Thursday, 28 June 2012

I Met This Man and...

What a difference a week makes!

There I was last week spending time with a beautiful woman in Dublin. See last week's blog. And here I am this week spending time with a different (beautiful) woman in the West of Ireland.
Who says life is not good?

Snap out of the misery, people!

I have nothing but good news.

Firstly, I have bought a new barbecue.

Secondly, my in-box emails are positive. My much loved in Australia is there, not with great news, but any news from her is good. A woman I knew as a schoolgirl is also there, she's a Dublin journalist. I think she must be my oldest friend. Not in years but in length of time hanging on in there. When we meet as we sometimes do we relive our teenage days. And look into each other's eyes and wonder why we didn't...whatever it was we didn't do... and it's too late now. Proust probably had an insight into that stuff.

And there among my emails someone new to me, another  journalist, Aoife Drew. An Irish journalist living in Paris. She wants to read a book of mine. Yes I want her to do that too. Because hopefully she will write about it and then other people will want to read the same book. Though, of course, it does depend on what she writes.

All in lap of Gods. It'll be lively anyway.

Why are all the bounciest Irish journalists and media folks living outside Ireland? Yes Aoife tells me she is married to a Frenchman, so in her case that's an explanation. But that can't possibly be the explanation for the mass migration of the brightest and the best. We can't all marry Frenchmen. Could the reason be that the Irish media and literary world is infested with dullards and mediocrities and back scratchers who won't give way to anyone else? Could very well be.

Could very well be.

So, enough of that.
I met this man and...

He approached me on the pier of the small unevolved west of Ireland town where I am well known as that ^%&*%" who writes. We conversed generally. I have found that it's always best to converse generally with men who approach one on piers. Having grown up in DunLaoghaire, which has a very long pier, I reckon I learned this at an early age.

He moved on from the general to ask me about my work, (being from out of town he didn't know me as that ^%&*%" who writes) what did I do for a crust, he asked? 

"I'm in the book business," I told him, reluctantly. Very good reason for this reluctance. I often think I should change my stated career to rat catcher. Few people would say "good, my house is full of rats, can you help?" But at any mention of book publishing they say...Yes you know what they say. Read on.

"You mean you publish books?" he asked.

"Well I am involved with...a book publishing business..." I added, vaguely, even more reluctantly.

"I've written a book of poetry," he told me.

Yes that's what people say. Though sometimes they've written a novel. I have an all purpose answer.

"Aahh," I say, "not our area, at all at all. At all."

"Why not?"

Well. No-one reads poetry. And I like to eat. And spend my time with beautiful women in Dublin and the West of Ireland. Neither of these activities would be possible if I published poetry. Because I wouldn't have any money. And any spare time I had would be used up in dealing with poetry mafia apparachiks like Joe Woods and Peter Sirr.  And Joe Woods threw me off the Poetry Ireland Forum for mentioning Cathal O Searchaigh in an unfavourable light. And Peter Sirr is descended from the secret policman who arrested Lord Edward Fitzgerald in 1798. (Yes I have a long memory). But worse, worse than that. They both do poetry readings.  And even worse. They do poetry readings of THEIR OWN POETRY. And this depresses me. I don't need to be depressed by others. I can do that all by myself.

Oh. I've done it already.

Better end right here.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

I Met This Woman and...

Yes, many interesting things in this writer's life start with that line...I met this woman and...

However there are lots of run of the mill things that do not start with that line. And there are several extremely irritating things that do not start with that line. And one of that latter variety starts with this:

I went to Dalkey.

I went to Dalkey to see  Michael the Mystic, my friend and sometime editor.

The Dalkey Book Festival was on. It seemed to be headquartered in the now closed down and lamented Exchange Bookshop. This struck me as akin to celebrating one's wedding night in  the funeral home in which one lies lifeless in the box. But whatever. I avoided the festival. Last year I commented wryly upon it and the chief barker David McWilliams emailed me to tell me I  was a sad bastard, or words to that effect. I avoided the festival and decided to move on. 

Unfortunetly I moved on past this signboard.

