On my way back from the dentist, which is in Kilbarrack where I now live, I saw this house...
ghosts and goblins yo
It's typical of the area. I remember a few years back, during the Celtic Tiger, houses in the working class areas used to run so many Christmas lights that it surely cost them thousands on the electricity meter. I reckon the Halloween thing is motivated by the same good-natured desire to show off, but without the bill. Another house, which I couldn't photo because a hostile old lady (she became hostile the second I held up my phone - and who could blame her? I didn't ask permission) was in the garden, had a luminous skeleton (it was day but it had the luminous colouration) sprawled over a privet hedge, legs akimbo, in a pose that could only be described using sex prose. I wonder if it was deliberate? Weird stuff.
Kilbarrack's soundtrack is the magpie's dry chatter. They sound like the old fashioned clacker children used to bring to football matches (according to the Beano anyway). They perch on every chimney, commandeer every bin, fight over every scrap of cod batter outside the chipper, and generally appear in such numbers as to render the old folk poem about them meaningless. These birds are taking over urban Ireland with ease.
A confluence of things - a dry leaf rustling past my shoe, a bus turning a corner lit brighter on its inside than the dimming suburbs outside, a child on a bike shouting "wahoo", something (a bin?) rattling, the DART slowing down to a stop - drew me back to Vancouver Island in 1998. I spent two years in a scholarship driven international school there. One of the things we had to do there was a community project. I ended up working with a couple of my school mates and some hippies in their twenties on a bus called "the sustainable living bus". It was a gutted school bus that we worked on, filling it with tiny interactive exhibits about living sustainably and minding your ecological footprint.
Looking back honestly, I can see I was only half committed to what the bus was about. It didn't help that I felt alienated from the well-to-do and well-adjusted Canadians who worked with me (all lovely). But aside from that, I had lazy ignorant attitudes to the environment that I never checked before then. Put stuff in the bin, forget about it - that was me. Anyway, my overriding memory of the experience is the sense of North American 'Halloween'. The bus was parked on an avenue in a wealthy suburb of Victoria. The street was flanked on either side by old trees with leaves turning all the autumn colours. Late in the evening, as we worked in the bus by the light of a generator, we'd watch the odd child cycle past the window in a flurry of leaves. I would feel at those moments like I was in an 80s kids' movie. The houses nearby had pumpkins and bunting. I felt like I was in a pleasant dream.
I bought a cassette tape in Lyle's Place which was Victoria's cool record store, and played it during the four days we worked on sustainable living things inside the chilly bus. The tape was Dinosaur Jr's You're Living All Over Me. I'll never forget the dorky twentysomething hippy dude who owned the bus telling me: "wow, it's thanks to an Irish teenager I'm finally digging this album". We listened to it every night, turning the tape over at least three times. I can't hear the album now without thinking of that bright yellow school bus parked on a street of dry leaves, pumpkins, nocturnal cold and the shouts about high-school, homework, the bowling lanes, the dairy queen, and everything else that concerned the local teens who lived in a fascinating alien world that was to me the world of TV.
MP3: Dinosaur Jr. - Sludgefest