Friday, 6 January 2012

Handcuffed for Attention

## A proviso: all my stories are written as fictional anecdotes, scenarios or observations, they are not intended to be offensive or representative of any specific view on my behalf. It's called fictional writing, but even so I have no intention of ever getting into politics. ##

I tilted my head to Mr. Burrows, cheerfully indicating him to carry on, that this situation at the pole suited me just fine. Always best to keep a strong sense of self importance no matter the scenario. My dad had told me this when the debt collector had called him up on the money they wrongly believed he owed the bank. Good advice that was hammered into me to be sure to use in every circumstance. My dad had stayed true to his convictions, both morally and physically after he went on 'a short student holiday to cell block 69'. 
How could he be blamed for making an investment based on the profit from a different investment that had yet to be completed because it was waiting for the profits to develop it from an original investment which had stalled. Should he not be praised for being an eager capitalist?
Ireland needed people like him to keep it from reverting into a backward yuppie country with just two television channels and a strange guttural language nobody spoke but made for crap road signs. His misfortune was all because of the sudden crash and recession, which was because of the 'foreigners abroad'. This was an American crisis affecting a European one, how could he have foreseen it when even the Chinese hadn't. If he had then he wouldn't have made stupid investments to lose the money in the first place, obviously. Beside weren't we neutral so we were exempt from other countries problems??
I thought his arguments were very strong even though I didnt really understand any of it. Especially not the part of the imaginary money that only exists once somebody acknowledges its existence. Or that somebody decides that something is worth something that it might not actually be but is because they've decided it. Regardless of the confusion I admired his sense of self importance even as he had his sentence laid down to him because he maintained this sense of self importance in that it was anybody else's fault except his. Morally he couldn't be faulted my dad, he stuck to his guns. But back to the situation with me handcuffed to the pole.

It was like any other pole really, innocuous in the grand scheme of things. Had the weather turned out differently and not rained so heavily that the lads had had to seek shelter in the bushes where they found the handcuffs half buried in the dirt then this pole would have remained happily irrelevant. As it was it just happened that this pole was the closest one to the nearby shops and bus stop where the vast majority of our neighbours would congregate to do their mundane things to keep on living. Certainly not as important as our gang mentality aspirations to find a slow cat that we could test the power of an old firework with through it's rectal passage. When asked afterwards by harassed local police on behalf of the local old persons community committee who's idea this was to stick the firework up the cats arse, nobody could genuinely remember. They thought we were all lying of course, and as a result we all thought we were all lying. In actuality nobody had desperately wanted to do it, and had all quite liked that old trusting cat with the slight limp. The idea had just appeared by osmosis and everybody was doing it on tv these days so it basically made sense. On the bright side it livened up the bingo night with an excuse for a funeral gathering for the cat, everybody in Ireland loves to bond over a good solid funeral. A cat isn't the same as a dead person admittedly, it doesn't have the same extended family bonds beyond the immediate locality, but you'd be surprised how worked up people can get when they put their minds to wanting to be sad and grieving. But anyway, the pole.

Well basically, handcuffs have to be used or else what is the point of their existence. They simply become a metal ring without a purpose and having seen first hand what happens when something has no purpose, like money for instance - it just stagnates if left idle and so must be constantly moved from account to account to keep it working my dad told me - well we didn't want our new toy to be like that. So we used it immediately. I say 'we' when I mean the other boys I nominally hang around with when they are kind enough to let me. Pubescent teenagers are remarkably charitable towards their peers if just given the chance. Most are judged too quickly just because they rob a few things, cause a few scuffles or impregnate a few girls, when they are nice for the most part and people shouldn't be so judgemental. The bunch I hang around with are nice anyway, I'm lucky to know them. So what that they had left me handcuffed to the pole. It was only fair really as I do have a bigger house so I have to get some flak somewhere to even it all out, I'm just glad we had to sell the car for dad's legal bills or then they might have left me completely naked and not just from the waist down. I was glad for the shirt.

