Sunday 26 May 2019

WHO CAN’T ORGANISE A PARTY IN GALWAY?



Dreamt I was made CEO of Galway Capital of Culture 2020.

Cripes! I know nothing about how to run a festival.

Going to need help, so thank goodness I’m dealing with a city crammed to the cracks with arts administrators, theatre directors, musicians, writers, artists, filmmakers, photographers and experienced volunteers.

Everything I need is right here.

First set up a gathering of Galway cultural legends: Ollie Jennings, Paul Fahy, Padraig Breathneach, James Harrold and Garry Hynes.

That’s a phenomenal amount of organising, directing and creating talent and I’ve barely drawn breath.

I’ll listen to these people, because they know the culture of city and county inside out. They meld place and meitheal into their art and administrative craft.

Not planning on changing much of Galway’s artistic and cultural calendar for my 2020. Our year is already packed with festivals and celebrations, but we have to raise some serious dosh under the 2020 banner, to enable every event to be funded to the stuffed-up max.

We’ll need publicity for that. How to get the word out?
Kernan Andrews and Judy Murphy on the case. Perfect.
 

Galway is the ocean, the bay and the river, so I’m launching my 2020 with the excellent crews of the Claddagh Boatmen, sailing a fleet of the Galway hookers that they’ve restored up the river, to deliver a scroll at Spanish Arch.

There’s Little John Nee picking it up and reading it to a massive crowd:

“It’s from Europe! It says we have to party like hell for a year!”

Unleash Galway unto Galway. Little John leads an explosive Macnas parade up Quay Street, homegrown talent channelled by Noeline Kavanagh, simply the best in the world at what they do.

The Galway hookers back at the quay brought with them the culture and language of the Aran Islands and Connemara, so I’m leaping into the gaeilge spirit, by making an Taibhdhearc my 2020 clubhouse.

Time my cúpla became a cúpla more.

Alongside that revered place, Nun’s Island and the Town Hall theatres, come the vibrant GYT, brilliant Blue Teapot and legendary Druid companies. Galway has theatre covered, and our own theatre festival, run by Sorcha Keane, is pumped up and ready to delight.

Music? We’ve Luminosa and ConTempo for classical, while for gigs it’s over to Ollie Jennings, Gugai for his choice picks of current licks, Paul Fahy who books bands that’ll blast the Big Top and the buskers on Shop Street, who force you to see and hear Galway for what it is: a hotbed of expression.

Film? Why as it happens we have a festival already, (are you seeing a trend here?) and damn successful it is too. Galway’s Film Fleadh was rated by MovieMaker magazine as one of the top 50 film festivals in the world, and one of its 25 Coolest Festivals.

They particularly liked the Fleadh’s pitching competition, which invites writers to pitch a treatment to a panel of judges in front of an audience.

If you’re an aficionado of 8mm, the delightful Julien Dorgere runs the Super 8 Shot Film Festival, right here in Galway.

Art? But of course madam, of every kind, from oil to digital, with Matt the Hat and Mags Nolan on board. Sadly, Galway’s municipal gallery is criminally overdue. Shame.

Books! The essence of culture and (you guessed it!) we already have a celebrated literature festival in Cuirt, while Tom Kenny, Charlie Byrne and Vinnie Browne present an inestimable trio to lead us from pulp to poetry and hopefully back again.

What about the kiddies? I can’t expect Heinz and Hildegarde to abandon their beloved progeny while they pontificate the finer points of Tristan and Isolde.

Well, (mmhmm) we have a festival for children too. Aislinn OhEocha has Baboró in fine fettle, and thanks to Kevin Healy, grownups are annually laughing like kids at Galway’s own Comedy Festival.

We’ve storytelling at Moth and Butterfly, Andrais de Staic for thespian fiddlery, Emma O’Sullivan dancing on the streets and I have to stop here, as nothing will happen without heaps of cash.

No problem.

Galway’s businesses have been tapped up ten times too often for sponsorship, but with the names onboard my 2020, they’ll feel confident of its massive success.

