Wastepaper Basket Part II: Radio Play #1

***Content warning: Usual disclaimer about quality, putting this online because I no longer feel it to be of publishable quality***

Weatherwoman: (cheery and ebullient) –be seeing a cold front crossing over from the east, making its way over Leinster into the midlands, there encountering a front of an indeterminate temperature, the effects of which will resonate for a period of time. Listeners in certain parts of eastern Connacht should be aware that if their homes have recently been touched by death, it is likely that these fronts will deposit a light sprinkling of orange silt on outdoor windowsills. It is advised that both children and the elderly refrain from consuming this powder, regardless of how pleasing it may appear to the eye.   

Finally, Met Éireann have issued a weather warning that the Western winds coming in from the Atlantic are likely to cause in persons of an intemperate disposition, ideations of an unsound sort. It is advised that people likely to be affected remain indoors until further notice and that contact with affected persons, be avoided. 

Oliver: Thanks Linda!

[a jaunty radio jingle is played on a xylophone for five or so seconds. the pause after it concludes is too long.]

Voice: (furtive, as if confiding) Being loved and accepted for who you are is not a guarantee. For those of us who- (cuts off abruptly)

[there is a pause and then Vince Hill’s ‘Look Around’ plays, for about ninety seconds. the song fades slowly out.]

Oliver: (jocular, overly familiar) Now, we have in studio with us, Saoirse Ó Murcú, who has in her hands an altogether, ah ha ha, suspicious contraption, now, why don’t you, for the listeners at home, tell us what you have in in your hands there now Saoirse.

Saoirse: Well this is a camera that I came upon one of the days-

Oliver: Tell me this now, is it a family heirloom?

[they both laugh]

Saoirse: It is not! I just found it recently and I have to say that I’ve gotten great use out of it altogether.

Oliver: Now, I believe that there’s something quite unique about this camera, why don’t you tell the listeners what it is?

Saoirse: Well, this camera has the ability to photograph so-called dark matter and for those listening who maybe don’t have the technical know-how, dark matter is a halation of matter proper, which imbathes us all in an invisibly funereal wreath.

Oliver: So, let me get this right Saoirse because I can see the listeners scratching their heads at home, do the photographs that come out actually display dark matter?

Saoirse: Oh no Oliver, quite the opposite, the photos in fact reveal a nullity-

Oliver: A what?

Saoirse: A nullity.

Oliver: Oh, beg pardon, I thought you said something else altogether (!)

[they both laugh]

Saoirse: The photographs, when developed, reveal a nothingness that is fulminating on its own hypotheticality and the fact of our existence as a romantic contrivance, or an extended circling of the drain, if you like.

Oliver: And I believe you have a selfie that you took earlier on that shows the phenomenon that you’re describing rather well.

Saoirse: I do indeed, I have them for you here.

[rustling sounds]

Oliver: Lovely stuff, lovely stuff…god, it’s true what they say isn’t it, it does look back at you alright. Now, the listeners can get involved at home as well can’t they?

Saoirse: They can indeed and also online, eh, all they just have to do is just enter their emails at the bottom of the form and we’ll be in touch.

Oliver: That’s fantastic, that’s fantastic. Now there’s a listener here, or a texter should I say, who has a response to what you’ve been talking about this morning, he says, ‘Dear Oliver, that woman you have on is guilty of high treason in her enquiry into the divine plan and were it to be up to me I would see to it that she be hanged from her neck until she is dead so that she may atone for her blasphemous desire to penetrate into things beyond her rightful station,’ have you anything to say in your defence to that Saoirse?

[there is an inaudible muttering]

Oliver: Saoirse wishes to preserve her dignity on this occasion, and why not?

[jaunty radio jingle of a few seconds on light horns]

Oliver: Just coming up to high noon now, we have Áine speaking to Father O’Connell, the parish priest in Ballyclough on the tragic events of Wednesday last.

