Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

An 11th Day of a 9th Month – A New Mom’s Story.

Friday, September 11th, 2015


I’d a feeling he’d not be back. It wasn’t, like, female intuition, or anything weird, just, I don’t know, something. He kissed me as he was leaving, I was half asleep, and he didn’t normally do that, he was usually dashing out the door, dead late, not being able to find his keys, his wallet, his phone, his, I don’t know, something he needed. He was always losing things. Just the day before he lost his Giants hat, a raggedy woolen cap he’d bought for about four bucks years earlier. We turned the apartment inside out, but couldn’t find it. You’d think he’d lost his home, he was that upset.

That day, I don’t know, he’d had the time to kiss me on the cheek. He never had time in the morning. It was as if he was planning something, like he’d gotten up early especially. I could hear him clattering around the kitchen, tripping over his boots, he dropped a spoon on the tiled floor in the kitchen, and my God, it was so bloody loud. He’d obviously almost caught it as it hit the floor and bounced back up an inch or so, then missed, and lashed out to catch it, only to swat it against the wall, also tiled, incidentally, to make a teaspoon sound as if an out of tune brass band was playing in our kitchen.

He’d made coffee too, he never did that. Especially now, I suppose, with the baby on the way, and my coffee intake had been severely curtailed. He’d drink coffees at work, every so often he’d come home and I could still smell it off him, but he tried to deny it, being, as he was, in solidarity with me for the nine months, and avoiding all the bad stuff. Good stuff really, but, you know. Except beer of course, we’d made that agreement. He needed his beers every second Friday with the guys when he worked the day shift. After softball too, but that was a summer thing, he was considering playing soccer with some of the Irish guys at work, just so he could grab a few cold ones after, but he knew that’d be stretching it. He once went to kick a soccer ball back to kids playing on our street and mistimed his kick and ended up on his butt, but that was him, and why people loved him. I didn’t care, as long as he was here when the baby came, he could enjoy all the free time he wanted. That’s just it though, he wouldn’t be here when the baby came.

People say move on, but, they don’t know, they’ve not been where I am. Many have, thousands actually, have been very close to where I am, many from this very city, nearly 3,000 I think. Then, there’s a handful just like me, not many, expecting their first child with a partner who went out to work and never came home. The sad thing for me, besides the obvious of course, losing my life’s love, the man who, without wishing to move in on cliché territory, completed me, was the fact that I was oblivious to most of what was happening. It was 2001 remember, smartphones didn’t exist, even cellphones, they weren’t everywhere like they are now. If you went outside without your phone, like I almost always did, it wasn’t the end of the world. You didn’t have to check Facebook, read your emails, listen to Spotify or Pandora, check out the news. Everything could wait. I’d a TV, a radio, even a computer, nothing was that important that it couldn’t wait a few minutes. Unless it was a text from your husband to say he loved you and that he might not make it. Some things, I suppose, are that important.

I’d stopped going to the gym, obviously, in an advanced state of pregnancy, well, walking was about all I could manage. So that was it, a quick trip to the supermarket where I’d stroll around the aisles, looking for things I didn’t need, and ogling things I couldn’t have. It was just after 8am. Walking down the cereals aisle though, there appeared a change in the atmosphere. People began walking quicker. Whispers got louder, people were huddling. Some random guy ran in, past the checkouts, I thought it was a shoplifter, but why was he running into the store, not out? He was wearing running gear, I’ll never forget. An orange Nike top and blue and white tracksuit bottoms, he looked like he was a Mets fan with those colors, but he wore a Yankees cap. It’s funny, I remember that so well. Even now, I still think of that man, every time I see the Mets on television, even though he was probably a fan of the Yankees. He shouted something about a plane hitting the Twin Towers. Jesus, I thought, some poor flight-enthusiast, one of these amateur pilots, their poor family, but what were they doing flying over downtown Manhattan, it was so dangerous.

The assistant manager put on the little portable TV to see what was happening, what we saw wasn’t what we expected. Just as he flicked to NBC, the second plane hit. I was right. He wasn’t coming home. I’m glad he kissed me that day, I’m glad he dropped his spoon too and kept me awake, listening to his clumsy rush to get to work, his swearing because he couldn’t find his wallet, his keys, his phone.