They’ll know it’s being done by Galwegians, with Galwegians for Galwegians, and the rest of the world can come too if they want, which they will, in great numbers.

Local sponsorship is vital and also inclusive. Everyone in and outside the city has to feel the buzz of involvement.

No need for local politicians at all, save for traffic stuff. Instead I’d follow the 21st century money to the multinationals, the Medtronics and Bostons, who have PR departments that exist solely to be seen investing in local communities, ever eager to be associated with success.

Then I’d approach major Irish-American corporations in the US and offer tax-deductible packages so wholly irresistible that they’ll rush to slice chunks off their marketing budgets to be a part of it.

Can we feed all these people? We have Enda McEvoy, Seamus Sheridan, Jess Murphy and JP McMahon.

Can we quench their thirst?

Galway has a festival for that: it’s called life.

Organise a year-long party in Galway? There is no better place for it, no more able population.

I’d never look outside for anyone to help run 2020.

That would be ignoring the best of what Galway has to offer, and it’d all go horribly wrong.




26.05.2019.
©Charlie Adley

Monday 20 May 2019

SEVEN DAYS THAT INSPIRED FANS WORLDWIDE!




“I really enjoy your colyoom, except when you write about football.” they say, so if I do, I usually try to engage those soccer agnostics, by contriving newsworthy reasons to be scribbling about the Beautiful Game.

Not this week.

I make no apologies this week.

This week I just want to celebrate the drama and yes, on rare occasions, majesty of the sport.

Thank you football, for bringing me a week of miracles!

If Chelsea aren’t involved, it takes something special to have me leaping out of my chair and punching the air with exuberant joy, but that’s what I’ve been doing.

Chelsea and Tottenham are traditional hardcore rivals, but I went doolally when Lucas Moura put in his third goal last Wednesday night.

Just like Liverpool the night before, Spurs came back from a three goal deficit to win their Champions League semifinal, against a young and vibrant Ajax team.

Like a begrudging sibling who’s not allowed to go on a family trip, I’m happy for Spurs, particularly as they did what they always do in the league.

Perched deservedly third, safe and proud for most of the season, Spurs faded and died, just like the bubbles in the West Ham song.

Schadenfreude is too weak a term to describe how football fans share their rival’s defeats. On May 4th, while Chelsea played elsewhere, news came in that Tottenham had lost to Bournemouth FC.

Armed with heartwarming memories of the many ways Chelsea have historically scuppered Spurs’ dreams of Europe, the crowd at Stamford Bridge lifted their voices in a rousing rendition:

 

“It’s happening again!
It’s happening again!
Tottenham Hotspur…
It's happening again!”


With the top two teams over 20 points ahead, there was a heck of a scramble for 3rd and 4th places, which offer the kudos and moolar of Champions League footie next year.

Tottenham were tumbling, Arsenal were evolving and Manchester United were a bored and boring bunch of mercenaries.

Thanks to these three teams playing even less well than us, Chelsea somehow ended up third, with a Europa League Final against Arsenal to come.

Arsenal made it by going to Spain and giving Valencia a proper pummelling, while Chelsea did it in classic Chelsea style and fashion, on the last nail-biting kick of a penalty shoot-out against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Personal London needle: it’s the Gooners in the final. Grrrr.

Just as well I was able to harvest glee from the glories of other teams, as this season Chelsea were typical Chelsea.

Depending on the transience of Venus in relation to their own backsides, Chelsea players decided they’d only play in either the first or second halves of games.

In True Blue fashion we were lead by an eccentric manager, in nicotine junkie extraordinaire, Maurizio Sarri. Wearing his glasses on his forehead, he picked his nose in interviews, and played the best holding midfielder in the world out of position.

To be fair, N’Golo Kante did a fantastic job on the right wing, but that’s like saying a perfect apple did a great impression of an orange.

Why, Maurizio?
 

I watched the last day of the season with my excellent friend Whispering Blue. A lifelong Manchester City fan, his team were in charge of their own destiny, needing to win their match to win the league.

