Saturday 31 December 2016

2016 Awards cancelled as Team DV goes WEXIT!

In a bizarrely-worded statement released yesterday morning, Team DV announced they had taken the unprecedented step of leaving the planet:

“That’s all folks. We’re out of here. Stopped the world and got off. That’s what we’ve done. The full WEXIT. We’ve tried to inject a bit of satire into the drudgery over the years, but after looking back at the last 365 days, we simply lay down and wept. Satire died upon the arrival of that brace of blonde idiots, with enough sanity and power between them to eradicate our species before teatime. Farewell, good luck and as they say, thanks for all the fish.”

Err, hello? 
This is Malcolm from Bognor, the caretaker of DV Tower. It’s all gone a bit mental here. The phones don’t stop ringing and there’s TV crews from all over the world outside. I new the DVs were big alright, but I didn’t realise it’d be like this, with everyone calling up trying to get the latest on the 2016 Awards.

I keep telling them to call back tomorrow. Trouble is they do. It’s all driving me a little nutty, truth be told. Seems like they won’t go away until somebody comes up with some DV Award winners.

Trouble is, nobody’s turned up to work for days. Word is they’ve all naffed off and left me behind. Scarpered, they have, had it on their legs, and they’re not coming back to planet Earth any time soon.

Right then, so then, seeing as how that’s the situation then, and seeing as how I want bit of peace and quiet, I’m just going to have to knock out the awards myself. How hard can it be? Now, where’s the ‘on’ button on this computer thingy…?

...several hours later...

Right, so, welcome to the 2016 DV Awards. We’re going to start with this year’s Pablo Picasso DV for Recreating Guernica, which goes to The West, for the Shame of Aleppo. While we faffed around feeling sorry for ourselves about Trump and Brexit, Putin expanded Russia’s military front, from The Persian Gulf to the Baltic States. 

While the UN sat back and liberals like me and you denied our governments the right to intervene, Russian warplanes rained hell unopposed.

I’m only the caretaker, so what would I know, so tell me, if you can, why the media is willing to use the word ‘atrocity’ when the killing is on the ground, but not when apocalyptic slaughter falls on innocents from the skies? 

Phew, that was all a bit serious. This awards malarkey isn’t as easy as it looks. Maybe there’s a reason they were on the keyboards and I was up a ladder.

Moving swiftly along to one of our annual faves, the Through The Looking Glass DV for Nothing Being As It Appears goes to all the Street Food restaurants that have recently opened in Galway.
Call me stupid, but Asian Street food sounds a heck of a lot like food that is served in Asia on a street. 

Okay, so it doesn’t have to be in Asia, but once it’s cooked under a roof supported by a solid structure, otherwise known as a building, it ceases to be street food and is just … well … food.

Quay Street now has two noodle restaurants, while the tiny road mourns the loss of a pair of Galway institutions: Camilla Cutler’s Druid Lane Restaurant and the Galway Pet Store, who (hopefully) shared nothing in common, save for being independent businesses run by terrific characters.

Couldn’t get through this year without mentioning the 1916 Easter Rising Centenary. Everybody else did, all the time. Given that back in 1916, swathes of Dublin’s population felt antipathy towards Republicans, because the food on their tables was paid for by the unfortunate bastards fighting in the trenches, I wonder: had the British Empire not behaved as the British Empire always did, and instead of creating martyrs, had spared the lives of those brave men, would this Republic now exist as 26 or 32? 

Mind you, that ‘Home Rule is Rome Rule’ crew were already ironing sashes in the north. Some things never change.

To that end, this Brit announces the First Annual Britain Means Britain  DV, which naturally goes to all those magnanimous compassionate souls who voted for Brexit. Broke my heart. Not the leaving of the EU, but the way scapegoating proved so effective a tactic.

Next comes the Volvo Ironman DV for Promising Millions To The Local Economy, which of course goes to Galway’s nomination as Capital of Culture 2020. Let’s hope 2020 will truly fulfil its potential, because Galwegians have had their fill of major events promising to bring wealth, which instead leave long trails of unpaid locals.

