Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'M NOT A PHEASANT PLUCKER ....

Phil

..... I'M ONLY A PHEASANT PLUCKER'S SON,
AND I WON'T BE PLUCKING PHEASANTS,
TIL THE PHEASANT PLUCKING TIME COMES ....

(Tongue-twister of Dublin origin .... I think!!!)

My brother-in-law teases me with the recent addition to his family; the acquisition of four chickens. He knows that I have craved chickens since I got married. He even cleaned out a pigsty for me during one of his lengthy stays at our first home; a farmhouse in Betchton, Sandbach in Cheshire, more than thirty years ago. Well I have gone one better than you in this foul, fowl race, Jimmy my boy! We, now have our own pet pheasant, that we have called Phil. Phil arrived at our house a couple of months ago, and has become increasingly relaxed around us; so much so that he now comes up to the kitchen patio door twice a day to be fed. As he eats the wild bird seed that we scatter, he utters the most glorious sound of contentment, rather like a pidgeon cooing; a cat purring; a lamb's tail wagging as it suckles its mother; the wiggling of a baby's toes as it gorges on bottle or breast.


                                        Contentment


I didn't win the award for Best Director on Saturday night ... sadly! I say sadly, because by the time Saturday evening had arrived, I really was hoping that my name would be on the inside of that envelope. I hadn't thought about nominations or awards as far as my directing was concerned, until they were announced and  then, human nature being what it is, the word, 'possibility' and the desire to win sneaked in. However, a marvellous evening was had by all, and my daughter, Emma had flown in from London to support along with 35 members of St. Mary's Choral Society. I extend my heartiest congratulations to Ruth Butler, who won her award for Best Programme, and Diarmuid Vaughan, who won his extremely well-deserved award for Best Male Actor in the role of Judas.
 


Emma and Edwin


After a rather late night, we travelled the long way home, the following day, via the Gap of Dunloe. It is quite stunning, and will definitely return with my hiking boots sometime soon. I found myself wondering why I had never been to this place before, given the amount of times I have visited Co. Kerry. I thought about Kerry being referred to as the 'Kingdom', and right there in the midst of the Mcgillycuddy Reeks, I felt a real sense of being in the presence of kings; a monarchy of legends and heroes.








River Horse God


Just three pics from the Gap of Dunloe. I particularly love the last one. I am fascinated by the reflections created by light on water. Below a couple of pics from the big night itself!


And The Winner is .......!



Mr. Oliver Hurley(centre) for his production of Amateur Premier Michael Collins
(Forget the faces .... just look at what the hands are saying!!!)


I didn't win the overall award,  and I am by no means a Pheasant Plucker, but I sure did have a great weekend, and I suppose I could have been called a pleasant f--k-r ... if you were drunk enough!



Contentment




Ciao for Now!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

DIRECTOR'S CUT




If you dip in and out of my blog, you will know that I directed the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar with St. Mary's Choral Society quite recently, and for my efforts, I received an AIMS nomination for best director, which reflects upon everyone that was involved in this production both on and off stage. We received four nominations in total: mine; best programme; best ensemble piece and best male actor. The annual AIMS awards ceremony, which is being held in the INEC Killarney next weekend 18th June, is not only a time to dust off the gowns and tuxes, it is also a time to catch up with fellow musical theatre practitioners. It is a great honour to receive a nomination in itself, but I would be lying, if I said winning it outright wouldn't be so so sweet!!!


Saturday Seminar 2010
INEC - Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney. Pre-AIMS Awards Banquet 2010

I have been thinking of the role of Director lately, and wondering, whether as flexible and accessible as we try to be, the quest to motivate and inspire worthy performances, might quite possibly reflect a need to control to a lesser or greater degree. If that is the case, then what is to stop us taking those qualities good, bad or indifferent into the various other areas of our lives.

The weekend before last, I went to the UK, to visit my father and his wife, who have always loved their garden and have been no strangers to best-kept garden awards, themselves, over the years . Apart from checking out the guys, my quest over the long weekend, was to drive them to the local nursery to select summer bedding plants and then to plant them, water them and protect same from slugs, snails, green and black flies etc. In the last hint of daylight, on the eve of my return to Ireland, and surveying my three day's labour of love over a mug of coffee and a stolen cigarette, I thought long and hard about how difficult the execution of the smallest things in life was becoming for them both; those things that the more agile of us take so much for granted. The struggle!





The negotiation of the back step into their house has become a real problem for Amy, who depends upon her walking aid and her wheelchair to get around. Of course, a ramp would be the ideal solution, but they are loath to change the layout of their surroundings, which they have known and worked with for so long. I totally understand where they are coming from. It is almost like an admission that 'yes, we are old and no longer able to do what we used'. Who wants to admit to that? I certainly don't! Sometimes I see, in my fathers' eyes, when he thinks I'm not looking, a sadness; a betrayal of sorts, that his vegetable garden has now become an extension to the back lawn. No more home-grown runner beans!






