This year’s seminar will open with a bang: the University Building (campus zone F) will be blown up. The seminar will take place in secret: it will be, so to speak, a secret seminar. Invitations, wrapped in red and gold ribbons, will be sent out at random during the summer (RSVP).
        Preceding the official opening, a preliminary session of the secret seminar will be held the previous Friday at Heathrow Airport, Terminal One. Upon arrival at Heathrow, the invitee, who will wait at the entrance to the Men’s toilets across from Departures at fourteen hundred hours, will receive instructions from the screaming child sat in the buggy nearby. By the screams of this hazel-haired boy, aged a year and a half, guttural continual screams, precise instructions will be conveyed regarding the University Building event. He who is party to these sweeping screams, reverberating in the Men’s toilets, dispersing in the Departures hall, will understand, by the boy’s cries’ contours, their changing timbre and intensity, how exactly the secret seminar is to be enacted. Thus will end the preliminary session.
        Leaving Heathrow, the invitee (hereafter referred to as the party) is to go ahead with his planned evening’s engagement, to wit, a trip to Cineworld on Parnell Street with his girlfriend. It goes without saying that at no point in the evening (regardless of the film) are the secret seminar or the preliminary session to be mentioned. The party is at liberty, however, to converse on the academic year’s opening: for example, the festivities of Fresher’s Week, the stalls for the various Society factions – Sinn Féin, L&H, Orienteering – the manners, japery, and hues of cries and laughter to be expected milling the university corridors. This has a twofold purpose:
        To dissimulate to his girlfriend the occurrence of the secret seminar;
        To dissimulate that he is the party.
        Later that night, as the party stands motionless waist-deep in the waters of the Grand Canal (his girlfriend having gone home), the party will see two young men approach along the canal bank from the direction of Baggot Street: two young men, one dressed all in red, one
dressed all in yellow, both lit dimly in the rays of the dying sun. The party, despite his stance, should feel no quiver of apprehension at their approach; and his faith will be rewarded when he enters into lively and altogether convivial exchange with the two young men in question; one dressed all in red and the other dressed fully in yellow (footwear included).
        At this point the party, previously comprising one person, will increase in size to three people. (Henceforth the term party refers to the three people as a group engaged together socially on the summer’s evening in question at the Grand Canal.) At some point in the evening the red and yellow young men, naturally, will become privy to the imminent secret seminar and the blowing-up of the University Building. They will receive this news with good-humoured scepticism. They will consider their canal water-sodden compatriot as delusional and brash but certainly not in any way dangerous. Pulling the lid on a can of Bavaria, the yellow man will say that the only ‘party’ happening is that one now taking place at the canal between the three of them as a group – “this here party” (raising his can aloft).
        It is vital that the canal-soaked man at this moment, shivering and lucid, be possessed of the urge to say feebly: “I want to be new.”
        “You want to be who?” will be the response forthcoming. “You want to be me?”
        The sunlight slowly breaking out several hours later at five in the morning will see only the two young men on the canal bank still present, and these two young men will now exchange certain items of their respective clothing – jackets, shoes, socks – so that now, rather than being a red man and yellow man, they will both be red-and-yellow men. Then each will walk off.
        The mystery of the canal is like the secret of what the bride’s dress is going to be on her wedding day, and its importance can scarcely be overstated.
        Thus will end the party.


Liam Cagney

Liam Cagney comes from Donegal in the north-west of Ireland. As well as being a writer of fiction, he is a musicologist at City University London, where he is researching a history of French spectral music. He also writes music journalism for Sinfini and Opera Magazine.  He is also on

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