Sunday, 27 January 2019

A long way from everywhere, yet not far from anywhere!

There’s an old Yiddish proverb that says: when you don't know where you're going, every road will take you there.

Telling myself that not knowing where I was going was really just being open-minded about where I live, I scoured four property websites every night for months, searching the entire counties of Mayo, Galway and Clare.

Served notice to leave, I had to go. Part of me wanted to anyway. Right now I need a sanctuary; a healing place.

My home is just too important. I’m incapable of deciding, in less time than I spend trying on new boots, if a house can become be the home in which I’ll be happy to work and live.

I get all panicky and tongue-tied, so when I first went to look at this house, I bought my friend Whispering Blue.

He’s visited all my homes in Ireland.

I knew he’d know.
It was the right price, but was it right?

“It has a good feel about it, Charlie. It’s very you.”

I’m so lucky to have friends I trust implicitly.

Done deal, so I’ve gone, this time heading inland for my first time in Ireland.

While the edges of countries are naturally the most exciting places, bustling with trade, culture and tourism, I often feel the true essence of a country, be it bland, bilious or brilliant, lies in its middle.

I’m excited to find out, but at my own pace.
Oy. This wandering Jew’s road has been winding.

It started in the leafy North West London suburb of Stanmore, where I was born into a big house with a fabulous garden.

When I was ten we moved into a terraced quasi-Georgian in a cul-de-sac, and 10 years later shifted to a smaller bungalow around the corner, where my mother still lives.

From there I moved to Cambridge, where I shared a filthy flat over a chemist's shop with my much-missed friend Jon. Young lads eager to break our umbilicals, the place was littered with Scalextric tracks, empty KFC buckets and gallons of home-brewed beer.

Moving back to London in ’83 I made a wad of dosh marketing for a Japanese company, while sharing a flat in Highgate with a Canadian ballet dancer.

She used to stand in the kitchen with her ankle on her head.

Disenchanted with the corporate world, I wandered the world, landing in a friend’s luxury home with swimming pool in a posh Melbourne suburb.

There I worked in a garage, doing up cars and generally ladding it up Aussie style for a good while.

Back in London by ‘85, I decided to take the scribbling seriously. After three years writing in a tatty old flat in Golders Green, NW11, I left the prohibitively expensive capital city for what was then the cheapest place in England: Bradford, West Yorkshire.

A year at Nurser Place in a very pleasant 3-bedroomed terrace, shared with friends and loved ones, was followed by a brief yet intense period of madness.

Then I had two years in a decrepit damp old terraced house in Ellercroft Road, which I shared with 32,000 mice and two longhaired DJs from hell.

Escaping England on a one-way ticket to Malaga in 1992, I hitched to Barcelona and enjoyed a splendid Olympic summer, living in my friend’s duplex above the gentle old plaza-strewn streets of Gracia.

I loved Catalunya but it wasn’t home, so I hitched over the Pyrenees, up through France, and took the boat from Roscoff to Cork City.

In Kinsale I worked as a kitchen porter while living in a hostel, going gently yet certainly mad from sleep deprivation and split shifts.

Hitching north, I ended up in Salthill, where for a year my tiny house turned into a 24 Hour Party Pandemonium, so another move, just around the corner, to the anodyne, warm yet fireplace-free flats of Church View Mews.

Fleeing the city madness I headed west to my soul’s own country, Connemara, where I lived blissfully, on the shore of Lough Anaserd, until I fell in love.

Deserting Ireland, I moved to San Francisco's Lower Haight, an area back then decadent enough to make me feel welcome.

A month later I moved to a very grand apartment on Fell Street, near Golden Gate Park. Although there was, as the locals put it, an awesome sweep to those hardwood floors, there were also problems with my relationship with America.

Tragically a move 65 miles north, to tiny Occidental in Sonoma County’s magnificent Redwood Empire came too late.

Much damage was done, and I returned to Ireland finally aware that I belong here, anywhere west, from Cork to Donegal.

I’d not stray again.

After two years in a crazy haunted and magical house in the Claddagh, I moved to wonderful Killala, north Mayo, into a lovely warm old farmhouse, where I was ecstatically happy for more than three years.

Sadly, by the middle of the fourth I started to feel lonely, as people seldom came round.

Then, on my very last night in the house, half the village arrived to throw me a surprise leaving party.


It was absolutely exceptional and glorious.

All my glasses were packed in boxes, but not for long. I woke the next day to find one character sleeping face down in my bath.

Back to Salthill for 2 years in a one-bedroom house, followed by 6 in a grand Rockbarton terrace just off the Prom, and then 7 years beside Lough Corrib, a half an hour from Galway.

What a journey!

From my new home it’s an hour and 10 minutes to the Coolagh roundabout, so I’ll be down every week.

You don’t get rid of me that easily!

Where am I living?

Well, now that I’m officially Irish as well as English, I’ll obfuscate the details by delving into your native love of paradox.

My new home is a long way from everywhere, yet not far from anywhere.

©Charlie Adley

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