Under My Bed 2014

It was a brilliant experience.

I got to be onstage as part of a show full of brilliant actors and writers in a real theatre in front of a paying audience for Under My Bed – a night for Barnardos Ireland in Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin.

I was asked by a load of people who weren’t there if I would publish it somewhere – be gentle on me 🙂 I’ve been writing since I was a teenager but this was the first time I had ever allowed something I had written to be let out in front of real people…

I wrote and performed my own piece below, directed by the very patient Tara Derrington.


The Severed Arm


One Summer when I was 9, I had a severed arm under my bed. I kept it there because it made me feel popular.


I came across it just lying there in the street outside the house in Crumlin one Sunday night in July.


I came into possession of it because of Dino Zoff.


I remember it being a blazing Sunday afternoon in 1982 the same way I remember curly-wurlys being the size of planks and in exactly the same way I remember That’s Life with Esther Rantzen being really, really funny. Hindsight tells me it’s probably all bollocks.


So, in the interests of historical accuracy – it was a Sunday.


Italy were young, flouncy—haired showy-offy Gods and in the final of the World Cup that night. Although Paolo Rossi was their star (and had scored the most goals in the tournament), Dino Zoff was the man that caught my attention.


Even though he was SO old (he was 40!) and wore what looked like a polo-neck under his goalkeeper’s jersey he was still the captain of the team and I had a mate called Dino in school whose da ran a chipper in Walkinstown. Thus runs the random logic of player favouritism when you’re 9.


.That and my burning desire to be a goalkeeper.


Don’t get me wrong – I was shite. Terrible. When we played at school or on the street you stood a better chance if a stray dog wandered between the jumpers for posts than if I was there. But I was desperate to be even a little bit popular so football was the thing where I came from.


I was a passionate devotee of reading books, playing the ET – The Movie game on my Atari 2600, telly and soft drinks with fried chicken chasers so playing outfield wasn’t for me. That would involve that whole “running” thing. Being in goal was the thing.


The night I came across the severed arm in the street, the night of the 1982 World Cup Final, our goal ran from the 2 chalk marks on the path outside the house to the top of the hedge in my garden.


Usual rules applied – first to 100, turns in goal (you make a proper save, you get out of goal), break any windows and we all leg it. No-one rats on anyone else. It was some big kid we didn’t know who ran off straight after.


It was late on, I was in. I’d been in for a while. Look, it was really blisteringly hot (as I remember it), I was a little lardball and I’d had enough of the whole “running around” for the day.


Domo stepped up. Everyone’s name where I came from ended in one of two things – “o” or “-er”. It made things handy. Two syllables were enough for any name.


Domo stepped up, he lashed a shot at my left side. I moved to get out of the way (as was my style) but he hit it so hard that it caught my left arm and dropped with an odd thud to the concrete.


The thud that I made when I hit the concrete myself a few seconds later was even odder. The squealing that wouldn’t have been out of place from a 3 year old girl that came from me a second or two after that oddest of all.


By the time the final started I was in the children’s hospital. After years of close shaves of sprained ankles and wrists I had hit the big time – a fractured arm, a cast, a battle scar.


The following day other younglads had chat of how great the match had been, some re-enacted the long–range winning Italian goals on the Green near my house, I was the only one with a war wound.


For the next few weeks I was popular. All the kids around wanted to sign the cast, very, *very* few of them wrote the usual insults like “go fuck yourself “, “you’re a dead man” or “who the fuck are you?” on it.


I was the centre of attention and not because my younger brother and I had been sent out in matching clothes. Again.


It was even better when the parents brought us in our asthmatic Renault 18 to a caravan park. For a week. On the outskirts of Portlaoise.


This was the Disneyland Paris of the Irish recessionary holiday experience in the 80s for a number of reasons:


It was only a 15 minute walk to the nearest shop.


The phone box onsite had a button A, a button B, and didn’t smell of wee. Much.


And they had a communal room with a pool table in it. One of the cues even still had the tip on it.


Everyone remembers the great snow of 1982, less so the scorching summer before. The cast melted in the heat.


Back to the children’s hospital for me when we got home and another fresh canvas for my newfound mates to pen their adoration for me on. Or at least their names. And a drawing of a willy I had to later turn into a tree.


6 weeks later off it came and with it my celebrity. For now.


The nice doctor let me take the cast home much against my mother’s protestations and under my bed in went, at least for a while until it mysteriously disappeared in the great snow of 82. Never figured out that one.


One Summer when I was 9, I had a severed arm under my bed. I kept it there because it made me feel popular.


There are some photos too…

The press launch was a while back:










And then from the night itself.

This is what fear looks like 2 minutes before you go onstage:




The brilliant Tara Flynn onstage…




And Maclean Burke from Fair City:












Again? Yeah…


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