Sunday, July 31, 2011

Top Ten Hits - July 2011

As I am totally lacking in imagination this morning, and it also happens to be month end, I thought why not see which posts were the most popular in July? 

Now I'm not sure how many of you remember Top of the Pops, a music programme which featured a count down of the music charts, and a definite favourite for me growing up. 

Anyhow it was all about which songs made it to the Top Ten, so seeing as how the creative juices aren't flowing, here's the Top Ten Hits on the blog for July in reverse order! Just click on the links below, it you want to take a look.

Number 10     The Age Old Argument - Who Are The Better Drivers? HERE

Number 9       Caught In Amber - Photo & Poem HERE

Number 8       First Twitter Memory - We all have one! HERE

Number 7       Love Remembered - Short Prose Piece based in Paris HERE

Number 6       Why I use Favourites on Twitter HERE

Number 5       Interview with Hennessy Award Winner - Eileen Casey HERE

Number 4       How Times Have Changed - Shocking Retro Advertisement HERE

Number 3       Monkey & The Brain Eater - Micro fiction Piece HERE

Number 2       When You Were Small? HERE

Number 1       What I know about Twitter Lists HERE

Thanks again everybody for visiting!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Thought for the Weekend - J K Rowling

Monday, July 25, 2011

First Twitter Memory - We all have one!!

I read a great blog post from my friend Niamh Greene (@Niamh_Greene), all about her relationship with Twitter.  Now I say friend tentatively because I 've never actually met Niamh.  Our relationship began on this wonderful phenomenon called Twitter!

In her post Niamh talks about the good and bad things about Twitter, and just so you have something to look forward to in the future, at some point soon I hope to do a post called 'The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Twitter', but in the meantime, Niamh's post got me thinking about my first Twitter memory - all 66 days ago.

To begin with, like Niamh I had avoided facebook, bebo and god knows what else.  I liked blogging, and emailing, and even Skype, but Twitter was not for me.

Finally about 67 days ago another friend (one whom I actually met in person), told me to give Twitter a try.  I thought God No!  Do I have to!  But like all older-bold children, once I finished ranting and raving to myself (as I often do), I set about the task in hand.

Experience has taught me to always seek expert advice, and with Twitter, I wasn't going to change a trusted system.  So I duly sought out a professional.

Her name was Orla, a daughter of a friend of mine.  Orla has just finished her Junior Cert, so was a definate expert.  Myself and Orla together registered me on Twitter.  We did this upstairs in the back bedroom while her Mom minded the vino downstairs.  Orla was brilliant and I sent out my first tweet.  I couldn't believe it when my niece responded, liking my quote about writing - I was hooked.

Now this brings me nicely to another thing I've learned in life.  If someone reaches out a hand to you, you should grab it.  With this in mind, I met my niece (the wonderful @RachelLuRay) in the 'Queen of Tarts' for tea and well, tart.  Rachel explained loads to me about @Mentions, TinyURL, Favourites, RT's, some great twitter sites to get started with - and so with the help of the experts, I was off.

I played around with the Twitter bug for about a week, doing what I do best, observing.  I discovered all about #ff friday, and how a DM was different to an @Mention, and bit by bit, I got the hang of it.

Since joining Twitter, I have managed to do lots of things. I have increased my blog hits and blog followers for one, which is brilliant because I love to get comments.  After 66 days, I now have 823 Twitter followers. I became Number 28 in Ireland this week in the Follow Friday rankings.  I also managed to get hacked at least once, had a follower who seemed very nice turn quite strange and horrid, got a DM that upset me, but most of all, and I really mean this (it is not just some sop that people dish out), I have met some brilliant folk who matter to me as friends, whom I didn't know 66 days ago, but now count!

Anyhow (fav crutch word) - What is your first Twitter memory??  Come on share it!

Link HERE to @RachelLuRay fab post on changing technology, iphone, twitter & a lot more besides! You'll understand why I call her an expert!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

How Times Have Changed - It's A Man's World!

Some say it's still a man's world - but at least they've changed their taste in ties!

