Monday 22 May 2017

TRANQUILIZE ME! EIR ARE COMING TO MY HOUSE!




Ever since we moved into this house five years ago I’ve been waiting for today to come, yet now that it’s here I’m tense as hell - and that’s after the valium!
 

At some point between 9:30 and 5:30 today, the people from Eir or Eir-Ring or OpenEir or whatever they’re called will turn up to deliver unto us high speed fibre broadband.
 

Yay! Fantastic! You’re such a grumpy old man, Adley. What could possibly be annoying about that?
 

At this stage of my relationship with Eir, I wonder what might possibly go right.
 

When a service provider fails to deliver either the promised product or price, I take the struggle for justice to the outer limits of time and patience.
 

You happy breed out there with real lives, jobs to go to and kids to pick up from school cannot sit forever on a phone listening to Neil Diamond, while being repeatedly informed that your call really matters
 

I however can, and being a tenacious and dogged little bugger, I’ll stick in there until some kind of reasonable and just result has been achieved.
 

In the past I’ve had success with Sky, Hertz, Talk Talk, Argos and several others, but Eir have defeated me, over and over again.
 

Only 25 minutes drive from Quay Street, this house is 7km off the main road, so I had to set up TV, internet, landline and mobiles separately, which cost me and my small business a fortune.
 

At first I used a wireless internet operator with astonishingly good customer service, but they could do nothing about the leaves on the trees. All winter we had internet, but come Spring the signal disappeared.
 

Didn’t sound great to clients, when I called to explain that I couldn’t send my work right now, as the oaks across the way were in full bloom.
 

Since then I’ve been using Q-Sat which is reliable yet slow (latest news: now nonexistent!). Add that to the Sky TV and the Eir bundle with the landline and two mobiles and you’re looking at a major wad of outgoing green folding.
 

Even as I typed the words ‘Eir bundle’ I audibly growled. For years I have been trying to persuade Eir in its various forms to offer me a fair deal, because it was not our fault that they couldn’t supply us with broadband, making us ineligible for their best bundles.
 

After hours of communication with innumerable call centre supervisors and press offices, I managed to secure new package after new package, only to find each time the bill came that the bastards had charged me for stuff they’d said was free.
 

Despite clinging to my struggle like a drowning man to a lifebelt, nobody at Eir gave a flying lump of horse pooh about my woes, until one day I wandered into the Eir shop in Galway City, and dealt with physical human beings.
 

At last my problems were taken seriously. On production of recent bills they shook their heads and tutted. I felt alone no more. So whatever happens today, I’d like to say a massive thanks to the crew in that shop: you have been wonderful!
 

Despite their best efforts however, my bills were still showing the wrong numbers, and then a few weeks ago I noticed Eir lads working in the bohreen.
 

“Yes, we’re fitting the fibre broadband, so you can have a bundle with internet, digital TV and phones.”
 

“Fantastic, lads! That’ll save me over €100 a month! Should I go ahead and cancel the Sky and Q-Sat?”


“Er, no. Don’t cancel anything until it’s all up and running, okay!”
 

A few days later a very energised young rep arrived on my doorstep, unaware of my history with Eir. Each time he started to reel off the offers...
 

“All calls, all texts to all landlines and all mobiles -”
 

I swiftly raised my hand in the air, declaring, calmly yet emphatically:
 

“Stop.”
 

I hadn’t the energy to tell him of my years of Eir woe; how all these lists were now etched into my brain as pure lies; how I just wanted him to give me a quote for the broadband, TV, landline and mobiles bundle.
 

“Surely we’ll get one of those deals advertised everywhere, as we’re new broadband customers!”
 

“Er no, see, you’re existing customers, see, so here’s what it’ll cost you now!”
 

He showed me a figure that represented less than we already pay for our phones alone, so although I was excited, I didn’t trust it, explaining to the rep that I’d take it down to the Eir shop for their opinion.
 

“Sure, see if they offer you a better price than me! Bet they can’t!” he retorted chirpily, leaving me wondering why on earth the same company was bidding against itself for my custom.
 

