Friday, October 31, 2008

Back to the 80s - the opening nights

I'm sitting in the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny at the back of the stage at the moment. The theatre is quiet for now. Pretty soon the brilliant cast from this musical will arrive and the place will come to life. Show time is a couple of hours away. For now though I relish the opportunity to blog my experiences so far.

People always scoff at me when I tell them that I'm actually quite a shy, private person in real life. They point to my blog, to things like this and to my prediction for taking on a variety of challenges as evidence to the contrary. Truth be told though I constantly push myself out of my comfort zone, away from the security of what I know and to the joy of finding out what a challenge can bring. That in essence is why I chose to play Corey Palmer (snr) in this production in Kilkenny - to see if I could do it.

Could I step out onto a stage and be believable as a 30 year old American looking back on his high school days? Would I make a holy show of myself and be an embarrassment to myself and the kids around me? Could I positively contribute to a medium that I have no experience in but a fascination about and attraction to? Based on my experience of the past two nights, the answers are yes, not totally and yes. That's not bad, not bad at all.

From my first rehearsal a week ago in a school hall outside of Kilkenny to the closing of the curtains last night, I cannot help but feel a huge amount of respect to the young actors and actresses that I've been sharing a space with this week. Their dedication, enthusiasm and above all talent is inspiring and exciting and it gives me huge energy.

To watch these young people transform from local kids chatting about bebo profiles, girls, boys and all that sort of stuff into American High School students in the 80s, to hear the power of their voices, the fervour and exuberance to put into their repeat practises and performances and to know that they enjoy it enough to come back time and again is a wonderful vindication of my involvement here.

Opening night was daunting. Yes, I forgot lines, yes, I relied too much on my script and yes I thoroughly enjoyed it. Despite the initial come down from the energy rush, I went home and proceeded to dream about the show, something that Jason Ryan, the director assures me is common. How could I make it better? What else could I say? How would I manage it?

Other than a voice transplant there was nothing much I could do about my singing, but I came back yesterday and attacked the script with renewed vigour. Little things chopped and changed, and, as I tweeted, it's a bit like "serious" blogging (whatever that is) in that it needs plenty of preparation, improvisation and the ability to get it right first time. It's a skill I'm trying to cultivate and have certainly been learning in the last few days.

It's the young actors though that make this show a wonderful experience for both the audience and the adults working with them alike. Jason, Sharon, Ailish and I have all been side stage watching their antics and in knots of laughter at their honing and spontaneity, wondering just where they get their extraordinary nerve from. There are a couple of scenes - a Proclaimers tribute, Rick Astley fan Billy trying to chat up a girl, a fight scene and two girls simply running to tell teachers about a fight that have had me in stitches since rehearsal.

Their extraordinary personalities as well means that each encounter with them is unique, each conversation hilarious and that their enthusiasm is infectious. It's almost impossible not to enjoy this, despite the daunting prospect of someone I know being in the audience.

I'm having fun. There's no other way to describe this. The amount of work put in by the children, the reaction of the audience and, to be (even more) horrendously clichéd and sentimental for a minute, the smiles on the cast's faces, whether they're the lead roles, background dancers or the juniors who dance to fame is something I'd highly recommend as an experience.

I'll miss not being Corey Palmer after Saturday. I'll miss Amy Mullholland's wonderful voice and star portrayal as the younger Corey, Claire Funchion's splendid portrayal as Tiffany, Corey's love interest, Mairéad Doheny's eerily accurate transformation into Michael Feldman, Terrence Christle's hilarious portrayal as the class geek, the great stage presence of people like Laura Doyle, Pat O Halloran, Sean Lennon, Amy Cooke and Tina Fitzgearld, the delicious mania of Michaela Reilly and Jane Walker as the hilarious Laura and Debbie and the constant entertainment of messers supremo and cool dudes extraordinaire Chris Brennan, Niall O' Riordan and Colum Fulbrook.

One young actress, Emily Mullaly Trotman has a spine tingle inducing voice especially in a soulful rendition of Walking on Sunshine (seriously!) and I look forward to her first album. In fact, the girls should consider performing together more often.

People are downstairs now. Someone's singing "Let's hear it for the boy", actors are rehearsing dialogue once again and the backstage team will soon be hear to ensure everything's ready for the performance. I'm about to take out my script and biro and see what else I can do to make my turn even better.

I'm really looking forward to tonight and tomorrow. The folks will be in the audience. I'm looking forward to hearing what they think. Regardless, it's been a blast. More? Yes please!

Why am I single?

Dear Frank,

I am a thirty five year old single girl who has not had a boyfriend in over seven years and I don't know why? I would consider myself a very good looking girl in a highly paid job with good career prospects and a lot better looking than a lot of my friends but no matter how hard I try I cannot find a man who wants to settle down with me.

Anytime I meet a guy and we go on a date I find myself opening my heart to him and telling him that I want to settle down and start a family and suggest that on the second date that he comes over to my home and maybe bring over some of his clothes and stays a few days to see if he likes living with me. When he doesn't call me the next day I try and call him on his phone which he does not answer for some strange reason.

There was one guy I dated last week who arranged to meet me the following night for a drink. After spending an hour in the bar waiting for him and he didn't show I went around to his house to see if he was there and his mother answered the door and said he wasn't in but I knew he was there as his car was in the driveway. If he wasn't interested in me why didn't he say so or are all men like this and are there no decent guys who want the same in life as me?

There are certain unsolvable mysteries in life - The Marie Celeste, the curse of Tutankhamen, socks going missing in the wash and why Rick O Shea hasn't got the morning slot on 2FM. Now we can add Clodagh's letter to Frank above. Frank is "Dublin's Agony Uncle" for freesheet The Dublin Informer, a newspaper delivered to our house recently. I particularly liked this letter as she sounds like such a catch.

Frank's reply to her?
Dear Clodagh,

Sounds to me like you are a bit of a "bunny boiler" and what guy in his right mind would consider spending anytime with a girl who starts talking about settling down on their first date let alone turning up at his home because he failed to show up for a second date.

In answer to the other questions in your letter, yes I am married and no I don't want to meet you for a drink and no you can't have my home address so you can send me a thank you card.

I'm sure if you start off by actually listening to what a guy has to say when you first date him and find out if you have anything in common to meet for a second date, it would be a start. Guys are human too and like to be talked to instead of being talked at. Remember that beauty is only skin deep. Remember if you get into a serious relationship with a guy that he will spend more time talking to you than looking at you so learn to communicate and don't depend on your looks to get a guy.
I don't know. Seems a little harsh. I mean, Clodagh sounds lovely, doesn't she? It's a tough world out there for single people, especially in a big city like Dublin, and seriously, how else could you expect to meet someone? The bar scene is too loud and expensive, there are far too many weirdos online - you never know what sort of eejit you'd end up with - and we can't all depend on a batman mask to help us pull, can we now?