This year’s Marie Antoinette Let Them Eat Cake DV for Ignoring The Poor and Needy is shared by the tragic double act of Michael Noonan and Enda Kenny. While trying to ‘save face‘ with global corporations, they made international arses of themselves, by refusing a sum of tax due equivalent to this nation’s annual health budget.

Finally, the Dónal Óg Cusack DV for Bravery In The Face Of Ignorance goes to two women who shared the twitter handle @twowomentravel. By live-tweeting their enforced journey to England, they gave voice to many thousands of the unheard, who’ve gone before.

Oh lorks! Run out of space. 
Always wondered what editors do and now I know. 

Anyway, until they come back from wherever they’ve gone, this is me, Malcolm the Caretaker from Bognor, DV Tower, County Galway, signing off.
©Charlie Adley

Saturday 24 December 2016

Charity? It's a very personal business...

 Charity working at its best in the shape of our beloved Lady Dog.

 Every Christmas many of us try to take the spirit of giving beyond our families and friends by donating to charities. Whether it’s through the cards we buy, the SVP envelope through the door or a bucket shaken in the street, we extend our generosity to others who need our help.

Some used recent charity-related scandals as an excuse to stop giving, but not this scribbler. If a charity is registered I consider it worthy, and anyway, for me, giving to charity is a personal matter.

Rather than getting dazed and confused, wondering which charity deserves the most, I simply follow my feelings. 

Many cannot understand how anyone can donate to help doggies and donkeys while there are people starving to death in the world, but we humans are a wonderfully mixed-up bunch, and what twangs your heartstrings might make no music on mine.

My Christmas cards go three ways. Croi, for my father who died after many strokes throughout a long decline; Crumlin Children’s Hospital, for the loss of Alana, and the Galway Hospice, for Sonja and for helping me and so many others.

I give what I can afford and then I give a little more, because for goodness sake, it’s not as if I’ll be going without, compared to so many others.

However, a few weeks ago I discovered that when it comes to charitable giving, I do not like to be bossed around. Two parcels arrived at the same time, from two different charities.

The first I opened was from Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, an incredible crew of creative people who have overcome the most challenging disabilities to express themselves through art.

Thankfully I’ve some idea of their challenge, as I’ve been watching Landscape Artist of the Year on TV. One of the painters was a Thalidomide victim, born without arms. It was moving and inspiring to watch as he drew a precise line pencil plan of his painting with his toes, and then painted the colours into the picture with a brush in his mouth. 

He explained that unlike able-bodied artists, he could not apply paint while standing back and looking at the picture as a whole. Instead each brush stroke had to be pre-planned to perfection, as he was forced to paint incredibly close to the canvas.

What a shame then that the marketing strategy of this charity decided the best approach was to send me cards and a letter telling me how I’d be happy to pay for them.

I need to be clear about this: I think it’s a wonderful charity, but if only they’d sent me a leaflet, or an invitation to order some cards, everything would’ve been different.

Instead I felt as if they were making an assumption about me and my money, and when I looked for an envelope to return their cards, so as not to waste them, I found none.

Somehow the experience just turned me off. Up until then I hadn’t realised how important it is for me to decide to whom I give, yet their strategy left me feeling guilty and wasteful as the cards are not the kind I’d send anyway.

The other package was a small cardboard box, sporting only a sticker saying: #stopkeepingmum. The box had been addressed to me as a Tribune Columnist, so clearly someone wanted publicity. Curiosity developed into intrigue as I opened the box to find no letter, no leaflet, just a very cute little blonde toy doggie, wearing a #stopkeepingmum label.

