Friday 26 December 2014


You can’t open a magazine or switch on a tele right now without being forcibly presented with an awards show. But you don’t care. 

You’re not bothered about Sports Personalities of the Year or the RTE Squirming Newscaster of 2014 (one contender, one winner: our Sharon, squirming-in-her-seat queen of all she surveys), because you know what matters.

There’s only one annual award ceremony you need concern yourselves with. Oh lucky you - it’s the one you’re attending right now.

So let’s get on with the show, and the winner of year’s first coveted DV goes to Garth Brooks, who wins the Bertie Ahern DV for A Name We Need Never Hear Again.

Garth Brooks. Garth Brooks. Garth Brooks. For days, weeks, months, aeons it felt as if every news bulletin, every conversation, every tweet was about Garth Brooks.

I could see why so many in Ireland became so het up about it, but sadly they couldn't see how pathetically tiny the debacle was in the order of things. Syria was burning. Patients lay on trolleys in Irish hospitals. Yet for an age the only story in town was Garth Brooks. It was nothing but a classic Old School screw-up of planning and paper, pockets and puppets.

Then I heard a politician asking on the news:
“What will the world think?”

I squirmed in my seat with an arse-ripple that put Sharon ni to shame. Sometimes I feel slightly and uncomfortably embarrassed for Ireland, just as you do when someone you love doesn't know they have a piece of spinach on their teeth

What will the world think?
Frankly, dear Ireland, the world doesn't give a damn.

Moving swiftly on into the realm of dark despicable beasts, himself the Castlebar Cowboy Enda Kenny is this year’s clear winner of the Paddy Through The Looking Glass DV for Creative Political Thinking.

At one point during the McNulty appointment farce, the country was being led by a Fine Gael Taoiseach whose final vestiges of credibility lay in the hope that the vote going through the Dáil would be won by Fianna Fáil.

Fair play to you, Enda. That takes some doing.

It also takes creative thinking to name the same person winner and runner-up in the same DV category, but hey, there’s a reason why it’s called 'Through The Looking Glass.'

Winner of simultaneous Gold and Silver DVs for Creative Political Thinking, an Taoiseach Blond Bombshell Enda Kenny’s promotion of a non-Irish-speaking TD to the role of Minister for the Gaeltacht was gold dust. Lucky Joe McHugh asked the people of Ireland to go with him “...on a journey...” as he attempted to learn the Irish language.

Good luck with your cupla, Minister. You’ll need it.

The Mary Robinson DV for Most Consistently Pleasing Thing goes to stepping outside of my house. Front door or back, I breathe deep of the clean sweet air and relax, as if my strings have been cut. Surrounded by constant corruption and gombeen antics, I find it vital to remind myself why the west of Ireland is so wonderful. 

It only takes me a few minutes to feel infinitely better, calmer, happier. I watch the clouds, the way the wind is blowing. I listen to our neighbourly pheasant having a croak, watch a far-off fox, hear the waves on the lake in the distance and give thanks to the universe for allowing me to live in such a splendid place.

There’s only one Mary Robinson, but there are runners-up for her DV. Coming in second for Most Consistently Pleasing Thing, the stuff of life in the shape bread, specifically Griffins Bakery’s brown pan.

Loaves come and go, and there’s more types of bread available in Galway now than ever before, but you can keep your seaweed and pummelled fig loaf, your knickerbocker seed and sparrow spit dough. Wondrous in its simplicity, Griffins brown bread does the business every time.

Mind you, I have to deduct points from Griffins Bakery, as they have been co-guilty of winning this year’s DV for Bad Language, by adopting the word ‘Artisan.’

The catering industry is guilty of being fickle with words. We had years of ‘Gourmet’, then everything was ‘Craft’ this and ‘Craft’ that. Now you can’t buy a parsnip that hasn’t been grown, picked and dribbled upon by an ‘Artisan.’

Indeed, 2014 was a bad year for words. Thanks to modern life’s craving for hyperbole, the majesty of the word ‘Icon’ is long gone, while ‘Genius’ has now become an adjective, as in 'a genius film.' 