You'll find more of Frank's excellent advice here, here and in the latest issue (pdf). It's a pity the Informer website isn't a bit easier to navigate. That's advice worth paying for, that is!

What's your take on it? Clodagh, you know, if you're out there, get in touch... Not for me you understand, but, er, my friend...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Blogosfear

Intro | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6 | part 7 | part 8.

"It was a dark and stormy night.

The wind howled through stark leafless trees as cold, fat raindrops hurled themselves against the window pane. I stood shivering as around me the old house creaked in the storm. Lightning flashed in the distance, illuminating the old farmhouse while the lights of passing cars threw strange shadows on a wall where no shadows should be. All of a sudden

- "No, Darragh. Just, no."

- "Sorry, honey?"

-" You shouldn't be reading that sort of thing to him. You know it might give him a bad dream. Besides, it's awful writing. It's typical, contrite and forced narrative with no creativity, hyperbolic overtones and with the worst opening line ever. "It was a dark and stormy night?" Please!"

Daddy turns to me and says "Sorry buddy, but maybe she's right. Besides, it won't be long 'till we're there."

I didn't mind. I was happy with Wupet in the back seat looking out at the road. I'd been playing i spy with him and so far we'd spotted 8 red caws, 3 scarecwows, 2 black baa lambs and loads of moo cows. If I can see just one amblense I'll win and Wupet will be a big silly billy poo face again. He never wins, but he is a bayo with only one eye so that might have something to do with it.

I smile at Daddy who is still looking at me. I like being in the car with Daddy and Mammy. We are taking a trip to a hotel, Daddy says, so we can have some fambley time. He's been working really hard on his pooter and I only see him when he reads me my bedtime story. Mammy got him this weekend as a present even though it's not his birthday or chrissmas. I like presents and mammy says if I'm good, she'll get me and Wupet a new toy soon.

- "I'm okay Daddy. Awe we nealy day yet?"

I'm tired now. We've been driving forever.

- "Nearly, honey" says Mammy in the front. "And what have I told you about pronouncing your r's?"

- "Ah leave him" says Daddy, "He's tired and he's been very good".

He winks at me and turns back to the puter on his knees. I look out the window again. It's getting night.

Mammy showed me pictures of the hotel we're going to on the pooter. It looks nice, but there's no pool. I like to swim. I don't wear my arm wings any more cept in the sea but this isn't at the sea, it's in the country and it's near mountains so mammy said we might go for a big walk except we can't tell daddy, it's his surprise.

it's raining outside. I'm tired. I go sleepy now.

- "C'mon son, we're here. Wherever here is..."

Daddy sounds surprised. "Supwise Daddy!" I say as I wake up. "Do you like it?"

He doesn't say anything but when I see where we are, I know why not.

- "Mammy is wong" I say, "This isn't your supwise!" I don't like it here.

"Oh I'm sure it will be fine, d", daddy says, calling me my favourite nick name cos it's like uncle darr calls daddy. He lifts me out of the car and I look at a place that doesn't look like the photos on the pooter at all at all. It scary and it looks worse in the nighttime. I put my head into Daddy's shoulder and close my eyes as we follow Mammy into the place. She's at a desk talking with a strange man.

"I'm sorry Missus" he says "But I don't know about no photos on any auld inter neh now. I just got your name here from the telephone. You'd have to speak to the boss about that. We only look after the place, meself and me wife and me childer. The boss is the wan you need to see."

She turns to Daddy with a sad look on her face.

"I'm sorry honey" she says "I can't believe this is where we ended up after all that driving. What do we do?"

Daddy let me down on the floor and I looked around. It was dark in this hall. I could hear people in the place. Someone was singing but they weren't very good - even worser than daddy. There was a noise like an evelator. The carpet looked like playdoh burgers. Mammy told Daddy his surprise, that we were meeting Daddy's friends here tomorrow and we could go after that. Daddy gave mammy a hug and turned to the man behind the desk who was using his pencil to pick his nose. He was gross. A big snot face. I don't like him.

Daddy got the key and we walked to the evelator. I don't like evelators - they make funny noises. I was carrying my own bag because I'm a big boy now. It's a special bag. It's got the boy from uncle David's book on it.

We're waiting for the evelator when all of a sudden I hear a sound.

Wap wap wap wap wap

It's so loud! It gave me a big fwight. I turn around looking for it. What's making that noise? Is it the evelator?

WAP wap wap wap WAP

"What's wrong, Darr?", mammy says, "are you okay?"

I want to cwy but I won't. I got a fwight fwom the scawy evelator noise I say.

"What noise?" she asks. "The singing?"

"No" I say, "the big wap noise!"

"The what, honey?" she says. Daddy turns and says the evelator's not working so we walk all the way up the stairs to our rooms on the very top floor. I look at the number on the door. It's like granny's house - 33.

We go in. Mammy uses her phone light to find the switch. The room is smelly. It smells like a nappy but I don't wear a nappy or pull ups any more because I'm a big boy now. There's 5 beds in the room and they all look stinky. I don't like it here. There's no toys like in the other place we were in. There's one light with no cover and a big lamp and a rope in the ceiling that daddy said must be to the attic.

"No TV, no minibar, no towels. Lucky we bought our own toilet trees" says mammy. I'm tired and she puts my blanket down on the bed and pulls out my sleeping bag and I get Wupet and I go sleepy again. Since I got out of the hopsadiddle I have been very tired but I'm getting better the doctor says. I got a medal from the nurse for running the fastest.

WAP WAP wap wap wap

I wake up suddenly. That noise was in bed with me! I look around but it's sooo dark and I can only hear nothing and mammy and daddy aren't there!

"Daddy?" I say. He wakes up and comes over. "What's wrong Darr?", he says. The noise woke me up! I say. The big WAP noise.

"I didn't hear any noise, son" he says. "You must have had a bad dream."

"No daddy, I head it when we got here. It sounds like wap wap wap."

He smiles at me. He thinks I'm being funny. He puts his hand on my head where the hair is starting to grow back. I need to go wee wee. I tell him.

