Issue #36 June 27th - July 3rd, 2003

Lucy and the dream of flowers
Lucy was a girl who lived far away from where people normally live, in a place not too many people know about. It was a good place though, but not too different from here you understand...
By Rachel Queen

The disappearence of Sister Janice
I felt waves of distress emanating across the void. It was the Friends of the Heroes editors: sad, lonely creatures who inhabit a small planet of their own, many light years from civilisation,
By Aunt Muriel

Rebecca's Birthday (part three)
Odin only ever told the truth when it was absolutely necessary. And in his opinion, that wasn't very often.
By Dimitra Daisy

Rodrigo y Gabriela - A Journey To Another World
The four musicians barely looked out to the audience, instead making eye connect and smiling at each other, clearly taking pleasure in what the other musicians were doing.
By Grainne Lynch

Home is Where the Heart is
... they can take all that because tonight he is falling through your window on a nondescript February evening in a nondescript nothern town and he is telling you that he loves you.
By Paul Williamson

My Shadow
It's always like this I see her, in a crowded place, running, but no-one ever talks about it. No, it goes further, they don't admit it happens
By Johan Hugo

 

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Lucy & the dream of flowers


Lucy was a girl who lived far away from where people normally live, in a place not too many people know about. It was a good place though, but not too different from here you understand. Her life was never difficult either, and not too many bad things happened to her. In fact nothing really bad ever happened.

But Lucy was unsatisfied. As the days went by she went looking for something beautiful. She wanted to do something special with her life. Despite her charmed existence she felt sad, she felt unfulfilled but most of all she felt guilt at her own discontent. Until one day. She woke to an unusually bright sun and a low mist. It surrounded her tiny house enclosing her in her own secret world. Lucy dropped to the floor and lay on her back feeling herself sinking into the warm damp grass. She lay there for sometime watching the sky move and feeling the breeze on her body. She lost herself completely, became free at last. As she did so flowers started to burst from her fingers, from her eyes and from her heart. A passer-by stood and looked in amazement at Lucy in flower.

"At last", she thought. "I've made something beautiful".

 

Rachel Queen

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The disappearance of Sister Janice

Sister Janice is the Friends Of The Heroes agony aunt. She used to be a nun, but after becoming involved in an accident at her convent involving a papal emissary; the mother superior; the convent dog and a bottle of 'citrus fresh' bleach, she decided it was time to find herself a new career.

These days she travels through the galaxies in a converted garden shed. Write to Sister Janice Slejj care of Friends of the Heroes. She will answer your problems and questions with the insight unique to a disco-loving alternative-gardening defrocked clergy member and cosmic adventurer...

Roger is a bloke she met in a burger bar. Hewants us to tell you he's a serious, sagacious soul and poet, but we don'tknow if he's just one of those dodgy people sister janice picks up from timeto time. We don't know who Aunt Muriel is.

Dear Children Of The Cosmos,

My blessings to you all. My name is Muriel and I am a Goddess Of Love.

You're wondering what I'm doing here, and where your agony aunt is. I'll explain.

Last night I engaged in my usual business of bringing Joy To The Universe in an intergalactic police station on the remoter edges of the milky way, when I felt waves of distress emanating across the void. It was the Friends of the Heroes editors: sad, lonely creatures who inhabit a small planet of their own, many light years from civilisation, where the only light comes from computer screens and the beings speak an obscure, utterly useless language often referred to as html.

Those poor, sad, creatures. I had to help them.

When I landed on their planet, I discovered the reason for their distress. They have lost their agony aunt. Disconsolate, confused, they wander about the darkness of their world, hoping that another higher being will come to answer the beings of the universe as they cry out in pain.

I am that higher being, my dears. I am a Cosmic Goddess Of Love. And I'm very good at it, too.

Apparently, she was there one minute, playing 'Lost In Music' on her stereophonic speakers, and the next moment she had vanished, along with her travelling companion and her space-craft. They're rather worried about her, as they know she wouldn't normally leave without taking her collection of retrospective dance classics with her. They ponder the song she was playing before she left and consider if it was some sort of message. If she has, quite literally, vanished into music.

The creative temparament, my dears, is an odd thing. It allows you to believe such nonsense. Lost in music, indeed. I did know someone who got lost in a book, once. Many years, he was there, wandering through the pages, eventually thumping the front cover with his fists and praying someone would open it.

But that's not the point. I went back to my...friends...at the police station, who are always grateful for a little favour, especially from someone who has Loved for Eternity, and I managed to look at their file.

They have issued the following report:

'The Intergalactic Police Force would like to appeal to any member of the public who has information regarding the following incident:

At approximately 7 p.m. last night, a woman, a man and a shed were abducted from a small, dull planet, (inhabited only by web-editors and writers, and with an absolute absence of anybody worth beating up, threatening or arresting), by Persons Unknown. The woman is believed to be Janice Slejj - currently wanted on the planet Earth following an incident involving Citrus Fresh Bleach at the convent where she previously resided. The man is believed to be Roger Cunlip - to our knowledge, not wanted by anybody.

