12 angryish voices speak out
BLOOMSDAY 2012:Book? What book? We were just going about the ordinary and then that Mr Joyce came along. A dozen ‘Ulysses’ inmates give EILEEN BATTERSBYtheir side of the story
1. Leopold Bloom
“A very embarrassing book. No one likes his private thoughts made public. I couldn’t even visit the privy without having the world and his wife in on my difficulties with Molly. She broke my heart, lying in bed all day and well, I don’t know... I don’t want to think. That Boylan . . . all that love turned upside down and my life ended with the loss of Rudy and if that wasn’t enough to crucify any man among us, there was the nasty digs about Jews and my politics, you’d never hear that from Griffith. Where else did they think I came from, if I wasn’t from here? Did they decide I fell from the sky? All my hopes and my little dreams, the little bits of knowledge that I acquired. I never did any hurt but no one ever gave a thought to my feelings. I remember Molly as she was when we met and now I’m only good for making her breakfast in bed and fetching the messages. She acts like Cleopatra snapping her fingers at a slave. At heart I am a romantic, I believe in love. There’s no need to be laughing at me because I’m middle-aged and fat, I can still dream . . . Henry Flower Esq.
I’d be a decent father to any son, if I still had a son. Funny chap young Dedalus, not a bit like the father . . . ”
2. Buck Mulligan
“Well I’m glad you asked me, you see I’ve always suspected that Joyce made a big mistake, having that no hoper Bloom the central figure of his damn book when he had me, right there, as large as life and twice, nay thrice as handsome. Sure wasn’t I the obvious choice? And me a hero and a university man, a medical doctor in the making, presentable, an addition to any company and well able to spout out the bits of Latin and Greek. You need the bit of wit; humour is the saving of us all. Did the Bloom sap ever crack a joke? And as for that Stephen, I think he went insane, miserable git. No true artist would have to spend every waking hour thinking about being one. I could carry the show; I’m a natural the life and soul of the party.
More than willing to donate my sperm to every woman eager to breed genius. I was the man to save Ireland, never mind Joyce’s mingy book.
I could have written a better yarn but I was too busy having a good time and at the end of the day isn’t that what you want – we’re all on the way to joining poor Dignam. There’s no mistake – Joyce should have set the book in Athens and had me seeing the sights. I could have done all the talking and the aunt would have coughed up a few quid to cover the expenses.
3. Mr Deasy
“Of course Joyce was a Dublin man and it shows, verbal diarrhoea all talk and the book lacks discipline. I’m from the North, I don’t waste words, have you seen my letter regarding foot and mouth, great economy of phrase. I was right about Dedalus, a desperate malcontent.
4. John Conmee SJ
“Yes, yes my child, I have read that filthy book, parts of it, some of it, enough of it – God help me for my labours. I did indeed make a journey, no an odyssey to hell! I had to, to be able to instruct my flock, the poor fools, and protect them from its evils.
My faith is strong. Mother Church will save us.
5. Blazes Boylan
“It’s over a 100 year ago now but I never forgive a slight and that Bastard Joyce, how dare he blackguard me! I never forced any woman, twas them that came to me. I am a real man not a Nancy boy like the eejit Stephen with his delusions. As for Bloom, suffering Jaysus, don’t make me sick. I’ll tell him where to put his lemon soap. It’s no wonder poor Molly was grateful for whatever comfort I could spare her and don’t get me wrong, she’s a grand woman but a bit past it, once they hit 30, the freshness is gone and there’s that thickness on the hips and the whinging, the whinging drove me mad and always the looking for declarations of love and such foolery. I’m a man of the world, a class of an entrepreneur. I prefer young pullets but a happy Molly’ll sing better and sell me more tickets.”
6. Paddy Dignam
“With all the drink and then being dead, I never noticed much and I wouldn’t be big on the reading. That Mr Bloom was a dacent man and they gave him a terrible time. Me funeral, though, that was a grand show and all.”
7. Gerty MacDowell
“No. I never read it. I like a good romance with a happy ending. But I tended to avoid reading, it’s hard on the eyes and it leaves you with them frown marks and lines and I’ve got to mind my looks, they’re all I have if I’m ever to find a man completely the opposite of my drunkard father and have a family, I need to be a wife.
I’m good at sewing, I turn all my clothes and that gentleman on the strand he looked kind but very unhappy. Yes, a man like him.”
8. The Citizen
“Ireland doesn’t need dirt like this. What’s wrong with our own myths? We don’t need foreign words and Jews. English remains the tongue of the oppressor. Why wouldn’t I speak Irish to my dog? He’s the only one that understands it, a true Gaelic hound a Cuchulain! All those boyos in Kiernans – useless Saxons. Ireland is pure and must remain pure. Ireland for the Gael. Now where’s that biscuit tin?
9. Bella Cohen
“It convinced me that God must have been a woman. Would you look at the men in it? When I think of Bloom and young Dedalus, talk about the blind leading the blind! I’d never go down on all fours to any man. Sex is a cod, but it will always sell and I’m happy to sell it.”
10. Lydia Douce and Mina Kennedy
“It’s gas stuff, we read the bits about us out to each other. The music’s great for getting the men all feeling romantic and you’d see them sneaking glances at us. Plain to see what’d be going through their minds! But a barmaid is in a difficult spot, the men get ideas and we get left, serving drinks and getting older.”
11. Mackintosh Man
“I’ve often wondered who I was supposed to be. Quite taken with the idea of being Beckett. Now he would have been the man to edit it, the book’s a bit out of control, Joyce was a conceited individual, felt he was the last word. Still, I’m the big mystery. They’re still guessing who I am, I like that, being what you’d call an enigma. I heard that the fool of a reporter misspelt my name, a bit irritating that.”
12. Molly Bloom
“Don’t be daft. Where do you think I would find the time to waste on that mad doorstop of a book? I have my career, I’m an artiste. It takes it out of you. All that singing, it puts heavy pressure on the bosoms. I’d be exhausted and have to rest and then, always fretting about the young wans coming along . . . No, Blazes was never easy. He’d throw you flowers now and again, make eyes and hint at you know what . . . Lively and able in the bedroom on the day, no mistake . . . but he never, no he never, loved me. Not like poor, dear, boring Poldy . . Poldy always loved me.”