Meanwhile, ‘Legend’ loses its power and substance. Recently I heard a film reviewer on NewsTalk describe Bill Murray as a legend. He is indeed a great comic actor, but was it necessary to use the glorious word seven times in one brief radio item?

The Michael Noonan Will Meet You With A Red Carpet And A Bunch Of Tap Dancing Leprechauns DV for Dire Customer Service goes to Bank of Ireland's local branch. The BOI employee explained that they could only deal with cash in the bank on Tuesdays between 12-2 and on Fridays. Apparently the policy was designed to “make it easier for customers.”

Coming after that minor business of we the people saving their banking backsides, words like ‘Disingenuous’  and ‘Chutzpah’ would be too kind.

It was like being told I’d see better if he cut off my head.

The Charlie McCreevy Did You Say That Or Was I Hypnotised By Your Teeth? DV for Ineffectual Journalism goes to an RTE radio anchor reporting on Irish Water, who assured us on November 3rd that the government would deliver “clarity next week.”

Finally, tragically, my much-missed friends Marky Logan and Tim Lacey win the DV for Died Way Too Early.

Life’s short, people. There’s a new year a-comin’, so let’s go out and live it!

Have a Happy 2015 and thanks for your continued colyoomistic support!


©Charlie Adley

Monday 22 December 2014


At Christmas we’re meant to think of others, but I’m going to spoil all that by writing about myself.

During the war in Gaza earlier this year I felt something that I never wish to feel again. If you don’t sympathise with me I will understand. Wittering about my own woes appears magnificently egocentric and selfish, when compared to those endured by the suffering masses involved in that terrifying conflict.

I’m always fearful of writing about Israel, as in the past I’ve managed to simultaneously upset my family and my Irish friends. Both essential pillars that support my life, they exist on differing extremities.

Hence this piece does not invite Middle Eastern debate. The last thing I need is to become embroiled as arbiter between those two much-loved factions.

This is about something I felt, which nobody else can deny.

Along with everyone else on the planet, I have the right to feel safe, yet this year I have on rare but significant occasions felt less than that.

I have not suffered anti-Semitism any more than usual.
I have not been threatened by physical violence.
Those that I love have not been put at risk.

In the past, I’ve had to deal with all of the above, simply for being Jewish, yet each I managed and moved on, chin raised defiantly to my future.

However, as that terrible war raged in Gaza, I walked the streets of Galway under Palestinian flags, wondering for the first time if, as a Jew, I might ever become excluded from that uniquely Irish compassion and humanity which first caused me to fall in love with this country.

Until now I’d always imagined that Ireland’s passionate support for the Palestinian cause was the natural product of this nation’s victim mentality: a people who had won their hard-fought independence were now identifying with another struggling against an oppressor.

In Irish newspapers, TV and social media I encountered justified anger and outrage over the killing. Yet with a third of Lebanon’s population comprised of Syrian refugees; with DRC witnessing slaughter and massacre on a regular basis; with so much vile warfare around the world, why were the Irish focused solely on this particular conflict?

So powerful was your anti-Israeli venom and vitriol, I wondered if maybe there was something deeper afoot. Could it be that, despite modern secular Irish liberality, the tiniest smidgeon of religious indoctrination about ‘Christ Killers’ was contributing subliminally to such loathing?

While the violence wrought by the IDF was appalling to contemplate, I wondered how long it might be before this Irish anger turned from Israel towards Jew.

Criticism of Israeli government policy is not anti-Semitic, but I felt increasingly scared as I realised that some Irish people had not far to go before they were eaten with hatred.

Jewish people would be foolish not to learn from our history. We’ve have been burned out of Irish cities in the past, just as we have been burned from our homes the world over.

Throughout my London childhood my father told me:

“We are guests in this country. One day we might have to move somewhere else.”

His own father had left northern Europe a few years before Hitler tried to eradicate Jewry from the planet. I was born only 15 years after the end of the Second World War, so the horror of the Final Solution was fresh in the psyches of the world’s Jewish population.

