The day began much like any other. Plans were afoot to make a video for The Eurovision Song Contest. My friend, John Poland, was calling round, along with another few friends (and their children) and together we were planning and preparing to shoot the video in a recently-cleared room in our house (as one does).
After a few setup & lighting tests and a couple of practice run-throughs everybody was more or less sure of their roles and we were about ready to record our first take when we noticed the weather outside had turned quite gusty. Trees were bending at 45-degree angles. Birds were flying backwards. One of our guests and video-helpers, Colette McSweeney, turned to her husband and suggested he should have secured the trampoline in their garden before setting out.
“Never mind the trampoline,” says John McSweeney with characteristic certainty, “it’ll be aalright.”
With that, music maestro, Mr. Poland shot a finger upward and past Mr. McSweeney’s head, following the arched trajectory of a large perspex panel that had suddenly blown off the roof of our conservatory-come-greenhouse type thing. This panel is circa 8 x 6ft, which is quite large I’m sure you’ll agree. Now it had flown out of our garden, over the house next door and last spotted heading toward a nearby vacant field.
Chaos ensued as everybody ran hither, tither and yon, tripping over each other in the process, trying to secure the rest of the greenhouse, retrieve the AWOL panel, safeguard the children and save the video-shoot from total collapse.
I should explain a little about the perspex-walled/roofed building in question… It contains a large sliding door on one end and a somewhat-detachable wall on the other, which can be opened in full to allow wind to blow-through. The problem was that wind had come through another ventilated part of the structure and blown out the roof (or one part of it). Now there was nothing for it but to open both ends fully and let the really wild wind blow clean through to avoid further panels on the roof and walls from slamming into buildings and decapitating nearby livestock.
I was caught inside the greenhouse, behind the swinging perspex wall when John McSweeney on the other side of the wall looked a few yards down the garden and declared that Mrs. Rumm was in difficulty, whereupon he ran to her aid, leaving yours truly with nothing but a massive swinging perspex sheet half-attached at either-end to a wall, being blown wildly up and down. At any second I was expecting a large sheet of plastic to rip from the walls or roof and shatter my glittering literary career for evermore.
I don’t quite recall the exact sequence of events that followed, but suffice to say Mrs. Rumm had lost her footing on a steep incline in the garden and found her feet being lifted high into the air. She landed flat on her back to the sound of some devastating snaps and cracks.
Unable to breathe or call for help for some time, she was certain she was about to die. At last she was relieved to find some feeling in her legs and succeeded in moving them somewhat.
I can safely say on behalf of all of us present we were thoroughly relieved to find her able to walk -just about- with much assistance. Guided to her bed, she looked like Death peering through a solitary skull from above the quilted sheets.
I know what you’re wondering, but nevermind me. I had meanwhile, somehow managed to extricate myself from my predicament and saved the greenhouse from an extended stay in several of our neighbours’ bedroom walls, but let’s not dwell on that now. Back to Mrs. Rumm!…
Upstairs, she called (weakly) for some pain-killers and same were provided. Thankfully Colette moonlights, when not making music videos, as a district nurse and it was into her capable hands I left my good wife. I was now weak myself -from hunger. As I switched on the oven and placed sausages on the pan, I found my seven year old daughter, lost amid the chaos, in tears at events. Unable to be of much help with a tray of chicken nuggets in my hands, I assured her as best I could her mother would be fine after some rest and suggested she go upstairs to see for herself. Whilst turning the sausages, I heard my three-year old in the hallway holding court with a Nintendo DS in his hands, idly enquiring if his mammy had gone to heaven, as he navigated through Level 2 on Lego Batman.
Lunch was wolfed down by all and I even managed to salvage, for my wife, the last Clonakilty Sausage from the claw-like paws of one John McSweeney.
