Thursday, September 29, 2011

Not a post about the Presidential race, insomnia and weather

TWO insomniac nights this week. My body clock is all over the place, I had a bad throat for a couple of days so was sleeping a lot of the day away. It was killing me to have to take to the leaba because the weather in Dublin has been glorious all week. An Indian summer - I don't ever remember it being this warm this late in the year. I think the country's body clock must be is all over the place too. I hope it stays warm and sunny for another while, we could all do with a little vitamin D before winter arrives. And arrive it will.

I was suppose to blog about the race for d'Aras but I can't be bothered. I looked at the media shots of the magnificent seven and am dreading the wall to wall coverage that will be inflicted on us over the next few weeks. Honestly, not one of the candidates could hold a candle to our last two magnificent Presidents. Our Marys. There certainly is Something About Mary when it comes to Mrs Robinson and Mrs McAleese. Brilliant ambassadors for our country - intelligent, warm and utterly devoted to their job. I have been a David Norris supporter all along and am delighted he is getting the opportunity to let the people decide to choose him or not. But he needs to stop talking and start listening. He is an erudite dapper man and I think him being elected would demonstrate how grown-up Ireland has become, how we can think for ourselves now, are no longer dominated by a Church that kept us in the dark ages by controlling the education of the very young, indoctrinating them from birth thus ensuring Rome's coffers could continue to be filled by pennies. Doesn't it just kill you  that everything , everything  seems to come down to money. Even God.

Michael D Higgins is another erudite man and he too would make a fine President. I honestly could not vote for any of the other candidates - no matter what they say. they just have not the gravitas I think the office needs. So that's it -  my non-blog about the Irish Presidential Race. Best of luck to all the candidates

Monday, September 26, 2011

Company in the wee small hours........

On my weekly insomniac night tonight and it's not so bad now there is a living creature who keeps me company through the night. Mollie is the newest addition to our family - an adorable bichon freise pup who has stolen all our hearts away, She has replaced the remote control as the signt of supremacy in the house. Whoever Mollie chooses to bestow her friendly little face and warm affectionate body on is King of the Hill.

We haven't had much luck with pets really, Sylvester and Tuppence our rabbits froze to death last year in a snap frost the day after I mentioned we ought to be taking them into the garage for the winter. Son#2 devastated. The year before that we got Dora, a terrier cross mongrel from Dogs Trust but I made the unilateral decision to return her after a week because her bad habits were too ingrained for inexperienced dog owners like us. I still feel terrible when I think of poor aul' Jemser's face reacting to my insisting she was going back. He loved her and he looked like a disappointed little boy. Do we ever out grow our childhood emotions?

We've had a few hamsters  - they mostly lived out their natural lifespan of two years.They all had weird names Skibbley was one of them, Hermione another.  There were a pair of adorable zebra finches that son#1 killed by mistake when he fed them slow release plant food pellets instead of bird seed. Cyril the canary flew away when his cage was knocked over in the garden one summer evening  - I hope he had one last glorious flight in freedom. There was an anarchic budgie who HATED me and would only let son#1 handle her. She always pecked me and gave out when I cleaned out her cage or replaced food and water. Ungrateful little bitch! She fell off her perch one night and son#! was devastated - I think that was the last time I saw him cry - he was about twelve, he's seventeen now.

Pets, apart from their general cuteness and company, offer a great way of explaining grief and death to children - sounds heartless I know but as life is only a preparation for death it's no harm introducing them gently to the hugeness of death as fact via our animal friends. Kids can then see that life goes on for the living, we respectfully bury the deceased pet, talk about them kindly and move on. I think I feel an aul' ramble on about Death 'n stuff coming on.