I found his Giants hat. A few days later, during one of my cleaning frenzies, quite a few of which I’d had that September. In a few years, maybe our little boy won’t mind wearing such a raggedy old relic that his Dad, perhaps unintentionally left him. He’d have loved his Dad, maybe he’ll love the Giants too.

Excerpts from “Counting Apples”

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

unnamed (2)‘Counting Apples’ is a one-act play, written by Michael Fitzpatrick. In the Spring of 2015, Michael entered the play into Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s short play festival, where it came up against over thirty other productions. It told the story of a young couple, their friend, and an incident which drove them together and tore them apart. It clinched its heat, and despite being up against strong opposition with TV, film and Broadway experience, went on to win the festival. Featuring stellar performances by real-life husband and wife actors John and Grainne Duddy, and Michael in his first appearance on stage, ‘Counting Apples’ (directed by Brona Crehan) had eight performances, all of which sold out. On behalf of the writer, director and cast, Michael would like to thank the many people who showed up on the nights (as well as those who were with us in spirit) and provided such wonderful encouragement, inspiration, love and support. To John, Grainne and Brona, who gave absolutely everything, ‘Counting Apples’ was an incredible experience, from the moment the first word was written, until the announcement that we’d won, and Michael hopes to work with these wonderful talents again (and again).

(Excerpts from) Counting Apples

By Michael Fitzpatrick.

Note: This is just selected passages and lines from the play, ‘Counting Apples’, not the production in its entirety.


Michael Fitzpatrick (Terry), Grainne Duddy (Samantha) and John Duddy (Brian).

  First Presented at Manhattan Repertory Theatre, West 42nd Street, New York City, June 16th 2015.

8 Performances until July 2nd.


John Duddy, Grainne Duddy and Michael Fitzpatrick

Directed by Brona Crehan.

Opening and Closing Song: ‘Dilin O’Deamhas’ performed by Brona Crehan.


John Duddy, Michael Fitzpatrick, Brona Crehan (Director) and Grainne Duddy.

Minimal stage set. Brian and Samantha sit next to one another, while on the other side of the stage, Terry sits alone. Neither side acknowledges the other, while Brian and Samantha are together, Terry is seemingly, in his own world.

Lights up, 2 verses of Dilin O Deamhas in Irish.

Samantha: Everyone thought I was nuts. Eleven different magazines I’d subscribed to. ‘Modern Bride’, ‘Irish Weddings’, ‘Bridal Fair’, ‘Weddings Today’, ‘American Bride’, and of course, all the celebrity wedding specials in Hello!, OK! And US Weekly magazine, it was crazy! But, I was so excited. I must’ve been a right pain in the arse!! I was probably that bubbly bride that people hated!

Brian: I teased her afterwards, reading the receipts for the wedding day; Band – $900, Harpist – $400, Flowers – $750, Subscriptions to wedding/bridal magazines – $2,451.38. I’m exaggerating of course, not by much mind you!



The cast with some of our good friends who supported us during the run.


Terry: It doesn’t go away. That feeling. Fear, guilt, shame, whatever it is. Every morning when I’d wake, it would all be still there, right in front of me, staring, pointing fingers, shouting, you’re evil Terry. But I’m not evil. I used to be a good man.



Grainne and John Duddy as Samantha and Brian.


Michael Fitzpatrick as Terry.


Samantha: Afterwards, Brian explained why he didn’t call me right away. He said that he wanted to give me ten more minutes of a normal life. He said he’d have left it longer, but that he was selfish and couldn’t suffer alone any longer. Those ten minutes, ignorant of all the tragedy, I wish I could have them back, but it’s not all I’d like to have back.

Lights fade slowly, 2 verses of Dilin O Deamhas in English.