As I sat on the stone bench musing over the last few straggling stalks of rhubarb, that my dad had fought so hard to hold on to, I thought about how tired Amy looked earlier that morning, when I offered to call Social Services to enquire about replacing the back step with a ramp. In my enthusiasm and concern, it hadn't occured to me, that it was only 9 o'clock and that she needed time to get her mind and body into some kind operational mode, and that in real terms, I was pushing her and perhaps even emphasizing her own feelings of inadequacy! This is a woman of 90, with a mind as bright as a button, but whose every movement, however, causes excruciating pain. I backed off somewhat guiltily, when I saw her pale, grimacing face, in the realization that she would make the call when she was ready, because making a telephone call, was one of the things, that she could still do for herself. I apologized for my over-zealousness and invited her to tell me to mind my own business, if she so felt.





Sitting there softly, in the midst of silent, night gardens backing onto one another, a hedgehog passes by, in front of me. I've always had a thing about hedgehogs, but rarely seen them alive; more often squashed at the side of the road! My mum drifts into my mind, and I sigh with regret, once again, when I think about the time I thought I was spoiling her, by taking her to Thailand for a week. What had I been thinking of? A 17hr flight BOTH WAYS into searing heat, for one week! I had wanted to take her on an adventure; for the two of us to share something special together. Mum struggled to keep up with me on the very poor, boiling pavements of Phuket, and repeatedly asked me to slow down, and I really did try to do that, just as I did, when she asked me to step off the gas, if the needle on the speedometer sneaked beyond 40 miles an hour. My conscience pricks, as the hedgehog would, if I tried to pick it up to hold and admire it. I see, once again, my mum's hot face behind me; her sadness, that she had to ask me to wait for her; her distress at getting into a canoe, that I thought would be FUN for both of us; an elephant ride that she could not be a part of, because she was afraid of heights. Why hadn't I simply taken her to Spain for a week; a two hour flight; no swollen feet; a sunbed beside a pool; a siesta in the afternoon; a jug of sangria ... etc.etc. It wasn't long after that trip, that we discovered she had cancer. My mum died almost nine years ago on July 8th 2002, and she LOVED elephants.





Last Wednesday, I was teaching in Lisvernane National School as usual. During a session with Junior and Senior Infants, we worked on a piece about cowboys and indians, and my rather weak attempt at a rap song, called 'Don't Ever Judge A Book By Its Cover'. It was all going really well, until I got carried away and fell backwards over one of my darling little boys, who unknowns to me, was having a little rest and suck of his thumb, behind me. As I was falling, I felt the little bundle, that was him, behind my legs, and tried to lift myself up over him, as if I were going for an Olympic Gold in the high jump, so's not to crush him. I landed on my coccyx bone. The pain was horrendous, and all I could do was lie there uttering, 'Oh God!' with twenty two small tots looking down on me in disbelief! They were wonderful nurses and Shane was OK, thank God! I had two more classes after that, and somehow I managed to get through them, but driving back through the glorious Glen of Aherlow, feeling sick and sorry for myself, tears of delayed shock streamed down my face.





For my own good and for the good of others around me, perhaps I should attempt to curb my over-zealous nature, which might possibly be a symptom of an unconscious desire to control.


And to something quite different, but perhaps not, I have been doing some research into Greek mythology recently, and thinking about, what makes someone a hero! Yes, we have our heroes of legends and idylls, such as Achilles, Odysseus, King Arthur etc. and our heroes of the last century, such as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, etc. but surely there are heroes all around us in our everyday lives. Our doctors and nurses; our fire-brigade officers; our teachers; our bus drivers; our police force; our parents; our children; our neighbours and friends. I love the music from heroic epics such as Gladiator; Braveheart; The Last Samurai. Recently, my friend Stef, introduced me to a piece of music, because she knows I love cranes and that I also love the music of rock band, Elbow. The track is called, The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver. The track combines two entirely different genres of music: classical and rock - The epic with the everyday. Why shouldn't the Crane Driver get the epic musical treatment that an everyday hero deserves!




Check it out. It's terrific!



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fX0B9ZpdZEA



Elbow and the BBC Concert Orchestra performing The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver



Ciao for now!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

REHABILITATION




REHABILITATION



Someone put him in a box
And threw away the key.
In his solid state,
He lays an egg,
That no one sees but He.

A violin begs a rising chord,
And soothes the foetal truth within.
Waking and breaking,
From shell of spiky sleep,
He accepts, for the first time, the chance to win.

Walking the corridors, his ankles chained,
Horizons expanding with intake of breath.
Cold turkey, clear vision,
A life to live;
No longer excited by freedom of death.



Maureen Walsh - June 2011







Ciao for now