The scum gentry alternat.., p.2
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       The Scum Gentry Alternative Arts & Media E-Zine Issue 1: March 2014, p.2

          
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  Willy P of course had some very close friends amongst us. We’d all known, or at least known of each other, all our lives. Willy P had some real boyhood allies around him, plus he was a much more affable and amiable person than Mooney and Mooney realised this. So I suppose his worries about Willy P weren’t unfounded. I can’t say for certain if Willy P was planning to make a move but I wouldn’t be shocked if he was. Anyway, as you know I never did find out because I had to go away for a while, didn’t I?

  While I was inside I suppose I discovered a chance to reassess things a little. I took to reading; biographies and auto-biographies, mostly at first, but then anything at all. Shakespeare, Freud, whatever I could get my hands on. Of course I knew a few people in there, and I could potentially have experienced a few minor difficulties perhaps, but most people were aware of who I was connected with and seemed to deem it prudent to leave me be. Ultimately prison wasn’t such a bad time for me. I took the opportunity to educate myself, protected from unwanted hassle by the reputation of my associates. If anyone had tried to tackle me, I don’t know what I would have done. You know I’ve never really been the violent type. So since I’ve been out, I’ve been as straight as your good selves. Been doing the whole house husband thing: minding the kids, making the dinner, all that. Wife’s working as a medical receptionist so we’re getting by. It’s a no-frills lifestyle, but what can I say? It’s clean and it’s wholesome and it’s purifying my good old soul here. Had I seen Mooney since I got out? Well, of course I’d seen Mooney since I got out, it’d be almost impossible for me not to. I told him that I just needed to lie low for a while, at least just for the duration of the parole. It was all I could say to keep him out of my way and off my back. I wanted to buy some time and try and think of a way of staying out for good. I’d seen Willy P once or twice, down the Old Oak. He’d bought me a drink, naturally, but me and him were never that close anyway. And he wasn’t the boss was he? So I didn’t have to worry too much about him. Mooney was my only problem really. I could never have imagined that he’d end up doing me such a favour.

  You don’t need to show me the pictures, I heard all about it on the grapevine, so to speak. It all seems a little unbelievable. I’m not surprised that Mooney made a move against Willy P but to do it in the way that he did? It’s grotesque and it makes me feel nauseous to think that I ever worked with these fellas. I hope to God Mooney didn’t realise that Willy P’s kids were in there. I know Willy P hardly saw them and I’m sure it was unusual for them to stay the night with their father. I suppose Mooney wanted to set fire to the place to leave at least a shadow of a veil of uncertainty surrounding the death. If he’d just gone in there and shot him, it would have been too obvious. At least this way, nobody could categorically state that he did it while everyone would be paralysed with fear in the belief that he did. He sends his main rival to his maker and now everyone has to jump when he says boo. Well would have, if he hadn’t crashed that stupid car of his. I couldn’t believe when I heard he still had it. The car was so old, maybe it was a mechanical fault. Perhaps he was coked off his nuts, but I suppose once he’d hit the wall and the engine went up, it left a pickle of a scene to investigate. Maybe Mooney could hear the screams of those three little kids, echoing in his bloody ears, as he drove that thing so hard into that concrete wall just to make the bloody screaming bloody stop. Me, I just want to forget about the whole thing and get back to my life, if that’s ok with you?

  .

  As I walk home down through the old streets I start to wonder deeply. Visions of memories flash past my eyes. I remember all of us as kids, running like feral animals in sun-drenched summers, with the energy and ambition of youth bursting through our skins. I think of happy times with Mooney and Willy P, of growing up and trying hard and of the ultimate tragedy of their lives. Because Mooney and Willy P you see, could never really have been true top men. Mooney was a mad bastard, okay and Willy P was a funny fucker, not bad. But neither of them had it up here you see, both of them were lacking the requisite mental capacity to command and to imagine, to plot and to scheme. Neither of those two useless pricks could ever see how easy it is to become the boss. And all I had to do was light a match.

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  Back to top

  Garret O’Gorman’s a-MAZE-ing Take on Irish Life and Society

  .