I have no fear of death, I think it'd be nice to have an endless coladh samh (stop worrying family - I'm not suicidal!). I've done my job - turned out two gorgeous talented intelligent boys in sons #1 and #2 and aided and abetted in turning out two brilliant bright and beautiful women in stepdaughters #1 and #2. I feel very privileged to have been allowed to mammy these people. I look at them in awe sometimes and think  -'I did that. Me!I helped make them what they are.' Along with the Jemser of course. We didn't make such a bad team really. I think it was Jim's Mam Teresa who said 'you get the children you deserve'. It's true - what you put into your kids you get back in spades. I loved them - told them I loved them- gave them the gift of books books and more books, told them they could be anyone, do anything they wanted to do and that the only limit on them would be their own fears and that the only way to conquer a fear is to face it and pass through it.

I'm giving meself a pat on the back. And a virtual hug. Well done Evo - top of the class. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A lovely lady............

My sister’s mother-in-law died last weekend and we buried her on Monday. Anne and Bert had been married for more than fifty years and Anne slipped peacefully away on a bed in the living room of the home they shared, the living room in which they held their wedding reception all those years ago. I thought it very fitting that it was the place from where Anne took her leave of us. Of course it is a huge wrench for Bert and for their children, grandchildren, in-laws, extended family and friends and my heart and thoughts go out to them all.

Anne passed away at 9am Saturday morning and within a hour or so had the country screeching with delight when Ireland won their match against Australia. Her son is a huge rugby fan. He’s also a Dub – so Anne sorted them for the All-Ireland too. Good on ye Anne, we knew you’d organise a little luck for us. Anne was a big fan of my writing. When I had my first story published she sent me a lovely letter ( isn’t getting a hand written letter so caring and intimate) complimenting me on the piece and encouraging me to complete the novel I was writing. Writing is such a  solitary painfully slow game and every ounce of encouragement is necessary. Anne’s letter will always be cherished by me. The novel was completed and will be published next month.

Anne was a home bird and lived for her husband and her family. Bert and herself were like Darby and Joan, tootling away together fully content with each other after half a decade. I was only in their house twice but on both occasions I felt relaxed the minute I walked in. Their house was warm and comfortable and loving, full of the smells of baking and the sounds of life. Anne idolised all her grandchildren and was a tremendous help to her daughter and her daughters-in-law in caring for their children. Anne believed in the core values of family, home and happiness, good food and laughter. She loved to yap and I was always glad to see her at family functions. She had a way of immediately putting you at your ease. My own dear mother – who sadly died far too young over twenty years ago - and Anne got along like a house on fire. They both loved a bit of style and never went anywhere without a bit of ‘lipper’ and a touch of eye shadow.

Wherever Anne is she is at peace, all toil is over. I know she will look out for all those she had to leave behind and will be cheering on her grandkids at whatever ventures they choose for themselves. We were lucky to have known her.

Ar dheis De go raibh a h-anam

Friday, September 16, 2011

I meant to blog about this on Monday. But I’ve had a mad busy week and as I’m not supposed to be using my left hand it takes me ages to type anything. I was in Balbriggan library last Saturday morning doing my ‘Story Queen’ routine.

I get dressed up as a panto queen complete with crown, rope of pearls, red patent leather shoes and stripey tights. Then off with me to the Junior section of one of Fingal's libraries where I lead a forty minute interactive book reading session with a crowd of under sevens.

Last  Saturday the children in Balbriggan library got totally involved with me. A friend of mine was there with her beautiful sons but I’m afraid the girls took over that day. There were two little girls in particular both aged about four who decided they wanted to join in with everything.

 ‘Can we have a chat instead?’ asked one.
 ‘Now dear, when I’ve finished this story we can have a little chat, is that ok’.
 ‘Of course,’ sez she.
So off we went with Owl Babies by Martin Waddell complete with a chorus of  ‘I want my Mummy’ says Bill from everyone.
‘Is it time for the chat now’ she persisted.
'I want to chat too,' said smallie no 2
’Tell me what you want to talk about’
‘Em…m…m..teacher has that  book,’  pointing to Farmer Duck.
‘Shall I read that for you then dear?’ 

