Ukraine and clothe the kids. Now that would be a funny sight. A pile of Eastern European sprogs decked out in Dublin colours, begging on the streets for zlotys or whatever the fuck it is they call currency over there. What about me? What am I going to clothe my kids in? If I don’t dump these tickets, my missus will rip off my head and shit down my neck.

Which brings me to another topic altogether. If the oul ball-and-chain fucks me out, I can always get onto the Internet and hook up with a Russian bride. I wonder if they take Dublin tickets as collateral. I might have better luck next week. U2 are in town and tickets are like gold dust. But Bono? No one gives a fuck about him either. Okay, it’s Russia for me. With Love.

There’s my DART. I’m off to the boozer.

(c) James McShane 2009

A Portrait of the Artist as a Social Commentator.

Skangers love their Burberry

I’m on the bus, right? The 123 heading to Dawson Street. The usual muppets are on board. The blue-rince brigade with their shopping trollies, getting full value from their bleedin’ bus-passes. Free travel for the over 65s. Who’s poxy idea was that? Oh yeah, Charlie Haughey. Tax cheat he was, and he led our country. Told us to tighten our belts while he wore Van Heuson. Wanker. He’s dead now, thanks be to God. Got a state funeral, too. And these old biddies adore the bastard because he gave them a bus-pass. Bought their votes, if you ask me.

Anyway, the oul ones give you such a look when they want your seat. They’re not having mine. I work for a living and pay my taxes so they can get to travel for bleedin’ nothing. They want a seat? Get a bleedin’ taxi. Sorry, I forgot. You have to pay for a taxi. No discounts for OAPs, thank Jaysus.

I’ll only give my seat up for a pregnant woman, but only if they’re over 18. Anyone under that can stand. It’s not my fault they didn’t use a johnny and find themselves up the spout. You’ve got to take responsibity for your actions in this world, if you ask me. Spongers, that’s what they are. Taking their ‘mickey-money’ first Tuesday of every month and blowing it in the boozer on vodkas and coke and 20 John Player Blue. Slappers!

There’s this bloke behind, giving it loads to his missus on his mobile. He’s calling her every toe-rag name he can think of. He’s not much better himself. He’s drinking from a can of cider, and the smell off him is something fierce. Hey bud, take a bleedin’ shower once in a while. Can’t do you any harm. He’s off the phone to his “beloved’ and is now talking to his supplier, giving out about the last lump he got. Pure shite, he says. Couldn’t make a decent roll-up from it. His mates were banging on about getting a new supplier, he says. Doesn’t matter that there’s not a lot of it around. Where there’s a will, there’s a bleedin’ way. Hash is hash, at the end of the day. I leave him to it, difficult to do when his voice is louder than his football shirt.

I look out the window and see ‘pyjama city’. Young ones and oul ones walking around in broad daylight wearing poxy pyjamas. I dream I’m a sniper, perched on the roof of the GPO, taking every one of these lazy fuckers out. They’re a blot on society. At least the homeless have the good sense to dress for the outdoors. Scumbags.

Right, here’s my stop. I’m off. This is Dublin. My Dublin. Like it or not, I live here. Like it or not, I love it.

(c) James McShane

The X Factor hits Dublin

The sensations of last year’s TV reality show The X Factor, Jedward, are on a roll. Not only have they a hit CD in the shops, John and Edward Grimes have signed a lucrative deal to take part in a panto in the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, this Christmas.

They are also the stars in a TV3 documentary series that show them moving out of home and into a new apartment. Not bad for a pair of “talentless clowns.” It’s nice work if you can get it.

But Jedward are maestros compared to Temple Fire, four lads from Dublin who auditioned to take part in this year’s show. I heard about them through my girlfriend. Her son knows them. I’m in now way putting them down. They were obviously doing it for a laugh and they have more balls than most. One thing I will say, though, Westlife and Take That are safe for now.

From Little Acorns Grow…

LifeRing Ireland

It all started in a dining room of a house in north County Dublin. Present and correct were two men, two women and two dogs. I can’t speak for the dogs but I know for a fact that the four humans were (and are) recovering addicts, mainly alcoholics but there was some drug abuse, too.