  I have led an illustrious life and I have done my best to convey my experiences to the populace. I had hoped that I could educate you all. I have prayed that through my writings, you – the reader – would learn to live decent and honest lives. It is clear that I have failed in that endeavour. But Garret O’Gorman is not a man to give up. None of it! Education is a noble aim but the beasts who roam our streets are for the most part illiterate. The written word is not an appropriate medium for them. I have therefore devised an educational puzzle; one that will inform the common man on the streets of the perils and saving graces of Irish life and society. Pass through this maze and you will know what makes a nation strong.

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  * * *

  .

  Rules are important. They form the backbone of any sound society and where they are absent, chaos rules. It is fitting, therefore that I have laid down some basic rules for this puzzle. Given the lowbrow, even mongoloid, nature of The Scum Gentry readership it must be stated that the first rule is no cheating. Aside from that, the others are as follows:

  You begin with two lives. Pass through a peril and you lose a life. Pass through the same peril again and you lose another life. You cannot exit a perilous feature via the path you entered. You chose to debase yourself, you must live with the consequences.

  .

  Pass through a saving grace and you gain a life. If you pass through the same grace again you do not get another life. You cannot exit a saving grace the way you entered it. To do so is not to follow the righteous path.

  .

  Get to the end still in possession of a life and you win the game. However, lose all your lives and you are a disappointing failure. You have lost. (see footnote)

  .

  * * *

  .

  Ireland is an ill country and needs cleansing. It is impossible to list all the perils this nation faces but I have for educational purposes included the four gravest and most perilous threats we must overcome.

  .

  The IRA: These marauding Fenian apes are a severe threat to the lives of all true Irishmen. They are known to dine on the pancreai of newborn infants. Each babe gives them the strength to fulfil their evil campaign against our freedom. Avoid.

  .

  Foreigners: We live in Ireland. And it is Irish. So it should be. But this nation is being diluted by the arrival of a lesser stock. Would you let pigs breed with cattle? Slavs, Poles, Blacks, Huns, Yanks, Nordics, Normans, Yellowmen, halfbreeds and quarterbreeds! All are unwelcome. Shun.

  .

  Housing Estates: Every town and city in Ireland has them. Filthy nests of inter-breeding vermin. In these council estates, men stay at home, workless, and commit crimes against themselves and God. Do not enter.

  .

  Gay marriage/Abortion: These abominations are amongst the biggest threats to Irish society. I have linked the two as each is an offense upon God and both are widely and increasingly practised. Furthermore, research has shown that one practice may lead directly to the other. Spurn.

  .

  .

  Thankfully, there remain two pillars of Irish society that may as yet save us all. Enter these saving graces and you might successfully navigate the labyrinth that is life in Ireland.

  .

  The Church: A guiding light of Irish life. The nation’s moral compass of virtue unsullied. Heavenly Father will protect the good and punish the filth. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

  .

  The Law: Our protectors are under siege in this nation. But they remain ready to serve and protect. As the country disintegrates I fully expect the Gardai to step up to the plate, declare martial law and violently cleanse those who oppose. Enter the loving arms of the law.

  .

  .

  Footnote - Following difficult consultations with Garret, The Scum Gentry have determined that the game does not follow the Mario convention on lives, i.e. in this game if you reach zero lives it is game over and you must start again.

  A new year is upon us, bringing with it new aspirations and commitments, as well as fresh directions entirely, to follow up on now that both the digestive and the withdrawal periods of Christmas have passed thankfully behind us. After spending the last year penning in-depth, occasionally even pretentious, reviews of artsy movies I decided that I needed a new journalistic vocation to occupy me for 2014. Something with the common touch, more down to earth and accessible, something that could be gripped with the rough skin of my own two hands and crafted in the traditional sense. And so it happened that while flicking through the UPC one evening earlier this week I stumbled upon that old staple of Irish television, the Dublin soap opera “Fair City”, when I was struck with a terrible idea. I was in a particularly good mood that evening and I immediately took to piss-taking in my head and lampooning the pantomime onscreen before me and I thought to myself: “Yes, from now on, every week I’ll review all four episodes of Fair City for the Scum Gentry Journal. That will be a good auld laugh.” Indeed.

