Monday, December 28, 2009

HOPE



DEATH OF A CHEESE AND ONION SANDWICH


He really shouldn’t have uttered those words again! It was Thursday for God’s sake. Steak and onions day! Now he lies there dead, next to the fridge…a beached whale…a proud-looking Newbridge carving knife wedged into a steak-gorged belly like a flag of surrender. "Hey didn’t I do well!"…if knives could talk…"and you thought getting a set of us for your fiftieth was a sad joke in bad taste. Not sexy! Women… just can’t fathom them!" Why did someone draw you like this? Purple- blotched legs, hairless, joined to a confusion of penis and testicles bandaged in bri-nylon, knobbly blue underpants. Flabby, flaky folds of creased blackhead-ridden neck escapes from a blue and white striped Van Heusen. What a grotesque last sketch of you!

Interesting men… or should I say men, who think they are interesting, need not concern themselves with irritating things like romance or sexual foreplay. Forget the flowers, candle-lit dinners, Armani suits and armpits. A shower! Don’t be ridiculous…they’re for wimps. Funny, I think, I never caught you outside Tesco conducting a survey on the subject. Did you ever ask me or any other woman for that matter what does ‘it’ for her, or indeed, her opinions about anything.


Oh…and once a woman is over forty-five, bundle her into the ‘M’ Box, throw away the key, letting her out again at sixty. All her dreams of exploring herself and the world will have stopped scaring the shit out of you by then. You can complain how your wife no longer understands you…just lies on her back thinking of the fatherland, enabling you to screw, without guilt, the girl from under the tree at Spar. Smelling like a septic tank you will belch and fart your inevitable path to nothingness, without any protestations from her indoors. She’ll be too busy with the grandchildren. Dreams of adventures lying… rotting in the ‘M’ Box compost heap.

Lighting a cigarette, making coffee, sadness seeps in through a crack. Why…after all these years?

You fuck your secretary as you always do on a Thursday, after eating your carefully-triangularized cheese and onion sandwiches. Grunting, groaning ..she continues to pleasure you orally. Unexpectedly, she finds herself wiping away semen from her chin, whilst trying not to heave, drowning in the stench of onions and rancid armpits. ‘Eh up, its Thursday, Steak and Onions tonight… no-one cooks a bit of steak like the wife!’ he snorts. .

My name...you used to love my name!

Zipping up your trousers and reaching for another cheese and onion sandwich, you stuff into a cavern, that my tongue once explored with an aching, helpless desire.






Secretary pulls up her sexy, black Thursday pantees. Didn’t even get a chance to fake it today! Twenty years of faking it. A woman knows these things … silly cow! Thinks she loves you. Perhaps she does! Just once, she thinks, an explosion of pleasure… a trembling… crying softly…fulfilled in your arms. Pantees re-positioned, she wonders why you never ask whether she enjoyed it, how many brothers and sisters she has, when her birthday is…so he can send flowers. Biting her lip, grieving for lost Thursday orgasms, a defiant tear appears, Secretary asks ‘Do you love me George…even a little bit?’ Poor pathetic bastard, George! Never was comfortable with that four-letter word. He is choking at this point, pulling at shirt-collar with nicotined, trifle-sponge fingers. ‘Now look ‘ere, I laid my cards on’t table from word go. A bit of slap and tickle of a Thursday lunch-time and nowt else!’ splutters whale.






I should feel angry! Am I pathetic? Why didn't I just leave him... after the accident.

A stream of crimson trickles along the grout between Thursday-scrubbed terracotta floor tiles, redirecting my gaze to the heap… ‘turkey in plastic’ lookalike, George. It’s not even that I hate you!

But...that question! "Why did I let go of his hand?" you ask it, again...over and over...again! I see only the ugliness... yours...mine... and that of the world beyond! I want the hearth of us to be fuelled again with beauty! I want things to be the way they were...the way we were... the three of us!

‘Tim…TIM…TIMMY…STOP!!!’ My screams wake me…same nightmare again. He sees you, his daddy across the street and wrenches his hand from my curled grip. Hit by a red van, he is hurtled upwards like an empty paper bag. I am frozen…can’t get to him. He's twitching there...a leaf sneezing...then nothing. Breeze stops. Life stops. My son... my only child.

You have never forgiven me! You can't forgive me! It wasn't my fault I tell you!

Tears wash clean floor, as key opens front door. You walk in, stop at kitchen table. ‘Look at me…look at me!’ I scream, not out loud. You touch my arm, ‘Don’t give me cheese and onion sandwiches ofa Thursday anymore! Gone right off 'em... twenty years...! Perhaps a bit of corned beef next Thursday, just for a change!’ Puts kettle on.




END FOR NOW... TO BE FATTENED AND CONTINUED

Maureen Walsh 2009 ©



I wrote most of this story almost four years ago. Not totally sure where it came from, but I think it is a tale of the sadness and tragedy of non-communication, but more importantly... HOPE. It is only a first draft, with much to be done on characterization, connection technique etc., but I'm thinking it might work better in a 'play' format.



Thursday, December 24, 2009

CHRISTMAS EVE P.S. FROM 'BACK OF THE MOON'

Galtee Mountains from 'Back Of The Moon'
Just a quick word to say that Fiona Shaw's lecture last night in RTE Radio station was recorded for transmission on St. Stephen's day at 7.02pm. She was both informative and entertaining...amazing! Exercized my brain away from stuffing and mince pies. Well worth the drive up and down to Dublin in dreadful road conditions. She said of art...' a harvesting of emotions.' She also spoke about the use of beautiful words to tell lies rather than the truth... as uttered by our political and clerical leaders etc. This is an hour not to be missed if you like radio.

Mel and Charlie
Anyway I'm off to watch The Muppets Christmas Carol... and might just try making another chocolate log. Look out for Santa and his reindeers in the sky on this magical white Christmas Eve. (I'm sad, I still look!) Spent some time taking photos over last couple of days of the Galtee mountains, that you can see from my house. They are looking good right now!

