Sunday 27 July 2014

I wish all of you could see my Facebook feed!

I wish all of you could see my Facebook feed. If you did you might wipe that rabid foam from your mouths and put down your flags. This dreadful conflict in Gaza has the wonderful people in my life polarised to the most ridiculous of extremes.

All of a sudden everyone is an expert, yet nobody seems to be listening to the people on the streets. Maybe, instead of your instant-miracle solution, or the slightly satirical offering proposed in this week’s Double Vision, or the traditional two state solution, or the one state solution which has support from many sides, we should ask what solution people want, because that might work.

It doesn't matter what I think. It doesn't matter what you think either. All that matters is we start talking and stop waving flags. This week’s ‘Double Vision’ is available in the Galway City Tribune and the Connacht Tribune, but it won’t be appearing here. 

You’re all too crazy right now. Yes you are, when you consider that this one piece of writing will upset people on both sides of this process. I don’t need to be falling out with people.

There’s enough conflict. My scribbling on this subject has brought me grief of a profound kind in the past. With so many of those whom I love holding such contrasting opinions, I need to protect myself from heartbreak.

When this conflict eases many of you will follow other news stories, but for me, even as a secular Jew, the Middle East forms part of the fabric of my life.

The Six Day War in 1967 is one of my earliest childhood memories. I was only 7, far too young to understand what was happening, yet right now I can serve up mental images of men sitting in groups in our living room, talking in hushed tones. I knew something serious was happening, sufficient to imprint it upon my brain.

Similarly I can completely recall six years later, my brother coming down the stairs on Yom Kippur, announcing to us that Syria and Egypt had invaded Israel's North and South, on the holiest day of the year.

For once, as it is for Muslims, so it is for Jews: this story doesn’t go away for any of us; it lives with us always. We are characters trapped in the worst of books and this present conflict is a dreadful and tragic chapter.

I just wish less people were flag-waving and more listening was going on.

We need to be talking about a lasting peace.

(Normal online colyoomistic service resumes next week)

Monday 21 July 2014


In the past your scribbler has been guilty of clinging to a vision of what the Galway Arts Festival used to be, rather than coming to terms with the inevitability of change.

When the Snapper became a Chelsea fan she displayed such partisan zeal it frightened me a little.

“Ah, but I’m a convert!” she explained. “You’ve been a Chelsea fan all your life. Converts are always a bit more crazy than those born into it.”

This blow-in became a convert to Galway back in 1992. Unlike the locals who see Galway city and county as the ever-changing backdrop to their lives, I realise now that I took an emotional snapshot of the place I first arrived in, burning into my brainbox an image of this place at that time.

It was gone forever before I exhaled, yet foolishly still I yearned to replicate how I felt in the anarchic atmosphere of the Saw Doctors in the Big Top, or how I wondered at the sight of a giant Noah shooting water from his fingertips at the parade spectators. 

This year the festival offers The Waterboys in the Big Top and hopefully Macnas will parade in the Autumn, so all is good with the world, yet it is those early formative moments that give birth to one's own nostalgia.

So for several years this colyoom struggled against the Galway Arts Festival changing, moaning about the price of seats, groaning about how few local artists were being included, bewailing the lack of street theatre and bellyaching about the loss of connection the city had with its major festival.

Misguided as it may have been, mine was not a lone voice crying in the wilderness. Indeed, I wonder if we would have our excellent current Fringe Festival ( had not Project 06 made such a powerful case for the people on the streets.

Despite all my rants, I am and have always been a huge fan of the Galway International Arts Festival, (née: Galway Arts Festival). Along with countless other international blow-ins, one of the reasons I fell in love with this place was the respect it afforded the creativity that thrives here.

There are those who joke that Galway City is the graveyard of ambition. To them I say “Poppycock!” partly because it’s an apt word, but also because it feels good.

Hell, I’m going to write it again:


Compared to my native city of London, where genius can live and lose a life invisible, Galway embraces artistic endeavour with open arms.

Thankfully, I am now no longer expecting the Arts Festival to connect with the city as it used to. For ages it hurt me that Galway had turned from an Arts Festival City into a city with an Arts Festival, but now, given the Arts Festival’s ongoing success, I understand that was inevitable.

