Tuesday 26 January 2016

Learn the craft of writing on a weekend break in a fishing village!

Would you like to learn the craft of writing? Fancy a Spring weekend break in an unspoilt fishing village? Combine the two this March, by enrolling in Charlie Adley’s Craft of Writing Weekend.

Spare time is such a valuable commodity, it’s sometimes difficult to know how to make the most of it. Do you simply need to chill out, or do you want to learn a skill that might change your life?

This March you can spend a weekend away in the beautiful Co. Mayo fishing village of Killala and leave with your creative buds tingling and stimulated.

During a fun and fascinating weekend Charlie Adley will show you how to overcome fear and write a first draft. In his friendly and supportive lessons you’ll learn how to develop characters, structure, plot and voice, while discovering how to use shape, pace, tense and dialogue to enhance the power of your words.

...explore the wonders of north Mayo...

Charlie’s enjoyable course will boost your confidence, enabling you to write as you’ve always wished. With over a million published words, the columnist and prize-winning playwright will also give advice about how to sell your writing.

“My course is designed for anyone who would like to improve their writing skills, from complete novices to published novelists.” explains Charlie. “Just as carpenters must learn how to use their tools, all writers benefit from learning the craft of writing. Anyone can learn this craft. There is no mystery to it.”

The Old Deanery Holiday Cottages

Arriving on Friday March 11th, you’ll be welcomed by a roaring turf fire in your lovely holiday cottage, on the site of the Old Deanery, overlooking the harbour. Couples and friends attending together may have their own cottage, while others share with attendees. Each cottage has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, so privacy is never an issue.

The village of Killala offers lively pubs, welcoming smiles and great craic, while an expert local guide offers foraging tours and walks in stunning local countryside, virgin white sand beaches, sea stacks, stone circles, ogham stones and the famous Ceide Fields.

Friendly pubs in lovely Killala

Charlie Adley’s Craft of Writing Weekend starts at 6pm on Friday, March 11th, with a glass of bubbles and a short introduction, after which everyone can relax together in one of the local pubs. Lessons start at 10am and finish at 4pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

Charlie only allows six attendees on his weekend courses, so to guarantee your place please book right away. If there’s someone special in your life who would enjoy this weekend, we can send them a personalised gift voucher - this course runs the weekend after Mother’s Day!

€295 per person, includes accommodation for 2 (or 3) nights with

breakfast packs and light lunches on both Saturday and Sunday, as well as attendance of Charlie Adley’s Craft of Writing Weekend.

Please confirm your place now by calling  Liz Keane at: 

086 345 1960
096 32 221

email:   killalacottages@gmail.com

Web:    www.olddeanerycottages.com

    Old Deanery Cottages
    Joe Keane Creative Centre

    Charlie Adley

John McArdle: Thanks for a fabulous course. It was practical, factual, educational and jovial - a masterclass in how to teach with fun - and you managed to get stories from us every lesson!

Willie Quain: I booked this course with no real expectations. Little did I know that it was going to be one of the most enjoyable courses I have ever attended and that I was going to learn so much. The course layout, notes and your personal involvement made it a very easy and enjoyable way to learn. To anyone thinking of attending your Craft of Writing Course, all I can say is do it!

Margaret Curran: The time flew. It was a great learning experience, good fun, great insights. The students were all involved, encouraged and heard, which is so important.

Michael Kavanagh: Charlie has an encouraging and affirming personality, always highlighting the positive aspects of every effort, yet showing how it might be improved.

Paul and Donna McGee: Your teaching style is very communicative and open, which allows your participants the opportunity to relax and enter the process, with an open mind and an enthusiastic attitude. This is a true gift and allows real growth to be achieved over such a short space of time.

Sindy Kelly: I am learning so much. Thank you. You have an amazing passion for words - it oozes out of you - and a great energy that is wonderful to be around.

Monday 25 January 2016


It’s difficult to think of two more different people than Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn, yet their success and probable downfall is the result of the same phenomenon: speaking for the disillusioned masses, who feel politicians in no way represent their views.

