Thursday, April 22, 2010

LAUGHTER ... UPROARIOUS AND WONDERFUL MEDICINE!

Laughter really is a great medicine. Was at rehearsals tonight, running through Act I. Everything that could go wrong ... went wrong. The scene in Jud Frys Smokehouse, which should be terribly dark and menacing, will be seen in a much different light after tonight's showing. I'm not even going to try to explain or describe what happened, because telling jokes was never my forte ... you really would have to be there. The cast that were not involved in this particular scene sat out front in the stalls to watch what was going on. (After all, it is a good idea, that they know what the show they are in, is about...don't you agree?) When the roll of mishaps started to unfurl, the place erupted. The theatre that started off its life as a presbyterian church, shook with gales and howls of laughter tonight. Strictly speaking, I think I would have been forgiven if I had become stressfully irate, but truthfully, I found the shambles that unfolded in front of my eyes, hilariously entertaining. It was like Charlie Chaplin meets Lucille Ball meets the Keystones Cops meets Brian Rix meets John Cleese. My face ached with laughter ... long time since I laughed like that!

The cast were doubled up! I feel certain this episode will be the topic of conversation down in Daly's bar for the next few weeks. Most of those involved with putting on a show like this, work all day, rush to get dinner, put children to bed etc, and then rush down to rehearsals. I think the shenannagins of tonight was just what we all needed, and a much needed reminder, that even though the show should be up to scratch for personal fulfilment and the paying audiences, it is extremely important that the experience and journey of rehearsal is fun .... well we certainly had that this evening ... in bucketloads! Reminded me too of another favourite film of mine, based on a play, 'Noises Off'. It is one of the funniest films I have ever seen. It stars actors, Michael Caine and Denholm Elliot. It is divided into three parts:the rehearsal process from front of stage; the mayhem backstage during rehearsals; the actual performance front and back stage. You don't have to be a stage animal to enjoy this movie by the way, so check it out.

While I'm on the subject of funny movies and what tickles me; I think the film that made me laugh the most on two separate occasions, (I mean so much so, that I had to leave the room and hold onto something to support me), was 'The Three Fugitives', starring Nick Nolte and Martin Short. Even thinking about it now, makes me laugh. Another favourite, which I watched for the second time last week, is 'My Cousin Vinnie', starring Joe Pesce and Marissa Tomei, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for her part as the long-suffering girlfriend of the rather unorthodox, unqualified lawyer played by Mr Pesce, who we've come to associate with the psychotic gangster. They were sheer magic together! Films such as 'House Sitter' starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, 'Father of the Bride' starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton, 'Meet the Fockers' starring Robert De Niro, 'Anger Management' starring Jack Nicholson would all come way up on my list of funny films.

Anyway I'm heading to bed, tired but still laughing and it feels so ... so good. Thank God for the gift of laughter!

Ciao for now!

SHANNON SADNESS

Took Emma to Shannon airport today. She is flying back to London after the Easter break from Guildhall School of Music and Drama. I love travelling and in particular, the buzz of airport atmpospheres. I would normally just set her down, because its just to sad for both of us to do the 'whole waving up the escalator thing', but I was bursting to go to the loo, so ended up doing the whole torturous waving until the last dot of her disappeared!

I am very grateful that my girls have left their nest to broaden their learning and taste the wonders of what life has to offer, but nevertheless, there is always a tug at my heart and a tear in my eye, when I wave good-bye. I have to remind myself, when I say good-bye to Katy in Cork or Emma in London or Shannon, that its not really good-bye, its....'au revoir' or ' auf wiedersehen', which mean in French and German respectively, 'until we meet again!'


See what I mean  about photograph! There will be really long space between it and the end of blog. Sorry!Emma on my hip in Fanore, Co. Clare. Everything has gone nuts since I added Amazon to my dashboard!
 I can't get rid of it unfortunately!

Ciao for now!

MARRIAGES, HORSES AND CARRIAGES.

I am married 35 years today. Oh my goodness, where did the last thirty-five years go? Tony (my husband) would say you get less for murder! 35 years is only one year more than 34, but somehow there is more of a milestone (or millstone?) ring to it! My mind rewinds ... our first date, our first kiss, the proposal of marriage, engagement and wedding days, our first home by the canal in Betchton, Sandbach, moving to Ireland, buying our first and only home, the births of our two daughters, first schooldays, days of first holy communion and confirmation, of school shows, 'birds and bees' chats, taxi-ing them to and from discos, first boyfriends, staying up to until the wee hours of the morning to nurse broken hearts, waiting up when they first learned to drive, trying desperately to stifle the tears when they move out, smiling broadly when they move back in again!

