My Six Month Sabbatical
February 07, 2024
Not much news really since the last Blog exactly 6 months ago; apart from nearly dying in a stormy Ryanair flight, getting divorced, losing a band member, enduring scary experiences in the middle of the night, and getting a few beauty augmentations.
Me with my new hair extension and my first go at lip filler. Lip filler does actually make you feel...well, lippier.
1. First, the flight....
Myself and my partner were on the famous Ryanair Manchester flight last week that flew into a dangerous storm ( twice in one day). It even made the BBC and CNN news! I was playing a gig in the Manchester in the 'Star And Garter' venue with Bronagh Gallagher the night before, a legendary place where Joy Division, Oasis, and The Smiths etc cut their teeth. It turned into a cool Brassic actors rap afterparty, a SkyTv production Bronagh has had one of the starring roles in for 6 years now ! I acted out my own Fair City script idea in the downstairs bar after a few dark rum and cokes. Anyway, the next morning we heard about Storm Isha and all the flight cancellations. We arrived almost 2 hrs before the flight to see if we could check in at all and were charged 130 euro for a late check in ( which I found funny, seeing as we were still sitting on a tarmac 12 hours later, even further away from Dublin). We said we didn’t expect the plane to fly so that's why we didn’t check in. 'Computer says no'. Then we were delayed anyway, as Ryanair decided to load us on to a heavier plane ‘as it would have a better chance in the storm’. "Excuse me?". Then we flew into the storm, towards an airport that had grounded all its flights by the way. The flight was the most frightening experience I can remember and there were a few pants shat, and then the tears flowed, and then the prayers mumbled. I thought..” well, I’ve had a great life", as the engines screamed into the headwind gales. It was a bucking bronco of a flight and we tried to land but aborted and suddenly pulled up. The pilot, who looked about 25, said we had to fly to Beauvais as all of the UK airports were closed. Due to a storm no less. Who knew? Ryanair did. When we landed I asked the air hostess what was going on as it seemed we were sitting on the runway forever. We were waiting to see if Dublin Air Traffic Control were going to send us on another jock-filling DEATHRIDE. She said we were to wait up to 3 hours there ( it ended up being 7 hours). No food or water was available, no, but you could buy Pringles she said. So there was the biggest queue for Pringles ever known to mankind. Somebody shouted, “I’ll never fly Ryanair again”, to which the Air Hostess replied, “Nor, Will I”!
A few of us decided enough was enough and we were made to sign a waiver getting off to alleviate Ryanair of all responsibility or cost. It was the 14 year old co pilot who stood there waiting, for me to sign, and for some bumfluff to appear on his face. The awaiting Beauvais airport officials themselves exclaimed disbelief that all the passengers weren’t allowed to disembark for a stretch of the legs, some nourishing quality French food, or even go to a proper toilet. Although I think everyone had been to the toilet already, if you know what I mean. We were told by an airport official that the flight was going to try to fly into the storm again and if they couldn't land in Dublin, fly back to Cologne. For another PingleFest. Not with us on board I can tell you! Off myself and my Ryanophobic partner and 3 other passengers went to our modest hotel on the outskirts of Beauvais, you know, the one in the Business Park. So happy to be on Terra Firma and not on Ryanair. In Fact, we spent the next 24 hrs spending as much as we could (1000 euro) to get as far away from Ryanair airports as possible and after many buses taxis trains and, a proper professional plane experience, landed safely from Brussels.
2. Getting divorced.
Well It was a difficult time for everybody involved and I woke in the night many times worrying about who I had hurt the most and how much I had hurt them. I didn’t behave perfectly all through the proceedings, no, but I tried to stay respectful to everybody and listen to every thought and word offered, whether I agreed or not. I feel like I kept my integrity, and somehow, my friendship with my 3 sons whom I adore. I did not listen to the advice of my solicitor, who always wanted more. The best advice I got was from a good friend and prodigy of a musician, Cian Boylan, who advised me early on…"I heard once that the best advice is to give your ex wife absolutely everything, and she’ll be so inspired with your generosity that she’ll give you half back eventually”. It was sort of funny at the time, and an unconventional philosophy for sure, but it stuck with me the whole time. I also arrived at another philosophy myself which I think befits life in general. I don’t want anything that another person doesn’t want to give me. I especially don’t want someone else (a judge) telling someone to give me something they dont want to give to me! So in the end it was consensual, amicable and respectful and I’d like to thank all my loved ones, especially my partner, who helped me through some of the choppy waters, and were patient when I was doing the brick wall thing that I do. I'd like to thank the people that were not judgemental. And that I didn't have to experience a mental judge!
3. One less band member it seems.
There are ways of doing things in a conflict that are never going to work. This is true, I feel in all respects of life, and in work, sports teams, social groups, and in families. And definitely in bands. You know.. the wrong way to approach things. We are losing a band member it seems, not because of what we did, or what they did, or what we said, or they said.. no. It's the approach. Humans are far more likely to negotiate and see your side and find a middle ground if you are NOT on the attack. Anyway, any person who is chronically unhappy in a relationship or a group or a team needs to be honest with themselves and be brave enough to leave. I was that unhappy musician a long time ago and wouldn't leave, and then was asked to leave, and I have no pity for myself thinking back. No changing of anything is really going to appease these situations if you're honest. It is at a natural end. And it has been for a long time. Welcome the new fresh opportunities that will now arrive, I say. You are free! No longer institutionalised, compromised, nor indulged. Go and seek joy in new music with happiness and no regrets. And take pride in all of your fantastic creations and achievements so far.
4. A Quiet Place
I wake suddenly. There is fear etched into my body. It’s dark and I hear something…. Heavy breathing. I am rigid with fear. The terrifying aspect of this is that I can’t make a sound or I know there will be terrible consequences. And to make things even more bizarre, I am bursting to go to the toilet so badly but I’m scared to go downstairs. I feel a cough coming on and I try to suppress it by drinking water. The twisting of the bottle cap seems as loud as an Anthrax gig. I have to map out my moves, calculating which floorboards are the creakiest and try to avoid them in case I’m heard. That would bring terrible consequences I fear. Everyone else in the house is asleep so I have to take responsibility. Be a real man, I thought to myself. Not ‘Girly-Man’. I hear 2 foxes in the distances wailing like banshees. It feels ominously like a sign. Is this it, I asked myself? I feel helpless. I bravely go forward, farting quietly, trying not to stumble, acutely aware of how loud the dark is. I stand on an upturned belt buckle. Screaming on the inside, I push on. Down the stairs, I keep the bathroom light off. I piss mostly all over the floor. I do not clean it up because of the circumstances. I creep back up the stairs. Its pitch black. I feel the bed, past my partner into the space I sleep in. I aim to lie down and drop down softly onto the bed but instead of hitting the duvet, I fall onto the wooden edge of the bed, crack my ribs and collapse onto the floor with a terrible crash and shout agonisingly…”ARGHHHHHH! Then the baby wakes…WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!! Game over.
"What do you mean I scared you, you fuckin' scared me, creeping around in the middle of the night" !