New Writing - a moving memoir of love, loss and art

Updated / Monday, 28 Aug 2017 09:29

It's Saturday morning - a beautiful memoir

We're delighted to present It's Saturday Morning, a moving new memoir of love, loss and art from Neva Elliott McGinley.


It’s Saturday morning. 

The harried sounds of Liverpool playing football are seeping through the house. 

I’m pottering around, picking up bits of toast half chewed by the dog. 

The dog curled in the basket by your side. 

As you sit drawing. 

At your desk, in our studio. 

This is your favourite time of the week. 

Drawing, in pencil. A specific pencil you saw when we were in Hay-on-Wye and couldn’t get out of your head. Faber. Retractable. Refillable. Metal. You order the pencil online. 

The pencil they wouldn’t let us put in your coffin. Metal. Fire. Ash. 

It’s Saturday morning. You are drawing. 

Portraits. You draw the faces again and again. Draft, redraft, till then, there, the likeness. 

You move to the computer. Simplifying features to the least amount of lines. Your style clean and flat. 

You are a graphic designer and illustrator.
In introductions, you drop the illustrator.
I put it back in.

It’s the part you love the most.
We talk about the day when you will only draw.
We make plans for how this is going to happen.

You start selling prints of your work online, at fairs.
Publications, exhibitions accept your work.
An online football magazine wants you as their in-house illustrator.
You paint a junction box for Dublin Canvas their first year out. We watch it pop up in our Twitter feeds.
Your work in the world.

'Bang Bang’ - designed and painted by Colin McGinley for Dublin Canvas.

We are doing this. You are doing this.

When you were a kid, you would sit upstairs on the bus going though Phibsborough and think ‘one day I want to live in a big house here’.

The desk, the pencil, the dog, me, we are all in that big house in Phibsborough.

You want to be part of the local community.
You get involved with Phizzfest, the local arts festival. You have tea with the ladies of the community. Work on their website. Design their flyers. They ask you for an elephant. You draw them their white elephant and on a May bank holiday Sunday we see it knitted, floating down the Royal Canal. 

A new café opens, Bang Bang. One of your illustrations. They put it large above the till and add two others to their eclectic local décor.

Bohs football club ask you to design a mural. Your Phil Lynott. To celebrate Thin Lizzy’s 40th anniversary of playing at the grounds. You do. You won’t paint it yet. The weather is getting colder. You are tired. You are getting weaker. Next year. In the spring. Then. 

Sometime within the first hour of the second day of the next year you die. 

We don’t know the time exactly.
The Palliative care nurse looked in on us at midnight. It says in the notes.
We were peaceful. You and I. In our big bed. In our big house.
We were peaceful. You sleeping. Me watching. 
We were peaceful. You leaving me. Me knowing.

At some time in the first hour of the second day of that next year. The year we were going to do everything. The next year of happily ever after. 
At some time in the first hour of the second day of that next year. I held you and I told you to go ahead.
I told you to go ahead and I would follow. 

And I held you. 

At one am the palliative care nurse heard my bare feet on the stairs. 
Going to tell your mother you had gone traveling again. 

The desk, the pencil, the dog, me, we are all in that big house in Phibsborough. 

The Phil Lynott Mural is at Bohs. Painted by a young artist called Niall.
Invited to see it, overwhelmed I forget to take a photograph.
Your work in the world.

Dublin City Council want a mural from you. I explain and then I realise. This can still be. I meet him with Brian your best friend, a professional mural painter. Of course, we can do this. We can put your work in the world. We will put your work in the world.

The desk, the pencil, the dog, me, we are all in that big house in Phibsborough.
Your work is still in the world.

‘Dancing in the Floodlights’, designed by Colin McGinley, painted by Niall O'Lochlainn.At Bohemians football club, Phibsborough, Dublin 7. 

Prints by Colin McGinley are available at www.howaya.ie. A donation from each sale goes to The Irish Cancer Society.