As the war in Gaza intensified, some of my Irish friends and some of my family took up extreme positions, seeing little but absolutes. 

Everyone was suddenly an expert on the Middle East. Nobody could watch the destruction of Gaza without feeling intense pain, but when I dared to state out loud the evident truth that the entire situation is complicated, some Irish ears heard different words.

What they heard was a Jew saying that massacre was a justifiable option.

How could those so close to me think I’d changed overnight?

On the day that my friend's nephew was killed by Hamas fighters coming out of a tunnel, I thought I might lose my mind. Galwegians were yelling at me, as if I were a murderer.

They refused to talk about the conflict. They did not want to listen to me. They no longer asked for my opinion. They didn’t care how I felt or what I thought. They simply assumed my beliefs because I’m a Jew.

I’m a seeker of peace who refuses to see absolutes where none exist. My fathers words were ringing in my ears.

The more aggressive the Israeli government becomes, the less I like it, yet the more I require Israel to exist. The more antagonistic the Irish become towards Israel, the less safe I feel here as a Jew. Israel is the only country where Jews need never fear discrimination, but I want to live in the West of Ireland, not Israel.

More importantly, I’d never allow my safety to come at the expense of another person’s. Still, as a Jew, life quickly feels unsafe when friends refuse to talk to you.

People separate racism and anti-Semitism, but they are one and the same. As an atheist I would not have survived the Nazi gas chambers, and as a human being I am proud of my Jewish identify, my cultural traditions and a unique sense of belonging.

So however bizarre it might sound, this Christmas this atheist is praying for peace in the Holy Land. 

We need a miracle to stop a 3rd Intifada breaking out in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. 

Atheists are notoriously poor at performing miracles, so I pray to your God; to yours and yours; to the universe; to nature; to anything out there that might bring peace.

I pray we stop seeking absolutes and try to listen. I pray for peace in the Holy Land.

Enjoy a Happy Christmas, a splendid Hanukkah and I wish you all shalom, peace.

©Charlie Adley

Tuesday 16 December 2014


When I write about consumer issues it’s not because I think my problems are unique, but rather because I know that so many of you suffer cruel inequities and hideous iniquities as the customers of large corporations.

My credit card’s expiry date came and a new card was issued. Same number, same name, just a new expiry date and authorisation code. So off to the web went this obedient little punter, updating my card details on various websites, all very easy-peesy lemon squeezy. On one site I was a little disturbed to find that the expiry date had already been altered. Cookies? Bots? Who knows what cyber-creatures managed that feat?

Then my monthly bill arrived from eMobile, with twice the normal charge, so I called them up to find out why, only to be told that the direct debit on my credit card had been declined. They suggested I should call my credit card company.

Straightaway I did just that, as I needed to know if my card had been compromised. I wanted neither a black mark on my credit rating, nor to pay for a brand new three piece suite for a bunch of criminal skangers.

After a rake of menus I spoke to somebody who told me that no attempt had been made to take money from me for that bill on those dates. There had been no decline as there had been no request. 
They said I needed to speak to eMobile about it. 

So off I went back to eMobile, remembering tales of woe told long ago by my good friend The Body, who had many travails with this crew in the past. More menus came and went, more shifting me around departments, until I had a Homer Simpson moment. D’oh! It’s the card’s expiry date! Could that be the cause of the problem?

“Oh yes!” said eMobile, “That’ll be it.” “Great! So can I update my credit card with you now?”

“No, we’ll have to send you out a Credit Card Direct Debit Mandate form in the post.”

“You’re kidding me. But I already have a Direct Debit with Eircom and when I signed up for Emobile you took loads of security checks, and anyway, here I am trying to pay you, not defraud anyone, but you’re insisting it has to be done by mail? Can’t I just go on your website and do it, as I did with everyone else?”

“Well, you could because our website does have that functionality. But at the moment that functionality isn’t working.”

“Sorry, did you just say that the functionality isn’t working?”