He says there's no light in the bathwoom so we have to go to the one outside the door. Daddy is with me so I don't mind. We leave the woom quietly so we don't wake mammy and we go into the hallway. We go down to the steps and


I jump up and now I don't need to go wee wee in the bathwoom any more. I start to cwy even though only babies do that and I'm not a baby.

When daddy asks what's wrong I tell him about the big WAP noise again. But he says he didn't hear it. He brings me back to 33 and he has to switch on the light in the woom and mammy wakes up and asks what's wong and I have to get baby wipes all over and then new peejay bottoms and they ask me about the WAP noise and they say it must be my medsin but it's NOT my medsin I can hear it!

They put me back in my bed. I ask Wupet if he hears noise but Wupet says he was asleep. Silly billy bayo.


I scream. "I don't like the wap noise. Make it go away. Make it go away. I don't want it any more!"

Mammy and Daddy both come over. They give me big hugs and tell me there's no sound but I hear it and they bring me back to their bed and I can't go asleep because my eyes are putting water out and they wonder if they should give me medsin and mammy says but Darr he's been okay for such a long time maybe we should wait until morning and we'll ring the doctor and daddy says okay. I lie down in the middle and they go sleepy too.


I run and turn on the light. "Did you hee wit?" I shout at them even though I know shouting is bold and only for babies "Did you hee wit now?"

The big ugly tefelone in the room rings. Daddy answers it and talks to the person shouting. "Yes, no, just a bad dream. Yes we'll try. Sorry."

"You'll have to come back to bed, Darragh" he says. "That was the front desk. They've had some complaints about your shouting."

I start to cwy just as the WAP WAP WAP WAP WAP noise starts again. I run to the bed and I pull the covers over my head and I don't mind seeing that mammy and daddy forgot their peejays I just do not want to hear the noise again.


I hold on to my daddy so so tightly. He asks me if I keep hearing the noise. I say yes and he and mammy talk and


they want to give me medsin and I say no and I say to daddy he should ring the snot man at the desk and he should ask about the wapping noise and daddy looks at mammy and he picks up the tefelone and he rings the desk and I hear the man talking and he says he doesn't know what the sound is but he'll send someone up and Daddy hangs up and tells me and


right in the room, right in the bed and now I see that Daddy and Mammy can hear it too.


"What the feck is that?" says mammy sounding scared. She used the bad word. The eff word.


it's the loudest ever and Mammy and Daddy and me have to put their hands over their ears because it's even louder than fireworks and I don't like fireworks noise and


Daddy picks up the tefelone and says now he can hear it too and the man says that he doesn't know but he'll send up his wife and she'll be there once she wakes up and Daddy puts the phone down and


Mammy has put all the lights on now and is using the torch on her mobile and she's now wearing daddy's jeans and he's wearing his trackie bottoms and I'm scawed and they are looking and they go to the door


and into the hall and say they can only hear the noise in our room so they come back in and


they open the wardrobes and look under the bed and they can't see anything!


I'm holding Daddy's hand and I say that the noise is coming from the roof and he looks and he says that I'm right and I'm a good boy and


he and mammy talk and they decide they'll have to go up and they get the chair and they put it on the ground and daddy reaches up for the rope and pulls but the door only opens a little and


comes the noise from the attic and Daddy and mammy try to pull the door open but it's stuck and the noise is definitely coming from there and mammy says maybe we should wait for the lady but daddy says the man probley hasn't told her and that we'd leave soon but we needed to show me there was nothing to be scared of even though I can see that mammy is very scared now but they couldn't get in the attic and


I decide that I'm bwave and I say to them "I'll go into there and see" and mammy says no but every time we hear


I can see she wants to cwy and mammy did a lot of that in the hopsital and I don't like seeing it so I say to daddy "Daddy I'll go. I can fit, like under my bed at home. It will be my adventure. I'll go and I'll see" and daddy says "But we don't know what's up there" and I tell him I'm a big boy and I'm not afwaid and I'll go up and I'll bring mammy's phone for a light and he hugs me very close and he says he's pwoud of me for being such a fighter just like in the hopsital and mammy hugs me too and starts to cwy again. She has very leaky eyes.


and she gives me her phone and she turns on the light and daddy puts my cool runners on my feet and he lifts me up and I climb onto the door and I bend weally low like under my bed at home when I'm playing hide and seek with Wupet and I put the phone in my jammies pocket and I go up into the attic which is much bigger and more dark than the one at home but I go for my mammy and my daddy.


There's not very much light in the attic. I can only see boxes and shapes. I think I hear mice but I'm not scared of mice cos they are of me and daddy is a little girl, he's scared of mice like a girl. I think I see a pooter but that's silly because why would a pooter be in the attic?

There's a window like a circle and I can see the light outside and it's over in the corner and I go forward with the phone like a jedi knight like luke skywalk and I use the force and I walk a bit in and then I see a big wardrobe in the corner like the ones in the books about Nawneea that daddy reads to me but don't tell mammy cos they're too big and I walk towards it and it's huge with two big doors and lots of marks on the front and one door is open slightly and it might be a Monsters Inc door into here and I might get to meet Sully and Mike Wowchowski and I walk forward and the light on the phone switches off!


It's definitely coming from the wardrobe and there's enough light in the window without the phone and I hear daddy asking me if I'm okay and I say yes it's coming from the wardrobe and he says don't open the wardrobe and I say


that I have to stop the noise and I walk forward though I'm scared and I'm glad I went wee wee earlier because I want to now. The door is moving but I can't feel any wind.


The handle looks like a big ugly anmal face but I know mammy is crying cos I can hear her and I want to be a big boy and I make myself step up to the door and I put out my hand and suddenly there's a lot more light from another place and a new woman comes through another door into the attic holding a torch and she sees me and she's big and has grey hair and is wearing a big dressing gown with a fox on it and I think the fox is real and she smiles a smile at me and says

"Well hello day young man. Who awe you and what awe you doing hee?" and she sounds like me cos she can't pwonounce r's either and I tell her and she says "Oh don't be skade by that" and she brings me to the big press and she takes out a key and she holds my hand and I'm a little scared but she has the light.

Mammy is calling at me and I say "I'm with the woman" and she says WHAT WOMAN? and she tries to open the door and bangs on it and shouts and tells me to run away and Daddy tells me to come back to where he is and I don't because I'll find out what the WAP WAP noise is and mammy will stop being scared and the woman turns the key and I can hear mammy crying and calling my name again and again and the big door swings open with a loud creak and a big


and then inside there only things that must be making the noise and she takes them out and she goes over to the door to where mammy and daddy are banging and she turns a handle to make the stairs go all the way down and I go down first to a big hug from mammy and the lady goes down after and says to daddy

"I am the woman of this house and I'm sowwy for you twubble this night. I'll make sure it doesn't happen again. But you have a vewy bwave little boy. I'd look after him if I weh you."

