You know when you’re just minding your own business and all of a sudden something happens and you’re like, Oh Sweet Jesus, because it’s totally unexpected and unwanted. So there’s me, walking back from the town, and I cut through the Botanic Gardens on my way home; nice wee walk in the afternoon sunshine. It was freezing though. November in Belfast.
Well anyway, I was going down Agincourt Avenue, and as I went past Damascus Street, you know, where they’ve got that mural of Rory McIlroy on the gable end at Rugby Avenue now; it’s class. Rory McIntyre, that woman on the TV called him, during the riots: what a dick. Anyway, coming along Damascus Street right next to me was this gypsy woman. Must have been in her fifties. The thing was, I mean, you couldn’t ignore it, she had these massive tits, down to her waist they were, and she was wearing some kind of pink skin-tight top, but no support, if you get what I’m saying. You could see everything. The two nips were sticking out like child’s thumbs, pointing down to the ground. She had a black felt jacket on but she hadn’t done it up. It was frigging Baltic outside too; obviously didn’t bother her.
Well here, I got an eyeful of that and I near ran down the hill, the whole thing was so awkward. I knew she was behind me, but sure that didn’t matter; out of sight and out of mind. Only, as I got towards the bottom of the street, there was this crowd of young fellas – students probably – standing outside their front door drinking. And all I heard was these culchie accents: Oh My God, and would she not think of wearin’ a bra? And then they saw me, and I nodded my head, and they knew I knew, and one of them said: he seen it too! And they were laughing like fuck, and I nodded again, cos it was quite funny, but then one of them started to shout at yer woman, Yeo! Only young once, get your tits out for the boys, and all of a sudden I wondered how much she understood, and why she was out dressed like that, and how she didn’t deserve it, and I felt ashamed.
Audio, read by Joby Fox: Damascus .WAV – Joby
Yeah humour is ironic… do we laugh ‘with’ people (in our skulls…) or ‘at’ people (from someone elses skull… then its ‘out there’) such is the duplicity of life I guess… or as Ned Kelly remarked ‘such is life’ (well he didn’t actually but that’s another story… ) Thanks for sharing Jason. Pete DeafboyOne
I laughed at exactly the same time as you did when you were describing the women, everyone has seen it, everyone has thought it, and I also felt really ashamed at the same time as you did as well. People have many many weird and wonderful thoughts feelings and emotions going through their heads at all different times and situations, but the difference is you aren’t the sort of person to voice it in that way.
hey cuz, I’m in Qatar, so of course thought it would be Syria. And was struck by how bomb-shaped her breasts are, the way you describe them, in the cold, and whether a gypsy woman my age has felt such horrors that nothing any fellas where she is now can say can hurt her–snowflakes on a bonfire; and that shame exposes fragility. God I could use a pint.
Thanks Trish: I’m thinking of you as I sip this cold one.
The laddish colloquail voice or persona I find hard to read/hard to stomach; combined with the story content and it all makes me feel pretty uncomfortable.
Great! It’s supposed to be awkward – but does the ending change how you feel about the narrator? The title implies a monumental shift in their perception, after all.
Yeah. GOod ending.
So you weren’t blinded by the light on the road to Damascus and converted (into Paul!) but you certainly got an eyeful 🙂 A bit of a departure from your usual style, I mean it’s more crude and down to earth, which has the effect of making the scene more vivid I suppose.
One thing that occured to me yesterday while I was reading your last post (I read them all by the way): I get the impression that you’re writing to entertain, as if the reactions to your work were equally as important as the content itself, which is particularly the case with this one; it’s like you’re amusing the crowd over a pint in the pub. What’s your reaction to that? Is this the effect you’re aiming for? Do you write for yourself or for others?
I’m very impressed and pleased that you’ve read all of my posts so far. Thank you very much. I try not to have a ‘usual style’ really, even though a lot of the pieces are written in the first person. For example in ‘Moonchild’, I put the voice in the 2nd person, and I tried out a different format with ‘Special Delivery’, writing it as a screenplay. The ‘Damascus’ piece is necessarily more brutal – if it wasn’t, the punchline wouldn’t work. I also adopted a persona here, if that explains anything, but that aspect of the story may not be explicit enough.
In answer to your question – which, I think, is relevant to anyone who writes – the answer is that I primarily write because I find that I need to. This may sound like a cliché, but it’s true. It’s the same impulse with music – something I have to do.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to entertain though. The responses to my writing are important to me. It’s very helpful to get decent feedback, whether positive or negative, and it’s good to know that people are reading my work.
But in truth, I don’t write for the responses – if I was doing that I’d write in a different way, and about different things. It’s the same with music – I pretty much play for myself, and to develop that communication with other musicians; the fact that it entertains the audience is brilliant, but they are not the drivers of the creativity. Unless I’m playing for dancers, in which case the music is really focussed on them.
Hope that answers your questions. Thanks for responding.
Another good one, Jason 🙂
Thanks Ernie. This was a tricky one to write.