So there I was, handcuffed to this unfortunate pole, naked from the waist down after a quick scuffle which I had lost half heartedly. My dad always said that one must be a good sport with other boys and not take anything too personally, so I'm okay with them removing my trousers, underwear, socks and shoes, (I was glad they took the socks and shoes or else I would have looked really ridiculous actually), and throwing them into the trees. It means that I can get them back from up there eventually and they are close by which is handy. So I was the first 'volunteer' to test out the handcuffs, it is a badge of honour to be the first in any situation, and how can I blame them for not realising what I had tried to point out, that there was no key. I really must start raising my voice because people just don't seem to hear me apparently even in normal conversations and that's not conducive to good communication, it gets you mistakenly ignored. They had in fairness looked quite guilty when they had eventually realised it, I'm pretty sure somebody had looked at his feet in remorse, and somebody else did make a half decent attempt with a stick to get my underwear off the tree. How can I blame him for not wanting to climb up as he might hurt himself if he fell and nobody wants that. It was my own fault for wearing underwear in the first place to be honest and I'd hate to feel guilty if he had fallen so I'm glad they listened when I told them it was fine I'd do it.

So it was that I nodded to Mr. Burrows to keep walking as I knew they would be back soon with a locksmith to release me. I had told them before they walked off slowly, tired as they were from their exertions with me, that the cuffs were far too tight and were cutting off the blood supply to my hands and I know that they wouldn't want that. I shouldn't have struggled half as much really then they wouldn't have been too tired to walk faster. It takes longer than an hour to order even a coffee these days I remember my dad saying so he would always have them pre-ordered the day before to make sure it was ready precisely when he wanted it. If you're going to pay for something make sure it's the best he'd say, so I'm sure the boys were just getting the very best locksmith possibly available. I said I'd pay for it in any case, only fair seeing as it is me he will have to release, they shouldn't have to take the financial burden on my behalf. I did feel a little ridiculous in just my shirt and nothing lower down I must admit, but my dad used to say that a good looking woman could pull off just wearing a potato sack to a party and still look good. I don't think thats entirely relevant here as I doubt Mr. Burrows would walk away in embarrassment if I was wearing a full potato sack and I don't have breasts to enhance the potato sack/shirt part but it's a similar concept. 

So that's how this pole became famous in my area anyway, far beyond the normal scope allocated to standard telephone poles in my locality. I still haven't grasped the full meaning of the pole oriented jokes that have gone around, this pole definitely wasn't smaller than usual as they make them all standard in the factory I assume, and why I would want to get any girl up on my pole after my experience with it is beyond me. But as my dad always said, it's better to be part of something then not involved at all and so I'm just happy to be the subject of local conversation. Even if people do look at me oddly sometimes I know they're not judging me, but are secretly jealous that so many people talk about me. I'm actually very popular if popularity is measured by how many people say things about you behind your back. Almost as popular as my dad in the newspapers these days. I'll remember to say that to him next time I see him and explain how I've followed all his great advice. I know he'll be very proud that I lasted so long without peeing publicly before the firemen rescued me later that evening, for the record it was just once and I missed that man's shoes entirely, he stood in a separate puddle. Anyhow it wasn't the lads fault that there was a repeat of 'father ted' on the television, the show is about religion and God after all and we Irish are a very religious race so they had to watch it, blasphemous not to. So I don't blame them that they forgot about me, probably my fault anyway, I should have been more memorable. 

## no animals were harmed in the creation of this story, even for the inevitable research purposes required. And Ireland is still a neutral country suffering in the hands of inept financial morons, but I would never state that out loud. Finally, the pole remains in mint condition and no damage occurred to its personage so the council have no cause for concern. ##


  1. Apart from some grammar and punctuation issues, I really enjoyed reading this, it's an interesting little piece.

  2. Anyone who's offended by this is ridiculous. You're a very good writer and people should appreciate it! I know I do. :)

    You take a very odd angle at this, but I like it. I really enjoyed reading this, especially how you said so much about the narrator without saying it directly, and how unique a voice this story has.

    Also, awesome disclaimer at the end. ;)

  3. Wonderful! I enjoyed it immensely; the humor was brilliant. My favorite line was, "I really must start raising my voice because people just don't seem to hear me apparently even in normal conversations and that's not conducive to good communication, it gets you mistakenly ignored."

  4. I laughed my heart off for most of this. At the end it actually gets a little serious and made me think. It's interesting because the character is both pitiable and hatable and you still can identify with him because who's never been a victim in their life?