Superb Galtees

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

THE YELLOW ROSE OF THOMASTOWN

This yellow rose came with the house, which we bought 32 years ago, and I don't believe it has ever looked as good as this, at this time of year. The magnigicent David Austin yellow roses of today, originate from a non-perfumed yellow rose, which was discovered growing wild in Persia during the 19th Century, which were then imported, hybridized and cross-cultivated by rose enthusiasts of the west. Once upon a time, the yellow rose was associated with 'dying love'...in more modern times, however, they are usually recognized as a symbol of 'sincere friendship'. The red rose is normally associated with 'love', orange...'passion and ardour', pink...'admiration', white...'purity' etc...etc.
This brings to me to the song, which was adopted as the Texan anthem, 'The Yellow Rose of Texas, where the word 'darky' was replaced by 'soldier' in later, more politically correct times, and the word 'yellow' is thought to have referred to a light-skinned African-American with significant Caucasian ancestry. Legend has it that Mary West ( the 'yellow rose') helped Texas to win their independence from Mexico on the plains of San Jacinto, by keeping Mexican General Santa Anna busy long enough(if you know what I mean) to allow the Texans under the command of Colonel James Morgan to catch the General, quite literally with his pants down.
My yellow rose, perhaps quite poignantly, happens to be the last rose still in bloom in my garden. 'The Last Rose of Summer', is one of my favourite of Moores' melodies, and, in particular the versions recorded by the late Count John McCormack and the late Bernadette Greevy.
The word 'Last' quite often wafts a breath of sadness. However, in another light being the 'last' can grab attention and imagination and an appreciation of singularly enduring strength and survival. At the height of summer, when trees are lush, we see an abundance of green or burgundy (in the case of copper beech and maples). In Autumn, I'm often taken by the two or three leaves that hang on for dear life, like earrings on pierced ears...I inspect them closely, because they are the 'last'...I notice them. I am reminded of one of my favourite films, 'Kes'. It's a moving, hauntingly sad movie made in the 70's (I think!) about a young, dirty, mal-nourished boy who is bullied by his family, his teachers and his school pals. He has absolutely nothing going for him! One day he happens upon a young kestrel, which he takes under his wing, nutures, feeds and trains it to fly and come back to him etc. He gets a paper job to buy meat for his falcon. One of his teachers( the only one who cares) comes to watch the young boy work his magic with his new-found friend in the fields near his home, and invites the boy to relate his story to his fellow classmates, who does so with passion and tenderness. I wont give too much away, but it is a beautiful film. Anyway the reason why the last leaves remind of this film...there is an extremely funny scene in the film where the boy is put in goals... and by the way, he is tiny and hates soccer. He becomes bored out of his tree and starts to swing from the cross bar like a monkey, only to miss the goal that he should have saved. The PE teacher, who takes himself and sport far too seriously has war with him over it. Trust me...it is funny...really! Being 'last' also allows for improvement. Saving the 'last waltz' for someone is special. Then there are those who always like to have the 'last word'. You could write a thesis on it!
I love Christmas...making the Christmas cake and puddings, chutney etc. Tried a chocolate log tonight... for me...I'm a chocoholic... but sadly burned it. Well it wouldn't be Christmas, if I didn't burn something...like Alfred the Great! Have brought half the garden inside (slight exaggeration of course!) Am carol-singng tomorrow with my youngsters in aid of the Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll, Co. Cork and heading to Dublin tomorrow evening to hear well-known Irish actress/director Fiona Shaw deliver a talk entitled, 'The Elephant and The Nightingale - The Survival of Language in the Theatre. My Christmas treat to myself!
Alex, a dear friend of mine included a poem from Tristan and Isolde in his blog recently and while I had the house to myself a couple of nights ago, decorating the Christmas tree, I decided I would play the CD of Wagner's opera at full blast. What glorious music...no-one quite captures the essence, the anger, the calm after the storm, the way Wagner does. It's not the singing I find compelling for the most part, its in the musical interludes that I am swept away. Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher, and friend of Wagner in his early days says of this work, 'Even now I am still in search of a work which exercises such a dangerous fascination, such a spine-tingling and blissful infinity as Tristan - I have sought in vain, in every art.'
I love this cold, crisp, weather, but I sincerely hope that it doesn't interfere too much with the travel plans of those coming home for Christmas to be with their loved ones. I met my old friend E.J. last week. I love his individualism, his integrity and his artistry. We hadn't seen each other for quite some time. We didn't speak...he just smiled the brightest, biggest smile and lit up my world. Thank you E.J. ...we just know. If you're strapped for cash or ideas for last minute pressies...just SMILE! They say that 'a hug is worth a thousand words'. I think 'a smile is worth a thousand hugs'.
And 'lastly'...Love to all my inspirational friends. Please take care on the roads and keep yourselves safe! Best wishes for a merry little Christmas from 'Back of the Moon'.

Monday, December 7, 2009

TAILORED TRUTH

Odysseus outsmarts Polyphemus the Cyclops by getting him drunk
(All for a good cause! - Hooray!)



(For whose cause!)
TRUTH

Anything new to say?
Pl...e...ad change from jaded, jokes...
Juiceless!
No?
Thought not...challenge?
Stitch up that belching hole, rubber-lipped,
Kisser of whores...
Lying!


Maureen Walsh 2009 ©



POLAR OPPOSITES

N. meets S.
TIPPED...UPSIDE...DOWN
Karma Sutra 69

On a cloudful of dreams... mattressed,
Lusting, melting, merging momentarily...lovers.

In a swampful of disappointment... sucked dry,
Starving, illiciting, ignoring instantly...strangers.

Sutra Karma 69
DOWN...UPSIDE...TIPPED
S. meets N

Maureen Walsh 2009 ©
Maureen Walsh December 6th 2009
( Sleeping and Flying Collection)



Whirlwind of Lovers - Wiliam Blake - llustration for Dante's Inferno


To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.


(Wiliam Blake (1757-1827) lst Stanza from 'Auguries of Innocence')


Odysseus moved by the fate of his companions, begs Circe to restore them to their original form


Ciao for now!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

THE MAGIC AND SADNESS OF HEAVENLY CONNEMARA

View from the cottage - Diamond Hill and Twelve Pins

Wrote most of this blog two weeks ago, upon my return from Connemara. Finally getting to publish today, because pics take so long to upload etc. You've heard my lamentations before...so won't bore. Spent a few days in Chester with my friend, Diane, who I'm glad to say is recovering well following her breast reconstruction surgery...and its looking good!

Ross Point Cottage

Landed back in Tipperary yesterday for my drama classes at 4pm, feeling more refreshed and relaxed than I have felt after two weeks away in the sensual sunshine of Greece. Arrived at Ross Point Cottage, Connemara last Thursday night in the darkness, following a detour through Loughrea and three painfully slow sets of traffic lights heading into Clifden, where there is serious widening of the road going on. Heated up stew and lit a peat fire (oh the smell, if you could only bottle it...the peat of the west has a pungency all of its own!) The bed was not that comfortable and had forgotten my pillow... but did I sleep! I didn't put on my alarm once. Motto 'I get up when I wake up'... most unusual for me ...normally in a huge panic to squeeze as much as possible into one day.


'Stoned'

Anyway, waking up that first morning was like waking up on Christmas morning to a blanket of virgin snow. Indescribably beautiful...breathtaking...water everywhere. The cottage is on a farm at the end of a dirt track road bordered by yellow gorse (surprisingly in bloom...obviously a time for kissing...an old saying!) with its own private beach.