I can't believe this advertisement is from the swinging sixties, but it is! 

So, thirty years on in the 1990's, us females have moved from finding happiness in a Man's World, to finding excitement in our clothes.

Gosh things have really moved on!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Interview with Hennessy Literary Award Winner - Eileen Casey

Hennessy Literary Award Winner - Eileen Casey 

This post is a very special one because I get to introduce you to a very special writer.  Many of you might have already heard of the fabulous Eileen Casey, but for those of you who haven't, you get to meet her here today.

A couple of months back I did a blog post on The Hennessy New Writers Literary Awards.  As I might have mentioned before, in Ireland, winning a Hennessy Literary Award is like receiving an Oscar, because once you've joined this elite group, from that day onwards, you will always be referred to as a Hennessy Literary Winner.

Eileen, who is this year's Winner of The Hennessy New Writing Award for Emerging Fiction, joins us to talk about her writing and her winning story Macaw .

Firstly Eileen, can I start by asking you what was the inspiration behind this wonderful story?

The Inspiration for ‘Macaw’ came from frequent visits to The Mater hospital with my sister who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.  I remember watching The Golden Globes on the t.v. set in the waiting room and looking at all these gorgeous women with quite an amount of cleavage showing.  I thought it incongruous to say the least. Especially as I was also seeing such anxious expressions on the faces of the women sitting around me, of all ages. Waiting perhaps for life changing results.  The story grew from that.  I was interested enough in the subject matter, mainly due to worry for my sister no doubt.

In its creation, did it take many twists and turns, change in unexpected ways?

Once I had the idea, I needed to fictionalise it.  After all, fiction and life are two different things entirely.  I didn’t want it to sound like the diary of an illness.  I wanted to make the story universal in that both men and women could read it and feel moved.  I also wanted the story to be written to the best I could do so I knew I would have to find ways of introducing strong images and metaphors.  I saw the head of a parrot on a billboard and it immediately struck me how alike it was to the shape of a secateurs which in turn brought the surgeon’s ‘blade’ to mind.  Once I had that image and that train of thought, the rest followed.  I’m also in awe of the Macaw bird, it’s so beautiful, its feathers and glorious colours, are so poignant in a way.

I know this is a very hard question to answer, but is there any piece of writing within your large body of work which is particularly special to you, whether because of the content, context or personal growth?

Do I have any special piece of writing?  I really like Black Ball Gown , a short piece commissioned for a Per Cent for art project funded by South Dublin County Council.  The piece was made into a short film by award winning artists Anne Cleary and Dennis Connolly and is beautifully read by actress Anne 0’Neill.  It recounts my coming to Dublin as a young girl and how difficult I was finding my new life away from home.

How did it feel to hear you had won the Hennessy Emerging Writer Award?

Winning the Hennessy Emerging Fiction Award is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.  It means I’ve reached a standard, after all my years of hard work.  It’s an acknowledgement and one I don’t take lightly.  I was short listed twice before, Poetry (2004) and first fiction (2005).  Everyone was great on the night and kept saying to me, ‘Third time lucky.’ The awards night was magical.  The 40th year of the awards meant a gala night, with lots of my favourite writers in attendance, among them Dermot Bolger, Sebastian Barry, Joe 0’Connor and many more.  President Mary McAleese was there too with her husband Martin.  We were photographed with the President before the awards, a really nice touch.  My sister came with me to the awards so you can imagine our joy when my name was called. I’ll be eternally grateful to Paul Durkin, Ciaran Carty and Derek Johns, the three judges who unanimously gave me the award.

Writing is often a very personal thing - we all bring bits of ourselves, the people we know, our surroundings and memories into our work – how much of your life to date do you draw on?  Is there anything out of bounds, anything you wouldn’t write about?

I do tend to draw on personal history for my work, not all of the time of course, but I think the roots of my poetry and  prose are not to far away from events that happen to me.  I wouldn’t like to say there is anything out of bounds.  After all, the more truthful the writing is, the more beauty it has.  I believe that sincerely.