“Yes, that’s what I said.”

“Do you realise how crazy that sounds?”

“Yes, I do. You're not the first person to query this procedure.”

So they said they’d transfer me to the department who would send me the form but instead they cut me off, so I had to call back and plough through god knows how many menus to get to the right department, who assured me they’d send a Credit Card Direct Debit Mandate form.

Several days later a Bank Account Direct Debit form arrived in the mail from eMobile, which I refused to fill in with my credit card details, as I didn’t want to give them the opportunity to say I’d filled in the wrong form.

 Unlike every other company I deal with, eMobile were the only ones insisting on this arcane procedure, while simultaneously making it impossible to carry out their instructions. Yet again I called them, paid my bill over the phone (oh yeh, they have the functionality to take money from my credit card over the phone, but not the functionality to update that card!), and then I once again called their Customer Care to explain how frustrated I felt and could they please make sure to send me the right form this time?

“Yes, I’ll just transfer me to the right department!” they said and promptly cut me off again, leaving me to do all of the above all over again, only to receive a few days later yet another bloody Bank Account Direct Debit form.

At this stage I lost it. I’ve got better things to do with my life than be made miserable by eMobile’s incompetence, so I called to make an official complaint.

That was when the woman at eMobile Customer Care said there was no telephone number for complaining. I could register a complaint online or send a letter.

For once your colyoomist was temporarily lost for words.

“So you’re a telephone company with no telephone number for customer complaints. Can you see how that looks to me, as a customer?”

“Well you can complain online.”

“Yes I can, but if I were a 75 year-old living alone with no internet I’d have to write a letter, to which I am sure there’d be no reply. Is it even legal to deny your customers the right to speak to a representative of your company?”

By now I knew I was going to write about this debacle, to speak up for myself and all you other customers who are treated like pooh by corporations every day.

As I sit here I’m waiting to hear back from the Head of Communications at Eircom, who seemed unaware that eMobile customers did not have access to a complaint telephone number.

Well, in a world where telephone companies don’t have telephone numbers, I suppose it’s naive of me to assume that communications companies communicate with themselves.

We live on a planet that is ruled by Corporate Culture. As customers, we are nothing but an income stream.

They don't want to hear from us. They don't want to have to deal with us.

Please, don’t put up with that attitude. Speak out, make a noise, be a pain in their corporate behinds.

Instead of us fitting in with all their instructions, it’s time they started to serve us.


©Charlie Adley

Monday 8 December 2014


I’m going out tonight. It’s time for my staff Christmas party, and seeing as I’m a one man band, that’ll be me, happy out and alone, on another of my organic Galway rambles.

When I say ‘organic’ I don’t mean I’m going on a righteous expedition to forage for wild sorrel.

No, I’m not going out to save the world. Tonight will be a celebration of a few things going well in my life, propelled by the fact that nearly half a year has gone by since I last took myself out.

Organic in this instance is nought more than a description of how the night will proceed. I’ve lived in the west of Ireland long enough to know that the best way to have a good itme is to let it happen to you. Galwegians don’t like making plans and are blessed by living in the perfect-sized city for bumping into people. So I’ll start off down at PJ McDonagh’s for fish and chips, then wander into the Quays front bar around 7 and from there, well, who knows?

Much as I love Neactain’s during the day, I find it a little too crammed in the evening. My tired old pins prefer to sit down in pubs, but I cannot resist a few runs through the wondrous old pub, in the Quay Street door, linger by the fire in the middle bar, chat to a few in the main bar and then slip out onto Cross Street to -
To where?

We shall see. My ramble will grow in its own organic way. There have been hundreds of rambles over the years, and as time passes the pubs that I aim for have changed.

Well, that’s not entirely true. 20 years ago I couldn't have given a damn about standing in pubs, so long evenings were spent hovering in the woody cosiness, the modern and ancient history of Neactains. It’s a special pub that stands the test of time and whether I’m inside or sitting outside watching Galway TV walking by, I’ll always love it.