'A Time for Kissing'

The silence was stunning! I had never ever heard such silence. I wondered if I yelled to someone living across the inlet, would they hear me? I sang a line from an aria very loudly and heard it echoing to my right...I think it hit Diamond Hill and then headed towards Moyard and beyond. Who knows where an echo ends...anymore than the end of a rainbow.


'Don't you dare!'

Surprisingly, the weather for the few days, was surprisingly clement. Friday was a little cold and wet...so hats, scarves, wellies and gloves required, but Saturday was kissed with glorious sunshine and light. Bikes came out and beaches were combed.


Primary colours

Sunday was Innisboffin Island day...weather looked dodgy. Armed with bikes and 'last minute thought- flask and sandwiches'. Ferry arrived at 12 and wasn't returning until 4pm. It was cold, raining and desolate! There were houses... no bodies. Where was everyone? Cycled all over the island... sun came out...discovered a beach that resembled a tropical one from a Seychelles holiday brochure. Climbed down to it...ate...drank... played.


Tony - Chris Bonnington look-a-like?

Saw a man on a bicycle, 5 or 6 pollock hanging from his handlebars. I chatted to him. Told me he used spratt as bait; that he had caught enough to keep him and his sheepdog, who ran alongside the bike, for a week. He was extremely pleasant with a healthy sea-crisped face. Arriving back at the ferry, wheeling bikes, humans appeared like a waterfall from nowhere onto the quayside. Suddenly back in the land of the living! Upon arrival in Cleggan, these young people, students, I'm surmising, called into the only shop to grab lucozades and crisps for their mini-bus trip back to Galway. By this time it was growing dark and they were facing a two hour journey...poor things. I hadn't felt the cold all day, even on the ferry, but Cleggan was something else! Twenty minutes later I was sitting beside a turf fire eating hot chilli!


'Reflecting'
Unaware that Letterfrack was so close... it came as a complete surprise, around a bend, whilst looking for a shop that sold cigarettes and milk. It felt strange... weird...couldn't wait to get out of there. Didn't have any preconditioned thoughts about the place, even though the name had been so heavily associated with the recent Ryan Report. It took me some time to work out what I was picking up on. It wasn't as if I even spoke to any of the locals there. The whole place seems to be in mourning... mourning for the cries of help that the mountains and the ocean heard, but which humans chose NOT to hear! The Atlantic ocean of the Western seaboard has taken many fishermens' lives, sometimes annihilating whole families. This was something else however...this was man doing evil unto child, as opposed to man dying in his attempts to survive alongside but sometimes against the laws of nature. The fact that the rape and pillage of innocence was hidden and categorically denied for so long has compounded this tragedy beyond description. The Pope's condemnation comes a little too late and doesn't go far enough I'm afraid. Vatican representative, Federico Lombardy's failure to join in the call for the resignation of the five bishops from Dublin is yet another slap in the face for the victims. The victims, destined to remain children dressed in adult bodies, have never been told 'why' those dreadful atrocities happened to them.
Connemara is exquisitely beautiful and my very favourite part of Ireland. I hate to see this great wonder of the world laden with such a silent, but deafening sadness. That its divergent landscape will whistle and sing again soon will happen, most likely, when genuine retribution has been made for the greatest sin of them all... the abuse of vulnerable, innocent children!
All Cries Will Be Answered
Is that a ewe or a madman on the hill?
One rending cry leaves me wondering
As wind plays soft rushes of exhalation
And streams pulse splashy exhortation

I open...to compelling calls of black faced sheep
Who beckon tight curled lambs with budding horns
Their wind tossed heads raised from verdant turf
They summon their charges close with cries forlorn

No eagles nest on Letter Hill
Tiny swifts no longer watch the fearful sky
But flick on the wind in midgeing flight
Warmed by early summer sun.

A presence here in every exhalation
As sound and silence carry me to new exaltation
Down the valley, down the valley, sweeps the wind still
And all cries will be answered, even the madman's on the hill.

(Written by Lyle McElderry about Connemara.)

One of the trees outside cottage 'moon-kissed'

Same tree... 'twilighted'
Didn't get to see any dolphins in the ocean, but got to see three in the sky.



Thank you Connemara for having me to stay!



Same trees - 'sunlit', myself and five swans- a-swimming!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

TO 'EXPRESS' OR 'IMPRESS' - IS THAT THE QUESTION

My Front Door
Always wanted the house to look as if it landed in the middle of a wood!

Crikey, this is ridiculous. First of all I published the title of this blog before I'd even written it... so there's was no going back. Then I subsequently managed to delete two and a half hours of writing, when I proceeded to save it as an almost finished draft. All of this takes for e...v...e...r (yawn, yawn) with no broadband as, apparently, I live in the arsehole of Ireland's technological landscape. Anyway, certainly didn't expect to be writing another blog so soon, particularly after the long one on Sunday last. Mind you even though I'm English, I could talk for Ireland as 'they' say. I went on a bit like a spoilt child in the last blog...tiredness...selfishness?! Don't really like to admit I'm tired. If I say I'm tired, then I'm fairly, fairly knackered! Come to think of it, don't really like to admit that I'm being selfish, either...I suppose...well maybe... eventually!

Anyway, today is another day... and while I was having breakfast this morning, looking out at a garden that looked like something from Lord of the Rings 2... changing shape and direction because of blustering winds and whipping rain, my imagination drifted from a horticultural bent to one of a socio-political nature. Now the garden didn't set out to 'impress' me...it just did, as it 'expressed' itself this morning with a little help from extraneous elements.

I had already been thinking of the way our egos get in the way of self-expression, particularly during performance, and the mental and physical exercises that I use when working as a director to try to stop negative planes of thought landing e.g. :' I'm going to make an arsehole of myself doing that!', 'I can't do that!', 'I'll probably get it wrong!', 'I will look like a fat f....r in that costume, or 'I'll look like shit if I have to pull my face like that!'...the list is endless. As much as we hate to admit, most of us feel the need to 'impress', and that desire/need can almost certainly hamper the flow of creativity. Instead of getting lost in 'expression', that journey is interrupted with self-doubting questions about the quality of the 'impression' being made. Back to my garden...

The yellowing piles of redundant leaves reminded me of the unemployed in this country (40% of architects out of work...to name just one sector!) Surely the main aim of this useless, clueless government should be to come up with an innovative employment policy. As the leaves should be harvested as mulch for next year's growth, so should the brainpower of this generation for the benefit of the next.

The dirty-grey perspexed sky blocked out the Galtees...mountains of wisdom...nowhere to be seen. How many times do you switch on the television to an almost empty Dail or Seanad chamber. For every beautiful song, epic poem, or indeed, a life-changing piece of legislation, there are a hundred drafts pushed aside or binned. You can be as wise or as creative as be damned...magic doesn't just happen...it has to be considered and re-considered and worked at. Slog, lads, sheer slog, with a sprinkling of wisdom, if you wouldn't mind.