The Arts Festival left home years ago and just as a person might turn to their clingy parents at the age of 36, in an effort to appear even more independent of the city, it has announced that it shall now be known as the Galway International Arts Festival.

It’s not a huge change, but it is puzzling and apparently pointless.

Of course the Galway Arts Festival is ‘international’ - it always has been! Under the artistic direction of Paul Fahy, the festival attracts all manner of exciting and talented creativity from around the globe.

Having lived in San Francisco, Melbourne and London, I know internationality when I see it, and Galway has internationality by the busload; by the rental cars and camper vans; trains and taxis and planeloads of people travelling on coaches. We’ve foreign students living here learning English and more foreign students studying at our internationally renowned universities and colleges.

A portal to both the Mediterranean and the New World, Galway’s harbour has drawn international music, wine and art to the city for centuries, yet to be truly international, a place and its people have to emanate from a strong core culture that can be shared, spread and adapted. Galway's great strength lies in the way it blends its unique character with international ingredients.

Restaurateur JP McMahon performed the entire cycle single-handedly. Acknowledging Galway’s manifold links with Spain, he introduced authentic Spanish tapas through ‘Cava’, while his Michelin starred ‘Aniar’ bought Galway international recognition, solely using ingredients from the local area, or ‘terroir’.

Entrepreneur Kevin Healy has worked tirelessly to bring top international comedy acts to Galway, while our own Druid Theatre strut the stage at the English National Theatre and Macnas export their talent worldwide.

Sometimes it’s easier for blow-ins to see the magic of a place. Locals find it hard to feel pride in their home’s intrinsic worth. The beautiful ancient heart of this city: preserved, alive, vibrant and authentic, now for some reason branded ‘The Latin Quarter’.

Why not the ‘Medieval Quarter’ or ‘Old City’?
Why look abroad?

There is much in Galway to be proud of and more for which it is internationally famous. Beyond songs about the sun setting on Galway Bay and a certain Galway Girl, loved worldwide by generations three apart, Galway is universally loved for its unique cocktail of craic, beauty, history, creativity, racing madness and mad weather.

A city truly international to its core, Galway shares its own culture while borrowing from others. When you naturally possess such fine attributes, surely you don’t need to state the obvious.

Why the need to remove our Arts Festival one step further from the city of its birth?

Why is ‘Galway’ not enough?

All praise to the festival for its success, but in the same way that an open flower will flourish so much longer if nurtured by healthy roots, it might be prudent for the Arts Festival to love the city back.

Given the weighty matters of the day, I’ll admit that the inclusion of the word ‘International’ in the Galway Arts Festival might justifiably be deemed unworthy of debate. It’s just that when you love something, feelings matter.

©Charlie Adley

Sunday 13 July 2014


Wandering around a newsagent, I lurk in the background as I listen to the 50something woman behind the counter debating the finer points of the Colombian front line with a young girl buying a box of chocolate fingers.

“Now they have that fella Rockridges and my, oh but I don’t mind telling you young lady, if I were a younger woman -”

“Rodriguez, he’s called, but they call him Ham-Ez, after James Bond.”

“Ham is? Ham is what?”

“No they call Rodriguez ‘Ham-Ez’.

“Ham is?”

“No, y’see, I think it’s how you say James in Spanish or something. Anyway, they’ve been knocked out now, so he’s gone home I expect. Can I have my box of chocolate fingers back now, please?”

I love it. This World Cup has involved us all in more ways than I could have imagined. Without Ireland and - to all intents and purposes - England involved
in any meaningful way, the competition has captured the hearts of millions of people who never watch football.

I bump into a friend on Quay Street.

“So have you been able to catch the games, mate? I know your missis isn’t much into the footie.”

“Yeh, yeh I have Charlie. It’s amazing, really amazing. All of a sudden she’s completely into it, so we’ve watched loads of games!”

“Brilliant mate!”

Indeed, amazing and brilliant are apt words to describe this World Cup. While many previous competitions have been memorable only for their lack of goals or noise from vuvuzelas, this tournament has become known in my house as the ‘Spanish Inquisition World Cup.’

I’m not referring to the 15th century bunch who hunted down so-called heretics, tortured and then burnt them. It’s just that as the Snapper and I watched the group games, we said

“Nobody expected that!”

so many times that eventually one of us (me) just had to go for the full Monty Python:

“Nooooobody expectsssss ... the Spanish Inquisition!”

