Jenny I Hardly Knew You
on May 22, 2011
This is a short, well written, piece, easy to read and will be finished at one reading because you’ve got to know how it will end.
The opening paragraphs mislead because it seems that this is going to be a trite, maybe self-indulgent, story of a loving relationship between daddy and daughter.
But the strength of the story quickly asserts itself in the subtle realism of the characterisation. This can, at times, be embarrassing because it is so close to the bone. Not a story for emotional softies.
Daddy is a flawed character with all the self-righteous, self-justification of an alcoholic. Not the guy who finishes up on skid row but the semi-controlled alcoholic who can maybe hold down a job but whose drinking inflicts huge damage on those closest to him. His wife and daughter are the ones who suffer and carry the scars of the relationship.
I lived close to alcoholism for many years and can sympathise deeply with those who suffer from this disease. But I cannot empathise because I’ve never been inside their
heads. This story hints at the self-loathing of the Daddy but doesn’t labour the point.
The ending of the story is real life. That’s how the cookie crumbles. A good read.
Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly. Having read this story I felt somewhat like the poor, witless fly. I had been sucked into a maelstrom of memories which evoked my own childhood and probably that of most men, be they from Louth or Lesotho.
The author makes very good use of setting. Father, son and dog out for a winter walk “the countryside still frosted, crunching underfoot”. Constant chatter from the son tells us a lot about the father – son relationship. He also gets inside the mind and the priorities of a young boy and that is no mean feat. Bravo.
We begin to realise that these are memories of a man looking back on a happy childhood and his pubescent journey through teenage years where the story ends, perhaps prematurely, in the inevitable sundering between all fathers and sons.
A well told story. Nice turn of phrase - “the pier …a finger-and-thumb extension of the Cooley mountains, reaching into the Irish Sea..” and plenty more.
We are left with smiles, tears, nostalgia and the painful knowledge that sons, of whatever age, will never see the world through the eyes of the fathers.
They say you should only write about things you know.
Presumably this means things you know from personal experience or things you have researched fairly deeply.
The author of “Centre Circle” certainly knows his subject and has an impressive talent for revealing, with absolute realism, what goes on in the mind of a victim of addiction. He pulls no punches.
By means of a long monologue, it could make a good one-man play, he reveals the denial, the cunning, the deviousness, the heartbreak, the self loathing and the long, emotionally searing journey to the point where all pretence falls away and he is left seeing himself for what and where he is.
The story ends on a hopeful note but the reader is left hanging on the slender threads of that hope.
He has a beautiful talent for the colourful and apt phrase. Of a fellow alcoholic who recovers he says “No one ever thought he’d …make it to the other side of the street. “
“Santa” brings a sudden, unexpected laugh.
But it’s a grim story and a good read.
If Matthew ever gets to read this script he will pause, read it again, just to check, and then wonder how the hell Walsh got hold of his notes. These are the bits he left out of his book because it shows Pilate in too human a light and his readers wouldn't have wanted that.
This play rounds out the story in Matthew's gospel. It fills in the gaps in a manner that is almost Ignatian.
Read this play, get to see it on stage someday and you will have a better understanding of what happened on that dark night in Jerusalem. Kevin Healy.