However, as much as it’s the central social hub for so many people, it has never become my ‘local’. Although your ‘local’ sounds like it should be the nearest pub to your home, it’s really more about how a pub feels; whether it can be your home from home.

When I first landed in Galway I lived in Salthill, and O’Reilly’s Stroll Inn was right at the top of our road. Long afternoons were spend idly drinking and playing pool as we youthfully frittered away the days, while in the evening my housemate and I would make the slightly longer walk down to the Cottage Bar, ages before it was yuppified.

It was my first Galway local. There’d be a raging fire to warm my bones and steam the rain out of my clothes. Maybe Ruth and Bernie would play a few tunes, or we’d have a game of Gin Rummy with our pints. It was all fairly calm and civilised, and as I recall, the place never seemed to close. I left fairly late but was never anywhere near the last to go.

Then I was happily kidnapped by a bunch of local lads who introduced me to my second Galway local, an Tobar, which back then was crammed with characters, eccentrics and lost souls looking for kindred spirits.

I fitted right in, humbled by the way I’d been accepted by this inner sanctum of locals.Sitting at the bar long after 11 one night, The Body turned to me and asked“Are you going out tonight, Charlie?”

At first I had to blink and pinch myself, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. There I was, my arse long-ensconced on a barstool, pleasantly inebriated and certainly not in my living room, nor my bed.

“Er, I am out. This is out. “
“No!” retorted my friend. “I mean are you going OUT?", shouting the word as if I’d been unable to hear him the first time.

Ah. So the five hours we’d spent in the pub didn’t count. He meant am I going to one of the nightclubs in Salthill. You knew that all the time, because you're Irish, but to me it seemed  a bizarre question.

Later we’d wobble out of Tobar and ramble to Salthill. There’d be a stop in Taylor’s and another in the Blue Note, (once the Hibernian was gone) and then on to shake our 30something butts in vulgar fashion at Vaggies.

Years later, when I returned to Galway after life in Connemara and San Francisco, I lived in the Claddagh and Taylor's Bar became my third Galway local. 

Oh how I loved that place, sometimes because of and sometimes despite of the equally irascible and enjoyable antics of Seamus Mulligan. Front bar during the daytime, doing the Simplex while chatting to the lovely Una; middle bar in the evening with the hardcore drinkers and ne’er-do-wells, and occasional forays into the back bar where Dalooney and others skilfully rolled out jigs and reels for tourists and the odd loose-legged Guru.

The only rambling I did from Taylor's was to Padraig's down in the docks, for late night pints and scary games of pool with lads off boats from places where men had Popeye biceps.

After Taylor’s was sold and turned into a lap-dancing club I was bereft of a local, and to be honest, although I’m now recognised and feel welcome in many pubs, I have never found another. So where once my rambles were grounded, anchored from a central pub, they have been for years loose and free form affairs, during which I have neither any idea where I’m going nor who I’ll see.

That’s the way Galway likes it. Keep it simple, react as you go and let the city take you out for the night.

This evening might well end with a few luscious pints of Guinness, downstairs at the Crane with Dalooney, and then again it might not.

By god, I’m looking forward to it.

©Charlie Adley

Monday 1 December 2014


“She didn’t put in one single ounce of effort. Never bothered herself about anything. Fair play to her now. She completely deserves her success!”

That’s not the way it goes, but maybe it should be. We prefer to hear tales of those who have toiled and sweated, overcoming obstacles and all manner of hardship to achieve their goals. We see them as worthy winners. Somehow they have earned their right to kiss the sleeping princess.

For a while now I’ve been wondering if we haven’t got it all wrong. If life, as people say, is a jungle, then the easiest way to get out is to follow a path. Why would you hack and scramble your way through the thorns and unknown predators lurking in the dense growth, when you can follow the path of least resistance, out onto the relative safety of the savannah?

All over the world we’ve created monolithic institutions that require us to hack through the jungle, to suffer for joy, but as time goes by, I’m increasingly becoming a fan of the easy way.

