Saturday 6 April 2013

Week Four at Radio Kerry

Week four at Radio Kerry had me a little worried, now that I’d made a break for myself, seen what I was good at or at least liked doing, I had to prove myself. Sometimes it is prove yourself to yourself more than anyone else. Maybe one can spend too much time thinking about these things as well. In fact everyone in Radio Kerry has been very supportive of me and it’s up to me to learn from my experience.

Now that I had my own desk, in the Presenters room, I could work on my list of features I wanted to produce. The list was along one and gave me a lot to work off. First on my list was Kerry County Council and the services it provides. I wanted to see if I could spend some time with their on the ground staff, maybe find a talker with an interesting angle on their job.  So I dropped down to the second floor in the building, to see if I could get any leads. As it happened the first two people I met were also friends of mine and in a few minutes I had the names I wanted, or at least promising leads.

On Tuesday morning the producer of the Kerry Today Show told me that they really liked the piece I had done on the Kerry Mobile Library service. This was what came out of the three hours I spent with them during my second week at the station. The piece was good enough to be broadcast and went out on Wednesday of this week. It can be heard at  . When I heard it go live, my first piece from start to finish, I was over the moon. It really proved how much I’d learned from my time at the station.

On Thursday I took a trip down to the Dog Pound to see if I could find a story for a feature. This was one of my leads from Kerry County Council. Whilst talking with the wardens, the Horse Warden for the county asked if I’d visited the Kingdom Curragh Horse Project, out by Blennervile.  As I’d never heard of it he suggested we’d take a trip down the next morning, to see what was happening and maybe I could get a good piece from it.

The next morning I met James at the Pound and we went down to the Project. It’s a horse stables developed with the Tralee Travellers group and Kerry County Council with the idea of giving the Travellers a place to keep their horses and for Kerry County Council to keep stray horses off the roads. It works very well. I did a piece on the stables with the warden and after a few phone calls he set up an interview for me with one of the founders, a Traveller man by the name of Michael Quilligan. I spent some time with him up in his house and got a very good interview from him.

Back at Radio Kerry I put it all together, edited it and got 8 minutes of very good footage. The producers of the show liked it and took if for broadcast. It was broadcast yesterday morning, Friday, and again it was great to hear my own work on the air. This time I was in the car, with an old friend, which was very nice.
So my time at Radio Kerry has finished very well. I’ve learned a lot, especially where my strengths lie and how to achieve what I want from working in radio. It’s been a very enjoyable time and I’ve definitely come out the better for it.

Now that I’ve found my feet I don’t want to leave.....

Monday 25 March 2013

Radio Kerry Week Three

Week three at Radio Kerry and it seems that my time is flying past. It has probably taken me the best part of the previous two weeks to acclimatise to being back in an office environment.  As the staff in the newsroom are well settled in their jobs, and are very good at what they do, I was finding it difficult to get work.  

With this in mind I spoke to the producer of the newsroom and she suggested I cut the piece I’d done on the Mobile Library unit down to about ten minutes. This would make it suitable for broadcast, which would be great for me. So I set out the edit the three hours of recording down to only ten minutes. As hadn’t done much editing before, or at least cut out two hours and ten minutes of material, this was going to be a big task.

For the rest of the week I listened to the same two guys talk, and talk and then talk some more. It was great experience for me, being brutal, cutting out some very good material so as to keep the narrative in place. As features and documentary making is what I want to do in radio I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. Also I’ve realised that with local radio it’s all up to you, you have to find the story and you have to produce it. No one is going to hold your hand, its sink or swim but at the same time everybody is very helpful.  By Thursday I had nine minutes and fifty-four seconds of a good piece ready and while I could have spent another week fine tuning it, I didn’t. Another thing I’ve learnt is when to stop, when to be happy with what you’ve got.

The last thing I did on Thursday evening was close the file and email it to the producer. It felt good pushing the button, sending my piece out there. The last I heard is that it will go out sometime this week, which would be great if it happens.