[the atmosphere shifts to one of an on-the-scene report]

Áine: (mannered, slow tone) Father O’Connell, calamitous. Destructive. Atrocious. Disastrous and overwhelming. These are all synonyms for ‘devastating.’ Could you, Father O’Connell, in your own words please, address each of these adjectives in order, choosing the one that you think is most adequate for describing the particular way in which the fabric of this community has been subject to rending, and again, in your own words, why the other four words do not wield the matter as you see it?

[as áine has spoken, there are sounds of the priest sneezing, once, extremely nasally and liquidly into the microphone. he blows his nose, again, obtrusively, twice.]

Father O’Connell: Good jesus, you’re really putting me in the hot seat there now. Ah, well, I suppose ‘calamitous’ has its merits, but it’s the kind of term you’d want to hold in reserve in case something worse happens in the next while or something. Em, ‘overwhelming’ doesn’t quite measure up, because of the extent to which the people of this community have really come together in the wake of the tragedy…is ‘devastating’ out of the running altogether yeah?

[pause]

Yeah, righto, em, ‘atrocious’ wouldn’t quite work for me, it conjures in my mind’s eye a tsunami or something…just leaves us with ‘disastrous’ I suppose. It’s been disastrous.

Áine: Father O’Connell, thank you, your words will be a great salve to the families of the victims of last week’s tragic events. While you’re here I wonder if you’d be willing to say join our listeners in a prayer or two?

Father O’Connell: I would of course.

[pause. Father O’Connell snorts and expectorates.]

Father O’Connell: Our Father in heaven, holy is your name. Let your kingdom come, this is done on earth as in heaven. And lead us not into temptation, but the day that is before us, amen.

[reverential pause]

Áine: Father O’Connell, thank you so much.

Father O’Connell: Thanks for having me on.

[no jingle, just an expectant silence of fifteen or so seconds, during which a sharp inhalation can be just about discerned once or twice]

Oliver: (ebullient) Four score past the noon hour now, so we’ll be joining Liz for our traffic update, how are things out there Liz?

Liz: (deeply solemn) Well Oliver, I am reliably informed that from an aerial view one can see the vehicles clogging the aortae of Dublin’s urban hinterland as an obscure species of inorganic gelatin, clumped together in granules of pus which, when placed in close proximity to one another, congeal into themselves yet further, a sure symptom of an infection of which we humans are the cause.

Oliver: (echoing Liz’s downcast tone) Sorry Liz, I’ll just ask you to repeat that there because the connection we have at the moment isn’t the best, did you say that the cars on the road are essentially granules of pus, of inorganic gelatin, and are symptoms of an infection of which we humans are the cause?

Liz: (the same again) I did indeed Oliver, that is essentially what I said exactly.

Oliver: (reverts to chirpiness) That’s great Liz, thanks for that.

Liz: (responds in kind) No problem Oliver, have a good weekend.

Oliver: You too, you too. Oh wait, sorry Liz, just while you’re there, have you ever seen the film Memoirs of a Geisha?

Liz: I, haven’t, actually. I read the book though, loved the book.

Oliver: Did you, yeah? Well you’ll have to give the film a watch so.

Liz: I will, I will. Though it’s rare enough that the film is better than the book, the book is always better.

Oliver: Well it’s something to do over the weekend, enjoy your reading. Or viewing, rather, or watching? Would you say viewing or watching?

Liz: Sure, I dunno! (pause) Viewing, I suppose.

Oliver: I think you’re right there Liz, I think you’re right there. Alright, listen, Liz, thanks again for that, enjoy your weekend.

Liz: Thanks again Oliver, you too!

Oliver: You’re welcome, you’re welcome, you’re welcome. Ha ha ha, oh dear oh dear.

[there is a long pause]

Oliver: (tortured) ohgodohgodohgodohgod

[pause]

Academic: (venerable) This week on Into the Archives, we, just short of the 85th Annual Congress of the Living Light of the True Lord Jesus Christ, take a look back on the occasion of the first Congress, in 1932.

Eamon de Valera: (scratchy with the aging of the recording, in a mode of public address) We have come to a point in our national history, where we, having asserted our national sovereignty, may now assert our spiritual collectivity, and togetherness, and be clasped closer still to the bosom of our mother church.

