parked the heap off the road and out of the way in the overgrown
entrance to a derelict cottage. She led him from the path, through
trees and down the steep slope of a green glen, quiet, deserted,
known to her from childhood as a secret place, behind the old
Hand in hand they picked their way through
waist high bracken and around thick-scattered, thin-trunked trees.
Gradually it got a little quieter and a little darker. After several
minutes silent walk they heard, close by, the ripple of a falling
stream, and presently emerged from the woods onto a flat little
space of clear river bank.
All about them masses of bluebells coloured
the bank among the short grass and the yellowgreen young ferns.
The leaf canopy of the trees on either side of the stream completely
overarched their little bower. The air was trapped and still here;
set apart and almost…with the rays of sunlight playing through
it as a breeze rustled branches high above…almost tangibly
Dixi let go his hand, walked a few paces
from him, stopped and turned towards him. As he stood watching
she slowly unbuttoned her dress and stepped out of it. It was
all she wore.
Her skin was white like oneday snow; her
hair black like raven wings shining in a clear blue sky; her eyes
vertiginous, ebony welldeeps contained by wide emerald circlets
flashing bright like a jeweller’s opened and shut case;
her lips were the red of berries or cherry, cherry wine.
Ever after he would say that he had never
seen anything a half or a third as beautiful as she was that day,
taking the few short steps to him over the soft grass.
She walked to him and put her left arm
along his shoulder. Her palm, at the back of his neck angled his
head downwards and onto her mouth. She circled her right arm around
his waist and pulled herself into him…and the kiss on her
lips was … quite … continental.
“I was hot,” she said, then
tippytoed to his lips for another long sweet kiss.
Drawing back a little she two-lipped his nose, eyes, cheeks, brows,
ears, chin and neck, till they both breathed hot and hard. She
nipped a little fold of skin in her teeth and he squirmed and
broke away and held her at arms length and laughed and looked
at her and laughed again, softer, and pulled her close and tight
and lifted her naked body high, his hands on her hips, and kissed
her soft, taut, white belly, and set her again on her feet, and
she asked, “Aren’t you hot too?”
All that long afternoon they spent on the
lonely riverbank. Playing all the games they knew, or could imagine,
or had ever heard of, or could invent.
They played Bruise the Bluebells and Flatten
the Ferns, Two in the Bush, Head Over Heels And Toe-Tickle, Push
me Pull you, Dipstick and Lipstick, Dunkin’ Donuts, Suck
it and See, Pot Black, The Handful of Buns, Bell Ringers and Well
Diggers, Shove if you Like, Pussy Go Backwards, Trains and Tunnels,
Moon Kong, Pogo Pogo Touch and GoGo, Look up in Wonder, Blow Me
Down Easy, The Cherry on the Top, SkinSlippy, Two Handed Poker,
The Strawberry Milk Shake, Come Dancing, Rotha mór a tsaol,
The Shot in the Dark, Thread the Needle, The Ace of Spades Jump,
Five Finger Exercise, Custer’s First Stand, Only the Flakiest
Tastiest Chocolate, Valley Hi, The Butterfly Stroke, Do as you
would be Done by, The French Open, The Pint of Harp, Saturday
Grand Stand, The Big Match, Goooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!!!
It was an afternoon like a sunlit, sleepless,
They catnapped, naked, in each others arms
for a little while, then both woke in the later coolness and pulled
Dixi sat up and turned to Joe with her
best serious face.
“Joe, we have to talk.”
“Well Dix’, that I can still
just about manage.”
Joe laughed but, catching Dixi’s tone, added, “What
“Us,” answered a still serious Dixi.
“No kidding!” Joe made a grab for her, but she moved
“I want us to put our own band together Joe.”
had known there was something in the air for a couple of weeks
but, he thought, he hadn’t even been close.
“Jeez Dix’, what are we gonna be? Pearl Carr and Teddy
Johnston, Les Paul and Mary Ford, Porter Wagonner and Dolly Parton,
Ray and Philomena?”
She said. “I mean we get a real hot
rockin’ band together. I know a guy will stick us in the
studio. I’ve been writing stuff, we can easy do a high class
demo - try for a deal - or maybe do an indie album first. I know
we can do it Joe.”
Joe - not convinced.
“Aw c’mon Dixi. Get real. You know what you get from
that kind of set up? Zilch. Big fat Circle Circle Circle. We are
working! We are making M.O.N.E.Y!”
He spells it out.
Dixi, now up and pacing the clearing as
she talks, comes back with a bang and Joe starts to get the message
that this is ‘No Joke’, ‘Serious T’ing’
time. He starts to listen, and think … both at once…‘cause
by now he can see she isn’t going to let him walk away from
this one. Some hot words.
“Christ Joe, I am killing myself out there six nights and
every Sunday for that M.O.N.E.Y.”
She too can spell, “Beating my gums together in front of
that frigging showband night after night. Same old, same old ‘All
the Hits that Fits’ in every hotel ballroom and crossroads
dance hall from here to Aughnashittery. ‘TONITE. BIG ED
and the ESKIMOS, featuring DIXI LOCHLAN Ireland’s Teenage
Songstress Supreme.’ - Bollocks! - and the entire sentient,
single, male population under ninety, within an ass’s bawl
of the place - wherever it is - with a respectable set of teeth,
twenty or more acres, their very own E.E.C. pig subsidy and a
bought and paid for Massey Ferguson - trying to negotiate me off
Big Ed as if I was related to bloody Arkle.”