Both men embody the essence of their nation’s social culture. After making his outrageous fortune as an industrialist, Trump added fame to his quiver by fronting the US TV version of The Apprentice

He’s the archetype of the American Dream, proudly declaring he needs nuttin’ from nobody else. 

It’s easy for Europeans to see America’s social culture as selfish and uncaring, but thanks to one of my best friends out there, I grew to better understand the American way. 

With the blond hair, cheekbones and body of a Norse god, Erik explained what he wanted:

"I'm going to build my own house and work my butt off to cover my nut. If I achieve that dream without help, why should I have to pay for an illegal Mexican immigrant to go see the doctor?"

Although we see the term ‘Frontier Spirit’ as old-fashioned and anachronistic, it exists still at the core of every American. Whether Democrat, Republican, rich or poor, nobody will tolerate criticism of the American Way. 

Trump personifies these ideals, while Jeremy Corbyn’s social policies incorporate the core values of our culture. If the USA has an individualist society where ‘I’ is king, Europeans prefer the word ‘We.’

We believe that happiness comes through living in a compassionate society; feeling if not proud then at least comfortable with the notion of being a human being.

Jeremy Corbyn believes that you cannot claim to have a civilised society until you prioritise health, housing and education for all.

The confounding world of politics has forced out of me many differing emotions over the years, but rarely has it made me feel sad. Yet ever since his Labour leadership victory, Corbyn has been the victim of such constant ridicule and assault, from so many different directions, I have had to dip my chin and sigh.

Not prone to believing in conspiracy theories, I’m scrupulous when I sniff one of my own, but a couple of days ago I heard a Guardian columnist on Newstalk comparing Jeremy Corbyn to Chauncey Gardiner, the naive simpleton superbly portrayed by Peter Sellers in the film ‘Being There.’

For me this was something of a last straw. Such a comparison is ignorant and inexcusable.

Granted, the man is not a charismatic leader. He has neither the shiny polish of Blair, nor the domineering authority of Thatcher, so when the other leadership Blair-lite candidates were voted into the oblivion of mediocrity whence they came, it was clearly the will of the people. They wanted a man of substance.

Corbyn might not be a skilled performer, but to suggest he is a simpleton is ridiculous in the extreme. Doubtless he never expected to be a leader, but as one he has stuck to his principles and his desire to offer a new kind of politics.

The Labour Party is and always has been formed of people who would rather pay for schoolbooks than missiles. They’d rather tax the rich than have to choose between dialysis machines and heart transplants.

After years of austerity people all over the EU are voting for parties that promise to prioritise people over profit. After the rise of Syriza, Podemos, the SNP and Sinn Fein, it came as no surprise to me that Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership contest with a massive mandate. 

People are crying out for compassion, for something completely different to what has gone before, but evidently Corbyn’s victory upset many in high places.

Given his success representing his own constituency for over 30 years and his massive recent mandate, it’s clear that Corbyn is eminently electable, so why have Labour MPs thrown themselves into an agonised cauldron of confusion, declaring Corbyn an electoral liability?

True to form, Britain’s red top tabloids have attacked Corbyn with trashy irksome scandalmongering, while supposedly respectable institutions such as the BBC have poured scorn on his efforts.

Ever since Laura Kuenssberg replaced Nick Robinson as the BBC’s political editor,
she has been on a mission to patronise, ridicule and diminish Corbyn's efforts to break the bad mad mould of old.

On the BBC Six O’Clock news, Kuenssberg summed up what was admittedly a protracted shadow cabinet reshuffle as

“… a damaging pantomime.” 

When journalists use that language they are being instructive, not informative. She continued by sharing further personal insight:

“It's hard to see how they're going to be able to present anything convincing to the general public.”

When Corbyn invited his party to debate differing views on his policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament, he was presented as a madman surrounded by rabid dissenters.