In the shop I asked them to add the total of the 6 special offer months to the 12 full price months, and divide that by the 18 months of the contract, so I could see a realistic monthly price.
 

After signing up with them, I strolled down the road to sit outside The Quays with a cup of tea, and to my horror receive an email from Eir, thanking me for my new order, quoting a whole new price and completely different offer.
 

AAARGH!
 

Misled and mistreated for years, I don’t know what I’ll be paying, and have huge doubts about the quality of the products to come. 

Although other options will be available, until the fibre is installed, this company that quoted me three different prices and sent two different order confirmations has a monopoly.
 

That’s why I’m tense as hell. This isn’t just about my leisure time: it’s my livelihood, and not one bit of me has confidence in Eir.
 

PS: waited in from 9:30 to 5:30 as ordered by Eir. 
Nobody came. 
No call, no text, no knock at the door…

 

©Charlie Adley
10.05.2017

Tuesday 16 May 2017

I DON’T WANT TO RELIVE MY YOUTH - I’M HAPPY BEING OLDER!


“Woke up this mornin’
’N I was fifty seven...

Said I woke up this mooor-ooorrr-nin’
’N I was fifty seven...

Not sent to hell yet…
Not made it to heaven…

I got those what does my birthday mean bluuuuu-hooooze…..”


While in his prime, that supreme athlete, prophet and all round wonderful guy Muhammad Ali famously said that age was a state of mind. As he struggled through the mighty challenges presented by Parkinson’s syndrome, he kept his smile, his personality and his philosophy of life intact.

On a less testing and more personal plain, that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last six years.

Life in your fifties is a very mixed bag. Just as TV ads seem to encourage women to parachute out of helicopters and go white water rafting during their periods, we 50somethings are coerced by an endless torrent of super-healthy white-teethed mini-celebs to go out there and seize the day, because apparently the 50s are the new 30s.

Really?
Nu-huh.
Don’t think so.

In my early 30s I arrived in Galway City, fully believing my partying days were behind me. City pubs, Salthill clubs and an excellent team of reprobates who lured me into local life put paid to that.

Dancing my 30something arse off at night I felt no pain. First thing the next morning I’d pummel Salthill Prom at high speed, enjoying a sad kind of pride in the way nobody passed me.

A few years later I moved to Connemara, where I wrote, walked, exercised and walked some more. Push-ups, Tai Chi and three walks a day.

Admittedly, the final one was to and from the pub.
I’m only human.

Of course there were injuries. I hurt my foot and it got better. When there was strife in my family, my back gave way, leaving me crippled and crumpled, but then I recovered.
If I tried to be as physically active in my 50s as I was back then, I’d be in a right mess.
 

One thing hasn’t changed for me. I still don’t care about the numbers, apart from those pesky 6s. When you’re 46 you’re nearer 50 than 40, and 56 hit me the same way last year with 60.

Hmm, yes, have to admit: 60 is starting to flash up in front of my eyes these days.

After singing my birthday blues, I took my blood pressure pill and an antihistamine, because the dry weather and wind are creating storms of pollen.

Then into the kitchen followed by Lady Dog, looking for her morning peeper and her breakfast. I take a horse-sized omega 3 capsule, which I down with whatever’s left of last night’s pint of water, and off we go for a wander.

After breakfast I swallow one of the probiotic capsules I started taking last winter, when I had a chest infection. They’d cured my IBS overnight, so I still do one each day.

By 9:30, when I arrive here in my office, I’ve got more pills in me than Evergreen, and most of them are prophylactic.

Save your emails, pen and paper, because I truly don’t want to know what works for you. I will not drink your green juices every morning, nor offer up my Spirit Wolf to The Demon of the Stream.

Believe me here and now when I say I’m truly glad you’ve found the way, your way, your truth and the clarity to see the light in all matters healthy and wholesome.

Well done.
If it’s all the same to you, I’ll continue to plod along, creating my own gentle swathe.

One of the great blessings of my life has been the continued existence of a group of friends who’ve all known each other since school. We live our separate lives, but stay in touch as and when we want, and when we meet or talk there’s that unique wonder of not having to explain yourself.

