Readers, Dear reader

Today I am writing to readers whom I have accosted in cafes and dug into my wallet, and unbeknownst to them what is happening, I fish out my business card l i c h e n f o x i e, botanist & writer and they politely accept this act of sharing and when they next get a moment on the internet, do a search on lichenfoxie and hey presto, up come a page entitled – Readers, Dear reader …

If you are one of my live recipients of this l i c h e n f o x i e gambit, I must say you are a lively bunch, drinking tea in cafe’s, talking to customers at supermarket checkouts, or anyway being friendly with the courtesy of talking to a stranger about Ireland, people of this cafe, of Mark O’Hara of Markree and the young Percival of Ballisodare, of this Supermarket once, like Michael Harding of somewhere in the southern end of North Leitrim, or Bryan Leyden of the Hawkswell Theatre, or other such random encounters with mirrors, peering out with a friendly face. Garrolous to the last, talkative like a Jay, Garralus glandarius, or some such lating name.

We have to thank Vistaprint for the business cards. I am beginning to run low, which is a sure sign that I have outstayed my welcome. What more can I say. I have recently enjoyed Rosita Boland’s travel memoir book: Elsewhere, which with a envously smart title talks about journeys to darkest Peru, Pakistan, Australia and other adventures of this journalist, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a Poetry Reading of Michael Cronin in Rathgar. Other books I can commend include Standing In Gaps, Seamus O’Rourke’s memoir of a Leitrim adolescense and a Leitrim life. The story I like most is the one I relate frequently, about the chap at the crossroads in North Leitrim smoking a Hamlet cigar. Seamus drove through the crossroads and after about a mile, felt guilty. He turned his car around in a gate and headed back to the crossroads for a chat. Half an hour later, he headed on his way, doing his errands of the day. Did I miss anything, he asked, and I replied: No. So I told Mr Breen after mass in Rathgarogue on Sunday. His sister passed on. She will be missed.

These stories make me think of people, people among us that we have not had the time to be friendly at length with, people with whom we have been aloof, shared a smile, and have been sufficiently self absorbed or tongue tied, not to say much at all. I suppose I am not a great listener, I am rather pushy when it comes to conversation, and some of the one sided monologues you readers, dear reader, read patiently on. Conversation is one of those artforms that needs practice and I despair with those who struggle with the English language in the country of Ireland. I am talking of the Polish or Czech or Swiss people who have read some l i c h e n f o x i e and moved swifty on. Can I say most people have several languages if their English is something they worry about. I have no Arabic, except the botanical Usnea, Ooshnia, or some such word, and they really need not worry about language, as Irish people are generously tolerant of English with a variety of normal and arcane turns of phrase, I suppose the joy of the language is the fluency with which we can send one to the dictionary, unlike Rosita Boland, I never had the pleasure of really taking seriously, apart from the two volume Oxford in ridiculously small print in giant pages of multiple columns. This was supposted to be set on a lecturn and a page opened at random daily, for a rummage, into the depths of the language. I never had the lecturn, but I would be in the market for one if the furniture dealers or furniture makers felt they could market one.

My other task today it to understand the concept of plotting in novel writing. Apparently one has to string together a set of scenes that one remembers from a film – not that I watch films except Afghan rug films with Mickey Rooney and thorny briars of Arabia in 1978 and I dream of dog hair wafting up to Oberon’s nose while he inhales, a snore if you must, dreaming of a long day out in Sligo, more specifically Collooney, in the cafe near the Roundabout, which is halfway between Ballindine near Knock and the Diamond in Donegal. I ordered the last available sausage roll. Oberon our dog has perfect Polish. He rolls over when you instruct him to roly poly. We said this in the veterinarian’s studio in Manorhamilton, and the vets there are Polish. Oberon will be a roly poly if he gets to many Collooney takeout sausages. Which brings me back to plotting. It is sort of making up things, string them together into a story while Oberon barks and grumbles in the background.

Quince paste and cheese on Tuc biscuits awaits.