Pep Guardiola’s finely-tuned, immaculate and intimidating Ferrari finished once more at the top of the pile,

It was the only game that mattered, but try telling that to the fans at Anfield.

Manchester City and Liverpool occupied a title race so relentlessly perfect that Liverpool finished second, having lost only 1 game in 38.

Throughout their final league game, the adoring fans at Anfield sang and roared, and when it all got too much for that legendary Liverpudlian Twelfth Man, they just spontaneously rose to their feet as one to applaud.

Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool is a sleek, smoothly engineered BMW 7 series, filled with luxurious skills and reliable abilities. They replied to legendary Barcelona’s 3 goals with 4 of their own, in a match that left fans around the world jaw-droppingly blown away

Liverpool’s miraculous victory inspired us all to believe that we never need to accept defeat, while the game - or life itself - goes on.

Daring to dream, Spurs did the same the next night, and now all 4 teams in the two major European finals are English.

I call the teams English, but of the 88 players who started in those Champions League semis, only 8 were English, 12 were Spanish, 9 Brazilian and not one of the managers was English. No English payer scored a goal

Mind you, while it’s easy to dismiss the Premier League, to say it’s full of foreign players and owners, and only money counts, that’s overlooking a unique and vital factor.

The cliché claims “There’s no easy games!” because that’s the truth.

Other European leagues have only two or three powerful teams, but in England the grounds are packed for every match, and there is no weak opposition.

Chelsea legend Petr Cech summed it up, when asked why he’d refused to play elsewhere in Europe:

 

“I’m not a big fan of the Italian league. You go from stadium to stadium and it can be half empty. In the Premier League the stadiums are full. The football is played with passion.”

It is the best league in the world and I love it.



©Charlie Adley
20.05.2019

Sunday 12 May 2019

I’M BLOWN AWAY BY THE BLIZZARDS OF SPRING


The blizzards of Spring are a wondrous thing, and only some are snow.

On this hilltop, surrounded by trees, there’s one blizzard that runs year-long.

I’ve lived on three farms and know my way around a midge.

When I first came to see this place last November I noticed that two midges had hitched a ride back to Galway with me.

On my next visit I looked and saw clouds of the little buggers.

At other times in my life seeing midges that prolific in Winter would put me off living here.
 

I love being outdoors, so expected to turn to the landlord and say thanks but no thanks.

Instead I said “Yes please! I’ll take it!”

Right now my needs are more concerned with solitude and rebuilding than small biting insects.

I’ve a lot of healing to do, and I know how to make myself better. I was happy to trade nature for commotion, midges for traffic noise and woodlice for concrete streets.

Who knew there were so many different sizes and types of what I’d call a midge? There’s an impressive museum of assorted squashed species on the inside of my windows.

This exhibition, bought to you by a Charlie Byrne’s bookmark, wielded with some skill by The Curator (I like it!) is wholly renewed every two weeks, when I get out the Windowlene and Mr. Sheen.

I’d prefer not to kill things, so I’ve invested in an impressive combination of Citronella wick infusers and room sprays, but nothing seems to deter these brave bloodsucking blobs.

Also, it seems nobody has told them they're not meant to be biting until June. Clearly my earlobes and neck represent the gourmet cutting edge of midge cuisine.
 

I’m curious to see how bad it gets in Summer, when - shuddering - they’ll be out in number.

When it blows dry from the East it’s lovely, but on a warm and wet day, if the door is open for a few seconds, The Curator will have to organise several rows of new exhibits for display.

Doesn’t matter.

This place offers me what is important, and anyway the midges are only here because of the trees.

I’ll share my space with midges, just to have the trees.

They are splendid. As the weeks go by I’m learning their language, the way they speak differently, depending on which way the wind blows.

I’ve heard the treble hiss of their spare bare branches, as the freezing East wind cuts through, and their bass bellow from our prevailing South-Westerly gales.

