Interviews with John Pat McNamara

All during my journey towards the electrical substation I kept churning in my head why it was this old Poet had chosen that particular location for our first meeting. When I stepped out of my car and walked towards John Pat, he threw his half smoked cigarette to the ground and extended his wrinkled hand in my direction. I noticed his hands bore tattooed ink but was unable to decipher what exactly was written. I was mindful of remaining polite enough not to ask. Before me stood this small and weather beaten man in his seventies, he was well dressed for comfort and warmth in slacks, a shirt and tie with jumper, jacket and overcoat. John Pat offered advice through his smile: “You won’t need to write descriptions of this oul face, you can just take a couple of photographs, and probably with your megapixel cameraphone.”

Had I inadvertently, unintentionally, looked him up and down? He had strangely emphasised the word ‘megapixel’ without straining for it. It had been utterly nonchalant yet in a way I then felt resembled one end of a dangling fishing line. Who would be reeling in whom? Was it for me to know or him to find out? Or maybe him to know and me to wonder if he already knew I’d just have to find out? Either way on his very first utterance I was instantly caught by handshake and idea. As our hands separated I asked, in what I can now reflect upon as an inappropriate condescending (un)even rhetorical tone: “You‘re familiar with Megapixels then John Pat?” I wasn’t entirely sure his head movement was an actual nod of affirmation. I was just further intrigued as he unhurriedly turned away from me and towards the passenger side of my car. As he opened my car door he answered one question but seemed to immediately generate more: “Sure get in and I can explain all about it if you need me to.”

He was sitting in the car belted up and upright when I got my keys into the ignition. Somewhat off my normal synch, I released the handbrake but before I switched the engine on he tapped his passenger side window and pointed to the nondescript concrete building. “That’s the local thirty eight KV substation, it has to step down the grid voltages and currents so as to avoid exploding the entire local domestic network, it contains the very latest modern RTU.” I paused and nodded at him. There was a silence. I started the engine and edged towards the side of the road, from habitual city driving I quickly looked left then right then left again up and down an entirely empty for miles road. As I first looked past him and then to him, I asked: “What’s an RTU John Pat?” He seemed to offer another variation of his nod, a similar head movement to the one I couldn’t decipher previously. “It’s just another acronym, it means Remote Telemetry Unit, it’s a kinda node of network monitoring technology that apparently removes the need for a human presence.”

Over the course of many weeks, months, and many many more meetings, I asked John Pat about his life and his works, his repsonses can be found within this interview section. See the menu on the right for some of those responses. John Pat kindly allowed me to include some of our early discussions in audio format. Later questions and anwsers sections are provided as transcripts

Poetry Discussion Transcripts

Audio and Video Interviews

While John Pat up until now has displayed only reluctance in terms of speaking about his life and poetry. He recently placed his trust in me to interview him about his these and other matters.