On the very same day, when Prime Minister Cameron announced that his own cabinet would be allowed to offer diverse opinions on his EU Referendum, there came no jokes about inadequate powers of persuasion. Instead Cameron’s decision was universally portrayed as sign of strength.

That's how it works when the media is in your side.

Given he’s endured so much ridicule from several divisions of the British establishment, it makes me wonder: do they really fear Corbyn? Do they realise he might win a General Election and fundamentally change their comfy status quo?

I don’t think Corbyn has all the answers but what he does have is the support of millions of people who feel so ignored they wouldn’t bother voting for more conventional candidates.
Sadly I suspect he will not survive for long.

As for Trump, clearly the American people’s choice, Republican Party representatives know he’s not a viable world leader, so extra funds will be found for the campaigns of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Mind you, history shows the dangers of underestimating the popular vote. Should we ever face the reality of President Trump, I’d feel a whole lot safer if his crazed aggression was tempered by the considered pacifism of Prime Minister Corbyn.

©Charlie Adley

Saturday 16 January 2016

Bowie changed himself, the art world and my life.

When I heard that David Bowie was dead, the air involuntarily rushed from my lungs. I was so shocked I temporarily lost the use of my legs.

Ever-present throughout my youth, David Bowie not only completely changed the way I looked at music, but life itself.

My brother is four years older than me so it was thanks to him that I was aware of Major Tom’s first incarnation in 1969’s Space Oddity. We wondered if and why the astronaut had killed himself and lingered on that line

‘Tell my wife I love her very much
She knoooows….’


As I write this I’m more than ever aware of the power of the man’s music. It’s impossible to mention any of his songs without hearing the tune in my head, his imperious impeccable voice soaring, stretching, subtly English.

The next year we enjoyed The Man Who Sold The World, and throughout 1971, we sang hit after hit from Hunky Dory.

“Oh you pretty things, don’t you know you’re driving your mummas and puppas insane…” rang out in the Adley household, great teenage anthems of rebellion, but our efforts to shock our parents failed, as my mum ended up singing along with Life on Mars: "Saaaai-lors fighting in the dancehall, oh man, look at those cavemen go-o-oh….”

My fondest memories of Bowie’s 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars were formed later in my teenage years, so I’ll come back to that, because in 1973 I fell hopelessly in love with what I consider Bowie’s masterpiece: Aladdin Sane.

The critics hated it but I remember right now the afternoon I put that album on my turntable, eased the needle onto the groove and heard for the first time music that energised me, inspired me and left me simply elated.

Even better, that young teenager now loved music that his parents would hate, that nobody else in the house understood, that had me bouncing off the bed, dancing and strumming, twirling and yelling. 

Mick Ronson’s guitar and piano riffs grabbed hold of the boiling bag of hormones that I was and gave me direction, thrills and a reason to wake up before two in the afternoon.

If all that sounds rather melodramatic, remember being thirteen. If you’ve teenage children, you’ll understand.

The songs on Aladdin Sane were amazing. Panic in Detroit, The Jean Genie, Time, and that rarest of beasts, a cover version that’s better than the original song (especially given it’s a Jagger/Richards number), Let’s Spend The Night Together: all brilliant. 

I won’t waste space listing all the tracks, but I want to. I’d never heard anything like it, and if I played the album today, I’m confident I’d feel just the same.

Wrapped in his Ziggy persona, Bowie was prolific, releasing Pin Ups (Sorrow, Friday on my Mind) and Diamond Dogs (Rebel Rebel) within months of each other, but the apocalyptic political tinge of the latter was a sign of changes to come.

Bowie didn’t only sing about changes. He constantly evolved his stage persona, from the hippy longhair of Hunky Dory through the glam pre-punk Ziggy Stardust, all the way to the Thin White Duke of his Berlin years.

Trying to discover what kind of man I might become, I followed Bowie’s mutations and transformations, realising that change was not only inevitable but often preferable. 

You didn’t have to stay the same to be successful. In fact, if you embraced change, then life could become an amazing creative adventure.

Abandoning the fading days of glam rock, Bowie reached into both his own soul and the heart of American soul music, and came up with Young Americans in 1975. 

