Golden Island Shopping Centre – Paul Durcan – Comments

Golden Island Shopping Centre

After tortellini in The Olive Grove on the quays
I drive over to the adjacent shopping centre,
Golden Island Shopping Centre,
Around whose acres of car park
I drive in circles for quarter of an hour
Before finding a slot in a space painted yellow:
GOLDEN ISLAND EXPECTANT MOTHERS
Two hours later I stumble from Tesco
With high-altitude sickness;
Dazed, exhausted, apprehensive, breathless;
In worse condition than
Many a climber on the South Col of Everest.
Such mobs of shoppers on a Sunday afternoon,
Such powerlessness.
Loading up the boot of my car
I see through a white mist
A small bejowled, red-headed, middle-aged lady in black
Standing in front of my car
With a Jack Russell terrier in a muzzle.
She is writing down my registration number.
I inquire “What are you doing?”
She snaps: “You can see perfectly well what I am doing.”
I ask: “Why are you writing down my registration number?”
From under the visor of her black baseball cap
She barks: “You have no right
To park your car in the space reserved for
GOLDEN ISLAND EXPECTANT MOTHERS”
I rumble in an avalanche of offended dignity:
“How dare you!
I am a Golden Island Expectant Mother!
I am a fifty-eight-years old male of the species
And I have been expecting for nineteen years.
Only last week I had a scan.
Despite you and your terrier
Ireland remains my native land –
My Golden Island –
And I will park where I can.
So go soap your jowls in the jacuzzis of Malaga:
I AM A GOLDEN ISLAND EXPECTANT MOTHER!”

Paul Durcan (1944 –
from ‘The Art of Life’, 2012

After tortellini in The Olive Grove on the quays
I drive over to the adjacent shopping centre,

Perhaps PD has just had a nice Sunday lunch and probably a glass of wine but now it is time to go shopping. It is only a short distance and again perhaps indicating a need to have his car close to the shops for walking and packing.

It is very frustrating when you can’t find a parking spot. And it is very tempting to take a place reserved for permit holders, the disabled or in this case GOLDEN ISLAND EXPECTANT MOTHERS. It looks like this signage is very significant to the mind of PD being in capitals.

Shopping was obviously a great struggle and he emerges in quite a state – dazed, exhausted, apprehensive ,breathless and equally it is a struggle to load the boot.

A little unfortunate that he confronts not a parking inspector but a lady who is indignant at taking a spot reserved for pregnant ladies – A small bejowled?, red-headed, middle-aged lady in black. She seems to be somewhat officious and is taking his number plate. Appropriate colors are chosen – red and black – and she had her Jack Russell terrier in a muzzle a dog like the owner known to be vicious. There is no leniency given to this poor old fellow and PD is angry at such lack of respect.

So he then defines himself as a GOLDEN ISLAND EXPECTANT MOTHER. He states that he has been expecting for nineteen years. Now a normal pregnancy is nine months. I think that maybe he is talking about a medical condition that far outweighs the struggle of pregnancy. And he states emphatically that Ireland is his GOLDEN ISLAND and that he will park where he can.

His final outrage response is to give the colourful retort ‘go soap your jowls in the jacuzzis of Malaga.’ Well, only a poet can come up with something original in such confrontational circumstances. And then he tells the lady emphatically I AM A GOLDEN ISLAND EXPECTANT MOTHER! It would surprise me greatly if the red-headed lady recognized this personification.

From this poem you might think that PD himself is a rather outlandish character unafraid of standing his ground against authority and himself a little cantankerous. He is an Irish poet of note.

From Wikipedia …
He was shortlisted in 2005 for the Poetry Now Award for his collection, The Art of Life. In 2009, he was conferred with an honorary degree by Trinity College, Dublin. Durcan was the Ireland Fund Artist-in-Residence in the Celtic Studies Department of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto in October 2009. In 2011 Durcan was conferred with an honorary doctorate from University College Dublin. Between 2004–2007 Durcan was the third Ireland Professor of Poetry.

More information on Paul Durcan on Wikipedia.