LifeRing had arrived in Ireland.

Tonight, in St. Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin, we had two groups of 19 people, each recovering (or hoping to recover) from whatever their drug of choice happens to be. People from all walks of life, looking for hope, support, and camaraderie. The St. Patrick’s group is one of three active meetings in Dublin. The other two are located at the Methodist Mission on Abbey Street, and the Stanhope Street Alcohol Treatment Centre. The last piece of the jigsaw, St. John of God’s Hospital, will fall into place within the next month or two.

LifeRing has arrived in Ireland.

It’s a recovery program without a program. By this I mean there are no Steps, no Higher Power, no powerlessness over our addiction. The choice to whether or not drink or use is put in our hands. We alone are responsible for picking up a drink or drug. End of story. Sure, we’re powerless once we do — that much is obvious — but if we chose not to, that choice empowers us. That, in essence, is what LifeRing is all about. We keep it secular and leave our Higher Power (if we have one) outside the room until we leave. We chat to each other, we cross-talk, we laugh, cry, but ultimately we’re all about positivity. Our “drunk-a-logues” and “drug-a-logues” are a thing of the past. Our “war stories” remain just that — stories. We talk sobriety in the here and now. We ask each other: “How was your week in sobriety?”

It is an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous and its Twelve Steps, and without becoming all preachy, LifeRing offers the addict a different forum from which to draw strength. Some addicts can’t “get” the AA approach, so LifeRing shows them another way. It has worked well in the U.S.A. and the signs are that it will work well here in Ireland, too.

What Jimbo Didn’t Do…

…since he last blogged.

1. Grow a beard.

2. Learn Mandarin Chinese.

3. Eat snails.

4. Read War and Peace. (Come on, life is waaay too short.)

5. Vote in the UK General Election.

6. Take up badminton.

7. Shake hands with Sarah Palin.

8. Have lunch with Queen Elizabeth.

9. Organise a revolution against the muppets that run this country.

10. Start a fan page for tuna sandwiches.

11. Help an old lady cross the road. (Shame on me!)

12. Feel sympathy for the banking institutions. (Shame on you!)

13. Take myself too seriously.

14. Take my job too seriously.

15. Win the lottery.

James the Listmaker.

People Are Strange

The taxi drivers staged a protest today. I think it was their fourth one this year. I remember a time when you couldn’t get a taxi on a weekend night, there were that few of them. I met a girlfriend – and broke up with one – on a taxi rank, I was there that fucking long.

Anyway, the cabbies are complaining that there’s too many of them now. A few years back some suit deregulated the business, unclosing the “closed shop,” and opening the market out to anyone who had a few bob to spend on a licence. More than a few goons thought taxi driving was a licence to print money. It was then; it isn’t now.

Because of their bi-weekly protest, Dublin’s main street, O’Connell Street, was closed to traffic for the day, even for the emergency services. Gardai-directed diversions were in operation. This meant that the bus route home from my Tuesday night meeting was changed and I had to go search for where I could catch the right one. So I stood at the corner of Marlborough and Eden Quay. Big mistake.

I saw this young man, dressed in a striped hoodie, skinny jeans and trainers, jogging toward me. He didn’t look threatening. He’s a jogger, I thought.

He stopped in front of me and asked, “Have you any gear?”

“What?” I said.

“Have you any gear?”

“No,” I said. And away he jogged. I shook my head and continued to look for my bus.

My next visitor was altogether different. He was stick-thin, dark-haired, but he had danger in his eyes. His girlfriend was no better. He stared at me.

“Git,” he said. “Why didn’t you call me earlier?”

Like I said, this guy looked menacing. I gave him full eye contact and said softly, “I’m sorry but you’re talking to the wrong person.” He considered this for a moment and then the pair of them walked off. He turned his head, just to make sure he wasn’t making a mistake.

I lit a cigarette and mumbled, “Come on, do I even look like a drug dealer?”

I would have taken a taxi home – if there were any – but I decided to walk. There was no way I wanted to hang around that corner any longer.

Take it away, Jim…