Dixi paused and calmed down a little. Joe
said nothing; waited. She started off again, sensible voice.
“I do care about the money. I’m not stupid. I know
what happens in London. I know about tramping round in grotty
Transits, playing toilets and splitting a fiver between the entire
band. I know there are a million stories in the big city and all
of them are incredibly boring. I also know I can sing as good
or better than any bitch here, in London, in Nashville, in Detroit
or in Kalamabloodyzoo. I know that, at the moment, I got looks
and a bod’ that don’t allow me to enter for Crufts.
I know that as a musician you are bloody amazing - and talking
about looks and bods” - nods Joey’s way - “well,
beam me up Scotty. I got dreams, I got ambitions, I got energy
- and if I keep doing what I’m doing for the next couple
of years, I know for certain that, item by item, piece by piece,
one day at a time sweet Jesus, I am going to watch every one of
the aforementioned goodies sink slowly but surely, waving sadly
as they pass out of sight - down the plughole - finito, zilch
- you want to talk about zilch? - super zilch - for ever and ever.
“Now the question is …”
Here she came to sit beside him and say, softly and close to him
,”… do I got you? Josephito, Sweet thing, Honeybunch.”
“Ssh. Ssh. Don’t say anything.”
“Don’t say a word. Let me whisper. Let me snuggle
up and whisper sweet somethings in your alabaster auditorios.”
She does just that, “You really are good, Joe. You have
class, honey. Now, don’t we have times together, huh? Doesn’t
your Dix’ take good care of her baby, and don’t we
make just the se-weetest music together?”
Joe starts to say something, but she places a finger to his lips.
“Ssh. Ssh. Don’t say anything,
not yet, and don’t think I’m trying to influence your
own free decision, made of your own free will and in the light
of your own personal reasoning and good judgement freely exercised
and all that, but I tell you straight, I don’t have a choice.
This is something your little Dixi has just got to do. I never
meant to join the damn showband anyway; only you were so enthusiastic
about not being broke all the time and getting out of the coffee
bars; and I never intended to stay this long, and I won’t
be trapped by a few quid in my pocket. I’m too young to
lie down and roll over every time some fat old fart waves a dog
biscuit at me - maybe (God help me), maybe later - but right now
we have it all to play for. I want to do this with you Joe, but
believe me, if I have to, I’ll do it without you….”
She looks at him straight and hard.
Before Joe can speak, Dixi jumps up, takes
a couple of steps off, turns her back to him, and bursts out,
sobbing the while, “You’re going to say ‘No’,
you bastard! You’re going to break my heart and let me piss
off all alone, and go to London and get mugged and raped and gang-banged
by hordes of speed crazed, anarchist, punk, acidfreak, skinhead,
yo’boy animals, you bastard, you bastard…!!”
“Jesus Christ, Dixi!” Joey
hops up beside her, trying to talk his way through her tears,
“Give us a break, will you? Can I get one word in edgeways
here? Stop crying for God’s sake. Look at me, will you…
and take your fingers out of your ears. For crying out loud woman,
wise up … the answer is ‘Yes’. Can you hear
that, eejit, head-the-ball? Hey brainless! Gorgeous! I said ‘Yes’.”
He turns her by a shoulder, her fingers still firm in her ears,
to look at him.
“Y.E.S. Can you see my lips move?”
She closes her eyes. Joe bats the side of his head with his palm
and falls back in a collapse on the grass.
“I bloody give up. I’ll not bother. The woman’s
cracked. I’ll stay where I am.”
Above him he hears her laugh, then feels
her weight as she jumps him, straddling his body like a wrestler,
pinning his arms and hands back on the grass. She bends her face
into his. She fixes his eyes with hers in the shaded tunnel made
between them by the swing of her long, black hair.
“Oh no you don’t. I heard you. You said you’d
do it. I heard. Cross your heart and hope to die.”
Joe pushes his arms full out beside him - crucified - stretching
Dixi’s with his, drawing her closer to him, watching the
happiness sparkle in her great green eyes.
“Uh Huh,” he said.
Once more silence fell on the river bank.
They dressed again and left just as the
midges began to bite; climbing back up the glen to where the car
was parked by the old cottage; up in the hills; above the city.
The early evening sky was clear and pulled like a cornflower blue
windowblind down to the horizon below them, silhouetting the city.
“Y’know something, Joe?”
says she, with a big grin.
Joe opens up the car. They climb in. “…and
what’s that?” - matching grin - kiss on the cheek
as they settle.
“I could murder a big fish supper
and a pint.” - both laugh.
“Now you’re talking girl!”
Dixi digs a sweater off the back seat …
puts it on … leans forward … radio on … and
” … Turn it up - just enough - so you know - it’s
got soul …”
… car gets started … ride … down the hairpin
bends into town.
Taken from ‘Viewpoints’
(1995), pages 36-40.