My beloved honeysuckle transformed into the snaking head of Medusa, reminded of the banking and financial institutions...'I'll get you any which way but loose!' (NAMA!... yeah right!)

The smug, evergreen cotoneaster, which is just about to burst into berried glory, as everything else in the garden is dying or taking a break, reminded me of the Drumms of this country, the discredited heads of FAS and Allied Irish Banks, Anglo-Irish Banks and more, who have been given bonuses for poor work and fat pay-offs for being caught with their hands in the till. They make me sick! This greedy government, who has allowed this 'I'm alright Jack' attitude to pervade this nation, should be lined up and frogmarched toward the nearest dole queue. For the life of me, I still find it difficult to believe that Fianna Fail managed to capture 24% of the poll during the last local and European elections. What does that say about us?

A towering buddleia, like the arms of distracted Irish fans arms waving for justice at Thierry Henry's open display of bad sportsmanship last Wednesday, reminds me that it needs taking care of. I am old enough to remember the thrill of Italia '90 and the promise of World Cup '94. It was electrifying...American visitors didn't know what was happening...all the shops were closed on the Main Street in Tipperary, while everyone, was in the pub, watching David O'Leary score the penalty in the Ireland v Roumania game, which took Ireland into the quarter-finals. When John Delaney, head of the FAI was asked, recently, would they, the FAI, grant a replay to France, if the boot were on the other foot, he said, only half- honestly in my opinion, that he didn't know. I think he actually meant 'NO'. Had Ireland got through the play-offs and Trap's army found themselves marching towards South Africa, the FAI would have stood to profit by 10 to 15 million euros. The same goes for France. Think of how much could be done for provincial clubs etc. with that kind of clobber! Sorry its time for FIFA to join the 21st Century and take care of this problem, by introducing the same technological evidencing systems that are very much present in other major sporting competitions.




The blue table and chairs...empty...but shifting...there is enough to go around if only we cared enough. The unlit pot-belly stove hints of hope, whilst the usually humming bamboo, was busily chattering warnings like a half-crazed soothsayer. Polyanthus peeping out to say 'Perhaps I should come back later!' Even the ivy was struggling to remain steadfast in its trust.

The only things in the garden that seemed to be taking all of this stormy weather in their stride were the birds. It was business as usual for them! Middle-class white-collar workers? Their message... In the midst of the heaving, seething confusion and mayhem of the present, perhaps its not necessary to destroy the old to start anew, but instead an urgent need for radical pruning and re-assessment of old burnt-out systems.
Finally I looked over at the trumpet and cornet, that hang stoicly from the contorted willow. (You can just about see them!) That tree suffered a stroke a few years ago, when I moved it from the front garden into the back. Seriously, one whole side of the tree died for a while, then with very little TLC made a miraculous recovery. I hung the musical brass there for the craic and because we're a musical family, and its no harm to remember, that even when the going gets tough, it helps to have a sense of humour.


Well I certainly never expected to be going on a political rant today, but that's the way my garden 'expressed' itself to me this morning. I have to say, I was much 'impressed.' Am I off crusading again...probably! Photos taken few weeks ago of fairly 'inanimate' autumnal garden, not yet chilled by the winter of discontent.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

FRIENDSHIP, HEROES AND CRANES


I love dolphins and one of the things I want to do before I die, is swim with them, play with them, laugh with them. Now, yes I could go find Fungi in West Cork, but the water is so cold, I would have to don a wetsuit, wouldn't be able to feel him though, skin on skin. I was flying somewhere some time back, and read an article about a chap who followed the dolphins around the world. I was so envious of him (Not good to be envious, I know!) One day that will be me! I hate seeing them captured in pools trained to jump through hoops and perform dreadful banal tricks. A couple of years ago, I stood on the left hand side of the burren, Co. Clare with family and friends in lashing, unforgiving winds, waves crashing against craggy coastline, drenched but exhilarated. One of us spotted a school (think that's for whales, but you know what I mean), heading southwards towards Kerry. We were all hopping around, shouts of 'where...where?'. Our Dublin slicker friend, Christopher, however, bemoaned the fact that he had missed them. Suddenly, as if they sensed his disappointment, the dolphins re-appearing from the depths, were now heading northwards towards Galway. We were ecstatic and the childish left-out pout melted from Chris's face. Oh to be a dolphin, with it's sense of fun and laughter!


Friendship has been much on my mind lately. Perhaps this has something to do with my age... another season of my life beginning and/or my closest friend's brush with cancer. Diane and I grew up together. She was the dancer and I was the singer/director. We wrote songs together, put on shows in her garden. She had the bigger garden, because of the curve at the bottom of the avenue. We charged a nominal fee at the gate, which would keep us going in Mars Bars and Crunchies for at least a week. We included a fairly nifty version of 'She's Wears Red Feathers and a Hurly-hurly Skirt' and Diane's sister, Avril performed a burlesque striptease (down to a red swimsuit) from behind a screen, which brought tumultous applause from the pre-adolescent boys. At the age of 12, Diane, myself and Janet Bickerton (who now lives in New Zealand and met up with her in June after almost 35 years) got jobs as paper-girls. We had to be up at 5.30am and into the newagents by 6. Now I was fairly good at getting up, Janet wasn't bad, but Diane was an absolute disaster! We would meet up in the middle of the avenue, straddling our bikes and head off together in the early morning darkness. However, if by chance one of us overslept, we had a back-up wake-up plan. Naturally, we didn't want to draw the wrath of the entire household upon us by knocking on the front or back door, so we decided we should stand under the offender's window and whistle the big hit of the 60's, a piece by Whistling Jack Smith. That worked for Janet and myself, but Diane was a different story. Another back-up plan had to be introduced. Stones! There we were in the darkness, looking for stones that wouldn't smash the glass, but that were substantial enough to penetrate Dianes' dreams. Sometimes, mid-aim Diane's sister Avril's angry, remonstrating, curled head would appear at the window. Avril was four years older than us and we were afraid of her. About half a minute later, Diane would appear, biked, under the street lamp amidst the four leaf clovers. (I found about a hundred there one day!)!

