Monday, 10 February 2014


It was a moment of pure madness. I’d almost managed to pull myself back, just before I made a complete arse of myself, but sadly it was too late. Ever on the ball, The Snapper had sussed out exactly what I’d been about to do.

We were sitting in the back of a taxi, driven by my excellent friend The Body. He was dropping us outside Aniar on Dominick Street, where I was taking my beloved for our non-Valentine’s Day Valentine’s Dinner. Being a natural romantic, I can’t stand Valentine’s Day, because nothing kills romance as fast as falsity and force.

So each year it’s my pleasure take her out for dinner on a night that’s not Valentine’s, and this year she said she’d like to return to Galway’s Michelin star success story. Fortunately, the small change coin jar in my bedroom was full to the brim, so I emptied it, counted it and called to book a table. 

There was some kind of pleasing poetry to the process: Michelin star on a coin jar.

Just before stepping out of The Body’s taxi, I’d made an impulsive forward movement and then hurriedly pulled back.
From the tips of my toes to the top of my curly hair, I’d shocked myself.

“Oh my god! What was that about?” I exclaimed.
Ever helpful just when I don’t want her to be, The Snapper announced
“You were going to kiss him!”
“Ohmygoodgord! Yes, yes I was! What I was thinking? Must’ve been miles away, but I don’t even know where that was! Ah sure, I’ll kiss him anyway! Come here, ya big lump of manhood!”

Leaning forward I tangled and mangled myself around my mate as he laughed and shook me off.
Nothing more was said, the matter consigned to the crammed cellar wherein are stored Charlie’s Immaterial Moments of Madness.

To be honest, I don’t think I really and truly wanted to kiss him. Some severed synapses were dwelling in another place and time, but where, when and with whom I have no idea. The thing is, though, that if any man in Ireland deserves a kiss from me, it’s probably The Body.

Throughout my life I've been exceptionally fortunate to be surrounded by the best of friends, and thankfully when I moved to Ireland back in 1992, that luck continued. A couple of weeks after arriving in Galway City, I was approached by Blitz one night in the Jug o’Punch, a pub beside Monroe’s, long ago destroyed by fire. We hit it off straight away, talking laughing drinking and smoking, then dancing at Setanta’s, as you did back then.

At that time Blitz was sharing a flat with The Body, while Whispering Blue, who had just returned from Berlin, was sleeping on their sofa.

I was overjoyed to meet these three local lads. Nearly everyone I’d encountered in Galway up to then had been English, either Crustified or New Agey, and while I bore no ill will to either, I hadn’t moved to Ireland to hang out with white Rastas from Reigate. So it was magical to meet this trio of local lads.

A few days later, I was sitting outside Neactain’s, when The Body walked by and took me around the corner to an Tobar. At that time the tiny little pub on Mainguard Street was humming and thriving, buzzing with gobshites and creative types, home to the lost souls of Sean McDonagh’s Quays. To my greenhorn eyes the place seemed thrilling. It felt as if I’d been given a special pass into local life.

Blitz and The Body’s flat was just around the corner from my house, so I’d pop over on a regular basis, always cautious not to outstay my welcome.

Then one day The Body turned to me. 
“Charlie, have to say, you’ve been causing a lot of tension in the flat. Tension and bad feeling.” 
My heart sank. What had I done? How could I make amends?

“Well it’s like this. When Blitz or I ask you if you want to stay for dinner, from now on you’ll say ‘Yes!’ All your politeness is making us nervous.”

That was 22 years ago, and ever since The Body has continued to take me by surprise verbally. 
Whenever I take myself too seriously he mocks me in a gently absurdist yet very effective way. When the Black Dog moves into my head and I can no longer see the point of life, The Body is the only person able to make me laugh.

When I moved to America in 1995 it never crossed my mind that the lads might keep in touch. By that time I’d copped on to the way Galway City worked: you had to be in it to win it. If you were away, you didn’t exist.

Yet The Body telephoned me regularly when I lived in San Francisco. He knew I was having a difficult time and when I told him how grateful I was for his calls, he said something that made my heart swell.

“You’re good blood Charlie, and there’s not many of ‘em.”

Years later, returning to Ireland in a quivering emotional mess, I took up residence on the Body’s sofa. I remember him screening telephone calls on my behalf, on the days when I wasn’t up to communicating with anyone else.

My friend has been through the most testing of times over the last few years, so it has been my pleasure to try and support him as well as I can. Sometimes my attempts to help him or cheer him up feel feeble to me, so maybe somewhere in my subconscious I felt guilty.

Maybe I felt grateful for his friendship over two decades and guilty because, even though I know there’s nothing much I can do to help, I want to do more.

Maybe that cocktail of emotions got the better of my motor functions, and made me lean forward to kiss him.

I really hope not!

©Charlie Adley

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