Hence a few years back there were a heck of a lot of 50th birthday parties. Since then, it’s been interesting to see how we’ve all adapted to our new age.

By ‘age’ I’m not referring to precise numbers, just that part of your life, which tends to coincide with 50, when injuries become conditions.

All of a sudden the doctor’s not offering pills or suggesting x-rays. She’s just telling you straight. Nothing she can do. This is something you’ll have to learn to live with, a condition you’ll have to manage, and it’ll probably get worse.

Thanks doc. Think I need to think about that.

Anyway, I don’t want my 50s to be like my 30s. I want them to be like my 50s, because I now enjoy 20 years more experience and learning than I did back then.

Of course life still presents massive problems, but I’m more aware of my weaknesses now, more able to understand my emotions, and better able to control how I deal with them.

One of that group of friends took pleasure wailing down the phone to me that the 50s were the beginning of the end.

Moaning with melancholic delight about the inexorable decline of our bodies, our journey lethewards, he said only oblivion awaited.

Er, yeh, thanks mate, but no thanks, all the same. I’m happy to be the age I am.
 

Even if I can’t dance without ripping a muscle, I have way less pain in my soul than there was in my 30s, and when it demands to be faced, I aim to have the wisdom to deal with it.

Anyway, truth be told, we’re none of us the adults that children imagine us to be. As a boy of seven, I’d look at man 50 years older than me and wonder how incredibly in charge of his life he seemed.

If only I’d known then that we all spend a lifetime making it up as we go along.



Sunday 7 May 2017

Why be ashamed of giving to charity?



 Thanks to the late artist and photographer Derek Biddulph.

Sitting outside a pub, watching Galway City walk by, happy as a scribbler in a daze when

“Mind if I join you?”

“No, not at all.”

“I know you to see you around. English, aren’t you? Nothing against the English. Have to say though, you’re far more snobby than we are! It’s your class structure, ‘cos we don’t have it. But what I really hate is people who force their opinions on you, time and time again.”

“Yes.”

“You know the sort, just go on and on about the same thing repeatedly. Drives me nuts.”

“Me too!”

“Why would someone want to say the same thing, over and over again? Makes no sense. If you’ve made your point well enough, leave it, move on.”

Glancing over to make sure he wasn’t wearing a badge declaring  

I Love Irony, I shot a little hostility his way, in the form of a hissed impatient whisper.

“Couldn’t have put it better myself.”

Made no difference. On he went about snobs and people repeating themselves, until I let go of the rope, drifting off into my ocean of memories.

Snobs in Galway? I remember them, back when I was running a charity shop on Abbeygate Street.

My favourite customer used to arrive in the shop like the scent of Jasmine on a Summer breeze.

“Hello! Lovely morning isn’t it! Pretty soon now it’ll be afternoon. Then it’s evening and then well, night, I suppose. I hope so anyway. I mean, what would happen if it was morning right after evening? Just wouldn’t do at all! What was that? Oh yes, Spring is coming. Sure, it’s just like Winter, but with longer evenings.”

Succinct and indisputable.
The woman was a genius.

Working in retail involves making completely uncontroversial smalltalk all day, with a smile on your face. You might think that the weather affects everyone equally, but I was deeply disappointed to find out that here it was not as safe a subject as it had been In London’s shops.

I greet another customer.

“Hello there! Lovely day, isn’t it?”

“Well, no! It’s bitter! Bitterly cold, so it is. And the rain. It’s not right, not rain like this, not at this time of year. Something's wrong, let me tell you. I know! Oh yes, I know about these things.”

I like my job, so resist the temptation to scream:

“What the hell are you talking about? This is Galway for crying out loud! It rains all the bleedin’ time here!”

Thousands of meteorological opinions were aired in that shop, but only one managed to scare the hell out of me. It was uttered during the week of Solemn Novena, and perchance its perpetrator had been a little overawed by her visit to the Cathedral.

“Lovely day, isn’t it?”

“No it is not. It is raining and cold. We are all sinners.”