Along with writing  I know you also teach.  Indeed, it was through my first creative writing class with you a few years back, that the door was opened in my mind to the joy of writing.  Tell us a little bit about your teaching career, and also your association with The Lucan Writers.

I’ve been facilitating creative writing classes since the late 1980’s.  I taught at Ashfield College, Templeogue and in most of the Community Colleges in Tallaght and its environs.  I was very fortunate to have begun the writing journey of The Lucan Writers, a fantastic group who have measured up to and outstripped in lots of ways, the potential I saw in the group in those early days. I’m extremely proud of my association with The Lucan Writers. 

You are obviously a very driven person Eileen, what sparks your creativity, what keeps you so determined, seeking further challenges with the written word? 

I’m driven I suppose in that I take my writing seriously and it’s never far from the surface of my thoughts and actions.  It’s as natural to me as breathing.  When I get a good idea, I experience it in the body, a lovely feeling of excitement and energy.  Life is constantly throwing up ideas.  I feel I’m creative enough to be able to spot these quirks and foibles and I’m grateful that life, in general, is so rich and varied.  I would always be curious about everything too and I believe that nothing is wasted.  The worst piece of writing can lead to a really good piece of writing on another day.

You also have a love of books, which ones would you place on the special book shelf?

I love books.  Having completed the M.Phil in Creative Writing, School of English, Trinity College, Dublin, I’ve met lots of visiting writers.  All of them are unique and wonderful in their own individual ways but….if I have a favourite at the moment, it’s Kevin Barry.  I can’t wait to read City of Bohane.  I was very fortunate to have had encouragement and support from high profile and much respected writers like Gerald Dawe (Senior Lecturer, The School of English, Trinity College), Deirdre Madden, Peter Fallon and Hugo Hamilton while completing the M.Phil.

And finally Eileen, what are your plans for the future?

My plans for the future are quite simple.  To publish a full collection of short stories.  That’s my main focus now.

Thank you so much Eileen for meeting with us here today.  You have been an inspiration to me, and to many others.  I have no doubt, your short story collection will be published.  Perhaps, when it is, you might join us here again?

Certainly Louise, I would love to.

Listing of Publications/Creative Writing Classes – Eileen Casey – Hennessy Literary Award Winner

Creative Writing Classes with Eileen begin in September in Old Bawn Community School (Tallaght), Adult Education.
From Bone to Blossom - a collaborative collection of pen/ink drawings and poetry with visual artist Emma Barone is currently available (Amazon).  This collection features an introduction by Dedalus Poet and Writer Grace Wells and is published by Altents Publishing, Rua Red, Tallaght.
Drinking the Colour Blue (New Island) - Eileen’s debut poetry collection, is also available on Amazon.
The Jane Austen Sewing Kit - an anthology of creative writing, supported by South Dublin County Council, is available from Eileen via email @ eileencaseyhome@eircom.net
Seagulls - a chapbook of poems which accompanied a poetry installation in Tallaght Community Arts Centre in 2006 is also available from Eileen.
South of the County: New Myths and Tales - an anthology of writings by over thirty of the finest writers working in South Dublin today, edited by Eileen, was published in 2010.
Eileen will be facilitating a creative writing workshop during Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival, on 10th August in the new youth café on Main Street, Birr, Co. Offaly.

Thought for the Weekend - Pablo Picasso

'When inspiration comes, let it find you working.'

- Pablo Picasso -

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fringe Festival - Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About

This is my first post on the Fringe Festival which will happen in Dublin between 10th - 25th September, and what better event to start with than this one!  In 'Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About', we are treated to the 3 Kings of what's happening now on the Dublin Scene.

Colm Keegan of Nighthawks, Stephen James Smith of The Glór Sessions  & Kalle Ryan of Brownbread Mixtape

Here's a brief glimpse of the madness you will hear on the night,via the Fringe Festival site.

Admit it. our heads are totally wrecked. And we kinda want to talk about it.  All of the things that shaped us and brought us to this moment; our families, the pure chance of falling in love, the randomness of absolutely everything, we kinda want to talk about that too. We’re all unique, but our experiences overlap. With each other. With everyone. With you. This is a nonfiction spoken word show about the universal truths that fuck us all up - Three men. Different histories. Same shit.

