The month of March - a burst of activity unseen since I was in second year at the De La Salle, Ballyshannon, around about the time of the fourth Bunnymen album. I was busy in March, I'm saying. After eight articles in less than three weeks (a record) I took to bed for much of the month of April, missed some deadlines, reduced my cigarette consumption to a mere twenty a day and stayed away from my local - La Petite Porte - where I’d spent much of the last three years.
As I lay in bed I became intrigued by the notion of “taking to bed”. I wonder if it’s only in Ireland that people do this, as in “P.J. took to bed”. This was a remark often to be heard as you stood over a hole where P.J. was in the process of being buried. Taking to bed was perhaps a way of saying P.J. was depressed and needed to get away from it all but it inevitably also served as a excuse by which P.J. i.e. you or one, died, in a fashion the timing of which Irish people of a certain generation seemed to feel instinctively. A month or a year in a supine position, combined probably with the effects of the food and bad central heating, and you were starting to smell.
Anyway, glad tidings, I woke up in May, leaped out of bed, threw on my clothes, singing a song, feeling shite, as always. Throwing myself down the stairs to the bar/tabac, I thought about Ireland, and realized that I’d spent a much longer time here in France, than back there, in Ireland, and that the book I’d published, Fever, was one stab I made at that experience, of growing up in Ireland, and that, despite having cherished it in my head for years, having carried around in France and elsewhere a particular atmosphere, a manner in the body, in the eye, in the way of saying things, that was so obviously of the place where I grew up, that what came out of it, Fever, which seemed so important then, didn’t amount to much.
Which is not such a bad thing. All the more reason then to begin on a new book. So I’ve started on a new book. It’s provisionally entitled Gunk. It’ll take in France and London and Italy and a dozen other places, some glittery islands in the Meditaranean even. It’ll be shite, I promise, the second book, but it’ll at least mean that something happened after staying bed a month, to compensate for the fact that I didn't expire with that particular effort.
Gunk will take ages to write, like Fever, and no doubt I'll be broke for much of the time of its composition, and will probably abandon it several times, but I'm heartened by an article by the excellent Andrew Gallix on the virtues of slow writing, in which respect I am definitely virtuous, ah yes.