Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In another Life

Many moons ago, I was addicted to badminton...no not that long ago!

In the late eighties, having started to play a bit too late to ever be REALLY any good, badminton filled a humongous crater in my life. My two closest friends (who were also my flatmates)departed to get married and I took up with a racquet and shuttlecock.

For a few years, until a few things intervened, I ate, slept and drank badminton.

Even harboured dreams of becoming a Zhang Ning (the world's top player)

Twenty years on, badminton has come back into my life with a bang (or should I say 'smash'?)Premature retirement from the soccer team by my twelve year old son, due to, in his words: "It's no fun anymore," filled me (and I'm no "Tiger Mother") with disappointment and a generous dose of anxiety. What now for him at weekends & midweek, without his training, matches etc?
So for the second time, badminton came to the rescue. Having spotted the box of dusty runner-up plaques and medals in the attic, earned by sweat and tears during all those wannabe Zhang Ning years, he decides on badminton as his sport of choice.

And he's loving it, bashing and swooping with my twenty year old racquet that carried me through many tightly fought matches.

The icing on the cake, though, was when I mentioned his new sport to my coffee buddies and guess what, even though we are meeting up for years, the four of us turn out to be closet, former badminton lovers!

One morning a week, the walls of our local sports centre now enclose the frantic bashings of a resurrected shuttlecock.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The King's Speech

An enjoyable night out.
The look of sheer terror on Bertie's (Colin Firth) face as he braced himself for a public speaking duty, made my stomach churn with empathy. Any of us who have faced a seemingly unsurmountable challenge (haven't we all at some time?)recognise that gut-wrenching belt of anxiety. Firth got all the facial expressions and body language of the nerve-wracked to a tee. The kindly speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) who helps him and befriends him, is also brilliant, as are the rest of the line up.
The curmudgeon in me also revelled in the absence of inveterate mobile phone activity on the night. The cinema was filled with "older" (maybe "more mature" sounds better!)viewers who gave their full, undivided attention to the movie.

Novellas I love

The novella is to the novel what flash fiction is to the short story: a piece of writing that carries the equivalent punch in a hell of a lot fewer words.

My standout favourite novella of all.
Originally included in the "Close Range" collection, this twenty five thousand word story spans two decades and encapsulates the plight of forbidden love in a pitch perfect way. And the movie was heart meltingly, unforgetteably brilliant.

An atmospheric depiction of 1940's New York, where elusive escort, Holly Golightly plays out her freespirited life, under the loving, watchful eye of the narrator, who lives in the neighbouring appartment. I love the opening line: "I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighbourhoods."

Ian McEwan eloquently describes the impact of a young couple's sexual difficulties during an era - the sixties -where discussion of such things was impossible.

Silk by Alessandro Baricco is set in the 1860's. A happily married French silkworm breeder's life changes when he encounters a mysterious Japanese woman during a trip to buy silk worms. Baricco's prose is as sensuous as silk swirling on the skin.

Written by Francoise Sagan when she was just eighteen years old, the heroine Cecile describes a summer spent in the French Riviera with her philandering father, of whom Cecile says (quoting Oscar Wilde) "Sin is the only note of vivid colour that persists in the modern world."

The Pearl, John Steinbeck

A poor Mexican family try to materially improve their lives, only to discover that becoming "rich" brings another set of problems.

The theme: the obstacles you face to try and make your dreams come true. Have to say, though, the movie didn't do it for me - some stories just don't make engaging movies.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Things I've never done

Tuned in to Graham Norton on Friday night after reading this great blog:
This is my list with loads left out:
I have never:
1. Gone swimming on Christmas day.
2. Read anything by Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky
3. Visited Scotland, India, Thailand and most of America
4. Bungee jumped or anything that involves jumping off anything
5. Watched Grey's Anatomy, Soprano's, Mad Men or CSI.

More to follow

The Writing in the Sky

In early January, Sligo writer Dermot Healy was the subject of RTE One's "Art's Lives."
The documentary was patiently shot and the beauty of the Sligo coastline & the wild geese that fly in the grey skies, as much the stars of the programme as the writer himself. Dermot came across as gentle and convivial and his chats with American writer Tess Gallagher and local writer Leland Bardwell were interesting and engaging.
I had a special interest in watching this programme in that Dermot's wife, Helen, worked in banking in Sligo in the eighties, the same time as me, and we met up, socially, for many's the night on the town. (Hello, Helen, if you're reading this)
I was delighted to read a mention of "The Writing in the Sky" on a blog I love, www.womenrulewriter.blogspot.com
A brilliant quote there from Dermot: "Sleep is a great editor."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Naked, Drunk, and Writing

I am a writer, former banker, former keep-fit teacher, full time mum and occasional finance tutor. I like to cast my eye over the wonder of life, to marvel at the simple stuff, to indulge in gratitude and sometimes have a rant. A lot of my writing has a health angle and articles on sleep, smell, music, laughter, reading and more have been published as opinion columns in "Irish Medical News" magazine. My fiction leans towards crime and a serialised murder story has been published in "Ireland's Issues" magazine. My (nearly finished) crime novella "Secrets from a Bank Vault" tells of murky memories that rise to the surface when an Irish bank goes bust. The latter is in the process of a re-write....oh the stamina needed to finish that book.

Anyway, to mark the occasion of the dipping of my toe into the daunting waters of blogging, I have just started reading the very appropriately entitled: "Naked, Drunk, and Writing." by American author Adair Lara. Lara is an awarding winning columnist and answers questions such as: "How do I make myself write when I'm too scared or lazy or busy?" and tells us that if we don't show any emotion in our writing neither will our readers.