Sunday 18 March 2018


I’m so sorry. I apologise to those people in Ireland who feel that the English are increasingly hostile towards your country.

Nobody set out to damage the island of Ireland. Generally, few English people ever spare Ireland a moment’s thought.

I understand why, as I was one of them.

Ever interested and politically motivated, I knew absolutely zip about Ireland until I moved here. I’d travelled around the planet twice before ever stepping foot in the county next door.

When I finally did, it very much felt like I was going to Ireland because I’d run out of other countries. If that sounds insulting, even contemptuous, that’s my point.

As a Londoner, I neither disliked the Irish nor Ireland.
I’d no idea I was saving the best ’til last.

A student of history at both ‘O’ and ‘A Level’, my English education taught me one Irish date:1846, and one name: Raleigh, who I read about in a Ladybird book at the age of 7.

The English don’t hate the Irish.
They just don’t care.

Like you and me, the English are constantly bombarded with political lies and let-downs, so when told “Oh, Ireland, yes, well it’s all very complicated you see!” they are happy to shrug their exhausted shoulders.

The same psychological tactic of telling the public it’s all too difficult for them to understand is proving an effective device in the whole Brexit process. Worn down by boredom, the British are more than happy to relinquish interest. They just want it over and done with.

Your Irish emotions might calm if you appreciate the depth of whimsy and bluff that’s driven Brexit since its inception. There was never a plan to destroy the peace process. 

Nobody was thinking about Ireland at all. 

There was just a vain Tory Prime Minister who needed to leave a greater legacy than being the bloke who screwed a pig’s head and left his daughter in the pub.

Political legacy is a tricky business. Blair had years of boom but all they remember is Iraq. Clinton had economic growth over two terms, but his legacy consisted of sperm on a dress.

What could Cameron do? 
How might he change the political landscape of his country?”

If only history saw him as the man who ended civil war in the Conservative Party; the man who finally silenced the batty Eurosceptics who’d been raging for decades. If he called a referendum, surely the great people of the United Kingdom would vote Remain and finally shut those arses up, once and for all.

Brexit was the result of Cameron’s whimsical punt, followed by the crass misjudgements of the Remain campaign’s 'Project Fear', which left Boris and his band of lying Leavers all the territory of hope.

From whimsy we move to bluff, and the reason why Brexit has been so farcical: none of the main figures are campaigning for what they believe in. Theresa May is a confirmed fan of the EU, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has always been a hardcore Eurosceptic.

Without their hearts in their words, neither of these leaders appear in any way convincing. They don’t even sound convinced by their own arguments.

Boris may be eccentric but he’s far from stupid. Naturally a Remainer, he’s willing to burn his ethics and the Good Friday Agreement on the bonfire of ambition. Never equate him with the British people.

Addicted to watching the tragedy unfold, I wave my hands around in the air and emit grunts of pain and frustration as I listen to the MayBot once again say she wants out of Single Market and Customs Union, but no border in Northern Ireland.


If she hadn’t paid £1.2 billion for the filthy services of the DUP, there might have been a border in the Irish sea, but England now has Arlene Foster’s grip on its government’s goolies, and we know she’ll hurt ‘em.

If only just for once Sinn Fein politicians lied openly, in public, taking the oath and sitting in Westminster, the peace process might be saved.

However, as we know, Northern politicians on all sides prefer to lie about lying than save lives.

Now Corbyn decides to save the Custom’s Union, which might offer hope to Ireland, were Labour actually in power 

There are easily enough Tory rebels to bring down this government, but then what? Is a General Election a year before leaving the EU helpful in any way? 

Still, always, comes this talk of carrying out the will of the people. 17 million said Leave. 16 million said Stay. That’s a margin of error, not a mandate. 

Subtract the protest votes and the bus lies, add those who have since learned the truth and the will of the people changes.

If you’re Irish and offended, please don’t take it personally. The average English person feels no contempt for Ireland: merely an unjustifiably lazy but understandable ignorance. 

Ambivalent or at worst utterly disinterested, the English are unaware that their apathy will devastate the peace and restore physical partition.

Cut these battered English souls some slack. They have been serially lied to, misled and manipulated throughout this miserable process.

If they are guilty of anything, it is that they’ve let the bastards grind them down. If you’re Irish think Lisbon Treaty, multiply it by 1,000 and you might empathise.

The English just want to get on with their lives. If that means a border in Ireland, well, what can they do about it?

If war returns to the Six Counties, blood will be on Tory hands. 