I’ll never know if the charity were aware of how much the toy looks like my own Lady Dog. Maybe it was happy coincidence, but my interest was now piqued, so I put #stopkeepingmum into my web browser and arrived at a home page with a short tragic video about the plight of the mothers of puppies at puppy farms:

“The first thing that will hit you is the stench. Once your eyes adjust to the darkness you’ll see them. They’re kept in cages, covered in their own faeces and soaked in urine. They have no bedding and limited access to fresh water. They are nameless mothers who have never known daylight. To the people in charge they are breeding machines, forced to have litter after litter until their bodies are exhausted. Their only experiences with people have been cruelty and neglect.”

Nothing had been presumed. I didn’t feel lectured. At the risk of sounding cold-hearted, their marketing was perfectly pitched.

As a species, the absolute least we must aspire to is to be benign. Being cruel and vile to intelligent animals for monetary gain is not something anyone needs to do.

What did #stopkeepingmumwant from me? How much was this going to cost and for what?

The first commitment their website asks for is merely a promise to ask to see a puppy’s mother before you buy one. Then comes an invitation to share your promise on social media and only then, finally, comes a chance to donate money.

Did I send them a wedge of my hard-earned green folding?


I didn’t, because I’d already contributed through Christmas cards and must now put all my remaining resources into the needs of my family, which alongside the Snapper includes one Lady Dog, aged five and three quarters, adopted years ago from - the most splendid charity, whose hard work has deeply enriched our lives, as well as providing a lost soul with a loving home.

Donating money can be complex, but compassion is not. 
Combine the two and the world becomes a better place.

Enjoy a peaceful loving Christmas, Hannukah, Solstice and Diwali, and may your God be with you.

©Charlie Adley

Sunday 18 December 2016

Don't mention the ketchup in the coffee thing!

I’m on the FB2 Flybus from Oslo to the airport and having trouble keeping my eyes open. Come on man, don’t miss the little you’ll see of Norway outside of the city.

Beyond the bus window the grey light of a winter dawn reflects off the dusting of snow on the barren rolling fields.

The weekend visiting my good friend Blitz and his far better other was gentle and most pleasant, as had been the two days I’d spent in 
London with my mum on the way to Oslo.

However, I’d felt exhausted for weeks before I left and as the trip approached, it became a kind of self-fulfilling worry prophecy.

Oh no I am so tired. Will I be able to do it? Should I go at all? Will I cancel one bit of it? Which bit will I cancel? How can I explain that?

Instead I went online and booked a triangle of tickets from Dublin to Heathrow to Oslo to Dublin, and - oops, there goes the chin, dipping again. 

Stay with it Adley. 
Don't be dribbling in front of the locals now. 
You’re in public. 
Look at Norway out of the window and then sleep on the plane. 

Yes, I know it’s only a two hours flight, but bloody hell that’d help. Any sleep I can grab will prove vital, because I can’t be dropping off like this in four hours, when I’m sitting at the wheel of my car, doing 120kph on the motorway home.

At the airport I manage to get myself into a sweaty lather, by walking at speed, up and down the Departures Shopping area, increasingly desperately looking for a newspaper. Despite it being obvious they have no international newspapers, my minuscule brain refuses to accept that fact.

Slumping into a chair I glance around to see everyone staring at their phones; thumbs stroking the screens of their tablets; fingertips flying over the keyboards of laptops.

I’m a dinosaur. I want a newspaper.

The fights with SAS were exceptionally cheap and when I see the plane I understand why. Crammed to the rafters, we are wedged into tiny aged seats, clothed in fabric that reminds me of 1973.

As ever, I’m by the window and the bloke sitting next to me is of slight build, yet somehow as he lands in his seat he manages to take control of the armrests on both sides. Then he enthusiastically spreads his knees wide sideways, as if myself and the unfortunate on the other side of him do not exist.

Never mind. I’m putting in the earplugs and will hopefully wake up in two hours with half a head of crushed flat hair, that’s been resting on the window as I slumber.

That’d be lovely, except, oh, there he goes, off to the loo, just after take-off, so I’ll just drop off while he’s gone and - Oh! There he is, back from the loo. And there he is, pressing the button for the flight attendant. And now he’s drinking wine, and now he’s buying presents for his two daughters which I’ve seen on the screen of his iPhone. 

