Saturday 14 July 2018

This week's Double Vision will not be posted online, so if you'd like to read it, please buy one of the above newspapers ...

... usual codswallop returns next week.

Sunday 8 July 2018


I’ve temporarily transported myself to a house atop a mighty hill, high above Lackan Bay, north Co. Mayo.

"Beyond the Black Stump!" as my Aussie friends say.

The universe has been inordinately kind to me at a time of great need. I think 15 years ago I very briefly met the woman who owns this house, but she doesn’t remember.

More to the point, she doesn’t care.

Explaining who I am to her on the phone consisted solely of mentioning my friends here, in and around Killala.

In turn, I have grown to know her a little by looking at the books that line her windowsills, the seed packets on her shelves and her DVD library, which has sustained me through long midsummer evenings.

There is no TV and I have no desire to use the internet.

There come exceptionally few days in our lives when the universe wants nothing from us. It is even rarer that when those days come, we are able and eager to greet them, but this week that combination arrived together, which I greatly appreciate.

I very much like a window to write beside. Ideally it would be on my left, but directly in front is lovely too. 

Whoever designed this house understands windows, as through the one ahead of me here I see cattle grazing far away towering hillsides, long grasses waving in the wind, the tallest buttercups I’ve ever encountered and wild roses growing out of ancient hedges.

they understood windows...

One of my friends in Killala told me yesterday that she prefers to write in a windowless corner, and there you have it.

Neither of us is right or wrong. Apart from death there are no absolutes, so when I have described myself in this colyoom as weird, because I sometimes need to be alone, I confess now to being disingenuous.

Judge me weird or any way you want, but do not condemn me for mere introversion.

There are over three billion introverts on this planet right now. You might not know it, because we don’t tend to advertise meetings.

While my friend likes the austerity and enforced focus of a dark corner, I much prefer to lift my eyes; to visually escape out of this splendid window. A glance above the laptop, a few seconds to ease my frown and stretch my spirit.

The fine weather goes on. My personal definition of ‘heatwave’ is any indefinite period of time, a minute or a month, when it’s so hot I fail to function.

Last June, in Portugal’s Douro Valley, I sat on my voluptuous arse for an entire week. The minimum at night was 26°, each day rising to 39°. I’ll take anything in the 20s, unless it’s drenching humid, and I’m talking Miami, London and Athens here, not yer Sligo humid.

Today there’s a northerly breeze cutting through the fiery heat. This to me is perfect weather. The house is silent and for a short while I immerse myself in Arcadian peace. 

My favourite beach in the world is 15 minutes drive away, because I’m for the first time on the western side of Lackan Bay, in this house delivered by the universe, through tragic coincidence.

At night high pressure sunsets drench Killala bay with golden blood.

The beauty of this place is sumptuous.

In a wondrous parenthesis from trauma, my energy levels are still primed on adrenaline overdrive. I’ve been sleeping just enough to keep going, but today, on my third morning in this house, I’m feeling weak with tiredness.

Probably the result of the eight hours kip I managed last night. I reckon my brain copped on to the fact that the universe needs nothing from me this week, and tried to relax me prematurely.

There’s much to deal with in my short term future, but right now, I need nothing, save to arrive home safely on Saturday, ready to face reality once more.

Today I’m going nowhere. My car Joey SX has the day off. He deserves it, given the melting tar on the roads and bohreens round here.

Today I will walk and write and rest and be.

Just be.

Of course I need the company of loved ones, and am blessed beyond reasonable bounds to have so many, but put me in this house, an airport or a station and I’ll happily pass endless hours in relaxed and calm fashion.

Ever since my early childhood I’ve had the ability to space out, to stare at nothing in particular, while contemplating everything.

By the age of 10 I instinctively felt simultaneously as vital and as irrelevant as everything else.

All fascinates me.
Boredom is a stranger.

At school I was endlessly reprimanded for not paying attention, yet felt unjustly accused: I was paying attention. I’d been incredibly focused on the tall blade of grass outside the classroom window.

That solid plume of strong green stem and long single leaf, swaying in the breeze.

How old was it?
Why had it grown so much higher than the lawn from which it sprouted?
Had an animal poohed there and helped it grow?
How long was it going to survive, sticking out above all the other grass in that wind?
If I watched long enough would I see it fall over?

45 years later I’m distracted now, as my eyes stray once again to another window, where I catch a glimpse of a big brown rabbit hopping through the hillocks in the distance. 

They say it’s going to be 29º today.
It’s 1pm. I’ll walk later.
Time for a siesta.