The glossary of the last thirty-five years takes only a few seconds to rewind at speed. The pages from the book of this life are more likely than not, to be opened randomly, without command, by the strains of a piece of music, a  smile, a look, a scent, the discovery of the girls' first pair of shoes when sorting the attic .... or something as simple as .... one word.

Tony, a witty Dubliner, loves to joke and in response to friends' comments re our long marriage and its future, he would say, 'Well we might stay together, but I can't guarantee we'll still be talking!'

I have just spent the last four hours trying to put up some old wedding photos up onto this blasted blog and I am about to scream, because my ass is numb and I have to put on dinner, because when I am at home, I like to have Tony's dinner ready ... he's a hungry horse! If there is a way of stretching or enlarging (and there has to be ... I complicate everything!), I would be seriously grateful if someone would put me out of my misery, because the weeds in the garden are growing up around my ears as I speak.

About horses and carriages. My production of Oklahoma with St. Mary's musical society opens week next Tuesday, May 4th in the White Memorial theatre. Putting all the last minute touches in place. Temperatures and stress levels are rising as per usual at this stage of the proceedings. In the process of trying to get the menfolk to walk and talk like cowboys, my voice has lowered a few semi-tones and I notice that I have become asexual. I am neither female or male... I am the director!  Many musicals possess very frothy, quite shallow story lines. Oklahoma, set against a background of an ongoing war for land between the farmers and the cowmen, could be described as quite simplistic in that it boasts a love story where Curley gets his gal, Laurey, but the inclusion and realization of a poor obsessive and misunderstood Jud Fry, who meets his end, by falling on his own knife, adds a much deeper dimension to the libretto. I am extremely fortunate to have such a talented cast at my disposal, who will most certainly raise the roof with their poignant acting skills and glorious singing of songs like, 'Oh what a beautiful morining', 'People will say we're in love', 'Oklahoma', 'I'm just a girl who cain't say no', and 'Surrey with the Fringe on Top' and many more. I thank them for their hard graft and endeavours and as we say in the theatre, 'Break a leg!'

Will try and get the wedding pics up another time... they're hilarious!

Ciao for now!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

LAHINCH .... LUNACY OF O'LOONEY'S



I drove to Lahinch Sunday before last, because I needed to walk and think some stuff through. The ocean has a marvellously calming influence. However, I was reminded again that Lahinch is no longer the place it used to be ... well at least for me! I would love to know how the owners of O'Looney's Bar were given planning permission to wreck a pivotal viewing/meeting point of one of the jewels of the Clare coastline by extending their premises in the manner in which they did. I took the above photograph of my daughters on St. Patrick's day some years ago now. I love this picture not only because the girls look so happy, but because it encapsulates the essence of Lahinch.

Up until about three years ago, O'Looney's Bar might have been described as a pub where 'shebeen' meets 'bohemia'. It oozed sea and an unsentimental vintage Ireland: timbered floors; stone walls plastered in old black and white photographs of local land and sea heroes; nicotined ceilings and beams adorned with maritime artifacts, such as glass balls, lobster pots, nets, etc; crackling open fire; complete with a great seafood chowder, scrumptious brown bread and a great pint of porter (so I was told!) and a view to die for ... an oasis from heaven! The narrow, 'spring-back-in-your-face-if-your-not-careful-when-its-windy' doors opened onto a SPACE! (Above photo taken from that very spot!) Its difficult to describe this space. It held picnic tables and benches, blackened by water and highlighted in salt, accompanied by shade of umbrella on rare ... but there ... somewhere ... hot, jellyfish memory-days. You could remain in that space for a few moments, a few minutes or a few hours, smoke a cigarette, drink a coffee or a pint, eat a bag of chips, a jacket potato topped with curried chick peas, sit on your own or with your terrier or labrador and read undisturbed. In the midst of hundreds, perhaps even thousands of others bodies, there was always peace and tranquility to be found. In a strange way, the roaring chorus of the ocean made sure of that!



People from all over the world congregated in this 'space' to mingle, sometimes in their isolation, to learn about and taste for themselves the vicarious nature of both the ocean and Ireland. Lahinch was and still is a particular hotspot for surfers, who have always baffled me with their diehard determination to conquer the waves and their huge reservoirs of stamina to stick at it hour upon hour. It is true to say that 'Surfer Dudes' have a look all of their own, that intrigued both my daughters (and indeed mum, if the truth be told!) in years past.. However, their tanned, freckled faces never looked out of place next to the ice-cream-faced baby in the pushchair or the elderly gentleman, who tucked the tartan blanket tighter around  his wife's knees, to hold back the breeze, as she sat eating her 'toasted ham and cheese special' in her space within that 'space' ... her wheelchair; or female holiday home neighbours, who brisk-walked together, stopped to pull up their socks,  re-arranged gussets of pantees, bra-straps that dug into the extra flesh of Winter, putting hands to eyes, to avoid the glaring brightness of a sky above glass, while one of them tried to describe, with wildly gesturing hands, the style of the peach and cream two-piece outfit she was going to wear for her favourite niece's summer black-tie wedding in Killarney; or the gangling teenage boy, who reached nervously and awkwardly for his first real girlfriend's hand. 