  • Company: Kalle Ryan, Stephen James Smith & Colm Keegan
  • Venue: The International Bar
  • Date/Time: Mon 19 September 2011 7:00 pm / Tue 20th September 2011 7:00 pm / Wed 21st September 2011 7:00 pm / Thu 22nd September 2011 7:00 pm / Fri 23rd September 2011 7:00 pm / Sat 24th September 2011 5:30 pm
  • Duration 60 mins
Link to booking this event HERE

Caught in Amber - Pic & Poem

The image below was taken by my photographic daughter and I liked it even when it was just a tiny icon on her computer screen.  I wanted to write something about it from the get go, but couldn't think of anything initially, however this is what I finally came up with. 

(By the way on my PC the image is Amber)

Caught in Amber

A room and bed discarded
bereft of all but memory
of how her breath filled air
and jasmine drifted under sheets.
Amber lights and passing street sounds
infuse and murmur
fragments lingering
of something past.
A place where normality no more exists
but trapped in time
caught by faintest recall
of how her hair spread as wild grass across the pillow
the warmth of skin
and ache
the ancient truth
that wills her back.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sebastian Barry/Jimmy Deenihan @ The Centre

Now I know it feels like this blog has turned into a mini version of the Irish Writers' Centres website, but considering the wonderful author Sebastian Barry will be reading there this evening,I figured this is not an event to be missed.  So darn blast, I just have to tell you all about it.  All the details are below.  I have no doubt it will be a great night.  I plan on going in myself, so maybe, I might see some of you there!

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Mr Jimmy Deenihan, TD, will visit the Irish Writers' Centre this evening Wednesday 20 July at 7.00 pm to unveil a plaque acknowledging the financial support of his Department and celebrating the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Centre.
The dual celebration will include a special guest reading by Sebastian Barry. It will continue with readings from selected writers and writing groups who have been using the Centre on a regular basis over the past couple of years. A reception before and afterwards will ensure that this is going to be an extremely enjoyable occasion, and everyone is invited to join us for this celebration.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How Times Have Changed, Or Have They? - Burnt Toast

Ah sure there is nothing like burning stuff to set your day off just right.  Managed to burn toast under the grill this morning, setting off mega loud fire alarm, simultaneous buzzing, bells, and god knows what else. 

It took me ages to work out how to disable the alarm panel, teenage son slept through the whole thing - go figure!!!

But of course, if I had have had some beer in, all would have been well!

Happy Tuesday!

(Head still hurts)

Monday, July 18, 2011

When you were small - Memories!

Time to take another trip backwards!  I'm thinking maybe today's post might be a bit trickier than previous ones.  After all, it's fairly easy to remember your first love, first best friend, most memorable toy - but this one took me a while to work out, so maybe it will be difficult for you too.  The funny thing is, once I worked it out, I couldn't understand why I had such difficulty with it in the first place.

Anyhow (fav crutch word), when you think about childhood, if you could only hold onto ONE childhood memory, which one would it be?  Tough - you must agree.

I remember Billy Connolly telling a story about taking his kids to Scotland and how they went to wonderful places, they saw the salmon leap, they had a picnic next to a castle, and he made up stories about Kings and Queens, they did lots of wonderful things, so much so, that by the end of the holidays, he felt pretty confident when he asked them which part was the most memorable.  He was convinced it would be either the salmon or the magic castle, but children are never easy creatures to predict.  'Sesame Street', they told him.  You see, they had one of those mini screens in the back of the car, and as they would drive from one wonderful place to the next, they would watch 'Sesame Street' on it!

Which kinda leads me to my answer.  Now as none of my family read my blog, I am probably pretty safe saying this, but it wasn't a wonderful Christmas memory, or an endearing family moment, or even an act of human kindness or tenderness, it was the Washing Yard.

Okay there you have it, if I could hold onto ONLY ONE childhood memory, it would be the Washing Yard - Why you might ask, or not, but sure I'll tell you anyhow.