I just stood there, absolutely dumbstruck. Neither the time nor the place to enter into theological debate, I thought long and hard and came up with no other option: her inference was that it was raining and cold because we were all sinners, and therefore God was punishing us with bad weather.

Scary.

Having a shop in Galway was a wonderful experience. As a blow-in, I love Galwegians, and the flow of mostly middle-aged women who came into my shop offered me a connection to the everyday lives of locals.

There were lonely souls who stopped in to chat and a laugh, and it was my pleasure to entertain and be entertained.

Others were genuinely stressed out and broke, reliant on our cheap clothing. My heart went out to them as they rushed around the rails
simultaneously crowd-controlling their kids
no time to stop.

On Saturdays we enjoyed a completely different crowd, in from the country for the day. I called them my ‘Gorgeous Mob’, because they were so devoid of ugly urban pretension, they had no qualms whatsoever about enjoying themselves as they bought second-hand clothes.

They just prowled the shop muttering
“Ooooh that’s gorgeous, gorgeous, really gorgeous!”

There was also something wonderful about the people who brought in bags of their unwanted clothes and then proceeded to buy more clothes. Their sheer absence of snobbery was refreshing. ‘Here’s some stuff I don’t want, and now I think I’ll buy some stuff some other people didn’t want.’

Simple and, for some reason, immensely reassuring.

Then there were the snobs. Those who, for some unrealistic reason, thought themselves better than others.
 

I’d spot one a mile off, flitting quickly around the shop floor, flicking her fingers disapprovingly along the rails as she walks by.

She doesn’t really need to be here, you understand. She just wants to see how the other half lives and - ohhh, is that dress really only £2.99? Well, okay, I suppose I’ll take it, but I'll probably never wear it, and please could you put it into this Moons carrier bag?

At this point I explain that our carrier bags are plain, so she has no need to feel stigmatised for visiting us lowly pathetic trogs.

Well, I didn’t exactly put it like that, but I sorely wanted to.

Instead I remind Her Snobness that it’s all for a good cause, and the tiny little piece of over made-up face that sticks out of her fur coat and foul hat smiles down at me and says:

“S’pose ‘tis, yah. That’s nice isn’t it? Now please, wrap it in that plain bag and then put it into my Moons bag.”

Fighting the desire to spit in her face and tell her never to sully my hovel of a store again, I settle instead for the smarmy smile of the pissed-off professional:

“Thanks. See you again. Lovely day, isn’t it?”

©Charlie Adley
26.04.2017

Sunday 30 April 2017

THERE’S SO MUCH MORE TO FOOTBALL THAN THE GAME!


“Well I usually read your colyoom, ‘cept not when you write about football.”
 

It’s never a mystery to me why people find football a complete turn-off, but each time I hear someone dismiss it, a tiny flame goes out inside.
 

"It’s on all the time and it messes with the soaps and oh, do we really have to talk about football?"
 

Okay, I understand, but you’re missing out on so much if you think football is merely sport. Anyway, I promise not to drone on about the game itself.
 

It’s Sunday morning. While you couldn’t give a damn who’s playing who, while my life is delicately poised between two FA Cup Semi-Finals.
 

My excellent friend Whispering Blue is sitting in the kitchen, twitching with anticipation, because his Manchester City Blues are next up in Wembley, playing Arsenal for a chance to meet Chelsea in the FA Cup Final.
 

In London I know that my two nieces and my mother will be privately celebrating Chelsea’s victory. I’ve a brother-in-law and a nephew who will be shouting for Arsenal, while another nephew, two of my best friends and my father-in-law are right now all feeling robbed and gutted, because they watched their Spurs team play better than Chelsea yet still lose. 
 

“Welcome to the modern game!” said Shearer.
 

Oops. Sorry. Veered dangerously close to talking about football there, when I promised you life.
 

The point is that scattered around the world, living separate lives in different time zones, all of us were connected for a couple of hours. Such is technology, we didn’t even have to be watching the game together. 

One friend on a life mission road trip didn’t want to miss out on the fun, so through a WhatsApp group we kept him up to date.
 