Diane knows everything about me...good, bad and indifferent...and loves me, as I do her. In April of this year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer following a routine breast scan. Diane is a beautiful, voluptuous and beguiling woman... to me, feminity personified. She always had such great breasts and never hid them behind stooped shoulders or sloppy sweaters. (My mother had ample breasts and as a child growing up, I remember her cutting out a dress-pattern in a half-cupped bra and feeling disgusted as one of her boobs nearly popped out in front of me. I said a prayer at that moment, that mine would never look like that. Well my prayers were rightly answered! Rising from a salt bath, following the birth of my first daughter, I stood in front of the mirror in St. Munchins maternity hospital, Limerick, and on the fourth day, my breasts were filling with milk to feed my daughter, and they looked amazing. My tummy had flattened...and suddenly there were these breasts that didn't belong to me... Jesus, I was like Raquel Welch! ) Anyway, back to the main road. Diane, while delighting in her feminism, her stilettos, and her salsa dancing, is a very spiritual person, who is not afraid of dying. She accepted her masectomy and breast re-construction with optimistic grace and great courage. However, the re-construction job was an absolute fiasco! She lives in North Wales, just outside Chester, and when I visited her recently, she showed me what had been done to her, and what I saw, resembled nothing remotely like a breast. The image of a cornish pasty...scallop-edged sprung to mind... more in line with her shoulder than her other breast. Not only that, she had been in terrific pain from an infection in one of the draining tubes that had been inserted, which was finally removed a couple of weeks ago. Now, Diane fully accepts that mistakes can happen and that 'her young skin for her age' healing quicker than was thought, might have played a part in it, but it was the fact that she was made to feel vain and should have just been delighted to be alive, that upset her the most. Of course, she was delighted that the cancer hadn't spread into her lymph glands, and therefore didn't require chemo or radium, but she is still a WOMAN at the end of all that... having her breast removed was one thing, but having to look at her mutilated body in the mirror was another! Her surgeon, who is female, by the way, told her not to look in the mirror, if it bothered her so much. Can you believe that! She is now facing into another 6 hour operation on Dec. 1st, where skin is being taken from around her shoulder blades to reconstruct a new breast. (Apparently, this would have been the better option in the first place!) A nipple will be tattoed on in 12 months or so and the other breast will be lifted to match. I'm flying over to help take care of her for a few days when she comes out of hospital. I just want to see my dearest friend up and salsa-dancing again!


I started writing this blog a few days ago, while HMS PINAFORE was still sailing. The vessel ended her voyage last night to a standing ovation. The curtain came down on what seems to have been an extremely well-received production. Now I am a bit of a perfectionist (perhaps there's some Virgo mixed in there with the stubborn Taurean parts of me), but the fact that the films, that I had gone to great lengths to create as part of the production design, only worked properly on one night, freaked me out completely. From a performance point of view, the show was more than ready to open on Tuesday night, but the technical support network was almost non-existent. That it worked the night the critic was there, is of no consolation to me whatsover. Professionalism springs from attitude as far as I am concerned and there were absolutely no excuses for this cock-up! However, this was an important learning curve for me. Although I like to do the encouraging, inspiring thing rather than the dictatorial director thing with the cast, I now realize I have to 'toughen up' in some areas and 'demand' rather than 'request' cetain things, particularly those things that I believe will enhance and refresh. Many of the cast knew me as a fellow performer, or stage hand, or 'whatever it takes to get the show on the road person', but none of them had worked with me as a director.

That was a challenge, about which I had reservations at first. In the end, I thought, I've just got to be me and plan meticulously. There were hiccups along the way...people in college, sick, away for mid-term break etc., but the support and dedication I received from the cast was hugely gratifying. Of course, one has to consider the paying audience and levels of excellence, but judging by the comments from the cast, last night in the pub, it was also a thoroughly enjoyable experience for them. It would appear, that I may be asked to direct their main show, next April, which is marvellous, but I will be digging my heels in about the availability of technical support. I was extremely proud of the production inspite of the dodgy filming, but after two nights a sadness...an emptiness crept in. It was gone, my baby was gone! It's not like a piece of poetry, or a painting...it's gone unless it's committed to film, and even then its 'liveness' cannot be captured!


Whilst I love directing and I have four shows coming up on Dec. 17th with my youngsters in Cappawhite, it's somehow not enough! My daughter Kate, gives out to me about not being satisfied. It's not that simple. I am extremely grateful for being paid for something I like doing, but I would just love to get of the conveyor belt for a while, move to a tiny cottage somewhere by the ocean and create something totally new...I think! My thoughts wander back to the work I did last summer with disabled and older people. I was being totally creative and uninhibited with them...it was wonderful!




Annie and Margaret having fun!


The last few months, since I graduated from UCC have been difficult, because I had a structured timetable there for three years. Now its like I've been set free and I just don't know where to start first, because there's so much I want to do! I treated myelf to a new camera, a new easel, a sewing machine...I just want to MAKE! There aren't enough hours in the day... I forget to eat...don't want to waste time sleeping!



My Turkish Floor Painting

Talking about sleeping and my dislike of total darkness, I think I had a mid-week revelation. My mum had two cot-death babies before me, Maurice (2 yrs older than me) and Penelope (1 yr older than me.) Apparently, one night my mother tried to wake me up for night-time feed and I couldn't be stirred. The doctor was called and neighbours rushed to help. The doctor reassured my mum that she could rest easy... I was just a very placid, contented baby. However, I'm fairly sure that in her distress and anxiety of having lost two babies already, and mindful of how I felt about my own two weens, she probably spent a lot of time prodding me, stirring me from deep slumbers, just to check that I was still alive. My mum worked nights at Christmas in the post office sorting the extra christmas mail to provide the little extras for us, and I can still remember, that for some reason, I hated her falling asleep in the chair! Sadly I can't ask her, because she died seven years ago.




I am still reading 'The Odyssey', and I'm totally captivated. I can't believe that I am only getting to this stuff now! But thank God! Whilst reading a chapter during the week, I was reminded of a young male friend of mine, who had nervous breakdown recently. At 21 years of age, he felt, that somehow sharing tears with me, was not being a 'man'...a 'hero'. It has played on my mind since and I have wondered where those expectations come from. It dawned on me, that perhaps all young men should read this classic of Homer. Odysseus, hero of heroes, who slaughtered Polyphemus, outwitted Circe, etc. etc. sheds tears on many occasions throughout this magnificent tale. Not for one moment did I, as the reader, think any the less of him as a hero. It made him more believeable...an even greater hero, because he wasn't afraid to show his vulnerability! Now to Cranes...



I have had a fascination with cranes for quite some time. In second year at UCC I stayed in the most abysmal bedsit in the whole of Cork, I think... the antithesis of first year, which saw me staying in an upmarket apartment in Rochestown. However, inspite of its crumbiness, the space in that bedsit felt like 'home' , was almost next door to college, and I met my wonderful friend, Catriona from Galway, who was living in the bedsit beneath me. Sadly we only got to speak to each other towards the end of that year, but we got on so well! Catriona was in 3rd year doing Italian and music and went on to get a first in her BA, but was hoping to go on to do an MA in Italian and we said that we could perhaps share an apartment the following year. However, I thought that during the summer she might have second thoughts about staying with an old fogey like myself, but sure enough, come September, I got a text from her about us heading off flathunting! We found an amazing apartment on North Quay. It was, without question, one of the happiest periods of my life! Catriona and her friend Catherine (another Galway girl, who is now also my dear friend) travelled from Galway and Cork respectively, through floods etc. to see HMS Pinafore on Friday night. It was such a pleasure to have them stay in my home and meet Mel and Charlie, the horses, Flossie and Buffy the dogs and Scout, the cat. I forgive you Catriona for calling Charlie a little runt... He's a fellabella pony...he's supposed to be a little runt! It was wonderful to hear my piano being played so beautifully and to be a part of that simple, but elegant piano duet with Catriona, who got her first in her Italian MA. Congratulations dearest Cat! Anyway back to cranes...

