Monday, October 25, 2010

Orhan Pamuk /John McGahern ... Inspirational Gems to Share

Orhan Pamuk

Just as in music, one chord, one note, a syncopation, or a simple modulation can hit you so hard in the heart, that you are hooked forever to the piece, and perhaps, initially because you wish you had composed it; or that  because of your enormous appreciation of its beauty, (even though it is available to a whole galaxy  of listeners) there is a rather ridiculous belief that somehow it belongs to YOU. With that 'possession' follows an excitement and an overwhelming desire to share. I have  found myself wanting to 'share' lots of music of late. Next blog!

So to writing, which creates quite the same kind of scenario. I bought a book recently called Arab Society and Culture: An Essential Reader edited by Samir and Roseanne Saad Khalaf. I have only just started to read it, but within the introduction, I met up with Orhan Pamuk for the first time.

Pamuk, a Turkish writer and lecturer was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. (The first Nobel Prize to be won by a Turk)  The Nobel Lecture, that he delivered in Stockholm, called My Father's Suitcase, inspired the editors of the above book, for inclusion.

For those that love to read; to write; or for those who might even aspire to being called a 'writer', I found myself wanting to share two snippets of Pamuk's mindset... two gems, that hit me smack bang wallop in the chest whilst only reading the introduction! 

'It is discontent, Pamuk suggests, along with the need to escape that remains the starting point of true literature'.

'Pamuk soon realized that to "read, to write, was like leaving one world to find consolation in the otherness of another, in the strange and the wondrous." But as an authentic writer, he must have the artistry to tell his own stories as if they were other people's stories, and to tell other people's stories as if they were his own.' 

Wow! That's just the introduction. Can't wait to read the rest!

                       John McGahern

From Pamuk, I fly to John McGahern, one of the most important Irish writers of the latter half of the 20th Century, who died in March 2006. Recently, I was studying a small extract from his book Memoir 2005, which describes the countryside of his native home in Co. Leitrim. Want to share one sentence, one gem from this piece, which caused me to sigh deeply, with a heaving of the shoulders, wishing I could write like this.

'The hedges are the glory of these small fields, especially when the hawthorn foams into streams of blossom each May and June.'

The use of the word 'foams' is simply delicious! The round compact stroke of a round shaving brush, lathering white eventually, the whole chin and the cheek ... born out of one singular circular movement of the wrist. It creates a wonderful metaphor of the micro versus the macro; one single round white floret, loops up with another such fragile beauty, then another; eventually presenting the perfect face of hawthorn, frozen for a moment, in a burgeoning, but benign mob of white heads.

And of course, by the time you have instigated the excited process of sharing, in the hope that the recipient experiences, to some extent, the joyous pain of the instant, piercing recognition, that you felt; you will have already resigned yourself to the fact, that your 'love for or fascination with' that something, may, in actual fact, remain indefatigably unrequited!

Not to worry darlings ....!  It merely adds to the glorious excitement of it all!

Ciao for now!

Khalaf, Samir and Roseanne Saad, Arab Society and Culture: An Essential Reader. (Lebanon. Saqi, 2009.
McGahern, John. Memoir (All Will Be Well) 2005

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Where was I !!!

The love that men have for their sheds fascinates me. Whilst many women love cooking and their kitchens, I think the 'shed syndrome' is something entirely different and quite unique to men. Perhaps it goes back to the man being the hunter, provider and 'fixer'!?! Perhaps it is a symbol of his connection to his father, the place where he was first taught how to hammer in a nail or how to saw his first piece of timber. In the apparent chaos of most sheds I've ever peeped into, men always seem to be able to miraculously put their hands upon exactly what they are looking for. Some women nag their partners about the state of their sheds, but come on girls give them a break.  Like my girls' bedrooms, I gave up nagging them a long time ago. It is THEIR SPACE, when all is said and done!

Didn't I tell you already..... I'm inventing something !!!

As a little girl, I used to love going into my father's shed. It was like Aladdin's cave! There were heaving shelves of Quality Street tins filled with every conceivable size of screw, washer, nail etc; old rusting tins of National Dried Baby Milk (No SMA or Cow and Gate then). A chunky oak bench fixed with a vice that nearly talked to me as I opened and closed its gaping mouth. There were fierce-looking, but compelling implements stuck to cobwebbed walls. Dented tins of  maroonish-coloured paint, that covered nearly everything that could be painted at number 19 Hargrave Avenue. The smell of white spirits or 'thinners' as my dad used to call it, mixed in with paint, oil, metal, polishes etc. will remain in my nostrils for ever. Next to the smell of music shops and bookshops, I love most, the intricately brewed aroma of hardware shops, particularly those mad, completely chaotic ones of little towns and villages. 