And daddy says but what was the noise as she opens the door to the hallway

And I let go of my mammy and I walk over to my daddy and I tell him I want to tell him and he bends over and scoops me up and gives me a big huge hug and I whisper right into his ear

"It was big woles of wapping paper."

and the woman steps out of the woom holding them and closes the door behind her.

Investigative journalism at its best

This is my favourite news story of the last while.

While I'm sure it wasn't as funny for the residents of the apartment block whose roof blew off in strong winds, I could only laugh at the last line.

It is not clear at this stage why the roof blew off, though today's strong winds are assumed to be a factor.
Do you think?

I've really been trying to think of what else it could have been. Lazy roof tiles? Iron Man bursting from the roof on his way to save the world? Someone played AC/DC's new album very very loud?

Can you come up with an alternative, plausible explanation?


It may just be me but I find this incredibly cute. It's the four to six year old juniors from the Starlight Stage School rehearsing Fame for the interval act of the musical we're doing at the moment.

Standing on stage is a daunting thing at any age, and to see the delight of these children as they do their best to remember complicated dance moves, the words of a song, to smile and to enjoy it is just a tonic. When they walked out on stage for their live performance last night, the collective awwww from the audience was better than any applause before. They also got a huge cheer at the end.

It's a pity the video quality is so poor. I'd love you to hear Eilish Fitzgearld, the young singer who does an amazing job of the song. You can get a sense from the clip, I hope, but she's a young girl with a fantastic voice. Truth be told I've been so impressed with the quality of acting and singing on this show, it makes me wish I'd kept at it when young.

Well done to all the juniors and to Jason Paul Ryan and Sharon Molloy for all their hard work. The only way is up!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My nomination for Blog Post of the Month

I'm late to the party and haven't brought a bottle but there you go.

I'm a believer in the power of stories and in people having a voice and I love to see people use blogs to do so.

K8 the Gr8 has done so with this post about St Catherine's in Wicklow. If you haven't, please read it. There are so many ways you can help, including telling other people who may help. Reading the comments and feedback is another clear display of how supportive other bloggers can be and I hope it goes some way towards helping.

Even though she's already a very worthy winner, I'm nominating her again for Blog Post of the Month.

I'll be back to blogging stuff again meself soon. Well, soonish. Hopefully.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday Tune - Endless Art - Dave Couse, Duke Special and Divine Comedy

It's been a week since I was at the Amnesty International Divine Comedy vs Duke Special gig and I'm still thinking about certain versions of songs they performed. One, as covered by Darren was this updated version of A House's Endless Art:

Dave Couse, who performed on the night with Fergal Bunbury and Rike Soeller, seemed to enjoy doing this.

Thanks to a lovely email from someone who reads the blog, I spent some time updating any of the videos I'd shot on the night. The visual quality's not great but the sound is fairly alright. I don't have Andrew's favourite (sorry dude!) but what I do have are the following:

and dedicated to Lottie and her commenter The Bad Ambassador, Neil Hannon singing Our Mutual Friend:

Brilliant concert and great memories from an unforgettable evening.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ryanair are looking for younger fans with Mr Superfly

Ryanair are trying to "rescue the pop charts" and are now backing the single above to reach number one in the charts.

" 'Mr. Superfly' is a fly with superpowers living in the parallel fly universe of 'Flyspace'.

He came into being when one of Ryanair’s 58 million passengers heard the in-flight music and liked it so much they decided to make a single based on the tune."
The fly-in-question's name is Ryan (geddit?), and there's quite a detailed back story to him, including his work as an Air Traffic Controller, his trip to the Buzzney theme park in Paris and his secret super powers. Perfect kid material and a great memory prompt for Ryanair. Wait for the merchandise, toys, t-shirts and figures free with every kids meal on board a flight...

You've got to hand it to the marketing people. There's his website selling his single (79p) and mobile realtones (£3 a download), you can download his tracks, he's got profiles on Bebo and Facebook and he's got his own MySpace page. The song is being released on November 10th and can be pre-ordered on which is linking through to the main site. The site itself is well designed and fair play, it's an interesting concept that could - pardon the pun - really take off.

It looks like it could be the next crazyfrog, but sponsored. No doubt we'll be hearing "He's fly, he's fly, he's Mr Superfly" on every Ryanair flight for quite a while to come.

God help our ears.

How not to run The Greatest Pub Quiz in the World.....ever!

We've been on the hunt for a good table quiz for a while now. While none of us are quiz specialists, we all enjoy the prospect of a good night out, testing the memory and brain cells and having a laugh. Even better if it's for a good cause and there are prizes to be had.

So when we spotted The Greatest Pub Quiz in the World.....ever! over on, we were delighted. Perfect opportunity to have some fun.

"The time is upon us for “The Greatest Pub Quiz in the World…..ever!” The arrangements have been made, venue has been booked and the quiz masters have been working day and night to create the most challenging questions.

The proceeds of this quiz go to a very deserving cause – The A to Z Children’s Charity. And therefore your help to try and spread the word and get as many people there as possible is needed and appreciated. So tell your colleagues, friends and family and forward this email to anybody who may be interested in attending “The Greatest Pub Quiz in the World… ever!”
Charity fundraising is difficult. Whether it's bake sales, coffee mornings, street collections, carol singing or table quizzes, a lot of time and preparation goes into something that the fundraisers get nothing from except the happy glow of a job well done and funds raised for a worthy cause. Still, it doesn't stop people putting in the effort, getting out there and doing their best, fair play to them.

In something as social as a pub quiz, the basic outline is normally make sure everyone enjoys participating, that the charity gets a good mention, that the quiz itself runs smoothly and that the whole thing is enjoyable - after all, it's just a bit of a laugh, right?

In fairness to the organisers of last night's quiz, they got some of the basics right. Questions, check. Answer sheets, check. People accepting money, check. Loads of people, check. Correctors, check. Charity being mentioned, check.

But, for future reference, here's what you shouldn't do:
  • Don't advertise something for 8pm sharp and then fail to start until 8:45 just because - apparently - the MC is out in the bar having a laugh with some of his mates. You have a full room waiting. Inform people, give some announcements, let people know what's happening.

  • Don't let the first time you check the sound system be when the quiz is about to start. The fact there are tables in two rooms should be an indication that you might need to turn the volume up.