A smile spreads onto my lips as I remember the countless post-pub parties where the title track and the James Brown-inspired Fame had living room dance floors packed, as we dared to sing out loud

“Hit every woman like a sock in the jaw…” 
because the world was yet to change for the better.

Bowie’s style changed completely in 1976. The eerie sound of an approaching steam train introduced The Thin White Duke on Station to Station, a persona part-inspired by his work on Nic Roeg’s film The Man Who Fell To Earth

Then, combining cocaine, heroin, electronic Krautrock and the genius of Brian Eno, Bowie created his stunning Berlin Trilogy: Low, Heroes and The Lodger.

Anthemic and ironic, Heroes is probably Bowie’s greatest song, but I remember trying to play Golden Years at my grandparents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary, screaming at my complaining parents:

“But you’ve never heard a song like this before. I didn’t even know a song could sound like this!”

Eschewing needles and Nietzsche, Bowie reverted to glam type in 1980 with Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), strutting his funky stuff in Fashion before letting rip on the dance floor with his next album, Let’s Dance. Despite great tracks like Modern Love and  Iggy’s China Girl, that was the last Bowie album I bought.

Around then I quit my career in marketing and travelled around the world, working on a novel. Thanks David Bowie: job done.

My most cherished memory of Bowie’s music came in 1979, when, seven years after its release, I became entranced by The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.

Before classic tracks like Suffragette City and Rock 'n' Roll Suicide, the album opens with the irresistibly terrifying Five Years.
Somewhere in Europe, on a train speeding between Who Knows and We Don’t Care, myself and my friend Martin sat opposite each other in the carriage, engaged in an interminable shrieking duet:

Fiiiive yeeeeears, that’s all we’ve got, we got fiiiive yeeears, that’s all we’ve got, we’ve got….”

Although I was upset about Lemmy, he lived and died an archetypal rock star. 

There was nothing typical about David Bowie. 
He changed my life as much as he changed the world of music.

©Charlie Adley

Monday 11 January 2016


Bluuuurgh … this is hard. By the time you read this you’ll be well clear of the fug and blear of Christmas excess, but today is my first day back at work and I find myself forced to sit almost a foot away from the edge of my desk, as the giant tin of Belgian biscuits I snarfed over the feast metamorphoses into a mountain of midriff bulge.

Unsure exactly how many we were going to have over Christmas, I shopped for the maximum possible amount of guests, and then there were none, leaving myself and the Snapper to work our way through an obscene amount of chocolate, cheese, wine and 
decadent desserts.

With my swollen belly pushing me away from my work, my addled hungover brain finds comfort in rounding up hundreds of thoughts of little consequence, which it then sends spinning around and around my mental mulberry bush, in no particular order.

All around there is the usual guff being spouted about New Year Resolutions, yet I cannot think of a worse time to take a serious look at life. 

We are hairy mammals who should be spending these dark months sleeping 18 hours a day, waking only to guzzle high fat foods and watch the soaps. Instead, every Winter, we put ourselves through one of the busiest and most stressful periods of the calendar.

Much as I love the thought of improving myself, setting targets to drop that, stop this and take on a lot more of the other, I think I’ll leave the major lifestyle changes for a sunny day in April. 

Were I to take a long hard look in the deep dark truthful mirror today, and see the physical wretch I’ve become, I wouldn’t trust any major decisions my feeble mind made.

All I want to do is crawl back into bed and catch up with my natural instincts, but I can’t, as I have to earn a living, so instead I’m going to continue being self-indulgent.

The first bit of weight I’m choosing to lose are the letters R and E, taken from resolutions, leaving me with the far more positive outcome: solutions. 

Sorry, colyoomistas, I’m not about to solve the world’s problems. 
Not this week, anyway. In fact solutions might be too grand a word for what I have in mind, which is simply to make myself feel better by suggesting a few minor changes to my First World existence, while giving thanks that I have the luxury of worrying about such insignificant things.

