Sunday 30 June 2019


Charisma carries no moral code. It cares for neither colour, race, ideology nor creed.

Only charisma can link Muhammad Ali, Adolf Hitler, Madonna, Mahatma Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher and Martin Luther King.

Charisma doesn’t care if it’s right or wrong, good or bad.

Yet inevitably it wins, because we humans cannot resist it.

Boris Johnson relies on his charisma. Throughout his tempestuous political career, it has saved him from serial charges of lying, incompetence and adultery.

Tory leadership elections are notoriously unpredictable affairs. At first Johnson’s team tried desperately to avoid upsetting moderate members.

They bound and trussed him into Boris Lite, and told him to evade the media.

The restraints of Boris Lite inhibited his charisma, making Johnson appear flat and dull, but as we saw last weekend, you cannot cage this man for long.

During his regular fits of rage, Johnson likes to throw things across the room, displaying the arrogance of a man who never has to clean up.

Even a flat dull Boris Lite looks pretty perky and charismatic next to his opponent.

A graduate of the Ed Miliband School of Charisma, Jeremy Hunt had, at first, no choice but to present himself as the sensible cerebral candidate; the man with the plan; Theresa in trousers.

Now Johnson’s cowardice and evasion have handed Hunt an opportunity to bully the bully, although I doubt Hunt’s fortitude in that struggle. 

However Hunt is gaining ground, doing well at the Tory hustings because he’s able to respond to questions with answers, while his opponent can only offer fantasy.

This wasn’t the way Boris planned it. He wanted to respond to the Boris Signal and fly in to rescue Britain, after it had already crashed out with a No Deal.

Now his nonensical plan is to negotiate a trade deal with the EU during the Implementation Period after a No Deal.

Cue the kid watching the naked Emperor:

“What the hell’s he talking about? That’s impossible. There will be no Implementation Period after a No Deal.”

Tories say only Boris can win an election, but history shows that those good at winning elections rarely make great leaders.

The lovechild of Mick Jagger and a dry roasted peanut, Rory Stewart made himself noticed  by trashing the other candidates’ disingenuous talk of a new deal.

Yet with all their self-important posturing, not one ever mentioned the elephantine EU presence in the room: it doesn’t matter what Westminster does or doesn’t decide.

Come October 31st, if there is no deal, the EU will declare No Deal.

With just 4 months left, the Tories fiddle while Britain burns.

I want to explode every time I hear them talk of putting a time limit on the backstop. 

When they can form a meaningful sentence using the words ‘peace process’ and ‘temporary’ I will listen.

We here in Ireland know that No Deal means a hard border; a return to full partition.

The Tories can be cavalier about that, as they know the EU will be forced to build the physical border, to protect the integrity of the Single Market.

If you feel the English just don’t care about Ireland, you need to understand how we’ve been failed by our education. We are taught nothing about the place, its people and history.

By the time I arrived in Ireland I’d travelled the planet twice, could bore the pants off you with tales of Italy’s Risorgimento and the birth of Germany, but I didn’t even know the Irish had a civil war.

Ignorance is the weakest defence. I’m neither condoning English ignorance of Ireland, nor their contemptuous attitude to the peace process.

It’s just a tough truth: we weren’t taught about Ireland.

Conservatives whine on about their ‘precious union with Northern Ireland’, yet ask any about the situation there and they instantly retreat, wailing 

“Oh, I don’t know. It’s all too complicated!”

If you’re feeling confused by English democracy, that’d be because this isn’t democracy, merely hypocrisy.

Both candidates insist it’s vital to obey 17 million votes (while disregarding 16 million votes), yet one of them will be elected leader of a nation of 64 million people, by 0.3% of the population, mostly white affluent males aged between 57 and 72.

Beyond his inadequacies and obfuscations, the most troubling thing about Johnson is his unbridled opportunism. Of course we expect this of ambitious politicians, but Johnson’s absolute craving for power has morphed him into a moral vacuum.

Instinctively a Remainer and a liberal, his dribbling eagerness to abandon everything he believes in still manages to drop the jaw.