On Friday I decided to get myself out of the newsroom and see what else was possible in Radio Kerry. Doing the piece during the week broke my link with doing news stories, which was a good move in hindsight. I spoke with other presenters and got to know the lie of the land a bit better. It quickly became obvious that everyone does their own thing and also that nobody does just one thing alone. If features are what I want to do it is up to me to find the stories and bring them for broadcast. I went to lunch with one man who has a few different jobs in the station. He encouraged me a lot and told me of all the pitfalls but mostly it was all good. Hopefully this week I’ll be spending a bit of time with him, learning the ropes and how to survive in the radio business.

Friday afternoon I hid myself away in an empty office. The idea was to come up with ideas for small features, ones that would be of interest to a Kerry audience. After about an hour I had a long list, some strong and others less so. I approached the news producer and she was very happy with them all, if I can deliver them. This was great news and I was delighted with her response.

All in all it was a very educational week at Radio Kerry. I’ve learned a lot and now I have a lot of work to do.

A big change from where I had been at the beginning of the week...

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Work Placement Week Two

Week two of my work placement went quite well. It’s not what I expected work in a radio station to be but then I had no idea of what working in a radio station would be like.I’m working in the newsroom, a busy newsroom and yet everything works on a schedule and to schedule.

The important show each day is the Kerry Today program, which goes out from 9am to 11am. It’s the show I’m most involved in and I work with the presenter and the producer. Watching a show develop from a few words in the mid morning to a complete program schedule by about 4pm and on to being broadcast live the next day is fascinating. In fact, preparation for the next day’s show begins immediately after that day’s show finishes. That morning’s show is quickly forgotten and research on stories for the next day begins immediately. It’s like the old saying about the morning’s newspaper wrapping that evening’s fish and chips.

Research for me involves calling possible interviewees and checking if their story has wings or to see if they are willing to talk on the air. One story I developed myself was regarding the problem of internet trolls. It so happened that somebody I knew has had a problem with online abuse and had been featured in The Irish Times. As he lives in Dingle, it gave the story a Kerry angle, obviously something very important to the station. My man was only too willing to share his experiences and give his opinion on how to solve the problem. He went out live on Wednesday morning and I was quite pleased that I had brought the story together.

On Thursday, I went out with the Kerry Mobile Unit to get an idea of what the service was all about and what it did. Again, this was a story I’d developed myself, after a conversation with the county library service. So with my flash mic in hand I joined the Library van in Firies and spent the morning interviewing the staff onboard, the regular borrowers and the school children from the various schools we visited. It was a great morning and wonderful experience for me. In all I got about three hours of material from my time with the mobile library and I was tired after all the talking. It helped a lot that the two Library workers onboard, Timmy and Bartie, were great characters and well able to talk.

Friday was spent trying to edit the recordings from Thursday into a usable piece for the radio. Eventually I got the three hours down to about sixty minutes, still too long for what is needed.

It looks like my third week at work will be spent cutting poor Timmy and Bartie down to just twenty minutes or so. The problem is that I like what I have too much; it won’t be easy editing out much of what I have.

All part of the learning process I suppose.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Work Placement Week One

This was to be a new one for me, at least something I hadn't done for almost fourteen years. Yes, after all that time being self-employed, I was going to work for someone else. This was different though for another reason, a big reason; for the first time in my life I was going to be working at something I liked doing. Finally, after years of doing jobs I had little or no interest in, I was going to be writing and working in a newsroom in a radio studio. Two things I like and I'm somewhat good at, writing and current affairs.

Monday morning I was nervous, very nervous, butterflies in my stomach nervous. I rationalized that I was going to give this a good shot and if things didn't  work out at least I'd have given it a try. Also, I reminded myself, that if I did my best nobody could knock me for trying.

At Radio Kerry a smiling Fiona Stack met me and brought me to the Kerry Today studio. The producer, Threasa, had interviewed me only a couple of weeks previously and behind the ops desk was Aine, a fellow student on my course. The friendly faces helped a lot.

The two hours of the show went quickly and I watched how comments came in, were vetted and passed for airing. Interviewees came and went and calls were processed and put through to the presenter. All in all it was good beginning.