For starters I’d ban all special offers that treat customers with contempt. They advertise at full shout how this word is absolutely 100% free when you buy the full sentence, while if you buy a full paragraph right now, the next three chapters will be half price. 

However after that, as explained on page 43 of the agreement you didn’t read, each word will double in price every month and you’ll be hooked into a contract that your grandchildren will inherit.

Remove all those disingenuous stickers from hotel bathrooms that suggest we reuse our towels to save the rainforest. If you want to save on your laundry bills, just tell us.

Stop using the word ‘would’ where it’s not necessary. We would ask you to stay in your seats during this turbulence. We would like to wish the families of the deceased all our best wishes. We would ask you to turn off your phone for the duration of the journey … each time I hear that ’would’ my brain feeds me the phrase ‘…but we’re not going to.’

While we’re on words I’m also banning the use of artisan, gourmet, craft and all sentences starting with ‘So…’

This year we’re going to hear a heck of a lot about 1916 and your hard-fought War of Independence. If you want the world to respect your freedom, why not start by respecting your own country? 

Stop dumping your ovens on the bog. Stop dropping Coke cans, Tayto packets and bottles of Buckfast on the roadside. In fact, just stop dropping litter. You have one of the most beautiful countries in the world, so while you’re celebrating it, stop destroying it.

As an Englishman I’m also repeatedly reminded of how there used to be 8 million people living in this country before the famine. Given that, let’s hear no more talk about immigration control. Germany took in over a million migrants last year, yet here Direct Provision is the shame of the nation.

I want people to choose the word acceptance over tolerance - and mean it! Acceptance is a peaceful and positive state of mind, whereas tolerance implies effort and conflict. This might seem pure pedantry to you, but as someone who has endured anti-Semitism, I can tell you the difference is mighty to ethnic minorities.

While we’re at it, let’s have no more euphemisms for human tragedy. Ethnic Cleansing sounds like a spa treatment. Comfort Woman sounds like a padded bra. Genocide, slavery and rape are ugly words for a reason. We must not protect ourselves from them.

Finally, horror of horrors, never (outside of the USA) let an English Breakfast Tea be brought to me as it was in Fuller’s restaurant at Heathrow Airport. 

With Union Jack bunting running along the wall, bangers and mash and London Pride beer, the place pumps its branded Englishness to the travellers of the world. Then they bring a mug of plain hot water to my table, with a tea bag in a packet on the side. Shocking behaviour.

Cor, I feel better now! 

After that wonderfully indulgent moan, my tiny and selfish solutions have cheered me up no end. I can survive without a Fitbit on my wrist. I’ll make it through 2016 without drinking Spirulina or eating Quorn, because all I need is my scribbling. It’s magnificently therapeutic.

To that end, if you make one resolution this January, why not grab a pen and paper and have your own solutions rant?

It works a treat!

©Charlie Adley04.01.16

Friday 1 January 2016

Dwarlinks! Luvees! Welcome to the 2015 DV Awards!

Take a deep breath, tuck in your tummy and prepare yourself. Unique and exclusive, daringly incomplete and utterly subjective, it’s time for the one and only awards show worth the paper it’s printed on. 

Dwarlinks, luvees, welcome to the 2015 DV Awards!

Let’s get this party started with the Leo Varadker DV for Being Proud to Show Pride in Ireland which this year goes to … you! My heart filled with pride for Ireland back in May (which is odd because I’m English) when the people of this country became the world’s first to grant equal marriage rights to all. 

First a senior Cabinet Minister came out to the nation and then a plebiscite proved Ireland has moved into the modern world.

The devil lurks in the details though. A transgender friend of mine often complains about being included in the LGBT acronym, as she’s neither bisexual nor homosexual. A woman born into a man’s body, she wants to sleep with men, as any straight women might.

On the international front we had hypocrisy, hubris and a heck of a hullabaloo as democracy was killed in its birthplace. The Greeks voted in vast numbers for Syriza to govern them, but the Germans told the EU (created to make sure neither Germany nor anyone else got out of hand and tried to rule Europe) that they didn’t care how the Greeks voted. The Greeks would do as they were bloody told. 