  I do not hate myself and am therefore rarely inclined to engage in the habits of self-torture that must surely follow such a poor appraisal of the self. As such, I decided to watch all my Fair City in one sitting, so that for the rest of the week I would not be subjected to it. After the morning’s work on Friday afternoon I put my feet up in the living room and plugged in the laptop to log on to the RTE Player and my weekly dose of Fair City. What follows is my own subjective interpretation of the past week’s actions in Carrigstown.

   .

  Episode One: “The Unknowable Greyness Within” – Originally broadcasted on the 5th of January 2014

   .

  It’s been a long time since I watched more than a scene or two of Fair City, though my recollection of it (although hammy at the best of times and, yes, even shite) was that it was, in terms of story development, often a fairly rip-roaring thing, with steamy affairs, subplots set in gangsterland, this one lad with curly white hair and tiny beady eyes (like an evil elf), and these college students who once pretended to be Satanists to freak out Eunice. It’s fair to say that I did not know what I was in for.

  As the show began I was mildly concerned that, in returning on a whim years later, I would now be a stranger in Carrigstown, an astronaut from the future in a planet of apes, and as such I was pleasantly surprised to recognize a pair of familiar faces strolling down the street. Paul and Nicola and I even recalled they were once a “thing”.

  They talk about the test results of some unknown female other, it is not specified what the tests study or convey but there is a whiff of despair about the whole thing. My brow furrows. They stop outside a Tapas Bar (Tapas?) and I am lost. I am in Bizarro World.

  Next some unfamiliar and tired-looking doctor arrives on the scene and Paul tries to glean information from her regarding the tests (for a “Jane” apparently), which she refuses, citing her Hippocratic Oath. Exit Paul, Enter Doctor – Enter the Tapas.

  In Tapas (this is modern Carrigstown) the first person the Doctor meets is the hitherto-addressed Jane herself. Now the doctor presses Jane about these unspecified “tests” as she too apparently knows nothing about them. Jane brushes her off, preferring to suffer in silence. Nothing is known.

  After that another familiar face appears in the Tapas Bar, the dodgery auld fella Charlie, who approaches a younger vaguely recognizable woman who tells him that her phone-calls to somebody (?) have all been rebuffed, to which Charlie replies something along the lines of “I’m getting worried, it’s going to be very lonely for Bella’s anniversary if nobody shows up”. A wave of unexpected sadness washes over me.

  The next scene is in a psychiatrist’s office. A woman, Yvonne, appears locked in an iron cage of her own personal torment, unwilling to engage with the counselor who seems to me wholly unsuited and even uninterested in the position and says deeply jarring and unsettling things like “So tell me, who are you?”, even though she already knows it’s Yvonne. This is becoming unbearable and by the five minute mark I have decided that two episodes of Fair City a week will suffice this undertaking.

  Next we meet the third focal point of the episode, a doting old woman, a baby, and a chipper young fella who is revealed to be the child’s father Jay. The woman informs him that she can’t mind the baby tonight (though she would like to) and as such her friend will have to babysit for them. However, she insists that she will pay for it herself as the young lad probably can’t afford the cost, despite his protestations to the contrary. At least there’s a bit of warmth here and when she sends him out to buy the baby nappies she insists he buy the expensive kind to stave off the dangers of nappy rash.

  Immediately Jay enters the Tapas Bar and goes to Charlie (the auld wan’s wife apparently) to implore for a loan of a fiver because he can’t even afford the extra few euros it would cost to ensure his infant daughter’s wellbeing. Yes, it seems that that chipper, upbeat attitude of earlier was all merely a put-on, a facade for the auld wan’s sake, lest she too worry about poor Jay’s worries.

  Oh Lord, this is grim. It is all so grim. It’s not the Fair City I remember. Where are the action and laughs? What about Billy Mehan getting his head caved in with a five-iron? Where’s Leo, that guitar-slinging rogue, when you need him to cheer things up? It’s almost too much to bear.

  At the ten minute mark it is revealed that Yvonne is in counseling for a rape that has utterly devastated her life and her entire sense of identity. At this point I decide that I will skip the next episode once this one is over in the hopes that this endless nightmare of a plot trail can be escaped from and forgotten forever. But first I must endure the rest of what follows.

