Saturday, January 29, 2011

A virtual slap.........

They say actions speak louder than words and perhaps they do. Someone defriended me on Facebook recently and I was surprised at my own stung reaction. I shouldn't have been stung, it was a childish gesture on the part of my defriender (did I just make up a new word?) and I certainly should be adult enough not to react to that gesture. But it hurt. Would that I was adult enough to shrug it off and declaim 'their loss'. It set me to thinking about my emotional responses to others particularly in situations that bring out my inner child (never that deep in me). I read a cognitive behaviour therapy book years ago that pointed out that within each of us there is a parent, an adult and a child and we must train ourselves to choose adult responses to things rather than the behaviour of an emotional impulsive child or that of an overcautious concerned parent. At least I think that's what it meant.

But when someone you care about slaps you in temper and takes back the skipping rope they loaned you I'd say 98% of us react with our inner child. Because that is what this was, a virtual slap and a stomp away with a bang of the door behind the offended. And how do you claw back from the position that this virtual slapping leaves you in? I suppose you go on playing your game because you have to, life marches on regardless of Man's petty squabbles. You may not be skipping anymore but there are other games, and ultimately all any one of us ever has is our personal dignity. The only person who can strip us of that is ourselves.

I won't do that. So. A little pout, a shake of the head and onto the next squabble!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Frozen Out..........

The news yesterday of the closure of the 'frozen goods' section of Gallagher's Bakery in Ardara in southwest Donegal was a huge blow to the area. It is thought that 124 jobs will go immediately as the company that now owns Gallaghers (originally a family business) has been subsumed into another yet bigger company and globalisation means amalgamating certain functions in certain areas and blah blah blah. Some actuary with a spreadsheet in a skyscraper within a Financial Centre in Hong Kong or New York or Berlin produces a flow chart and 'bam' a little town in a corner of a small island is crippled.

What this closure means, in terms of people's lives, is catastrophe. Ardara is a small vibrant little village, local people worked in the factory - whole families of them. In many houses three or more pay packets now cease to come home. The knock on effect for local shops, tradesmen and small businesses cannot yet be measured. The factory has been one of the main employers in the area for almost twenty years. For younger employees, not yet settled and rearing families the option of emigration is there. Again. Nothing personal, you were doing a good job, it's just business. Aging parents may be left isolated and lonely. Nothing personal,we don't dislike you but your job is no longer viable on our balance sheet.Again.

And so lumbering corporate giants roll on and on and on, crushing lives, extinguishing hope in individuals and families and killing off communities. Surely they (whoever 'they' are) must see that eventually they will kill off all the very consumers they need to fund their profit accounts.And the world will consist of one company, one big brother, one god - and his name is money. And he'll have no friends or family, no one to have a laugh with to lighten the gloom of a January afternoon. There will just be money, all on his lonesome.

All anyone wants is the chance to do a day's work for a reasonable wage. Somehow, somewhere, someone has to say 'halt' - people have to come before profit or at least have equal footing. I have no idea who this someone will be. But I think I'll recognise them when they start to speak. And I don't think I hear that voice in the clamour of idiocies I hear from Leinster House. I cringed when I saw Mr Bertie Aherne's latest sound byte. How on earth can that man say that the only thing he regrets as his political life ends is the fact that he didn't get a world class national stadium built in Ireland. Bertie is definitely a Martian, and he may go back to Mars and take the rest of the sons of destiny with him.

I think I think too much.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Is Harry Potter the new Jesus?

I'll probably be struck off some database somewhere in the Universe that records such blasphemous suggestions. Indeed - did our much debated blasphemy laws ever come into effect? I don't really mind if I'm excommunicated - I wasn't on chatty terms with the Papa anyway. However for the sensitive please note this is written tongue in cheek - mad musings of a menopausal mama as 'twere.