    It's somehow very incredible because this story pictures so well what I mean when I think/say that idiot people are often the happiest. Your character is completely oblivious and somehow optimistic and that makes him take such an experience in a positive light...

    Great story.

  5. I love it :) Really great humour and I think the narrative voice you've employed is brilliant!
    Can't wait to read more of your work.

  6. I liked this story, although I thought that it sounded quite rambling at times. but hey, that could be because
    - that's how the character's mannerisms and speech are meant to be portrayed.
    - you were rushed.
    - i'm dozy.
    take your pick.

    and thanks for the disclaimer at the end... I was about to spam you infinitely with hate mail for harming that poor pole. pheww... =P xxxx

  7. Well basically, handcuffs have to be used or else what is the point of their existence. <---- FUNNY

    Ah, the innocence of youth. Though, I was feeling a bit bad for your little guy by the end. That was a lot of excuses he was coming up with for his friends , but then, no one wants to admit their friends may be some freaking wankers at times.

    There is no such thing as a neutral country in this financial maelstrom that is the global economy. I have to disagree with you on that. Some countries have economies at the furthest ends of the spectrum, but I sincerely believe most are only fighting for a good spot in the middle to good end for that "epic" credit rating that is nothing but a load of shit and speculation. Nothing neutral about that. [Feel free to disagree with me. :) ]

  8. Very funny in a rambly, uniquely Irish way. Like Flann O'Brien or Frank McCourt or yer man from Nighthawks.

    Poor lad handcuffed to a pole. Is this... autobiographical by any chance?

    (Erm, why would anyone find this offensive?)

  9. You executed the satire in this one brilliantly, compared to the last story. The majority of your readers have to have at least a sliver of sympathy for the main character, or the satire falls flat and becomes merely offensive. This one? Well, we've all been humiliated and made powerless at some point in our lives. Nicely done.

  10. Ah, hilarious. The stupidity of the character reminded me of Jedward. Disclaimer: In no way does this comment associate you with or compare you to Jedward.

  11. You're actually quite good at this writing lark! very much enjoyed shame I missed your last attempt. Too busy getting rid of snot, and paint, and glitter, and playdough and God only knows what my little treasures managed to smear over me. Your character sounds like he has ASD either that or completely thick! Please remember differences between capitalism and communism when playing monopoly might actually help you win Slimy the snail is very upset as you've not posted any more lizard pics. Will tell him you've been busy with this. Well enjoy your free time while I've got another 5 wks till half term. Ciao Kez xx

  12. This was good. It was a bit difficult for me, since I am not Irish, and stuff that happened in this story doesn't happen often in America. I enjoyed it though. Anyone offended by this has clearly never seen 'A Christmas Story', which has many of the same situations.

  13. You're very good at writing. I can't understand why anyone would be offended by that at all, it's only a story after all and what an amazing story it is. I really enjoyed reading it, Eoin. Keep up the amazing work :) xx

  14. The naivety of the narrator was pretty hilarious.

    My favourite bit has to be "On the bright side it livened up the bingo night with an excuse for a funeral gathering for the cat, everybody in Ireland loves to bond over a good solid funeral."

  15. you do write well, mr macken. keep em coming pls.

  16. This one strikes less of a visceral chord, maybe because it's a bit rambling at times. Someone commented that perhaps that was the 'voice' of the character, but I think with some revision, the character's thought pattern could still come out very clearly but be a bit less confusing for the reader.

    You have a talent for revealing faulty characters, which I'm finding fascinating. Are these character sketches development for a larger future project?

    At any rate, I'm very happy it wasn't about bunnies frolicking in the surf at sunrise. (I saw what you did there...)

  17. Another great story.

    You had me laughing once again. This part gave me a really good laugh, "(I was glad they took the socks and shoes or else I would have looked really ridiculous actually)" cause yeah that would have been the clincher to really looking ridiculous lol. You've given me a whole new outlook when it comes to telephone poles.

    Oh and one can't blame the narrators friends for having to watch 'Father Ted' before getting him would be so wrong hadn't they.

  18. A good and fun read, which made me laugh almost from the get go.

    "just two television channels and a strange guttural language nobody spoke but made for crap road signs"- Wouldn't be an ever so subtle mocking of Wales would it?! *snicker*

    I laughed, probably more than I should from the moment of actually describing the pole, but this is what happens when I read anything at ten past three in the morning. It sort of made me think about the way Victor Hugo goes on and on to describe something that has nothing of relavance to the actual plot, where this... was almost oposite. Sorry, my thoughts are groggy currently.