I grew up in what were called flats, run down buildings sort of thing.  This meant we had no back or front garden, nor did we have much else either, but we did have a washing yard.  The washing yard was a brilliant place - there would be rows and rows of washing lines full of laundry, the sheets were the best because you could run through them and pretend you were flying.  Plus it had tall poles to hold up the lines, which you could swing around and climb.  Now the washing yard was out the back bedroom window where I slept, and the window was one of those with 3 window panes across.  My brother, sister and I would sit in front of the window and each of us got our own window pane, I know, sad but true.  Anyhow (told you it was my fav crutch word), we would look out the window, and when it snowed we'd pretend we were traveling through galaxies, or at night we would try to guess which window would light up next, because obviously, everyone living in the flats had windows which backed onto the washing yard, and like Christmas lights, at night each of them would switch on and off. 

Often, especially at night you would hear noises from the washing yard as families might fight, a Dad coming home drunk and raising all hell around him, or even worse the banshee wailing.  In the morning, the place filled up with seagulls, millions of them, or so it appeared to me as a child, and again the washing yard took on a whole new image.  I suppose what I'm saying is that more than anything, the washing yard fuelled my imagination, whether from listening to stories from each of the windows, or seagulls, or running through sheets, it sparked off so many things which made my childhood extra special.  My brother ended up becoming a Professor of Physics & Astronomy, which in my opinion was connected to the galaxies we travelled through together.

Gosh this is turning into a long post.  Anyhow, here's a poem I wrote earlier as they say, called 'The Washing Yard'.  I hope you enjoy it, and please, if you can work out which childhood memory you would choose to hold on to, then let us know!

The Washing Yard

Rows of dance on washing lines
Beneath one hundred sheets a child could fly
Curl metal bars and catch blue sky.
Turn snowstorms into a Milky Way
Laugh and play too young to know
As children blow at Jinny Joe.

And as the night light fills its sky
Banshees wail and babies cry.
Strange voices haunt the Washing Yard
Windows switching on and off
Each pane a different story told
A zillion words bound metal poles.

Then in morn all night sounds forced to hide
When from its sky come seagulls high.
Hoards of birds create such clatter
Swoon and squawk discarded matter.
Magic, to a young child's eye
As adults watch their lives pass by.

Buried in some human tomb
A child's joy,
In an adult's gloom.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Movie 'The Guard' - Review

'The Guard' it one of those films which come along every now and then and it gives you more than you bargained for.  I had no doubt that I would enjoy this film, a brief look at the promo clips and straight off I got the sense that I would be introduced to a great character by way of Sergeant Gerry Boyle played by the wonderful Brendan Gleeson.
I expected great characters, I expected great humour, a fast and engaging storyline, and I was not disappointed.  What I didn’t expect was the amazing mix of light and dark, wit and sarcasm, low life, reality, sharp, fast, emotionally engaging, perfectly balanced mix, which waltzed with racism, drugs, hard hitting reality, on the edge characters with more than the usual surface level of personality dished out to achieve a good movie, no, no, what I got were characters on many levels, layers that made each of them whole, real, alongside the raw but exciting mix of great script writing, every word, line, every event, each member of the cast, mixed together in an utterly marvellous evening’s entertainment.
So you guessed it, I liked it, I liked it in bucket loads, because it not only entertained the audience, it held it , tested it, flirting with PC issues, war, drugs, prostitution, death, love, corruption, people on the margins, and some downright fucked up bad guys, and delivered it all in an utterly wonderful, hilarious, dark comedy that in my opinion, was an utter triumph.
Do yourself a favour, go see this movie!

Review & Brief Story Intro  -  Vue Cinema Liffey Valley

Gleeson is veteran Officer Sergeant Gerry Boyle, a bit of a rogue cop who marches by the beat of his own drum. When a drug smuggling ring headed by Liam Cunningham and Mark Strong's criminals sets up shop on Boyle's turf, the FBI send Cheadle's decorated agent to oversee the investigation. While not getting off to a great start - Boyle raises his hand during a briefing to ask the FBI Agent if he is "from the hood" - the two men soon come to share a mutual respect, and team up to investigate the case.