Ah, I thought, good to see at least those two Irish media commentators confessing. But not so good to see the sign was pointing in the wrong direction. That blue door is in fact the Masonic Hall,( people like me born in Dalkey know these things). Holy Mother ! Can John Waters and David McWilliams not get the simplest things right?

Answer: No.

Moving on again... I made my way along Castle Street past Bloomsday sort of activities.

I knocked on the door of the residence of Michael the Mystic.

"Ah," he said, as he opened, "I've bad news."

"What's that?" I said, expecting something about the fabric of the cosmos shattering and a time warp dropping us into an alternative universe of absolute horror. Something Dante-ish with added California. And maybe a bit of Mayan cosmology.

"I've lost that manuscript of yours."


"I left it on the DART. Come in."

I went in. Yes he'd been reading the manuscript on the DART and left it behind on the seat like it was a METRO throwaway newspaper.

I said "you mean some gobshite in Bray is reading my private draft material."

He said "don't worry they can't read in Bray."

People in Dalkey say things like that.

He gave me a beer.  His beautiful daughter arrived. She calmed me down. Beautiful young women have that effect on me. Strangely they used do the opposite. I must be getting old.
So that's the waffle over.

Now for I met this woman and...I met this woman and...and I arranged to meet her in Glasnevin Cemetery on a matter of genealogical interest.

Yeah right.

I cannot tell a lie. I arranged to meet her in Glasnevin Cemetery because I met her on the internet and our communications there revealed her to be a  very interesting and attractive woman indeed. And I wanted to meet her in the flesh...and so I met her, there among the bones.

She arrived and didn't look remotely like the photo she had sent. And yes this can be a good or bad thing. In her case it was good. (Though I suppose it is a canny bit of feminine wile to send a photo of yourself at not your best...but enough of lookism.)

We didn't find her ancestral grave. But I did find my lost manuscript, in a manner of speaking.

Because that is a book in which the man guy meets the woman guy in a graveyard. And in the early chapter he stands there leaning against a grave stone, watching her in the distance, watching her as she moves from grave to grave, bending over to read the names. And in  Glasnevin Cemetery I now found myself doing precisely that, watching the woman doing precisely that. And suddenly remembered...hey this is in my book !

How did I write that before I experienced it?

No, I didn't get any answers.

And we didn't find her ancestral grave in Glasnevin Cemetery.

So we went down the road to the Botanic Gardens. And strolled a few hours away among the lanes beneath the trees. And no we didn't find the ancestral grave there either.

So we went to The Bleeding Horse in Camden Street.

No, the ancestral grave was nowhere to be seen.

But at that stage we'd kind of moved on from genealogy.

As mentioned...I met this woman and...

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Making an IMPAC

Well,I didn't win that IMPAC prize. A pity, really,given the state of my roof. But then...not everyone can win it.

Winners have to be members of a small self selecting coterie of inbred self obsessed literati existing on the fringes of the world's realities and concerns...and they won't let me in.

Maybe I should write better?

I'd better try. The roof situation is becoming untenable.

Maybe the new book,  (just out in its E version), maybe that  will buy a few slates. Fingers crossed. (And the print version is, I believe,on its way.)

The Snake Dancer of Sati Choura  divides its time between Dublin and India and that adds up to a billion or so of a potential market. That's a lot of they say in the IT sector. So fingers crossed. Extracts on my website.

Extracts are also published within another book that I have coming along shortly. Not a great world changing panoramic sweep (of a definite IMPAC winning novel) like the snake dancer, rather a ruminative little memoir sort of thing, a prequel to my Walk on The Southside.

Boy on a Bicycle is not going to make much inroads into the billion Indian readers, I fear, but if it does as well as the Southside book it will go very well in Ireland anyway. And will actually have a new lease of life when Snake Dancer wins the IMPAC next year.

This is what writing is all about, planning ahead.

And today is the 14th June and this is my wedding anniversary. So I'm out of here. The woman on the cover of Walk on The Southside is up there in bed waiting for her breakfast.

And if it came between a choice of that situation and winning the IMPAC...well..

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Moving Statues...Moving Winos...

A citizen of the world...I'm either in Mayo or Liguria or Dublin.