Fill up the water glass first though.  
Oh bugger! The tap is dry!

No water.  

Drink. Shower. Loo.
Must go out and buy water.

Back to reality.

©Charlie Adley

Sunday 1 July 2018


It’s that moment which comes when you’re 37, sitting at the breakfast table. It comes when you’re 17, talking on the phone. It comes while you’re at work, and it comes while you lie on the grass in the garden.

That moment which at first you imagine must be some kind of joke. 

It’s not real, not happening to you, not today. 

After all, today is a normal day. 
You have plans. 

Tonight you’re going out for a drink, or this afternoon your mummy has promised that she will at last teach you how to ride your bicycle, or you’re on the way to the hospital to see your father.

That moment is not fussy about who it visits or when. Young, old, male, female, it does not discriminate. Like the air we breathe, it exists among us always; invisible; by its very nature visiting when least expected.

As soon as you realise you cannot ignore that moment, that it’s really true and truly happening, it overwhelms you.

Adrenaline swamps your body.

Your heartbeat speeds.

Your breathing becomes short.

Muscles in your chest tighten.

Apparently independent of your volition, tears suddenly fall from the outside edges of your eyes, yet it is far too soon to weep properly.

That time will come, but now, as that moment makes its impact, you are propelled into shock, your body and mind erasing all the centuries and subtleties of evolution, returning to its prime survival state.

Regardless of how strong, weak, healthy or infirm we might be, in its first minutes that moment is stronger than each of us, delivering identical blows to our bodies, minds and souls.

If you are young or have led a lucky life, the next time that moment comes may be your first. If, like me, you are not young and have led a precarious life, then that moment arrives with a tiny sliver of familiarity.

Experience is usually a useful tool, but where that moment is concerned, it offers only the clichéd blessing and curse.

At first you appreciate the blessing that you have experienced that moment before; that you know you are in a state of emotional shock, and that is helpful, because you know for a short while your mind will feel strangely empty.

Any thoughts not wholly concerned with your immediate situation will be held back.

Your body is armed with adrenaline, highly oxygenated blood and engorged muscles, yet your mind is stifled by the stench of dread. 

You know that there are all of a sudden an unknown mass of things that demand to be dealt with, yet simultaneously, you also know that while you are in shock, you will not be able to deal with any of them.

Your ‘fight or flight’ mechanism is temporarily in complete control. 

Every cell in your body is now primed to aid your survival, and the choice of which course you follow depends on who you are.

In the coming days your experience of having encountered that moment before becomes a curse, as you’re able to recognise the utterly confused state in which you find yourself.

Each time that moment arrives it is different, so even though you understand some of the symptoms, this is an entirely new challenge.

As the initial shock gradually dissipates, the blinding life-stalling fog becomes merely a bewildering mental mist. That’s when you’ll discover that your concentration lies like a shattered stained glass window at the bottom of what was, a mere couple of days ago, your mind.

If like me you’ve experienced that moment before in your life, you will know that there comes now an unpredictable and immeasurable period of grieving. Be it a death, a divorce, a defeat, or any kind of life altering disruption, you know that you’ll have to go through the stages of grief.

There are lists on the internet and medical experts who insist that there are seven stages, and an order to them, but in my experience, that is tosh.

We are not machines. Each of us is excitingly and terrifyingly different. We harbour utterly unique life experiences, and it is facile to expect that each of us will deal with trauma in identical ways.

When my father died I experienced four of the stages: shock, anger, depression and acceptance, but there was no trace of the other three; no bargaining, denial or testing.

The stages that did afflict me came as they are coming now, not in order but here and gone, an hour of this and a day of that.

Then again, as I write this, I’m aware that moment came into my life only a few days ago, so I cannot know what lies ahead. The stages will do what they will to me, and I will accept them as they come, because the fact our brains find it essential to deliver them makes me believe they serve a purpose.

This time I’ll need neither bargaining nor denial, but beyond that all is a mystery. Right now my up is down, west east, but however drastic life can be, I can always give thanks.

I am an incredibly lucky man, with a fabulously supportive family and an extravagance of incredible friends.

Their love has been my fuel and I yearn for the day when my tank is replenished enough to be able to thank them sufficiently.

Ideally I’ll never have to support them in the same way, but that moment comes in its own way to us all, and when it does, I will be there for them.

All I do know right now is that when my distance from that moment is sufficient, I will find a new peace.

©Charlie Adley

It's time to get over Thierry's handball!

Love, peace and handball buddies by Allan Cavanagh. See more of his artwork at at

Let’s make a deal, in an attempt to live in the present: if I don’t mention England’s World Cup victory in 1966, you’ll move on from Ireland’s Euro 88 victory over England in Stuttgart.