©Charlie Adley 

Sunday 11 March 2018


It’s mesmerising, nostalgic and distracting. Whirlpools of big fat snowflakes are swirling around outside my window and it’s difficult to concentrate on work.

Today we have been told to stay in our homes from 4pm. To softies like myself who grew up without millions of tons of enemy bombs falling from the sky, this form of national instruction feels as close to wartime as anything might.

Well, ye lads did call what the rest of the planet generally refers to as The Second World War: ‘The Emergency’.

Maybe in Ireland, land of paradox, this emergency is a war and we’re meant to see snow as an enemy.

Not my foe.

Given the rare frequency and low levels we see of snow here in the West of Ireland, it feels benign and beautiful as it falls.

We are not trapped in our home. We’ve just been instructed to stay in, and it feels rather wonderful.

Along with the rest of you I went altogether bananas, amassing gas cylinders, briquettes and enough food to feed a village.

We already had torches, batteries, matches and candles, because we live on the Atlantic seaboard. Storms always come and go, as does electric power.

It would be disingenuous to complain that somehow Met Eireann got it wrong, just because where I live, nothing bad happened. East of the Shannon people were doubtless very thankful for the precautions they took, but while it’s easy to lose ourselves in logistics, here, right now, with the Snapper, my friend Whispering Blue and Lady Dog in the house, not one of us is the slightest bit nervous.

Alone here during Storm Desmond I was, as Biblical types might have it, sore afraid. Apocalyptic tropical rain fell, relentlessly, constantly at full force, from dusk to dawn and into day.

The house was completely surrounded by water. A river appeared at the top left corner, up by the shed, rushing and roaring down a diagonal, cutting the garden in half as it tumbled towards Lough Corrib.

It didn’t have to go far, as the edge of the great lake had by then arisen from underground, unwelcome and threatening, flooding half of the garden.

There, here, there, out of the ground insane jets of water spurted up, appearing randomly and increasingly.

Inside the house I ran around lifting plug boards off the ground, stuffing pillows down the loo, wondering when the hell does one abandon ship, especially if you’re the only one around to look after the place.

In comparison this storm feels gentle; blissful. The only gripe I have is one that comes from that nerdy part of me, which deeply resents the way bad weather is now always called a storm.

The Beaufort scale has its faults, but after a few decades out here on the edge of the Atlantic, I’ve come to trust that storms come in at Force 10, representing something to be reckoned with and respected.

The world screams in a storm.
There are no ambiguities about it.

A few years ago, during a storm force wind, there came a Hurricane Force 12 gust, followed by what I can only describe as a geological punch.

For a nano second it seemed to lift this solid house from its foundations.
The Snapper and I were in the hallway at that moment, both instinctively reaching out and clutching the other.

If we were heading off beyond Kansas, we needed to be together.

Today I am thankful . Even though the media has only tales of blizzard misery, we are safe, warm and never smug. 

Storm Emma is falling in soft white lumps outside, the promised gale force winds coming only in ephemeral gasps and whines.

Lady Dog is a little pissed off that she can’t go for an adventure on the bog, but she hurt her paw a few days ago, so a small walk will suffice.

Beyond canine needs, all humans in this house can today be found standing in front of windows, bewitched by dancing flakes, watching the landscape gradually rise towards the sky.

The day the first flurry fell, the sky cleared at night, allowing the light from the massive moon to be reflected back by the snow. Our rural area of darkness shone with such an intensity we chose to sleep with blinds open, just to fully appreciate the astonishing power of that light.

My obsession with feeding the birds through their Winter hardship has grown to crazed proportions. Neither a twitcher nor an expert, I simply take great pleasure from feeding and watching the little finches, tits and robins.

My old mate Mr. Wagster, a pied wagtail with whom I bonded soon after I arrived here, now shows no fear of me whatsoever. He even introduced me to his wife the other day.

Patches of ground under the feet of all these feeding birds have gradually become bare. Their little talons and prodding beaks have scarified the grass and aerated the soil.

Perfect for a lawn. 

Maybe next year, if I move the feed each day, the birdies could actual cut the lawn over a period of a full winter, whilst keeping themselves alive.

You’re a genius, Adley.

That’s ecological balance and integrity sorted, delaying the moment I need shift my fat arse and use a mower.

Brilliant indeed.

As I watch the snow flakes fall up and down on freezing breezes and nature’s whim, I wonder if I’ll recall my cunning plan, by the time we’ve lived through three more seasons.