She nodded and I demonstrated how they were to quack and cluck and moo and baa along with me. As I twisted around, clucking like a hen – as one does - my hoop and train got all twisted and much hilarity ensued.

We read several more stories and at the end my little friends insisted on picking up my train and escorting me to the top of the steps leading from the junior library. I was bowled over buy the love I felt from them all. I had to stay in the loo until I thought the kids were all gone. I hate destroying their illusions. When I thought the coast was clear I left the library and walked back to my car and who was in the car parked next to mine only my little chatty friends! So back into Queenie mode I went.

'Don’t mind that I’m not in my dress dear. I couldn’t wander about the town in it – why people would think I was quite insane. Now I must rush. The King is waiting for his dinner.’

I think I got away with it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Will.

Those of you that know me know of my abiding love for the works of Will Shakespeare. OMG! I love that man. The music in his words, his puns and double entendres, his passionate love scenes his love of the dramatic, his sense of the ridiculous. I wonder can men be bawds? If so Will was both bard and bawd. I read something recently about him and I’m para phrasing it here - I can’t remember it exactly nor the author. It described writers as magpies who love not shiny objects but interesting words, or little bits and pieces of information that are stored in the database in our brains to be taken out and mulled over and regurgitated in some piece we write, perhaps even years later.

Writers need a smattering of psychology and of philosophy. We don’t need to read all philosophies or examine all psychological analysis, we can simply rob something from a book on such weighty matters, we usually have inquisitive acquisitive minds. The internet was a godsend to us for it gives us access to information that might have required a lot of effort otherwise. You can tell a fiction writer from his\her library. Its contents will neither flatter the eye nor indicate any systematic capacity for reading. Instead of neat rows of well bound books you will find dog-eared books on witchcraft, animal training, second hand dictionaries and guides to punctuation and grammar.  Un scholarly history books, travel books, some great writers some contemporary writers, some not so great writers who simply tell great tales, notebooks full of odd facts picked up in pubs, betting shops, knitting circles, cobblers, shops, on buses, in taxis, on the radio.

What no amount of academic training can bestow on any potential writer (and we all have potential) is the gift of words. It cannot teach the fundamental skill of putting words together in surprising patterns which seem to reflect some previously unguessed truth about life. And this was Will’s great ability – he told truths in a new way to an undereducated populace who lived short brutal lives. Of course they weren’t  even then, new truths. All the great truths were already there, and have been since Man first stood erect and thought. People may not have experienced them at that stage but that does not mean they did not exist. So reading, reading widely and listening and observing are all vital to any writer of fiction and I believe that there must also be an innate curiousity about everything about ability to work things out for oneself.

Why am I telling yiz all this? Sure, ye probably knew it all already!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Non violent Fighting Words

I attended my first Fighting Words session of the new school year today. I always enjoy my mornings there but this bunch of eight and nine year old lads from St Joesph's CBS ( Joeys) in Fairview were classic. I laughed until I cried. And fair play to Sara Bennett facilitator extraordinaire, who controlled the energy in the room and pulled a hilarious story out of the kids called 'Where is the Evil Anymore'  about Tiguar (halfTiger/half Jaguar) and his friend Stop Talking a parrot who wouldn't stop talking . Here's a link to it if you want to read more. .

One of the rules in Fighting Words is that we try not to use violence in the stories and Sarah explained this to the children. One child asked 'what's violence?'. Sarah explained the word in simpler terms and I thought about the little incident. I wonder will we ever see a world where violence is an archaic word. A word that 98% of the population wouldn't understand because there is none. A word that only archaeologists historians etcetera understand? I'd love to be around in that world. A world full of balanced happy people contributing and living in their society on good terms with all about them. A world where people like the ones in my home abound. People who are loved, people who love, who sing and read and talk and above all listen to each other.