  • Don't expect teams to hand up their own answers. Teams will wait until the last minute to submit their sheets in the hope of a brainwave or hearing the answers from someone else. It just delays the whole thing.

  • Don't start the questions for a round and then stop after question 3 because your mate down the back of the room has a question about the answer given in round one. That can wait until the end. There are more people here than just your friends...

  • Don't assume (a) that everyone knows all your friends down the back, and (b) wants to wave or say hello to them, no matter how "funny" they think their heckles have been. We don't particularly need to know that Mary Cochrane is someone's ma, time and time again.

  • Don't announce the prizes and say "I keep on getting handed great prizes, including tickets to [whatever it was] but God knows what we'll do with them". It's insulting to the sponsor and doesn't show you in a great light either. If the prize isn't good enough, don't offer it.

  • Don't sell raffle tickets under the guise of five for a fiver and then just pick out one strip of five per prize. If you're going to do that, say one ticket is a fiver.

  • Don't advertise same raffles as having "some really great prizes" and then have it announced that the first prize given out is "a gift my [the MCs] girlfriend got from my sister last Christmas but never wanted so we're giving it out here" even if it is a small bottle of Christina Aguilera perfume. Wow, that was worth my money, eh?

  • Don't say "We'll take a break of 15 minutes" after the 3rd round and then let that break go on over 40 minutes. People have busses and trains to catch. We had to leave at a run after the last round and before any results to make sure we got home.

  • Don't leave announcing the answers for previous rounds until 4 or 5 rounds - and an hour - later, when you're taking up time that should be used for other rounds.

  • Don't think we don't want scores. It's always good to know where you are, even if you're way down the bottom like we probably were.

  • Don't commit the obvious mistake of having ambiguous questions. It's a pub quiz - you will be taken up on it. Asking "Who were the main actors in "The Sting"" only to have people shout up "Which one?" and you saying "Ah either, you'll get double points if you name both" is just looking for trouble.
I could go on, but quite simply, organisation is key. Your friends and your colleagues may be more forgiving, but the random people who saw it on message boards, who go along to support your cause and to have a good night deserve the same welcome and respect. People have given up their free time and money to have a good night. They deserve something better than a quiz that we all agreed was the worst one we have ever been at.....ever!

(You know it's bad when you start taking random photos just to pass the time.)

While it's great that so many people helped to organise last night, and while I'm happy that my money went to a good cause, I certainly wouldn't be rushing back to another fundraising event organised by them, if this quiz was anything to go by. I don't mean this post to be as directly personal as it reads, but I'd find it difficult not to say anything that might help improve the next one.

I realise I'm probably being pedantic, that I'm expecting far too much from what's just a laugh and that sure as long as the charity gets money, then it's grand, isn't it, but for me, at least, it's not. I left with the thought that more could have been done, it would have been easier to make it better and that if we'd had a good time, we'd have been the first to recommend both event and charity to people. Now though, it just becomes a "Pity it wasn't better".

The text I got on the bus home "We should organise a charity blogger table quiz for sometime in the new year" is buzzing around in my head today. Time to put the lessons I learned and the preaching to practical use perhaps?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This Halloween I'm going back to the 80s

"Ladies and Gentlemen, my graduating class from William Ocean High School. And that little dude... well that's me - Corey Palmer."
So begins my first major role on stage since the John Player Tops of the Town 1985 is the local village hall.

Yes indeedy, yours truly is joining the cast of Back to the 80s, a musical production happening in Kilkenny's Watergate Theatre on October 29, 30 and 31.

Darragh Doyle Corey Palmer is a thirty something American looking back at his time in High School during the 80s, a time
... when Michael Jackson and Rick Astley were the Kings of Pop, when bubble skirts and blue eye shadow were cool and when the Atari was cutting edge technology ...
Sounds like fun, eh? My role as narrator is quite simple, telling the story of how "the 17 year old Corey is madly in love with his next-door neighbour, Tiffany Houston, one of the coolest girls in the school. However, she barely notices this, as she is too busy mooning over Michael Feldman, the hottest guy around."

Throw in some energetic 1980s classics including Kids in America, Girls just want to have fun, Footloose, Mickey, Video killed the Radio Star, Man in the Mirror, Material Girl and 500 Miles, the talent of local children from the Starlight Stage School and me having to sing - yes, Darren, sing - a couple of verses from the Glory of Love, Total Eclipse of the Heart and You Give Love a Bad Name and you'll get some idea of what will be going on.

Those who know me know I'm rarely one to pass an opportunity to try something new go by. I can't act, I can't sing and my American accent leaves a lot to be desired, but it will be fun, I'll enjoy giving it a go and it's something I've wanted to try for a while. Even better, all profits are going to the charity Self Help Africa, so it's for a good cause too.

If you happen to be in the area on those dates, please don't drop in. It'll be difficult enough with me mammy in the audience wondering why I'm wearing make-up, without having bloggers throwing the rotten tomatoes that Niamh, budding entrepreneur that she is, has offered to stock up on to make some money.

Of course if your ideal night out is seeing people having fun, a Star Wars dream sequence, high-energy dance routines, the obligatory 80's party scene, copious amounts of blue eye-shadow, twenty cans of hairspray, as well as some of the most popular songs ever written and finding out if Corey ever gets the girl of his dreams or if one character's crazy idea that CDs will one day replace tapes will come true, then tickets are €12 and available on the door. You'll find more information on the show itself here.

Right now, I better go learn some lines.
Shot through the heart, and you're to blame
Darling you give love a bad name...
Here's a scene from one of the productions:

And to think, I could be dressing up in fishnets and seeing Rocky Horror in the
Sugar Club instead... Ken McGuire has a lot to answer for!

Aravind Adiga wrote the kind of book he'd like to read

Image from here.

He wrote "the kind of book I'd like to read", he told the BBC. "I like books that have ideas in them and that move and entertain."
I'm full of admiration for this year's Man Booker Prize Winner. Aravind Adiga, the 34 year old first time novelist had been given odds of 7/1 to win before the ceremony, but his book, The White Tiger in less than 300 pages delivers a simplicity of narrative complementing a complex storyline. Its strength of delivery is such that Michael Portillo, chairman of the Booker judges said "In many ways it was the perfect novel. This book changed me, it changed my view of certain things, like what is the real India and what is the nature of poverty."

Yesterday Adiga said his debut novel was set in today's India and "revolves around the great divide between those Indians who have made it and those who have not".

"At the heart of the book it is something existential," he added. "It's a quest to break out of the circumstances you find yourself in - it's a quest for freedom."

