Wednesday, 9 February 2011

In which The Saw Doctors save my life

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Oh, I woke up in a filthy temper this morning. I like to think of myself as a fairly sunny, optimistic sort of person. I stare and stare at that glass until I can convince myself it is half full. I search for silver linings until my eyes give out. I am keenly aware of my absurd luck in life. But sometimes, for no reason at all, I wake up and it is as if I am being eaten by cockroaches. Everything is dour and black. A hideous domino effect sets itself up in my head. The weather is ghastly, my office is a muddle, I still have not found the Vital Document, I am getting through heating oil at a stupid rate, I have not done enough good work this week, I am in a state of hopeless procrastination, the news is all bad, everyone hates the government, we are going to the dogs. Sod silver linings, it's all hell, and handbaskets.

I do not like to give in to this kind of thinking. I am a huge believer that there is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so. I have faith in my own agency. I can choose to see everything as bleak and hopeless, or I can just switch my mind around and find the light. I am not living in the Congo, dammit.

Just occasionally though, the mood feels too strong for me. I can't fight the damn thing. This morning, I decided I should just give in to it. I would stomp about in a filthy temper and try to avoid any other humans, so that I would not contaminate them. That was my plan.

I went out into the cold, ugly day. There is some dirty, slushy snow and everything looks brown and dirty. The sky is low and grey and unkind. My walk would not be a pleasure, but it had to be done, because of the dogs. I stuffed my earphones into my furious ears and set off. I was so cross that I didn't even like any of the songs on my iPod. Oh not bloody Jack Johnson again, with his twinkly little guitar riffs and his stupid sense of happiness.

And then, just as I was halfway round the block, my mood growing blacker with each step, a pair of ducks rose off the burn and flew up into the sky in perfect formation. I have not seen the ducks for months. They usually come in the spring to nest, and I have had many moments of high delight watching them teach their ducklings to swim. It's one of the sweetest sights I ever beheld: the mamma sailing alone, with her tiny line of young behind her, copying her confident movements, while the old dad swims along to the side, watching out for trouble.

The ducks made me smile for the first time since I woke up. It was impossible not to react. It was something about the beauty, and the effortless flight. It was like a little twitch at the curtain of my inexplicable fury. The fleeting thought wandered into my head: maybe things weren't quite so bad after all.

And then, at that very moment, The Saw Doctors came on the iPod, in their full glory. I used to spend a lot of time in the west of Ireland, among the wild Connemara hills, and for one whole summer I listened to nothing but Christy Moore and The Saw Doctors. I had not thought of them for years, and just lately I remembered them and downloaded a couple of their greatest songs. The one that came on now was Michael D Rockin' in the Dail. This is not only an infectious, foot-stomping song, but it is that possibly unique thing: a pop song written in glorious celebration of a politician. Michael D Higgins is a rare political figure: he is a poet, a humans rights campaigner, a teacher, a writer, and a lover of the Galway races. When he was elected to the Irish cabinet in 1993, the young people were delighted, and so The Saw Doctors wrote their song for him.

So there I was, in a hideous mood, the rain starting to fall, and these words came into my ears:

It might be raining and it might be cold, and the bishop's gone and left the fold, but we're standing proud and we're standing tall - we've got Michael D rocking in the Dail for us, Michael D rocking in the Dail.

And I threw my arms in the air and shouted: yes, yes, YES.

Suddenly, with one great song, everything was all right. It was a muddled combination of things. It was the wonderful music. It was the memory of the enchanted time in my twenties that I spent listening to it. It was the reminder that there really are some politicians who inspire. It was the thought of how funny it was for a band to write a song about a cabinet minister.

So I threw off my pathetic first-world troubles, marched down the avenue, yelled along to the song at the top of my voice, went inside, cooked my mother some delicious chicken with green beans for her lunch, ate some mussels myself, drank a pot of very strong black coffee, wrote 1396 words of book, remembered I was a human being with all the frailties and flaws that flesh is heir to, and FELT BETTER.

All because that particular song happened to come on at that particular moment. All because of The Saw Doctors. Bless them, and all who sail in them

Pictures of the day are trees and hills and sky.

If you want to see the dourness into which I went walking, here is an idea:

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But, as always, once I started focussing in close, there was colour and beauty:

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Even on the dullest day, these extraordinary colours cannot be denied:

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There were still the glorious old tree trunks, looking like the feet of old woolly mammoths:

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This one has three of my favourite things in one shot: bark, moss and lichen:

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The wall:

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The young trees held onto their elegance, even as a dirty drizzling rain began to fall:

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Although the Duchess did not look very impressed:

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The Pigeon is a sunny creature by nature, but even she was getting fed up:

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(Dog-loving readers need not fret; inside it is warm as toast and there are biscuits a go-go and everyone is curled up on very smart blankets, fast asleep and dreaming of sunshine and rabbits.)