I love them...I want to climb one some day and hang out there for a while! Across from the bedsit, there was all sorts of development going on in the TYNDALL research department of UCC. In the midst of scaffolding, soared the most majestic, heroic crane, covered in night-time blue lights, which became a great source of comfort and inspiration to me. I would just stand there and watch its twinkling eyes, that seemed to see right through to my heart and soul...we really, really connected. I know... I'm insane! Am I bovvered? I dont know where my hero is now, because the updating process at Tyndall is now complete and he has moved on to another. I am not jealous or sad...I keep those moments locked away to warm and hearten me whenever I'm cold or afraid. I am getting to the point of all this. Somehow, cranes are connected to my concern for troubled spirits, in search of a connection to others, to the universe... a reason for it all. Somehow Odysseus, Dante's treatment of Virgil, my young male friend's plight and cranes all connect. That has to be my next project...a play...a musical...a poem...I'm not sure...but it won't let go of me! Someone told me recently I was 'emotionally crusading!' I was flattered...thank God I am! I'm looking forward to everything...with an air of excitement and anticipation...but sometimes become frustrated and impatient with myself...mostly!. Probably just need to give myself a break!


Looking forward to...

Anyway, I'm away to Connemara on Thursday at 3pm when I've finished teaching. That's a start. Will take a little work with me, but mostly it'll be fun-time... can't wait!
There will be time to brainstorm...the future...new projects! Just hope the dolphins come out to play!

Friday, October 30, 2009

FROM CALYPSO, VIA CHANIA, CORLEONE, CONNEMARA TO CREWE - TRAIN OF THOUGHT




odysseus

Throughout my 3 years at U.C.C., certain books , characters, philosophies etc. popped up across various disciplines and modules on a continual basis. There was no holding these heads down under the water...they were just not going to be ignored. Although impossible to explore these 'distractions' in any greater depth, because of the timeframe of essays and exams; I struck a deal with myself, to return to them once the degree was over. I didn't grapple with the whole research thing particularly well, enjoyable as I found it... always seemed to cast my nets too widely. Whilst studying Dante's Divine Comedy, names like Ulysses, Aeneas, Odysseus, Virgil and hundreds more came up, as well as John Milton's Paradise Lost, James Joyce's Ulysses, The Iliad, The Aenead ...and so on.


I decided my first port of recall would be a revised English translation by D.C.H Rieu of his father's translation, E.V.Rieu of Homer's The Odyssey. It's enthralling! I read only a few pages at a time, so as to digest thoroughly, the names of all protagonists and places. It is no wonder that modernist writers like W.B. Yeats and James Joyce referred to mythology in their writing, it allowed a freedom of transportation and escapism, in contrast to their realist predecessors. In lst year I was fortunate to study Celtic Civilization, which for someone like me, who hasn't a word of Irish, required my establishing my own code of deciphering and pronunciation of these strange, but beautiful Irish words, for essay and exam recall purposes. That was hilarious fun! We made a whistle-stop tour of the Druids and Celts, their gods, the bog-bodies, the bronze and iron ages, the gauls in Hallstadt and Europe and their defeat by Julius Caesar, and the Tain (Maeve and the bulls!) Of course it was the early christians who wrote down these stories of the oral tradition, and, as they were the only ones who could read and write at the time, there was plenty of room to modify and manipulate, adding their own religious/anti-pagan slant on things. I was intrigued by Fergus, who struck me as being the only character from the Tain, who had a conscience. I wondered was he a sort of Jesus Christ figure, inserted by the early christians. That's one to go back to. The order of geiss, which covered the criteria of honour, bravery and hospitality was paramount to being a great hero or god . I became totally embroiled in the whole magic, sometimes not being able to tell fact from myth and legend, and was horrified when I discovered that Cuchulainn was killed by his own son. I took it all terribly seriously, apart from Dagda, who had such a long penis, it was wrapped round his neck several times! Dagda provided much light relief from stress of exams and essays for myself and Mary, another mature student. So Dagda, whether you're in the liminal world of Tara or Tua Nuath, thanks for the laughs! So what has all this got to with the Odyssey?


I have only read as far as page 70 and already Telemachus, who sets off to search for his father Odysseus (who has not returned home to Ithaca since his battles in Troy, having been waylaid by Calypso along the way) has already been feasted on at least six occasions. Not unlike celtic mythology, and stories like Bricriu's Feast, there is a huge emphasis placed on hospitality in Greek mythology. Half the time, the visitors are fed before they're even asked who they are. (Could you imagine any of us doing that today. Imagine an absolute stranger at the front door. 'Come on in! Sit down there now love and I'll get you a fry. Would you like a bit of black pudding with it?') Telemachus is urged by Zeus's daughter Athene, who can transform herself into anything or anyone, to search for his father, as Penelope (Odysseus's wife and Telemachus's mother), finds herself besieged by suitors, who believe Odysseus to be already dead, and are making themselves far too comfortable, drinking all the best wines, ransacking and pillaging the household. While reading this wonderful story, my thoughts stray back to my beloved Crete, and in particular, the working village of Kalives...a place I find myself wishing to return to again and again.



Kalives

I have visited Crete several times and feel that somehow, when the plane touches down, I am home! With the colours of soil, sea and sky, light drowning everything in sensual mystery and magic, soothing smells of wild oregano and majoram, welcoming rattle of crickets in olive groves, the senses simply explode. Of course, then there are the people... who consider themselves to be Cretans first and Greeks second. That is not difficult to understand, when you read about their history of Turkish and other invaders/ marauders and the disasterous, bumbling and extremely inept decision-making of the Allied Forces during the German invasion of the island in World War II. They are an incredibly steely, proud race of people. Greek people, are, as a rule very laid back and welcoming, and remind very much of Irish people, especially, when they say 'eet's no problem!' However, there is something particularly hospitable about Cretan people. I have a very dear friend Manolis, who works as a curator in the museum in Chania, whom I met five years ago, whilst staying in one of his villas in Megala Chorafia, a small village close to the ruins of Aptera. We celebrated my daughter's 21st birthday party during that holiday. He organized a barbecue, wouldn't hear of my supplying any food or wine whatsoever and even organized a magnificent chocolate birthday cake. He took us on a personal tour of the ruins in Aptera, and provided an excellent historical account. He brought us to a family christening in the village square, where we were feasted like royalty, where even the Greek musicians brought us over wine to the table and the locals tried to teach us to dance Greek-style! As the chief navigator, Mano arranged maps for me, when we caught the overnight ferry to Athens, to visit the Acropolis and various other places of interest. I have been back there several times since and on one occasion, he was genuinely deeply offended when I sneaked up to pay a bill while his back was turned. The last time I was there, he took us to a taverna in the mulberry tree-lined village square in Stylos, about four miles from Megala Chorafia, nestled in the White Mountains. All Cretan food is grown or produced on the island and everything is eaten as it comes into season. Sheer heaven! Mano came to Ireland to visit us in the January that the smoking ban was introduced. My heart went out to him as he stood outside, freezing, in our cold climate, smoking in the doorway of the restaurant. How hospitable was that for our Cretan visitor!

