Our lives

Hound of Satan chewing my letters

Since the Hound of Satan is no longer able to chew the postman, he’s settled for chewing the post instead.

All of it.

I’ve tried everything to stop him but nothing works. I tried coating letters with a devastating mixture of hot chilli powder and wasabi paste but he just licked them until his eyes went red. I tried hiding small fireworks in a package operated by a cunning pressure device, but he disabled it with a deft flick of a screwdriver before tearing the box to pieces and spitting gunpowder all over the floor.

I even tried sitting him down and reasoning  with him.   Look, Satan, this will have to stop. You ripped up that speeding summons (which, admittedly, might be no bad thing). You tore my bag of unmarked thousand-euro notes to flitters. You put little toothy puncture marks all  over my new passport and now I can’t flee to Argentina.

He just sat there gnawing on the forearm of a Jehovah’s Witness and snarling at me in ancient Greek.

Why couldn’t you be a normal dog? I said. Chasing cats and barking at nothing?

Snarl, he replied.

That was when I noticed the unchewed envelope.

Gimme that, I said.

Grrrr, said the dog.

Give me that fucking envelope.


Look! A postman!

While he was gone I gently lifted the envelope from his basket and drew out the letter it contained.

Dear Satan, it read, I enclose a bank draft for four billion dollars. Many thinks for your help setting up the business. Your friend, Mark Zuckerberg.

I hardly noticed the soft padding or the clickety-clack of his nails on the floor as Satan re-entered the room. When I turned around, he was dressed in an old anorak and holding a can of Dutch Gold.

He regarded me for a moment or two and a faint sneer played across his lips. So, human. It seems you have discovered my secret. Well, at least the charade is over.  No more chasing cars and eating whatever foul slops you put in front of me.

Where is it? I demanded. What did you do with the money?

Money? What money?

The money in the fucking envelope, I screamed. The four billion dollars.

I found no money in the envelope, said the dog, puffing on a spliff. All I found was a piece of paper. A receipt or something.

That’s it, I said. The piece of paper. Where is it?

Where do you think it is? he replied. I ate it. I’m a fucking dog.

I hate that animal.


All Hound of Satan posts


Our lives

Back on the mainland

Keen-eyed readers will perhaps have noticed that there’s been little enough activity on this site for the last few weeks and some will be bitterly disappointed to notice that I’m back.

Little enough time for arguing with deranged people on the internet when there are things to be done.

Inis Mor Aran Islands

Inis Mor Aran Islands

Inis Mor Aran Islands

Jesus, it’s been a long month on an island at the edge of the Atlantic.  A long month but worthwhile, punctuated by moments of absurdity. Electric cars, Dexter bulls and rubber roofs. Hard labour and long hours. Quick raids to Offaly and Galway, in and out on the ferry. Beer.  Sergeant Joe, a man who truly deserves his own page here.  Submerged piers, mackerel with sunglasses and mad Conamara comedians.

A little land of lunatics.

I love it.

Once I regain my equilibrium, I’ll get right back to annoying  you.

Cobblestone Joe's Nancys Our lives

Fathers’ Day relaxation

There’s something very rejuvenating about Fathers’ Day — an affirmation that we old lads aren’t completely bad after all, not entirely without our decent points.  And truthfully, you wouldn’t have it any other way.  We raise our children and we set them free.  We don’t place obligations on them to observe ritual or custom.  We just hope they get it, and when they do, it makes us that much richer: so much the better if they come back of their own volition and say, right, Dad, let’s go for a couple of pints.

Gold couldn’t buy you that.

And so it came about that, after a long hard day slogging away at the garden, chopping down bushes and power-hosing patios, I found myself in Nancy Blake’s wonderful establishment, enjoying music played by good friends including one I haven’t seen in quite a while since he moved to Dubai.  Thank God for Ramadan, that time of year when Irish people flee the gulf en masse to visit and entertain their friends back home.  I hope we’ll catch up again before he goes back, though I expect to be travelling myself fairly soon, so who knows?