The couple were last seen arguing with an unknown being whilst practicing their moves to The Hustle. Shortly before they vanished, Slejj was heard to cry:

'Responsibility, to me its a tragedy!'

and Cunlip appears to have been attempting to quote poetry - this may have sparked the incident.

Police would like to hear from anyone who may have seen or heard anything, or from anyone who can come up with a decent idea about what might have happened, even though they weren't there. Or from anyone who knows someone they can blame the whole thing on, and then forget about it.

The abductors are described as small, orange, and three-legged.'

Do not cry, my children. I sense that Janice will be returned, unharmed. Meanwhile, your Aunt Muriel is here, and I have a long experience of solving problems in a very direct manner.

'Dear Sister Janice,

My love, he lies far away, across the baking earth, and the fields of flame, and too close to the sun. There, horns lifted to the sky, he croons a tune known only to his sort, a paean of the beauty of his ancestors.

Our love can never be. For I am a human, and he is a sun-goat. What must I do, oh wise-one?

YoursD.Smith,Mercury'

'Dear D.

A sun-goat? Oh, my dear, you can do better than that. Their sort don't have time for the yearning that you feel, for they are creatures of the here and now and they cannot conceive of anything deeper. Casts your eyes away from the sun, before they are burned, sweet child.

As it happens, I was entertaining a construction crew not far from you last week. I'll send them over. Treat each one of them as if they were your own, stroke them, and pet, them, and play with them nicely.

If the yearning does not subside, remember that you are as good as any goat. You can be a sun-goat, too. Walk proudly, bleat loudly, and lift your horns to the sky. He can't fail to notice you.

Peace, love and happiness, my child,

Aunt Muriel'

My dears, I must go, I'm expecting a visit from the Venusian Volleyball Team, and must prepared my ball-play - although, as many have said, they could never really be bettered.

Love to you all

Aunt Muriel

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Rebecca's Birthday (part three)


Part Two 
Part One 

6.

When the strange-looking boy had stopped laughing, he had smiled at Rebecca, who was still standing with her arms crossed on her chest. Then he had told her that Peter is a fine name (but not that it was his) and that she was the prettiest girl on the beach. He had said that last one rather shyly even though there weren't any other girls on the beach. Rebecca was impressed that such a cheeky creature could be shy. She felt like she had won without having to try - she felt silly she had been trying all that time. She smiled back and handed him her shovel and soon she discovered he was a lot a better at making sandcastles than her.

Rebecca was a bit worried that her parents would notice the sudden improvement in her sandcastle-making abilities and wonder but somehow they didn't. Maybe they were too drunk on whatever they were drinking and sunshine to find things strange. At that thought, Rebecca smiled again. She remembered how the strange-looking boy had said they looked funny, and she just had to agree: her mum was wearing a straw hat with a red ribbon with white dots! And her dad's face had turned a rather bright shade of pink. They also giggled a lot, though not as much as Rebecca and the strange-looking boy did. Rebecca was very happy to discover that her first impression was correct and the strange-looking boy did burst into laughter all the time. She had decided to call the strange-looking boy Peter and she did so all day - and what a fine day it was.

Actually, she called him Peter for years to come, until she decided Odin was a much better name for him. He never told her his name and that is something Rebecca always wondered about. And she always will. But not too much. Some things you just have to accept the way they are.

Anyway Odin seemed happy to take whatever name she picked for him. He was around more than he was away, and he seemed happy about that, too. And the feeling that he was there had never left her since that first day. Never.

7.

Rebecca sighed again. This mixture of happiness and sadness and longing was new to her, and it felt a little strange. Then again the whole day had been strange. Her parents had decided that their little girl had grown up so much they had to change the usual birthday routine. Rebecca herself wasn't so sure about that but she didn't say anything. So she didn't wake up to a present waiting for her on the kitchen table but she was taken shopping by her mum so she could chose whatever she wanted instead. This wasn't bad as it resulted in the purple dress she already loved so much (and she still got some books from her dad when he came home and some flowers from her mum) but it was strange. As was the fact that her Tom and Amanda and her auntie hadn't come round till dinnertime - this wasn't a children's party. Not to mention her mum had given her Rebecca and Tom (but not Amanda) a glass of white wine each! Now that was the strangest thing of all.

Rebecca hadn't liked its taste at all at first but she drank it anyway. Some things take a whole to reveal their charms to you. Rebecca decided wine's charm is its power to make things seem a little brighter and a little stranger.

