Friday, October 29, 2010

Short and sweet...not my style!

I've been playing around for some time with flash fiction but I'm not sure I 'get' it. I'm posting one I wrote some time ago that I like but would be interested in any feedback. Does it work? Can you see her? Do you feel for her? Is the last line a cop out? Will all you nice people let me know what you think?

I don't think I have ever quite grasped flash fiction's purpose - although I like it more than the literary short story. Perhaps it is a stepping stone from the short story to poetry? Maybe that's why I can't 'do' it. I love poetry but a lot of mine lacks...passion, I suppose. I don't think the short story has anything to do with longer fiction, and can't understand when people assume that all short story writers are on their way to a novel as a next logical step. I freely admit I read what are classed as 'literary' short stories and cannot understand what I've read half the time. But then I'm a bit thick. So here's 'In These Shoes' - you like?

In These Shoes -

by Evelyn Walsh

She had dressed herself for weather and instead of her usual circuit around the grounds she trundled her electric wheelchair through the gates and towards the village.

A woman helped her negotiate ticket purchase and to manoeuvre her chair onto the Luas. The sight of the cables reminded her of a tram trip she had once taken with a boy. A summer’s day, a promenade by the sea. Her eyes clouded, but neither his name nor his face came. She sighed. So many names, so many faces. She remembered the tram though, the sea-breeze; and laughter. A great day.

At St Stephen’s Green she felt alien, afraid. It was too many, not enough years since she had last been in this spot. All changed, changed utterly. She sat for a while, looking and listening. So many people. Good-looking, confident, busy people.

She moved into the shopping centre, quietly marvelling at everything but single-minded in her purpose. She located the shop on the centre’s floor-plan and muttered the directions over and over, programming her internal GPS.

She found the shop and almost cried aloud with sheer delight.A single suspended shoe was the window display.Deepest patent claret red, a bowed front and a killer spiked heel. She reached beneath the chair for her purse, fingers fumbling as she pulled out the much folded, once shiny advertisement.

Her eyes brimmed.
Once Jimmy Choo's shoes – soon to be Her shoes.

In these shoes she might once more dance the tarantella; or perhaps glide across a highly polished ballroom floor in the arms of an impeccably dressed young man, who held her with passion and tenderness.

She sighed.
Failing that they could bury her with the shoes on.

And we did.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ridiculously beautiful evenings

I had a slightly sour weekend. Well, up to Sunday evening anyway. A
‘poor me, I’m an almost fifty year old overweight boring public servant whose life is incredibly tedious and shows no signs of being anything but tedious ‘til Death does me take’ type of sourness.

Actually I was more than a little depressed. I think I may have started the menopause and I don’t know about the rest of womankind but I feel that having periods every fortnight, being exhausted, alternating between excessive sleepiness and insomnia, being cranky and having hot flushes at the same time as one is menstruating is Just Not Fair. So yeah, poor me, nature is ‘a ass’ etcetera etcetera.

Then on Sunday evening I drove to Skerries, a seaside village in North Co Dublin, to attend panto rehearsal. It was a glorious evening and I parked in the public car park along the sea front and sat for a while drinking in the beauty. The sun going down seemed almost staged as it lit scattered cumulus from below, incredible shades of red, gold, deep burnt orange. The boats in the harbour and the lovely buildings along the seafront in Skerries were sharpened in a light that only an artist can capture. To me photographs taken in that light always look staged, false – I always suspect photoshopping. The incredibly deep clarity of the light, particularly at this time of the year, is otherworldly. Everything seems so defined, heightened - you can almost feel, taste, hear the sharpness. The sea’s ceaseless lapping, that infinite rise and fall, the hub bub of children in the nearby playground- a dog barking further away. It lifted my spirits and I forgot about myself for a while. Bliss.

After a thoroughly enjoyable rehearsal -nothing like a bit of ridiculous slapstick to cop yourself onto yourself- I walked back in the early darkness to the carpark. The sun had set and a waning gibbous moon was in command of the sky. This was, if possible, even more glorious than the earlier sunset. I love that sweet low low almost full moon. Its slightly imperfect rotundity, the scarring - its mountains -the shadows that can be seen on its pale surface. It is so far away and yet so near I often feel if I stretched up as far as I could I would almost be able to touch it. The moon strikes me at times as a hole in the night sky, not light – just an absence of darkness.

The fact that last night the moon was reflected on an almost still sea made the sight even more magical. Sound was still as sharp as during the earlier sunset but different, more mysterious, as befits a beautiful night. All that beauty made me modify my objections to Nature in relation to my bodily functions earlier in the day. Modify not completely accept.

‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose’, although I still think having a period and a hot flush at the same time is quite simply taking the piss!

Friday, October 22, 2010


I think I have sleeping sickness. I swear - as soon as the weather turned even slightly cold I battened down the hatches and disappeared into the safety of sleep. Strictly speaking I probably have some type of a virus which is shutting me down but as the only symptoms are sleepiness and a desire for quiet I think I may be regressing to whatever creature I evolved from.

All this would be fine and dandy if I didn't also have to earn a living, feed a family, amuse children, placate a husband, write the odd bit, clean a house, talk to siblings and friends, take part in the things I enjoy doing AND find time to wash myself. Very hard when you keep nodding off.

As each day/ night passes where I have slept six or seven hours more than I usually do I wonder am I going insane. I don't feel insane. Although apparently I tried to reef the hair out of my current husband's head in the middle of last night. He has quite thick hair and I got a good handful of it. He had to slap my hands into wakefulness. Must admit I'm smiling as I write about that. There is a certain satisfaction in knowing that at least in sleep I am letting my true feelings find a way out! Poor man.

Although when I think of the dark thoughts I have had about numerous colleagues in recent months I think I better lock the bedroom door when I sleep, in case a vivid dream has me stalking the main street in Swords in my fleecey red dressing gown with a very large poker in my hand looking for irritating fellow public servants. Hmmm. Parents should start telling naughty kids about me. Might improve behaviour about the town. Would I get a long sentence do you think? Would subliminal irritation be sufficient justification for bateing some irritating twit about the gaff. Probably not.

Ah well. I suppose all the nights I normally spend rambling through the house cleaning and thinking and occasionally writing because my brain won't shut down were due to catch up on me at some time. I wish someone would invent an Evelyn remote control. It would be a huge success. Yiz could shut me up. Rewind me. Pause me or quite simply turn me off whenever I was doing your head in. I'd be first in the queue to buy one!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Writing 3.0

I've been fierce cultured this month. Fingal County Council are running a series of readings, workshops etcetera during October calling it Writing 3.0 and best of all it's FREE! As all the best things in life are of course.

So I was at a poetry Open Mic in the Council Chamber where poets Colm Keegan and Dave Lordan gave virtuoso performances. There was a good turn out and I don't think the chamber has ever heard such honesty and passion. Maybe more cultural events there could soften some of the grubbiness of politics. Then yesterday I attended the 'Drivetime Diarists'at Farmleigh House. Up to this I was thinking of voting for David Norris for President (unless Rebecca De Havalland is serious about standing)but Fergus Finlay really impressed me. He read a lovely piece about his daughter and then talked about his little grandson, even playing us a recording of the wee man singing 'Ireland'. Yes, maybe Ireland is ready for a male President again. As long as he doesn't want all us women to be dancing at crossroads!

Joe O'Connor had us all in stitches. That man is so funny. I really get his sense of humour, if he's ever stuck for a few bob he could do comedy routines. He puts a smile into my day. The beautiful Olivia O'Leary read a few pieces too. Her intellect is so keen and she is so elegant and ladylike. She was so brave all those years ago to dare to challenge those ****ards in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. 'Gwan Olivia. I'd be embarrassed to stand beside her as I'm totally in awe of her.

Then this evening I went over to hear the lovely Nuala Ni Conchuir (sp?)read from her marvelous novel 'You'. Nuala's little daughter Juno stole my heart away, she watched and listened to her Mammy talking and there wasn't a peep out of her. A happy little soul.
So home I came, culturally sated as 'twere, and turned on the goggle box in the corner and there was my dear friend Rebecca De Havalland telling her sceal to Brendan O'Connor. She was totally relaxed and natural and her usual intelligent articulate self.Rebecca rocks.

Off to the car boot market in Balbriggan in the morning. You can only fit so much culture into one weekend!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Pet Day..........

Someone told me to stop using ellipses in my blog titles. They're irritating apparently. After I looked up the word ellipses ( this person not being the type of person one admits not knowing a word to)and discovering that they are my little..... I thought 'No way, I likes me ellipses'. One should be brave enough to finish the thought I'm told, not mislead one's reader. I like being misled as a reader, thinking you're going to get one thing and then enjoying getting something else.

Which leads me to my own little (or rather big) ellipses. My offspring, who are never quite what I imagined they would be, they're always better than that. As I write Sons #1 and #2 are in the back garden. Son #2 is attempting to catch Mr. Tuppence and Rita, our two dwarf rabbits. Son#1 is sitting on the edge of the trampoline, playing his guitar and singing. Something he wrote himself - a pal came up with a riff that they both liked and they've built that into a real fine melody. Then Son #1 wrote lyrics to it. I'm rather pleased. Poetry has always been beyond my reach as a writer, I do attempt it from time to time, but it is really very poor stuff - mainly because I fear I have no music in my soul.