Of course, these days no trip to town would be complete without a visit to Cobblestone Joe’s where they now serve the best pizza this side of New York City, thanks to their snappy new pizza bar and even snappier new chef.

What precisely could be wrong with this? A pint, a delicious thin-base pizza and a live shit-kickin’ band in the company of those you love most in the world?

Well, two things, I suppose.

Firstly, we were thoroughly hockeyed by Tipperary in the Munster semi-final, with the result that the town was full of people in Limerick and Tipp shirts.  Never a good look.  The men of Tipperary proved me right when I said having six fingers is an advantage and the tinfoil industry got a huge boost.

Secondly, being without a camera and taking a truly bad picture on a phone, of people jiving in terrible hurling shirts and worse.

cobblestone joes limerick

For this, I apologise sincerely and promise it won’t happen again.

For all the rest, let us celebrate Fathers’ Day and give thanks to the universe for our good fortune.

Our lives

Springtime Blues

…, the mower broke down and the yard run away with me
I’ve taken to sittin’ and watchin’ it grow
And the rabbits are eatin’ like kings in the driveway
And I’ve just about found me no place to go
You’ve got to live and let live …

                         —–  Guy Clark


The older I grow, the closer I get to becoming Guy Clark.  It’s true I’ll never have his immense talent or his genial charisma, but in the important things, from his nerve-screeching Instant Coffee Blues to his languid  Shade of All Greens, my life seems to have parallelled his fine observation of the tiny defeats we endure as part of the human condition, whatever that is.

The mower broke down last year some time, mainly due to my own negligent stupidity and I didn’t bother to get it fixed, due to apathy.  As a result, the garden, or yard as Guy might call it, started to run away with me  but since it was the back-end of the year, it wasn’t all that noticeable at first.  Just a general scruffiness about everything.  Little weeds peeping out between the patio bricks.  Moss.  Plants I don’t remember putting there.  Plants I definitely did not put there.  Garden seats leaning dangerously sideways.  Wind-blown plastic flower-pots and the sad remains of a gazebo destroyed in the last storm.

That sort of thing.

Wild Garlic

I became a sort of Wordsworth of the Alliums as the wild garlic slowly, inexorably took over what I laughingly refer to as my lawn, so that eventually, today, I wandered lonely as a cloud in the bright Spring sunshine and surveyed the desolate landscape that is my garden.

I gritted my teeth like an action hero. It was just as well I hadn’t shaved for a few days and so it was that, as a trickle of sweat carved its way down my knotted brow, I hissed at the wild garlic It stops right here!  Enough, you host of tiny white pungent daffodil-impersonators.  This is where I make my final stand.

Was it for this that a thousand parties ran on into the small hours?  Was it for this that countless musicians stayed up all night drinking beer and singing songs around the glowing coal braziers?  Was it for this that crowds of a hundred and more swarmed to my home for significant life-events?

It was not! I replied with a scowl, as stirring martial music seemed to swell and I could almost hear the throbbing of chopper-blades just below the horizon.

Enough!  No more.  This garden shall return to its former glory.

Or to put it another way, I’ll cut the grass and pull most of the weeds.


Bock's People

The Worst of Bock — a book based on this website for people to buy

I’ve been persuaded to go with a different alternative to quitting this stuff that I’ve been doing for far too long.

Instead, I’ll try to bring out a book, for now codenamed The Worst of Bock.

I’m still investigating funding models, but it all depends on you.  Would you like a physical artifact in your hand, a tangible manifestation of the ludicrous thing we call Bock the Robber?

Would you pay a modest amount of cash for it if you saw it in a bookshop?

Would you like to have one for Christmas, as a stocking filler or even to read yourself?

Tell me these things, and depending on what I hear, I might, or might not, produce a book.  There’s no point ending up with a pile of expensive firelighters taking up room in the hall.

Come back to me people.  Make actual, readable comments on the idea.

Place them here so that I can read them.


