Sunday, 26 February 2012

Selling books...

Thing is, no matter how long you spend at this writing game, you never know what will sell, what won't. Yes I knew my Walk on The Southside would do well...(and my editorial mate Michael The Mystic agreed, though he said only because people are vicarious!)...well it has done well, and continues to sell...and I continue to get personal communications from happy (vicarious?) from

Eoghan Harris (of the Sunday Independent)  

judging by the  photos of  H, then and now,  she  was and is a stunner,  my ideal kind of woman and generally a fine thing.  Had I  met her in my prime, when my hair was black and my eyes a blazing blue, I would have made every effort to extricate her from your coils and shown  her a good time. Even now you would be well advised not to drop your guard.

(Hey what's with that 'even now' ???)

Also hear from Gerry Cott (co-founder of The Boomtown Rats), he  describes the book as 

           like a piece of music from which I extrapolate context, culture and influences. like a     
           good tune, your book will stick with me for some time to come.

Well let's hope the follow up...prequel actually, does as well. Here's the cover. Details on the website.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Funerals...and Fame

Sunday, time to think of the immortal soul. Of death, and funerals, and that.

Funerals. We don't  really do them well,  the funerals of famous folk.

This week I caught a TV glimpse of the funeral of David Kelly, the actor. And then later caught a glimpse of the singer Whitney Houston...both celebrities  being sent to their eternal rest. 

Neither glimpse was...well...entirely satisfactory really.

Firstly...David Kelly the really turned up at his funeral...and I wondered why?

For godssakes he was in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp!

Myself and the tv camera looked down the aisle of a sparsely populated church. It was the sort of shot that would've come in handy for any RTE program on the decline of the church. (They'll probably hold it on file just for that purpose). Granted it was a large church. But large the attendance was certainly not.

It was a bit embarassing really, even at the distance from TV land. It was a relief when the producer quickly agreed with this analysis and honed his camera in on Michael Colgan eulogising. Not that much relief, in all honesty, because Michael Colgan is...well...Michael Colgan. But he does have talent, we must grant him that. It takes some theatrical ability to look smug and very pleased with oneself whilst giving such an oration...but Colgan was well up to the task.

So this was pretty embarassing too and the camera fled, and wandered around to seek out well known faces in the crowd. There were some. But not well known in the sense of being...well...current. Just old folks who used be famous. Their expressions realising that no-one was going to turn up for their funerals either.

It's a disconnect, methinks. Between the hype and the reality. Obviously to the arts community and the media generally the likes of David Kelly are incredibly important. Yes of course he was an agreeable sort of cove, a gentleman and a competent actor, and he deserves respect in life and death. But he deserves no more respect in life and death than any of us. And this is the problem. The arts community and the media generally feel that people like Kelly are actually more important than the run of folks.

Because?  Because he is one of them and they think that they are more important than the run of folks. And so they hype up the news of the passing of one of their own, tripping over each other to grab microphones and column inches. Unfortunately the run of folks dont share that particular view. And hence the empty churches at the funerals of the famous.

So that's that. But secondly. About Whitney Houston. Well there was no bother with crowds there. They turned up. In their droves. A beautiful woman and a beautiful singer, she struck one as being a nice and a good person. But a person who had led a troubled life and died tragically.  But whoever she was she deserved a good send off and she got one.

Little niggle though. Whether she deserved to be compared to Mother Theresa, as she was in a eulogy, well that seems kind of a different question really.
I sort of lost the thread round there.

And doth my lesson endeth here?

Not really.

There was a third funeral this week, that of a young girl shot dead in Dublin. A traveller, she was given a typical and elaborate traveller funeral in London. This was very well covered by the media. Too well covered. Because the coverage did have an air of My Big Fat Gypsy Funeral about it, ie exploitative. One felt the elbows of smartassed tv producers nudging our ribs. And subliminal messages emanating.
Look at these people, they're different than us.
Thing is, they're not.
They live, and celebrate.
And die, and mourn.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Martin Sheen & Me

Not everyone can say this...but Martin Sheen (I read) is playing a priest in a new movie, Stella Days, to be launched in Ireland in March...and the priest he plays is....da dum...yes, the priest he plays is the priest who married me...the priest in question being Fr Paddy Cahill of Borrisokane, Co Tipperary...and the woman in question (whom he married me to) is on the cover of this very book.

And folks can read all about her, me, and Martin Sheen...oops, I mean Fr Paddy going to my website, finding the book, and clicking that PayPal button...

Just thought I'd get that out there.

It all hangs together in some strange sort of way.