There are three books featuring aspects of India I return to time and again - Yann Martel's Life of Pi, itself the 2002 Booker Prize Winner, this one and the sprawling epic that is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, a book I've read once a year every year since I discovered it. It's the imagery of India I love and indulge in, a country I'm almost afraid to visit, its rampant poverty and crowded population contrasting with the spiritual homes, the scenery, food and welcome of the people. I'm almost saving a visit until I have enough money to enjoy it, enough time to spend and enough gumption to truly value the experience.

Adiga was brave and uncompromising in his writing. Rather than set it in a colourful Bollywood-esque setting or taking the stance of a morally-guiding Hindi movie, without setting it solely in the slums or in some colonial Kipling-esque form, this novel moves through an uncompromising setting of a poor,dark, socially ill India.

In an interview in May Adiga was questioned about the poverty based disparity in his novel, about the premise that one man can break out of the class system to become successful and said
"I believe the extraordinary social structure [in India] is beginning to come apart to some extent. The shameless way wealth is flaunted is extraordinary. Poor people [see] the money the very rich have. Migration of labor is increasing in a big way, especially in north India. Old traditional ties and social structure in the villages and small towns are disappearing, and social unrest and resistance are growing. The Naxalite [Maoist] movement is reviving in many parts of the country and is gaining strength.

My novel attempts to look at what kind of man would be prepared to break the structure. You can in essence say this is a warning story, a fable of things that might lie ahead for India."
I have no aspirations to write a book, simply because I doubt I'd have the commitment. I also prefer the medium of photography and film to communicate complex ideas - I tend to just write and write without reaching a conclusion. My involvement with the 4 day movie project and with Darklight has fed that hunger, but I can't help respecting and praising Adiga for his success. It's inspiring to see anyone who has the dedication to sit and put their creativity into something that will ultimately bring entertainment, or even better, a new perspective to anyone who can pick up their book.

But to write it in an individual style - without compromising your style because anyone thinks it's wrong, stupid or flawed because it doesn't match their literary aspirations, well, that's just that extra bit special. Such was the joy of his editor, Ravi Mirchandani, interviewed by Time Magazine, who said of Adiga's narrative "The voice is fantastic and it never falters".

The White Tiger is the most recent novel to reignite a thirst to travel, to see India, to see for myself a culture and a people that seems to be quickly changing but is still a world away from our own. It's almost time. I have Aravind Ariga to thank for that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pat's signs always makes me smile

I know I've blogged it before, but talking with Pat Ingoldsby is always an enjoyable experience. Even better is watching the reaction of those who pass by to the signs he sticks up behind him.

These were Monday's:

Niamh is adamant I try the last one.

Obligatory budget post: Ah well that's all right then

That's from yesterday evening's Evening Herald. It makes me think that Whoopsadaisy may have a point.

"I’ve had a crap day - let’s go to the pub, sure it’ll cheer you up to get pissed.

I’ve just lost my job - let’s go to the pub, we’ll commiserate with you.

I’ve just had a baby - let’s go to the pub, to wet the baby’s head.

I feel a bit ill, too much to drink last night - let’s go to the pub, another pint will sort you out."

Ireland's economy has gone to hell, the banks are in a mess, medical cards for old age pensioners are affected, unemployment is up, taxes are up but sure as the Herald says, the pint is safe. Wahey.

It really makes me wonder about the Herald's journalistic policy and the country's priorities.

What do you think? Is that important enough to warrant the front page of a national newspaper? Is it a sign that we, as a nation, are far too dependent on drink?

Amnesty International Small Places Tour: Duke Special vs Divine Comedy

Amnesty International is marking the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the ‘Small Places Tour’. Inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s call for ‘concerted citizen action’ in her famous “small places” speech in 1958, musicians and fans will raise their voices in song and action in venues, cities, towns, communities, neighbourhoods and workplaces.

Through hundreds of concerts held around the world, Amnesty International will draw attention to urgent human rights concerns, recruit thousands of new human rights activists and, hopefully, raise much needed funds for Amnesty campaigns.
Take two fantastic musicians, their mutual appreciation for the finer things in life, two black grand pianos and one epic battle with plastic lightsabres and you have some idea of what the Small Places Tour in Dublin's Vicar Street was like last night.

From the opening act of pianist (Dave Couse), guitarist (Fergal Bunbury) and Rike Soeller, a young cellist who reminded me just how sexy an instrument in female hands can be, it was clear that this wasn't going to be a standard gig.

Vicar Street looked and sounded great. The stage setting of pianos, candelabras and dry ice provided a suitably moody background to the music to come. When Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy and Peter Wilson, aka Duke Special came on stage in suitable duelling attire, the audience whooped and cheered their feigned duel, taking sides as naturally as our seating would allow.

It was somewhat appropriate that I end up sitting at Hannon's side of the stage, being far more familiar with both his music and style than I am of Duke Special. Despite meeting said gentleman at the Meteor Awards earlier this year, it was perhaps his appearance that suggested a style of music that wouldn't be to my taste. Well, I certainly learned not to judge a book (or indeed musician) by the cover.

Despite Darren's insistence on his genius, I somehow evaded his musical talent until last night and I'm, quite frankly, delighted I did since I can think of no better way to discover such talent. It was his song "I never thought this day would come (and now it won't go away)" that confirmed to me just how appropriate the pairing on stage was.

Suitably melodramatic, foppish, gentlemanly and witty, the dialogue and musical interaction between Hannon and Wilson, while entertaining was a second to the music. I hadn't expected the premise to be that they would each cover the other's songs, duetting on either neutral, well known songs or some of their classics. What becomes of the broken hearted was great:

Each made the songs they performed their own and when Duke Special jokingly commented they'd rerecord a certain track for their live album, there was a cheer from the audience at the thought that this pairing would make more music together.

I was teaching the ten year old daughter of a friend of mine the basics of piano on Sunday evening, amused at how something as simple as "thumb under, after e" could seem complicated to a beginner. Watching Hannon play last night I was reminded just how skilful a pianist can be and how much I love hearing the instrument played well. Even National Express, a song that relies heavily in the original version on accompanying instruments was a joy to listen to, to sing along to and to enjoy.

(image not from last night's gig, from here)

Equally impressive was Duke Special, who has a great knack for involving the audience. He did a simple Victorian drinking song ("Down at the old Bull and Bush"), just one verse and a chorus that had a packed Vicar Street singing along - the video is below.