Our lives Stories

Craft Fair

Billy’s on his high horse, the only kind he’s able to ride these days.  His jodhpurs are grubby and his comb-over stands high in the wind.  He’s been struggling to set up his display for more than an hour and now he’s standing over me, enraged.  I feel as if I’m guilty of something.

Some fucker took my knife and my string.

He waits for an answer but I’m not paying attention.

Billy, you’ve lost me.

Give me a cigarette, he says.

Why don’t you buy some?

Oh God, no! he says.  Filthy disgusting things.

All I want to do is finish the crossword.

I left them beside my stand, Billy says, and when I came back, they were gone.

I fill in another clue and when I look up again, he’s gone.  What’s he talking about?

I go around to his stand.

Listen, Billy, I saw something a bit odd about half an hour ago.  A car drove past with a ball of string on the roof.

Billy’s comb-over is back in place.  There’s half a cigarette behind his ear.

What? he says.

I repeat myself.

Why didn’t you tell me?

Sorry.  It just didn’t register with me.

Billy studies me hard.

So, he says. What was the driver’s name?


Health Our lives

Injury Heaped Upon Injury

I hurt both knees.

No surprise there, you might say, considering the maniac things you did in the course of your life, and that’s perfectly true.  I have no right whatever to any working joint.

I broke my wrist.  I broke my elbow.  I broke my ankle.  I fractured my skull. I fused two vertebrae in a fall from a window while acting the maggot.

In truth, I have no business being here, and yet, here I am.

The knee-injuries  were a little more prosaic than the stories behind the severe skeletal damage I mentioned just there, though I do promise in the end to tell you what caused all those destructions.

The knee-injuries were caused by silliness.  My right knee is in shit because I was foolish enough to do lots of road running without bothering to prepare for it and because I spent years playing squash, five or six days a week, pounding away at the joints.  My left knee is currently in shit because I tripped over something on the bedroom floor and slammed it hard against the ground, as one does.  Idiot.

The physio is a patient, non-judgemental lad.  He doesn’t care how I did the damage.  He just wants to fix it, and so he spends a full hour poking away at my leg muscles.

Jaysus, that right leg is very bad.

Is it?

Yeah.  Jaysus, you must have that problem a long time.

I have.

Fuck, I thought so.  The muscle is fucked.


You’ve been putting the weight on the other leg.

Maybe I have.

Until you fucked up the other leg?


Yeah.  We’ll have to work on this.

And so it comes to pass that my ever-patient physio advises me to stretch the muscles by pulling my foot up behind my back and holding the pose for 15 seconds, just like the Olympic sprinters do, except that I’m not an Olympic sprinter, and I have many other injuries, all of them self-inflicted.

But still, I’m an obedient patient and so I try to stretch the offending muscles.  I try on both sides, and one side works out fine.  But the other side isn’t such a huge success.

The next day, I’m having coffee in one of my favourite haunts and I bump into my favourite hipster.

What do you think happened when I tried to stretch my left thigh muscle? I ask him, as he caresses his lovely hipster bicycle.

You put your fucking back out, he laughed.

How did you know that?

Because everyone puts their fucking back out doing that, but don’t worry.  You’ll straighten up after a day or two.

He was right, but now I have to face the physio.


Humour Our lives

Chicken Evolution

As we enjoyed our delicious minced pork in spicy barbecue sauce, the conversation turned to eating habits.

We eat too much meat, said somebody.

You can never eat too much meat, I replied.  If God didn’t want us to eat meat, why would he give us canine teeth?

Why would he have made chickens in the shape of little round balls of delicious meat? asked Bullet.   Little round balls of meat that are really easy to catch.

foghorn leghorn

Why would he have made Japanese oven-ready turkeys for Christmas? asked someone else.


You know.  The turkeys that kneel in front of the cooker, disembowel themselves, slit their own throats and jump into the oven.

What’s the next stage of evolutions for chickens? asked somebody.  Breadcrumbed?