On with my wondering. It seems to me that J.K. Rowling took the Bible and the Lord of the Rings and rewrote them setting them in Hogwarts, Earth and Azkabahn as Heaven Earth and Hell. Fair play. She did a great job and anything that increases reading is in my opinion a damn fine thing. I only read the first three novels from beginning to end, I dropped the fourth one half way through and broke my toe. The books just became too bloody big. 'The Prisoner of Axkabahn' was my favourite as its darkness took the whole story line to a different level.

A discussion broke out in my sitting room this evening about said Mr Potter and I threw in my 'she re-wrote the bible' comment.
'What do y'mean?' asked one 15 year old.
'Well, it's the fight between good and evil isn't it? It's what every writer is writing about - telling stories of the good guys and the bad guys and the hopeless people and the people who need to to helped. The Bible had miracles, the Harry Potter books have magic.'I answered sagely - its great being nearly fifty, you can finally get away with sounding wise - insane, but wise.
'Yeah but the Potter books are interesting. The Bible's boring.'They high-fived each other and smirked with delight at their incredible insight.
'Ah. But you're wrong,' sez I 'the Bible and Shakespeare contain all the plotlines and all the character analysis one ever needs, they are a blueprint for life. Its just that the language is archaic and the Bible in particular will have lost some of its original menaing in various translations. Basically all books are, or should be, morality tales. With the decline of organized religion in the Western world it is up to writers and other creative people to help the rest of us make sense of our lives, to enjoy it where possible for its own sake - not live for some mystical world beyond it.'

I think I lost them once I started about the decline or organised religion - it was fun while Harry Potter was about, but after that... yawn.

I do wonder if there was some big bang or big whimper even and the world as we know it vanished would, in 2000 years time, there be some sort of life form wondering if Harry Potter really existed? Children making their first Holy Sorting Hat and going on to make their first game of Quidditch as a symbol of their passing into the adult world.

Yeah. I know. That's one step too far for me and all!

Next blog will be a study on the imponderable topic of Facebook-v-Twitter. If Facebook is the new garden wall, pub counter et al what in the name of all that's holy is Twitter?

Haven't I an awfully peculiar brain.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Brain Dennehy and the Bull McCabe

We went to the preview of 'The Field' in the Olympia tonight, that grand old dame of theatres in Dublin's Dame Street. The theatre can be a tad uncomfortable as the seating resembles that of a Ryanair flight without the headrest - not great when you are tall and overweight. But it didn't matter because we were spellbound by the Lane Production Joe Dowling directed version of John B.'s classic play.

And a classic it surely is. It is still as relevant and fresh today as it was when John B. penned it, today's Bulls may be bankers and developers rather than land grabbing farmers but the central theme is the same. Greed, bully boys and a sense of entitlement brings disaster into the heart of every home in any community. I'm not going to rehash the storyline here, most of you know it anyway and even if you didn't all you would have to do is look out the window of your own home and you would quickly identify your Bulls, Birds and Mamies. John B had an unerring eye and ear for the human heart and soul and knitted it all together for us, his audience, in a beautifully tailored package. Bravissimo.

Each performance was a joy, the ensemble tight and the tension palpable. Well done all concerned. Brian Dennehy is a consummate actor and although he hasn't replaced Ray McAnally in my heart as the Bull he came pretty damn close. Bosco Hogan as the bishop had several members of the audience automatically blessing themselves after his sermon, this causing a ripple of laughter through the auditorium. The set was magnificent ( although the chairs jarred with me, particularly the Mexican pine one -surely they should have been more kitchen style 60's ?)But if I had to single out one performance it would have to be Derbhle Crotty's Mamie. Her portrayal of an attractive young woman trapped over the pub in a claustrophobic small town whose body and mind has been slowly drained by the bearing of nine ( soon to be ten) babies is superb. I was nearly going to go up on stage and tell her I'd give her a hand with all them weans! But Derbhle, learn to knit properly - you look totally uncomfortable with those needles - get someone to show you how to twine the wool on your fingers correctly - otherwise you'll never get that blanket finished before babby 10 arrives!

Great show, highly recommended.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Every day's a school-day...........

