Yesterday I was sitting outside Stage Door Cafe with my friend having the chats before going to the launch of TURNAROUND at Project, we were joined by two people we know and were having a brief catch-up post MAKE 2012. A man approached who was agitated and came right into the circle towards me, extending his hand clasped in a fist as a greeting to me, our fisted hands met gently. He asked for some money but was anxious to assert that he wasn't begging of us. "I'm not beggin' off ye, I'm not beggin' off ye, I'm not beggin' off ye" I gave him some money from my pocket. I don't always do this, but he really needed it. His face was covered in bruises and cuts, where there was congealed dry blood. He stayed and spoke with me and my friend, our colleagues had to leave to attend the launch. "Thanks Angel" he said, Angel, again. He extended his elbow towards me as another greeting, another meeting point and bent down and kissed my shoulder. He did the same to my friend, extending his elbow as a salute, bending down to kiss her shoulder. "See yis Angels, Angels, see yis" he said as he walked away.
A Series of Random Encounters in Dublin: (Transfer from notebooks)
"Can I Tell You About W.....? 23rd January 2010
W..... was beautiful. His eyes were a bright blue that not only dazzled but looked straight into your soul, he wasn't afraid to let you look into his. He had lovely hair too, sandy blond, and though he was usually unwashed in the time I knew him, I imagine that it used to be brighter, blonder. He was tall and well built, he must have been a handsome man in his day, he was still handsome when I met him, but I imagine he was gorgeous before. Before what? Well before the drugs is the short answer. In my experience there are no real short answers in life, in living life so its a bit of a silly saying I think now.
W..... got into crime pretty young I only knew him briefly and intermittently over the course of a couple of years, in two separate sort of 'professional capacities' so I'm not going to pretend here that I knew his full story or anything about the impact his life had on other people. I can only tell you, if I can, about the impact he had on mine. So W..... was a criminal. I don't know how he started, but he promoted himself to bank robber while still very young. "Sure no wonder I had to rob banks when she kept wanting a new kitchen all the time!" he joked one night while sitting in the doorway of a hotel in Rathmines adjacent to where the hot air came up through a grate. I had this conversation with W.....while he sat there on the cold stone step unable to rise himself because his leg had blown up to about five times its norm. He was smiling and telling me his life story interjecting funny stories and tragic events as I was trying to get him to go to the hospital in an ambulance. W...... was HIV+ and had also contracted Hep C. He was yellow in his beautiful face and his giant leg, though covered in classy trendy jeans, his foot squashed into a nice pair of nikey, was elephantesque and the notion that he had ever been or ever could be considered a catch was peculiar at best. But that's not what I wanted to tell you. I want to tell you about W....., about his smile, about how his eyes lit up the night though the rest of his body was failing him. I want to tell you about the sheer peace I felt with him. How I felt no fear standing in a laneway with him and his associates, some perhaps his friends, in the dark one Saturday night. I felt no fear because of W......, had he not been in the crowd, I am positive I wouldnt have stayed long either! When two more joined the party, having just scored heroin, W....., on seeing them about to cook up directed them calmly but very clearly to walk up the lane further, "You don't do that in front of ladies" he said. W..... never got in the ambulance that night. No matter what I said he had an alternative, but he was used to hospitals, more than me he knew the drill, he'd seen the capabilities and capacity of the hospital, even the specialist unit, to make him feel better, to solve his problems, and he chose not to go, not to repeat the cycle, on that night any way. Not too long after that W..... died."
"Sundady, 20th March 2010
M..... shook hands with me, asked me how was my day. Did I enjoy St. Patricks Day? I didn't I said, he said he was up the North, "IRA IRA" he was afraid to open his mouth. Have I any change to get some fruit maybe, he said, food. I said I hadn't any money but did he want a cigarette, yes, he said. I gave him the pack, it had two left in it. God Bless you he said, what's your name, Veronica I said, I'm M..... he said, and we shook hands. How come your so nice he asked me, you're an Angel he said, lovely, he said, most people aren't that nice, you're an Angel he said. Thanks I said, you're lovely too. Thanks Veronica God Bless you and enjoy your day. Thanks M...., you too. Then he shouted back down the street to me, Veronica if I see you again I'll have a cupa tea with you. Lovely I said and started writing."
"15th September 2010
I met A... outside the Project today. He had a very large contusion above his right eye and across his forehead was covered with dried in blood. His lip was swollen and cut and I found it very difficult to understand him. He started to talk to me, without any prompting and within minutes he was shaking my hand and calling me Angel. As we were talking I introduced myself and we shook hands again and he told me his name was A... . He told me he used to go out with a girl called V........ years ago, from Dolphin's Barn, as he said it an image popped into my mind of a thin tallish girl called V....... who I met at a bus stop in Dolphin's Barn when I had S... with me in the buggy. For some reason I knew this was the same girl. She had crutches and I think she was a heroin user and I think she is dead now. I think that's what he implied when he said her name. We were talking and when I found it difficult to understand him I just said I can't understand can you say that to me again please. He was holding a can of something, cider maybe in his hand the whole time. He smelled like stale alcohol. Just as we were talking a group of tourists walked by and ran at a tall man, older with pure white hair. The man got a fright and as he walked on I said this to A... and he laughed and asked me "Do you think I frickened him?" I asked him to repeat this and he did, and I understood then. I said they're tourists they dont have the same sense of humour as us, they wouldn't understand our sense of humour. He laughed and said "No, no they wouldn't!" (.....) "I have to go back into work" I said. "See you later Angel, see you later" A... said as if it was my name."