In some ways we were telling him about the game. In others we were saying:
 

“Good luck mate! We’re right beside you.”
 

This is not a case of emotionally inept men, only able to exchange emotions through the catharsis of a silly game. 

My friend knew I was with him in spirit because I’d already told him. After a lifetime of friendship, some things can go unsaid, but I find it better to say them anyway. Especially if they’re about love … and football!
 

Another lifelong friend had us in stitches of laughter during the game. He and his girlfriend kept missing goal after goal when they went to the loo.
 

When he went, Chelsea scored. When she went, Spurs scored. The fact that they were in another country was irrelevant. We were all having a giggle together.
 

Lonely and friendless, in the darkness of early dawn, I stood in San Francisco’s Lower Haight, in a queue outside the Mad Dog in the Fog pub. England v Holland, and I got chatting to this tall grey-haired geezer with a voice more London than Thames mud.
 

His words fired wit, his charismatic eyes brimmed with mischief, and later that day he unwittingly showed me up for the disgusting snob I didn’t know I was.
 

He was born in Clapham, and to my dainty bourgeois ears he could not have sounded more working-class. After a tremendous game he invited me back to his gaff for a drink or three.
 

“Where do you live? The Marina, eh? Oooh, very fancy shmancy. So what is it you do? Oh, you’re the Vice President of a Marine Insurance Company, and wow, blimey, look at the size of your house. It’s a bleedin’ mansion!”
 

The English class structure has a lot to answer for, yet football bridges it completely.
 

Before I get a sock in the ear from the wife, I have to point out that it’s not only men who realise that football is about the people in your life.
 

The Snapper would be furious to feel excluded. As she asserted many years ago, converts are far more fanatical than lifelong followers. They add their own zeal and impatience to catch up on the lost years. 

Has to be said that back then she wasn’t exactly allergic to the startlingly handsome young Jose Mourinho, but she will inevitably complain that she joined up before the arrival of the Special One, during the reign of Tinkerman Ranieri.
 

Sitting here now I remember how we laughed together, when we observed that Italian gentleman Claudio wore the expression of a man who’d had his bicycle stolen.
 

Yes, that’s a bone fide soft focus fluffy memory, linked to football, but nothing to do with the game.
 

Today my father lives strong in my memory. At the age of nine I went with him to the 1970 FA Cup Semi Final at White Hart Lane, to jump and shout as shrilly as any over-excited pre-pubescent lad might, as Chelsea thrashed Watford 5-1. 

Four decades on, the memory lives strong of the moment two weeks later, when he announced at the breakfast table that he’d saved and sent off all the little coupons in the Chelsea programs, and in return they’d just sent us two FA Cup Final tickets.
 

Was he really taking me to Wembley?
 

My excitement wasn’t about the football, because I felt precisely the same when I watched the Apollo 11 moonlanding with him.
 

Football is so much more than kicking a ball. It’s about bonding with your dad and having a laugh with your wife. It’s about being able to actively support a friend in need far away, or making new friends that last a lifetime.
 

Yes, modern football is a corrupt game played by overpaid prima donnas, but before you wholly condemn it, take a moment to appreciate how the Beautiful Game is also a unique doorway into a random, rootless, classless international family.


23.04.2017.
©Charlie Adley

Saturday 22 April 2017

IF YOU’RE FEELING CONFUSED, READ DESPOTS FOR DUMMIES!

 
We all might be dead by the time you read this.

“Aha!” you say, “You’re wrong there, because if I’m dead I can’t be reading anything at all!”
 

That just shows you’re confused. Anything is possible in our new world, where facts are the things on Facebook you agree with and truth is whatever makes you feel good about yourself.
 

Don’t worry if you’re feeling confused about the international situation. We’re all mixed up and muddled over what the hell is happening. 

Sitting down for my pub breakfast last Saturday, I glanced at the paper to discover that China had all of a sudden become the voice of reason.
 

“Beijing warns there can be no winners in conflict.” screamed the headline in The Guardian. Would this be the same China that’s closing in on Taiwan?
 