In the newsroom afterwards, I watched while everyone went about their duties. Finally I was in a workplace where it was expected of you to read the paper, scan the news websites and follow Twitter. It was funny to be doing these things at work for a change. Threasa gave me press releases to follow up on and see if I could get a story. Not much luck with my first few calls but that's part and parcel of the job I suppose. My first day went well, I got a feel for what was expected on the job and I didn't make any mistakes.

Not a bad start.

On Tuesday I was asked to write the business news for the lunchtime bulletin. Also I was following a story regarding a release of a information booklet for teenagers. After a couple of calls I got an invite to the booklet launch and headed off there in the afternoon. Before that I wrote the business news and filed the copy.

At the launch I found the main speakers, interviewed them and headed back to the studio. I learnt a valuable lesson though, I could have and should have, found them before the launch began. That way I could have got my couple of minutes and missed sitting through all the speeches...

In the studio I wrote-up my piece and edited the interviews down to thirty seconds. My piece, my first piece from start to finish, went out on the news bulletins the next day. Not bad for my first couple of days.

As the week went on I was given more work to do and was involved more in program planning. Despite my initial nervousness on Monday, by Friday I felt quite at home in Radio Kerry.

Hopefully I can keep it up for the next few weeks.

Sunday 3 June 2012

It All Began in Adam's Bar

We didn’t make it to the opening night of Adam’s Bar, Otto and I got as far as the door but the crowd was so big that we couldn’t get in. The first night of a bar is always a big thing and I think the beer was free that particular night. How many people went back the following night I wonder?  Not that we could afford to go along on the second night either but we did go as far as the door to look in. The two of us were on our uppers, no work and little money except what the dole gave us. We were both single, I lived alone in a dank old house with my dog and Otto lived rent-free in an old hostel. The same hostel was where we both hoped to work when the holiday season started in April or May. Adams looked like a beautiful old bar from the outside looking in, as if it hadn’t changed from the day of its original outfitting. Later I discovered it hadn’t and features such as the pine box shelving on the walls dated from its days as a linen shop. Large flagstones on the floor, a hallway leading back from an open doorway, the bar counter to the right and long ceiling to floor windows on the street front. So it looked like a bar worth a visit when we had the money….
The next weekend we went in for an early pint. There was vacant table inside the door, between the bar and the big window. We sat at the seat to get a full view behind the bar and of the room as a whole. Expectedly we waited. Word had reached us of Adam’s Madams; apparently, the bar was run by a clutch of beautiful women. Soon a tall beautiful black-haired woman came out through the doorway.
“Lads, what can I get for you?” she asked in a soft west Kerry accent.
“Two pints of Guinness please” I answered, getting the nod of approval from Otto.
We watched as our pints were poured. Neither of us needed to say anything, it was obvious we liked being there. The pints were handed over the small counter and we sat back, watching them settle. Soon through the doorway came another tall female, blonde hair tied back in a blue polka dot bandana, wearing shorts, tights and to top it all, she had a striking, beautiful face. In her hands were two plates of food, a third balanced on her lower arm. She asked the other woman where they were for.
By this stage in my life I’d been single for nearly a year. It was dragging on me a bit, the loneliness of living on my own, the dog and I got on well but I was beginning to miss the close female companionship, which I loved.  The pub was my social life which could be fun but limited and getting very boring. Moreover, work was sparse and money even sparser. The new arrival stood straight in my line of vision. I looked at her. She had all the things I find attractive in a female, tall, blonde, slim, striking face, good dresser. Unfortunately for me and I’m sure all other humans suffer likewise but you rarely find all you like in the one place, so when you do it’s a rarity indeed. However as I looked at her, or should I say stole a glimpse, a thought entered my head… “Why don’t I find her attractive?” the little voice the time my mind could engage itself again she was gone. Did I not find her attractive because I had nothing to attract her? More than likely…yes.