Now he’s off to the loo again and now he’s buying Duty Free and at no point in the entire flight does he sit still, except when finally, just as we start our descent into Dublin, he collapses his head back, mouth hanging agape, snoring through a bumpy landing.

Long before, I’d removed my earplugs and given up on feeble dreams of sleep. Reaching into my bag I discovered that his spread thigh had been resting on my chocolate bar. 

Not only had the bastard been keeping me awake, he’d also melted my bloomin’ Twirl.


I stare at his sleeping face with darkness and begrudgery in my soul.

Then it’s off to the car and a plan to stay alive by keeping awake. I decide I can make it to that roundabout in Athlone with the McDonalds and the petrol station. I’ll make it there, down a double espresso for boost and a quarter pounder for ballast and that’ll get me home.

The motorway comes to an end at the Athlone bypass yet for some reason I sail around it and am heading west without sight of the roundabout. Now on the M6 to Galway, I’ll have to go all the way to Plaza Services to find sustenance.

With the belly rumbling and my focus crumbling, I just about make it. Stumbling into the restaurant area, where everything seems bright to my sleepy eyes, I order a big burger and a tall double grande large espresso americano with extra coffee.

Falling into a seat, I find myself unable to eat the burger. Just get that coffee into me; keep awake.

I drag myself over to where sugar and wooden stirrers are available, but where is the milk?

If I drink this much caffeine without milk, my gut will kick back so powerfully I won’t need the car to get me home.

Where’s the milk? Where’s the bloody - ah! A plunger! That must be it.

With urgency I shoot two large dollops of tomato ketchup into my coffee and freeze.

Did anyone see that?
Do I care?

Carefully stirring only the upper half of the drink, I slug back two-thirds of it, with not a trace of tomato hitting my palate.

The caffeine kicks in at Oranmore.


By the time I get home, I’m wide awake, mad as a hatter and twice as fruity, muttering mysteriously and maniacally to the Snapper about how nobody needs to know about that ketchup thing.

©Charlie Adley

Monday 12 December 2016


(Admirably, Bádóirí an Cladaig teo - the Claddagh Boatmen - insisted they wanted me to write a purely positive progress report: please find below. However, in my opinion, this splendid community group have constantly been hampered and harassed by bureaucratic incompetence and small-minded officials, lacking courage and vision.)

As 2020 Capital of Culture approaches, there’s much discussion about what is and is not Galway culture. About Galway’s boats there can be no debate. Take a look at artist Eamon O’Doherty’s Quincentennial Sails sculpture in Eyre Square: the essence of Galway culture, those sails express the vital relationship between Galway and its unique boats.

Nothing more wholly represents Galway culture. History and poetry combine in those black hulls and russet sails; in that blend of bay, boat and Burren.

Despite recently facing extinction, hookers are now being restored and sailed once more.

Thanks to community group Bádóirí an Cladaig teo - the Claddagh Boatmen - a new generation are being taught how to build hookers; how to sail them; how to navigate and maintain them.

With centuries of expertise in their genes, this group of Claddagh men decided to revive Galway’s maritime tradition, and on the way gained the support of our entire community.

After restoring their first boat in 2009, the Boatmen nurtured a vision of hookers moored from Spanish Arch to Jury’s hotel. On Culture Night this year, six restored hookers were moored along that wall.

They had made their dream a reality.

As group secretary Peter Connolly explained, that vision has now grown.

“The Regatta has been a phenomenal success over the last 4 years, and May 2017 will see the launch of our new initiative, in support of 2020. The Navigational Trust has allowed the use of the Claddagh Basin, so the sailing communities of Claddagh, Connemara and Kinvara will come together to showcase 14 boats in full sail, for an entire week, subject to weather conditions.

“Each boat will carry an emblem of a Tribe of Galway, and they’ll sail together over the next four summers, in the build-up to 2020. 