Nobody expected Croatia to be robbed of a deserved victory against Brazil in the emotional cauldron of the tournament's opening game.

Nobody expected Holland to thrash reigning World and European Champions Spain 5-1.

Nobody expected Costa Rica to beat Uruguay and Italy to top their group, or England to play good attacking football, as we did briefly, in our first game against Italy.

This World Cup has been a topsy turvy affair. Usually the group games are tetchy, close, fairly boring encounters, with everyone scared of losing, while expansive fluid football arrives in the knockout stage, but this time the group stage was a goal extravaganza packed with fun, skill and passion.

Oy, so much passion. I nearly cried the first time I watched the Brazil team sing roar shout the second verse of their national anthem, with neither the band nor the approval of FIFA, yet alongside their entire nation of football-lovers

Anyway, nobody should be worrying about offending FIFA, as the world’s governing football organisation is a fetid, cruel, greedy and corrupt entity, more reminiscent of an organised crime family than a non-profit body overseeing the planet's favourite sport.

Next time, instead of the players droning out FIFA’s anti-racism dogma before kickoff, they should read an affirmation promising FIFA’s commitment to humanity and legality.

Still, happily, it says something for the power of football that despite this loathsome avaricious bunch of bribe-taking, tax dodging, construction worker-killing hoods, the game has never been more popular.

During the opening ceremony, the BBC showed clips of people the world over describing football as a religion. A few days later my good friend Richard and I were discussing the merits - or lack thereof - of Glen Johnson’s inclusion in the England team to play Italy.  The Liverpool player is a regular in the England team, yet we decided he’d never earned his place.

As the Snapper rose to refill her wine glass, she offered:

“Chelsea reject!”

at which point both Richard and I instantaneously and simultaneously mumbled:

“Chelsea reject!”

In fan parlance, any player who once played for your team, yet now wears the colours of another, becomes a ‘reject’, even if you wish he’d stayed. The sentiment makes no rational sense, displaying only a blind loyalty to a central tenet of faith that brings comfort.

If that sounds reminiscent of religious behaviour, what struck me was the way we’d responded to the Snapper's comment. ‘Call and Response’ plays an important role in the ceremonies of several religions.

Football doesn’t offer any answers to the great and mysterious questions of life, death and meaning. What it does do, when at its best, is create an all-encompassing and very welcome distraction.

Oh and yes, it’s fun! We laughed as we played Military Football Bingo, where you score points each time the commentator uses any of the following words or phrases when Germany are playing (which they do, all the time!):

Aerial bombardment; minefield; onslaught; annihilated; retreat; territorial advances; marching on.

We thrilled at late goals in extra time and roared with laughter as the Snapper and I pumped out rousing choruses of the most politically incorrect of duets:

“They find fit birds in the crowd, Tra la-LA la-LAAAH! They find fit birds in the crowd, Traaa la-LA la-la-la!”

When I first moved here I was surprised at how happy the Irish fans felt about their national side going out at the group stages. Now I know how that feels and I don’t mind at all.

There’s a reason clichés exist: there is truth in them. So, at the end of the day, we’re all winners, as football proves itself once again to be greater than any team, nation or organisation. It is the planet's favourite game.

If that’s not hyperbolic enough, football can always take you further. I now yield the floor to the BBC commentator who felt it necessary to travel far beyond the bounds of reason, as he described Robin Van Persie’s beautifully headed goal against Spain:

“The delivery was perfect. The finish even more so!”

©Charlie Adley
(written before the semi-finals)

Monday 7 July 2014


Sometimes it all just becomes a little too much. My energy levels crash, my scribbling buds dry up and finally, I’m unable to organise or prioritise.

Sometimes I just can’t face another ‘ise’ but thankfully I know exactly what to do.

There is no finer medicine for your colyoomist than to pack Blue Bag and drive off in my car Bennet, early on a sunny Summer’s morning.

The sky is pure blue but I suspect that as the day heats up it will fill with towering storm clouds. It’s only 7am but the temperature’s already up to 19c, so it’s going to be a scorcher. Dew steams low-slung clouds that hang above the long grasses at the roadside.