 The next time we visited was after a trip to the local cinema. Alison, an Australian visiting town was with us and we were showing her Adams.  This time the tall blonde was behind the bar, hair down in a full set of curls and wearing jeans with boots.  The three of us took a table on the far side; away from the bar counter and I went to get our drinks. At the bar three pints were ordered and I waited as she poured them. Watching her move, doing her job was intriguing. She had the whole place under control, dealing with orders, joking with others, all the while looking beautiful. Somehow my mind kicked in and this time I found her attractive, very attractive indeed. My sensible mind also whispered that she probably wouldn’t have the slightest interest in me. Why would she? Low earning, torn jeans and about to become homeless, not much to recommend me. When the pints were ready she placed them on the bar…
“That will be five five oh” she said, in a very direct tone.
“Is that the same as five pounds fifty?” I asked, smiling.
“Do you have to be so smart” was her quick retort, taking the money I held out.
The barrier had been broken, she was feisty and we’d sparked. A start like that could only get better and now she had a reason to remember me. Not a good reason but a reason nonetheless and it would be up to me to show her I wasn’t all that bad. This was one I would have to work on as there was no need for her to take the slightest interest in me, none whatsoever. Maybe a new friendship might start. Even that would be nice but could anything more ever happen between us?
About a week later at the local disco I saw her again towards the end of the night, at the far side of the bar area, sitting with friends. She had her back to me and as I approached her from the right she took a pull from her Malboro Light. Before she could exhale I’d tapped her on the shoulder.
“Hi” was the best I could come up with as she turned to see who it was.
“How are you?” she asked wafting the smoke away from my face with her hands.
“Good and you?” I continued with the great lines.
“Fine, thank you. But can I just say” she paused taking another pull “that men are out the window for me at the moment”
She blew out smoke again wafting it away from me. Straight in with the put down, feisty again.
“I only came to say hello before going home” I replied but smiling as she was the one who’d brought up the idea of a relationship and even if she was dismissing it at least the thought had entered her mind.   

She smiled at me, a wry one, giving me a very sceptical benefit of the doubt. Names were exchanged.  Lisa was my smoking, feisty new friend. We chatted for a few minutes more before she got up to leave. She spoke with that clear diction that always reminds me of how the nuns used to try make my sisters talk, very clearly and in easy to understand tones. As she rose to join her friends, Lisa even offered me a lift home, which I refused, I had after all only come over to say hello. A quick goodnight and off she went in lovely confident strides away from me. None of my friends had noticed but I walked back to them on cloud nine.
That same pattern was repeated over the next few weeks, some of them engineered by me, some of them purely accidental meetings. My job in the hostel had begun. It was badly paid and so I wasn’t out too often. Despite this we were becoming good friends, chatting and joking at ease whenever we’d meet, usually in Adam’s. Otto and I had become regulars of sorts; with the two of us working again we at least had some money to spend, not much but enough for a few pints once a week. We always went to Adams as it was a great bar plus it gave me a chance to see Lisa.  Some of my friends were encouraging me to ask her out but I didn’t think the time was right. Anyway, so I told myself, sometimes the anticipation of a relationship far outweighs the potential rejection plus I already knew that this was going to take a bit of time to get right. If we were going to get together it would have to be Lisa’s decision, after all she had told me that men were out the window hadn’t she?
At the beginning of June I had to leave the little house I was living in. The house was being taken back in favour of letting it to higher paying tourists, a common enough practice at the time. A good friend, Trevor, offered to take me in. The little chalet he called home wasn’t too far from the house I was leaving but still out of town. Around that time my father described me, somewhat disparagingly, as living an itinerant lifestyle. This might not have been exactly true but I was fairly broke as he implied and didn’t have any way of moving my possessions. Whilst talking to Lisa about it one night I blurted out the suggestion that as she had a car she might help. She surprisingly agreed and offered to call round that Saturday evening after her work. In a round about way I’d engineered a date, no commitments, in no way anything romantic but in my mind at least we were meeting on our own, away from Adam’s and friends.
That Saturday evening Lisa called round as planned and strode in looking gorgeous but obviously not very enamoured by the damp little home I was leaving. Her disapproving look said it all. What would she think of me now after seeing where I’d been living?  All afternoon I’d been packing and waiting, looking forward to spending time with her alone, excited but also surprisingly relaxed about it all. The house had far too many memories and maybe this move was for the best after all, it certainly was starting out ok. We worked together for a couple of hours, I had planned to do all the lifting but she proved to be well able to get stuck in, one of the attributes of a farmer’s daughter I later learned. She didn’t seem too enamoured by the chalet I was moving to either; I was going to have to work hard to impress that was for certain. Unfortunately I didn’t have much in my armoury. What had I to offer?  My bike, a small rented room in a chalet, a dog, my life in a few boxes and all the prospects of a part-time job.