I love the fact that my dad loved his shed.

                            The Shed - A Romantic Version!

This poem is a tribute to men and their sheds everywhere.


I love you so much,
I'd build you a shed.
A place to read comics,
And bury your head.

I'd learn how to fix,
Driving nails into wood; 
With hands carved in love, 
As a carpenter would.

I'd leave cracks in the roof,
You could spy on the stars,
Let your weary mind fly
Off to Pluto and Mars.

I'd set the stove blazing,
For your soul, for your hunger.
A space you can dream in,
Your hopes brighter ... longer.

I'd put in some tools there;
A plane and a lathe.
Your boat made ... set sail in, 
 Moored in moonlight, you'd bathe.

And then when YOU'RE ready,
I'll come to your bed.
And we'll look at the stars,
Through the eyes of that shed.

Maureen Walsh  - October 2010 ©

Its A Man's World! (In some ways!)


Ciao for Now!

Friday, October 15, 2010


I watched the movie 'Robin Hood' starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, directed by Ridley Scott during the week. This latest cinematic collaboration from Scott and Crowe does not come within spitting distance of  'Gladiator', with its hauntingly glorious soundtrack, composed by Hans Zimmer( responsible also for the stunning soundtrack of 'The Last Samurai.') Casting aside Ridley Scott's unexpectedly poor interpretation, and Crowe's dodgy English accent, I have always been captivated by the legend of Robin Hood and his band of Merrie Men, who lived in and survived on the natural resources of Sherwood Forest, as they robbed from the rich to give to the poor! The vision of Maid Marian, her flowing hair adorned with garland; carrying a bridal posy; both made from wheat, wild flowers and berries, swearing her undying devotion and love to Robin Hood, a gallant knight of the under-privileged, in a forest glade; blessed by Friar Tuck; stayed with me all through my youth, and remains with me to this day ...  forever resplendently romantic! 

On one day like this, of a magnificent Indian Summer, that the gods have deemed fit to bestow upon us, it is so easy to forget that this small but great island of ours, is facing, quite possibly the worst financial, political and sociological period of instability since its foundation. What gives me the right to say that? I have lived HERE for the last thirty-four years! I think I can safely say, as I have already stated in earlier blogs, that 2009 was quite the most depressing year of my life. Suddenly there was nothing to believe in or trust anymore! Our government and its leader Brian Cowen are the laughing stock of Europe, if not the world, and our banking institutions have outdone themselves in their greedy quest for profit, at OUR LOSS! Whilst Dermot Ahern is bothering his inane head and patronizing ours with his anti-blasphemy law (our using the NAME of Jesus in vain), our religious institutions have incubated a breed of pastors that no longer understand the meaning of taking care of their flock, and are an absolute disgrace to the NAME of Jesus and all that he stood for!!!

It would appear that unlike other periods of financial and political disruption throughout this country's history, such as the occupation by the British for centuries, the Famine, the Easter Rising, the Civil War, people always felt that, they still had their Church; their Faith. Yes, there is no doubt, that the numbers of regular mass-goers had been in decline for the last couple of decades, but the shocking 'lack of reaction' or display of REAL CONTRITION by the Catholic Institution since the publication of both the Murphy and Ryan Reports of 2009 has succeeded in driving even the most stouthearted, devout Catholics away from the Church, the celebration of Mass and the Eucharist. In another age, we would have been called Heretics, because we have made the 'choice' to stay away from deceivers and pretenders. The word 'heretic' is derived from the Greek word αἵρεσις (pronounced hairesis), which means 'choices'! Anyway, this was not intended to be another rant about the Catholic Church or even the BOYO'S CLUB OF THE VATICAN!

I am not normally given to despair or pessimism, but we are in the grip of a financial nightmare of such gargantuan proportions, from which it would appear, we cannot be awoken without the implementation of draconian tax increases and the introduction of a property tax on primary homes. If Fianna Fail are ousted at the next election, the financial fiasco of their making, still has to be sorted, and by whom? Would a coalition government of Fine Gael and the Labour Party fare any better? The situation that has been foisted upon the hard-working taxpayers of this country has gone beyond party politics! We are in the middle of a National Emergency, and we might be forgiven for believing, that this country needs an ALL-PARTY GOVERNMENT or a REVOLUTION!