Yes I'm having a quiet day.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Tubbercurry & Toronto

Just when you lose faith in Ireland and all its doings...which is more or less most mornings...and evenings...just about then something good someone...hear something...see something...that sort of good. Which brings me to Tubbercurry. Largish town in mountains between...well, between lots of places. Ballina and Sligo and Boyle and Charlestown, places like that. Handy to Knock Airport.
Nice town. Was once on the railway and might be again some distant day if West On Track ever gets there. But sure as hell I won't be on that train. My Toronto Son might, he's 22, so he just might. Reckon he'll be pretty damn old, but make it? He might. Maybe his children? Whatever.
He did make  it to Tubbercurry this week with me. But by motorcar. En route to Toronto. Not to Knock Airport, no, Knock doesn't do Toronto, but en route to Dublin from our fastness in the west.
I'm not often in Tubbercurry. It's not on a direct route between Fastness in The West and Apartment in The City...but now and then when I need to breathe that mountain air and see Lough Talt, I drive that way. But this visit was nothing to do with mountain air or Lough Talt. It was all to do with H, the wife. She had a client to track down in the Tubbercurry area.
The plan: She would leave her husband and son in the town and drive into the hills to find that client. Then, that done, she would return to the town, pick us up, and we'd all drive on to Dublin. Very efficient woman. Not that that prevented her being defamed/libelled and traduced by a Sunday Independent journalist a week or so back. (You know who you are Ciara Dwyer).
Yes, efficient wife, a writer needs one. Very good looking woman too, same wife. I've lived with her so long I've forgotten that. But was reminded during the week by Eoghan Harris.  She's a  'stunner', according to that sage/scribe, telling me this and other stuff too embarassing to repeat. What happens in my email stays in my email ! (Much like events on a stag weekend.)  Enough to say he detailed her attractions. All this arising from a hames the Sunday Indo made of reviewing a book of mine, A Walk on The Southside.
I sometimes have my doubts about that newspaper.
The wife's Passat vanished into the mist (it was misty) and the son and I stood on Main Drag Tubbercurry. It was quiet. Too quiet? Probably.
I looked across the road and there it was, a place I knew, remembered. A hostelry. We'll go in there, we decided, have a cup of tea.
It was Killorans, coffee shop and bar.
Coffee shop and bar goes no way towards describing Killorans.Nothing really could describe Killorans. Maybe because it's not actually a place, more like a journey. Down sideways of memory and charm.
I told the son of the place I'd been there fifteen years ago for breakfast. He said "fifteen years...mmmnn...mustn't have been a great breakfast". His mother and I discussed Brendan Shine at some length, Killoran's being a centre of music and entertainment. (As well as coffee shop and bar). She told me about her Downs Syndrome daughter and her dealings (fraught) with the HSE to raise funds for the handicapped of the town. And the same daughter brushed the floor around our table. Smiling. And meaningfully mentioning the forthcoming Valentine's Day to  my Toronto Son.
It was a good place and human. And there's less and less of that to find.
And so the hour passed well.
I thought to myself this is what tourists in Ireland are looking for. But there's less and less to find. And then H the wife came back to collect us. I took a photograph. The rest is history.

We drove on to Dublin.
Toronto Son went out to see his mates. I reckon this involved pizzas and slabs of cheap beer in places that students live in Terenure. He went out with strict injunctions to reappear next morning for important visit. He did reappear next morning. By his demeanour it was obvious that his night before  had involved pizzas and slabs of cheap beer in places that students live in Terenure.
The important visit?
To my sisters, his aunts.
To say my sisters are eccentric is....well...quite right. But then I too am eccentric. Eccentric is good. Cherish the difference. Yes the  instructions to the Toronto Son was that he must visit my sisters/his aunts on his visit from Toronto. It was only right and proper. Childless aunts like visits from nephews. Granted, the converse  doesn't always obtain, but it's only right and proper for the younger generation to..etc etc...
Just to make sure he got there I drove him.
We set off to Greystones. We drove into the relevant housing estate.
It then became surreal.
We saw ahead of us a Garda Presence, by way of car and personnel. A knot of rubberneckers. A tow truck. And a vehicle up a tree in a garden. A particular vehicle with flowers painted on the sides. Yes, one of my sisters is an artist, and drives a particular vehicle with flowers painted on the side. How well she drives it is...hmmnnn...the owner of the garden and that tree may very well be able to fill you in on that.
We lept out of our car, son and I, actually quite shocked. The guard told us that the sister/aunt had been taken away in an ambulance, she too quite shocked, but apart from that...etc. She'd been taken to Loughlinstown Hospital.
Ah, I thought. Being old enough to have known people who referred to it as The Workhouse. Back in the '90's. The 1990's. And workhouse it was. And more or less still is. There's a mass grave in the back garden.
We drove to Loughlinstown Hospital.
Any empty parking spots were labelled doctors, with names of various consultants. The thought did cross my mind as to why those parking bays were all empty? It is mid morning, weekday, busy busy busy...why are all the senior doctors' parking bays empty?
Why am I asking myself stupid rhetorical questions?
Toronto Son and I thus spent most of the day in Loughlinstown A&E Department. There are better ways to spend a day and better places too. But needs must. The country is in freefall. But everyone knows that, so no point in adding words to words.
We drove the sister/aunt home. The garden she'd run into didn't look that great. Particularly with that tree cut down. A feature tree. A mature silver birch. Kind of made the house, really. Pity.
We left Greystones and drove back across the city. Toronto Son said goodbye to his sisters and elderly relatives. And next morning we drove him to the airport. And he said goodbye to his mother (stunner) and to his father (writer). It was five thirty, thereabouts. And his mother (stunner) wiped a tear. And his father (writer) touched her shoulder. And driving silently back towards Sutton I saw a glimmer of dawn beyond Howth in the east.
But it promised no light for the darkness.