Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Government Inspector

Just in from one of the best night's theatre I have ever experienced. If you have to beg, borrow or steal a ticket to see Roddy Doyle's adaptation of Gogol's 'The Government Inspector' now playing at the Abbey theatre do so - you won't regret it.

There is a huge cast of characters who are brilliantly choreographed around a stunning set. The show is directed by Jimmy Fay, who previously directed Doyle's version of 'The Playboy of the Western World' in the Abbey and indeed there were times in tonight's show when I was reminded of Playboy. Basically a stranger arrives in town and because of rumour and innuendo it is assumed he is a government inspector come to flush out corruption in the local government. The outsider Khlestakov (played brilliantly like a manic Johnny Bravo by Ciaran O'Brien) is a chancer of the highest order and he plays upon the fears, greed and idiocies of the community; he charms their women, flatters their men, makes promises he cannot make and ultimately robs them blind.

At times the stage was as deliberately crowded as a scene in a pantomime - characters rushing about and getting nowhere. Organised chaos - much like our government in a flap. Except the actors knew exactly what was going to happen next. The ensemble acting was superb - not a bum note struck. Roddy Doyle is a master of dialogue and he has a great eye for the ridiculous. He has lifted Gogol's play out of 19th century Russia and planted it firmly in the ruined administration and ghost estates of 21st century Ireland.

All performances were brilliant but I'd have to give  a special mention to Don Wycherly as the Mayor - it's a huge role - very very physical and he makes it look easy. He always has a great presence on stage and it is hard to take one's eye off him, his timing is superb - he even managed to step slightly out of character while in character to rope the audience in as fellow culprits in the 'another fine mess we've gotten ourselves into.' Marion O'Dwyer as the mayor's wife was a treat and her heavy flirting with Khlestakov was a joy to watch. Class.

I really cannot recommend this show highly enough. Even the programme, complete with cut out characters from Martin Turner is entertaining.You'll laugh yourself silly and also come away a little sobered by the fact that the cast of clowns on the stage are a fairly accurate portrayal of the leadership (or lack of it) in Ireland over a number of years. Brilliant. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mourning the end of being a Mammy..............

We have a new baby in our extended family. My youngest brother and his wife had a beautiful baby girl earlier in the month and they named her Elizabeth after our beloved departed mother. Of course we are all wearing a path out to their door to ooh and aah and admire this tiny little creature. She's so incredibly beautiful and perfect. You forget how small babies are - and this lady was born a big baby, in fact the 0-3months baby clothes were no good to her, yet she still seems tiny. The whole family are besotted with Elizabeth. Oscar and Liam at eleven years old were up to this the youngest members of the family. They are particularly pleased at losing this title- now they are someones big cousin.

My sister-in-law bought a beautiful deep red pram for Elizabeth. I envied her. I always loved pushing the pram. I don't think I ever felt as proud as when I pushed my babies in their prams. I was important. Finally. I was someone's Mammy- the best thing in the world to be. Oh! I so miss my babies! I love the adults my children are becoming but I miss that incredible mother baby relationship. Molly - our new dog- has taken some of the sting out of the loss for me.. I love coming in the door now to be greeted with her going insane in a paroxysm of delight. Her heart beats so fast I'm afraid she will have a heart attack, she is quite beside herself with sheer unadulterated joy at seeing me desperate to get up in my arms and smother me with affection. This reminds me so much of the reaction I used to get from my babies when I would come back into their view after being away for a while. With no words the only way they could express how they felt was by laughing and using their physical selves, wriggling, lepping and dancing a jig. It is quite quite wonderful to be loved like that. And a privilege. And it is only for such a short while. As soon as the child starts school they start to walk away from you. They come back - but in a different relationship. Suddenly you're not God anymore - Teacher is God! Then  the peer group takes over and eventually down the line the chosen partner.

But despite the sorrow and the feeling of being not needed anymore I wouldn't have missed the experience for anything. There are certainly plenty of days when I could happily leave home and stay away for a very long time but I'd come back. Mammys always come back. I think that is why my favourite children's book is Martin Waddell's 'Owl Babies'. If you haven't read it to a smallie in your life get your hands on it - I guarantee you'll both love it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Remarkable Story of MeeJahLittle

Did you ever hear of MeeJahLittle and how he disturbed a whole country - nay, continent- nay, world with his foolish alarms?