Actually that’s slightly disingenuous of me, because I never mention 1966, save for exploding with exasperation that the English media are still going on about it.

It’s incredibly sad the way both the English and Irish hang on to their far-distant footballing glories, while the Irish have unique abilities in the grudge bearing department. 

If I ever hear another word about Thierry Henry’s handball, it’ll be centuries too soon.

Yes it was painful, awful and all that, but he didn’t score a goal with his hand. He just bundled the ball towards William Gallas. 

Horrible, illegal, wrong: yes, all of the above, but he didn’t punch the ball into the back of the net, and - sorry about this! - it was a qualifying play-off, not the quarter finals of the World Cup.

When Diego Maradona suddenly found his fist possessed by a holy force, his country had been licking their Malvinas/Falkland wounds for 4 years. His Hand of God goal against England was revenge delivered cold.

Anyway, a mere four minutes later Maradona erased debate, by dribbling past five England players (Terry Butcher twice) and scoring on the greatest stage one of the finest goals the sport had ever seen.

Unlike the Irish government, who after Henry's handball asked FIFA if Ireland could enter the World Cup as an unprecedented 33rd team, the English did what they always do: soak it up, spit it out in vile tabloid headlines, burn a few cars in Nottingham and come to terms with the fact that they were beaten by a better team.

Like Iceland.

Thank you Iceland! Your steadfast skills and thunderous grunt handclap killed off any traces of English self-delusion that survived their feeble 2014 World Cup experience.

Even more than expectation, for decades England teams carried a sense of entitlement. After all, didn’t we invent the game of football, so isn't it our natural birthright to beat Johnny Foreigner soundly on his or her sporting backside?

Winning the World Cup in 1966 didn’t create that mindset: it simply reinforced in gold what the nation believed, ever since the sun set on the Empire in 1948.

Talking of empires, what a tragedy that the world’s favourite game and this World Cup are run respectively by a power-hungry venal organisation and a tyrannic despot.

Some might think tragedy too strong a term, but consider the scope of influence of this game

In the favelas of Brazil, the backstreets of the Ivory Coast and lesser-known parts of Laois, toddlers learn to kick a ball, win attention and applause while exercising in the most thrilling way. Football offers the unique chance of a lifestyle beyond the bounds of reasonable dreams.

At the other end of the socio-economic ladder, football also enchants the über-rich. In April 2003 a Russian billionaire watched David Beckham and the Brazilian Ronaldo scored five goals in Real Madrid’s Champions League victory over Manchester United.

That day he fell in love with football, went off and bought my beloved Chelsea FC. Truly Roman Abramovich must be an optimist, as well as lover of the game, as he’s watched just about every Chelsea game since, and he’s still around.

Well, he is now, after taking Israeli citizenship, so that he can get into the UK. Russians have felt an English cold shoulder since that nerve agent attack.

Strange that Russia is allowed to invade Crimea and Eastern Ukraine and threaten the Baltic States, but when an ex-spy cops it on a bench in Wiltshere, all hell breaks loose.

That’d be because like FIFA, Putin is unassailable.  
Both are supreme rulers of their particular universe.

Both are unapologetic about their methods, decadently rich and interested only in further expanding their power, whatever the human cost.

Hence, as football fans we have no choice but to accept that this World Cup is taking place in a dictatorship, and that the next, given the number of  nations who love the game and deserve to host it, has been awarded to one of the least worthy countries on earth.

What a tragic shame that the sport which honestly claims to be the people's game has been royally hijacked by unaccountable elites. Us lovers of the Beautiful Game have no choice but to accept that, sing ourselves a rousing chorus of

“Que sera sera, whatever will be will be!”

and move on, just as the Irish need to forget Thierry’s digits and the English Diego’s divinity.

That just leaves Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against the Germans, in the 2010 World Cup. The one that was a full two feet over the line; the goal that was instrumental in FIFA adopting technology.

When Frank equalised England had come back from 2-0 down and were playing better than our exalted opponents. It looked like we might make it to the Quarter Finals, but instead of 2-2 in the 39th minute, demoralised England collapsed to lose 4-1.

What’s that? 
You calling me a hypocrite for grizzling about the past?

No problem.

Just as Mourinho complains his opposition parked the bus, hypocrisy grips football like Luis Suarez’s teeth on defenders' bare flesh.

I’ll drop the Hand of God if you drop the Frenchman’s fumble, but Frank’s disallowed goal?

That’s different!

©Charlie Adley