28 July 2009

What a Night!

So last night I went to see the Boys since they were in town.

Anticipation was high, especially as I had never, ever, been able to see them live until now. Had heard a lot on the media, of course, and from some people who had seen them on the Friday and the Saturday night...

Everything I heard, everything I was told was so, so wrong. Because...




What a Night!

What a Concert!

What a Show!

It was so, oh so much better than anything I thought it would be.

The stage is amazing. Croke Park is no small stadium, but it was totally dwarfed by the Claw. And as night fell, the lights, the colours, the movements, turned it into a mesmerising experience. Some feat of engineering!

The interaction with the crowd had to be experienced. On more than one occasion 80,000 voices were leading the band as one, instead of the other way round. All the boys could do was keep playing until Bono could eventually regain control of the lyrics!

I think this is one of the best, if not the best I have been at. Good thing I had decided to take today as a day’s holiday, as I feel very hung over – and no alcohol consumed on my part yesterday... it was not needed to feel high! My head is still swimming with the music, the sounds, the sights.

I did not take many photos and only a couple of minutes of video. I was far too busy soaking up the experience, rocking like crazy, and singing my head off. But here are a very few shots - some not so great, but it was hard not to move when at maximum focus of my little camera, with so much around me!

Oh yes, and just to prove I WAS THERE...

For those of you who might be going to see them in the months to come – ain’t that right, Elbog? – Get On Your Boots. But also hold on to your hats! Because you ain’t got no idea what’s coming!


25 July 2009


Ireland. Land of Saints and Scholars.

I am not much into Saints. Scholars are more my thing. Actually more novelists and playwrights.

If I was playing the Word Association Game and asked to give the first name that came into my head for “Irish playwrights”, my answer would be Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde. In particular I would think of a powerful interpretation of Beckett’s En Attendant Godot (which Beckett himself translated, giving us “Waiting for Godot”) in a 100 seater theatre in the Latin Quarter in Paris (gosh, that was about 35 years ago! Before I moved to Ireland) that had me in a daze for ages afterwards. The first time I saw the Importance of Being Ernest – it was on TV, a BBC production if I remember right – introduced me to Wilde’s humour just as I had acquired enough English to understand all the words, sentences, repartees, double meanings. I was hooked.

Continuing this game, say “Irish novelist” and I answer James Joyce. I have been brave enough to make my way through most of Ulysses… not all, mind you, but I will get there, in time. Only a few months back I re(re-re)read Dubliners. And once again I was struck by how many people I currently know who could so easily have been the models of some the characters in these short stories. To me, the mark of a true artist is the ability to reveal the timeless core of the human psyche.

Strangely, both Joyce and Beckett left Ireland to set up life in France. Strangely both Wilde and Beckett died in France.

This brings me to my other side: French writers. There the choice is harder for me, because, instead of chancing on works and appreciating them for what they bring up in me, I was steeped into French literature from an early age. Hard to distinguish the tree from the forest. Yet if the game went along the lines of “favourite novel” I would shout Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos. A master piece of construction, a web spun through letters going back and forth between the various characters, each presenting a very different interpretation of the events. And a master piece of exploration, dissecting and exposing the very best and the very worst of human motives. Still so real today!

Now say to me “French Playwright” and I answer: Molière. Of course! The one and only! Again what has always appealed to me is the seemingly simplistic universality of his characters. Some feat when we consider that all of his work is very firmly set in a specific period of time, the 17th century France of the Sun King Louis XIV.

I might be accused of playing it safe, coming up with such predictable giants. Sometimes the “giantness” is indeed justified. And I would not play the game with more recent or current writers. So many to choose from, the choice would be so influenced by my most recent reading!

Because I love reading. I love books. Always have, since I first learnt to read. And I have passed this on to my children. As tiny babies, a few months old, I would place books on their laps and read stories to them. Anything with colourful pictures and a bit of a plot, irrespective of the book not being for “that” age group. I have read to Cathal too, from early on. I find this is a special time for the two of us, quietly sitting side by side, close. I read and he listens, most of the time. He turns the pages, back and forth. It’s nice.

And then he takes matters into his own hands and does a critical review of today’s serving:

Genetically, Cathal is 75% Irish, 25% French (if there is such a thing). As you can see, I strongly encourage the scholarly side of his heritage! In particular I am keeping safe in my home a book I have salvaged from his mother and uncle’s childhood, a beautifully (and funnily) illustrated copy of Joyce’s letter to his grandson Stephen, The Cat and the Devil… can’t wait to read this one to him soon. The language is simply too truculent!

BBBBook! Indeed!

12 July 2009

Better not ask the reason why

Three years ago, on a beautiful Saturday evening on the 15th July, a young, vibrant, talented girl called Catherine, with nothing in front of her but Life, lost hers by the side of a country road near Waterford. She was killed as the 16 year old driver lost control of the car she was a passenger in.

Catherine was 13.

I will never forget the shock of the phone call I received the next morning. I was numb for days. Numb for the loss of such a young life in such a stupid and unnecessary way. Numb for her mother H., a dear friend of mine, as I vainly tried to comprehend a fraction of what she must have been feeling.

A few weeks ago I received another phone call from the same common friend who had rung me 3 years ago: H., Catherine’s mother had just been diagnosed with cancer. Without warning, without a hint that there could be something there...

The numbness took hold again. But it was slowly overshadowed by a question, creeping into the recesses of my mind: Why?

Why pile so much on the same person? On the same family? And how much can someone be expected to cope with?

I had to quickly set this aside. At the moment my friend does not need my questioning. She needs the support of all who love her. She needs our strength, our encouragement.

And to be fair to her, she has been so open about it, right from the start, that I admire her for her honesty and her courage. And here I want to publicly salute this in her.

I have felt so helpless since this news. Because, when all is considered, and said, and done, there is absolutely nothing I can do to fight this most insidious and sneaky disease and its onslaughts on her. So I did the only thing I could think of. I waited a couple of weeks for H. to get over the worst effects of the first round of treatment, and then went down to Waterford this weekend, just before she goes back to hospital tomorrow for the second round. I stayed with another friend, and three of us met up with H. on Saturday to spoil her rotten for the day. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperated – so much for the Sunny South-East! What should have been a beautiful touristy drive along the River Suir from Cheekpoint, to Passage East, and onwards to Dunmore East, with a stop in Woodstown for a walk on the beach, turned into a soggy drive with the occasional glimpse of scenery when the fog and the lashing rain abated somewhat. But we did spend hours together, chatting about this and that, from the most serious to the most frivolous of subjects, catching up on all our respective news. And we treated ourselves to a nice leisury meal in Dunmore East, though we got quite drenched running in from the car, and back out again several hours later. I suppose this was also part of the fun of the day.

Because it was a fun day, being together, laughing (and the odd time crying) together. And this was the most important thing of all. H. is not alone. She has people around her who care, even if some of them are not geographically as close to her as they would like at this time.

The reason “why” is not relevant at the moment. What is relevant is the support and love we can give her.

H., I know you follow this blog. So whenever you have a look at it again, and happen upon this post, think of this windy, rainy, yet oh so lovely day we had yesterday. Until the next time my friend, take good care... ;-)