But Son #1 seems to have something. A spark. Now all I can do is give him space and hope he develops that spark into a passion that he will carry with him all the days of his life.

It's a pet day in Dublin. A warm mid October Indian summer like day. As the sun starts to decline in the sky I can feel that hint of real autumn, smell winter on the breeze. But for today my garden is full of flowers and music and rabbit catching and I feel... yes. Thank God I'm alive.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Magic Carpets...........

I got involved in a wonderful theatre company in North Co Dublin recently. As the children no longer need me 24/7 (although if the ten year old had his way I would never leave the house) I have fallen back to my first loves, reading and theatre.

This group 'Magic Carpet Theatre Company' is amateur but it is run to professional standards with a cracking production team, a wonderful director and a determined and down-to-earth musical director. Everyone involved has a love of and passion for theatre. I walk into rehearsal rooms and I know these people mean business.

We're doing a Panto for Christmas, to be performed in a local community centre which can seat up to 350. Scary thought - to fill 350 seats for six performances - or at least attempt to. The Panto is 'Sleeping Beauty' penned by the marvellous Alan Cash - it rips along with one liners, double entendre and slapstick humour. We have great singers and dancers - they're even letting me sing! In the chorus of course and occasionally I just mime because I know I'll put everyone else off.

We were rehearsing today and I felt so safe, so at home. I wonder why I ever stopped performing? Alright, alright I know there are those who say I'm permanently on stage, but so what? If I feel comfortable being me but acting the mick as someone else who is to say that that is a pain in the butt. You don't have to come to see me! Promise. My poor father especially, he still hasn't forgiven me for making him sit through three and a half hours of Hamlet in 1978. I played Hamlet ( all girls school) so he couldn't even dodge off for a pint when my 'bit' was over!

So there's me - the Queen in Sleeping Beauty. I'll sashay across the stage, ham it up and thoroughly enjoy myself along with all the cast and crew members plus the six 'houses' we aim to fill.

Will yiz all come? Promise? Yay!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Feckin' flirtin' makes the world go round.......

I watched ‘Nationwide’ on RTE one night last week and d’ye know, I might yet be converted to de telly. It was a feckin’ brilliant programme and there was this aul’ fella on it from someplace in Tipperary. He was 95.
He was talking about being him and dancing and they showed him being him and dancing. And he was feckin’ deadly. Because he had my own philosophy on Life.

Well, when I’m not depressed anyway.

That philosophy is ‘flirtin’ makes the world go round’. Jemser is fierce wise and he knew it before me and so did me Ma – you’d want to seen the pair of them flirtin’ – feckin’ scary.

Feck love, feck sex , feck money - once you can eye someone and say ‘Oh Hello!!’ then you’re living and having the craic. And I learned that at me Ma’s knee. She was a mad one for flirtin’ – with everyone – men, women or not to sure. Mam flirted with everyone which made her a great salesperson of course. She worked in the bridal department of Hickey’s Fabrics in Henry Street in Dublin city– and every girl/woman that bought a communion/wedding off my Mam will remember her because she minded every customer as if the customer was her own daughter. Liz Walsh. A name to remember all your life and smile I betcha there are thousand of women in Dublin who remember my Mam.

Mam just liked people and d’ye know, for the most part, so do I.

Like Anne Frank I have fierce hope for humankind because out there are people like me and Anne and my Mam and you, people who believe we can make a difference – ‘every day in every way’ etcetera etcetera.’

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again – we’re moving into a golden age in this country and I’ll be dead and feckin’ miss it so yiz better not make a mess of it or I’ll come back and bash yiz over the head with a feather duster.

Carpe Diem.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'm movin' to feckin' Leitrim.....

I'm cheating, I wrote this last week when I should have been working on novel#2, but sometimes you have to take a break from your characters. Do your bloody head in some of them. So here you are or should it be there ye go...........

I’m movin’ to feckin’ Leitrim

I swear to God I’m only here three days and I am selling my house in Dublin, giving up me safe little job and moving lock, stock and barrel down here.

It has it all – Carrick –On–Shannon is a vibrant little town, great shops, pubs, restaurants, a vibrant Arts scene – its own river and the gorgeous countryside. I know Jemser will love it (I haven’t told him yet so don’t ask him about it!) I have to suss out the pubs, trad music scene and Irish conversational groups and golf courses first.

