Saturday 3 October 2020

At One with the World


   Keats and Chapman were ensconced in Neary's, the evening had been long and Chapman's demons were beginning to give voice, 'The problem is no one thinks about the big things anymore!'

   'I do' said Keats, 'It's your round'.

   'I mean philosophy!'

   'Oh' said Keats, 'It's your round'.

   'Everyone talks about causality, all they want to know is why did the chicken cross the road...'

   'Not me. It's your-'

   'but no one wants to know about the very core of things. For instance, what happens if the chicken is run over? Eh?' Chapman pressed the tip of his index finger hard into the varnish of the tabletop before them. 'What then? What happens if the chicken is so forced into the tarmac that it becomes indistinguishable from the road itself – no one one thinks about that!'

   'Some do. It's y-'



   Chapman saw that his rhetoric was falling on deaf ears and so, to Keats' audible relief, he stood up and signalled for two pints of Guinness. And seeing as he was up, he continued on to the gents to clear not so much his bladder as his head. 

   As he stood, gently swaying, at one of the monumental porcelain stalls that lined the wall his gaze settled on the copper piping that led down from the iron cistern perched above him. He had faced the piping countless times, but had never before appreciated the subtlety of its contours. He scrutinized the brass elbows and tees that enabled it to repeatedly ramify and permit water to sluice each stall. The copper and brass had been polished for so many years and with such assiduity that each bled seamlessly into the other. So close was his inspection that he slowly tipped forward his forehead coming to rest against the tiles above the stall. The cool of the ceramic spread through his skull, he closed his eyes and slipped into a reverie. He heard an echo of Keats' quip about henology and it made him smile and he felt his head merge with the tiles, and the wall, and everything.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Head Case

Chapman returned from O'Connell's cradling a package.

'What have you there?', asked Keats looking up from his perusal of 'Everything you need to know about Ratites', a volume he had discovered abandoned on a park bench earlier that evening.

'Tighe the barman gave it to me', said Chapman unwrapping the contents, 'He brought it back from his holliers in New Zealand. It's the skull of an extinct giant bird, a class of huge ostrich'.

'Is it really', said Keats never one to acknowledge a coincidence, 'What do you propose to do with it?'

'Use it as a memento Maori', quipped Chapman as he placed it on the mantlepiece. He stood back and looked wistfully at his gift, 'Tighe said it was found in a rock face somewhere south of Westport... I wonder where exactly'.

'The Cliffs of Moa?', volunteered Keats unhelpfully.

Wednesday 5 June 2019

The Times They Are a-Changin'

   Keats and Chapman had just returned from the Abbey Theatre where they had enjoyed 'The Quare Fellow' an innovative piece by a young playwright called Brendan Behan. Keats slumped down at the kitchen table while Chapman retrieved from the dresser a bottle of Bushmills whose contents he felt would supplement nicely the Guinness imbibed at the play's interval. 

   'What wonderful acting!', declared Keats.

   'And that song, what was it? The Auld Triangle... ', Chapman looked to the ceiling in search of the words, but Keats beat him to it and sang emphatically, 'And the auld triangle went jingle-jangle, all along the banks of the Royal Canal'. He belted out a few more lines in approximate order, all the while keeping time by striking the worn oilcloth of the table with the flat of his hand.

   Chapman waited for the thumping to cease before setting the charged glasses down. As he stood poised he noticed that the vibrations were causing the large soup bowl that had long sat at one end of the table to be displaced. This vessel had rarely, if ever, contained soup, it owed its presence to a vague similarity with a fruit bowl and as such contained old keys and empty cigarette packets. Chapman contemplated the unfaded circle that was being slowly revealed by the bowl's jouncing.

   Keats asked Chapman why he was standing there like a tree as he, Keats, was dying of the thirst.

   Chapman nodded at the table, 'Look at the colours that have been preserved all these years under that soup bowl, the azures... the cobalts... they remind me of my childhood and the idyllic house we had that overlooked Bantry Bay... '

   'The sub-tureen-ean homesick blues', suggested Keats.

   'Sounds like a good name for a song!', added Chapman snapping out of his reverie, and they both laughed heartily at the unlikelihood of such a title.

Friday 8 February 2019

Invoking the Broader Picture

'But Miss Scallop, lots of males lack external genitalia, fish for example.'

Wednesday 2 January 2019

A Pedestrian Exchange

   Keats and Chapman were taking a stroll through Stephen's Green when Chapman noticed that Keats had developed a faulty gait.

   'Why the gimp, Keats?'

   'It's these brogues, they never did fit.'

   'But you have countless shoes at home, why wear this pair?'

   Keats stopped and drew up one leg as would a stork. Addressing the brogue brought within reach, he slowly ran his finger along the stitching that secured the sole to the upper, 'Because the others lack such stimulating welts.' There was a slight tremor in his voice.

   'Mmm, I sometimes think your liking for shoes borders on the unhealthy.'

   'Well,' said Keats catching up with his friend, 'the jury certainly felt so when I was tried for 'Public Fondling of Footwear'. The alienist I was obliged to see said I was suffering from 'retifism', a condition named after Nicolas-Edme Rétif, author of Le Pied de Fanchette.'

   'I remember now. Didn't your predilection lead you to be arrested on several further occasions?'

   'It did, one judge called me a multi-retificist, he seemed to find my compulsion amusing.'

   They arrived at the duck pond and sat down on their favourite bench. As the pigeons gathered so did Chapman's brows, 'You've got to admit, Keats, your case is unusual'. He lifted his right foot off the ground and pointed at it, 'You mean to say that this scuffed boot could drive you to distraction?'

   'Not anymore thanks be to God, but there was a time when it would have induced a certain longing.'

   'I see,' said Chapman lowering his foot. He extracted his handkerchief and stooped to polish the spurned boot.

   Keats was staring blankly at the Mallard-strewn waters, 'During one particularly maniacal episode I even became convinced I was metamorphosing into an item of footware, specifically a Louis XV court shoe.'

   'Interesting', replied Chapman who was now admiring the results of his handiwork and appreciating for the first time the sensual interplay of lacing and leather, 'but how could you be chaussure?'

Friday 6 October 2017

A Neat Disorder

Two cowboys with a herd of cattle walk into a bar and order beer.

The barman says, not unreasonably, 'We don' serve yur kine in here'.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Birds of a Feather

   Under pressure to clear their slate at the Palace Bar Keats and Chapman found work sweeping up in a soft furnishings factory. As they shuffled between machines Chapman's eye was caught by an apparatus that blew flock into linen bags. He marvelled at its construction, 'Look, Keats, with one flick of a switch one can change the settings and go from filling cushions to filling bolsters!'.

   Keats carefully detached a wisp of ticking that had adhered to his tongue. 'I know some consider us inseparable, Chapman, but I never thought we'd graduate to pillow talk'.