Normal Applies Now
By sean mcnulty
It’s great to go down de hill from de Castletown cemetery on yer bike when de town’s all lit up fur Christmas. It looks like a field of crystals in de dark, all many colours. Or an airport at nighttime and yer bike is like a plane going in to land. And de cars behind ye beepin as if yer bein a nuisance but really yer oweny a human ridin yer bike. Bastids. Ye’d tink people would be nicer at Christmastime but dey’re just de same miserable bastids dey are de whole year round. Come to tink of it, dey’re always ruining Christmas, de adults. Makin ye go to mass. Gettin out of der heads and fightin. Ye hafta make de most of it though.
I normally go fur evening spins on de bike around dis time of year. Well...last year... and dis year...so normal applies now. Cause I always say once you’ve done someting a first time and made de leap to a second time, it’s safe to say you’re in normal territory. I’m dead certain dere’ll be a turd time.
When off de hill, de cars don’t beep as much. De drivers have more Christmas spirit when in de streets. It’s oweny up on de hill dey act like bastids.
As I get close to de railway bridge on de Castletown Road, I hear de screech of a train along de tracks so I stop to watch it go by. I like to watch de trains go by but normally I don’t stop fur dem. I’m stopping fur dis train cause of de night mood. Dere’s someting about trains goin by in de night dat I’ve always enjoyed. De lights in de carriages are so warm and bright dat you can almost see right in and make out de faces of de passengers. It’s not night. It’s oweny seven o’clock. But since it’s December dere’s a night mood.
De train’s comin from de north which means it’s headin fur Dublin. I can see now some smoke behind de houses dat’s too tick fur chimney-smoke – it’s de train-smoke and it’s like a grey cloud crawling over de rooves and trees. I wheel de bike up a bit closer to get a better look.
I get close enough to feel de whoosh of it on me face as de train emerges from de smoke and thumps across de bridge but still a good way back dat I can have a clear view of it. De yellow lights sweep past very fast, too fast fur me to get a decent look inside at de people. Dere might be no people inside it fur all I know – just light. But I don’t tink it’s a ghost train. Even though dat would be really cool. I tink de passengers must be asleep as it’s a long journey from Belfast to Dublin and not only dat it looks a very warm and comfortable train. Wit de night mood. I wouldn’t mind havin a sleep on it meself. De chug of de train is also a relaxing sound – de night mood plus de chug make me wunt to be in me bed right now rolled up in de blankets.
Wit de train gone, I hop on me bike again and start off. A car beeps at me as I’m goin under de bridge. It turns out not all of dem driving on de street have der Christmas heads on. Ye’ll get no sympathy from me, ye bastid.
Den I ride off home. And dat’s dat. Dat’s all dat happened today.
Dat’s whut normally happens on dis day every year from now on.
Picture: Castletown Road, Dundalk
Credit: Author's own