Academic: The occasion was a great opportunity for the new Free State to present itself on the world stage. The occasion of the Pope’s visit and his extension of forgiveness to the fairer sex for their having sinned against the light were just two among many of the happy occasions during the week-long ceremony. Tune in this Friday at sunset, where we will play some never-before-heard recitations of the 1932 Maynooth catechism from the Rutland Street National School.

Teacher: (totally uninflected) Did Adam and Eve obey the command of God?

Young Girl: (unselfconscious, stuttering over words, lisping mildly, in the manner of one articulating a rote learned exercise) Adam and Eve did not keep the commandments and, and committed our ancestor crime in eating the forbidden fruit of Satan.

Teacher: Have we, the children of Adam, suffered because of his sin?

Young Girl: (mispronounces some of the bigger words) Yes, we, the children of Adam have suffered because we are of evil, and, and we are of darkness; and we are of death, and we endanger the aspirations of our own souls and succumb to pain and death, cos we lost our sanctifying grace. 

Oliver: Next, we have in studio our Minister for Fisheries and Children. Now Minister, I was just curious-

[a series of skirmishes of crosstalk occur where both Oliver and the minister speak over each other staccato. they both start talking at the exact same time, and stop speaking again, at the exact same time. One can just about discern that the texture of their gibberish is made up of ‘sorry there,’ ‘if I could just’ and ‘to make the point.’ This happens four times.]

Oliver: And if I could just ask a final question minister, if you’d be willing to speak on certain allegations made in a memo that was recently leaked from your department as to whether or not your building is filled with unopened boxes of job applications for a recently vacant position.

Minister: (ambling, circulatory) Hahah. Well, Oliver, I think that, the important thing to eh, remember at the moment, is that, that is obviously something that did not happen.

Oliver: Minister, pleasure as always.

And it’s just past time to spare, we’ll be handing things over to the Sunday Salmagundi.

[somnolent horns in a regal manner for about fifteen seconds. it dissolves into asynchronous and discordant cataclysm]

Woman’s Voice: Time now for Sunday Salmagundi, a showcase of the finest prose, poetry and essays currently on offer in the land of saints and of scholars.

Second Woman’s Voice: (Speaks plodding, primly) I have always found myself to be spurred by a deep and profound love for the invasive species of the wild boar, sosis scrofula, a recent visitation on this little island in the middle of the Atlantic that we, and now happily, the boar, call home.

I can still remember the first time I made the acquaintance of this noble animal in my back garden. It was a gorgeous summer’s day and my dear husband was just getting ready to attend to the pesky weeds that had sprung up in our garden.   

—Won’t be a mo, he said merrily, already donning his thick gardening gloves, packing his trusty trowel into his sturdy steel bucket with a noisy clang. 

I watched him pulling the weeds up by their roots from the kitchen window, while washing the dishes left over from breakfast. They were the fine bone china plates that my grandmother left me, when she passed away so tragically, only the year before last. I looked at the beautiful patterns that ran along their outsides, made of little Celtic Crosses weaving in and out of themselves, like a mysterious tapestry from long ago. When I see them, I think of the big mahogany cabinet my granny kept them in when I was a little girl, and how big it seemed to me at the time, looming far above my head when I visited her with my mummy and daddy. I didn’t know then how fast the years would pass me by. I can still remember the hazy morning sunlight slanting through the cabinet’s glass door, making the plates shimmer like virtual reality.

I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I didn’t see the boar step out inquisitively from the hedge on my husband’s side, and gear up to charge at him. The first thing I noticed about our little visitor was how quickly he moved, his feet were like little brown rockets, a far cry from the stubby little implements that you’d mistake them for at your peril. His shiny white tusks aren’t just for show either though, as my husband found out when the little fella dug an eight centimetre hole in his thigh.