©Charlie Adley

Sunday 4 March 2018


Last week I was lost for a moment between two worlds: the real one in which we smell farts, taste chocolate and feel the power of loving hugs, and the world of Facebook, where those with opinions dare to feel powerful, because nobody is staring them in the eye.
Packing Blue Bag I headed south for one night at my friend Angel’s gaff, down in Co. Kerry, and one night on my own in West Clare.
What a great time of year to see Ireland. With high pressure keeping the rain belts out in the Atlantic, I drove on empty roads, barely offering a brake light all the way from Briarhill to Abbeyfeale.
My heart felt light, my soul singing as I drank in the amber grandeur of the Kingdom’s hills; the rare sullen stillness of its bays.

Angel’s mobile is perched on a clifftop, so as we drank 325 cups of tea, talking nonsense of profundities and profoundly of nonsense, my eyes kept glancing out of the window, drawn below to great waves pounding jagged black rocks.

Forget that stuff about blokes not sharing their feelings. We have known each other for many years, understand each others’ madnesses and whilst keeping the industries of Sri Lanka and Kenya alive, we sat from 2 ’til 11:30, pondering life’s quandaries.
Then I fell asleep to the sound of Atlantic breakers, waking in the morning refreshed and eager for the day.
No schedule.
No rush.
Never have I seen that road from Dingle to Tralee so empty. In the Summer it becomes a hideous snake of tourist traffic, but on a sunny cold Thursday morning at the end of February, it was all mine.
Much of the time I drove in silence, and then I whacked on Christy Moore, singing along with the uninhibited vigour that solitude allows.
Eventually I felt I ought to see what was happening in the world, so I hit the radio, where all the talk shows were pondering the Florida school massacre.
I arrived at Tarbert 20 minutes before the next ferry crossing over the mighty river Shannon, so after a brief brisk stretch of the legs in the freezing cold breeze, I was happy to return to my warm car, where I checked my phone.
Oh look. Loads of notifications from Facebook.
A few days earlier I’d shared somebody's post about guns in America. Shortly afterwards a good friend of mine in California left a comment which read like a press release from America’s NRA (National Rifle Association), which I promptly ignored, because I know how intractable he is about his right to bear arms.
When I lived over there we became firm friends, and he supported me during what was possibly the most difficult period of my life. Thanks to decades of hitching, I’ve developed an ability to form bonds with people whose views I find repellent.
If I trust someone, believe that they are capable of compassion and kindness, then the fact that their philosophies of life differ from mine offers an opportunity to listen and learn.
Our friendship was formed in a particular time and context. While I know well how worthy of respect he is, my Facebook friends are able only to react to what they see: his comments, which read like pure nonsense to us Europeans.
In the past I have marvelled at the eclectic gathering of souls linked only by likes of Facebook posts. My life has many tendrils, at the end of which lurk extremists, moderates, warriors and peacemakers.
Usually I’m delighted that so many varied souls appear to enjoy this colyoom, but as comments inevitably started to arrive, attacking his unacceptable attitudes to gun control, I suddenly felt protective of my American mate, so I deleted the whole post.
Of one thing I am sure: if my friend is reading this he will now feel  outraged. Blessed with the body of a Norse god, he swims between San Francisco and Alcatraz island. His mind is sharp and witty, so he is more than capable of looking after himself, both physically and mentally. Indeed, his Libertarian views dictate that he will do precisely that, if necessary to the exclusion of others.
He is the evolved embodiment of the American Way. To us in Europe, who prefer collective societies in which we all care for each other, his views seem facile and arcane, yet because I’ve some experience of the American psyche, 
I’m able to respect his views, even if I’ll never accept them.
America was formed by individuals who dared to make it happen. That frontier spirit exists still, morphed into a modern lifestyle that neither seeks nor requires external governmental help.
Obviously those who’ve never met my friend cannot possibly know what a truly good man he is. One of the great dangers of Facebook is that we congregate in mutually masturbatory groups, happily savaging those who dare to be different, all the while hiding from healthy diversity of opinion.
Yet there I was, a hypocrite committing an act of censorship, trying to spare my friend from a savaging that he would happily embrace.
Outside a sudden rumble of surf and diesel distracted me from my maelstrom of cyber confusion.  
The ferry had arrived.
Time to put away my phone; desert the unnecessary world of cyberspace; embrace the soft green hills of Clare; walk the stunning beach at Lehinch.
Time to thrill at the freedom of this rare free day, and an evening ahead, perched anonymous on barstools in cosy local pubs.

©Charlie Adley

Sunday 25 February 2018



I was on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere between Sydney and Melbourne. Must have been 40°C in the sun, and although very familiar with hitching, I was new to Australia.

