Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Writer's Block

If I were in my secondary home of Italy, which I'm not, I might have called this piece Writer's Sun Block. But I'm not. Another opportunity for hilarity lost.


I'm in my Irish home working on The Novel. Suffice to say this is based around the Yeats International Summer School which takes place in Sligo. I'm writing the thing about 50 miles down the coast.

Tuesday got into a bit of a bugger-this-writing-game, can't think what to say next. Went for walk to harbour.

There I see large and beautiful yacht stuck on sandbank.  Maybird of Falmouth. Local fishermen trying to pull her off. Took these photos.

Went home. Looked up the Maybird of Falmouth.

Say no more. Here she is. 
Interesting, I thought, boat sails around world through storm and fury, Fastnet Race and so on and so forth, ends up on sandbank in quiet calm harbour.

Then, more interesting. Another coincidence/correspondence/holistic occurance. The Maybird was on passage to Sligo where the owner/skipper intends to go to the Yeats International Summer School.

Sailors Block?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Sustainability and all that.

I went to Galway ten days or so ago, sat in on a speech by the Taoiseach.

I didn't actually go there to hear the Taoiseach. But I heard him anyway. He gave his speech in a large conference tent in Galway.

The Volvo Ocean Race was in town.

I didn't actually go to Galway to see the Volvo Ocean Race yachts but there they were anyway. And very impressive they were too. Not actually having a boat...(haven't had a boat for twenty years, and that a mere Enterprise dinghy in DunLaoghaire)...not actually having a boat I couldn't see the Volvo yachts in full sail...but that's them on the horizon as seen from the Galway docks.

And that's  the wife/stand-in mistress. (She's had her hair cut). We weren't in Galway to hear the Taoiseach or to see the yachts, we were there to meet a son.

The particular son, being the son of this writer and his wife/stand-in mistress, both perhaps 'alternative' and somewhat eccentric, is, naturally enough, a major player in international investment banking. This is what happens, parenting-wise. You try to bring them up right and proper and they end up managing sovereign wealth funds. He had flown in from afar and we, proud parents, had driven to Galway in the (eleven year old) car. (In the unlikely event that same son reads this blog, please note contents of the previous parentheses). Anyway we went there to listen to him at the sustainability conference. (It all comes together, eventually). He spoke with flair and humour and was quite impressive.
Though he was lucky. Comparison wise. Because he spoke after the Taoiseach...who didn't speak with flair and humour and wasn't that impressive. Wellmeaning enough, he was borderline woegeous. And, I admit, in all honesty, listening to him didn't occupy the fullness of my mind and I used some spare available capacity in remembering Richard Douthwaite.

Long years ago I was involved with him in setting up an Irish branch of The Future in our Hands.
It was not successful. We were before our time. Or, rather, before everyone else's time. I reflected on that, listening to the Taoiseach wittering on about the issues which Richard had addressed so passionately. He's in fashion now, I thought, but dead. God be good to him.

Interesting, these conferences.

I noted that the guy sitting in front of us was surreptitiously reading a newspaper DURING PAT RABBITTE'S SPEECH ! But it was the Financial Times so I suppose that's OK.

A nudge in ribs from the wife/stand-in mistress then alerted me to a woman a few seats up who had beside her a copy of Anna Karenina. She was obviously expecting to have a fair amount of down time.

I found this interesting. The Anna Karenina bit.  Because not twenty four hours before I had been writing my new novel in general and in particular writing a few thousand words in which my character Emily Tomkins ( sixteen with long dark hair, you'll love her) is given a present of Anna Karenina by her mother's lover. He's interested in her personal development. (But I haven't got to that bit yet.)

This rather eerie confluence of events struck me as being, well, rather eerie. My mate Mystic Michael says such things happen because of the holistic nature of the universe. He could be right.

After the speeches we were approached by a functionary who invited us to lunch with the Taoiseach. He didn't really want us at the lunch for the Taoiseach, just wanted to butter up the star turn, namely the son/investmnent banker who had flown in from afar with hundreds of millions of other people's money to splash around. Little did the apparachik know that the same son wouldn't want his disreputable parents at the lunch anyway.Lest we disgrace him.

Couldn't and didn't go anyway. Had an appointment to meet my mate John the Polymath. Met him and had hot dogs and drove, not home, but  to Dublin. We had a full social diary that weekend and were headed for a barbecue in a rather elegant house on the southside. Many of the guests were people from a past that was interesting but must  remain unrecorded. Being my age they were all too old for me so I  talked to one of their daughters, as a sort of exercise in time travel. In that she reminded me of her mother as of twenty years ago.  

The daughter was a a Canadian (we get around, us DunLaoghaire folks), worked for an NGO and had recently returned from Zambia. We discussed that, myself having lived in Zambia. As mentioned, we get around, us DunLaoghaire folks. Lovely country, laid back people. (Zambia, not DunLaoghaire). But what really interested me was that as I discussed matters such as  Africa/Development/Gender Issues I was really thinking of an invitation in my pocket for a forthcoming function. It was from my mate the Ambassador of Belgium to Ireland. An evening  of Stella Artois and Leonidas chocolates in Ailesbury Road. (They go as well together as do the Flemings and Walloons). I wasn't actually going to go, life being increasingly short, but it was interesting to have the invite in my pocket as I talked to the young woman from Zambia.

And why?

Because when I lived in Zambia up there on the Congo border, right across the river in the Congo lived the presentday Belgian ambassador to Ireland. I didn't know him there or then but he told me this when I first met him in a Dublin pub. People who have lived on either side of the Congo border have a certain affinity, not to mention a certain ability in self preservation. That's why he invites me to the Belgian National Day. That or he wants to dilute the Belgian thing a bit. But of course none of that's the point, as is fairly usual in my blogs. The point is...weird connections...

And so all that fascinates me.

Anna Karenina and Anna Karenina.

Zambia and Zambia.

I have a Zambian friend in Boston. If I find out she has been reading Anna Karenina this week then...well...I dunno really.