Oddly enough, on such a horrid day, the hill looked so dramatic that I had to shoot it several times for your viewing pleasure:

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Oh, and just for fun, here are the mussels I ate for lunch:

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This may be more information than you need, but they look so pretty on the special turquoise china my mother gave me.

I want to give a good final sentence, but I can't quite think what it is. Perhaps - never forget the power of the songs you love the most. They are like a good deed in a naughty world.

And, if you want to see why I adore Michael D rocking the Dail, you can have a listen here.

21 comments:

  1. I'm very glad that I found your blog, quite by accident, recently - it's a joy to read and the photographs are wonderful! So glad the Saw Doctors did the trick today!

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  2. Bless you, dear Tanya. Your blog has made my day. I want to shout a resounding YES to it. God bless musical connections.

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  3. Spooky! I had a mini moment yesterday that was extremely similar. Not the Saw Doctors though, this was courtesy of Mitch Benn and his BBC song which never fails to cheer me up.

    The colours in your photos never cease to astonish me. It's utterly dreary here today as well but I don't have the benefit of any delightful splashes of orange and rust in the foliage so I'll have to live it through your photos instead.

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  4. I love everything about this post :) and It's made me smile enormously. I love The Saw Doctors, I love Michael D and both my dearest soulmate/best friend and my Mum's family are from the West of Ireland. So for you, I am listening to 'The Green and Red of Mayo, which, along with 'Never mind the Strangers' are my two forever favourites, because both of which mean more than mountains to me, if you don't know them, have a listen, for me.
    Anne.x

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  5. Christine - so glad you stumbled on the blog, and very pleased you are enjoying it. WELCOME.

    Lillyanne - lovely to think of the resounding YES.

    Alex - the colour thing is so strange. First of all, almost all the beech leaves have clung on all the way through the snow and the weather. Second of all, everything looks so horrid and flat from a distance, but when I focus the camera on a particular spot, the colours seem to sing out. Must be a light thing, but it feels like magic to me.

    Anne - I ADORE The Green and Red of Mayo. (My grandmother grew up in Mayo.) My other favourite is the N17, because it reminds me of driving the road from Dublin to Clifden. How amazing you know about The Saw Doctors too.

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  6. This is me being me! From Villains? (my favorite)

    Love The Saw Doctors, and I just put them on, Thank you...definitely a great band!

    Cheers to Happy Days!

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  7. Hockey Wife - so glad that Saw Doctors fever has broken out on the blog. It's making me laugh quite a lot.

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  8. what a fab post. shall print off for David to read over his muesili.

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  9. Dear Tania, it is so dreadfully grey at the moment. I find music never fails to cheer me up and I'm sleeping much better since I started putting drops of lavender oil on my pillow. Having a valium (which I never actually take) near my bed also has a placebo effect.

    Stunning pictures today xx

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  10. Tania - much laughter over the Jack Johnson moment.

    And don't worry, I am not in the slightest bit worried for your dogs. I think they are two of the luckiest dogs - living with you, where you do. (She says, rubbing the tum of her too neglected but ever hopeful terrier.)

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  11. Oh YES!!!! One good song can change everything - even the blackest of moods when the dogs eye you warily. Never ever underestimate the power of music. And the Saw Doctors are brilliant. Never had the luck to see them when they have made it out to Australia, but I have most of their work - all collapsed onto one CD for long car journeys (Queen being another).

    How about Still the Only One as one of many favourites?

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  12. So many days the Saw Doctors cause my 1st smile of the day - and again, they have done, today, indirectly, as I found your post thanks to them. Beautifully written!

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  13. Tania, I'm from the Congo. . . . Sorry, only joking! More like Cong! The Sawdoctors better start writing "Michaed D Rocking in the Árus" soon!
    Thanks - Lovely writing!
    Johnny Finn

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  14. I thought I was the only non-male, non-trucking, non-Irish person who liked the Saw Doctors. I love 'em and for precisely the reason your blog states. I also love lichen, trees, muddy dogs and beautiful pictures of ugly days. Thanks.

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  15. "Never mind the strangers".. thank the heavens for the Saw's.. get the new album.. it's fantastic. Xj

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  16. I thought you might like to know that the Saw Doctors themselves re-posted this post on their Facebook page. So now the world knows about you and your luv for the Docs. :)

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  17. Can't believe the fabulous Saw Doctors mania on the blog. It's making me laugh a lot. And I love all the fellow fans appearing. Thank you for wonderful comments.

    CAN'T BELIEVE they put it up on their Facebook page. Feel like a fourteen year old fan. Palpitations. (Absurd at my age.) Thanks to Cheryl for pointing it out.

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  18. I love the Saw Doctors' "Sing a Powerful Song" especially the bit where they're playing 'against a galeforce wind and it changes at half time...' Just found out we have an Ofsted(office for standards in education) inspection next week and the song has been looping around my brain... great blog and fab photos- really cheered me up. Thanks, Cat Grealy

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  19. wow, i was having a bleek day, untill i saw your blog, i now have a huge smile on my face,and ready to start my day again, thank you tanya, loved the pictures. debs.

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