Brendan Gleeson embodies Gerry Boyle so completely perfectly that you won't be able to fathom anyone else playing the man after you leave the cinema. Like a great tennis player, his performance instantly raises the game of those around him and the Howth native gives arguably the best performance of the year so far. Cheadle and Strong have far less to do, but both men obviously understood the tone of the script and deliver solid supporting performances, while Cunningham is great as the quintessential Dublin gang boss.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why I use favourites on Twitter!

A couple of weeks back I did a post on 'Twitter Lists' and it proved to be very popular.  At the time I was really amazed at how many people didn't use 'Lists', because I know I could not survive Twitter without them - Check it out HERE

The way I look on Twitter is, it is something that in order to maximise it's value without it eating into tons of your day, you have to use as many available functions designed to help manage your time. 

Which is why along with 'Twitter Lists', I use 'Favourites'.

Here are some of my reasons:-

They are a great means of storing information which you know you will want to come back to and review.  For example, if you see details of a competition you are interested in, just store it in favourites, then check out the details nearer the deadline dates etc.

As I said above, they make for better time management - let's suppose you see a tweet with a link that you are interested in reading, but you're rushing out the door - just pop it in favourites and you can check it out at your leisure later on.

Same goes for links to blog post that are too long to read on the spot - put them in favourites, then review and leave your blog comment later when you have a longer period of time available to enjoy them.

They are also a good place to keep great advice - for example tips on writing, tools which you will read and reread to improve your writing skills, or whatever pieces of information are helpful to further your own aims and ambitions.

If you have a blog, they are also a great place to store ideas - A fab image, a brill quote, a discussion topic which you might want to feature on a future blog post - pop them in favs, and they are there waiting for you to pick up whenever you are ready.

Everyone will have their own reasons for keeping favourites, above are a few of mine.  Important to remember however, is that favourites are a bit like clothes hanging in a wardrobe, they are there waiting for you, but you must make regular checks to make sure they are still things you need/want, or you will end up with unnecessary bulk gathering dust.

Do a regular check of your favourites, and whenever you are finished with one, just click 'unfavourite' and like magic it is gone. 

Add your own reason/comment regarding favourites below - you know I always love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Who will take the title of Sock Number 120???

Okay, 2day is the day U could be the 120th Sock
@120 Socks! 

These opportunities only happen once - so if you fancy following this blog -

Thought for the Weekend - Helen Keller

'Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.'

-Helen Keller-

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How Times Have Changed - Speechless

As I will be busy being inspired today (no giggles) - I thought this Vintage Advertising might be a good one to feature on account of the fact that it left me rather speechless, not a common occurrence as many of you might have guessed. 

Your thought and comments - very much appreciated as always!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ethel Rohan - Cut Through The Bone

There are lots of great things about Twitter, not least of which is that you connect with some really good, interesting, and darn nice folk.  You all know who you are, so I don't have to list you here (even though I love lists).

Anyhow (favourite blog/email crutch word), one of these said wonderful folk, is Ethel Rohan.  Ethel is originally from Dublin, but now lives in San Francisco, California.  She is an extremely talented, and successful writer, and someone, who had it not been for Twitter, I might have missed.

I ordered a copy of her short story collection, 'Cut Through The Bone' via Amazon a couple of weeks ago, and the first thing I thought when it arrived was if the contents were as good as the cover, then I was in for a great read.  I was not disappointed.

The first story in the collection, 'More than gone', had the effect on me, that great writing sometimes does.  It inspired me to grab a piece of paper and start writing immediately - which turned out to be the beginning of 'Monkey and the Brain Eater', a story many of you were particularly moved by.  When you read wonderful words, something happens in the brain, at least it does to me, as emotions are connected through the written word - it sends you to a place, a kind of sanctuary, that is pure, deep - a place away from all the complicated busy patterns that often eat away at our lives.

