00:01 

Francis P. Irwin
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. . - - , . - : "Walking up the hill towards my home I knew I had made the right choice". 350 , - got carried away . , . , - .

, , . , , , " ", . - .


Now, come on, youve got to be kidding me, was my first thought when I, walking back from school one day, saw a sign by our house which I had dreaded to appear there for the last couple of months. But now it looked like it was finally there a clear and substantial proof of my uttermost nightmare coming true the sign, the cynical, sardonical sign of the inevitable saying FOR SALE. I knew parents had been talking about selling our house in Melrose and moving to the Islands, closer to the sea, but I never could have imagined they would ACTUALLY do it. But now they were, and there seemed to be no way back. What pissed me off the most was the fact that I was never even consulted nobody thought it necessary to consider a thirteen-year-olds opinion. As a matter of fact, I was left up to no choice but to shut up and pack all of my few belongings in quiet helpless rage, envying and hating my baby sister Jenny who didnt seem to give a damn at all with that stupid mindless smile on her tiny face. And I felt hopeless. I felt miserable. I felt doomed.
Four months later, in our new house on the Isle of Jura, I still felt the same.
Like I said, I was thirteen - pimple-faced, rebellious and continuously dissatisfied with the current world order. At nights in my bed I would stare at the ceiling for hours thinking over my own global upheaval plan, first point of it saying: All parents should spend the rest of their days in exile considering their behavior and all the disastrous mistakes they have made. As a true self-contained introvert I had few friends back in Melrose, and within four month hardly made any here. In fact, I wasnt willing to. At that time, making friends for me would have meant accepting the idea of my new home and thus my total defeat in the battle with my Mom and Dad. And my aim was to show them every single day how lonely and devastated I was, silently blaming them for ruining my life.
Moreover, the kids at my new school were awful they played rugby and cricket, supported soccer teams, went to discos, laughed, discussed TV-shows and sitcoms and clothes and all other kinds of unimportant stuff (not even close to my global upheaval plans) to cut it short, did all things I deeply despised, so I considered them all people of no great depth and didnt feel like wasting time on them.
So, lonely at school and misunderstood at home, I spent most of my time walking along the sea shore. The autumn weather in this place was mostly windy, cloudy, rainy and grey. Actually, the entire place was a mixture of the overtones of grey grey pavements, grey houses, grey sand on the sea shore, smoky-grey skies and leady-grey, deep dark water which seemed dangerous, up to no good, but at the same time mesmerizing and beckoning. I liked to look at this water rising and falling at its own pace, so independent and so powerful just like I wanted to be. And I felt all right at the sea shore, on my own, with only the sound of the waves and the wailsome lament of seagulls adding on to this already gloomy scene (which pretty much coincided with what I felt inside). It was my own perfect melancholy heaven (or haven, or rather both) where I could hastelessly indulge in my reverie for as long as I wanted to.
And one of these days, walking along the sea shore submerged deeply into the hurlings of my riotous spirit, I suddenly heard the music. It was the sound of some old blues song played on a harmonica, mixed with the gusts of the wind. I followed it to trace where the sound was coming from and saw a dark figure seated on a folding chair right near the water. I stopped myself at a safe distance and stood there contemplating the stranger. From my spot I could now clearly hear what he was playing it was (as I was later to find out) Robert Johnsons I believe Ill dust my broom. Then the music stopped abruptly.
Hiya, old boy, the figure said. I stood confused, not sure whether he was talking to me he didnt turn his head to face me, still I could see no one else around he could address.
Aye, ye, old boy. Is there anyone else ah could be talking tae? Come on closer, ah wont bite ye.
I approached him indecisively. Now I could see the stranger was an old man, possibly in his early seventies, with a weather-worn, deeply wrinkled face, half of it hidden under a large, wide grey beard. His legs were covered with a tartan plaid and on his head he had a top-hat which, I though, used to be brown in its better days, but by now has faded due to the time and the sea salt. But the most amazing were his eyes. They were crystal blue, extremely intense and pure and seemed somewhat out of place on this old and wrinkled face. They reminded me of the eyes of my baby sister.