At that time you could walk into O'Looney's clad in wet-suit and sand-veneered feet, order a pint or go to the loo and nobody gave it a second thought. Whilst never a great fan of any seaside resort in the peak times of July and August, the memories of wintry, stormy days and nights in Lahinch are forever and incomparably engraved with feverish joy. Sometimes there was the added excitement that crashing waves and winds would bring stones and rocks hurtling against the windows of O'Looneys. I remember with huge affection New Years Eve 2001, a dry, blustery, stormy night, (but then it would be, wouldn't it... extracting the old to pour in the new!) The waves were gargantuan and were regularly leaving their enforced boundaries to remind we landlubbers of their menacing might. However, we thought we had them sussed following a few minutes of indepth observation. We calculated that following nine huffs and puffs of the ocean which caused its heaving outbursts to explode over the wall, we could safely run towards the wall that stood between O'Looney's and the lunacy of the ocean on the 10th and not be soaked to the skin. How totally and utterly mistaken were we! Dripping wet, laughing so hard, unable to talk, we stumbled our way back to the guesthouse in the early hours of the first day of a new year. Wow, what a start! 

 

Sadly, all that is a memory now. That 'space' has been invaded and I'm sorry to say conquered by an intruder and sometimes despot ...so-called 'progress', that knows not or cares not for the essence of Lahinch. The extension that has replaced 'our space' houses a new bar, which bears no resemblance to the old one. Walls are freshly plastered, painted in a flat boring cream or some other such pastel shade of uninteresting and wait for it ... one ... now has to wait to be seated. Excuse me! Open fire has been replaced with a 'coal effect' effort and the only place that may represent the exterior world, if you stretched your imagination to its absolute limits, would be the bathroom. It's black ceiling which houses modern spotlights might be representative of a dark, starry night; central curved tap rising from washhand basin, might, with a severe scrunching of the eyes, be transformed into the monster 'Nessie' or an inquisitive eel, perhaps. That's about where it stops I'm afraid! The old bar has become a coffee/smoothic/snack bar ... all chic, cool and minimalist ... beige and boring!


The other parts of life in Lahinch (behind the scenes. After all the main spectacle is the front) go on pretty much the same as before: the golf course (pictured above), the tourist shops etc. (I am told the golf course is one of the most enjoyable and challenging courses in Ireland. I tried golf twice, but just kept losing my balls. Soon got tired of that!) Kenny's bar do great pub grub, and are in the process of extending their kitchen, which will remain closed until June, but staying open for drinks.  I am still encouraged by the fact that the one and only garage, located on the main street, is still operating, with the same mechanic, working long, late hours, for the last thirty years. He looked after my car for me twenty years ago, which misbehaved as I drove down to see a production of 'Orpheus and the Underworld'. After driving 78 miles to see this show for the first time, I missed the first act! Thanks to him, however, (and I'm sorry I can't remember his name now) at least I was able to drive home that night. ('Orpheus' didn't really do it for me anyway!)

Of course, the ocean cannot be effaced or tampered with, no more than the Cliffs of Moher, but the lunacy of local planning laws that allowed such a disaster to happen, beggars belief. I thought we had moved on from the horrific architectural monstrosities of the 70's and brown envelope decades of the 80's and 90's.


A View from Lahinch



Knute Skinner



The Cliffs of Moher

can be viewed

three miles from here,

of rising rock.

The Atlantic sent them

shock on shock

till from the crags

Hags Head was hewed.

I move my hand

to wind the clock,

which, like my life,

must be renewed.

-------------------------

While I embrace change and progress, this misappropriation of planning control has annihilated a very important part of what Lahinch meant to many, many people and to me personally. I would like to hear from like-minded people.


Perhaps the ocean will one day say 'enough is enough', rise up in anger to tear down and swallow up this piece of lunacy, and spew it out beyond the embers of the deep! (Of course, everyone will have to be moved out first!)



Ciao for now!


 


Sunday, April 11, 2010

RUNNER BEANS

I have been described in many ways over the years, ranging from 'an alien from another planet', 'a breath of fresh air', to 'a maelstrom of a woman', but right at this moment, I feel pretty darn useless! I find myself once more at Birmingham airport, having rushed over to visit my dad, Maurice, who fell two months ago. He is not well, but he is struggling on, extremely bravely. I really want to stay with him for longer than a few days, but I have pressing work commitments in Ireland over the next two months. I feel like I am abandoning him. Like he, his garden... what choice do either of us have? I wrote this on the train and plane travelling back to Cork today.