Sunday was my day off and I spent it getting settled into the new home. My room wasn’t very big and I had managed to accumulate a bit of stuff over the years, mainly books and clothes. So much so that I couldn’t unpack most of the boxes, there wasn’t anywhere to put it. By the evening I needed to escape. The memories dredged up when leaving the old house, the small room I was now living in and the sight of packed boxes were making me feel a bit claustrophobic.  I went for a cycle round town to see who I might spot. Payday was Monday but I had £5.00 left from the last week, enough for a couple of pints if I met anyone. Tentative arrangements had been made to meet a friend in Adam’s if I was out. Not Lisa, we weren’t making those sorts of dates yet.
The back of the Garda Station was the usual place for leaving your bike in Dingle. As I left the station and headed up Dykegate Street I found a £5.00 note on the street. At least now if I did meet someone I could buy a round or two. Things were looking up. By the time I reached Main Street I still hadn’t passed anyone I knew or at least someone who I wanted to go drinking with. Adam’s was on the right towards the top of the street; I strolled up towards it, thinking maybe Lisa would be there. If I looked in and she saw me peering around the corner I’d look like a stalker or a sad sap at best, so I slowed the pace as I approached. A quick passing glance in would be fine, if seen I could wave. Then as the bar neared a sudden burst of courage overcame me and I strode in the door not knowing who I’d find or even say to anyone inside.
Lisa was sitting at the bar, Marlboro Light in one hand and a glass of tequila in the other, actually just placing it back on the bar, empty.  She was with a group of friends, some I knew. Fiona the owner was behind the bar. In typical Lisa style she was in the centre of the group laughing. She gave me a smile and a big wave when she spotted me through the crowd.  The barstools in Adams are tall with strong wooden backrests. Lisa was comfortably sitting into hers’ almost cuddled up with her knees drawn up against the top of the bar. When I walked over she leaned her head back against my shoulder and said hello. She was tipsy and happy to see me. Happier than usual...maybe it was the tequilas...but her forwardness relaxed me, made me very glad that I’d ventured out. Maybe after months of not knowing what to do or not knowing what she wanted from me, all was finally going to change.
After a couple of hours of drinking, laughing and of me not leaving her side the decision was made to go to the Hillgrove. The Hillgrove, the local nightclub, the place where love stories began and alcoholism got a kick-start. A big problem now was that I’d spent all my money. The ten pounds, even though enough to get me a couple hours of drinking, was gone and I wasn’t going to get in the door. The chances of getting anywhere with Lisa were fading fast. More to the point I was going to look a total no-hoper in her eyes if I couldn’t even afford to go dancing… My spirits dropped quickly as did my face. The entire group were going; Lisa was even packing her cigarettes ready for the walk over.
She looked at me...
“Ready?” she asked.
“Ah no” I remember barely getting the words out and then I stupidly said “I left my money at home.”  Why did I say that? Where did I get such a stupid line?
We looked each other straight in the eye. Lisa stood up, took my hand and slipped a ten-pound note into it. She must have just taken it off the bar to put in her pocket.
“You can give it back to me sometime” she said heading for the door, me following, my heart beating ten to the dozen, my head spinning and not just from the alcohol either.
 Her blonde curls bounced as she walked, her voice rising above the others as she laughed and joked with them. As we walked the short distance to the club I looked at the others around me.  All merry, none of them really knew me, maybe, I thought to myself, they know what I’m up-to and will put the run on me. At least Lisa was still there, smiling, seemingly happy to have me tag along.
The rest of the night at the club went along in a blur. We danced, we drank, we laughed and I wondered what the hell I was doing there. Other men were looking at Lisa, she looked great dancing along to all the tunes and I was just a drunk little fellow in torn jeans. Realistically what chance had I? After a while a slow set came on and we happened to be close to each other, possibly not a coincidence on my part. We embraced as we took to the floor. Not long into the dance we began to kiss, I couldn’t believe it, Lisa from Adam’s was kissing me. Me?  Her friends nearby starting clapping, one even patted me on the back.
“At long last” Fiona said to me...
They were all expecting this? They were happy with it? Why hadn’t somebody told me earlier?
Afterwards I walked her home, she had a little bedsit on Main Street close to Adams as it happened. When we got the door I made to head for my little chalet in the west but no, as Lisa put the key in the door she said those words I’ll never forget...”won’t you come in for a cuddle?”
We’ve lived together ever since. After that Sunday afternoon of unpacking I never went back to my little room in the chalet. The bedsit was abandoned the following Spring when the ceiling collapsed in on the bed when were away. We moved to a house out in the country. The bike was abandoned when I learned how to drive. Now after nearly seventeen years, four different houses, married and with two kids, we’re fast approaching middle age together. We’ve fought, laughed, cried, suffered but never stopped loving each other.
Can’t remember if I ever gave her back that tenner though…