She wondered if Odin knew that - if he had ever tasted wine, if they had wine in the world he came from. Or if he could read her feelings. It wouldn't surprise her if he could. It would go some way to explain the feeling that he was always around, too. Maybe he was. Maybe he had been watching her forever, even from before that day on the beach. He said he had first seen her on that day, but that didn't mean much. Odin only ever told the truth when it was absolutely necessary. And in his opinion, that wasn't very often.

She wondered what he was thinking about her and her day in that case - about the wine and the strangeness. She wondered where he was, too, even though she knew she would never learn.

Then she decided to go to bed. Silently, she said goodnight to the moon and the mountain.

8.

Meanwhile Odin was sitting on a swing. The swing hang from a tree and the tree was near the edge of the magical part of the forest. A light, rather dim and greenish yet beautiful, seemingly coming from nowhere, shone on him. He was looking down, at the grass and his green shoes and absent-mindedly swinging a bit.

He was pining for his girl too.

And he knew she was pining for him, too. In his mind's eye he could clearly see her, in her new dress and a blue ribbon in her hair and it made his heart ache. It was a sweet heartache but a heartache nonetheless. Rebecca was wrong - he wasn't around all the time - but she was right, too: he did read her feelings. And she could read his, too, it's just that she didn't know it. Sometimes Odin wasn't sure where he ended and where Rebecca started, and that was a bit strange.

It was a bit strange, because they came from two different worlds, the border between which was a strong one. It wasn't always clear and it wasn't always at the same place, but it was there. It was something you could count on.

Odin came from a world with a lot of magic and a lot of rules. No one made the rules and no one enforced them; yet every citizen of this world knew about them and obeyed them. And one of those rules said that Odin and Rebecca had to be apart tonight. No one would stop him from going to her but himself. But that was enough.

Odin sighed. He silently said goodnight to the moon and the forest and he went to bed. The light went off.

Another rule was that he couldn't stay forever.

To be continued sometime... maybe! 

 

Dimitra Daisy  

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Rodrigo y Gabriela -
A Journey To Another World

Last Thursday when I abandoned the warm, bright June evening for the dark of the theatre, I was both excited and apprehensive. I was nervous about seeing a band I had never heard before and knew very little about. I wanted to like Rodrigo y Gabriela

From the little I knew about them I wasn't sure what to expect. Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero are acoustic guitarists from Mexico who have been living and playing in Ireland for the past five years. Before that, they played together in a heavy metal band called Tierra Acida. The gig last week was part of their summer tour, which took in 21 venues all over Ireland, and if last Thursday was anything to go by, it has been very well attended.

After an uninspiring opening act that was met with dutiful applause, the real show finally began.

The two guitarists came out quietly, sat down and began to play. One guitar, then two, Rodrigo tapping the beat with his foot, Gabriela supplying percussion by drumming on her guitar like a bodhrŠn. The tune sounded familiar, I think they said it was from Take Five, but as they played faster and faster, fingers flying up and down the neck of the guitar, it sounded like nothing I've ever heard before. The couple complemented and answered each other. It sounded like a conversation, or a competition as they tried to keep up with one another. The show made compulsive viewing as well as sounding incredible. It didn't seem possible that two guitars could produce so many notes, so much noise. The song came to an end and the audience went crazy. The applause was loud and appreciative. We were captivated.

Each song was like a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. It was obvious when to applaud because we had reached the end of the story. But they were complex stories with many themes running through them and with many twists and turns as two guitarists took turns providing the main melody.

Rodrigo and Gabriela were joined on stage by ZoŽ Conway, an Irish violinist who also provided vocals on a couple of songs. Nothing as complex as words, she simply added di di da's over the guitars. The violin added deeper, longer notes. Paul Byrne came on a little later to play percussion - bongo drums, tubular bells and cymbals. Each song became more layered as ZoŽ and Paul joined in.

The songs were passionate and exciting. They seemed improvised, as if the group were just playing around and figuring out what sounds worked well together. It was fascinating to watch them. They would alternate between watching what someone else was doing and concentrating on their own stuff.

Some artists thrive on performance. You see them on stage basking in the applause and loving the attention. Rodrigo y Gabriela just love making music. The four musicians barely looked out to the audience, instead making eye connect and smiling at each other, clearly taking pleasure in what the other musicians were doing. I got the feeling that they could have been playing in someone front room and they would have enjoyed it just as much.

Both accompanists had their own solos, which Rodrigo and Gabriela seemed to enjoy as much as the audience did. ZoŽ played a short, mournful piece on her violin, which made my ears tingle. Paul came out from behind his drum-set and sitting on a tall, rectangular box which looked like a bit like an old-fashioned speaker, he used the box as a drum. It's probably a proper instrument with a proper name, but I've never seen anyone play it before. Again, it was fascinating to watch, but it was also a fast, exciting tune. When he was finished, the audience broke in to rapturous applause. It was almost like he had finished just in time, because we couldn't hold back the applause any longer.