Anyhow (told you my fav blog/email crutch word), back to the matter in hand.  The collection, in my opinion is a triumph, and I haven't even finished it yet.  Why, you might ask - well, I'll tell you.  The second night I was reading 'Cut Through the Bone', I realised that I started to eat up the stories, finishing one, then quickly moving on to another, before I had to shout 'stop', an imaginary 'stop' mind, because I didn't want to wake hubby.  I realised that this is a collection which needs to be savoured.  Each short story deserves its own place, and no matter how wonderful, and tempting it might be to read a number of them every evening, it would be the wrong way to approach them. 

So now, I have the book by my bed, and before I retire for the night, having said goodbye to all the daily madness that is life, I know I am in for a treat, as I get to savour the joy of reading another gem from this collection.  For sure, a book that will be on my favourite book shelf.

Brief Intro to Collection:
In this stripped-raw collection, Ethel Rohan's thirty stories swell with broken, incomplete people yearning to be whole.  Through tight language and searching scenarios, Rohan brings to life a plethora of characters -exposed, vulnerable, and achingly human.

You can visit Ethel's blog HERE, or else via MY BLOG LIST in the sidebar.

'Cut Through The Bone', is available to order as a paperback, or kindle ebook via Amazon here @ http://tinyurl.com/6kvg2p5

Go order it, you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Flash Fiction Piece - Love Remembered

This is the piece that drove me crazy a couple of weeks back - trying to get it right - not sure if I achieved it, but at least, it's now done.

Love Remembered

They say there is a poem for every stage of love, even love lost and love remembered.  Some say words can trick, obscure, but what we had seemed real, crushing; like sharp breath somehow.
     When you think of me now, how have I been written into memory? If we passed each other on the street, or heard one another speak, touched; would what we had rekindle?  ‘Love me,’ you said, like it was something you could request, though when you did, in the small cocoon that was Paris, I said ‘yes’, both of us playing with dreams, wanting place and time to capture them.
     Looking back, I can see us walking ghostlike through the long corridors of the Louvre, your hand holding mine; I can smell the aroma of coffee from the cafe-lined streets of Montmartre, a city alive, vibrant, filled with the joy of new love.   We admired different artists you and I.  I conjured an interest in Picasso, wanting to please.  You didn’t know that about me then, my eagerness to impress.  You only ever saw what I put on show, but what I put on show, you liked a lot.  I could tell this, by how your eyes came to life over some slight remark I’d make, or occasions when I’d catch you looking, as if I’d taken you by surprise; a special gift to delight in. 
     The nights wrapped our secrets, our love-making intense, heightened, two people at their closest in the dark.  By day we became regular tourists, enjoying the sights, gothic Notre Dame with its light and shadows, the moving quiet of crowds, our walk along the Seine, the brisk wind howling as we devoured fresh bread rolls from the boulangerie.  The smells, sights and sounds of an old place new to us.  You teased, whispered in my ear; if it was up to you, we'd be still in our hotel bedroom.
     At the restaurant that last night, even our words began to fade, spoil; lose themselves as smoke disperses into air.  When I spoke, you were no longer excited by my words; I found your humour less enchanting.  There was impatience in your voice, as if reality was my fault somehow.  I was snappy too, but shifted blame for change of mood your way.  I even said something harsh about your wife, although I had no right to.  You looked back at me, angry, disapproval in your eyes, as if I’d settled into the expected form, and in your change of look, I wondered, which number I’d become?
     On our walk back to the hotel, I stopped you; held your arm, put my hands to your darkened face, felt the stubble of new growth, captured your breath.  You smiled your smile, the one that caught me unawares from the very first day. We kissed long and hard.  I took what I could from it, our final verse, sensing the end, just like day senses night.     

Friday, July 8, 2011

How Times Have Changed - For better or for worse?

Ah you've just got to love these old advertisements.  This is from the 1950's, and it brought a wee smile to my face.  I mean just look at how happy they are with their new addition.

Now, some of you might be shocked about the wording, 'The Chef does everything but cook - that what wives are for!'  But, I'm thinking it must be a pretty impressive machine if it can do all the other stuff like, ironing, cleaning, picking up groceries, bathing the kids - the list is endless.

