Dreamed a dream... Dirty old town.
|We are all clowns now, by Canvaz. The image that sums up 2012 for me really.|
Camden Street, Dublin, 26th February, 2012
I grew up for the most part in my grandparents' house, between the ages of 11 and 18, and to this day some twenty years since last I lived there it appears in my dreams. I sit at the kitchen table, almost always at night, the warm glow of the hanging bulb reflected off freshly painted yellow walls, the curtainless window an onyx pool of midnight mystery, a cicada-chorus of ticking clocks measuring out an arrhythmic heartbeat. Every cup and cobweb fixed forever in my subconscious mind, but my own home remains a formless shadow. I know in my dreams that the walls are not my own, put cannot picture where it is exactly that I live.
For six years I have been living here now, longer than in any other space save the house of my Grandparents, and yet still I feel little sense of connection to it. This was never meant to be home, it was simply meant to be a "home for now", a way-station on our journey into the future. I was too busy working sixty-hour weeks to go to any of the parties the Government are always on about, and then apparently one day they ended. For some reason still not exactly clear to me my house was suddenly worth nothing, a book-lined prison from which I would never escape, and the Government started taking all my money to give it their chums so they could throw new parties (though even less people were invited this time).
And while the politicians tightened our belts to buy more cream for their morbidly obese feline friends, bemoaning the loss of their paper empires in an orgy of Type-II cryabetes, everything around here started to fall apart. The shops closed down, the rubbish piled up on the streets, the vomit of the Celtic Tiger cubs replaced by the excrement of the needled-dead. The takeaways became headshops, the headshops turned to Shake Shacks, the Shake Shacks passed through Cash-for-Gold and arrived at the sex-shops with pinked-out windows and Fifty Shades of Grey toys just in time for Christmas. "Great news", says the Government, "at least some folks are still partying".
My house should be an oasis in all of this, a moment of warmth and calm in an unrelenting sea of grey. We work hard with our neighbours to make a better life for ourselves here, to maintain a community. But the drunken cubs come back and smash our windows with their pre-club vodka bottles while they piss all over our street, and the children of the needle steal all they can to pay for their next trip into thankful oblivion. "Great news", says the Government, "at least some folks are still partying".
I want to love my home. I want to love my city, but often the best that I can manage is an acknowledgement that I exist here, as grey as the sky above and the concrete brutalism around me, fifty shades, just in time for Christmas.
So on this last day of 2012 it is important for me to remember that my year was, by any measure, a rather good one. I fought the good fight with pen and shoe leather. I marched and wrote, I rallied and occupied. I brought a film out and toured far and wide with it. After a year lost to hospitals and operations, I went back to work, started a new business and hired people. There were happy times with family at home and abroad. There were celebrations with friends as they welcomed new life into the world, and as we close out 2012 it would appear that the worst of my illness may actually be over. There is food on my table and a roof over my head, two things that for many of my fellow citizens tonight remain sadly elusive.
While my conscious mind rages at all those things beyond my control, it would seem that for now at least my subconscious mind has acknowledged the good in my life and found a moment of peace. This is the importance of last night's dream. The sheer mundanity of it. On the last night of 2012 as I slept my subconscious mind said one thing to me, that I am home.
I hope that tonight no matter what troubles you are facing in life, you can find a moment to pause and reflect on the good things, however difficult that may seem.
To those no longer with us, your absence is an ache in our hearts. We will miss you forever.
To Dara, Sé, Fiach, Tadhg, Pearl, Samuel, Ayla, Chale and Silas, and all those who joined us in 2012, welcome to the world, already it is a better place just by you being in it.
Happy New Year to all of you, thanks for stopping by in 2012 and I hope to see you all again in 2013!
The image is above is of a paste-up on the former Irish Nationwide Building Society branch on Camden Street, by Dublin-based street artist Canvaz. Part of a series of five images that appeared around the city entitled "We Are All Clowns Now", each image represents one of the five stages of the Kübler-Ross model of grief, specifically denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The clown is based on a friend of the artist who was forced to emigrate at the start of the year. More photos of the series can be found here.Tweet