Glancing down at Blue Bag on the ground beside me, I saw it was crawling with thousands of ants. An hour earlier I’d laid a wrapped burger on top of my bag for about five seconds, but clearly that left enough scents of interest to alert these - ouch! - little biting bastards to swarm over my most treasured possession.

Lifting Blue Bag I shook it and swiped it, encouraging an expeditionary force of the formic acid carriers to crawl up my arm.

That was when the pain hit me. 

My gut 


and oh 
yes oh 
right now
urgently needing to 

void itself.

Natural ownership of my intestines had suddenly disappeared. They’d declared UDI and their contents were on a March for Freedom.

To my left, to my right, hundreds of miles of flat Australian beige scrubble.
Between them, a busy major road.

Nowhere to run, nowhere to pooh, except over there, a tatty old corrugated steel barn, so off I went, clenched of sphincter, to discover it actually had a toilet. 

The rest of the barn was exposed to the road, so there could be no commando ablutions. It had to be the little loo.

The dunny.



There was no room for Blue Bag, and even if there had been I’d not rest it there. That bag had sat on every surface known to man and nature, but this was alien.

A tiny cubicle with daylight only peeping in below the corrugated sheeting, the air was old, stagnant and roasting. 

Every single surface had been colonised by beast, bug, mould or fungus, and as soon as I closed the door, I started to sweat like a power shower.

I’d have done it anywhere else. Give me a bush to hide behind and I’m your sub-human, but I couldn’t bring myself to drop my kecks in full view of all those passing motorists.

Chroist there’s a Pom over there taking a shit on sacred Aboriginal land! Call the cops! Get the bum extradoited!”

Stumbling out into the fresh air (40°C never felt so cool!) I was delighted to find Blue Bag ant free. Three minutes later that heat had dried me out. I was empty, happy and on the road again.

Sadly though I wasn’t free of that dunny.

The smell; the heat; the corrupted foul marriages being forged in there, between the human, animal and plant kingdoms: it has stayed with me since 1984.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised when the memory of it rose into my mind, making me laugh out loud last week, while alone in a Co. Galway pub toilet.

You see, I’d been getting all grumpy and unnecessary with the working of this Gents. All swish and modern, with polished surfaces and under doo-daa lighting, it caused me to raise my eyebrows when I first walked in.

Just a few years ago this very shiny Gents had been Da Jacks: that stalwart bastion of rural Irish pub attitude, with dead flies on the windowsills, cobwebs in the corners and a good millimetre of dried yellow scale under the collective trough.

Now, like wow, it looked so good, but that’s the point.
It just looked it.

The old jacks had a turn tap, with a lump of soap and a rotary towel. You could wait for the water to heat up, use the soap and wash properly, then pull down a foot of pristine cotton and dry your hands.

Instead I found myself playing an absurd game which involved running up and down, hitting three hot taps on three basins so that I could get enough water to wash my hands, before the timey thing ran out on the rising faucets.

Five seconds of tepid water doesn’t do it for me. I understand the pain in the hole it is for landlords when someone floods the bathroom, by leaving the tap on, but please, ease up on the tap technology, especially as so many pubs are trying to flog us food these days. 

If there’s cooking and eating going on, give hygiene a chance, eh?

At least there’s the electric hand drier. 
Surely that must be an improvement on that old towel nonsense? 

Sadly, no. Most of the electric hand driers we encounter emit a delicate and gentle kiss of sparrow’s fart, which would take several centuries to dry your hands, so instead we end up wiping them on the back of our jeans.

Well, I do.

At the other end of the scale come the skin shrinkers. Their pummelling blasts dry your hands quickly, leaving them feeling warm and lovely.

Unfortunately, in the process, they have also scattered infected faecal droplets of water all over your hands, arms and face, as well as Jackson Pollocking all the surrounding walls.

The Dyson goes one better, by needing you to slide your hands in and out of a slat.  Rather like one of those old fairground games, where you had to guide the ball along the curvy metal line without touching it, you must dangle your hands in and out of the drier without coming into contact with the plastic, as that tiny area has been touched by every single hand that’s passed this way.

What was wrong with the rotary towel? They cry about the environmental and monetary costs of laundry, but what about the manufacture and running costs of these electric jet streams drying your pinky?


Then I remembered that microwave of an Aussie dunny and all was good. 

What a spoilt brat I can be sometimes. 
This is a wonderful loo.

Don’t much fancy ordering food, though.

©Charlie Adley

Sunday 18 February 2018

Is there anything greater than a lifetime of friendship?

