The hills are alive with the sound of malice

Forget action and challenging the Shitness! Turns out denial is brilliant, says Tara Flynn

 

I was wrong! Forget action and challenging the Shitness! Turns out denial is brilliant. Oh, I just love it now. I’ve been using it a bit recently to get me through and I’m seeing its appeal. It’s made it slightly easier to be productive. Made me less fearful of turning on the TV or opening a newspaper. To tell you the truth, it’s been helping me to get out of bed in the morning in the first place. Because it really does feel like some very bad shit is about to go down.

More and more, we seem to find ourselves in the second half of The Sound of Music, when Captain von Trapp is suddenly viewed as a dissident for not wanting to display a swastika at his house. By his mates, like! They’d even been in the military together! One minute they were all at the ball, his ball, their greatest worry being whether he’d pick the baroness or run off with the governess with the voice of an angel and sass for miles (spoiler: he chooses the governess!); the next minute it’s all Heil this and run for your lives that. With songs.

Tara Flynn: I choose, temporarily, to dwell on other important things. Like where do you get a vegetable brush? Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Tara Flynn: I choose, temporarily, to dwell on other important things. Like where do you get a vegetable brush? Photograph: Cyril Byrne

(I was raised on The Sound of Music; my husband hadn’t seen it till a year ago. When Ralph, hot young fascist-about-town, comes to call for Liesl, my husband ad-libbed new lines for the captain: “Ralph, I wouldn’t have Nazis in my house and I certainly won’t have them in my daughter.” So glad I married him.)

It didn’t even matter that the captain had the buffers of social standing, power and wealth; once the forces of evil were in motion, they became unstoppable. There was nothing for the Von Trapps to do but escape, using a talent competition for cover. Sadly, it didn’t end so well for the less musical families. But as they trekked up the mountains to freedom, the von Trapps must have looked back at the balls they’d given and wished they’d been stingier with the canapes. There must have been a few people they wished had choked on their quails’ eggs. But at least they had the singing. They would always have the singing.

Do you see, there, how I’ve managed to avoid parallels with what’s happening in the world right now? They’re there, we all see them, but it’s for my own good. I can’t cope with the powerless, empty feeling that the bad shit is coming – again – and is becoming unstoppable. So sometimes I pretend it’s not happening. Because it’s unbearable. The cruelty and offhand dismissal of others is on a scale I’ve not witnessed before (and I’ve been around a while, now). The “I’m all right, Jack” entitlement to excuse all manner of hatred.

So I choose, temporarily, to dwell on other important things. Like what will I wear to a fancy awards do? I’m rarely invited to fancy awards dos, so to be asked to Irish Tatler’s Women of the Year Awards is both a treat and a terror – if I get my nails done on Friday, will they make it to Saturday night? If I do my own hair, will I look like a hedge next to the gorgeously coiffed great and good? Will I trip and spill something, ruining someone else’s beautiful photograph?

It’s so much nicer – sometimes – to worry about these sorts of things.

Like where do you get a vegetable brush? Our last one was a nailbrush from a pound shop but the bristles have recently gone kind of orange. (It sees a lot of carrot action.) We definitely don’t want to spend €50 on something only a chef might use, but vegetable brushes don’t seem to be something most supermarkets readily carry in the non-food aisle any more. Or am I just missing them?

It’s so much easier to worry about this.

Like will anybody like the new things I’m working on? Will I ever work again? Stressful, but still a more manageable worry. Are the wrinkles around my eyes the first thing people see? Before the eyes? Still better.

Is this expensive salad worth it? And do I care about the packaging seeing as we’re all about to be blown sky high, or submerged in floodwaters, anyway? What good is recycling if we might not be around next Christmas? Or if we are, what will it look like?

And boom. It’s back, regardless. That constant sense of foreboding follows me more these days than ever. I do my very level best to put it to the back of my mind, but at the back, as you know, is where the worst stuff has always lurked.

It’s not my rage that concerns me some weeks; it’s theirs. And I have no idea what to do about it, so let me put it this way: I’m practising real hard for the X Factor right now.

“So long. Farewell. Auf Wiedersehen. Goodnight …”
This is an extract from Rage-In: Trolls and Tribulations of Modern Life by Tara Flynn, published by Mercier Press

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