The hay has been cut, leaving green fields of pasture lying beside acres of golden stubble: the visual signature of a warm summer.

To hasten my feelings of escape, I play a little game, trying to decide when I’m really free of the city, all the time knowing that it has to be beyond the last roundabout past Oranmore. Just as it was in my hitching days, once on the road to Clarinbridge I know I'm on a Blue Bag adventure.

Of course now there’s also ‘Dead Tiger Roundabout’ to negotiate. Built for an estate that was never started. I hope that as you drive around it, you revel both in the wondrous absurdity of a roundabout that goes nowhere, while paying heed to how it perfectly reflects the way society goes when driven by greed.

Sunday mornings are absolutely the best time to hit the road. The curtains of Ireland are drawn, hiding sore heads and mouths open and dry. It’s just me and the livestock, both awake for hours, staring at each other across the sweep of tarmac and grass

Shooting down an empty M18, I’m south of Limerick before the shops have sorted their morning papers and by Abbeyfeale I realise I must slow down. In fact, I have to stop, because I’ll arrive way too early.

Amazingly there’s a wee cafe open but I really shouldn’t have the Full Irish, as I had my regular Saturday brekkie yesterday and

“Hello? What can I get you?”
“I’ll errr I’ll have the oh pfffp, I’ll have a Full Irish thanks!”

So weak and yet so right. Perfect, in fact, snarfed down with gallons of strong sweet tea and pages of World Cup drivel from a Sunday red top.

Stuffed and blissed out, I head past Tralee. Half way to Dingle the narrow twisty road is blocked by a couple of cyclists riding 2 abreast.

Many of my friends are cyclists so I listen to long horror stories of how badly they are treated by drivers, but what am I to do? It’s a hell of a long way past Dingle to my friend Angel’s new gaff, so am I supposed to just sit behind them for the next two hours?

Am I supposed to try and overtake them, thereby endangering my own life, theirs and those of any unseen approaching traffic?

Of course they know I’m there but they make no attempt to move. As each mile slowly passes, my grump grows into a growl, until finally I drop a gear and pull out. As I pass them I wind down the window and shout

“What gives you the right to block me? We all have the same right to travel this road!”

Although I feel fairly proud to have used such calm and fair words, when much coarser and more primitive types where looking to escape my moodbox, by the time I’m past them my bliss is gone, my sorrow at the arrogance of others washing away my early morning thrill of freedom.

Thankfully this dark blip does not last long, and within a couple of hours I’m sitting on a grassy ridge, on top of a cliff with my friend Angel. The breeze is cool on our backs while the sun beats onto our faces its full Midsummer heat.

Before us the headlands and distant mountains of The Kingdom are fronted and fringed by a perfectly waveless Atlantic Ocean, bluer only than the clear sky above.

The promised storm clouds never materialised, but my head is soon spinning in cyclones of its own, as Angel expounds his latest theories:

“The sun isn’t setting in the right place. It has moved since last year.”


“There are portions of the Dark Side of the moon that are now visible on random days. You can see it though binoculars.”


“There’s a planet 5 times the size of Jupiter that is heading for our Solar System and - ”

“Blimey!” I interrupt him. “That’ll put the cat among the astronomical pigeons, mate!”

“Too right, pal!”

“Don’t mind that, really. If there’s something out there that’s so huge and impossible to affect, then I might as well just give myself up to it. No probs.”

“Yeh, it’s like a metaphor for death, innit? Look mate, I’m burning up here. Let’s go back to mine and have a cup of tea.”

“Now you’re talking my language mate.”

Early the next morning I awake and experience that unique feeling of your first day away. Today I can do whatever I want.

Sitting in the shade on the front step, I eat a banana, staring at the sun already high in the sky.

Maybe I’ll just sit here all day long.

Instead I pootle around Slea Head. Evidently ‘Pottery Cafés’ are this year's thing. They are everywhere along this road. A slice of carrot cake and an earthenware jug, please. 

Whatever takes your fancy

Some Austrian tourists in a camper van mistake a passing place for a lay-by, setting up their picnic in a space no bigger than a Ford Fiesta.

The traffic, now blocked in both directions, clings to the steep cliffs as far as the eye can see.

I sit back and laugh. There is no rage in me any more.

Mission accomplished!

Charlie Adley