Son #2 will LOVE it – its a smaller community, lots of kids his age, smaller class sizes and a willingness in the community to recognise and care for those little geniuses among us. He’ll get over all his little fears, make pals, play football for a smaller club made up of kids who want to be there. We’ll go swimming regularly too. He’ll lose weight and the shop isn’t there tempting him all the time. We’ll be able to buy a house big enough that he can have his own kid’s area and have mates over doing the annoying things ten year olds do. Sorted.

I’ll be able to stop working and write fulltime. I’ll be able to run into Carrick when I need to get my fix of old and rare books (I found THE BEST BOOKSHOP, Trinity Books). When the sisters or brothers need time out from their busy lives they can come visit and chill.

Now I know damn well that Son #2 will be a problem – he’s sixteen with a wide circle of friends, but he might very well come around to the idea. I’ll have to cheat him into it SO DON’T TELL him. I have a sly plan formulating. I would have put Donegal as No. 1 choice of somewhere to live outside of Swords – but the journey from Dublin is still a killer. At least Leitrim is only two to two and a half hours – doable. And the train comes to Carrick-On-Shannon.

Don’t you just love it when a plan is coming together. Now, where’s me cheque book………………

Saturday, October 2, 2010

God came to the Irish Writers Centre......

Well, I'm off again. I attended the Publishing Day in the Irish Writers Centre and , for those of you who haven't already, you should sign up for one of the great courses they are running this Autumn/Winter.

It was a great day - lively and informative - and I met lots of lovely people from the world of the written word. Mega.

I thought Emma Walsh (no relation) - literary agent - was brilliant. Emma is young, tuned-in and obviously loves what she does. Exactly the type of person you want selling your work. Passion.

Eoin Mc Hugh from Transworld spoke about a publishers p.o.v. and he was flippin' scary. And passionate. And above all - human. Exactly the sort of editor/publisher you want.

The lovely Lynn Crampton from Dubray Books give a deeply insightful look into the world of the bookseller. This lady loves books - and it showed. Passion.

Corkonian Gareth Cuddy of spoke about ebooks and the way ahead. The man is an Irish visionary - he'll be loaded one day. Passion.

And then came God. Carlo Gebler. Stephen Fry should have him on that aul' Q.I. panel - he is one of them intellectual lot - and he is funny and philosophical. And I'd say he loves his Mammy and his wife and his kids. So he's a good one. And the BBC could pay him enough to stop him fretting about making a living from being himself.

G'wan Carlo!

Friday, October 1, 2010


I blethered away all week in Leitrim and 'twas great because 'twas all silent bletherin' and now yiz have to read it all. I had no access to d'Internet so it was all words written into the mist.

And what a mist. I love the silence in Leitrim and Roscommon, Sligo, Galway and Donegal and lots of other pockets of our island nation. The silence is so - dense - I can almost taste it. I can listen through the silence hurting and find freedom on the other side. So, here goes - Leitrim blog#2.

A friend – a marvellous singer/songwriter recently told me that it is said that self-doubt is part of the creative mindset. At least I think that’s what she said.

But then I had to work out, was I a self-doubting creative person or just deluded?

This was a tricky one. When the umpteenth rejection letter comes in the door, wishing me well with my writing but it’s not for us today thank you, it is another little dream crushed. You need a bloody thick skin in this creative game. Because you’re never EVER going to know if you’re a self-doubting creative genius or just simply crackers and managing to fool some of the poor eejits around you into believing in you some of the time.

I wonder is that how Jesus felt when he headed off to the desert for forty days and nights. Now relax - I'm not claiming a Jesus complex ( my son does that for me). but Lord save us, it must have been hard being the Galilean, trying to work out was he deluded or not. And perhaps he was.

He didn’t invent Christianity of course – some other eejits did that after he was gone. Men.

He just wanted us all to be nice to each other, get back to what matters – namely each other and our environment and to break bread with each other - in other words love the people you eat with, the people who sustain your life. And above bloody all to get money OUT of the temple.

But dynasties of misogynistic homophobic males ( sorry lads, I'm sure some of you were/are nice) got greedy for all the power and the trappings of such power and forgot what it was all about. Then - whenever somebody calls them to account for themselves they say
‘Not at all!!! Sure, the Pope’s infallible – he can do no wrong, cannot make a mistake, is the voice of the Divine, so we’re always right. No doubt. No room for doubt. And tell them all they can like it or lump it.'

Sorry lads, I have a feeling we’re all about to tell you to lump it.

The Leitrim air must be getting to me. I’m philosophising again. An hour or two of ‘House’ and a good old read will help. Aah yes. The Good Life.