All that glistens is not Gold


Dún Laoghaire bay glistened pale blue and brilliant white. On my way there, on board the 46A bus, a schoolgirl sat next to me eating salt and vinegar crisps for breakfast. She was small enough, with wavy brown hair and a chequered uniform. When the bus pulled into Dún Laoghaire, I avoided gripping the point on the pole where she had smeared her greasy fingers. I was early for my appointment in the yacht club so I found a café and bought myself a hot chocolate. I felt as if I were back in London being an early-riser cosmopolitan-type enjoying the sunshine with strict purpose. I took out some books and a notepad with the intention of planning the class I was to teach later on.

Next to me two ladies sat down opposite each other. Fortyish – the two of them – I would say. The one I had a good view of was blackish-grey-haired and had that bowl-cut hairstyle known from childhood. She had an intense look on her face and told her friend and confidante that she needed to use the bathroom. Off she went. I read some more about the Third Conditional and took some notes. The lady came back and the coffees they had ordered arrived. They began to stir their drinks and what they talked about was crying. The blackish-grey-haired lady has spent her life not allowing anybody see her cry and this had to stop. She resolved to cry in front of friends and family. Her friend, or therapist nodded and added “You need to change, Margaret”.

Time up and I had to tear myself away from the scene. All kinds of backgrounds to it had danced around my head- was this an exposure session for a patient suffering from OCD who had a fear of drinking from dirty vessels shared by the general public? Or perhaps the dialogue represented no more than an unbalanced friendship. Or perhaps a marital crisis.

I came out of the yacht cub two hours later the honorary editor of a new website called http://www.writing.ie and smiled when I realised that there may be a genetic component to holding such a title: my father has been honorary editor of the historical journal, The Irish Sword, for years.

I was too timid to ask to use the facilities in the yacht club and so I went in search of a bathroom in the village. I was striding down the main street in the hope of finding a MacDonalds when an elderly man startled me. He came from nowhere and barred my path. I swerved apprehensively.
“Excuse me, love”, he said. “Do you know where I can get a box of sweets around here?”
An extraordinary request, I thought and all that popped into my head was: “I don’t know. I’m sorry, but I am new to the area”.

My mind was still bouncing with ideas from my meeting in the yacht club but my bladder was speaking with a singular urgency. I conquered a cubicle in the Bloomfield shopping centre and emerged, relieved.

On my way out, I passed a gaudy ‘Cash for Gold’ store. Inside, the salesperson was sniffing and mauling a golden chain. Before him was parked a large wheelchair where a young man lay on his side, paralysed. His father hovered above, observing with shifting resignation the sniffing Shylock.

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6 thoughts on “All that glistens is not Gold

  1. Can I ask what’s writing.ie about?

    I had to read a couple of times to connect the title and the content this time round and though I think(I hope I am correct) I can see the connection vaguely from your delivery but I thought I would ask for the source of inspiration for this particular post?

    • Inspiration? I guess I was just thinking back over my day and the things I had seen. The last image; a man in a wheelchair and his father trying to swap a golden chain for some cash made me sad and it contrasted with the sparkly excitement I had felt earlier on that beautifully sunny day. writing.ie is a new Irish website launching in a few weeks; it will be a forum for everything to do with literature in Ireland; help for struggling writers, author interviews, workshops, poetry readings etc etc! It’s a lot for me to take on editing it because this week, after months of looking I got two real jobs 🙂 but it will be great for me to be busy and to work hard again after having time off 🙂

  2. Fantastic!! Congrats on getting jobs!!! 😀 I knew it will happen soon!
    What’s the other job you’ve got?

    The website does sound very exciting! Frankly, I just realised there have been quite a number of novels from Ireland. I was in Waterstone and WHS a couple of times and I was amazed to realise that Ireland seems to produce very good authors. I think I need to make another visit there to get some inspiration!

    And yes, thanks for sharing! I think I can see your picture more clearly now. I tend to immerse myself into articles and novels and become part of the story but earlier on, I was unable to relate the title with your contents – hence my question. Just curious, are there writer forums in Ireland for authors to come together to discuss questions or themes?

    • Immersing yourself in anything is the best feeling and I’m really glad for the feedback so I know when I’m not translating what’s in my head well enough! So thanks so much for reading and for your kind words about the job. I’m going to be teaching English s a foreign language at two language schools – I have alraedy started my evening classes at one school but frm next Monday I’ll be starting a five day week. I’m nervous but happy! How is work going for you at the moment?

      Yeah, Ireland is really great for literature! I don’t know if you have read John McGahern but he is a really wonderful writer and I would definitely recommend him to you. I think this site might be a good place to start: http://www.irelandliteratureguide.com/ but you can find lots of places to dicuss specific authors if you google them! Let me know if you’d like me to recommend some more of my favourite writers 🙂

  3. Brilliant!! I am glad for you!! I believe I will be treated with more interesting stories from class once you get into your routine:D
    How did the first two days of your class go?

    Work is good! But I have to get up an hour earlier to get in on time because of some diversion on the road(till March) – I spent alot of time each day travelling on the bus to work – but then again, its through these rides which I get my inspiration as well so I try to OPEN my eyes each day and look for more inspiration!

    I havent heard of John before but if you have a recommended book by him – I would love to get started – trying to get back into the writing mood but so far it hasnt been very successful. The previous entry was based on what I felt last year on one of my trips but I havent had many spurts of inpiration since then..so I am trying to manually engineer them…

  4. Pingback: Anyone with a novel idea? | Katekatharinaferguson's Blog

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