Roddy Doyle introduces his latest character, Charlie Savage: featuring the misadventures and mishaps of a conflicted man in an ever-changing world.
We're off into town again, me and the little grandson. We're going in search of the Christmas clothes. I used to bring him. This time, though, he's bringing me. He's holding my hand, he's taking me to the bus stop.
I have to be careful. The daughter's in the house. She moved out a while back - and moved in with her partner, Keith. I miss her and the little grandson, but I've got used to being able to say and shout anything I want.
I'm on the bus and it's packed. It's a horrible day out there, one of the those warm and wet days when you're sweating and freezing, and the windows of the bus are steaming; there's nothing to see. I'm standing downstairs, clinging to a pole, even though the bus isn't moving. Upstairs is my natural habitat but it's full. So I'm stuck here.
I did one of those health checks a while back. It was the summer and there was no football on the telly, so I was looking for things to get me through the hungry months and - don't ask me why - I signed up for the health check.
My phone is up in the attic. And it's staying there. I don't need it, I don't want it. If I need to phone anyone, I'll use the landline, the yoke on the wall in the kitchen. If I want to stick a fiver on a horse, I'll walk down to Paddy Power's. If I want to know the time, I'll ask the wife or look at the clock in the microwave. If I want to know what the weather's like, I'll look out the f**kin' window.
I'm giving mindfulness a go. I think. I can't remember what I've agreed to, exactly. I was on my way to a beginners' yoga class - I was actually at the side door of the parish hall where Rita from around the corner holds the classes - before it really dawned on me what I might be letting myself in for, and I turned back. I went for a pint and threw my yoga mat into a skip.
It's quiet in the local. I'm there before my pal, the Secret Woman. There's racing on the telly but the sound is down. The sun is exactly as I want it, outside but sending a solid-looking beam through one of the windows, across the floor. I have to wade through sunshine to get to the bar.
I worry about nostalgia. I spend most of my days privately, and sometimes not so privately, weeping for the old days. And at the same time I know well: most of the old days were sh**e. But I hear a song from the early Savage years, and I'm off. I don't even have to like it. I can hate the song - Sylvia's Mother, for example - but still listen, and sit back and remember a life that I never actually lived. I'm dancing with a girl; she has her head on my shoulder and she pulls me closer to her. I am, as we used to put it, away on a hack.
I'm going to have a gawk at Rural Ireland. The wife's coming with me; we're making a day of it. The little grandson is with us too. The daughter's gone to Spain for a few days, with her partner, Keith; they've gone to a wedding, even though she doesn't approve of marriage as an institution.
I'm leaning against a bus shelter. And in case you're wondering why, I'm waiting for the bus. I've an app on my phone that tells me when the bus is due and, more often than not, it's bang-on. So, strictly speaking, I don't need to be here, holding up the shelter. But I've always been of the opinion that, to fully embrace the experience, you have to do one of two things, either be a bit early and have to wait, or be a bit late and have to run.
The turnstile is the first surprise. I'd forgotten about the turnstile and the excitement you feel when it gives way as you push. We're in Phibsborough, me and the wife, just outside Dalymount Park.
Showing 1 - 30 of 113 results