Dublin this week. The National Library of Ireland.

There's a notice up.

As part of reorganisation and general improvement to readers' services...

Hate notices like that. I suspect they mean cuts, the country is broke, etc...

My suspicions were founded. The book I wanted was unavailable. (As part of reorganisation and general improvement to readers' services...)

 I ordered up an alternative. It was 9.30AM.

Yes the alternative would be delivered to my table shortly after twelve noon. part of reorganisation and general improvement to readers' services the attendants only deliver books at specified hours. In between these specified hours they do other stuff. To the casual observer this seems to consist of standing around in groups chatting to each other about how the National Library of Ireland has gone to hell.

It has.

You don't have to take my word for it. The academic Diarmuid Ferriter has resigned as a Director, in protest. He has that luxury. Unfortunately I don't, I need the place to do research on stuff that I need to write about. He being a professor of history has other places to go to. Mostly the bank. Because Professors of History in Ireland are very well paid indeed. Grossly overpaid. In seems to the embittered lateral thinker (me) seems the fact that he and his cohort are grossly overpaid in UCD bears directly on the fact that he has to resign from the NLI...because there is no money availble to run the library in an efficient manner.

He probably doesn't see things like that.

I sit at my table, bookless. I notice that the man beside me is  reading bound volumes of the Annual Reports of Bord Bainne. Piled up on his table like a delivery of milk cartons.
The one book I wanted was about Madame Blavatsky. She had nothing to do with Bord Bainne. A pity really.

I have the choice of sitting at an empty table for three hours or leaving. I left and went to DunLaoghaire on the DART to see a man about a ms. In my world view a ms is a manuscript, in the sense of being a manuscript, an unpublished unprinted book. In his view it is a typescript.  He is an editor. And picky. I tell him repeatedly that I've been in publishing for decades and everyone calls an unprinted book a manuscript. "Well," he says, "everyone is wrong. A manuscript is written with a pen. A typescript is wriiten with a keyboard. Simple as that."

Approaching his apartment I get a phone call.

"Do you want milk in your tea?" he asks.

"Yes please."

"Well get some in the shop, I've none."

I walk back a half mile or so to the shop. It's very hot. The shop is full of exuberant schoolboys and girls. Their schooldays just about over and the easy part of life about to commence, that sort of exuberance.

Yeah right.

I buy a carton of milk and walk back to the editor's apartment, thinking of the man in the NLI writing about Bord Bainne.

I have a rich inner life.

There are building works on DunLaoghaire seafront and a huge crane looms over. I and other concerned citizens gather to rubberneck. I whip my phone out to photograph. Its not a very good phone and not a very good photograph. But no matter. They are moving the statue of Christ the King. This is about the only thing that gives artistic or philosophic meaning to my home town of DunLaoghire so they better put in back.

The statue rises into the air.

"It's the resurrection," says one rubbernecker.

"Or they're taking it away for scrap," says another.

I walk on. If I want unfunny comedians  I'll go to the Kilkenny Comedy Festival.

I cut through the grounds of the Royal Marine Hotel. Four star.

Twenty yards from the main front door of this hotel is a victorian bandstand. Click that link above and you'll see it. But what you wont see is what I saw. A knot of people gathered there. A woman of middle years is dancing around waving a bottle in the air, singing and drinking. The scene is vaguely Hogarthian. These people, I realise, are DunLaoghaire's derelicts and winos. Street people. The drinking ones. (The drug crazed ones gather on the plaza beside DunLaoghaire Church.) Building works have displaced these drinking people from their normal location in the shadow of Christ the King and they've now set up a new home on the bandstand.

Right outside the door of the Royal Marine Hotel. Four star.

I observe the scene thoughtfully.I expect to see a bouncer or some such functionary emerge from the hotel to eject the interlopers.

Nothing happens.

Except a large blue airport tourist bus draws up with tourists.

It parks beside the dancing drinking muttering singing alcoholics.

Tourists emerge bemused.

I think yes. National Library of Ireland disintegrating. Overpaid academics throwing shapes. Moving statues. Moving Winos.

Cead Mile Failte.