(Not) The King of Limbs


Sitting like hot coals in my Granny's house, foot down on life's accelerator burning nervous energy, my mind whizzing with inarticulate possibility, wanting to run, sit, read, eat, play, burst and pop all at once. A whole adventure playground of Irish farmyard stretched out all around me in endless summer, bracing itself for the harem-scarem energy of a young kid intent on tagging every inch it had to offer with the physical graffiti of youthful endeavour unconstrained.

But heaven can wait, held in anticipation like urgent peeing denied. I am reading a comic book with mounting excitement. A radio is playing, a transistor radio, on the shelf in the dining room next to the range. My Granny is humming along to one of the tunes whilst skipping a light fandango of dusting and cleaning, occasionally looking over at me with her twinkly eyes and mischievous grin as she watches me seated hopping, legs swinging. She is not to know that I am already translating the action on the pages to the silver screen of reality in my head, storing japes and jinks, pranks and farcical situations for use on and with my unsuspecting dupes and courageous sidekicks later out in the wild blue yonder.

Suddenly, syrupy tones and gushing gurgles from what I now know is a DJ, slickly slimy and breathlessly excited give way to a 'sound': a clicking, thumping, clapping, whooping, rhythmically hypnotic beat, like a jungle come to life. A raucous, rasping singer yells that someone is coming, a piano is stabbing out chordal accents, its...it's Mony Mony, by Tommy James & The Shondells, and my comic book has slipped to the floor as if it never existed, and I am up out of my seat as wide eyed and snorty as a man dying of thirst who just spotted a desert oasis of cool, clear water up ahead.

I lose control of my limbs and in spasticated, dervish movements hurl myself around the room as if I am an automaton controlled by a faulty remote. My Granny bursts out laughing, a wheezing, emphysemic collapse that renders her breathless with mirth. I don't care. I am solid gone.

Now I am shouting, too, trying to ape the words of the singer, "Mony Mony, Mony Mony", as I put myself front and centre of the radio speaker, jerking my shoulders, wailing and a-whirling. "I say Yeah, yeah! Yeah! Yeah!"

I laugh madly at my Granny laughing at me, but there is nothing I can do. I am carried like a funky rag doll on the tidal wave of a power I had never known before. The whole gangly, ginger-haired freckly mess of me has surrendered without a fight, blissful in the magical, syncopated, bone-jangling feel of the moment.

The power and presence of music had just entered my life with such force that the whirlwind that picked me up and left me down as the track finished on that day, also left behind a spark of fire that has never extinguished, a light that will never go out, a flame that flickers, but never dies. A heat that warms and burns, consumes yet never kills.

Who knew from that moment in tender youth that music was to be my life? My North, South, East & West, my working week and my Sunday rest.

Thank you, Tommy James and gang, thank you music.


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