Rottweiler Soup: Something to be Scared Of
Discover Ireland Needs to Up Its Game a Bit
What price do you think we should put upon betrayal? Do you believe that it should be a higher price if you are betrayed by someone you love or, because it’s someone you love and therefore someone you’re more willing to forgive, should the price be lower? Does betrayal modify the nature of that love simply by virtue of its subversion, its falsification of the love you thought you had, the object of that love revealing itself after all to be something other than you imagined? Or do you factor in the likelihood of disappointment before making the decision to commit to loving someone in the first place? And how many roads must a man walk down before he gets a taxi in this fucking country?
I’ve got a lot of stupid ideas galloping around my head tonight. Galloping? Gambolling. Anne Boleyn. Could be all the ether. Could be that I haven’t been drinking. Could be that men just can’t help acting on impulse. I’m frothing at the mouth with rage and shame and existential angst and a million other emotions that Kierkegaard never even dreamed of in his philosophies, Horatio.
Do you think I should leave the country like Frank says I should? Just forget about everything that’s happened in this dump, this shithole, this Gehenna, this hell? Make a fresh start and pretend Ireland never happened? Who would blame me, after all? And what obligations do I have to anyone here who’s still alive?
A part of me, though, a big part, is just seething. Endless, pointless, seething that won’t stay still enough for me to sit down and analyse it. I want to believe that it’s rage at injustice, an unbridled desire to avenge, a noble urge that forms my core, my real self, my underlying self-respect. But my real self actually fears that it’s nothing like that at all, that it’s actually just anger at myself, at the humiliation I’ve allowed myself to undergo, a burning shame at having been made to look an idiot, not in the eyes of others but in my own eyes, the ones that count. I’m a fucking fool. An impotent, incompetent fucking fool.
After I left Stiveley, I came home and sat in silence, the rear window open, looking over onto next door’s roof garden, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mrs. Sharpey sunbathing so I could have a wank and distract myself. I listened to the police and ambulance sirens on the warm wind. Now and again voices would carry across from the other side of the Pepper Canister and I would try to make out what they were saying. Satellite could pick up what they were saying from space, but me, no, and me barely 30 yards away. Like superheroes have super powers, I have anti powers.
Mostly, though, I just stared blankly at the walls—or the ceiling, for variety—and listened to Frank’s crucifix, trying to decode the meaning of the various shufflings and slaps and screams and snorts, every so often picking up Frank’s sneering interrogation, sometimes hearing a feeble response, on occasion defiant but more usually honest and fearful. There were a number of interviews recorded so I had the benefit of Frank’s entire repertoire. ‘Please feel free to die now’, I hear him say at one point to a sobbing guest. Typical showboating. I expect he was trying to impress the trainees in there with him. Or just entertaining himself while inducting them into the ranks of torturers, which is, after all, one of the principal purposes of torture: to compromise those with clean records. Don’t watch Kathryn Bigelow movies under the impression that torture is for one moment intended to get at the truth. A torture victim will often just tell you whatever it is he or she thinks it is you want to hear. No, the purpose of torture is to create a bond between participants and witnesses. I exclude the victim here, of course, who just facilitates the bonding and is most likely going to die anyway.
The more obscene it is, the more compromised those involved. If it happens to be the case that some interrogators derive pleasure from torture, if they ejaculate over writhing bodies, well, there’s no harm done, is there, so long as there are silent onlookers present to witness the atrocity, to be initiated into sin. Because torture without witnesses is just sadism.
Frank’s voice on these recordings has its own identity, an assuredness, a definite and distinct owner. It isn’t just because he is closest to the crucifix. It has confidence and logic on its side. To anyone who understands his strategies, his questions make perfect sense. It’s almost possible for you to hear his mind at work, predict his next move, the next question, almost touch his mind. You’d want to wear gloves. Not so the voice of his victims, who generally have no idea how to respond correctly. Very few of them have been tortured before. Their answers are ambiguous, hedging their bets, non-committal, pathetic. Their voices have a hard time escaping their mouths. And their fear makes them sound all the same — dry-throated, burbling, reticent. The only way to tell them apart is by the timbre of their screams.
I have played the tape several times this afternoon, much as I have the past few nights, in an effort to re-create the brain-numbing horror I felt the first time I listened to it. The time I heard a nearly familiar voice, close to laughing, say
‘There’s many a slip ’twixt the longer lasting snack’
before a loud, bestial, slurping and gurgling noise wiped away any semblance of humour, of humanity, a sound that I still cannot bring myself to imagine the meaning of.