    I particularly loved the part about the cat and the firework, mostly because I knew a few too many people who would actually try this and the fact that none of them could remember who'd had the idea and so coming to the conclusion that they were all lying (here I could go into the psychology of this sort of thing, but it's stupid o'clock in the morning and my brain is aready starting to switch off)

    I love seeing in the mind of a boy really. It reminds me how unalike them I really am. (But then I've never been particularly normal on either side...) Yes, it's very important to be a "good sport" with guys, while, as a girl, this sort of thing would definitely be a *BAD THING* and you'd fight to the death to not be the one left handcuffed to the pole. Who would do that to a girl? Few people, if any, but to a guy, it's fine. It's a laugh. And the idea of wanting the shoes and socks off because of looking ridiculous made me snort!

    "it was my own fault for wearing underwear in the first place" Oh God. *snickers into shirt like a five-year-old.

    I love the narrator of this story. I want to take him under my wing and very slowly and kindly explain to him certain facts of life. 1. Boys can be bastards. 2. You seem a bit of a nob really, so you're going to get the arse end of the stick and 3. 'Pole' can be used in so many ways.

    I'm sure if I was more awake I would give a much more analytical response to this, but quite simply, I can't. Though I think the best part about it was how *real* it all felt.

    When you're in your own head your thoughts do jump from one thing to another- doink-doink-doink and there's no real structure to it, and when you're young situations always look very different, often completely opposed to the reality of the thing.

    This narrator seems younger than his friends, certainly more nieve and trusting and at that age when being allowed to hang out with the older boys is more important than them actually being nice to you- any attention is good attention.

    Also, being someone who works with kids, I normally pick up on flaws with the way people write children and young people in telly and books, but this, at least for me, seemed pretty accurate for the perceived age.

    Thank you for an excellent read at God-Awful-O'clock in the morning

  19. Hmm... I read it quite a few times to try to understand it, and I still don't really get it. In fact, the more I read it, the less I liked it. Sorry!
    Why I disliked it? While the whole story was in a light hearted tone with humerous anecdotes and comments, the protagonist, the subject of satire, isn’t really in a laughable situation at all.
    His dad is deluded in his own actions, and taught his son a set of ‘moral’ convictions that really isn’t good advice at all. The protagonist is completely blind to his dad’s wrongdoings, and the advice he gets doesn’t help him differentiate right from wrong. “Morally, he can’t be faulted?” What morals does he refer to? Probably the ones that his dad taught him. The protagonist spews up what his dad says, but doesn’t really think about what he’s saying.
    I can see a lot of good stuff in the protagonist. He has a good heart, but too bad he hangs out with the wrong type of people (refer to cat incident). He’s also strangely empathetic and can put himself in other people’s shoes (refer to comments about old people). He considers himself as part of the pack with the other teenage boys, but I’m quite sure they see him as an outsider. They bully him, but he still goes back, because he thinks they’re his friends. Even the rest of the village/town probably bullies him from time to time, through no real fault of his own, though probably due to his dad.
    I hope it wasn’t a overlook on the part of the author, but rather, a story to show that sometimes, situations are funny on the outside, but not very much within.

  20. *blinks* Well... Isn't he a little optimist.. I do like your humour... And the way you combine the pathos of the situation with the lighter vein due to narration is brilliant... Do keep on writing and regaling us with such pieces.. :)

  21. I've read this a few times now and I keep coming back to the idea that this boy is a bit of a simpleton. I'm not sure how to put it in a politicaly correct way, but he's clearly not really getting the situation he's in, the way he's treated by the other boys and the implications of what his dad did. While I did laugh at his predicament, I also felt incredibly sorry for him, I wanted to shake him and say "wake up, look at what they're/you're doing". The more I read it the more I like what you've done with it.

  22. No animals were harmed while this piece was read aloud. Furthermore, the author was not liable for injuries to or deaths of participants in reading activities resulting from possible inherent risks of reading this particular author.
    Readers suffering from laughing fits could consult a physician. In other words… I quite enjoyed it, Eoin. Thank you.

