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Unsociably Desirable by Poraic Cahill

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Odd Life

Poraic Cahill

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The Wednesday before last I was on the train heading home after work. We were coming towards Orio, three stops from my town, when I got a whiff of cigarette smoke. The woman sitting opposite also smelt it, as she began to look around her in alarm to see where it was coming from- she couldn’t see the culprit judging by her continued confused expression. We were seated behind the train toilet and my guess is somebody nipped in there for a quick toke.

I’m old enough to remember smoking & non-smoking carriages in Ireland and even though I’m a non-smoker -& always have been- the smell from that cigarette brought back feelings of a simpler more carefree time.

The guards who patrol these trains carry a baton, handcuffs and a small spray canister -I’m guessing pepper spray. They are very particular when it comes to commuters obeying the rules as I discovered after an encounter with a eagle-eyed one. I had been sitting down reading the paper a few weeks backs -again on my way home- and briefly pulled my face mask down whence from behind the guard appeared and told me to pull it up. A few minutes later while continuing my read, my face mask slipped below my nose and transport plod was on it straight away telling me should he catch me with it below my nose again, he’d personally kick me off the train – I had seen another guard kicking a fella out of Amara station for that very same reason so I didn’t doubt he wouldn’t do it. Consequently, I kept a conscious eye on my mask for the rest of the journey, not wanting to have to do an hour walk.

What I would be interested to observe though would be these guards’ reactions to a mask-down cigarette-puffing commuter; and speaking of smoking I’m reminded of the Basque expression ‘Jo ta Ke’ which I have recently learnt. Translated literally into Spanish, it means ‘Pegar y Humo’ -Strike & Smoke- but it’s real meaning is ‘Sin Descanso’ -Without Rest. It is used by the supporters of Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad and previously by the Basque Separatist group ETA, in the rhymical expression ‘Jo ta ke irabazi arte’, loosely translated as ‘without rest until you win’. This chant or expression on flags does not go down well in such places as the neighbouring Cantabrian city of Santander. When I visited there last year the place was full of Spanish flags. I asked my housemate, who was with me at the time, what would happen if I offset this colour with a Basque flag. She smiled and told me I’d receive some immediate undesirable attention from the locals as well as the Guardia Civil -Spanish Police. Thinking on this now, as the writer of two books of short stories which have received very little in the way of sales, maybe some undesirable attention is what I need to kick-start an interest in them. With this in mind, I’m off to Santander next weekend with my bit of learnt basque, a packet of cigarettes and the price of a public transport ticket.

(c) Poraic Cahill

About Odd Life:

From a German man accusing his ex-girlfriend of attempted murder by use of her 38DD breasts, to a 107 year old having a shoot-out with the Arkansas SWAT police, the author Poraic Cahill chronicles the strange & bizarre he encounters in Odd Life.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Poraic Cahill was born in 1976 in Dublin. He has worked as a Gardener, Butcher’s Assistant, Barman, Administrator, Secondary School Teacher, Writer and when last heard of was teaching English in the Basque Country.

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