Ridiculous really, when we’ve just had a Remainer PM arguing to leave, while Corbyn is a Leaver arguing to, well, who the hell knows?

When the people of the UK needed a strong Opposition, they’ve had instead a Labour leader liberated from direction and conviction. 

Corbyn resembles a bewildered grandad, out on a day trip against his will.

The Irish have every right to feel anger about this Brexit debacle. As a man proud to be both English and Irish, it all feels crushingly sad.

Barring the revelation of a 6th (or is it 7th?) child, by the end of July we’ll be dealing with Prime Minster Johnson. His charisma is then likely to win a majority at a General Election, so he can dump the DUP.

However, charisma doesn’t get the job done.

After his No Deal Brexit has devastated the UK economy, and the hard border on this island has spawned violence, we’ll see how little financial and political support Johnson is willing to invest in Northern Ireland, to protect his precious union.

©Charlie Adley

Monday 24 June 2019

Your mañana culture has been good for me!

For decades I’d hitch everywhere. I hitched to the pub and school and friends’ houses.

When those friends became scattered around the country in various universities, I thought nothing of hitching to Bradford, Exeter, Oxford and Hull.

During teenage Summers, I’d hitch all over Europe. At 19 I hitched to Israel and then ventured further afield, hitching in New Zealand and Australia in my 20s

Adopting a philosophy that allowed no ill will to those who did not stop, I made the process pleasurable.

Why would anyone stop to pick up a complete stranger?

I poured scorn on those who swore and raged at each passing car.
Why choose such an angry path?

In the middle of absolutely nowhere for hours, I’d stand by the side of a road, enjoying a view that, quite possibly, nobody else had ever seen from that particular perspective.

Eventually a car would stop, but for as long as it took I’d wait, loving my place in the world.

As a result, I learned the power of patience. Even as I hear the scornful snorts of many out there who have encountered me as the opposite, I consider myself a patient man.

Just as well, as the West of Ireland’s mañana culture can be testing. Yet In many ways your laxity of punctuality has been good for me.

Being an anal retentive control freak raised in a Protestant country, I still arrive early for every appointment, but since moving here 27 years ago, I’ve become much more relaxed about making plans to see friends.

Thankfully in this Twittery age of instant gratification, rushing and immediacy, the people of the West of Ireland still become instantly and absolutely terrified when asked to make a firm social arrangement.

Such piercing and intimidating questions as: “Fancy a coffee next Tuesday afternoon?” are met with stretched wide eyes, while just the slightest hint of sweat breaks out on the Galwegian’s upper lip.

“Sounds good, yeh, let’s see how she’s hangin’ …” they fluff and mumble in return, and that’s fine, because here in the West of Ireland our social lives happen to us.

Unlike those who live in intensely populated areas of the world, Galwegians are so incredibly likely to bump into somebody they know, they just allow that coming together to happen and then enjoy it.

This amorphous social melding has served my soul well, helping me to relax, to trust spontaneity and chance.

Sadly however, when applied to business, Connacht’s creative interpretation of time drives me doolally.

I’m sitting in The Quays, as I’ve an appointment to meet somebody at 12. They asked for the meeting, and while I don’t know precisely what they want, I know for certain two things: the work will involve the use of my writing and editing skills, and I won’t be getting paid for it.

Given the individual involved, both of those conditions are fine.

In a slightly hippy-dippy way, I quite like doing the many unpaid jobs that others ask me to. Just as well really, as freebies are part of the deal for Ireland’s creatives.

It’d take me a lifetime to draw a leaf, but I’m able to edit in 40 minutes what might take others days.

As well as the simple pleasure I feel from helping others, I’ve put something out there which will one day return in benign manifestation.

Ah come on now, with all yer fancy syllables.
There’s no need for that at all.

Ye lads put it most succinctly: what goes around comes around.

Now it’s 12:25, and I’m still sitting in the pub, waiting for this person to arrive. They have my mobile number, yet have neither called nor texted.

Had I been sitting in that pub with no agenda, I'd have enjoyed doing nothing more profound than spend hours spacing out, staring at the whiskies on the top shelf … the crack in the wall … anything …

Instead I sit upright in Business Mode, alert and ready to listen, aware of each passing minute.

