#51 – Viral | 495 words

If for once I were being honest with myself, which is something I’m incapable of doing, I’d say that the only thing I ever wanted was to experience on loop my allocated fifteen minutes of fame. 

But due to my dishonesty, not to mention my conceited personality, this sentiment would never pass my lips. More probable would be something humbling like: I don’t think my perfect life contains an ideal lifestyle—in other words I can’t say for sure that I want to live in a particular place, or have a particular job, or have a certain number of children. Rather, I see it as one in which those constants—health, friends/family, meaningful work—form the foundation of that life.

I was unprepared, however, for how these fifteen minutes would ultimately unfold. In fact I don’t think anyone I know, not even those who’ve known me best over the years, could have predicted how they would have turned out. 

As a child I thought it’d be for the usual things: football player, tree climber, bike rider—despite that I wasn’t extravagantly good at any of these things. Then when I got older they became more pronounced, though just as unlikely: musician, writer, filmmaker. 

I spent my whole life trying to create viral sensations and long-lasting works of art, and what I ultimately got famous for, of all fucking things, was that I bought a defective banana. 

It didn’t look defective when I saw it in Pete’s Frootique that afternoon. It was green, sure, but better, I thought, than black or brown—they’d be fine in a day or two. (I should add that I don’t normally shop in Pete’s, but due to its proximity to the gym, on this occasion I found it opportune to purchase some nanners there.)

But fine they were not. The following morning I had to show them to my girlfriend, such was my disbelief, in order to come around to the fact that they were now blue.

But it gets worse. On peeling the rind we discovered not a banana but a sausage. Or at least that’s what it looked like to us. It was brown and red and squishy and encased, and when we squeezed it into a hot skillet it smelled and sizzled as though it were a sausage. But it could have been anything, really.

Recording all this on video, my girlfriend acquired footage of me screaming in terror, repulsed at what I was finding in all six bananas that I’d bought.

That night my melodramatic and high-pitched screams had already became a meme. In three days there was a remix on YouTube. People I didn’t know would stop me on the street, and this continued in foreign countries too for the next three years.

But now, almost forty years later, nobody remembers. I have been relegated, as the saying goes, to a footnote in history.

And what’s worse, I still have nightmares about those God-awful bananas.

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#50 – Producing RTÉ’s The Grasshawk | 366 words

Premise

Elmin is depressed, Argot is dying, Shantih hates everyone, and only Dr Soup can see that everyone in this town needs to change the way they live. 

Logline

A young doctor becomes embroiled in an outbreak of foobilla fever in the rural Irish town of Gortnahoe, Co. Tipperary. 

Initial response to the treatment from a professional scriptreader

The story is fabulously imaginative, but the budget is too limited to be able to cope with the locations and cast and whatnot, and it might be a bit too ‘out there’ for a mainstream platform like RTÉ.

Cuts made to enhance the accessibility of the show

Dr Soup’s incomprehensible jargon and philosophical voiceovers.

The Mickey-Joe subplot, in which Mickey-Joe spends the entire season trying to steal a goat, allegedly for nothing more than the craic. 

All scenes that make the viewer unsympathetic to Dr Soup’s character.

Main addition to enhance the accessibility of the show

A compelling yet succinct backstory explaining the origin, nature and devastating consequences of foobilla fever. 

 Total production time

Seventeen months. Eight months of development and pre-production, two of shooting, seven for post and marketing. 

What the critics are saying

Undoubtedly the best thing on RTÉ since Glenroe

You might think that Fair City meets Twin Peaks doesn’t sound like a good idea, but you’re probably the kind of adult who still eats Frubes and Cheese Strings.   

Finally: something that justifies paying your TV licence fee for. 

The talk of the town

The show has nothing to do with green vegetation or birds of prey—why is it called The Grasshawk

The presumed answer to this question

Those on the show are contractually bound by a NDA to keep the meaning of the show’s title to themselves, to avoid spoilers in subsequent seasons.

Where the show’s available

Residents of Ireland can rewatch the series on the RTÉ Player, or buy The Grasshawk: Season 1 from the RTÉ Store website. Those outside of Ireland can expect the series to hit popular streaming services in September.

The good news

RTÉ have confirmed that a second season is already in development. 

The bad news

The show’s existence.

S2 won’t reach Irish and international screens until 2021.

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#49 – Home | 505 words

If I sound like I’m confused as to my whereabouts it’s because I am. 

One would be forgiven for thinking that I’m still resident in Ireland, or that I see myself as a citizen of the fictitious Camland, a kind of Ireland in drag. 

It’s clear from other posts, however—or maybe it’s not; maybe I’m under the impression it’s clear when in fact it’s anything but—that I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

But that’s where you’re wrong. 

I discovered last week, having taken shrooms for the first time, that my region of habitation is simply Home.

When I left Ireland, I didn’t know how long I’d be gone for. The summer, forever—I didn’t know. (I still don’t.) What I did know was that I wished to purge from my vocabulary the eternally fashionable world home

My problem with the word, you see, are the connotations of happiness, comfort, contentment that it carries, and that it’s exclusively tied to a particular region or place. One doesn’t carry home around like a talisman: it’s a purely exterior thing, a wholly physical thing in which one is less likely to rage before one’s insignificance in the totality of the cosmos, and more likely to brew a pot of tea, throw on Eastenders, and eat Princess marshmallows with Bord na Móna peat twinkling in a nearby hearth. 

Which is bollocks. 

If this was the case, people would never leave where they’re from, whether a small town in El Salvador or a country as gigantic as China. 

I nevertheless stopped saying it. When I spoke of Ireland, I willed myself not to utter the word, choosing instead the likes of Back in Ireland rather than Back home. If this was the beginning of some self-imposed exile, I wasn’t going to be spiritually homeless for the time I was away from Ireland. 

And then. 

While in Point Pleasant Park, riding off three and a half grams of shrooms—I had dabbled with acid in the past, and thought anything less than two grams a waste of time—I took in the snow and the trees and the undulating water with a kind of grim determinacy. In other words, I tacitly understood their limits, their status as things that came and went, died and were reborn, ebbed and flowed to other parts of the world across immense swathes of space. I saw that one’s home was similarly fixed and fluid: that it was something finite and unrenewable, something regenerative and self-sustaining, something limitless whose life preceded our own and would surely outlive it too. It was neither a place without nor within: it was a diminutive sun, an invisible moon, there, unacknowledged, misunderstood, lost and yearning as much as the people whom it housed. 

But the next day I labelled these thoughts as chaff, reminding myself that I was Declan Toohey, a Scottish-born, Irish-reared, Canadian-dwelling, hogwash-trumpeting gobshite who got off, exclusively, on rich tea biscuits and the exuberant swell of his own ego. 

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