My current jobs have me working odd hours; my day tends to run roughly from noon to 5am or so, with much of the post-midnight hours filled with writing. I’ve always preferred the silence of night-time writing – scripts, theses, academics corrections and so on.
This evening, while redrafting a Kickstarter concept script for the new Simon The Sorcerer game, I was struggling with a joke and so, as I often do when I hit a snag, I went for walk around the city – it’s a good way to freshen the head. I tend to walk along the Quays, sticking to the river’s side of the roads. Dublin City centre is… lively at night, so I like to stay far enough from people to avoid trouble, but near enough that if something does kick off, there are people around.
Anyway, this evening’s trek was somewhat different… As I turned from O’Connell Street Bridge and onto Aston Quay, I heard a strange tune. Not club music, something else. I followed the tune (which I cannot put into words – I’m humming it still, but I think it’s changed somehow; it’s not… as… pure? I don’t know) and saw a strange light – again not anything you’d see at a club, nor was it anything I’ve seen the likes of before. And as for the people…
I saw them dancing. Scores of masked men and women swaying and swirling and swinging and skipping around the strange fiery light. They moved in ways I’ve not seen before, ways I’d thought weren’t possible.
And as I took all this in, one of them stopped. He looked right at me. He removed his mask and it was me. Older, yes (though by how much I can’t say), I nonetheless stood before myself. Older me looked happier, but didn’t say anything. He just grinned – knowing the great secrets of my future, I suppose – before winking and being dragged back into the fold. I tried to keep an eye on myself, but it was all so fast and soon, soon I was lost to me.
I stayed and watched, only after a while noticing that the light was moving away and they were dancing off with it. I was alone then, once more, standing on Henry Street of all places – far from my normal nightly route.
I stood a while before being shaken back to reality by some drunken girls singing some trashy pop song. Then I returned home, where I now sit, bewildered as I try to capture what just happened.
And none the wiser about my troublesome joke.
(an old poem from my previous blog, but I figured it was worth transferring across)
A is alone now, its friends are all dead B is a bigot, with hatred to spread C is a coward, too frightened to speak D has depression, the future looks bleak E is erroneous, mistakenly so F is fictitious, no future to know G is grotesque, too ugly to view H tried to hang itself, it failed at that too I is invisible, to all means and ends J is a joke, to family and friends K wanted kindness, that didn't work out L wanted love, instead it caught gout M suffered madness, and was buried away N's just too negative, to ask out to play O is oedipal, incest on the brain P is a pervert, a giver of pain Q is oft quesy, spewing all day R is quite rancid, and smells of decay S is too sober, to take all this in While T is quite throttled, a life drowned in gin U is ubiquitous, and knows all your lies V is just vacant a dead look in its eyes W's so wicked, that all children bawl X is xenophobic, and fearful of all Y joined a youth group, terrorising the old Z became zealous, fascist teachings extolled Twenty-six sorrows, we could have prevented But we sat by and laughed, which should be lamented
Abstractions and musings in indie games are generally a dime a dozen. Ergo it’s rather revelatory when you experience one that actually feels transcendent.
I remember, as a child, a time of dancing: mothers and fathers waltzing in the kitchen, children swaying as teachers breezed around the classroom, late-night lovers shuffling together as they waited for Four Lanterns take away and young goths grinding in the Mineshaft.
My brothers are much older than I, and while the years are still the same, the gap was wider then. Every now and then one would be allowed to take (tasked with taking?) me into town for the day. I remember once when the eldest had been charged with me, just as his fling-of-the-day had been charged with her youngest sister. We toured the dark places of the town (and my hometown has never felt so big as it did that day, with places appearing I’ve yet to find since), the adults stealing kisses as they could and us dancing out of their sight (we met years later as adults, she and I, but the music had stopped playing by then and the world was smaller, less magical. Certainly, our magic was gone).
None of this seemed strange then, in those days of dance. We were untouched by the banality of the world, protected perhaps (cursed maybe?) by the castle at Dunmahon; a lone defender on the borders between our joy the rest of the world.