I had bit of a moment back in 2012. Standing at the back of the little upstairs bar in the Róisín Dubh, I was listening to Tuam songwriter Seamus Ruttledge explain that this charity gig had been organised by Conor ‘Monty’ Montague, his old friend from way back in the early 90s.

Way back?

But I was there, then, meeting them both. Writing columns under noms de plumes Freebase Kevin, Swami ben Carpenter and Pink O’Bum, I was part of Seamus’s freebie rag, which was locked in a minor battle with another Galway newspaper.

Here were these local boys saying they had been friends forever and I, a mere blow-in, had been part of it too, 20 years before.

Truly, I am a man blessed by friendship. To my English heart, these good men were part of a group I considered to be new friends.

I had not grown up with them. I had not shared my life with them from the age of 13 onwards, as I have with my friends from London. 

A few are now scattered around the globe, but the vast majority of these lifetime friends still live in England’s capital, at addresses that have not changed, with telephone numbers that I know off by heart, engraved on my cerebellum during crazier years, when all was in flux.

A truly amazing bunch of people, now many parents and grandparents, we all live separate lives, but still keep in touch and meet up every now and then, for either gentle visits or lairy reunions.

Even better, when we see each other or even speak on the phone, there is no question of having to explain yourself in any way. We know each other far too well to need preambles.

Alongside our families we are the foundation stones that support each others’ lives, offering profound and unique comfort, love and joy throughout the entirety of our collective lives.

Best of all, we know that the rest are there. As a man living a blow-in existence, far from family, the knowledge of their presence gives me great comfort. 

 A Good Friday gathering circa 1980 something... I wondered where the Guru was, until I spotted the red shoes on the left, and the fact that everyone
is listening to someone...!

Yet I've been blessed all over again, by the friends I’ve made beyond England. 

Online I’m now able to keep in touch with  friends that I made working at the University of San Francisco, while several of my Australian mates seem ever eager to share England’s Ashes defeats with me. Old friends from my youth work days stay in touch on Facebook and yes, new relationships are rarely yet sometimes spawned in my comments boxes.

Visits and real contact are rare and special, but the best friends to have today are the ones on your doorstep, and there again I have been exceptionally lucky.

A wave of English blow-ins swept into Galway during those early 90s. I washed up in a tiny house in Salthill, crammed under low ceilings and mouldy crumbling walls with two other Englishmen, large both physically and in personality, while next door was a 24 hour Party House of mayhem and madness.

If you didn't want to meet an Irish person you really didn’t have to, but I hadn’t hitched from Malaga to Galway to hang out with a crusty from Surrey. 

 Check out your scribbler's magnificent 1970s Jewfro!

Thankfully one night Blitz approached me in the Jug O’Punch and introduced me to The Body, while back in their gaff Whispering Blue had just returned from Berlin and was kipping on the sofa.

Only a few minutes was needed in town with any of those lads to understand that life here in Galway was unlike anywhere I’d ever lived. I’d seen 4 continents, where in small rural communities everyone knew each other, while in cities nobody did, because that’s how you survived.

Yet here was a city where everyone knew everyone They had grown up together, lived amongst each other, and Howyas flew constantly in all directions.

Even though the lads could not have done one single thing to make me feel more welcome, I felt constantly then - and now - a blow in.

Believe me, sometimes that is no bad thing, yet at others so strange. I feel neither less nor worse in any way, simply aware that, just as I have my lifelong friends back in London, Galwegians have their lifetimes living around them.

Why this now? Well one afternoon a few weeks ago I was sitting outside Neactains with two friends, both of whom worked behind the bar of an Tobar back in 1992.

One of them I know very well, while the other I admire and and respect. As they sat and swapped stories I gave up trying to know who was that and when did they do what, as the boys were off in a time and place of their own.

It is genuinely lovely to listen as two people share a myriad of lost laughs together. I experience it often when with my Galway brethren. It reinforces my feeling of foreignness in no bad way.

I have my own crew who know me that well, and in between I have all the other new friends, melded into my life during decades in Ireland.

Old housemates, firm and forever; ex-colleagues and bosses now much easier to chill with as peers; the triumvirate brotherhood with Angel and Yoda; a good chunk of a village in North Mayo; tea and buns with Dalooney and a couple of hedonistic reprobates in Clifden who I love dearly, and of course the Snapper, my most loyal and most loved friend.

I’ll always be a blow-in, and that’s just fine, because your old friends are like mine in London.

Fortified by them, I’m privileged to be able to say I’ve known my Galwegian friends for 25 years.

How lucky am I, to consider them my new friends?

©Charlie Adley