A Letter to a Monster Who Is Now Most Likely Dead

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

school_fencing_big2Howya Miss, or is it Mrs, or it’s hardly still Sister, is it? Sure, who knows, or even cares at this stage? I’d say forgive the ‘howya’ at the beginning, but, it’s not meant to be disrespectful (though I’ve little respect for you), or over-familiar (we were hardly on friendly terms), it’s just how I am. Then, I’m not the one who should be asking for forgiveness, am I? I say ‘howya’ as a term of endearment, affection, a ‘hello’ to people I already know and like, or to people I think I might get to know and like. I’ll make an exception in your case. See, since I last saw you, I don’t think I’ve really hated anybody, but then again, I’ve not loved anyone since then either. You saw to that. You made sure I, and others like me, would never experience love or trust, and that others would know we were also unloved and unlovable.

You’d be surprised to receive a letter from the likes of me, as you were the one who reminded us how worthless we were, and how none of us would ever amount to anything, not an astronaut, or even a man who could write a letter. Well, your assessment was right in some ways. It was due to the constant mental abuse and physical torture, the taunts, the beatings, the shouting and the bullying, that I left school so early. In my mid forties now, I’m still not a confident reader or writer, and indeed, a friend, or should I say, acquaintance, is writing this for me.

An acquaintance, because I don’t have friends. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, we were all happy children starting out, but within fast weeks and short years, we became isolated and terrified. I didn’t have pals, but comrades, comrades in arms, comrades in shorts, standing together as we were terrorized into submission on a daily basis and reminded of our utter uselessness. Comrades became fellow outsiders, recluses, addicts, until eventually becoming one another’s councilors, cellmates and even, pallbearers.

We didn’t look for sympathy, or assistance, or punishment to be doled out. We just wanted a childhood. Kids shouldn’t be beaten. Weapons should have no place in a child’s life, but you felt differently. I’ve failed in many aspects of my life. I can live with never having become the astronaut I wanted to be when I was six, or the pop star, the actor, the writer, the footballer. We all had dreams, and mine evaporated far too soon. My few triumphs in life will always have me think of you, who must have sent more children mentally turning away from God, yet physically returning to him soon afterwards, as their short lives petered out unnoticed.

I’ve triumphed because I’m still here. Many of my classmates didn’t make it this far, some who did moved as quickly and as far away as possible, others are still around in body, but mentally, well, not so much.

You’re to blame for that, but you won’t be punished like we were. Our crimes were so much smaller, yet we paid such a higher price for them. A coat on the wrong hook, a door not closed properly, a pencil unsharpened, a notebook mislaid, lessons written with left, not right, hands. Not quite the same as contributing to an infinite amount of lifetimes filled with mental anguish, depression, addiction and loneliness.

I’m still here. Still here and mentally aware. I know who I am, who I can be, and who I’ll never be again. I’ve survived, though I’m not sure whether you have. When it is my time to go, and you’ll no doubt have gone long before me, I’ll say hello to the man upstairs for you, the one you told us about, the one who thought we were all wastes of human life who’d amount to nothing. Well, I’ll mention you to him, see, maybe he didn’t hate me after all. Maybe I’ll see if he can ask the man downstairs to keep a seat warm for you. After all the years, perhaps the tables will turn and it’ll be our familiar, grubby, but decent faces looking down at you for a change.

Yours sincerely,

BC, Class of 1977.

Mammy, Mr. Men and a Sickness That Never Was

Friday, November 7th, 2014

It all built up towards 1.45pm. By that key time, just one thing could transform a magnificent afternoon into a delightful day. The tummy-ache, if it did indeed exist at all, had long since faded into memory, joining the stuffed nose, hoarse throat and sore back on the junkyard of fabricated childhood ailments. The day would have begun with sniffing or coughing, at least loud enough to be heard, for if they weren’t heard, then what was the point?

This led to a little groaning, grumbling, moaning and mumbling, followed by some at-first skeptical comments and looks from a concerned mammy, then yells of disbelief and cries of treachery from incredulous siblings. How come he gets to stay home? The storm would pass though, the Dad was long gone to work, hours before the rest of the house awoke, and the brother and sisters all trundled off to school, looking over their shoulders not in sympathy at my supposed ailments, but with one of those ‘We know what you’re at’ looks. Leaving me at home, with Mammy, the packed lunch she’d already prepared for me, and one would hope, at 1.45pm, ‘Mr. Men’ on BBC1.