My good friend’s little girl was born into an English family, living in Barcelona. Every day of her life she heard English, Spanish and Catalan spoken all around her, and we noticed that as she learned to talk, she invariably chose whichever word required the least effort, regardless of the language. Instead of saying ‘water', she’d choose ‘agua’ because it was easier.

This was not an intellectual decision. She was way too young to consider the correct language for all social situations. No, it was simple. When she wanted water, her brain just directed her speech towards the easiest way.

The easiest way must be our natural state. To thrive and reproduce as a species, any animal aspires to the easy way. Yet humans have contrived to spoil it for themselves by injecting kudos into torment.

The young woman that was that little girl is now perfectly trilingual, thankfully intellectually able to choose the right language for the right person, yet other childhood speech patterns can last a lifetime.

Last week I was listening to the England football manager, Roy Hodgson, droning on in his particularly sanguine style and then I heard him say “Wayne Wooney.”

Wayne Wooney? I had heard Wayne Wooney before, but where?

Aha, yes, it was on the Jonathan Ross show. He’d made some joke about how little he knew about football and blah blah blah Wayne Wooney.

My mind had wandered and missed the chat show host’s slick blather, but my attention switched back to the screen when I heard ‘Wayne Wooney’, because for a second I thought that the England and Manchester United captain, a.k.a.‘Shrek’, might be on the show. He wasn’t, but what was all this Wayne Wooney stuff, with Ross back then and Roy Hodgson?

Then I saw the link.

We all know that Roy Hodgson can’t say his Rs. He’s Woy Hodgson and his captain is Wayne Wooney. Jonathan Ross is also notorious for his lack of prowess with Rs, being affectionately referred to by the British public as ‘Wossy.”

Let’s also throw into the mix one Roy Jenkins, the erstwhile British politician who made massive changes to English punitive systems as Home Secretary, while upsetting a lot of Nationalists and Republicans in Northern Ireland.

Later he went on to form the SDP, but all we need to know right now was that he was another Roy lacking the ability to say his own name without substituting an ‘R’ for a ‘W.’
Roy Jenkins was and always will be remembered as Woy Jenkins.

So what’s the deal with all these Roys and Rosses who can’t say the 18th letter? Well, might I suggest that you think of them all as little boys.

“What’s your name, boy?” booms asks an adult.
“Woy, miss.”

Much cooing and many ‘Oh isn’t that sweet?’ noises from all gathered grown-ups.

“And you little fella?”
“Jonathan Woss miss.”

Oh how adorable. Look at his smile. Much laughter.
Currents jump synapses, burning fresh routes through the tiny child’s mind.

Throw in a W and they love you.

A Home Secretary, a national football coach and the highest paid TV personality: all found an easy way to ingratiate themselves in formative states as children. No effort; just a lucky break. Success disguised as a speech impediment.

So you see, survival doesn’t have to be hard. We strive to make it so, but even the corporate world has learned that making life easier for their employees creates a fatter profit.

Several recent studies have shown that the American Model, where workers were given the minimum vacation and sick time, alongside the longest possible working day, is counter-productive.

The best way to get the most out of their staff is to impose a system of longer holidays, more time at home, naps in the afternoon, daytime workouts and longer sleeping hours.

However counter-intuitive this all might sound, here we have yet more proof that the easy way is the best way.

If employers invest in the mental and physical wellbeing of their workers, they will benefit in productivity, loyalty and performance.

I reckon the workers would feel a lot more motivated too. If you’re suddenly forced to go on lengthy holidays with your family, you might be happy to get back to work!

Studies and reports are never to be trusted implicitly, but the biology behind their findings is sound. Apparently our minds have the ability to work at their optimum in cycles of 90 minutes. Longer than that and we are more likely to fail.

The most successful people tend to be those who work early in the day, taking breaks every hour and a half to have a snack, a nap or do a little exercise.

So don’t overdo it. Take it easy.

If the rewards of triumph over adversity are tempting, think how much you’ll enjoy victory the easy way.

©Charlie Adley