“I have more on the pan,” announced Colette, recently descended, whereupon her husband snatched back the one I had retrieved. Upon further examination, I discovered the remaining sausages were of a different brand. Knowing Mrs. Rumm’s partiality to the large Clonakiltys, I once again reclaimed the banger and this time managed to wrap it safely in a roll before it could be re-abducted. I knew for certain the latent culprit had no intention of seeking a ransom. Colette fed the patient as Mr. Poland manned the frying pan.
After our buffet lunch (which sounds a lot nicer than the riotous free-for-all it was), the indecent question of whether to proceed with the video-shoot arose. Let me say, there was quite a bit of preparation required for this video. Furniture had been moved out the night before and stacked in the room next door (into which one was now barely able to fit). Purchases of a not-inconsequential nature had been made. Balloons had been inflated. BALLOONS I TELL YOU! Lots of them!!
Entries must be in for the Irish Selection by February 2nd of this year (2009 if you’re still reading this in my future). That leaves just two weeks or so for editing and proceeding with any possible backup plans should anything go awry. By now It was 2:30. Daylight is not an inexhaustible resource, especially at this time of year. If it was to go ahead it would have to be soon.
You may not believe me, but I was not sure what would happen next as I made my way upstairs. I had no intention of proceeding had I found that stunted skull still peering through the blankets. Fortunately, the skull had by now grown some shoulders. Mrs. Rumm was sitting up, having found it too painful to lie flat.
“Go ahead with the video,” she moaned like the valiant fallen soldier she was.
I protested of course. I feared the next words from my wife were to be of the “get the hell outta here I never liked ya anyways -go on get the damn job done” nature. Saving us all the embarrassment of amateur dramatics I withdrew.
I don’t recall the exact moment of decision, but events seemed to transpire beyond my ability to affect them either way. We were once more in video-shoot mode. To cap it off, before shooting began who should we find robotting her way into the room, but Mrs. Rumm herself -a vision of more pure beauty had I not seen since the day she walked down the aisle toward me. Truly. She wasn’t exactly shimmying, but it was a great relief to find her en pied as they might say in certain parts of Canada.
She even took part in the shoot. A new role was found for her of course. We moved her from hair-dryer duties to the bubble machine. John McSweeney, trojan warrior in time of crisis -though not to be trusted around sausages- manned the leaf-blower with natural aplomb. Colette McSweeney, stalwarth disciple of Nightingale, popped poppers in time and on-cue as though she was born to the role. John Poland, child-calmer and pan-minder supreme, played a blinder centre-stage as though his life depended on it. When you see the video you might believe it did. And me? Well I won’t divulge my own role in the video out of modesty (now now, shush that talk!), but also out of a sense of healthy surprise. I’ve already revealed enough about this secret shoot. I believe we’re not allowed to show it publicly until after RTE announce their Louis Walshe act… er, I mean until after they decide who will represent Ireland in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, but as soon as I am allowed I will put this DAMN FINE VIDEO up here and on youtube, etc..
If you enjoyed this 100% True tale of our most-memorable day (January 17th 2009) I can honestly say you will love the video that followed. Out of great pain comes something truly special (well, not always, but you know what I mean). The name of the song is “Simply Happy”, which I’m sure we will all be if we have the opportunity to take it to Moscow. It’s a great song for recessions and depressions and I’m certain it can raise spirits across the continent as much as it helped raise my good wife, Liz, today.
John Poland has a website here, as well as an instrumental album available on iTunes.
Simply Happy was arranged, composed and sung by John Poland, with lyrics by Stanley Rumm. Much more Poland & Rumm music to come. More videos too, hopefully, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to cope if that means any more days like today.
Now, modesty aside, did I mention I wrote a damn fine book? Go on, it’s a lot of fun for all ages. You’re never too old. If you buy via that site (also available on Amazon, play.com, etc.) send an email first and I can sign it for you.
Thanks for reading and VERY SPECIAL THANKS TO all who helped today -John, Colette and Leah McSweeney, John and Mia Poland, Kevin, Liz and Lucy Forde -as well as the other smallies who helped keep Mr. Poland happy while he sang. I’m very happy we all survived and we got the video we wanted (and more) in the bag! 🙂