It was a time before the Internet, Smartphones and Google. If you wanted something you had to move more than your thumb and palm to find it, obtain it, achieve it or give it a nasty review because your calamari was soggy and the waiter forgot your soup. The newspaper didn’t appear in the house until the Dad arrived home much, much later, so until then, it was a lengthy, nerve-wracking wait until 1.45pm. Would it be ‘Mr. Men’? Perhaps, because if it were, then life, or at least that particular sick-day, would be complete. Just me, Mammy and the ‘Mr. Men’. Who needed a hammock on a sandy beach, with a cocktail in hand? Not me, because I was six.

At 1,30pm, nerves would reach reasonably worrying levels. So concerning, that perhaps a fake doctor might be needed, my morning-time illnesses had long since passed, but the worry connected with what was about to appear on our television screen was, well, doin’ me head in. Who knew what the BBC Director of Programming had in store for us? He could go for ‘Mr. Men’, and be a perfect human being. He could also decide upon ‘Jamie and his Magic Torch’, ‘King Rollo’, ‘Mr. Benn’ or ‘Bod’, all acceptable substitutes, but lacking the big game experience of the wonderful antics of Messrs Bump, Tickle, Strong, Sneeze and the guys. But what if there was no children’s show at all? Maybe there’d be a news bulletin, or even worse, a party political broadcast, that’d happened before, my friend Liam had told me about it, what was, without a doubt, the worst day of his young life.

At 1.44pm, I’d sit alone in the living room, enjoying the lunch that really I should be having in the playground with my schoolpals, instead snacking while mammy would have her umpteenth (that’s not a real number, but I used to think that it was) cup of Lyons Tea, as she listened to Gay Byrne and did the ironing. Our ironing, the clothes of which she’d later often say; ‘What’s the point of me ironing that if you’re just going to wear it?’. We’d hear the magic words from the BBC announcer, speaking from Shepherd’s Bush in London, but right in front of me all the same. ‘And now for our younger viewers, here’s ‘Mr. Men’. Arthur Lowe’s voice would come creeping through the airwaves, and for the next fifteen minutes, life was perfect. Me, Mr. Men and Mammy. School could wait.

Tragic Amy Joins Doomed Club

Friday, November 7th, 2014


In June 1989, a young man named Pete De Freitas died after his motorcycle collided with a car, as he was traveling home to Liverpool from London. Nineteen years earlier, Boston-born Alan Wilson was found dead in Topanga Canyon, California. Although he didn’t leave a note, it’s believed he died following a deliberate overdose, having attempted suicide twice before. Michigan-born and raised Dave Alexander, meanwhile, passed away in 1975, after he was admitted to hospital with pancreatitis, which subsequently led to pulmonary edema (a fluid accumulation in the lungs). Welshman Pete Ham hanged himself in 1975, and his fellow countryman, Richey James Edwards, disappeared twenty years after that, and is long since presumed dead.

Though none of these five men are likely to have ever met one another, they do all have, at least, two things in common. All were musicians, and all died (or in the case of Edwards, are believed to have died) at the age of 27. With last week’s untimely passing of Amy Winehouse at the same age, much has been made of the so-called ’27 Club’, a mythical society that noone actually formed, and nobody requests to join. For the ’27 Club’ is made up of deceased musicians, who passed away at the reasonably tender age of, that’s right, 27.

The aforementioned five individuals, while not household names by any stretch of the imagination, are all perhaps, second-tier ‘members’.Not quite in the executive class, with the high-rollers, such as Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Brian Jones, but fully-fledged associates all the same. There is little doubt that Amy Winehouse, the reluctant star whose voice could melt hearts, tingle spines, bring a tear to the stoniest eye and swathe an audience in goosebumps, will hold court in business class, rather than hang with the lesser-known talents in the economy section of the mythical society.

Her five Grammy Awards, three Ivor Novellos and various World Music, Vodaphone Live Music, Urban Music, Q, Meteor, MTV Europe, NME, Mojo and Mobo awards, may however, confirm her fate where her supposed ‘membership’ is concerned. Winehouse, at her best, was a formidable talent; a charismatic mountain of charm, whose throaty, authoritative vocal performances, coupled with her sultry persona, swaggering air and eclectic personality belied her humble upbringing, a childhood which kept her on the on the right side of arrogance, but once passed, led her on towards fame and the darker trappings associated with it.

