Filling a hole without a shovel


Think. Think. Think. Sunday afternoon. Take head. Beat head off desk until bleeding occurs. Go to bathroom. Bathe head in cool water. Return to laptop. Still no column on screen.

Sunday afternoon. Have been thinking of subject for a column for best part of a week now. Have decided it will be a fine column. Many ideas have been held up to the light. Many ideas have been rejected.

Sunday afternoon: Meant to drive to Portlaoise to see Na Fianna play today. This involved shifting column out of way early. This week's column is as easy to shift as a grand piano with an elephant in a red cocktail dress disporting herself on its top. Have dispensed with requirement for column to be "fine". "Barely adequate" and "just the right length" are the qualities I will settle for.

It's almost five o'clock. Haven't even seen the Na Fianna result on the teletext. Am now thinking of writing column about Na Fianna. Should have thought of this on Wednesday, made a phone call, that sort of thing. Bah. Column about teletext?

Realise that all the regular columns have been done to death recently. Davo. Drugs. Michelle. No Income Park. Me. Pledge that in year I will start writing occasional column involving fictional character. Spend hour fantasising about how this fictional character's exploits will fill the fallow weeks. Consider it likely that film rights for this series of fillers will make me very rich. Consider life with a tan. Glance back at screen. Words "Fictional Character" are all that is written there.

Go to shops and buy Sunday papers. Every journalist with a corner of newspaper space to call his or her own has a fresh and tingly sporty topic to be dealing with. Columns everywhere. Hate and resent them all. Consider lifting somebody else's column and paraphrasing it but haven't the energy even for that. Consider lifting somebody else's column and running it as is. Claim it was a colossal coincidence like that monkey which will eventually type Hamlet if left for eternity banging the keys.

Think. Think. Think. God why can those other columnists all get their danders up at the drop of a hat? My dander is dead.

- Isn't there something which you feel outraged about?

- No.

- Not even the slightest stirring of curmudgeonliness?

- I'm sorry. I don't know what's wrong. This doesn't happen often. I'm not usually like this.

- Don't worry. It happens sometimes.

Think. Think, Think.

Met some drug-testing people on Saturday. Interesting. Interesting. Too soon though. Needs to be tied into something else. Need to round up a few anecdotes. Write a column with a point to it.

Resolution: in near future will write a column with a point to it.

Meanwhile back at the ranch.

The All Stars! Yes! Justice for Paddy Christie! What about Mossie McGrane? Write several paragraphs, beginning even to sputter with indignation when Achilles heel starts playing up. Was living in America. Didn't actually see any championship matches, did I? Struck cold by fear that some cold-hearted reader may point this out.

Leaf through Jimmy Magee's autobiography. He has scarcely anything to say on the drugs issue. Just playing to the gallery. Doesn't seem to have noticed that Michelle had androstenodione in her sample for instance. Feel like beating him up but recall that not long ago I beat Marian Finucane up over the same thing and then last week I had to stop the car to listen teary-eyed to her interviewing a man whose wife suffered a slow and heart-breaking death in Holles Street and I thought it was the best interview I'd heard on radio in years. And I felt sorry for beating Marian up. Jimmy gets to walk.

Begin writing a few lame pars about Pat Hickey and Jim McDaid. Realise that heart isn't in it. It's December. Nobody cares about the Grinches Who Stole the Olympics.

There's an idea that I like. It's not my own of course. Jimmy Cannon, the great American sports writer of the 1950s used to write occasional columns which began with the line Nobody Asked Me But . . . and thereafter there would be a collection of completely unconnected thoughts. Bizarre stuff.

For example: I don't like Boston because all the men look like me. England produces the best fat actors. Never met a meek guy who carries a lucky coin.

Men who eat a lot of candy don't do much boasting.

Decide to try a few lines worth of this myself. Cramped by own lack of originality. Hours later just two lines on screen.

Is a bird in the hand worth two in the bush if you are a vegetarian?

Meek guys don't do much boasting.

Resolution: will write down witty lines I hear people say and use them all up in column just like Jimmy Cannon's sometime later.

Opt late in day for clumsy contrast piece depicting Padraig Harrington as the patron saint of sportingness having been so good about The Belfry people chucking him out and all and then having called that shot on himself at Pebble Beach. Use Tiger Woods's demands for TV revenue as counterpoint. Tiger is the Devil.

Write this. Send it off. Read it again. Hate it. Afraid of Tiger Woods's lawyers. Recall all copies of said column due to faulty wiring.

Sunday evening. Five o clock. It's dark outside. Not a line written. Take head. Bang off table till bleeding profusely. Type cloying apology to readers before passing out. The author is suffering from columnar dysfunction, scribbler's droop, dander failure.

So sorry about today's . . .