Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Above us only sky

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I got a call on Sunday night. From my mother, who was holding a party she didn't want to hold, that I had blatantly lied to avoid. What drunken dialing is this, I wondered, as I ill-advisedly tapped answer. She handed the phone to my catering sister.

'Gerry Haugh died.'

'Oh. Okay. Thanks.'

That was it. I thought briefly about finding out where and when the funeral was, but rejected the concept almost immediately. There is no way, I reasonably reasoned, I am going anywhere near those cunts. And he's dead. He's not going to care. Because he's dead.

And today, two days later, it has finally sunk in. I've been doing a lot of choking back this past hour.

I ran joyously through a forest. He supplied the trees.

I wore a scarf on my leg. He made no comment.

I fell in love for the first time. He was in the room.

I watched the Rocky Horror Picture show. Did all the newspaper water-pistol shit. He felt it needed to be done. I found myself in agreement.

I sat in Dunkin' Donuts for hours, drinking coffee and smoking. Talking shit about books, music. He never came by, but he would have approved.

I lost my virginity to Julie from Ballinskelligs. We did it in a field, I could hear Bon Jovi playing from the pub. He organised the trip.

I read The Razor's Edge. It was on a list he gave of books that must be read. So I read it. I started reading it again last Friday. No, really, I did.

I became an actor. Because he showed me how and it made him proud and what the fuck else was I going to do?

I wrote a thesis on the lyrics of Robert Smith. 'Sign it, date it, keep it,' he wrote. I didn't. I wish I had.

I learned that it was okay for boys to kiss other boys. I didn't much like it.

I suffered a terrible loss. Ballinskelligs again.

I wondered, even in the self-obsessed haze of adolescence, how I too could be endlessly selfless and calm and kind and gentle and smart and well-read and quietly passionate. I wonder still.

He was like a father to me, though I feel his scathing look at such a hoary cliché, and I always assumed we'd get together one of these days and have ourselves a chat about the old days. I looked forward to apologising for insisting that my rejection of everything related to my alma mater had to include him. Sudden illness, quick death. I fucking hate being an atheist. He hated me being an atheist too.

10 Johns and Janes for the comment whore:

Radge said...

This piece beats the shit out of going to the funeral. While Gerry was very much in that place, he certainly wasn't of that place.

Andrew said...

As a tangentially interesting point, I guess this means you and Radge went to the same school: http://www.radgery.com/2011/03/gerry-haugh-rip.html

sounds like a good guy, I can't imagine ever writing a tribute like this for any of my old teachers.

Andrew said...

Ah, Radge types faster than me.

Gimme said...

Exactly, Radge. They'll probably introduce jackboots to the uniform now that his moderating influence has been lost.

We've been keeping it quiet, Andrew.I guess the secret is out now.

Ellie said...

Mum was telling Eamon about the speech Gerry made at the play. It was a nice little tribute in itself.

Ellie said...

Her telling the story I mean.

niceonetom said...

Well, fuck. So this is how I find out about this. I guess I was successful in cutting all those ties to that place and those people.

He never taught me, but I was involved in the muicals. There was a weekend in Arklow where he shared his half coronas with us. What men we were at fifteen.

Is Bernard Fenton still alive I wonder.

Conan Drumm said...

I think every J school must have a showman/intellectual on the staff. I had one too, in my day.

Anonymous said...

Niceonetom, Benjy is.

Annie said...

come back

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