In an unfriendly match played regularly over the last 100 years, the final score was Germany 1 Democracy 0.

That situation’s far too serious to win a precious DV, so instead it goes to plucky idealistic cheeky buggers Syriza, who take home the Michael Lowry DV for Brazen Shamelessness for claiming the moral high ground by simultaneously looking for financial reparations for Nazi war crimes committed in Greece while reneging on debt payments to Germany.

Back home the Electronic Voting Machines DV for Excessive Waste of Public Funds goes to Eircode, those letters and numbers that each house now has, yet nobody uses because they are, frankly, useless. 

Apart from helping Irish Water to send you a bill, they fail almost entirely as a form of postcode. My ears were soiled by the sound of Alan Kelly on the radio claiming the system was ambulance-ready, followed by the Head of the Ambulance Service saying it was not in any way ready.

The There is No Famous Person To Name This DV After, for Eating Humble Pie DV goes to me, because for years this colyoom has been down on the Arts Festival, yet this year there was no denying the buzz on the streets of Galway. 

I’m delighted to win this DV, because it means the connection between the people of Galway and the Galway Arts Festival is back, thumping, bumping, dancing and singing, flying through the streets and yahoo! I love being wrong!

The Dana DV for Unfortunate Magical Transformations goes to the Wild Atlantic Way. There we were for years, ignorantly believing that ‘The West Coast of Ireland’ described the west coast of Ireland quite succinctly, but my, how wrong we were. Add a million signs with squiggly lines, a few metallic eyesores to spoil a view here and there, and you’ve got a phenomenal marketing success on your hands.

Amazing then it was to discover while chatting with some American tourists in the Crane, that they had no idea what the little squiggly lines meant on the signposts. Somehow though, they managed to love the west coast without understanding how Discover Ireland wanted them to enjoy it.

Off now to the world of the media, where we’ve a dangerously incestuous arrangement, because this year’s winner of the Myles na gCopaleen DV for Succulent Truth goes to Dara Bradley, of this noble rag. Thanks to Bradley’s Bytes, the high-ups of Galway once again have to pick satire from between their teeth each week, for which we are extremely grateful.

Indeed, so successful is Bradley’s column that it generated its own DV award. Winner of the inaugural Paraic Breathneach DV for Tact and Diplomacy is none other than Paraic Breathneach, a man who, alongside the inestimable Ollie Jennings, has done so much to turn Galway into the arts magnet it is today.

Chatting outside Neactains, Paraic was reminiscing about a satirical magazine he used to produce. When I mentioned Bradley’s Bytes, he turned to me with a straight face and declared:

“It’s the only thing in that paper worth bloody reading!”

For once I remained silent, admiring his ability to insult by suggestion.

Staying with the world of newspapers, the Oh No Bono DV for Nonsense goes to that bastion of truth, compassion and love: the Daily Mail.

Making it a habit to buy several different newspapers each week, so as to better appreciate all the differing propaganda, I ended up with a copy of the Daily Mail on April 1st. 

After scanning through the paper’s pages many times, I couldn’t work out which was the April Fool’s story.

Finishing off this year’s DV awards, as it sort of says in the bible, the winners of the first shall be the winners of the last, and so it shall be herein.

You’ve been hit up for extra taxes, shoved on trolleys in A&E and told there is no money to spend, while millions of taxpayers’ euro are wasted on enquiries that are meant to find out why millions of taxpayers’ euro were wasted, that then try to wriggle out of printing any findings, and tribunals that run so long that the judge dies.

All this you’ve accepted almost silently (save for Wallace, Daly and Murphy) so the Ostrich Head in the Sand DV for Choosing to Avoid Dark Truths goes to the Irish Public, for making little noise while repeatedly being taken for a ride.

Thanks for reading Double Vision, brave colyoomistas. Happy New Year - see you in 2016.


 © Charlie Adley