23 May 2024

Growing Old Disgracefully

I generally wake up early and spend the hour before breakfast in silence. The other morning I heard the call of a bird outside my window. I went out to have a look and saw a bird that looked like a large wagtail but with a large white patch on its back. It was perched on a banana tree a meter or so from the edge of the balcony and singing the most beautiful of songs. It was enchanting. The song was very different to any I had heard before and brought home to me that I was living in a very foreign country and how very lucky to be doing so. I spent a few moments listening and when I moved closer to get a better look, it flew away. Wonder if this is a metaphor for my life!

I spent a few days last week at our new facility in Chantibhuri. I felt right at home there. I will be moving there from the island in a few weeks time and looking forward to it. It is a bit smaller than the clinic at Koh Chang but the treatment model used there is something I am very familiar with and have a lot of experience with.

Now that I’m officially an ould fella, I suppose I should be a nice old person and wear a nice fawn cardigan and Marks and Spark’s socks. Well, I actually do wear Marks and Spark’s socks (and underwear, as well; don’t tell a soul) but as for the rest, well, fuck it. I intend to grow old disgracefully. To help me achieve this goal, I decided to get a tattoo. This was inspired by a colleague who got his whole back covered by a very elaborate piece of body art. I always admired tattoos on other people and was attracted to the idea of using the body to display art but never really thought about getting one myself. I suppose I was a bit snobbish about getting a tramp stamp or slag tag on my pure Irish Catholic body, the temple of the Holy Ghost etc etc. Now, there’s outmoded language, if ever there was. Then that wonderfully liberating Anglo-Saxon expression, Fuck It, came to mind so, naturally, I said Fuck It, not Feck It but the bad F-word, Fuck It. And then went to get a tattoo.

I went to a guy called Danny, a shy Thai man who lives with his wife and two kids in Lonely Beach. He is a consummate craftsman and designed and tattooed a Thai Buddha on my right shoulder and upper arm. It took 4 hours to do the outline and I get this coloured in on Saturday. He worked like a surgeon with confidence and speed. I really like it and am planning to get another on my left arm of Cernunnus, an old Irish god. He is represented in old carvings as a wild man with stag’s antlers and a snake or serpent in his right hand as a staff. This snake was what St Patrick banished from Ireland when he rid Ireland of snakes. He banished the power of the old Celtic gods and Cernunnus, without his snake, became a representation of Satan. I have an interesting statue back home in London which is a copy of an old statue looted from an Irish monastery by the Vikings in around the 9th Century. It is an image of Cernunnus without his staff and sitting in what looks like meditation posture with his eyes closed. He looks at peace but in all likelihood is dead. The statue is made from compressed turf or peat.

I like snakes and have a Naga or snake incorporated into my Buddhist tattoo on my right shoulder. The Buddha represents for me my higher evolution or consciousness while Cernunnus represents my lower evolution or unenlightened animal nature. I am planning to get a large tattoo on my chest and back representing my journey from lower to higher evolution and celebrating both aspects of me. I thought the one on my chest, over my heart, would be a statement of where I am and where I want to be while the one on my back would also be a statement of where I am but also where I came from, the more painful side of my life journey. What these will be at the moment, I don’t have an idea.

I also decided to let none of this show outside my shirt line so only I know they are there and can choice who to invite to see. I will post some piccies in my next blog when I figure out how to do this.

So there you are boys and girls. Queer things happen when you leave the safety and security of your home and come to live in the jungle where the old gods still live…..

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