Well, MeeJahLittle was running around in Mad Money's garden enjoying flowers and fruits not his when an apple dropped from a tree and fell on his head. The apple was overblown, scabby, filled with worms and such and had to fall. But MeeJahLittle didn't wait around to work this out - off he ran shrieking to find MeeJahBig.
'Oh! MeejahBig' he said, 'the sky is falling, the sky is falling!'
'Why how do you know?' asked MeejahBig
'Didn't I hear it with my own ears and see it with my own eyes and part of it fell on my head!'shrieked MeejahLittle.
'Oh Lord! Come then, let us run as fast as we can,' said MeejahBig. And off they ran to find MeejahBigger .
'MeejahBigger! MeejahBigger! The sky is falling, the sky is falling,' screeched MeejahsLittleandBig
'How do you know?' asked MeejahBigger.
'Well, MeejahLittle told me!' squawked MeejahBig
'And I saw it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears and part of it fell on my head. Twice.'Shrieked MeejahLittle
'Lord save us!' cried MeejahBigger, 'We must run as fast as we can.'. And off they ran 'til they found MeejahBiggerAgain.
'Oh! MeejahBiggerAgain,' they caterwauled 'the sky is falling, the sky is falling!'
'How do you know' gasped MeejahBiggerAgain.
'Why MeejahsBigAndLittle told me' cried MeejahBigger.
'MeejahLittle told me' squawked MeejahBig.
'And I saw it with my own eyes heard it with my own ears, part of it fell on my head twice and then rolled along my back.' shrieked MeejahLittle
'Lord between us and all harm!We must run, we must run!' harumphed MeeJahBiggerAgain. And they ran and they ran until they found MeeJahNormous.
'MeeJahNormous!MeeJahNormous!The sky is falling, the sky is falling!' they all roared
'How do you know?'queried MeeJahNormous
'MeeJahsLittleToBigger told me!' harumphed MeejahBiggerAgain
'MeeJahsLittleToBig told me too' cried MeeJahBigger
'MeeJahLittle told me first' squawked MeejahBig
'And I saw it with my own eyes, heard it with my own ears, part of it crashed down TWICE on my head THEN rolled along my back and THEN fell on my toe.' shrieked MeeJahLittle.
'We better tell the people on the edge' decided MeeJahNormous. 'It's our duty.'

So they all ran as fast as they could to tell the people on the edge. And the people on the edge all ran over the edge screaming
 'The sky is falling, the sky is falling' and then fell down, down, down  into the abyss. And all this from the foolish shrieking of MeeJahLittle.
The End

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

And we're off............

I'm blogging this at 3pm because I intend to be somewhat inebriated this evening. My book launch (book available here The Heron's Flood ) kicks off in three hours. All the books and wine and soft drinks have been delivered to the venue. I had a few calls from people unable to attend but I haven't let it phase me too much. I'll be there, my lovely boys will be there as will the Jemser. My colleagues from the Council will be there as will my neighbours. some friends are even driving over from the southside. Imagine! They have their passports so they'll be okay.

I have the hair and make-up done. I look quite nice. I even got the nails done and can't text anyone now! The guna is hanging on the outside of the wardrobe winking balefully at me. Still not 100% about it. Hope I pull it off. If I don't you can see evidence of my faux-pas on my Facebook page tomorrow, when I eventually surface.

I'm quite relaxed now - everything is done and if anything goes wrong it won't be my fault - it will be something outside of my control. Son#1 and pal are going to sing the song they wrote after I read from the novel - they are the real stars of the night. Seventeen, handsome talented and intelligent, they have it made. I have it made having them do this for me. Even the dog has picked up on my mood and is cuddled in against me here sleeping peacefully.Son #2 is going for a sleepover in his cousin's house so I don't have to worry about him (thanks Ais!) So now I'm just going to chill, practice reading SLOWLY and enjoy one of the biggest days of my life.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Small Lives.........

I'm faffing and fluffing about driving myself and everyone about me demented with worrying about all sorts of ridiculous 'might happens' around this flippin' book launch. And thank the Universe for my lovely calm Jemser. Nothing can phase that man - he is the complete antidote to my panicking. I know I give out about him (it's allowed) because he is so laid back that at times I wonder is he awake at all. But Lord, it can be lovely to come home to all that serenity after a day's flapping. In my small life this book launch is the biggest thing (barring the birth of me boys) that has ever happened; I'm not coping very well with it.

Jemser has found a way of making lost things unlost. Instead of praying to St Anthony and promising him cash he stands in the middle of the room and says 'Did anybody see me aul'...(whatever the item is, glasses,keys,wallet)'. It is vital to get the wording exactly right. 'Where's me aul'' or any other variation just will not work. Anyway my purse was on the missing list today. I searched the kitchen/dining room/living room several times. Panicking because I needed it and had to leave the house half an hour before. In the end I used the incantation and as soon as I said it I spotted the miscreant purse. Sitting smack bang in the middle of the kitchen table. 'Smagic. Swear.

This evening I had to drop in copies of my novel 'The Heron's Flood' into the lovely people in the Gutter bookshop on Temple Bar's Cow Lane. I'll be reading from the novel in the shop on Wednesday November 16th. It's a beautiful shop - an oasis of serenity in a busy, busy world. I could feel my breathing slowing and my eyes wandering over all the lovely titles - but I resisted buying. The house here is falling down with books.