RUNNER BEANS

No seeds yet, just thoughts.
Even as the rosy fingers of April
Urge the bony back of Summer to move.
Wobbling wired beanpoles,
Product of 'war ration' thinking,
Spokesmen for cloying, covetous Cheshire clay
Scream silently for sacrifice of sweat.
Not his foot, slides one in front of the other,
Along mossed flagstones;
No duel between this man and his soil;
Only the feet of another, a stranger ... no contempt therefore.
No flowers, the orange of my childhood,
Birthing slithering snakes of velvety green
Into the square box of a Nantwich son:
Running wild ...
Running free ...
Running scared ...
Runner Beans!


Maureen Walsh 2010 ©

Thursday, April 1, 2010

TIGER... TIME TO COME OUT OF THE WOODS


My goodness, why are so many people hung up about sex? The market is flooded with magazines like Cosmopolitan and countless others bombarding readers, month after month, on how to give better oral sex, how to achieve multiple orgasms, how to find the 'G' spot (or is it the X spot now?) etc... (yawn) ... etc... (yawn) ... etc. as if it is some kind of fashion statement and the be all and end all. Pop videos, movies, tabloid newpapers and advertising have become more and more overtly sexual, leaving very little to the imagination. Gone are the films where one might see a suggestive trail of shoes and outer garments leading presumably towards the bedroom and the act of sexual intercourse, without recourse to yes... yes...YES!
Inspite of a post-modern openess around the whole area of sex, sex education in our schools, and the sexploitation of the media, our beliefs and ideas about our own sexuality seem to be even more repressed. Has the whole re-alignment of gender role-play a part to lay in this? Men are staying at home more and more to keep house and take care of the children, while women go out to work to pay the mortgage etc. When I worked in Rolls Royce in England (which granted was back in the late 70's) paying the monthly salaries, I was quite amazed by the number of men, who died shortly after retirement. A close friend of mine, an alcoholic in recovery for fourteen years dealt with his father's death from Multiple Scelerosis, his mother's suicide, but when he was let go from his job, he hit the booze hard again and died, sadly, shortly afterwards.
There is so much pressure on women today to be a perfect size 8/10, an amazing cook and a goddess in the bedroom. Men worry about the size of their penis, achieving an erection, premature ejaculation etc. etc. And why? Because it is being rammed down our throats from dawn to dusk, and sometimes in the least expected places! It serves to repress our sexuality rather than liberate it! Who said you have to be an expert? Whatever happened to the thrill and anticipation of sexual exploration and experimentation between consenting adults whose genuine desire is to please and have fun. Our sexuality is more than the act of sex. Our sexuality, like our DNA pervades our existence, our being, our creativity and our actions... it is part of who we are... a gift... a beautiful and mysterious gift!
Tiger Woods had sex with several women apart from his wife. OK , he signed up to be faithful to one woman, so I guess he broke the terms of the contract. Big deal! He didn't rob a bank (not like the two robbing bankers, Sean Fizpatrick and Michael Fingleton who cost this country 28 Billion Euros) or defraud anyone. He didn't murder anyone. So why has he felt the need to hide away in the darkness? Whatever happened was between him and his wife, and should have been left that way. Last night the Taoiseach's voice floated into the room in which I was working. Did I hear him correctly? Did I really hear him say, that he didn't have to answer to ANYONE. Surely I was dreaming. Sadly, it would appear not! So the leader of this Irish government that was elected by the electorate of this country, believes he doesn't have to answer to us, the taxpayers that keep him in guinness and ciggies. He and his inept cabinet have brought this country to the brink of destruction! It reads better than any farce that Dario Fo would have penned.
All I have to say Tiger is, that if the Taoiseach of this country, Brian Cowen thinks he doesn't have to answer to us, then you get out there at the US Masters with your head held high. You REALLY don't have to answer to us. Just tell the begrudgers to FECK OFF!
Oh, by the way, you are much easier on the eyes than B.C. esquire!


Ciao for now!
ps. This computer just gets weirder and weirder. Can't sort out spaces between paragraphs now. There must be a gremlin in there. Or is just a case of ' a poor workman blaming his tools!' (Oops pun genuinely unintended!)
By the way talking of darkness ... Read today that dark chocolate, at least, does have 'substance' after all! According to German Research on almost 20,000 people over the last 10 years, 7.5 gms a day helps beat strokes and high blood pressure. In that case I should live to at least 150 then, the amount of white, milk, fruit and nut AND dark chocolate I eat! Me a chocoholic... what makes you think that?