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Going around in circles but too sick for the last waltz


So here I am writing this and the television is on from Maastricht. The form isn't great. The face is swollen. It's some sort of a blood infection.

The nose is as big as an aardvark's. The old sinuses are as stuffed as a small chicken cooked for a big family. There's enough mucous to plaster the cracks in the San Andreas fault.

I'm crying involuntary tears from my left eye and the right eye is half- closed.

And now, feeling very sorry for myself, I promise the universe that when I get better I will give thanks for the precious gift of health.

Which will be done, but like all good things gets forgotten as time goes on, until the next bout of sickness.

So here I am watching television and writing at the same time.

It's Andre Rieu and he's got his orchestra playing before a big crowd in Maastricht which is out foreign, in a country where people don't have to get drunk to have a good time.

The audience are all well-dressed and handsome. I accidentally press Facetime on the phone, when I sit on it. There before me is the purple-pinkish swollen face of a man who looks like he was drinking for weeks on end. It's the face of man who would be stopped at customs.

Purple and pink don't match in clothes or faces either. I was out in the sun trying to catch a few rays and it seems the antibiotic is allergic to the sun.

I might never again leave the house. I love babies and love looking into the pram. Babies like me too. They always smile back. But not now. The baby roared and bawled. Even the dodo couldn't soothe him. I went away off, quick.

This lad who doesn't like me very much, or even very little, stops me on my escape and gleefully asks if I've been fighting. "No," I reply, "but I might be."

The fight story has been released by the rumour factory.

By tomorrow, the rumour will be escalated to "he killed a man during the course of a brawl."

Our rumour factory is the only business in town that didn't lay off anyone during the recession.

All those handsome people in Maastricht and they're smiling. If I smile my face hurts.

It's not wild, mind, in Maastricht, but very civilized. You can see from the sweep through the crowd that most of the audience are having a lovely time.

There are hardly any glasses on the table and the only danger of an argument would be if someone suggested Strauss was a one-hit wonder.

The people are all beautiful, although it could be the TV cameras are staying away from those who are not so beautiful, on the outside.

For years, here, the editors used an old photograph and so I cheated time and didn't age a bit.

There were times when it was no harm at all, especially after controversial pieces.

But then someone copped that I changed just a tad in 15 years and so they made me do a new picture just a few months ago.

I had turned into Dorian Gray.

Which reminds me. The man who is dying to get married but doesn't want to spend money has a pimple on his cheek.

He had it removed for the internet dating agency picture. The pimple is still on his face. He did very well. Several good-looking foreign girls he's never met have offered to marry him.

"Do you think they're genuine?" he asked.

I wanted to let him down gently. "You'll know soon enough if they ask for money for their blind sister's operation."

"Have they any medical cards over there?" he asks.

I'd say he was looking for a cheap date, a girl who would work hard on the farm and wouldn't eat too much.

There's no such thing, I told him, even out foreign, and definitely not at home.

Although there used to be.

The mother told me about the women who were never given any money by their husbands.

The poor women used to come into our little grocery shop at the front of the pub and order the food for the week.

It was "put in the book" which was the expression for credit.

The husband would come in, drink away and then pay.

Tough times for women but at least the slaves taught their daughters how to fight for their rights.

But that's social history from not so long ago and right now, I'm in great discomfort. Pain even, and feverish. So take no notice if this piece makes no sense.

And yes I do care how the face looks. "I am a human being."

Irish Independent