Today, I took part in a fantastic spoken word event as part of Dublin’s Lingo Festival. Words With Teeth saw six of us doing new work for the first time, facing off against an opponent. I was “Country” to Dave Rudden’s “City,” You read and then the audience votes and the craic is had.
The audio version is here. But here’s the piece I wrote and read.
“Here, here missus, will you gimme me baaall back?” That’s how you talk now, isn’t it? That’s how you talk to your new “neighbours”. Neighbours you can see all the time. Neighbours so close you can hear their wireless on while you’re having your lunch. Neighbours who wouldn’t have a clue what to do if the calf were breach. Do they even have rope in their – what is it, not shed – attic? I’ll bet they don’t. And if they do, you wouldn’t know what they’d have rope for. You know what I’m talking about. Yes, you do.
You’re probably out all the time, are you? You’re probably very busy with the office, and the train, and the cinema. Oh, I’d say it’d be hard to get the time to write a letter, alright, let alone come home here. And why would you? Sure, I’ve no news. Only the calf was breach and the lads at the mart and I’d to call the neighbours to help. It took them an hour to come, but at least they’d plenty rope with them when they did.
I’d say it’s all very fast, is it? You probably only eat sandwiches now. The lads and I would never survive on that. It’s the air, you see – you remember, the air? – and the being outside. Good, hard, manual labour and no shame in it. Builds the appetite. For the dinner yesterday we’d a roast goose, a half a ham, a slather of spuds, a cabbage – each – and a kind of a mash. And after that we had the real dinner: mostly beef. You’d probably sneer at a cabbage now, would you? Unless it came in some kind of a jus? I’ll jus you.
She probably smears stuff on you, does she, the city wan?
I’d say you’re late for something, are you? Don’t let me keep you. Don’t let me keep you. You probably have to be up early tomorrow – in time for the following day. Rush, rush, rush, sure I know! Sure I know.
What do you even put on you in the mornings? You used to be jeans all the way, and you’d wear them til they’d fall off of you and disintegrate into a pile of indigo ash. You probably have options now: ties and casual Fridays and date-night underpants. You fucking eejit.
I’m not jealous, Michael, I’m not, I wouldn’t thank you for the noise and calamity. I don’t care how many different kinds of apple you can get all year round, I’m sure they taste like sprouts. Remember the berries and the laughing? Shelling peas and singing? Lambing and power cuts and eggs with straw stuck to the shells? Or maybe I’m remembering it wrong.
The dog used to be enough for you, for company.
I’d say she’s high heels on her all the time, does she? Not the dog, yer wan. I’d say she tippy tappies around every day and casual Fridays bedamned. She probably goes to bed in them, too, oh I know what goes on. Never mind the sheets, sure the shops are only two minutes up the road. If one gets a hole in it, so what? We’ll get new ones. We’ll get new wans. You can’t change people like a sheet.
I’d say she drinks those cocktails. Long and cool and liquid like herself. And you’d be working half the year to pay for them. Misery-in-a-glass. How’s that for a cocktail for you?
I don’t suppose you never laugh. I believe you when you say you do. But it’s not the berry-picking-time kind, is it? Where you’d throw your head back, spitting juice despite yourself – but the kind you’d have to do to pretend you were having a good time, or to show someone you were no threat. The kind of laughing you’d hear on television. It’s all shop fronts, Michael. Shop fronts with stuff for sale. “Hello, who are you and what do you do?” None of your business. If you’ve to ask, then I don’t know you.
I know you. I’d know you coming down the road even if I didn’t have sight of you yet. I’d feel you coming, like a storm or a frost. And we’d light the fires and roast even more beef and maybe put a turkey on notice. Oh. You’re probably a vegetarian now. Maybe you shouldn’t have sneered at the cabbages so fast.
I’d say you go to a gym do you? And she probably tells you don’t need to work out. You do. You need to work outside. That’s who you are. That’s what makes up your muscles and bones. No need for press-ups or kickarounds then. But, I suppose, if you never kicked the ball over the fence, how would you ever meet your new neighbours? Go on. Off with you, and beg for your balls.