-Ah! Ah! Jesus, Cathleen! Ahh, Christ, my husband said, struggling to his feet. With his injury, he was finding it difficult to move quickly and ward off the animal at the same time. A big red wound was clearly visible, as the boar had inconsiderately torn my husband’s pair of jeans. The wound was a deep passionate crimson colour, like the first rose of summer.

I could see the boar was locking onto him to make another charge. I tapped at the window angrily to ward him off.

—Cathleen! Cathleen! Jesus, help, oh god, ah,  he said.

Just as the boar was about to make a run and gore my husband’s leg for a second time, he stopped and looked up at me through the window. His eyes looked into mine, and I had then a strange moment of sympathy and understanding with him. Even though we were from different worlds, and the boar was unlikely to have a memory like the ones that filled my head up to the brim like those of my granny’s china cabinet, were we really all that different? It was almost as if we knew each other well, that we were old friends from our school days. 

The boar then took a run and smashed himself into my husband’s ankle, knocking him to the ground.

—Ohohohogggohrbna, he said.

The boar then beat

his retreat

so I watched him depart

with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

Myles: You’re very welcome along to the one programme left on the radio for the serious discussion of the arts. In the studio with me today are the three authors of the latest collection of essays written on Irish Sculpture and Architecture, the book is called Modern and Contemporary Sculpture and Architecture in Ireland and it contains over thirty essays written on various significant works within Irish Architecture and Sculpture in the past hundred and twenty years. The authors are Susan Fogarty, lecturer in University College Dublin’s department of Installation Technology and Plastic Arts, Paula Clarke, Associate Professor in the National College of Art and Design and Simone Webster, a beneficiary of a grant from the Arts Council in public sculpture whose work has appeared in many towns throughout the country as well as in galleries and public spaces both at home and abroad. Now Susan, I’ll start with you, I was curious as to whether you’d be able to provide us with your sense of where Irish Sculpture and Architecture is at this moment in time. What kind of movements can we see in the field, are we seeing a traditionalist outlook, a more innovative landscape, what have you learned from your time spent researching and editing these essays?

Susan: Well Myles, I suppose what strikes me about contemporary Irish sculpture and architecture today is both the extent and scope of its variety. There is a vigorous traditionalist movement within both fields today, certainly, and a lack of shyness or bashfulness about coming from a traditionalist milieu, so that while they remain rooted in the essential practices of the past, it is a moving backwards in order to advance in a way, almost as if you need to return to the basics in order to see things in a new way.. 

Myles: The variety of what’s going at the moment is certainly an interesting part of the book and the essays all come together under thematic titles rather than chronologically…why was that and how do you think it affected the structure of the book?

Susan: Well this was an ordering principle that was decided on quite early in the process, what we wanted to achieve by doing that was to define what was happening at the moment through pluralities, rather than as a monolith. It’s a very diverse and disparate field with a number of points of entry, so we wanted that to come across as strongly as possible.

Myles: Now I’ll turn to you Paula, you write in your introduction about this sense of diversity that Susan has already mentioned, and you put it very well about the, the extent of artistic responses that the plastic arts have generated in Ireland, not just within the sector itself, but beyond it, throughout the arts and throughout the continent in fact.

Paula: Yes, I think that the meeting point or meeting points of architecture and sculpture remain very fertile territory in Ireland; I think we’ve come a long way since the Millennium Countdown Clock, if anyone still remembers that.

[mild laughter]

I still think of the Motherhouse in Dun Laoghaire and this quiet challenge it made to our expectations of sculpture and what it’s supposed to do in its architectural setting, how it allowed people to gather, and to witness, and when the piece had been decommissioned to remember, how it takes on a different life in all of those who were there to see it at the time, how its life cycle doesn’t necessarily end when it is taken down or decommissioned.

Myles: That’s very true, I still remember a wonderful sculpture trail set up in Achill about thirty years ago now and…I’m not quite sure thinking back whether it was funded through IMMA or the Arts Council, or whether it was a collaborative project, but either way I was lucky enough to see it while it was still active, just to see that series of mirrors that they had out on Corrie Lake sitting like petals. Or like lily pads, like lilies drifting over the face of the waters.

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