"We’ve also invited two 40 foot Viking boats from Bangor, while the 47ft Chicago-built hooker ‘Naoimh Bairbre’ sailed across the Atlantic, to be left in the caretakership of Bádóirí an Cladaig teo for 10 years, for training and tours on the bay, with all income to be reinvested into our project.

“All these crews, owners and countless others support this project, yet nobody has asked for any money. Not one person. Why is that? They love the Galway hooker. It’s in their blood.

“Only a massive combined community effort could achieve so much so quickly. We’re grateful for the support of small businesses, the general public, the Latin Quarter, West End Group and Galway City Partnership, and we’ve had tremendous support in the council chamber. Now that the city hierarchy is fully behind the project, the work feels so much easier.

“Nothing would be possible without the partnerships we’ve developed. The DSP seconded 35 trainees for work experience and the GRETB supplied a support builder and six others. Everyone has enabled our project to succeed.

“We needed young people on board, to build skills through training and education, and that has happened. We needed a team to maintain the boats. That has been done.

“Next came the training of confident crews and skippers, and thanks to the expertise of people from Connemara, we’ve now 10 skippers trained up and several very competent crews.

“Finance has been a problem since recent scandals concerning charities. There was a government drive to support Community Groups, but sadly they’re so concerned with correct corporate governance, it makes a mockery of the grant process.

“Groups like ours have to spend 25% of our grant on public liability insurance and another 25% on accountancy and audits. We are left financially strangled. There has to be a way of doing this which allows us to apply all the grant money to the purposes for which it was granted.

“Our fundraising has matched all grants for the last five years, yet we can’t afford to develop the website. We wouldn’t dare do that before we bought a nail. Buying nails comes first. A certified nail from Glasgow is much more important than spending money on a website.

“We completely respect everybody’s contribution, and believe we’ve spent every cent efficiently. We work 6 days a week, but when you see the smiles of people from all over the world, and particularly the young people of Galway, it’s wonderful. The usual comment is that they feel privileged to have sailed on Galway bay on a Galway Hooker.

“This is no longer the vision of Bádóirí an Cladaig teo. This is now Galway’s vision. When a fleet of hookers are in full sail, with hundreds of people taking photos on Claddagh Quay, we might ask:

“Is our dream is too big? No. Does Galway deserve this? I think we do. Is this part of Claddagh? Yes it is. Is this real Galway? Yes it is.”

Well said sir. What better way to launch Capital of Culture 2020 than a fleet of 14 Galway hookers, the greatest symbols of Galway’s culture, sailing up the Corrib, bearing the crests of all the Tribes?

If that sounds perfect, please give everyone you know a beautiful Bádóirí an Cladaig calendar this Christmas. Then, when you first sail on a hooker in Galway bay, you can feel proud that you too had the vision to support the Claddagh Boatmen’s magnificent dream.

Calendars available at: Woods, Roundstone. Joyces, Recess. Morans, Carna. OMaille, Rosmuc. Hooker Bar, Eannach Mheain. Zetland, Cashel. Slemons Daybreak, Furbo. Post office, Kinvara. Clarks Supervalue, Barna. Charlie Byrnes Bookshop, Middle Street. Londis, Newcastle Rd. Nestors Supervalue Fr Griffin Rd.


© Charlie Adley

Monday 5 December 2016

Trump is a problem but he’s not the problem!

Trump is a problem but he’s not the problem.

A vacuous psychopath, Trump had to win the game, but he’s  just another contestant in an evolving show. To focus on Trump is to miss the point entirely.

Politics is not about Left or Right any more. This is a revolution from all sides of what used to be the political spectrum, from Trump to Podemos; Corbyn to Le Pen; alt-Right to Syriza; Bernie Sanders to Alternative für Deutschland.

The only thing that these disparate types have in common is that they all want to erase what was.

Trump’s victory was another manifestation of the frustration of people who live in a system that no longer works for them. Successive electorates have spurned traditional voting patterns, because they see that Western Democracy has been dying for decades.

