Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cheryl Cole and accents

Cheryl Cole's heavy Geordie accent is supposedly the reason for the abrupt end to her American "X-factor" stint.

For example, a sentence such as "My brother looks at the water" becomes "Ma bruh-va lukes a th'wa'a" when Cheryl wraps her vocals around it. And while it is rather important that she can be actually understood when she's handing out those gems of wisdom to wannbe stars, let's hope that she doesn't decide to go all elocution conscious now and lose her adorable Geordie twang, something that has contributed to her status as the 'Nation's sweetheart' (In British Isles anyway)
There's an openness about an accent, a statement of "This is me, this is where I'm from, take me as you find me."
Regional accents in Ireland are becoming a rare thing, if the young ones I come into contact with (that includes my own children) are anything to go by. The mid-Atlantic twang or the "Dort" accent, which is littered with "like" and has an upturn in tone at the end of each sentence, seems to have replaced the auld Irish brogue.

I'd hazard a guess that one would find it hard, these days, to distinguish the accents prevalent in the cloakroom of a Leitrim (West of Ireland) nite club

from the equivalent in Dublin city centre.

An accent like Cheryl Cole's, even it's, at times, unintelligible and has lost her the gig of a lifetime, is a warm and appealing thing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

O'bama where art thou?

There's always that conflict when a might-never-get-the-chance-again type event comes to town. To sit comfortably at home and enjoy the bird's eye view provided by television or slum it in those long queues, for the sake of being there.

Today, I took the "Is feidir linn" (Yes we can, in Irish language) approach and headed into the city, two children on tow (who both firmly believed they might even shake the great man's hand)and joined the queue, and the electric atmosphere, on the way to College Green.

Apart from a magic moment when the chimes of Christchurch Cathedral's iconic bells mingled with the voice of the man himself as he spoke of hope and bonds, there was little chance that we got within striking distance.

The first twenty five thousand people were successful in getting in, the rest of us seventy five thousand had to make do with the screen.

We spent the President's speech wedged at the top of Dame Street, nearly a kilometre away from the action.

Back at home, several hours later, we watched, on telly, the bits we had missed by being there.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Royal Turnabout

Okay. The cynic in me is asking what's all the fuss about?

The dormant nationalist in me is wondering have we sufficiently forgiven and forgotten all the years of conflict to justify all the cap doffing, bowing and scraping, employment of public resources, disruption of day-to-day services and humunguous expense being incurred by a financially bust country?
The disinterested auld codger in me hasn't even looked at the live coverage, bar a few minutes when she left Aras an Uachtarain.
So there I am, minding my own business, pounding the roads of Kildare, the sun shining, the breeze mild and gentle, and RTE (the national radio station) broadcasting via my I-pod.

Five little words were enough to make me ask that immortal question.

Can one move on, redeem, forgive and forget, accept that times change, nations and people progress and mature?

As I listened to Queen Elizabeth 2 negotiate her cutglass vowels across the crusty roughness of my beloved native language, as the obviously practised piece(and it did sound as if she had concentrated on the pronounciation) of Irish came across the airwaves "A Uachtarain, agus a chairde" it was hard not to believe that no matter how deep the chasm between nations, anything is possible.

Even this hard bitten sceptic blinked back tears.

And that's saying something.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Eurovision Song contest collides with Kildare Readers Festival

The Eurovision has long been a special night in our house. The unification of the continent by zany music, madcap costumes, frantic dance routines and blatantly political voting is a well loved family night.

Tonight, the contest collided with the Kildare Readers Festival club night which originally was to be held in Johnson's pub, Newbridge but was moved to the Riverbank Theatre to accomodate a Jedward party night!

So, after listening to an engaging Stories for the Ear

curated by Kildare author and playwright Neil Donnelly featuring ten stories from local writers,

I'm rushing off to watch the Eurovision.

Go, Jedward!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lines I love

Often, I fall in love with sentences. Seductive, unforgetteable language presenting a sentiment that resonates.

I write it down.

In so doing, I nurse a hope that the beauty of the language might implant on my writing psyche and reappear, melded into my own creation, imbuing with flair, my own modest offerings.

: "I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighbourhoods."
The opening lines of Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's

"The penalty for being loyally accepted for the whole of your life is that you must stay what you always were. A sardonic family eye rests on the member who tries any little acts or wiles."
Nuala O Faolain Almost There

"It wasn't that life was constantly unhappy but that a perpetual, shadowy uncertainty dawdled at the edge of every day."
John McKenna Things you should know

"He had never felt completely comfortable at these forced efforts of conviviality."
Alice Sebold The Lovely Bones

"I detest most of the members of my family. They are for the most part, thieves, misers, bullies and incompetents."
Stieg Larsson Girl with a Dragon Tatoo

"Night wind streaking white frills across the surface."
Clare Keegan Walk the blue fields

"I find it hard to live without the sound of it, the smell of it, the clouds, night, day, grey, blue and I love the turbulence of storms."
Jennifer Johnston (writing about the sea) in This is not a novel

"The smooth empty little island on which he had been happily perched had given a preliminary heave, and would presently reveal itself to be not dry land at all but the humped back of a whale."
Benjamin Black Christine Falls

Unexpectedly philosophical:
"Now he had been saved by the loyalty of a dog. The less innocent he was, the more innocent his saviours became. There was some kind of exchange at work in the universe that he didn't understand."
Kate Atkinson Started Early, took my dog

"Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddamn cemetary. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody."
J.D. Salinger Catcher in the Rye

What lines do you love?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

"Dead Hairy" launch in Gutter Bookshop

Just back from the launch of Debbie Thomas' first children's novel Dead Hairy in the gorgeous, hip surroundings of Cows Lane, Temple Bar, Dublin where Bob Johnston of Gutter Bookshop gave all of us a warm welcome and served amongst other hair-related treats, lice krispies and dandruff covered cookies.

(So that's where the name of the shop comes from!)

First speaker was Mags Walsh, Director of Children's Books Ireland who described Dead Hairy as a "joy to read" with its "laugh out loud" passages. Mags made the interesting comment that often when she meets authors, their personalities don't project the energy of their writing but Debbie IS Dead Hairy (not literally of course)in the way she "radiates happiness and good humour".

We had a few words from Clodagh Feehan, Mercier Press, publishers of Dead Hairy

Debbie then read us a passage, in which we were introduced to a talking, shrunken head called "Fernando" who berated the heroines for "losing their tongues," with the words: "Your lose your tongues? No excuse. I lose mine four hundred and thirty year ago."

Reviews of Dead Hairy can be read on:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mindfield -The first day of summer

I took the train into the city to visit Mindfield International Festival of Ideas in Merrion Square (Dublin).

I liked the title of the talk "My Year of Flops -how success and failure are closely interconnected." in the Leviathan tent. I confess not to having heard of the speaker, Nathan Rabin, previously, but the title attracted me.

A bit of misery and I'm anybody's.

Rabin, a thirty four year old film and music critic and head writer at The Onion (a newspaper which describes itself as America's finest news source)gave an engaging and searingly honest account of an emotionally disturbed teenhood after being abandoned by his mother and a stint spent in a mental hospital. None of Rabin's tough experiences deterred him from his ambition to be a writer and his success as a reviewer illustrates the importance in his own words of "not allowing yourself to be controlled by the past."
A well spent hour in the company of a witty, self deprecating and interesting speaker.

Afterwards, I was delighted to bump into, and have a bout of reminiscing with, a former work colleague, Helen Healy, who happens to be married to legendary Sligo writer Dermot Healy, author of Long Time, No See
And, of course, I couldn't resist seizing them for a photo.