All too soon, the show was over. The band got a well-deserved standing ovation, and I eagerly leapt to my feet with the others. They came back to do a short encore, then after another standing ovation they were gone. The audience filed out, talking excitingly, dilly-dallying in the foyer to buy CDs and maybe get a chance to talk to the band.

It was a little after ten, and it was still bright outside. I felt like I had been to another world. It was one of the most original and exciting performances I had seen in a really long time.

Rodrigo y Gabriela play Glastonbury on Friday June 27 and the Ambassador theatre in Dublin on June 28. For more information you can visit their website at www.rodgab.com/

Grainne Lynch

 

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Home is Where the Heart is


You write something, but somethingdoesn't sound right, or maybe it sounds too right. So you stop. Assess thesituation as they say, but you have yet to find a 'they' that assesses saidsituation. Let's recall the boy instead. He took it out on himself, felt theweight of this world and the seven others on his shoulders, convinced that thenext train was THE one to hurl himself under, awaited a perfection that nevercame, saw good in too much but not enough, and still the right train neverarrived.

He was the boy, he was your boy, and you loved him.

If you look close enough you can see the gaps he crawled through and the wood hepicked at, your names etched in Edwardian mahogany, your heart skipping beats ashe fell through a window drunk one night and told you all he ever wanted wasright before him, that they can take all their gold and capital and Tahitisunsets and millionaire gameshows and vocations of repute and all that stuffthey tell you that you are supposed to aspire to, they can take all that becausetonight he is falling through your window on a nondescript February evening in anondescript nothern town and he is telling you that he loves you, he loves you,he loves you.

Yeah yeah yeah.

Yeah.

Fifteen years is a long time, three more than the man on the stereo whose sadudulation fills your room and it's this, and him, your boy, that leaves yourheart a congealed mess, but somehow you have to rouse yourself out of the brokenbattlements, the shrapnel of loss and remembrance, because soon your childrenwill be home from school and it will be time to affect the air of the maternal."How was school?" you will ask, and they will grunt an indifferent reply andwill ask, in an equally indifferent manner, "When will dinner be ready?" "Abouthalf an hour" you will say.

Well, at least you have the answer to that.

You can't help but think what your boy would say to all this- the detached housein the blank heart of suburbia, the state-of-the-heart home cinema, the annualtrips to Disneyland and the weekends in Provence- and yet were you ever happierthan when with him, your boy, in a rented room and a second hand cassette playerwhose incessant buzzing would permeate the twilight and the songs you both fellinto?

When he, this other, the father of your children, arrives home, clutching abottle of supermarket wine and affecting an air of pseudo-importance, and heasks you, as he does five out of the seven days in the cycle, how your day was,what will you tell him? That you spent it in a crumpled heap on the bedroomfloor, pulverised by memory and with thoughts of what could've been, demolishedby your boy and a past that annuls the present, that all of living, of life,seems secondary to the one you once had?

What will you tell him?

"Oh, the usual" you will say. "The usual."

Paul Williamson

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My shaddow


Yesterday I saw her again, mad as always. Wearing Checkers bags, the old ones, a carnival of red and yellow tumbling down the street on legs running like the wind.

Yes, only Checkers bags, torn open roughly and knotted together randomly. A couple of layers, so nothing gets through, just glimpses of little ankles knotting in bumps where they hit the road, flying out again behind. I reach out my hand to stop her, but like a ray of sunlight she's through and streaking down the road, like every time before. I hardly know why I bother anymore, except for this thing in my closet. And then a little yellow flashing out at me takes hold and soaks into a smile of nicotine-stained teeth. Mine, that is. Lower my head, and then she's gone, back to wherever it is she'll emerge from tomorrow or the day after, or next week.

It's always like this I see her, in a crowded place, running, but no-one ever talks about it. No, it goes further, they don't admit it happens. They stare at me when tell them, and then become so polite and so busy, and turns away to meetings they must attend in a hurry. And soon no-one talks to me at all anymore. But I know she's there, because once - and this is all the proof I have - she left her shadow behind. I've got it at home if you'd like to see, all neatly folded in the back of my closet, on top of the clean linen, so I won't forget about it, at least while I'm staying at home. I keep meaning to give it back, but she's always gone so fast...

Tell the truth, I'm not really sorry either. Of course my mum raised me well, instilled respect for private property etc. and so on, but it's comforting, this little black number I can sometimes slip into, and I'm her. And I think she likes it too, me having this thing. Now she can be pure light, no shadow snapping at her ankles, dragging her down, and her always running, running. That's why she never stops to speak to me, fearing - I think - that I'd have to give it back. Of course I could leave it somewhere where I know she'd find it, but what if I never saw her again? Then where would we be?

JohaN Hugo  

 

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