Hello, I mumbled clumsily, unable to shift my gaze from him.
Wassur name, ye naughty possum? said the man. He sounded sort of friendly, so I took a couple more steps towards him.
Its Pete, I said.
So, Pete. Pete the Naughty Possum, - I dont know why he kept calling me that, but the nickname kind of stuck to me, and he called me like that ever since. And ahm Johnson. Sailors Mouth Johnson.
Pleased to meet you, er Sailors Mouth, - I was still awfully perplexed.
Heres tae ye, old boy, said my new acquaintance, reached for the bottle of Jura Superstition by his foot and took a sip. Then offered a bottle to me. Ye wan some?
I said I was not allowed to. He laughed.
What are ye? Nine?
No. Thirteen, sir
Now, good Gawd! Yere one big old boy here! Come on, one sip can never do ye wrong. Consider it a consecration. And dont ye sir me, for Gawds sake! He stretched his arm with a bottle to me. I had nothing left but to take it. I took a deep breath, squinted and took a sip strong, hot whisky with a distinct taste of iodine burned my mouth. I immediately wanted to spit it out, but then thought it would be not manly after all, Sailors Mouth happened to be the first person who ever considered me grown enough to be a man. I didnt want to disappoint him. So, I swallowed and winced, trying not to show my disgust too obviously. Sailors Mouth gave me something which could be interpreted as a cheering laugh and started Howlin Wolfs I aint superstitious on his harmonica.
Can ye play this thing, old boy? he asked me when he finished his tune and handed me his instrument. It was a very old, worn, Hohners Marine Band that looked almost antique. A letter on its side scratched out with something sharp suggested it was in keynote A. One old black folk once taught me when I was down there in Delta, many-many years ago. Now I could teach ye, if ye like.
This was the start of my three years friendship with Sailors Mouth Johnson, the figure which, as I think of it from now, must have had the greatest impact on my entire future life.
Since that day, whenever I took a walk along the sea shore, I always found him in his usual spot. We would often sit there together for hours, until the dark. He taught me how to play his harmonica. He called it harping. When I started to feel more or less confident about my skills, he would tell me what to play and himself would sing along with his husky, smoked-through, whisky-drenched voice. What do you know about the blues, old boy? he would ask. Blues is pain. So whenever you feel pain harp it. Let it out.
We hardly ever talked. I mean, we never had a proper conversation. I didnt tell much about myself didnt feel like I had so much to tell, and anyway, he never asked. In most cases, when one of us was talking it was him, and he would tell me loads of fantastic stories from his life. My new friend turned out to be a perfect story-teller. His stories were amazing. From them I learned that he used to be a sailor and had travelled all around the world with all the astounding adventures, imaginable and unimaginable. It was all there in his stories all the faraway lands he had been to both beautiful and severe, India, Siberia and Turkmenistan, Angola and Comoros, Fiji and Philippines, Australia and Cooks Islands, Peru and Mexico, Bhutan and Brunei; luxurious women he made love to with all the drama, the heights of pleasure and the dumps of despair, sweethearts, heartbreaks, vicious sheikhs wives and jaded port whores, loads of bootleg rum, whisky, wines and cigars, storms and desert islands, pub fights and mutinies on board (of which, according to Sailors Mouth, he was several times an initiator), hidden treasures, wild animals and best friends betrayals - if I tried to reproduce them with all the details they would have made up, probably, the longest and the most gripping novel ever, and I deeply regret now that I didnt have any voice recorder or anything with me back then, because a good half of them I simply cant remember by now. And I also regret it for one more reason. One of the most remarkable things about Sailors Mouth Johnson was that he had a true sailors mouth all of his stories were strongly peppered with the most intricate and inventive swearing I have ever happened to hear. He was a true master of cursing, and in his performance all of these oaths and damns sounded like genuine art. (I omit all of them here intentionally, because even the best writer in the world would not be able to communicate his unique charismatic manner and intonation). I could listen to him for hours. All of his stories kind of gave me hope that there was a larger, better life somewhere out there, beyond this sea, a life full of adventures, colors and challenges to face, the life I immensely wanted to live. And it was mostly due to the Sailors Mouths outstanding stories that back then I for the first time discovered a wish to become a sailor.