He was in no way pretentious, never deferring to Hannon as a superior but not claiming to be better or more popular. He seemed to enjoy just being there, hearing his songs sung by Hannon and the audience. We certainly enjoyed listening to him. He's got a lovely, natural Belfast accent while singing that makes his sound quite distinctive. Try You're So Vain to see what I mean:

Ultimately the quality of a gig comes down to personal taste and experience. I certainly enjoyed it, surrounded by friends, listening to good music, musing on how a pretty awful day can be turned around by indulgence in something I love - quality live music, a good crowd, a great venue and an outstanding cause. Each box of same was ticked last night and it'll be a while before it's matched, I think.

It is to Amnesty's credit that they could get two such artists to perform for their causes, and it certainly established them firmly on my radar. I've been checking out their site this morning to see how to get involved. The simplest thing you - if you're on a Republic of Ireland phone network - can do is text 'join' to 51444. The Small Places Tour continues around the country, including, I'm delighted to see, the Tracy Chapman gig in the Olympia in December which the lovely Stel has arranged tickets for. Woo.

I look forward to listening to more of Duke Special. He's starting a tour in November that I'd love to see, and his new album I never thought this day would come is released on Friday. Definitely one for the collection! I'll certainly be keeping an ear out for any future collaborations between The Divine Comedy and him.

While I hope Amnesty, and all the people they help benefited from last night, I really think the ones who had the most fun were the audience. We were treated. We were privileged to be there and we enjoyed it. If that's not what a good gig should be, I guess I don't really know what is.

Duke Special with a Victorian drinking song, followed by a daring duel:

Update 21/10 - I've just published any of the videos I took on the night. More details here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Saved by a girl. Again.

(Click for bigger)

I posed for this for Sean a good while ago. Going through some files today, I came across it again. You'd be amazed how long I had to stand holding a brush handle...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thursday thought: What is success?

What is Success?

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;

This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Been re-reminded of this by this Blog Pound conversation. It's one of those poems that I've handwritten and carry with me, reminding myself that it's all about attitude.

If you haven't read this before, I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

An artist studio in a shopping centre

One of the most interesting projects I've been invited to help with this year is the Scotch Hall Art project. An empty space in the Scotch Hall Centre, Drogheda is to be transformed for the next two weeks into a temporary Art Studio and workshop space for the public to try their hands at painting and drawing.

Sean O'Dwyer is going to host a series of live demonstrations, art events, workshops and mini-shows that the pubic can get involved with where people can get a chance to paint and draw with him. I'll be there from this evening helping to get things set up for a private viewing of the Open Studio space. I hope to be able to try and blog a bit of it too.

Sean has been painting, sculpting and teaching for longer than I've known him. His teaching technique, called the Perfect Painting method, has helped people who have never painted before achieve remarkable results in a one day workshop.

Using primitive cameras, as Da Vinci, Vermeer, and Ingres did, Sean has a unique gift in making even the least confident person feel comfortable with a brush and produce something they can be proud of. The results of his workshops tend to speak for themselves.

Among the things happening in the open studio for the next two weeks are:

  • A day by day viewing of the preparation and making of unique large scale oil painting for Scotch Hall to be displayed in the centre.
  • An exhibition of works in progress entitled "Aspects of Her" by Sean
  • Perfect printmaking: a mini-show of prints designed by the artist and created by participants from Perfect Vision painting workshops
  • Invited guests and workshops on themes related to the paintings.
The Scotch Hall Art Project runs from the 7th to the 19th of October during shopping centre hours. Project events such as art exhibitions, demonstrations and workshops are available to the public, but will need to be booked in advance.

Sean tells me there'll be more information on his website. He's also on Wikipedia and blogs when he can too. Here's a nice video of the artwork he used to create the painting above.

New Moo mosaic frame for your MiniCard collection

It's delivering stuff like this that makes, the company that prints all those wonderful business cards, rock.

It's a new mosaic frame for all those tiny business cards (MiniCards) that you may have both collected collected and have given out recently. It fits 20 cards, either portait, landscape or both, it's €26.99 and if you order before Sunday 19 October with code 45TR32 at the checkout, you'll get 35% off a pack of MiniCards.

It shows they value listening to their customers. I've long tried to maintain my collection and also keep the ones I print that I like for myself. It's a pretty unique way of keeping people in mind.

Check it out here. It's just been announced today.

Flash Mob kissing in the Ilac Centre

This is a lovely video. Last Saturday as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival, a group called the Performance Corporation puckered up and gave Dublin KISS.

"The ILAC Shopping Centre in Dublin city centre came to a standstill when unsuspecting shoppers witnessed a mysterious outbreak of kissing couples in the main concourse. To the haunting sound of the song “Llorando”, bystanders watched as apparent strangers came together, drawn by some strange emotional force and began to kiss.

The best thing was some of the passers-by joined in!

Then, as quickly as it had begun, the kissing couples parted, melting once more into the crowd."
Almost 100 people were involved as part of the performance, apparently, though they didn't know what they'd signed up for until lunchtime on the Saturday where the performance would happen and what it would involve.

Judging by the reactions of some of the crowd and participants, it doesn't seem to have been an altogether unpleasant experience, though the reaction at 1:45 speaks volumes.

More kissing in Dublin needed, eh?

Put a sticker on it

I wonder what he uses to clean those windows?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Seoige sisters in threesome shocker

Or am I reading that wrong?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Monday cheerlinking

Links worth cheering (very late this Monday).

Isn't this photo amazing? Found over on the delightful Panti's blog-job. It's become a place I visit daily. I also liked this post.

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Help raise €20,000 for Age Action Ireland by joining the Innocent Drinks big knit. Patterns are here. Stitchlily has crocheted lovely baseball caps.

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You want chocolate? Jen has chocolate! Welcome back after the break.

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Did you know that Africa has a population of 800 million, making up 13% of the human race? More facts and fantastic photos here. They're seriously amazing.

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Could you write 40 words (no more, no less) about 365 people you know? It's an intriguing and challenging concept.

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Do you reckon she's a bit excited about the holiday?

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Cheery blog post title of the week: "Hello there and welcome to a bit of optimism."

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Three years and four weeks old and already getting homework. Actually, already asking for homework. Those circles are difficult!

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Raptureponies found unique photos of Dublin and shared.

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It's not often you get reminded of one of your favourite quotes by a sheep called Betty.

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Paddy continues to educate: photos without flash.

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Brian reminded me this week how much I miss Zig and Zag from the telly. The sketch reminded me of Ben's POS.

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The very best of luck to Graham and all those involved in the premiere of new Irish film, Anton the Movie this Friday at Dundrum. I look forward to seeing it.