Don’t feed your confusion by trying to make sense of what’s going on. Don’t start to doubt what you know. Don’t consider anyone a smidgeon more worthy of respect because they have used weapons of mass destruction.
 

Don’t confuse respect with fear.
 

Just accept that you should be confused right now. If you weren’t, that’d be something to worry about. Be confused but fear nothing.
 

It’s as easy to laugh at the Leader as it is to underestimate him, so neither visualise him as a Simpson’s character (oops, too late!) nor as Joseph Stalin. Is this At Home With The Kardashians And Their Nuclear Missiles or a dangerous man consolidating his position?
 

Breathe. 

Trust your human instincts. The Leader is what he is, and you and I know pretty well at what level his good ship intelligence floats around in his head puddle.
 

Yer man is reading Despots for Dummies, the idiot’s guide to attaining totalitarianism, and so far everything’s gone with much tremendousness.
 

After the victory, the Leader needs to create widespread confusion. Show time and again that truth is irrelevant, that scandal is puny and that it’s perfectly acceptable for opinions to change 180 degrees in a heartbeat.
 

Say one thing and do another. Ban objective media from the White House. Declare your number one intention is to replace Obamacare and then force that replacement to fail, leaving Speaker Ryan to carry the can.
 

Talk long and loud of America First. Bray about how you’re not going to go to war, because from now on it’s all about making America great again at home, when all of a sudden you realise that those coal mining jobs you pledged to West Virginians just aren’t viable for business any more, while mega-bombs are worth billions.
 

When your links to Russia cause problems, send 59 Tomahawk Cruise missiles into the night skies over Syria, saying to your accusers
 

“Look over here. I am very visibly pissing off Putin right now, so go to hell with your Special Prosecutors and impeachment for Treason!”
 

Having repeatedly declared you wouldn’t go to war, you’re now fighting against two of the three sides in Syria’s messiest of civil wars. You’ve verbally attacked China and then tried to make friends with them. You’ve used Afghanistan as a mega-bomb advertisement location and threatened that least predictable of nuclear powers: North Korea.
 

America First?
 

To be fair, the tone was set early and clearly at the inauguration, insisting we should not believe what we saw with our own eyes. But wasn’t the Leader was merely a puppet, manipulated by Bannon?
 

Apparently not. Enter more confusion.
 

The Leader didn’t like the way his Chief Strategist was upsetting his family, so even though Bannon won the election with his data mining and rustbelt rhetoric, the Leader has sidelined his alt-Right ideologist, firing him from the National Security Council, while simultaneously installing his family into the heart of his home and regime, just as any self-respecting dictator might do.
 

With his daughter ensconced in her own office in the West Wing, the Leader has burdened her husband with a portfolio so absurd in its magnitude, he’s doomed to fail.
 

Previously a New York estate agent, Jared Kushner is now responsible for solving America’s opioid epidemic; diplomacy with Mexico; diplomacy with China; reforming care for veterans; reforming the criminal justice system; redesigning the entire government structure (a practice traditionally much-loved by despots - keep an eye on this one) and, lest we forget, also bringing peace to the Middle East.
 

“Err, thanks Dad. I can call you Dad, can’t I?”
 

“Sure son. You go right ahead and call me Mr. President Dad. That I like. Bigly.”
 

In Chapter Two of Despots for Dummies, a major terrorist incident on domestic soil occurs, at which point all those confused people turn to their Leader, because they no longer know up from down nor left from right.
 

Having spent so long scrabbling around, frantically trying to prove his wrongs and their rights, they now can no longer distinguish one from t’other.
 

The Leader looks down upon them and says 

“Told you so!”

and presents them with whatever form of martial law, army or police state that best suits his needs.
 

This colyoom still feels that the American people are far too strong in number and spirt to let their freedoms be taken from them, but it’s happened to some damn wonderful people in the past.
 

Now it’s up to us to make sure we stay in Chapter One.
 

But don’t listen to me. I’m confused.
 

So maybe you should.

©Charlie Adley
18.04.2017.