I enjoyed a little ramble around Temple Bar. I popped into the National Photographic Archive of the National Library of Ireland to see the 'Small Lives -photographs of Irish childhood 1880-1970' Exhibition http://www.nli.ie/en/udlist/current-exhibitions.aspx?article=22944ccb-3163-4924-8066-b6e5f9512d56  It's a fabulous exhibition, well worth a visit. I smiled at some photographs and and almost cried at others. One of my favourites was of two children in Henrietta Street during a (I think) May procession sometime in the 70's . The little fella in it had a tee shirt on that I recognised as identical to one that was in my family too, it  went from one brother to another to the youngest during that time. Must've been a Dunnes one - I think they were walking the streets of Ireland at the time.

Then off with me it the Irish Writers Centre to attend their screenwriting course - a lovely lively discussion with great people. And it took my mind off the launch, losing myself in the imagination of creating with others a treatment for a screenplay. 'Sall go.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Four more sleeps..........

Me nerves are shattered. I can’t understand my agitation. I can dress up as the Story Queen and ramble around towns in the North County, talking to children in a posh voice and not feel the slightest bit embarrassed. I’m not considered shy – but believe me I’m dying inside like everyone else at drawing attention to myself. But the persona I have created for myself  (that Evelyn Walsh one) is in a lot of trouble.She has to read her own words aloud this coming week.

The launch of my debut novel ‘The Herons Flood’
  (available  on http:/smashwords.com or  http://www.amazon.com/ 

 is this coming Wednesday evening in the atrium of County Hall in Swords. I walk that atrium several times a day on my way to and from the Council department I work in. I’ve invited half of North County Dublin, my family, friends, colleagues, local papers, other writers etcetera etcetera. If they all turn up - which they won’t as only an average of 20% of people invited to a book launch actually arrive – the place will be jammers. My biggest fear is that I will be standing there with my husband and sons like a Billy-No-Mates, reading aloud from the novel and feeling like a complete and utter idiot. Calm. Calm. Breathe. Phew.

The guna ('dress' to the non-Irish speakers (needs a fada tho’)) was abandoned when the men in my life declared it a ‘no’. I absolutely hate all that trying on of outfits, parading about the house in an awful sweat and still not getting it right. I end up going off in a huff to run myself a lovely bath and only return to my gobshite males when I am safely wrapped up in mismatched pj’s and a fleecy dressing gown

Then my wonderful colleagues (people I am privileged to call friends) got hold of me and persuaded me the guna was lovely. I just had all the bits and bobs accessorizing it wrong. So on their advice off with me to Penneys and I bought a pair of purple (YES!) tights and a bit of an aul’ yoke with a purple feather on it to pin to the coat yoke I’m wearing over my Mary Quant style dress.

I didn’t know this was what the guna was until it was pointed out to me. I don’t normally do gunas, or make-up or hair or nails. I’m actually only barely female in my interest in girly things and I blamed Rebecca De Havalland for turning me into a girl last year. I think I thought I couldn’t be interested in clothes and be taken seriously. I’ve only just realised nobody takes me seriously anyway! I know I’ll change my mind a thousand times between now and Wednesday about dress, tights, shoes etcetera but at least I had a girly shopping hour on bits ‘n bobs.

Anyway to add to the excitement one of my flash fiction pieces ‘Bird’ was published in the Irish Times today Yay! Here it is.http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2011/1105/1224307084540.html  When I read it (and tutted at myself over several words), I laughed. In the story a woman kills her husband. In the opening chapter of my novel a woman sits with the body of her husband – a garden shears protruding from his chest. I think I see a bit of a thread going through my work. Poor aul’ Jemser – Be Afraid….Be Very Afraid………

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The guna's got..........

So I have to have the book launch now. I thought it was a fairly nice guna – not a bit like my normal very (VERY) casual style. Cheap – of course. A bit flapperish. Maybe a tad slapperish. A bit shiny. A bit short. No cleavage and a little see through shrug. Black patent (pretend) leather boots to finish it off. I quite liked the ensemble. I was rather proud of myself for daring to wear it despite my bulk. I asked my fashion advisor - son #2 ‘wotcha reckon?’ His face fell. So did mine.
‘It’s a bit…’
‘A bit  what?’ sez I
‘Well…I don’t want to be mean’
‘Go on. Tell me.’
‘Them shiny yokes,’
‘Yeah. Discs.’
‘What about them’
‘I mean if you were like …eighteen and skinny and stuff it MIGHT be ok.’
‘So it’s too young for me? Or I’m too old for it?’

I’m deffo wearing it now! Or me tracksuit. Just to spite the little fecker. Although I’ll probably get cold feet about me flapperish slapperish guna.
Anyway it doesn’t matter what I wear because my beautiful sisters and sister in law and nieces and step nieces will all be there. And they are a bunch of seriously good looking well dressed wimmin. Maybe if I do a shimmy and shake me discs I might get noticed. And then I’ll run a mile!

And if you can’t make it to the book launch  (Weds Nov 9th 6pm County Hall Swords) there’s a reading in the Gutter bookshop in Temple Bar on Weds 16th Nov at 6.30pm. Or you can buy it here