Monday 19 March 2012

New Website

I've become all grown up and moved my weekly post to

Please visit when you get a chance,



Thank you to for support services!

Sunday 11 March 2012

Bogie thinks he's tough?

It’s funny how Lisa and Freddie argue, very like an old a married couple sometimes. Just now Lisa was going upstairs and Freddie wanted to follow, he needed the charger for his netbook which Ruby had taken to bed last night. They argued over who’d go up to Ruby’s room each of them offering to go and in the end both did, squabbling all the way up. Ruby wasn’t for handing over the charger; the teenage glum mood overturned the young man’s enthusiasm….a valuable lesson learned there by Fred.  Mother and son came back united in rejection, no longer fighting. Petty squabbles quickly forgotten are a hallmark of people who spend a lot of time together, eventually each knows what will rise the other and instinctively too, when to back off. Maybe with the help of a good counsellor they’ll get through the day in peace and return to under the blankets on the couch where I found them earlier this morning.

With the triumph of last weekend, staying out of hospital even though Freddie suffered a seizure cluster, I went through the week on a bit of a high. Even though we’re so well looked after it was such a relief not to have visited the Cashel ward for the first time in seven months and we all knew it. Ruby and I returned to our weekly routine of early rises and silent trips to Dingle. The beautiful early spring mornings make the journey so much nicer and the memory of dark, wet wintry ones is fading fast. Some mornings the gorgeous rising sunlight on the river at Blennerville accompanies us out of town and the crashing waves on the beaches of West Kerry make a stunning backdrop before we turn up the Connor Pass. There’s a little fellow, probably ten or eleven who stands at the gate of his house each morning waiting for the school bus. The house is just at the foot of the Pass and he’s been there since we started the route in September, dressed in a duffle coat, bag over the shoulder. Unless we’re very early or late he’s there and we always salute each other. The funny thing about him is that he waves each morning in the exact same way. Like an old man, elbow in at the hip, he raises his lower left arm slowly, slightly slants the hand and points the index finger in acknowledgement. Last week he had a friend with him and the two were looking at a comic as we passed, he won’t see me this morning I thought. However, without looking up the index finger went out as usual…what a man. One morning he didn’t wave at all and I was very disappointed until Ruby pointed out that it wasn’t the same fellow, my man must have been off sick or selling Mount Brandon to a tourist. More than likely the latter….

On Thursday Ruby went to the annual Fashion Show at school as put on by the transition year students and stayed over at a friend’s house. For a change I didn’t have to get up at the usual seven o’clock the next morning. Going to bed Thursday evening I was looking forward to my little lie in and a not too rushed breakfast. With Freddie lying beside me in a deep sleep and Lisa pottering round I was about to get up at 7.30 Friday morning when he went into a seizure. Holding him in my arms all I could think was will he ever get a break, will this epilepsy ever leave him alone. Thankfully it was a short seizure, no more than a minute or so, again a sign of the Frontal Lobe Epilepsy. After a little snooze he jumped out of bed to join his mother on the couch and though a little dazed he was ok. The fear for me was that another cluster was beginning but within half an hour he was demolishing a plate of omelette and toast, such a trooper. After my own breakfast I headed off to Dingle, not wanting to but needs must and knowing the hospital is so close makes all the difference. Lisa and I chatted over the phone throughout the day and all was fine, he’d put the morning behind him.