            Velvet Revolution - Prague, Czechoslavakia, 1989

But then that is where my sense of despair filters in. Who would lead this all-party government or revolution? Human nature being what it is .... wouldn't history just repeat itself again? People acquiring a taste for power and the good life; wanting to be paid the highest salary for the least amount of work, and forgetting what it was they were fighting for in the first place! Eamon Gilmore of the Labout Party, is the only party leader that I would trust anywhere near the office of Taoiseach at this present moment. Perhaps I'm crazy, but I'm not actually that bothered whether Eamon Gilmore is a FINANCIAL WIZARD or not, because I've had my fill of those so-called experts. I mean, just look at the mess we're in! I could not believe my ears recently, when I heard this Government saying that the Banks had misled them. Poor little lambs!!! I thought back to when my children were young, and how they opted for the 5th amendment, when they were asked how a crayoned picture of a smiling sun ended up on  my newly-wallpapered wall! Must have been Mr. Nobody mum!!! Must have been Mr. Nobody, Brian!!! Eamon Gilmore appears to be genuinely passionate about the welfare of this State and its people, and that on its own merit is enough for me presently. He has been likened recently by some journalists, unfavourably in my opinion, to Fianna Fail ex-Taoiseach, Bertie Aherne, and we all know how he operated. His mentor, Charlie Haughey taught him well. Like any leader, that truly believes in democracy and his own limitations, Eamon Gilmore should surround himself with a group of well-intentioned, well-educated advisors.

Eamon Gilmore keeping company with James Connolly 1868 - 1916

Globally, the hopes of millions were tethered to the neck of Barrack Obama, not too long ago, when he was elected as President of the U.S.A. An almost desperate euphoria resonated across the World, as if he were the 2nd Messiah! I felt genuinely anxious for him! The pressure of expectation on just one man must be huge, and cynics might well say, he knew what he was taking on, but I doubt that he did somehow! I'm sure the strain of the whole decision-making process, which depends ultimately on information, extricated from his cohort of advisors, who may well have vested interests of their own, must be ENORMOUS.

                                         Athassel Abbey Ruins - Golden Co. Tipperary

In the mean time, I am going to enjoy each day of this beautiful Indian Summer, and the joys that lie all around me, because it genuinely feels, that the future of our NATION, and indeed the future of the WORLD, is lying in the lap of the gods. Now, who or what those GODS are, is indeed, another subject for another blog!

                                                              Golden, Co. Tipperary

I took these photographs of Golden earlier today, whilst driving around, and tried to look at the area that I have been living in for the lasty thirty years or so, through the eyes of a first time visitor. The village and surrounding areas of Golden are steeped in natural beauty, architectural ruins and freedom-fighting history. I will return to Golden and its golden history in another blog, simply because I've disabled something ... somehow ... on my computer. My pics are refusing point-blank to be moved either clockwise or otherwise. So slightly miffed!

                                         The Suir river from Golden Bridge

Whilst waiting for another Messiah, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Eamon Gilmore (perhaps another Robin Hood), to affect change and leadership upon this ailing nation/planet of ours, I am going to plant winter pansies, cyclamen and primroses in baskets and window boxes TODAY. Their vibrant flags of colour, will smile in the greyness of winter, rebelling against the plague of cynicism!


I shall also listen to the song, 'One Day Like This' recorded by the band, Elbow. It is beautiful and optimistic!!! If you have time, check it out below.


Drinking in the morning sun

Blinking in the morning sun

Shaking off the heavy one

Heavy like a loaded gun

What made me behave that way?

Using words I never say

I can only think it must be love

Oh, anyway, it¡¯s looking like a beautiful day

Someone tell me how I feel

It¡¯s silly wrong but vivid right

Oh, kiss me like the final meal

Yeah, kiss me like we die tonight

Cause holy cow, I love your eyes

And only now I see the light

Yeah, lying with me half-awake

Oh, anyway, it¡¯s looking like a beautiful day

When my face is chamois-creased

If you think I¡¯ll wink, I did

Laugh politely at repeats

Yeah, kiss me when my lips are thin

Cause holy cow, I love your eyes

And only now I see you like

Yeah, lying with me half-awake

Stumbling over what to say

Well, anyway, it¡¯s looking like a beautiful day

So throw those curtains wide!

One day like this a year¡¯d see me right!

Yeah, one day like this a year, would see me right!

Ciao for now!