At her lowest, she was a pathetic addict, destroyed by drugs and ravaged by excess; yet another cliche of the ‘live fast, die young’ rock’n’roll existence. The nature of her all-round style made her impossible to categorize. She was a pop star, a media sensation, a soulful diva and could well have been a jazz icon for the ages, had her inner demons and all-conquering addictions not taken over and pillaged her weakened body and tortured mind. Beneath the swarthy take-no-prisoners facade, was the same young, often timid, occasionally ferocious woman that had made the big time, not with an army of producers, songwriters, music executives and talent show judges urging her on and rubbing their collective hands while laughing all the way to their banks, but for the most part, alone, just her songwriting ability and that voice, to keep her company.

Amy Winehouse singing on the Main Stage at Oxegen in 2008 (Photocall).

Hear her sing, watch her move and listen to her talk, and one could place her in any era. On any given day, she could be a Dusty or a Doris, a Janis or a Joni. She could have lived like a Diana Ross, but wound up as a Billie Holliday. She was hounded throughout her professional career, until she had little left to offer. The tough cookie persona that a section of the media had helped create, had become a simple morsel of what had once seemed destined to become one of music’s immortals.

After wowing the music world with her debut offering, ‘Frank’, in 2003, when she was barely out of her teens, Winehouse went on to become a magnet for awards recognizing her stellar songwriting. In a time when so many artists’ second offerings suffer from a sophomore curse, her critically acclaimed follow-up album ‘Back to Black’, propelled her into the mainstream, and on towards international superstardom.

As the A-list celebrity lifestyle beckoned however, her health, arguably both physical and mental, deteriorated, and reports of her erratic behavior began to surface. Appearing noticeably drunk, and ever thinner, at public events, added to her plummeting weight, confessions of self-harming (she once carved the name of her then boyfriend into her stomach with a shard of mirror during an interview with an American rock magazine), eating disorders, accusations of assault, and one British newspaper’s claims that she’d been photographed smoking crack cocaine, all took their toll on the singer, and she soon became known more for her offstage endeavors than for her obvious talents.

It is however, the problems, thrown up by that portion of the press, that will remain in much of the public psyche, where she is concerned. Amy Winehouse, in her all-too-short career, provided us with too much to remember from a life too difficult to forget. The barstool philosopher will comment on addicts, and their place in society, completely missing the irony as he sips at his own necessity. The media darlings, the pretty girls who sing, dance, wear revealing clothes and, well, do as they’re told (even if it’s like, really naughty, just to keep in the public eye), will never hold a candle to her legacy.

We’ll remember the fun times, like when she was asked into the DJ booth at a nightclub, immediately fought with the DJ, and was thrown out. The time she punched a fan for fondling her at a concert. Her haunting, tear-jerking version (possibly one of the best covers of all-time?) of ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’, her performance at the 2007 Mercury Awards, where, her reputation preceding her, guests were surprised to see her turn up, never mind take the stage. When she did, and eased into ‘Love Is A Losing Game’, it was one of those moments, where breaths were taken away, held onto briefly, and returned moments later accompanied with a sense of awe. The era (of Amy)-defining anthems such as ‘Back to Black’, ‘You Know I’m No Good’, ‘Rehab’ and ‘Valerie’.

Amy Winehouse, in her all-too-short career, provided us with too much to remember from a life too difficult to forget. The songs and the sadness, the music and madness, if there is indeed a ’27 Club’, then Hendrix, Cobain and the gang may well have to step aside for a moment, for a lady’s just entered the room.

Pete De Freitas was the drummer with English ‘alternative rock’ act, Echo and the Bunnymen.
Alan Wilson was the singer with Canned Heat, perhaps best known for their hit song, ‘Going Up The Country’.
Dave Alexander was the bassist with Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Pete Ham was a founding member of seminal British rock act, Badfinger, and Richey Edwards was the guitarist with Manic Street Preachers.