But think on, what would this magic machine have to do today?  Let's see - well there would be all the stuff mentioned earlier, and of course the picking up of the children from creche, and driving them to all parts of the city for a variety of ballet lessons, horse-riding, football - not to mention keeping down a full time job, you know the kind of thing - what the guy with the wife used to do, when she did everything.  Oh darn, forgot about the magic Chef doing it all! 

Ah, if only things were like they used to be, and we could be happy with a nice white chef hat, and a man in a suit.  Such a lovely couple!

Comments foks, or any suggested additions to the list of jobs that Magic Chef would now have to do today!

Thought for the Weekend - Nancy Thayer

'It's never too late - in fiction or in life -  to revise.'

- Nancy Thayer-

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who was your first best friend?

I don't know about the rest of you, but I am really enjoying these posts about When you were small, and the main reason I'm enjoying them, is because you have all been fantastic about sharing your stories.  I hope this next trip down memory lane, will facilitate some more gems.

So, this week's topic, in case you haven't read the title is 'Who was your first best friend?'

We all probably agree that friends, real friends are brilliant. They become a great part of your life, one that isn't like your immediate or extended family, your partner, your boss, your bank manager, but they are the guys that you often turn to, when all the other categories don't quite fit.

With real friends, you know, if you are in trouble, or in need of advice,in a second, they will be there, and likewise, you would do the same for them.  They are there in a mini crisis, when really they should tell you, they are too busy, or go away - but when you say the magic words - Can I ask you something?- They will listen, and unless it's for your own good, will oblige.

So I got to thinking about best friends, and first best friends, and probably like most people, I remember my first best friend really well. Perhaps because, friends are your first links outside of the family nest. 

In my case, her name was Betty, and she came from a family where the children managed to get into the double figures.  This was not an unusual in good old Catholic Ireland, but being the youngest in a family of four children myself, despite my fondness for Betty, I was also very envious of her.  I mean, I wanted a baby sister or brother too.  I wasn't bothered whether it was a boy or a girl, I just wanted a baby, someone younger than me, that I could mind, etc etc.

Of course, as a child, I didn't see the real hardship associated with having children in double figures, especially when money was in very short supply.  Nor did I fully grasp the fact that, after me, my Mam did have two more children, neither of which survived beyond the first days of birth, but I do remember Betty.  The reason being, she was my friend, my best friend, someone I could confide in.

I am not sure what I learnt from my early relationship with her, other than the very real sense, that my life was better for having her in it.  In part this might be why, I value friends so much today.  There are a lot of people in this world, but friends are in shorter supply than one might think.  If you manage to find one, a good one, hold on to them, they are irreplaceable.

So who was your first best friend?  Do you still know them now?  Were you jealous of them?  Did you outgrow them?  Lots of questions, can't wait to hear your answers.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Age Old Argument - Who are the better drivers?

BMW Ad 1970's

We have all got hot under the collar in the past regarding the above question, and there are as many views as there are people, however most would agree at this point that statistically women win out where accident are concerned, generating fewer and less costly claims.  Up until the recent directive from the EU - female drivers got far cheaper insurance than their male counterparts, because in the numbers game that is insurance, fewer costly claims generated by women, meant lower risk, therefore lower cost.

It would seem according to this link HERE, that men tend to break the rules more, receive more traffic offenses for speeding etc, and in part because of this, when they do have an accident, it tends to be a more severe one.  Also it is noted that female drivers are beginning to narrow the gap, bringing more aggression into their driving.  I will leave the analysis of the data to yourselves, but the general feeling behind the article it would appear, is that women currently are more minor 'fender-benders' than complete 'write-off' of the car.  So with the latter in mind, perhaps this Vintage Ad. from 1960's isn't that far off the mark!

(For those of you who find it difficult to read the small print above...)

Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things.  If your wife hits something in a Volkswagen, it doesn't hurt very much...........So when your wife goes window-shopping in a Volkswagen, you can conveniently replace anything she uses to stop the car - including the brakes!
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