    Best wishes, Jas

  23. I would like to reply individually to everybody who has taken the time to constructively comment, but I simply can't because I'm not smart enough to remember everything that I want to say, but thanks for th critiques.
    Wendy, it's meant to be a dig at the close mindedness of people involved in our worldwide economic crises who see themselves as morally superior to everybody else, and the character suffers from his own social delusion that is passed down from his fathers more wide reaching and damaging delusion. That's one part of it anyway.
    Graemediamond I can see your point compared with the last piece related to the protagonist, but I also think it's also e subject matter, and it was maybe too left field for an initial piece before people understood my sense of humour, or perhaps lack thereof :-)
    Margaret R, the bunnies story will be later, but I didn't want to talk about mass buny murder just yet.......a softly softly approach is needed perhaps!
    Thanks for reading, and I really appreciate all's the comments, it helps me immensely......


  25. I don't get how people wouldn't understand your sense of humour. It's so obvious !! It's so...God !! It's everywhere.

    My first time here and my first reading. As a non-native english speaker (but a french one), I need to go through the story a second time to get the whole thing right. But, my first impression on your story is a good one. I did love it.

    I am so sad for the character's endearingly naivety though (some would talk about optimism). Someone should really teach him certain facts of life (as somebody has already said).

    Glad I have found your blog.

  26. This was really lovely. It sounds like the kind of story my long-deceased grandmother would have told me about the county where she grew up.

    You've forged an interesting contrast between the son and the father's reactions to their respective situations. One wonders how much influence the father had on the son's world-view from his place at the pole.

    "I really must start raising my voice because people just don't seem to hear me apparently even in normal conversations and that's not conducive to good communication, it gets you mistakenly ignored."

    It seems that the son has taken his father's advice to heart, but remains tentative when considering the required execution.

    I really enjoyed this poignant and evocative piece.

    How nice of you to add the disclaimer about the unfortunate cat!

  27. I really enjoyed this piece, you have quite the interesting writing style (reminds me a bit of Frank McCourt). I loved your portrayal of the narrator and his innocence as well as the serious undertones of the story. Glad I stumbled across this blog, looking forward to more of your writings!

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. One thing I have noticed through reading the comments on your posts is that people don't seem to view 'I' as a character in the same way they would think of it if you had said Johnnie or Maria for example. For some reason if you write it in first person lots of people seem to be assuming that it is your view.
    Amazing writing, keep it going.
    (sorry about the delete, I had to change the picture.)

  30. Love it. Very witty. Thanks for the giggles.

  31. Hey, I tweeted you saying I was free and completely up for the london filming/funtimes (admittedly before ud finished your tweets haha), but I guess I was too late. I am SO gutted, so take this chance to say: if I can help with anything at all, let me know :) Xxxxx

  32. I know exactly what you mean about the funerals, especially animal ones. When my sons when to Ireland with their Dad, the family they stayed with had some children their age. The kids spent a lot of time capturing animals and giving them funerals after the family dog killed them. Typical Irish vacation, I guess!

  33. Both funny and sad, although by the end I wanted the main character to discover his self belief and tell those horrible boys to f**k off.stand up for himself...

  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. Reading this, I was reminded of someone I knew. She was one of those people that didn't seem to realize how unlikeable she really was. She was hyper and had absolutely no social skills. But she was always happy, always upbeat, always positive that everyone loved her, even though most found her completely annoying. I talked to her a bit, but I never had much patience with her. Neither did anyone else, except one of my friends who truly cared about her.
    Then she died. And everyone went around saying how much they would miss her and how she had brought sunshine into everyone's life. I had the decency to admit that I'd always found her annoying and my real regret at her death was that I hadn't been a good enough person to her while she was alive. At least I'm honest enough to admit how selfish I really am.
    Because of that, I didn't relate to the narrator. I related to the boys who left him handcuffed to that pole. And so I couldn't laugh.
    This story just really made me wonder how people would react if the narrator were to die. Would they do the same thing? Probably, because you did a great job at making the secondary characters realistic and from reading your work, you know enough about people to call a spade a spade. Very much a story to ponder. How many of us are the other boys and just don't want to admit it?

  36. loved this, very funny. Definitely brightened up an otherwise extremely mundane and slightly depressing day!