Monday 8 February 2016


My body is covered with scars and scabs, bruises and burns. I’ve not been in a fight. Just waking and sleeping, I pick up knocks and scrapes all the time; always have done.

The Snapper tells me that it’s because I’m not in the moment. Apparently, when I burn my arm on the handles of the roasting tin, I’m not concentrating. 

I know those handles well, as I’ve burned my arm on them on countless occasions, but as I raise the heavy tin from the hob, to pour the roast’s deglazed goo into the gravy, I - Ow! Bloody Dammit! Screw that bastard thing! - do it again.

It’s no coincidence that my house is laden with aloe vera plants. Nothing works better softening painful tissue after a burn, but sometimes even that doesn’t work. Last year I awoke in the middle of the night to find a tennis ball-sized swelling on my forearm where my most recent burn used to be.

Filled with fear, I could feel from the heat of this new grotesque injury that an infection had taken over, and in the darkest hours it’s incredibly easy to head down the horror trail of septicemia, lymph nodes and is it morning yet and please can I go to the doctor now?

While the Snapper’s advice makes absolute sense, life ain’t simple.

On many levels I’m a fan of being in the moment. When I see tourists clasping cameras to their eyeballs as they travel around Connemara, I worry they’re so obsessed by proving they’ve been here, they miss the point of being here. 

Equally, I try to live in the present. Right now is all we've got and all that lardydeedar. However, as a scribbler, I cannot live forever in that realm. While being creative I naturally exist in a world of my own. Off with the faeries is too specific. I wander the world with my eyes open, while my brain is somewhere else entirely. 

In that personal mental bubble, my imagination and thoughts can make joyous whoopee with each other, uninterrupted.

However, those poor souls who have lived with me find it frustrating and upsetting to enter a room, only to have me scream in shock.

“I bloody live here!” some have shouted, with justifiable indignation.

Built like a bear and lost in my own writer’s reverie, I never notice the damage done until I’m drying after a shower. 

Wow - there’s a fresh cut all the way down my left thigh. Must’ve walked into the corner of a table or something. 

Holy moly, look at that bruise on my back! Wonder how I did that? Bleedin' 'eck, it’s the size of Cyprus and has more colours than Jupiter.

Sometimes several accidents come together to create a perfect mess.  Last week I was trying to carry too much stuff in one go from the kitchen into the living room. 

A slice of toast slid from its plate into my mug of tea, creating a much larger splash that I would have thought possible. The tea erupted onto my woollen jumper, the boiling liquid heading inland so that it could also burn my belly.

My tea was spoiled, my toast ruined, my jumper needed changing and it was out with the aloe vera all over again.

While others might see such buffoonery as comic genius, my mouth emitted a different term at the time, unsuitable for this noble rag. That debacle I cannot put down to my otherworldly creative needs. It was just me being a lazy prat and paying for my sloth.

As if my natural clumsiness and spaced out creative needs are not enough, there is one more major item to add to this catalogue of Adley malfunctions.

This one I fear the most, as it usually creates a victim other than myself and is impossible to explain. Possibly driven by nervous tension, I try to endear myself to it by awarding it a name all of its own: my dreaded spasma of the arm.

Yes, there’s a spare ‘A’ at the end of that word, because mere spasm is not extravagant enough a term to describe the bizarre nature of this behaviour. Although it can happen at any time, it usually appears when least desired and expected.

20 years ago I was dining with a lovely friend of mine in an austere and quiet restaurant on Achill Island, We were laughing a little too loudly and generally having much more fun than the other diners, who were peering disapprovingly at us.

In one sweeping movement, my arm suddenly travelled across the table, clipped my friend’s full wine glass into the air and then batted it down, so that it smashed into pieces on the floor, having emptied its Burgundy contents all over her white shirt.

Despite looking unquestionably like an act of aggression, she knew me well enough to know it had been an accident, and we laughed uproariously at the absurdity of it.

Another time, in a restaurant in Salthill, I greeted the lovely woman who’d agreed on a first date by sending my arm towards the lit candle in the centre of the table, and then in what appeared to all (including me!) as a deliberate and extremely precise movement, my fingertip flicked the molten candle wax from just below the flame onto my date’s right shoulder.

So lovely a woman was she that she spent the entire meal with her arm covering the solidifying wax on her blouse, so that, in her generous words:

“You wouldn’t spoil the meal by worrying about the wax.”

I’m willing to suffer the bruises and burns if it helps retain my creativity, while my occasional clumsiness is a sad fact of life, but my spasma of the arm hurts others, so I would happily banish it from my repertoire of strange behaviours.

©Charlie Adley

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