Also Sailors Mouth had a sister, Miss Eve Adelaide, a kind-hearted spinster in her late fifties who kept a small pawn shop by the sea shore and, pluralistically, took care of her brother who, for some reason unknown, preferred to call her Matilda. Every day she would come down to the sea line to bring Sailors Mouth his lunch a kidney pie and a pint of beer. Her brother would invariably greet her with the lines from Tom Trauberts blues: Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, will you go waltzing Matilda with me?1 he sang and gave me a wink, making me slightly embarrassed, because I had no idea what the hell this waltzing Matilda actually stood for. Miss Eve Adelaide would lovingly tell him: Aw, shut up, ye old bugger, pat him on his hat and then address me: Whats he? Mustve been feeding you all those outrageous fantasies again? Here, have some real food, sailor. We would share a meal together, then she would leave us, and we would continue our Scottish siesta harping and singing Mouths favourite blues songs.
Sometimes, while I was practicing my harping skills, Sailors Mouth would fall asleep. Sometimes he did even in the middle of the story he was telling. That was a sort of a regular thing which I attached to the account of his old age. Then I would tuck in his tartan plaid and run for Miss Eve Adelaide to get him home.
It went on like this for three years. Id grown to truly love these times with Sailors Mouth and his sister to me they were people from some alternative reality different from the one I had at home and which I continued to despise. With these two I could forget about it all, and like all the good times, I strongly hoped these would never end. Sailors Mouth was like a Sphinx to me enigmatic, inscrutable and eternal, it felt like whenever you came he was always there, in the very same spot, and that hed never cease to be. At some point I might even have started taking his immutable presence for granted.
So, when I, as usual, came to our place one of these days, I was totally disoriented when I realized that he was not there. I ran along the sea shore calling for him, thinking, maybe, he had for some reason decided to change his location, but the more I looked for him, the more some uneasy feeling was growing inside. I ran to Miss Eve Adelaides house, and hesitated for a moment before knocking, dreading the worst.
Miss Eve Adelaide opened before I finally dared to knock. She was wearing a simple black knitted dress and the expression on her face proved out my biggest fear, making my heart sink. I was expecting you, she said. Come on in.
Like I thought, it emerged that Sailors Mouth had died in his sleep last night. Quietly, peacefully, with no pain. He just fell asleep and never woke up. Upon hearing the news finally spoken out clearly in the silence of the room, I didnt know how to react. It was the first close encounter with death I ever had in my life and I felt shocked and completely at a loss. How do common people react to stuff like that? I had no idea and I didnt feel like crying at first. All I could think of was some bitter irony of the situation most of the Sailors Mouths blues songs he sang to me started with When I woke up this morning It crossed my mind, that maybe today, he, in some place beyond the sea, in a personal heaven of his (and I somehow had no doubt he had gone to heaven), should be starting his first song in the afterworld with When I didnt wake up this morning and that it is no longer a blues song, because it has no pain in it. I found myself smiling at that thought, but then remembered where I was and quickly wiped the smile off, thinking it was inappropriate. Surprisingly, Miss Eve Adelaide smiled back at me. She saw the state I was in and wisely decided to spare me from any tea or conversations that would have been a torture. Instead, she just handed me a small black box which looked like a pencil case. Here, old boy, she said, I thought, he would have been glad if you kept this. Thank you, I mumbled, putting the box in a pocket I didnt need to look what was in it, I felt like I knew it. And I was deeply moved. I think Id better go.
Would you write to me, if you ever leave this place? asked Miss Eve Adelaide as I was leaving her porch. I dont know why she asked this, but soon enough her words turned out to be oracular. I turned around and nodded, suppressing a sob.
Was it at this minute that I clearly decided what I was going to do, or, maybe, I had had that in mind for the entire three years, ever since I heard the first story from Sailors Mouth? Anyway, I did what I did, and now, fifteen years after that night, I have completely no regrets about it.
