© Alan O'Cain
(thanks for dropping in)
A BRICK FROM
15TH APRIL, 2008
(with thanks to Brendan Kilty for the brick and to Susan Kilty for the song)
Whisked around Dalkey by a jittery Brendan. Coffee and scones at Margaret's, sea wearing an overcoat against a sunny breeze finely fashioned in the Bay of Naples. We're about to leave Brendan's house with his daughter Susan kept from school, past his classic Citroën slumped on air-starved tyres. He hits the brakes.
"I think I'll take the brick," he says, turning to look at me, "do you think that's alright?"
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"Anything's alright Brendan."
When we unwrap the brick at Seamus's, Seamus says he likes it, likens it to a scone. Strokes his thick fingers across it. I'm sitting back like a theatrical director enjoying Brendan's banter. Seamus is smiling and grinning, cracking jokes. We reveal the portrait quickly. I'm enjoying not being completely the centre of attention. It's comfortable like the conservatory we're
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in. Everyone knows the painting's a bit on the special side and we rearrange some dishes and candlesticks on a side table to prop it up. Seamus likens it to a votive shrine. I could have sold it ten times over I tell him.
Brendan's remembering the second Viking rule and throwing everything into the mix. Seamus and I look on as at an excitable puppy I've cheekily brought with me into his house. Brendan's taking
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snaps guaranteed to be photographs of his own camera shake. Before we know what's hit us Brendan's whipped out his mobile phone and placed it on the brick. He wants his friend in Australia to hear his Susan sing He Moved through the Fair "live" for Seamus.
We arrive at Seamus's and I know I haven't brought any definitive confirmation that what I have in my head is the right address. Brendan
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remembers he's technically "the chauffeur" and hangs back. I have the supreme pleasure of rapping on the door and seeing a mirage that is the distorted Seamus approaching through the frosted glass. Our arms lock on his doorstep like a father welcoming a son home from the war. He ushers me through and through. Through his homely home, past the closed door hiding Marie and her coffee morning women, through the kitchen that looks sculpted by
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an old poet and into a sunny arena peopled by china cups and vases.
Before we all leave I have several moments alone with Seamus. There is a glow we are inhabiting. I've given him my painting and he's smiling. He's said he wants to keep an eye on me, watch what I do. We know now that the festival had been an ordeal. The mobile phone he didn't know how to use had kept him awake all night like a battery-power
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starved baby. (And perhaps he was a tad hungover.) And we'd better not let on to "Mrs Heaney" that the brick comes with its own woodlice. (Brendan's furtively just killed one creeping across the table by the shortbread fingers and florentines.) We've talked about the striking of the millennium anvil and I've shocked everyone by recalling that Seamus had immortalised it in a poem.
So what are we left with? A
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glow as warm as sunlight captured in the sheltered roof of Joyce's Martello Tower. A kiss on each of Juliet's cheeks. A feeling of awe. A stunned silence in the car. Brendan almost running into the vehicle in front in his stupor. And in the rear view mirror, the surreal sight of a rugged silver-haired Nobel Laureate in his pale blue shirt, the world's most famous living poet, out on the choked Strand Road, directing traffic.
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