  Paul swaggers into Jane’s apartment in an overcoat like some bulging Lex Luthor Colombo and accuses her of faking her cancer (it’s cancer) to get attention from Calum (who’s Calum?). Jane protests her innocence in a jaded, half-hearted way and then when he leaves she sits alone and starts counting out various pharmaceuticals into little trays to divide up her doses for the coming week of silent and solitary suffering.

  Other things happen. There’s a new character who looks like David Lynch doing a George Clooney impression who I hoped might fill the role of roguish everyman getting up to badness and hijinks, but no, he only serves as a counterpoint stand-in for others to accost in the street and voice their terrible miseries to. Only two people (Jay and Charlie) show up to Bella’s anniversary thing. Even the doctor is miserable for the majority of the episode until she cheers up suddenly, somehow inadvertently making her daughter miserable in the process. I must move on. I have to go on.

  Episode Two: Actually no. No. I can’t do it. This was a terrible idea and a woeful way to spend a Friday afternoon. I quit. Fair City: Five Stars.

  .

  Back to top

  SCUM GENTRY: You became involved in politics at quite a young age. At what stage did your attentions turn to poetry and literature and what were your early reading habits like?

  .

  KEVIN: I started writing poems, most of them seriously bad, at the end of 1995. I was 28 years old. The previous year I had left the political group, the Militant Tendency, which I’d been a member of since I was fifteen years old. And the leaving was of the grotesque variety. I returned to Galway from London and had vague ideas about doing something artistic. I was active (on the yes side) in the 1995 Divorce Referendum. Myself and a friend of mine were, semi-officially, given the job of making black propaganda against the antis. We had fun.

  In the immediate aftermath of that, I collapsed with a really bad flu. When I recovered I started writing ‘poems’ on an old Apple Mac someone had given me. My early reading habits, before I began writing poetry, included books like Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell and Leon Trotsky’s My Life. The first poem I remember liking was Yeats’s ‘September 1913’ which is a bit of a mean poem, like some of my own. The earliest poems of my own that made it into my first book, The Boy with No Face, are ‘Lethargy’, which was written in May 1996, and ‘Blackhole’, which I wrote in October of the same year.

  .

  .

  That collection, “The Boy with No Face”, was first published by Salmon Poetry in 2005 and very well-received, with one reviewer referring to you as “Ireland’s answer to Larkin”. What was your poetry career like leading up to that publication?

  .

  I began publishing poems in literary magazines in mid-1996. I did a reading here and there, when the chance arose, but there were far less readings then for a beginner poet than there are now. By the time The Boy with No Face was published, every single one of the poems in it had been previously published somewhere; the poems served an apprenticeship, certainly. I won the Cúirt Poetry Grand Slam in 2003 and the prize was a reading in Paris. In 2002 I read in New York at the launch of an anthology I had a poem in. It was a slow process, but fun too.

  .

  .

  Who do you consider to be the major influences on your poetic voice?

  .

  George Orwell, Jonathan Swift, Charles Simic, Leon Trotsky, Alexander Pope, John Dryden, Christopher Hitchens…

  .

  .

  In 1993 you were involved in a controversial protest against Enfield Council, which culminated in the Tax Collection Department seeking to have you imprisoned – how serious was the issue at the time? Was the risk of jail a genuine concern?

  .

  It was serious. I was Chair of Enfield against the Poll Tax, the borough-wide campaign. The head of the Finance Department turned up at the court with a file full of my statements in the local papers. Other activists in a similar position to myself, in other boroughs around London and elsewhere, had been jailed. One of the Tory Councilors locally had called publicly for me to be jailed. I was kind of public enemy number one, for Enfield Council, on that issue. So, yes, there was every chance I could have been detained in Brixton Prison, or some such charming institution, over the Christmas of 1993. I had excellent (lay) legal advice, though, and the Council couldn’t prove that I was refusing to pay because, well, I had very little money at the time and was almost homeless. They didn’t get to use their fat file of my own statements against me.

 
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