The Irish know first hand, having voted against two EU treaties only to have their rejections ignored. Hillary won a million more votes than Trump and lost, so half of America feels unheard. Half of the UK population want to stay in the EU, the young and urban at odds with the older and rural.

Wherever you look there are too many people feeling ignored.

Time was when governments governed and leaders lead. However, over the last 30 years there have been extraordinary changes in the way the world works, which combined to negate the effectiveness of our old political system.

Once governments were active, imposing ideologies upon their people. For some time now they have been able only to react to global economic conditions; the fluctuations of currencies; the mood of the markets.

Through systemic tax avoidance, trade deals like TTIP and trading blocks like the EU, corporations are now powerful enough to dictate to governments; to intervene in the running of previously sovereign nations.

Now businesses are able to sue governments for loss of profits they might have earned in the future; workers’ rights, guaranteed hours and job security have eroded into dust; overseas entities are able to operate inside other nations’ health and eduction sectors and universally, voters are outraged that their politicians serially fail them.

As is their wont in matters of democracy, the Greeks led the way by electing Syriza, followed by the UK with Brexit.

Then America, as ever contributing on the grandest of scales, illustrated that politics as we knew it is dead, by choosing a businessman to lead them into this new corporate order.

Admittedly, politicians were never a perfect bunch, but as the entire political and financial world continues to metamorphose, our decrepit democratic systems have become sadly unable to satisfy us ever again.

Whoever might lead your country, no government will be able to improve the lot of its people unless their needs happen to mirror the needs of the abstract notion of global economy.

Why else would we suffer the obscenity of an Irish government appealing against a ruling requiring a corporation to pay taxes equivalent to this country’s annual health budget?

Stop crying foul and start asking the right questions.

Here’s one: if Donald Trump had walked up to you five years ago and told you that he’d be president of the USA one day, would you have believed him? Did you believe that he was really going to build a wall equivalent to the distance from Rome to Moscow? Did you really believe he really believed anything he said during that vile campaign?

Yet still yourselves and the media ask the old questions, as if he meant what he said. 

Everyone focuses on Trump, rather than those who voted for him, yet if he'd needed to be further to the left than Bernie Sanders to win the election, he would’ve made Lenin look like Dubya.

Vacant and vain, obsessed only with winning, Trump is the natural leader of the way the world now works. Avoiding the dangers of having to face journalists in traditional media, he addresses the nation via You Tube and Twitter.

Telling analysis came from Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Trump’s book, ‘The Art Of The Deal.’ Having worked one to one with Trump for years, he described the President-Elect as having the "intelligence and attention span of a 9-year old with ADHD.”

An empty vessel, utterly out of his depth, Trump doesn’t worry me. The people around him, who do know what they’re doing, scare the hell out of me.

In Mike Pence we have a Creationist a mere choked pretzel away from the presidency. The US National Security Advisor is the person who collates information from all the military and security agencies and combines it to advise the president on what to do. 

Shame then that it's Micael Flynn, who was sacked by Obama for incometpency, after leaking confidential information and coming out with what became known as 'Flynn Facts', such as that fear of Muslims is rational. He also tweeted 'Not any more, Jews!' which is more than a little disturbing. 

Chief strategist Bannon is on board to keep the hate alive, as Trump concedes each of his more aggressive and ridiculous election pledges, one by one.

While he needs to be seen working with Tea Party types, Trump realises that to win this new reality show, his pragmatism has to kick in fast and bigly.

Tragically, Trump’s presidency will see a rabid and regressive hijacking of the Supreme Court, with women's rights, workers’ rights, gun control and even the separation of church and state all suddenly vulnerable.

Western democracy now leaves millions of voters on all sides of the political arena frustrated and furious.

We must stop trying to find a solution within the old system and accept that we have created a society driven not by the needs of the many, but the needs of conglomerates.

Then we might start the process of devising a representative political system for that world; our new world.

©Charlie Adley