Say what you like, said Bullet, but it’s a pretty successful way to protect the species.

Getting eaten is a survival technique? 

Of course.  Do you really think the world would be full of chickens if they were inedible? It’s an interesting evolutionary strategy.  Evolve into a delicious food and the survival of your species is guaranteed.

Jesus, said someone, if they ever evolve into drugs the planet will be knee-deep in chickens. Planet of the Chickens.



Our lives

Waiting in Line

We all love waiting in a queue, don’t we?  It’s probably the most enjoyable activity a human being can undertake, standing there like a complete tool, shuffling forward one at a time to have our miserable purchases scanned and surveyed by our fellow shufflers in a silent mind-babble of judgement.

Oh look.  He bought leeks, dog-food and a bottle of wine.  What a pervert.

What the fuck are you talking about with your calorie-soaked snacks, your obese ADHD child and your ill-fitting track-top, you big knacker?

Shut up. The sooner I get out of here with my once-in-a-lifetime drill-bits offer the happier I’ll be.

Oh Jesus.  I forgot the chick-peas.

I walked into my usual cut-price outlet today, one of those places that the too-posh-to-push people would never have attended in a million years, three years ago.  You know, those German multiples that sell you products at half the price of the local rip-off merchants and twice the quality?

I’m a sucker for them and to be honest with you, I do succumb to the special offers.  I have that compressor, that air chisel, that electric scroll saw and the incredibly cheap rock breaker that you’ll be glad of some day when you need to break lots of rock.

I am that soldier.

But I’m also the soldier who buys food and shit.  Minor things.  Little bits and pieces like milk and eggs and cheese.

It’s enormously sad that you can no longer walk into a city centre shop that sells such things, a shop owned and run by a family whose names you know.  A family you went to school with and whose children go to school with yours.  A family your mother and your grandmother knew.

That’s gone, sadly.   It’s no longer possible to send the kids across the road to the shop for a pound of butter and a bag of flour, because firstly, they’ll be killed on the road by the traffic and secondly, the shops expect money up front, since they’re owned by somebody in Dublin, or London or Berlin and they have not the slightest interest in being part of your community.

That’s how cities fall apart.

And so I’d rather queue in Lidl or Aldi with their enormous choice of goods than queue in a city-centre shop where nobody gives a shit who I am any more.

I must have been exceptionally chilled today when I arrived into Lidl’s car-park to discover a half dozen buses from a school tour.   I even did a little Zen-like inventory of my personal angst and decided that it was cool, so I went into the shop where, of course, there were a hundred and fifty adolescent boys queueing up at the check-outs, all well behaved, as befits their extremely expensive directly-matriculating private school, but adolescent boys nonetheless.

People are normally very courteous, as we all find if we arrive at the check-out with one or two things in our grasp.  More often than not, somebody with a full trolley will turn around and look at you.  Is that all you have?  Go on ahead.

But not today.  Even though I only had a few carrots, a bag of kangaroo scrotums and a humane killer, nobody offered to let me through.


I blame the rich kids.

Our lives

Silly Jokes

I love silly jokes.

My favourite in recent times was the one about Sean Connery being injured when a pile of books fell on his head.

I have only my shelf to blame.

But to be honest with you, I’ll probably laugh at anything, and the addiction has spread to my children who still laugh helplessly at the stupidest joke of all time, which I told them over and over again when they were small.

This guy goes to his doctor.  He has a carrot stuck up his nose and a parsnip in his ear.

The doctor says, You’re not eating properly.

I can’t help it.  I’m a sucker for this shit.

What’s yellow and swings through the jungle?


I know.  It gets worse.

A man goes to his doctor.

He says, Doctor, I have a strawberry growing out of my head.

The doctor says, I’ll give you some cream for that.

Two guys out fishing.

I see Villa lost.

How do you know that?

It’s 5 o’clock.

A woman walked into a bar and asked the barman for a double entendre.
So he gave her one.

Sorry.  I’m very sorry about all this, but I just love them.  The stupider the better.