The Songwriter - Chapter 7 Part 2
Over The Waves
People passed me by on the street and they wished me all the best and I exchanged another greeting , “Happy new year, all the best to you too. ” even though my feelings were low and somewhat shattered .
I now had my bearing around Cork and the people and places . It seemed like a nice place to be .
Now all I needed to do was to get the head down somewhere without fear . I was fighting off the sleep as I stood there in the street . I had a bridge in my head among some melodies and in my heart was a beat with music running through like a locomotive on marble floors but there was no place for it to go .
There I stood and sung as I watched people passing me by . A song began to
drift into my soul and I embraced it and memorised the first inspirations on the fret board on my guitar and within about thirty minutes I shuffled my way along Mac Curtain street . I heard the herald of chimes ringing out something o’clock and the hard times fell down around me , wringing out my strands of strength and squeezing out the grace that God had given me .
I shuffled along down by the bam bam bars of Cork and when I reached Washington Street I was surprised to see a fellow shuffler about thirty yards ahead of me and he was shuffling even slower that I was , As I got closer t to where he was , I thought to myself well things aren’t that bad , I shuffled away until I was neck and neck with my companion shuffler . It was then I noticed that he was very drunk .
Feeling the pains of hunger, tearing me gut from inside out, I continued and within twenty minutes I was twenty yards ahead of my nearest shuffler .
I gained confidence and strength that day .
One of the brightest biggest headaches that I ever had as a busker was with a drunk. For all drunks are the same ,fools in a lost paradise and bottles of time to kill . Disaster one day, I ,remember as I was heading up the Western Road , carrying my guitar under my arm when three fools with a half a bottle of vodka called me over.
”Give us a song . Go on “ They slobbered .
“All right I’ll give you a song” Said I not to be the person to turn any audience away . I went over and sat down behind them at the bus shelter . I was absolutely starving but I opened up with a version of Danny Boy . They all sang along out of key and harmony . Then they passed over a bottle of vodka a roll up of tobacco and I had a puff and it blew my lungs apart .
One of them sniggered , ““That’s twenty times that one’s been around “
He was joined by a fourth man who arrived with three brown paper bags inside a plastic carry bag . He sat down with us and he handed a bottle of gin and a bottle of sherry and another bottle of vodka to the band of cutthroats who in turn handed me a bottle . I looked at the wind and the wine-os and I had a fear about this but with an openness I took a swig of their brew and the lights all went out . I never felt a thing let me tell you until I woke up three hours later
I had been unconscious for a couple of hours in a bus shelter there in the falling show and as I opened my eyes the wine-os were gone and so was my onlu means of survival , my six string guitar . Ah the bastards . They had taken my guitar .
Now I was without support of any kind . I had no other means of staying alive . I I was penniless, broken hearted and black eyed to boot .
I made my way back to the town and stood there in Winthrop Street outside the Blarney Silver And Gold Company singing unaccompanied for hours and hours .
I had managed to pull in a few punters and had just enough for a bed in the International Youth Hostel on the Western Road . The snow was all over the place and the little parlour houses with their firesides all aglow , pretty lights from the trees still in the windows , kind of real cosy like . There was mistletoe on ceilings and friendly feelings in most of the places I could see in the homes that were attended by families .
I had not had and food for 27 days now and I was down to six stone .
I sat in the front parlour of the youth hostel The manager approached me and asked me for my Youth Hostel Membership Card and I produced it .Then he asked me where my luggage was and I answered ,
“It was stolen from me at the bus shelter down by the roadside by four wine-os”
He asked me to leave ,
I said , “I have enough money to buy a bed and it is your duty to see that I have one”
He shook his head and refused to check me in . I couldn’t believe what was happening . Very calmly I said
“I’ve nowhere else to go and I’m entitled to a bed ‘“
He replied “ I want you out of here now “.
I refused and said .
“I’m a member of the International Youth Hostel Association and I’m not leaving until you check me in .“
He looked very nervous and angry when he said .
“I’m the boss of this place now and I’m asking you to leave . Right I’ll decide who gets a bed round here not you . It’s my hostel.”
I was at the brink of a physical collapse and could not put up a fight if I tried but I remained firm and I refused to leave . He said .
“If you’re not out of here in a couple of minutes I’m calling the Gards to come and turf you out “
Well that was enough for me . I said ,
“Listen to me . You go ahead and phone the Garda “
He left the room with a sense of pride . Three minutes later these big burly black sheep in wolves clothing entered the room and said ,
“:Righto boyo out you go now “
I said , “No Gard , I’m not going. I’m entitled to a bed in this youth hostel and I’m not moving “
“You been told now . You’re a trouble maker “ Said the biggest Gard .