That same night I packed the most necessary stuff in a backpack, left a note to my parents, sneaked out of the house and headed to the docks. I was lucky to get on a ship heading to Northern Ireland as an apprentice and that was the start of my lifetime adventure. Within the fifteen years Ive travelled all around the world, Ive seen all the places from my friends stories, and even more, Ive discovered the pleasures of love and wine and the ultimate freedom of being unattached to anything. I was finally living the life Sailors Mouth had told me about, the life I wanted to live, and I was happy. Like Id promised, I regularly wrote long letters to Miss Eve Adelaide, describing all my adventures in detail. And also I wrote to my sister Jenny who, by now, has grown into a beautiful young lady. She sent me some pictures of herself and I liked to look at them her crystal blue, pure and intense eyes kept reminding me of Sailors Mouth, my greatest friend who, in spite of everything, managed to keep a pure and open heart and the immense love for life which he knew how to enjoy.
But even years after he passed away he kept surprising me. And the biggest surprise came about a month ago, with a letter from Miss Eve Adelaide, who disclosed me some truth that first appeared to me as a shock.
The letter said that all of his life Sailors Mouth Johnson suffered from narcolepsy and had actually never set his foot beyond the Isle of Jura. And that his real name was Adam Perth McNeary. His disease in his last years, wrote Miss Eve Adelaide, had been progressing, and he would fall asleep abruptly more and more often and had dreams so vivid and realistic that he no longer had been able tell them from the real life. I never told you this before, old boy, Miss Eve Adelaide continued, as I felt a treacherous tear appear in the corner of my eye, because I saw those sparks in your eyes when you listened to him. You wanted to believe - in miracles, in a better life, in pursuing your dream and I couldnt just ruin your faith. I knew I had no right to take it away from you. Now that I see you have managed to break away and live the life you wanted I can finally tell you this. And as for my brother dont take it in bad part, because he never lied to you. He truly believed in every single word he told you. And he needed someone to believe him. You did. Thank you.
As I was reading through the last lines I was already crying like a baby. Mixed feelings overwhelmed me. It felt like a beautiful legend that Ive been living for and, maybe, because of, for the last fifteen years crashed down with a bang within a minute. But then I recalled Miss Eve Adelaides words. And it crossed my mind that probably it doesnt matter whether the legend was true. It was true for me back then. And if it werent for this legend, I might have been doomed to working in some local pub on the Isle of Jura for my entire life. Then I thought of Sailors Mouth and his dream-stories. He had vivid dreams and Ive managed to make them come true. And some warm feeling of joy suddenly came over me I felt like if Sailors Mouth could be watching me right now from his cozy spot in heaven, he would definitely high-five me. Well done, ye Naughty Possum! for a moment it seemed I even heard his voice saying this. And I smiled.
Then I remembered the night my big journey started.
Half on my way home from Miss Eve Adelaides house I stopped and pulled the small black box out of my pocket. I hesitated a bit and then opened it. Inside, on a piece of red velvet, just like I thought, was Sailors Mouths Marine Band. I took it out, sat myself on the pavement and started playing I believe Ill dust my broom, the song that three years ago changed my life completely. When I finished, I already had a clear plan in my mind.
Walking up the hill towards my home I knew I had made the right choice.

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2012-03-31 00:35 

california dreamer
every atom in our bodies was once part of a star
" "? :)
- ! :)

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2012-03-31 15:45 

Francis P. Irwin
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california dreamer, , ) ( ))
, ))

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2012-03-31 15:48 

california dreamer
every atom in our bodies was once part of a star

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2012-04-01 02:41 

Francis P. Irwin
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california dreamer, . , , ) (- - , )) , - )
- , , literary talent contest))

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2012-04-01 03:24 

california dreamer
every atom in our bodies was once part of a star
, , :) .
! - , ...

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2012-04-02 02:04 

Francis P. Irwin
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california dreamer, , ) , , )) - , , )) ( ))

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2012-04-02 22:18 

california dreamer
every atom in our bodies was once part of a star
Francis P. Irwin
! ! "!" :))

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2012-04-03 13:21 

Francis P. Irwin
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