|Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.||
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
How my career began
I left school at the age of ten and I became a journalist. The editor of the newspaper I worked for used to assess current events from the point of view of a nineteenth century man looking into the future. This was really just a way to excuse his sexist attitudes. He was surprisingly old-fashioned for someone so young (he was only sixteen). At lunchtime every day, all of the journalists from the paper used to go to a dimly-lit restaurant that was always overcrowded, despite the poor quality of the food, and the bare wooden tables that looked as if they were never cleaned. I tried to avoid looking at the floor, but I always had to clean my shoes after leaving the place. Every day we could hear women selling vegetables on the street outside. They were journalists as well.
My first assignment was to interview a former sporting great called Seamus. He had played Gaelic football, hurling, table tennis and cricket, he'd run marathons, he had a brief career as a professional boxer and he'd represented his country at canoeing, badminton, wrestling and gymnastics. He'd gladly talk to any journalist, and he'd tell tall tales of his sporting days, such as the story about the time he played a football match with a broken arm and he had to keep running because a demon was trying to set his shorts on fire.
I wasn't really listening to him. As he spoke I was drawing a picture of a van. When he finished telling his sporting stories he went to the window and he looked out at the horizon. "When I was your age," he said, "the summers were much longer, and so were the days. I could play five or six matches a day and still find time to climb a mountain, build a raft and poke a leprechaun with a stick. Every August I'd spend two weeks at my aunt's house. I remember watching the lightning shows..."
My mind wandered at this point. I started drawing pirates capturing the van.
The story came to an end with the line 'He was so big he once sat on a choir'. I could only remember a few lines from the start and this one line at the end. This was all I had from our interview. I had to make up the middle of the story. I couldn't help thinking that it probably had something to do with pirates, so I wrote about a huge pirate who used to pluck seagulls out of the air and eat them whole. He could even eat them by shoving them up his nose. His behind was always getting lodged in things, so two men had to follow him everywhere to extract him from doorways or holes. These men only chose to take on the job when the only other choice they had was to walk the plank. Most people chose to walk the plank.
The editor liked my interview, and it did wonders for my career as a journalist. I've tried to include pirates in most of my articles since then.
The Tree and the Horse
A Walk in the Rain
The East Cork Patents Office
Words are my favourite noises
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|very slight stories||
They Met a Bear
They stopped in a small seaside town and they went for a walk. They met a bear.
This is one version of the story. In another version, they met a sailor, and in this one they ended up being held at gunpoint on a speedboat and becoming unwilling participants in a diamond robbery while disguised as a cow, and sharing in the proceeds of that crime.
So when they tell the story they just say, "We met a bear. He waved at us."
The Story of the Fortune Teller and the Alarm Clock
A fortune teller threw an alarm clock at me. This story is deliberately lacking in details to mock the predictions of the fortune teller. Although she was right when she said she'd throw an alarm clock at me.
One. Two. Three, the study. Four, a candle stick. Five. Six...
Seven is missing, presumed dead. One has taken up the case, and two is helping him in his investigations. They both suspect six. Seven was last seen next to six in the garden.
But seven isn't really dead. He's consumed half a bottle of whiskey and he's currently in the orchard, talking to a rabbit. "One of us is as boring as a gate post," he says, "and it's not..." He stops to count on his fingers. "No, actually it is me."
Eight nine ten.
Debbie and his dog
Debbie was sick of people mistaking her for a man.
"Is your dog my parole officer?"
She was sick of people asking her that too.
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