The castle itself held no magic during the waking day. A lonely, broken place, hard to get to and unrewarding once reached. At night though, oh at night the dancers in our dreams would take us to watch the Lords and Ladies move in ways unnatural. From atop their tower they would show us The Way, The Meaning, The Reason. Was it not only natural that we’d want to mimic them in the waking hours?
I remember the first time that I properly danced – the dance of adult. It was in a local club we had queued for an hour to enter (I walked past it recently, queue-less and empty and wonder if any of this was ever true). The entire time I shifted my weight from foot to foot, rubbing the cheap fake ID I had purchased days before. Every now and then, I would mentally recite the name, address and date of birth written on it. Once I got to the top of the line, I handed the card to the man, almost blurting out the memorised lies. He looked at it, then looked at me, then back at the card. He had grown up in the house next door and knew me well. Regardless of this, or perhaps as a result, he let me in. In those days I didn’t drink at all – none of us did, the inaudible music that blanketed the town was all the intoxication we needed. My friends had been there many times before and knew the moves. So, lacking the ‘Dutch courage’ I watched from the sidelines for ever so long, frightened to be laughed at. Eventually I followed a pretty girl out and we danced to Mambo No. 5 - a song I hold an unusual fondness for to this day. At first my movements were flat and awkward, but once I realised the moves where inside, I found myself free. I did not kiss the girl that night, nor any night after; nothing could have surpassed the power of the dances we shared.
I can’t recall when the dancing stopped or when she went away. But the music faded out, the courts no longer invited us and the dancers were gone. One day it was there, the next it was silent. And sad. I drank then, for the first time. I lost myself in its grip for a while. Finally I came out of the haze and left that place.
I don’t go home often these days. It brings an almighty sorrow in me when I travel home and see the remains of their castle from the motorway, now empty and derelict. No music comes from there now. No Lords asking Ladies for their hand.
Today I waved goodbye to my family home for the last time.
Growing up as a lame (both in the literal and 90s-slang senses) kid on the ‘burbs of town, I wasn’t really inundated with friends. So, I was quite happy to be living in a haunted house. Well, I say haunted. I don’t know. I do know that a lot of people, myself included, saw … things … there. Anyway, there are worse places for a lonely kid with an imagination to grow up.
So, here’s to the Miscellaneous Men, the Time Twins, The Princess, The Garden Man, whoever scratched that future date on the wall, Bloodhook Joe, the Other Folk from out back, Rosie, the Headless Truckman, the Insider, the Stone Dog and all the other things seen and experience there.
Do me a solid and don’t go killing the new inhabitants anytime soon, yeah?
GM: You enter the room; it is filled with kittens.
GM: The kittens are on fire.
GM: But only in the sense that they are really good at what they are doing.
GM: ...which is setting each other on fire.
This is my favourite tweet of all time.
– The Four Immeasurables (via ):
May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.
May they be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.
May they never be disassociated from the supreme happiness which is without suffering.
May they remain in the boundless equanimity, free from both attachment to close ones and rejection of others.
Tundra! Tundra! Tundra-cats! HOOOOO!
I don’t believe in ‘best of’ lists. Well, I believe in them (they’re not fictional), I just fail to see the point. Who cares about my opinions on such things? Nobody should. I know nothing about anything. But, apparently, it’s that time when people reflect on life, so here are my favourite memories of the past year (in no particular order):
- 4am deer in Phoenix park
- Tommy the Gun
- Seeing artwork for Harper
- Learning TM
- Walking around the city, talking about philosophy with friends
- The Dance and The Dawn
- Talking about Magic at a gaming and tech conference
- That thing that happened in London
- The magical bit in Kentucky Route Zero at the ranch (actually, all of that game so far)
- Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sean-nós style
- Walking through the sea, fully dressed (the looks on surfer’s faces as they entered the sea and I exited were marvellous)
- Holding the village for four gruelling hours at Eblana
- Legal pints with d’nephew
I’m probably forgetting a lot of this year. Nothing personal 2013!