Monday, 5 August 2013

The spiteful, vengeful dragon
does not have the last word

Clouds and reflections, like a Paul Henry painting, on the Burrow Beach in Portrane on Sunday afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

Sometimes it creeps up from behind and snaps at you viciously like a fiery dragon, as if it had been hiding behind you for months waiting and plotting its spiteful vengeance.

For the past few days, this fiery, snapping, vengeful dragon has been taking its toll on me. The symptoms of Sarcoidosis have flared back up with a vengeance, with a dry cough, a weight on my lungs, and pains in my legs and joints that have made it difficult to walk, climb or stay standing for any length of time.

Standing at the second-hand bookstall in the big red and white marquee at The Quay in Portrane for two days in a row has aggravated those symptoms.

When I could stand comfortably no longer yesterday afternoon [Sunday 4 August 2013], I took a break and walked down to the Burrow Beach. The tide was out, and the white clouds in the blue sky looked like the clouds in a Paul Henry painting from Achill Island.

On the rippled sand below, those clouds were mirrored in the small pools and rivulets left behind by the receding tide.

After visiting the grave of my grandparents, Stephen and Bridget (Lynders) Comerford, in churchyard beside Saint Catherine’s, the ruined Church of Ireland parish church, I returned to The Quay for the last half hour of yesterday’s sale, raising funds for Heart-to-Hand and its projects in Romania and Albania.

Fact and fiction, truth and lies, still sitting side-by-side on the book stall in Portrane (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Bertie Ahern’s autobiography had sold the previous today from the pile of fiction books, where it had found its rightful place among cheap novels by Jeffrey Archer for the .price of 20 cents, perhaps the measure of both politicians’ worth.

If fact was difficult to tell from fiction, truth from lies, on Saturday afternoon, then it was an equally difficult task on Sunday afternoon. There beside the Jeffrey Archer’s books were Lance Armstrong’s It’s not about the Bike -- well know what it was all about now; Michelle Smith’s Gold, A Triple Champion’s Story; and Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, An American Life.

From the tent, I could see across the Burrow Beach, and as far as Rush. But, unlike Sarah Pallin, I could not see as far as Russia. But perhaps she would have been close to Jeffrey Archer’s Shall We Tell the President?.

Reading Jeffrey Archer’s potted biography inside the covers of his books, I wondered whether this was as much a work a work of fiction as his novels. He once claimed he went to Wellington College, the public school in Berkshire, when in fact he went to school in Wellington School, Somerset.

He claims in the books on the stall that he went to Brasenose College, Oxford, but Pinocchio’s Nose College might be a more appropriate claim. In fact, he has a teaching qualification awarded by the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, and was never a full undergraduate at Oxford. Archer’s other claims throughout his life, including his expenses claims, are worth reading as much as his fiction.

One of his books on the stall was The Eleventh Commandment. Of course, The Eleventh Commandment is: ‘Thou shalt not get caught.’ And the eleventh commandment was certainly the downfall of Michele Smith, Lance Armstrong and Bertie Ahern.

Meanwhile, the symptoms of Sarcoidosis are my downfall today. With a continuing cough and continuing aches and pains, I have decided against working at the book stall again today for the third and final day of the sale.

Walking through the ripples and the pools on the Burrow Beach in Portrane on Sunday afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Sarcoidosis has caught me ought again. But the beach walks in Portrane and our asides about fact and fiction lifted my spirits, and are helping to put the irritating, snapping dragon behind me.

I have Sarcoidosis, but Sarcoidosis does not have me, and I hope to be back on my feet again tomorrow and to take part in Irish CND’s annual Hiroshima Day commemorations at lunchtime in Merrion Square, Dublin.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

So sorry you are under the weather.