The North wind hits the back of the house, where sycamore and beech and horse chestnut roar and scream, while out front the Southerly brings a warm whimper accompanied by occasional gusts of soprano howl.

The plethora of wildlife that loves and lives in these trees moves all around me, in blizzards of varying energy and speed.

Stepping out first thing in the morning I see everywhere blurry flashes of brown and white, as hordes of rabbits scatter.

Growing veggies here would be pointless. There’s thousands of bunnies, and while I love to grow and eat parsnips and broccoli, I can’t get what I’ve just seen out of my office window down at Aldi.

Professional growers notwithstanding, it is plain impossible not to smile when you see a bunch of baby bunnies bouncing across your lawn.

New to this patch of ground, the natural calendar unfurls around me day by day. 


It takes four seasons and then some to understand a little of the land you live on. It wasn’t until Hannah wreaked havoc that I discovered the blizzards which accompany a Spring storm here.

Every centimetre of the entire patch was covered by fallen leaves, twigs and catkins. How much damage had been caused to the trees, with all this loss of new growth?

What of all those newly-built nests?

I’m blessed by a million different types of bird around me here, and every day I need their appetites, as other blizzards are in progress.

On warm Spring afternoons the air is thick (and I mean soupy) with midges, flies and hatches of thousands of flying things, of differing size and varying levels of hairiness.

As you can tell, I’m an expert.

(Woah! Sorry, but a fox just loped across my lawn, 10 feet away from me. Look out bunnies! Or good luck, fox!)

Two weeks ago my prayers were answered. As I sat here and wrote I saw out of my window - oh bliss oh joy - the most welcome blizzard of Spring.

I didn’t know when the swallows would arrive, but as ever, on the same Southerly breeze that produced the insect hatches, they came in number, like the 7th Cavalry.

Well, if the 7th Cavalry were beautiful, aerobatic and benign. 

 

Mind you, benign’s not the word, if you’re a midge. There’s 10 or 15 swallows amd swifts right now diving and ascending in a manic grid outside my window, arriving for the feast of hatches and yay, stop here lads!

Spend the Summer with me. Stuff your beaks and create many babies and make my life less bitten and more beautiful.

The blizzards of Spring continue.

Blizzards of hailstones smash into vulnerable seedlings.


Blizzards of blackthorn blossom fill the air with pale pink flakes, and soon the hawthorn will offer a blizzard of white atop every hedgerow.

As I step out, weasels and sparrows, rabbits and stoats, foxes and pheasants, all dash into hedges, their movement making the fields feel alive.

Carpets of dandelions have shot up, shone yellow and blown, to be followed by rivers of daisies, while the warm glow of a buttercup blizzard awaits.


©Charlie Adley
12.05.2019.                                                                          

Sunday 5 May 2019

DID THE IRISH GIVE THE ENGLISH FOOTBALL?




While the FAI deal with a massive physical metamorphosis, with new bodies and attitudes replacing old, their equivalent across the Irish Sea is undergoing a struggle of an existential nature.

Only the English FA is called simply the FA. Other countries who don’t claim to have invented football have to declare their national identity in their association’s name.

Soon after taking his post in 2015, FA Chief Executive Martin Glenn talked of his desire to rebrand the FA as the EFA:
 

“We go to international conventions and say, 'Hi, I’m Martin Glenn and I am from the FA. Which one? Obviously the English, because we invented it.' Changing the name would possibly be a solution … I think we are perceived as arrogant…”
 

Good spot, sir. While progressive thinking is always welcome, it’s a bit of a shame that particular ship sailed centuries ago.
 

Back in October 1863, every English football club and school had their own rules. Some allowed players to carry the ball, others permitted kicking seven shades of shite out of their opponents.

Matches were impossible to organise, because the rules were not matched.
 

On the 26th of that month a group of Victorian gentlemen created the Football Association, with universal rules for all English teams, but does that make England the home of football?

They shook hands, passed the port, and 156 years later complaints were made after the World Cup semifinal, where England fans sang 'It’s coming home.'