Chania, the magnificent harbour of North Western Crete, was known over the centuries as the gateway to the East. It is also home of the second airport of the island. Chania, Souda Bay (naval base) and Rethymon were also military intelligence headquarters of the Allied Forces during World War II. The Venetian buildings of Chania, stretching out across the harbour, ooze romance and mystery. I stayed in the most exquisite room at Hotel Captain Vassilis overlooking the water. A dream-laced bed danced in the breeze, filtered through half-closed shutters; a white victorian bath only a few steps away to cool hot, satiated bodies in candle-lit shadows.



chania

Likewise, while reading the Odyssey, Godfather 1,2 and 3 sprang to mind. They all begin at a christening or a wedding or some kind of family function. Here we go again, the whole feasting, hospitalaity thing! I only got to see those films quite recently and was blown away by them. I don't like the whole blood and guts thing, but I love Italian culture, their food, their music, their passion, and raw sensuality of the language. These movies are cinematic triumphs and the final scene of Part 3, is probably the most incredible filmic moment I have ever witnessed


Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino had never wanted to follow in his father's (Marlon Brando) footsteps, but could not escape the restraints of family duty. His wife (Diane Keaton) while still loving him, could no longer live the mafia lifestyle and had left some years previously. During the final scene on the steps of the opera house, where his son had made his opera debut, Michael and his ex witness the horrific shooting of their daughter (Sophia Ford Coppola, daughter of the film's director, Francis Frod Coppola)... a bullet that was meant for him. During this scene, there are no words, only images and music; Al Pacino's performance during this scene is quite spectacular. The blistering torment at the death of his daughter, the death of his marriage, the waste of his own life, is vomited all over the screen in a silent scream, which is taken to another level of excruciating pain, as sound resumes mid-scream. As the camera alights upon Corleone's ex-wife's face, it is obvious that this is the first time , she really understands her husband's torment; that he had no choice but to go with the family dynasty, that in someway, he sacrificed his own life and just how miserably difficult it had all been for him. It is an unforgettably powerful moment. I visited southern Italy and Sicily last year, and tried in vain to get to Corleone, but others within the travelling party were not as enthusiastic as I. I'll get there next year, however, even if it means taking a selfish sabbatical!



Corleone, Sicily


My Cretan friend, Mano, texted me recently, asking me where I was, because he had been expecting to see me in October. However, there has been no time for holidays so far this year, but I am hoping to get to Connemara in November when the Clonmel show is finished. I need to feel the wind on my face, get soaked to the skin and covered in mud, swim in the ocean and smell peat burning. Hopefully I will find a house at the edge of the ocean; so that when leaving windows wide open, I will be surrounded and overwelmed with sounds of crashing waves and howling winds! Will cook a huge pot of stew to last a couple of days, then a pan of chilli to last another few, lighting lanterns and candles to read by. The first time I passed through Oughterard and saw the sign that describes the town as the gateway to Connemara, I took that as mere publicity hype. However, my head was stuck to the windscreen as I drove from the town into perhaps the most beautiful landscape I had ever seen. Oughterard is undeniably what it says on the tin; it is a portal to another magical world, another planet almost, of not just ocean, but mountains, lakes and streams. It is quite instantly astounding! So you see from the hospitable feasts of the culinary type as written about in Celtic and Greek mythology, and seen in such mafia movies, there are also feasts for the soul. I'm also a great believer, that being hospitable is great for the soul.


Connemara

There aren't too many rules in our house, and as the girls grew up there were really only two. 1. They should always always say 'please' and 'thank you'. 2. No matter who came into our home, they would be treated with kindness and dignity, which meant putting on the kettle, offering whatever was on the go and switching off the television! What is it like when someone offers you a smile...what a gift!... particularly if you're having a bad day. Another form of hospitality? I hadn't been in Ireland very long, and still a little precious about dear old Blighty, when a man, for whom we had waited two years to fix the roof, was sitting having a cup of tea and a slice of apple tart, said: 'In England, they ask you do you want a drink and they never give you as much as a biscuit with it, plus they all wash their cars on a Sunday morning.' I was quietly piqued, but sure enough, the next time I went home to Crewe, visiting mum, my dad, the uncles and aunts etc. etc. I didn't get as much as a slice of bread, never mind a biscuit, and as I walked around my old haunts one Sunday morning, guess what... they were all out on their fronts washing their cars!

Crewe railway station holds many magical memories for me. I would travel with two very excited little toddlers, from Limerick Junction,Tipperary by train as far as the boat in Dun Laoghaire and by train from Holyead to Crewe. The journey took approximately thirteen hours in total. What fun we had; such interesting people and conversations. Pulling into the station, stepping out on to the platform, looking for a taxi or a bus with my young family, introducing them to part of my heritage and indeed theirs, was very special. Many of my Irish friends spent the night on Crewe railway station waiting for a connection to Euston, London during the 60's and 70's when jobs were scarce or they were visiting relatives in Kilburn. Crewe is mainly associated with being the main railway junction in the North West of England, having a pretty decrepid soccer team, Crewe Alexandra and is home to the Rolls Royce and Bentley factory, which has now been taken over by BMW as far as I know.




Crewe Railway Station

So from the reading of The Odyssey, one train of thought, gathering momentum as it passes through various connections, arrives finally in Crewe. Flights of fancy fuelled by imagination need no aeroplane or field to land in. Like mythology, our minds can transport us anywhere. Isn't it just so exciting!
To finish on a musical note, from an old music hall song, ' Oh Mr. Porter, what shall I do? I wanted to go to Birmingham, but they dropped me off at Crewe!'