D'ye know somethin'? This world never ceases to amaze me. You think you've seen it all and then someone tickles you from a distance and causes you to marvel at Man's ingenuity in manipulating his environment to speed things up, help life along, make it easier and more efficient.

I'm speaking of the ability of a young man in our office block who was able to access my computer remotely today and check something out.

'Ah Evelyn! ' I hear you exclaim - 'sure that's old hat at this stage.' Ok, Ok, - but he (once I granted him access) moved my little cursor and he not within an asses roar of my screen!. In fact he gave out to me for moving my mouse as he manipulated the pointer - I thought something had gone wrong! I swear to God I alternated between shock and then delight to witness him maneuvering his way around my PC as he checked whatever technical thing he had to check. And I chatted away to him on the phone as he did so. Actually I think he thought I was a bit mad because I would burst out 'Will y'look at that! How is he doing that! That's mad!' every so often. I actually looked over my shoulder and up at the wall behind me to make sure there wasn't some little camera trained on me ala Candid Camera. What'll they think of next!

Is there any problem now that cannot be solved with technology? I'm fifty and not particularly technically minded and all I want a machine to do is deliver me what I need when I need it. I don't want frills, apps, add-ons, plug-ins etcetera etcetera. I'm convinced everyone under the age of thirty has been born knowing how to mind read and they are pre-empting all our requests by being a step ahead of us all the time.

Now all the world has to do is to sort out climate change, world hunger, organised religion and of course what happens to the black left-foot sock when it disappears in the wash cycle. Lovely Jubbley.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year (ish) R word

I never make New Year resolutions. I know myself too well. Every morning I make the same resolutions, to eat less, exercise more, be nicer to my family, be nicer to myself, to write a minimum of 500 words, not to moan about whatever minor ache or pain I might have (real or imagined), not to get depressed about things over which I have no control. Every night I realize I have failed, again, to keep any of these resolutions. I occasionally make the 500 word mark - if I include blogs. I'm rarely overnice to my family and y'know they're really rather a nice family - for a group of men that is. I am horrendously hard on myself. I ALWAYS overeat, never exercise enough and am on constant alert for that tiny twinge which will signify that I am about to shuffle off this mortal coil within a time-frame that will not permit me to apologize to everyone for being such a pain in the neck for the last fifty years.

FIFTY! There it is. 50. This year I will hit the half-century and although I finally discovered a few years ago what I wanted to be when I grew up I'm really not that much further along the road to achieving it. In fact, like Robert Frost's traveler, I have reached a fork in the road and know the financial and familial reasons why I should take one path but in my heart, my soul I know I want to take the other.

So what do I do? If I'm serious about writing - and I am - I will of course continue to write, albeit in reduced pockets of time. I think my bouts of depression have eased up since I started writing and I certainly find it the best way I can express myself, letting the poison out so to speak. In ways I think I'm using the financial downturn and reduction in household income as an excuse to go back to my boring office job full-time. For if I have to work full-time I have an excuse for not writing as much and so cannot challenge myself with that horrible self-doubt and procrastination that appears to be my constant companion.

Since my ghost-writing project ended I have found it extraordinarily hard to get back into my own fiction writing. Nothing is ...satisfactory. I don't know that I have anything to offer the grand canon of Irish literature, even in the commercial fiction genre, although I know that it is only the marketing departments in publishing houses and booksellers who insist on 'genres', for most writers a piece of work is either well-written or not. My writing ( on the basis of the comments in the rejection slips to my novel) apparently straddles commercial and literary fiction.

But it is the only way I know how to write. I write the stuff I like to read. Stories, stories about people, about how they feel in certain situations about them getting through each day no matter what, about the high days and holidays, the days of mourning and weeping. About life with a very little 'l'. Like most of our lives. Am I depressing you? Well I am me, so I'm off for a walk in the cold winter's night and maybe I'll come up a solution to my dilemma - although I doubt it because it's like everyone else's dilemma, Life with the big ell.