Have to say, as far as offensive football chants go, ‘Coming Home’ doesn’t make the premier league. Driven by neither racism, vitriol nor misogyny, it’s a pop song, not a document of historical importance.

The news that the FA face becoming the EFA might not sound like that much of a problem, but as an Englishman I know a highly precious few out there are feeling humiliated.

To a certain strain of jingoistic English blood, this loss of being special, this drift from supremacy towards what they perceive as degrading homogeny: this is anathema.

This tiny minority control much of England’s money and power, living their lives lost in a paradoxical existence, wherein they prize and strive to protect an English identity they claim is strong, while constantly obsessing about its imminent destruction.

If the FA mirrors the English establishment and its national culture, the leadership of the FAI represent everything that stinks about Ireland.

I choose to live here and love the West like a cat loves tuna, but over decades I’ve grown to understand and loathe the way power and money are brokered in this country.

In no small way, the current FAI scandal feels to me like a microcosm of every aspect of this nation’s established modus operandi.

There exists in the FAI and Ireland a massive sense of unaccountable entitlement, impossible these days even in England, where the notion was honed.

Here people in positions of power, from minor to major, act with impunity, attract money corruptly and spend it at best dubiously.

Committees, Tribunals and Enquiries accept wallpaper amnesia, and to us proles it feels beyond frustrating that these self-serving walls cannot be breached.

The fact that they often act within the law is the fault of legislation, not these chancers’ moral compasses, as they have none.
 

Pretending to care they pump the parish, getting shiny city shoes dirty on the playing fields, pressing the flesh in the pubs, while feeling nothing but scorn for the small players, be they constituents or football fans.

It’d be crass and unprofessional of me to complain how for years I’d felt like having a shower each time I watched Delaney being interviewed on TV. The man always looked pure slimy, but that’s personal, unnecessary and hey, I don’t care.

What I’d really like to know is whether anyone has investigated Delaney’s personal finances? 


I wonder if there was any reason why it might have benefited Delaney to be €100,000 poorer for the time period of that loan?

Claiming that an institution with a turnover of €50 million could not phone their bank about an overdraft limit is beyond ridiculous; another example of scornful behaviour.

They treat us with contempt because they tend to get away with it.

As it happens I may have come up with a way of rebirthing the FAI, while getting one over your auld enemy on the way.

Still luxuriating in my pool of unprofessional behaviour, I cite as my source the Ladybird book: ’The Story of Football.’

If like myself your first contact with history came in the form of Ladybird books, you’ll recall that they were completely partisan.

The one about Alfred the Great said he was brilliant, defeating the terrible savage Vikings. 


Then the one about the Vikings said they were brilliant and not savages at all.

Given that level of reliability and accuracy, I cite the paragraph on page 14, where it says that around Tudor times:

“The matches held on holidays grew bigger and bigger. The game was sometimes called hurling.”
 

Well now, was it indeed? 

How eminently plausible it is that a crew of passing Paddies, possibly digging local holes, might have kicked the ball and showed the English how to play.

Destroy the FAI and all that’s in it.
 

Rename it the FA.
 

Start again.

If football’s coming home anywhere, it’s coming back to Ireland!



23.04.20-19.
©Charlie Adley

Sunday 28 April 2019

EIR HAVE MY MONEY AND I CAN’T GET IT BACK!



(I've been overwhelmed by the response to this piece in the newspaper, so please only contact me if Eir owe you money, and you're happy to be included in a group file that will be forwarded to Eir's CEO and ComReg. Thanks.)

If it has only happened to me then I’m just unlucky. If it’s happening to many of you, it’s one hell of a scam.

After years of being obliged to be an Eir customer, I thought I was finally free. 


They’d had me monopolised by the short and curlies for ages, overcharging me for calls that should’ve been part of my bundle and proving a nightmare to deal with.

When they ran Fibre broadband into my home, it was impossible to resist. 


Due to that aforementioned monopoly, I’d no choice. Eir were the only provider.