In front of me I have a passport photograph that I took today in the kiosk in the Powerscourt Centre, and although it looks nothing like me, which is probably a good thing, I gaze at it like it’s a mirror and wonder whether the asshole looking back at me is as bigger cunt as I am.
Yeah. A lot of stupid ideas in my head.
The Armagh Bandit reports sightings of caravans of camels and elephants traipsing cross-country around Tandragee. These movements are widely assumed to be the resistance on manoeuvres, their numbers bolstered by reinforcements from the fairgrounds of Bundoran and Portrush/Portstewart now that the holiday season is coming to an end. This means the rebels will be a much tougher proposition on the battlefield, freshly armed with air rifles, darts and ping pong balls.
From the February 2013 issue of Advertising Age.
Many much-loved household brand names have their origins in the strangest of places. Here are just a few of those we have uncovered, and we’d love to hear from you if you know of any others:
MARMITE The delightful, beefy flavoured yeast extract gets its name from the French word for a casserole dish.
SCOTCH TAPE is so named because, in the First World War, members of the Grenadier Guards used it to tape bottles of Scotch to their legs so that they wouldn’t lose them in battle.
LEGO is the Latin word for ‘I choke’.
KRACKA WHEAT is a corruption of the phrase ‘Krakow Wheat’, a kind of tasteless, unleavened bread eaten in the ghetto of that city during the Second World War.
REEBOK So called because the original shoes were made only from the softest leather taken from the face of the African Reebok gazelle.
ANDREX is named after the ancient Persian king famous for amputating the left hand of anyone who incurred his displeasure.
SNICKERS is a disease of the hands, caused by fungal growth, common among peanut harvesters in Latin America.
VASELINE was the name of inventor Mathew Marney’s youngest daughter, on whom he first tested it.
BOVRIL is the German word for bolt gun.
ATARI A brand name acquired by accident. The manufacturer’s first products used such low-grade glue that letters frequently fell off the original ident, AVATAR/ICON.
RYVITA is so-called because the surface of the biscuit resembles the skin disease Ryvita nervosa.
PAMPERS is the Dutch slang word for a small child’s buttocks.
HOBNOBS So-called because the original recipe was based on the scrapings found around the dials of gas cookers.
BOEING Named after the noise the wings make just before they fall off.
TOILET DUCK The design is based on a 16th-century privvy cleaner made from a mallard’s head on a stick. This was also the origin of the feather duster.
TOBLERONE A Romansch word that literally means ‘leftovers in chocolate’.
AMSTRAD The reason why Alan Sugar agreed to front The Apprentice can be found in the acronym for his PC business: All My Self-Trained Recruits Are Dead.
XEROX A court fool and impersonator who features in Plutarch’s account of his visit to Assyria.
DUREX Condoms, so-called because the original marketing campaign promised that you could ‘Do Your Ex’ and not get her pregnant.
KIT-E-KAT Original ingredients included Ketamine, Ecstasy and Khat.
KIT-KAT As above, but without the Ecstasy.
ASDA is the Finnish word for ‘terror’.
ROLEX Gilded using foil from the inside of Rolo wrappers.
MALTESERS Originally intended as ‘joke’ confectionery resembling the faeces of a Maltese tabby cat in a box designed to look like a litter tray.
DOLMIO An Italian word, literally meaning ‘The Oils of My Body’.
TEFLON is simply the amusing mispronunciation of ‘telephone’, as spoken by the intellectually challenged niece of inventor Ernesto Haliborange whenever she lifted a frying pan to her ear.
NINTENDO is the Japanese word for Repetitive Strain Injury.
DANONE Kerry farmhand Dan O’Neill was the first person to be cured of epilepsy by means of milk enemas. As a tribute and in celebration, when he founded his dairy produce empire he came up with its marque by dropping the word ‘ill’ from his own name.
BANG & OLUFSEN were, ironically enough, a Victorian-era music hall mime act from Sweden.
AMBROSIA is an Old Norse word that literally means ‘the colour of bruised ham’.
RITZ The original name of the notorious army cracker game, short for ‘one off the wrist’.
PAL Film director George Pal bequeathed his remains to his pet schnauzer, Molly, but Pal’s remains had to be minced with aspic and gravy before the dog would touch him, in the process producing the brand’s original and best recipe.
PALMOLIVE The bits of George Pal that Molly wouldn’t touch, even with gravy on.