Lack of communication is the main reason for all frustration, frustration that tips into anger and cause rows. If we listen - really listen- to what our children are saying, our older people our disenfranchised through lack of education or the inability to nurture never having known nurturing. Every society, every country, every world and be judged on how it treats those on the fringes of that society. This is the message of every great teacher since time began, the message of Plato, Sophocles, Jesus Christ, the prophet Mohammed, Buddha, Martin Luther King. Bring me your old, your sick and your lonely. Nurture your children. Love one another.
Will we ever get there lads?
C'mon - sure we'll give it a go.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sleepy September Sundays

I had a really lovely day today. I woke early (which I normally love on a Sunday because it means I can sigh contentedly roll over and kip for another few hours) but I was anxious to get on with proofing the reader's copy of 'The Heron's Flood' to check for final final final changes. So I read this WONDERFUL novel until about half ten when himself shouted up that the stirabout was ready. So up, washed and togged within twenty minutes (I'm low maintenance) and savoured the porridge with sultanas. I  denied myself even so much as a glance at the Sunday papers because therein lies ruin - I lose at least two hours of my life every time I do that; then moan that there is nothing in them. The wonderful Colm Toibin was on the radio chatting about his upcoming play'Testament' in the Dublin Theatre Festival. It is about one of the much sung but strangely poorly depicted (in terms of theatre) historical characters - Mary, mother of Jesus. There is definitely 'something about Mary' and I am really looking forward to this play,  particularly as both Garry Hynes and Marie Mullen are involved. A must-see of the Festival methinks. Plus Colm's mate Loughlinn Deegan chose one of my favourite tracks as a song he associated with Colm - Tom Waites 'I hope that I don't fall in love with you'
Then meself and son#2 hopped into the car and headed for Balbriggan's Sunday open-air market. My sister has a stall there and I visit the odd time - always at this time of the year to pick up my winter fireside rug from my lovely rug man with whom I have my annual natter, solve the problems of the country and always walk away with a lovely rug for under thirty euro, can't be bet. I bought some home made blackberry jam - early but feckin' gorgeous, a few cute second hand 'ormadils', proper mucky misshapen carrots and real dark green cabbage. I also picked up two sporting books for Jemser and Kurt Cobain's 'Journals' for son #1 - mesmerising for insight into a brilliant but, I think, not fully rounded mind (I'll be killed for that). Poor bugger. Great market - sometimes full of crap but you'll pick up the odd gem, don't bring too much cash and in general kids over  five love it, it's always worth it for the characters. Particularly worth it to view with amusement the fleeing traders who trade in the perennial counterfeit DVDs, illegally imported cheapo fags and sometimes electrical tools of dubious origin  who run with their wares as the Gardai pay at least three visits over a six hour period.

Back home and Jemser had the dinner underway - Championship Sundays = early dinners. That man makes the best gravy in the 26 counties. I re-read 'Dancing at Lunaghasa' (son #2 is studying it for the Leaving) as I had a cuppa and was mesmerised again by the language characters and symbolism. A classic. The Sunday roast,  roasties and two veg with a glass of red knocked me out so I had a three o'clock six o clock snooze. It was great to wake up refreshed at five oclock with the All-Ireland over (hard luck Tipp) the dishes done and feeling refreshed enough to write a little. Mind you I have RSI and am warned off. But Jesus lads - I'd crack up if I couldn't blether. BTW, can you get RSI of the mouth?  Probably not, for I'd surely be crocked if you could. It had been raining when I fell asleep earlier reminding me of many wet Sunday afternoons when the kids were smaller and fractious, I couldn't drive and Jemser wouldn't budge from RTE and the GAA. I often felt like strangling someone before teatime. Changed times.

It was a lovely evening so I did a little late season dead-heading - the garden is struggling but still looking well. I went for a ramble and a bit of a think and now I'm settling down to some knitting for the expected new arrival ( after a eleven year gap) into the Walsh clan. This babby is going to be the only babby ever born. Deffo. And the most wanted, cherished loved and adored baby too. And YIZ BETTER MAKE ME AUNTIE VERY SPECIAL!!

I might even read the Sunday papers after a while.