At that time I was paying 427 different communication companies the GDP of a small country each month, so I sold my entire soul to Eir.

A landline, two mobiles, internet and, god help us, Eir TV, which has an interface designed by a blindfolded wildebeest.

To be fair, once they wholly owned me, Eir failed to overcharge me at all.

Then I was forced to move house, far from Fibre Broadband. It was the proverbial ill wind, as it allowed me to rid myself of Eir.

Or so I thought.

Naturally I was completely unsurprised that giving notice on my bundle was far more complicated than it needed to be. After a visit to the shop, several calls and emails, I finally received their formal confirmation of my cancellation request.

They said they’d cut off my broadband two days before the end of my service period, and the phones were going to go … well, they weren't exactly sure, but soon.

I just obeyed, even when the archaic sods demanded: “You must return all TV and Fibre broadband equipment to us within 30 days after your service is cancelled to avoid any charges.”

Do what? Send it all back? Nobody asks for that! You’re ‘avin’ a larf!

Experienced with Eir, I’d kept their original boxes, into which I packed all the required leads, cables, remote controls, prize rubies and deep-fried pigeon livers.

Weeks later they sent me a single Freepost address label, so I had to buy a mailing box, but not before I took photos of all the equipment, so they couldn’t charge for any missing items.

Sure enough they didn’t. They came up with a whole new and especially dastardly way of upsetting me.

Over the decades I’ve successfully fought for my rights against TalkTalk, Sky, Hertz and any other corporate entity that robs or wrongs me.

Unlike most people who have lives and better things to do, I will hang on for that extra 20 minutes and then send another letter to a CEO, as this newspaper allows me the opportunity to share these struggles, so you know you’re not alone.

Millions of us are screwed daily by despicable disingenuous global giants, so it’s important we know we are not a collection of lone victims, but part of an army that’s being slaughtered in the consumer trenches.

At some stage all these other companies acknowledged a problem, reacted and compensated.

However, as many DVs from the archive will attest, Eir are impervious to mere customers.

Finally free from Eir I settled into life in my new home, sure I’d escaped the one company that has always foiled me.

A few weeks later I received an email, saying my new Eir bill was available online.

What?

My account had been cancelled, my phone proudly carried another company’s Sim, while my broadband is now a combination of Chinese wizardry and a super-fit hamster on the roof.

I decided I could die happily never looking at that bill.

Then I received an Eir bill in the mail, saying they owed me €70.06.

A stream of unprintable expletives erupted from my North and South.

This is where I need to know if I’m alone, because if they’re creating credits with all their departing bundle punters, we could be looking at fraud.

I had done exactly what they asked. I’d delivered precisely the notice they demanded and paid every bill on time, and they had cut off all my services as and when they decided, so there was absolutely no reason for discrepancy.

The bill showed credit was due for part-period charges that ran beyond their own cancellation date. 


Eir set all the timeframes, yet somehow contrived to take money from me for periods they knew - as they themselves had decided - I was no longer a customer.

My Eir horror was about to get worse. In order to have my phone call accepted, I was required to tap in either my Eir account number or phone number.

Ever vigilant, ever logical, Eir’s screening robot recognised neither, as both had been cancelled.

With the tenacity of a pitbull on speed, I eventually managed to find a voice with a heartbeat, who immediately transferred me to the oblivion of call waiting where, after 23 minutes of being told my call was important, I was cut off.

A few days later I tried again, explaining that they had essentially robbed me of 70 quid. If they didn’t put me through to a supervisor or deal with my request I would take legal action.

They refused to help me retrieve my money, instead insisting on transferring me.
 

In turn, I refused to be sent once more into their musical torture chamber.

Instead I wrote this, which will be cut out of the newspaper and sent to Eir’s CEO and marketing department.

I gave it everything I had, people, but so far have failed to breach their corporate walls.

Every month the bills still come. Eir are taunting me with the money they owe me.

Let me know if Eir have done this to you too.
 

It’s time we fought back.


charlieadley1@gmail.com


Charlie Adley
18.04.2019