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Attract tits and other songbirds. I laughed at this, a lot.

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Finally, thanks to the - The Gospel according to Sex and the City anyone?

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Cheerlinking - cheerleading without the pompoms! :o)

As always, if there's any other links worth cheering that you've spotted out there, please do share :)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Another Saturday...

Story links: Intro | part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 7

Walking down this road I wonder once again how I could be silly enough to forget to charge my iPod the night before. It goes everywhere with me, certain songs like old friends, certain lyrics companions and evocations of memories I’ve been using to shield myself from the world. I’m consoled by the knowledge I’ll be there soon, that I’ll see her, that we can spend some real time together. The way I’ve been feeling recently healthwise is difficult to explain to anyone – part of me is afraid it’s all in my own head, that there’s nothing wrong with me.

It was partly this that caused the distance between us, both physical and emotional. She wanted to help. I didn’t know how she could so I didn't let her try. I was surprised she put up with me, for all my words of emotion, of connection, of being intrigued and enthralled. I was delighted to get a reply from her when she came back from her holidays that seemed to indicate she was excited about seeing me. That’s what tonight would be about. I hoped we’d be able to spend some quality time. I’d missed doing that.

I’ve always liked walking around different parts of Dublin, especially places I rarely get to. Thomas Street, the Liberties, The Coombe, Kilmainham, on towards Inchicore, Rialto or Crumlin have always been places of fascination – a glimpse of old Dublin overlaid with the multicultural city I’ve chosen to make my home.

I always tend to compare it with London, a city I’d move to in a heartbeat given the right circumstances. Even streets like this one, old style houses a stone's throw away from the hustle and bustle, the cafés, the Luas line and the madness hold their own charm, despite it being just an ordinary council estate, a short-cut to her house.

In the absence of music I listen to the sounds of the streets, the traffic, the TVs blaring, the conversations over fences. Here’s a part of Dublin that hasn’t lost all its focus on people – mothers chatting to the neighbours, old folk having a natter on the corner and children playing on the road. It reminds me of home and contrasts sharply with the anonymous neighbourhood I now live in.

Someone is calling up a stairs in the house I pass. “Are you okay up there?” a voice enquires, followed a few seconds later by a faint “Yeah, I'm fine”. My own mother’s yell up our stairs would have pierced soundproof lead-lined bunkers. No matter how loud I had music on, no matter how deeply asleep or engrossed in a book I’d be or how far into the computer game; when that woman wanted my attention, she knew how to get it. Before I appreciated the lifestyle she led, almost housebound due to mobility and illness issues, alienated from friends and neighbours due to small town politics, backbiting and bitchiness, I resented these intrusions. I was in my room, my control centre, my haven. Why bother me for something as mundane as going to the shop for milk? I was saving the world up here – or at least saving Roland On The Ropes.

The older I got though, the more I realised her reliance on me was a mark of respect, of trust and I became happy to help, no matter how captivating the book or high the level. I realised I missed her. I always do in the evenings. I smiled, looking up at the house that had prompted the good feeling inside me, wondering if, behind the net curtains was someone as happy as I was right then.

The sun had started its decline behind the trees of the Phoenix Park in the distance. I checked my watch, quickening my pace. I didn’t want to be late this time. I’d brought a bottle of wine in my bag, spending ages choosing a nice label, one that showed I’d put a bit of effort in. I’d decided not to do the whole shirt and trousers thing either – based on her feedback I was in jeans and the innocent t-shirt she liked. It felt peculiar – I’m not very fashion conscious but I do like my appearance to convey a certain image or representation of me. Even on the days I don’t work, I’m happier with a shirt on. I'm rarely aware of what’s cool, hip or trendy so I just dress in what I know, rather than what apparently suits me. My shopping habits continued to be variations of the same style except for the rare occasion someone would come with me. Gifts of clothes were always appreciated, though I’d look at some of the things Aoife would pick out and say “Really, you’re serious?” She always was and they tended to always suit. I’m never in the mood for clothes shopping – in and out of Penneys with shirt, trousers, socks, boxers, top. Sorted, and usually under 60 euro. Me mammy would be proud. Herself less so, though she’d never said it outright. I liked that about her.

I liked a lot about her to be honest. I’d missed her while she was away. I didn’t think I would – I never gave her a proper, concrete impression. Wrapped up in worries about illness, afraid of committal, engrossed in others more than her or myself, I’d managed to give her an idea that I didn’t like her, that I didn’t want to spend time with her, that she didn’t matter to me, when, in fact, she mattered so much that it was scary. I thought by not moving in any discernible direction I was doing the best thing for all concerned, when I was only making things worse and solving nothing.

No matter what else I knew that my friends would want to see me happy. I was delighted by how easily she was accepted into the circle, how much they liked her and were happy for me. We looked good together. Fine, there were issues, but sure aren’t there always? Nothing I wasn’t prepared to overlook, to overcome, to work through. I liked her, she liked me. I wanted to keep it that simple.

It really was hometime now. Cars were pulling into driveways, porch lights being switched on in anticipation, the Centra on the corner full of people grabbing the Herald, the milk, the cigarettes or pizza for the evening. I wondered what she’d cook. She’d been flirting with the idea of veganism, her commitment to the environment and to conservation becoming a bigger part of her life. I had a hankering for pasta and pesto, as long as it wasn’t the red stuff. There are certain things that even the best vegetable mix can’t mask and that for me is one of them. The taste rose in my throat. I fished for and found the mint tic-tacs I’d stocked up on in Lidl last week. Feck it, if nothing else at least my breath would be okay.

The last few yards found me slowing down. I was early enough to be considerate. I stood in on the pavement, allowing people to pass. Children ran around with bonfire materials, cyclists whizzed by, car radios could be heard through windows. Catching an echo of U2’s 'One' caused a smile. I gave myself the once over, checking the clothes were okay, wiping the shoes in the grass, tossing the hair a little, swallowing a couple more tic-tacs.

It had been ages. We’d arranged this meeting by text and SMS is always a tricky medium to judge. Meanings can be lost, messages misjudged, motives questioned unnecessarily. Was it too late for me to tell her I wanted her in my life and not just as a friend? Was that what she wanted to hear? Had time, distance and new surroundings changed her outlook, given her new priorities and ideas? Had she met someone else? As I walked up the steps to her front door, I resolved to accept whatever she’d say, but to hug her when I saw her tightly, as if that would make her know how I felt and say what my words probably wouldn’t convey.

I rang the doorbell. Someone came down the hallway.