Sunday, 15 October 2017


Holy macaroni! Am I hallucinating? Did my housemates slip a tab of acid into my tea? No, they wouldn’t do that. Well they might, but not on the first day of my first job in Galway.

From my tiny semi-slum in Salthill I’d walked to Bishop O’Donnell Road, where my legs froze and my heartbeat rose, as I stared at my destination: the Rahoon Flats.

When I’d told my Galwegian friends where I’d be working, they’d muttered about heroin and violence, but to my Londoner’s eyes the towers looked neither too daunting nor deprived.

It wasn’t the buildings, but the huge mural painted on the side of one of them that took my breath away. Who else in Galway would recognise Bradford’s skyline, the very city I’d left 7 months before? 

After a one-way flight, I’d randomly hitched around Europe looking for a home, ended up in Galway, found work with Traveller children in the Rahoon Flats, where I now stood, rooted to the spot, my eyes running over those familiar silhouetted mosques, the museum, the mill chimneys, the terraces of tiny houses wound around the hills that used to be home.

A born scribbler, my first instinct was to write about this coincidence and mystery, so I did some research, and discovered that Bradford and Galway were twin cities.

They’re what?

Looking here and there and then here I started to feel giddy, so I typed Double Vision onto the sheet of paper in my typewriter, launching into a rant about the glaring differences between the two cities.

Bradford is in the centre of England, built on 7 hills, while Galway is almost flat and very much on the coast. Bradford has the largest Pakistani population outside of Pakistan, while Galway, back in 1992, was almost completely white.

The list went on, and when it was done I strode into town, clutching three sheets of paper. Uninvited and dry-mouthed, I walked into the Connacht Tribune newsroom, asking for the Editor.

Mike Glynn read my copy and that was the start of our beautiful friendship and working relationship that this week turns 25.

No journey worth its salt runs without twists and bumps. The colyoom stopped for 4 years when I moved to America, and in 2009, along with the economy and much human dignity, Double Vision was removed from the scene of the crash, yet both times it was returned to me, for which I am truly grateful.

Apparently, before I first wandered into their workspace, Mike and that pure gentleman Brendan Carroll had just decided that the City Tribune needed an outsider’s perspective, to reflect Galway’s rampant population growth. That was my brief, but I figured that everything I thought came from an outsider’s perspective, so I wrote whatever I wanted.

Well, that’s not true.
Two obstacles stood in the way of my free speech.

The first was my complete ignorance of all things Irish. Having lived and worked in London, Melbourne and Barcelona, I arrived in Ireland to find there was neither divorce nor contraception, and that married women had relatively recently been ‘allowed’ back to work.

The nation had morals mired in the 1950s, a younger generation groping awkwardly through the early 1980s, and an absence of respect for the environment worthy of the 1970s.

Ireland was a fabulously infuriating paradox, with no political Left or Right, help-line phone numbers that were somehow illegal and white Travellers the only available targets for racism.

Quickly and utterly bemused and confused, I wisely protected myself behind a nom de plume

After writing about abortion in my second week, someone telephoned the Tribune and threatened to blow up the building. 

Further intimidation, in the shape of used condoms, a dog turd and photos of a monkey foetus arrived in the mail.

On top of that, Irish libel laws turned out to be vast and vague, presenting huge problems.

If this colyoom ever feels toothless to you, please understand that in the last 6 months alone 2 pieces had to be pulled: one was too specific about a company damaging our marine environment, while the other, written so carefully that a local retailer who had abused and ripped me off was unidentifiable, apparently meant that any business might lose out and sue.

Aside from such serious matters there’s been craic aplenty. At the risk of going all dwaaarling luveee, thanks must go to Dave O’Connell, for inflicting Double Vision onto Connacht Tribune readers; all the friendly faces in the newsroom (and Mac) and, of course, my cast of friends and loved-ones.

Thanks to Whispering Blue, The Guru, Angel, The Body, Blitz, Dalooney, Yoda, the Magician, Artist in Blue Towel and of course The Snapper.

Thanks to you also, my loyal colyoomistas, for buying this newspaper in a digital age.

Double Vision came about because Ireland and England are simultaneously so similar and different. However, thankfully there is one wondrous and internationally unique trait we share: slagging is to attack with affection, and it only really works when reciprocated.

As an Englishman living in the West of Ireland, I accept regular hysterical and historical slagging. Soon after Double Vision started, people told me they’d enjoyed my colyoom.

“My what?”
“Oh, you know. Your colyoom in the paper. Your ar-tickle.”

Aha! So in the same way that the Irish watched a fil-em rather than a film, they read a colyoom, not a column.

This colyoom says thanks. 
See you next week.

©Charlie Adley

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