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


LAWS OF ATTRACTION
Quite recently, a male friend of mine asked me in a rather piqued fashion how men like Salman Rushdie and the French Primeminister, Nicholas Sarkosy, whom he would consider to be rather unattractive, managed to snare such beautiful women. I considered his question, and remembered Sarah Brightman, an ex-wife of Andrew Lloyd Weber sharing with Michael Parkinson and television audience, that Sir Lloyd Weber was great in bed! He, of course, is now on his third marriage and has remained on amicable terms with all his women, past and present. Now, I have to admit that, while impressed by his musical virtuosity, Andrew Lloyd Weber would not immediately wow on a physical level. His face is reminiscent of a potato with plasticine bits, stuck on as afterthoughts. Perhaps if we had dinner or lunch, and I actually got to see his eyes or his ass, some revision of first impressions might be called for.
Why do men look for younger women, and why, more increasingly, do women look for younger men? Why do I feel slightly irritated when men ( in their forties and fifties) say of women in their 40's, 50's and 60's, that they are great fun? Are they really saying, that they think we are more desperate, and therefore more willing to put up with silly macho talk; dress up in the latest kinky gear etc. etc. just to hold on to them. Or, on the other hand, have men quite genuinely realized that older women, while secretly wishing that bum and boobs were more pert, are better at seizing the moment; and perhaps the empowerment that comes with the education of life, and a curiosity in sex for their own hedonistic pleasure, is curiously more attractive. There is something about middle age that somehow clicks you into gear. 'Hey I've lived more than half my life...its all down hill from here unless I do something about it.'
I've arrived at the conclusion, that its the predictability and unforgiving routine of our lives, that is the precursor for unrest and unease within us. Women, in particular, are governed by cyclical routine for much of their lives. From approximately 11 years of age until around 50 or so, there is menstruation. If one is lucky to fall pregnant, there is the gestation period of 9 months. If mum breast feeds, she may find herself on call for, in some cases, as long as 2 years. If baby is bottle-fed, the chances are that mummy will be more omnipresent in the feeding process than daddy, unless of course daddy is a 'stay at home daddy.' Women then hit the menopause, which I'm told can last for another 10 years, which takes them up to 62 /63/65ish. Then there's all those years in between, where Johnny and Sarah go to music classes on Tuesday, or GAA on Wednesday, swimming on Friday and so on. Dinner has to be on the table, for hubby, because, bless him, he's had a terrible day at the office!
Now I'm not for one moment saying that men don't have a hard time. Of course they do. They grew up reading stories about Hercules, Zeus, Billy the Kid and dreamt of being heroes, and in some workplaces and personal relationships, they feel nothing like the hero they dreamed they would one day become; their spontaneity and potential sometimes not being acknowledged or respected.
Sameness is a killer. It kills our soul and our relationships. We tend to do the same things in the same way...every single, solitary day. We become bloody boring! If you ask me, it gets worse as we get older. Leaving aside the obvious physical attributes of youth, like pert boobs, bums, and six-packs, its no wonder people look for younger lovers and partners, they're less set in their ways, they're more spontaneous and if we were honest...doesn't everyone want a piece of that...element of surprise? Some people scare me...isn't there enough routine in our working schedules to last several life-times without knowing what they're going to eat for dinner on any given day of the week; planning their entire holiday wardrobe complete with all the matching accessories, labelled in small plastic bags...Tuesday 15th etc. perhaps a month before they go; sitting down at the same time every day to watch the same soap; visit the same pubs (every night); visit the same countries year after year for holidays (and sometimes even the same hotel); deal with their mail at the same time every evening, walk the dog along the same patch of grass at the same time every day etc. etc. etc. etc.
Words of undying love expressed in song, poem or prose might well be seen as the ultimate declaration of love. Not to sound discouraging or cynical, it may well be worth bearing in mind, that sometimes words are just words; an author, poet or speaker... might just be playing with sound of words, rather than their meaning. Just veering of the track for a moment, I wrote a piece/play last year in U.C.C. which explored the uses of the Mouth. The main theme was centred around eating disorders, but it also focussed attention on the of business of 'lip-service', and words being used as tools of deceit and manipulation by the likes of our government ministers, advertising moguls etc. etc. There was no text, except for keening (female funeral lament practiced in Ireland - highlighted in J.M. Synge's play, Riders to the Sea and in Ralph Vaughan-Williams opera of the same name) and tribal-like exclamations, accompanied by physical gesture and movement, film footage and a musical score. I am convinced its easier to lie and manipulate by written and spoken word than it is by physical gesture and movement. I'm not an expert on this, but it would seem, if someone says something disturbing, it is much easier to control a vocal response and therefore conceal the authentic reaction, but much more difficult to control a physical reaction, which exposes the truth; the latter being a more instantaneous response. (A different part of the brain?)
Surely one of the greatest skills any negotiator must possess, is the ability to read faces and body language, because therein lies the immediate truth. Even in a situation, where confrontation is not on the menu, the prospect of sitting opposite someone, or even talking over a telephone can send some heading for the hills. I wonder is that a fear of exposing our selves...our vulnerability. On a cynical note, perhaps, it might also be an attempt to hide our true motives.
Anyway, back to the main road... what attracts us to another? I'm more inclined to think that its in the being surprised, wrongfooted, spontaneously challenged, made to laugh at ourselves, doing something out of what has become the 'norm' - the 'boring routine', that is most attractive and satisfying. I'm not saying for one moment, a cute ass isn't good to look at, and that certain men and women are not, on an initial level, more physically attractive than others, but they're not necessarily to be found in the stereotypically 'tall, dark and handsome' groove. It's more likely to be something in the eyes or the smile that says, 'I am fun, intelligent, passionate, good company, and know how to throw a few surprises your way!', that is most compelling. Age or looks rarely come into it! At grammar school, my German teacher, Herr Schmidt (Mr. Smith from Manchester had been headmaster of a boys secondary school during the second world war) was seventy, white-haired, tall, proud, moustached, housed spectacular dancing blue eyes (Deine blaue augen!), beautifully baritoned...and I fell in love with him at fifteen years old!!!
There is no doubt that some people are attracted to wealth and power, and maybe, that's exactly what women see in men like Salman Rushdie and Nicholas Sarkosy. However, if you look at Rushdie's eyes, there is something weirdly attractive about them. They remind me of half-closed shutters... there's definitely something going on behind them. Not sure I would want to find out what, though! On the other hand, Mr. Sarkosy has big brown doe-like eyes that perhaps smack of 'I need you', which, in turn, might bring out the mothering instinct in some of us females.
Jack Nicholson, who is now in his 70's, just arches his eyebrow, smiles and I just go...'Yeah, bring it on!' I've read that he is incredibly good fun to work with, spontaneous and most generous to his fellow actors, and gets on well with his ex's. He's aging, overweight and balding, but as far as I am concerned, he is still the most attractive man on celluloid. George Clooney, who reminds me of Clark Gable, who was just so gobsmackingly magnificent in 'Gone with the Wind,' would finish a very close runner-up. Their sexiness springs from their ability to laugh at themselves and be the clown!
That's just about as good as it gets!