Ruby texted me during the day, she had basketball practice that afternoon so after work I wandered around town waiting for the call to collect her. After a night away she’s usually tired enough but with the basketball she’d be exhausted and grumpy. “Collect me now” was all the text said at about five-thirty and I feared the worst driving up to the school. She got in looking tired, glum even and I now know better than to ask her immediately how she’s gotten on the previous night, but we chatted a bit before the earphones went in, which was nice. An uneventful Friday journey home and we were in the door by half-past six. Straight into the front room where Freddie is seizing on the couch, Lisa holding him. What a kick in the teeth.

After another seizure at seven we gave him the Diazepam hoping we’d avoid the hospital again. No such luck as he keeled over again about seven-fifteen. The little man hadn’t recovered well after the first one so I feared the worst. Even though each seizure was mild, the last one went on for about four minutes so the bags were packed, the call to Cashel ward made and off we went. Dropping Lisa and Freddie at the doors of A&E is unfortunately so familiar and not what I was hoping for Friday evening. After parking the car I headed straight to the ward carrying his bags, its all so routine now. The hospital was packed and I was greeted by the sound of wailing kids when I opened the door to the ward. There wasn’t a nurse in sight as they were off looking after the kids so I went to the treatment room. However the door was closed and the blind drawn. A nurse was running up the corridor with breathing gear in her hands, she recognised me…”he’s in here” she pointed to the closed treatment room so in I rushed not knowing what I’d find. The little man was laid out having the line put in but doing ok, dopey after the seizures and the Diazepam. As usual they were having difficulty finding a vein but Freddie put up with the prodding only giving out a little bit and after a while the blood was flowing. Nurse Marie, who always seems to be on duty during his worst nights, popped her head around the door and lightened the mood as she always does. “Oh jesus” I said “its time we found another hospital.” She laughed at me and though I tease her it’s such a comfort having her there on these nights.

A bed was wheeled in and Fred was brought down to his room. In our rush over Freddie’s DVD player and discs were left at home so I had to go back to collect them, he’d need them if things went well. Back home Ruby was parading around looking at herself in the mirror, doing her make-up and I quickly grabbed the gear leaving her to it. Because he was so dopey when they took him to the room I feared the worst when I returned. Thankfully he was curled up in a ball in a deep sleep when I pulled back the curtain. The room was roasting so I stripped down to my t-shirt and settled into the chair, Lisa on the bed with Freddie. He had another three tiny frontal lobe seizures, his fingers wriggle a bit and his eyes flicker, all over in about five seconds, you’d miss them if you weren’t looking. Otherwise he seemed settled. Marie brought in tea and biscuits, being the wonder woman that she is. Lisa and I waited. Despite the circumstances we relaxed a bit, chatting, drinking the tea, munching the biscuits and before we knew it 10.30 had come round. Over three hours since his last big seizure. Lisa sent me home to look after Ruby. We had cheese on toast in the front room, Ruby doing Facebook, me watching Casablanca. About 11.30 we both were falling asleep so off to bed we went.
Saturday morning I was up at 7am, so much for a lie in, and with a flask of fresh coffee I headed over to the hospital. Marie smiled at me from behind the desk. Behind the curtain Freddie was lying out on his bed watching Spiderman, Lisa in the chair, he’d had a peaceful night, so much for my worrying. They came home at ten o’clock that morning, less than 12 hours after they went in. Home again, all was ok. Now it’s Sunday morning and he’s watching Godzilla clips on YouTube. Epilepsy had done its best but Freddie fought back. Bogart might play the tough guy in the movies but our Freddie does it in real life.

“Here’s looking at you kid.”