I said ‘I’ve been here in Cork now for well over a month . I’ve gone without food , I’ve gone without shelter . I’ve never once in all this time broken the law . I’ve not been in any trouble once I haven’t shop lifted even though I wanted to . I never broken into any homes or shops . I haven’t been drunk . I haven’t been disorderly . I haven’t robbed any banks or anyone or anybody . I’m just one solitary soul and have not upset anyone or anything in Cork . All I do is busk around your city , my city and , this city .That’s all Gard .
The Gard lurking in the shadows raised his voice in a very threatening tone and replied .
“The man who runs this hostel doesn’t want you here and we’ve been told to remove you “
I looked him in the eyes ,
“I’m not moving “ and I sat down on the sofa .There was a heated discussion in the room . A fellow Australian back packer entered the room at this point . He had been listening to the entire drama from the kitchen He never knew me from Adam but spoke up for me .
“He’s right you know , you can’t throw him out . He’s a member of the youth hostel . The association , he’s got every right to have a bed . I’m willing to par the three pounds fifty or whatever the fee is “
And I said
“I’ve got the money , I have the three pound fifty for a bunk . All I really want is to have a good sleep I mean it’s not much to ask . Just cast your mind , it can’t be that hard to do , to be kind for once .”
So the Gards looked at me and they said ,
“Well we would like to think that there’s a little bit of goodwill but we have to do our job and at this point , I’m threatening to arrest you if you don’t leave the hostel and you’ll be put up in a cell for a couple of weeks until the court . If that’s what you’d like .
I continued ,
:I’ve got every right to be here . You’re in the wrong “
The Australian spoke up again .
“As a member of the IYH Ithis man has to be provided with a bed .”
But his attempt to rescue me was hopeless
I stood up and said
“I’ve been all over the world and I’ve stayed in youth hostels from Sydney to . London and in all my entire experiences as a traveller and as an ambassador not once have I had trouble getting put up in a youth hostel . I don’t know what this problem is Gard but as far as I’m concerned I represent all backpackers here and Im not doing a bad job “
I was running out of breath
I continued ,
‘Let me inform you , I am a writer and you may as well know that for there will be a mention of this incident in one of my books “
They giggled and grinned and said comfortably
‘” .So you’re going to write about us then ?”
I saw my opportunity
“I’d like to ask you both for your names and your number “
The biggest Gard was taken back by my demand and responded ,
“Mc Cartney “
While the other one who had the nerve to call himself an upholder of the law ,
“My number mister is very confidential “
So very cool I walked over and looked up and down his uniform and said
“Well well its 151 is it then ?” Jotting it down on a scrap of paper .The he panicked and said
I said ‘”Thank you Gard . I hope you both realise that I’m a visitor and a stranger to Cork and I have no place to go but the gutter and you’d probably arrest me if I was out there lying in it . Isn’t that so Gard “
They pushed me out the door and said
“Enjoy your stay in our country .
I stood and watched then get into their Ford Seirra and off they went up the Western road .
I stood there alone a long way from home without a friend to call my own There was no place to get shelter . It was a few hours to go before the morning light would come. I walked around the town that night , keeping moving , to stay warm .
I took a seat in the centre of town and thought about the year ahead and hoped things would get a bit easier and spoke to a group of lads coming through on the corner .
I was surprised to hear a couple of the singing so I joined in .
They let me play the guitar they were carrying and I told them about the 4 wine-os that took my guitar .
They advised me to give the story to the local newspaper which I thought was a
good idea .
took my guitar .
They asked me was I was a fox , an IRA man on the run , a trouble make .
I told them I was a musician and they asked me to place the, a couple of my songs
So I sang a few of my songs and then I sang one they know .
“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”
As I sang they all joined in and then they started to fill my pockets with change.
After we said goodbye I counted out almost twenty five pounds . I made my way to Wellington place as the shops were just opening and bought myself a breakfast and later on that day I went to the newspaper office and spoke to the editor and told him the story about the four wine--os stealing my guitar .
He said to me he saw one of them a short time ago sitting in a doorway with my guitar trying to busk for money . He said he couldn’t play it he was just using it like a drum . I thanked him and went looking for those boyos .
I managed to find one of those wine-os and I got my guitar back .
End Of Chapter 7
Link to Chapter 8