At 13:14 I give up and leave.

Taking the proverbial.

Part of me envies your ability to apply leisurely timeframes to your working days. When my presence has been requested, I find it challenging to wait for a requester who is extravagantly late, or like today, just doesn’t turn up at all.

I talk to many others who run their own small businesses, and the one thing that drives us all crazy is people's inability to commit to a time.

We’re ready and eager to crack on, build, create, do the job, but we have learned to let go, because often in the West of Ireland when somebody says Tuesday, they mean November.

I cannot think of how many local service people I have called who are unwilling to work during that period of time several million global residents describe as ‘the working week.’

They insist they can only call me back after 7pm, and if they can do the job, which they're not sure they can, it'd have to be at the weekend.

My patience crumbles into dust. There’s a point where this laid back ‘Jamaicans of Europe’ culture (no offence to Jamaicans, that’s just what the Irish call themselves) creates a workforce overcome with lethargy, where people prefer to procrastinate, rather than accept your business.

Or they call you, ask you to meet them, and don't turn up.

Thankfully life exists beyond business, so I willingly embrace your relaxed timekeeping, as it’s admirably lacking in materialistic ambition, and travels alongside a surprising social life.

©Charlie Adley

Sunday 16 June 2019

Time to break my magic spell of solitude...

The last four months of my life have been quite remarkable, in a very quiet way. 

At the end of January, when I moved into a house two miles outside a town where I know nobody, I felt neither the need nor desire to venture out and socialise.

When the landscape of your life fundamentally changes, the fallout is exhausting. 

I needed to withdraw; rebuild faith; repair my bewildered head; to live in my own space, where nobody could be offended when I jump in the air screeching with surprise as they enter the room, as nobody is going to enter the room.

I don’t know if this leaping and screaming is a characteristic of writers. 

Maybe it’s just me.

During waking hours my head wanders far far away, and loved-ones in the past have been justifiably upset when I shrieked with shock as they walked around their own their home.

My magic spell of solitude has not yet been broken.

Each day I sit and look down the driveway, loving the fact that apart from the farmer and the postwoman, nobody is going to come up it. 

...ain't nobody comin' up that...

For many of you, solitude of the intensity I’ve enjoyed over the last months would seem like hell on earth, but for me it has been perfect.

It’s how I make myself better, and although I’ve still far to go, this was never intended to be a permanent state of affairs.

I correctly suspected that by the time my spring Craft of Writing Course was finished, I’d feel more able to engage the town; to start building a life for myself here.

I’m ready now, but in no rush. Once the magic spell is broken it will be gone for good. Mind you, it’s not as if queues will suddenly start forming up the drive, for an audience with His Scribblership.

Save for calls to my wonderful mum, four or five days of absolute silence have been interspersed with intense social and work-related day trips to Galway.

We all need human contact, and I’ve enjoyed catching up with Whispering Blue, Soldier Boy and The Gillie, buying my Griffins bread (irreplaceable!), hanging out with The Body and Dalooney and then going off to teach, with croaky voice.

Back home here, after 12 hours of full-on social behaviour, my ears ring in the deep silence. 

In the meantime I’ve been getting to know my non-human neighbours.

There are now three robins that come to feed at my feet as I sit outside, while to my delight, a few weeks ago the baby bunnies on my lawn stopped running away. 

They must have been born since I arrived, so they’ve always known me, and happily bounce and munch, while I sit and watch.

Strangely, with all this verdant splendour, I spend a lot of time staring at the low breeze block wall opposite my kitchen window.

Shortly after I arrived here I noticed a yellow tit scouting around a hole in the grouting. His partner arrived, gave her approval and they were off, gathering seemingly endless tiny parcels of moss and white fluff, squeezing sideways into the teeny gap in the wall and flying off again.

After making thousands of these trips the nest inside the wall must’ve been huge. Then one morning Himself arrived back with a worm in his mouth, and I knew their chicks had hatched.

That was weeks ago and still, throughout every single minute of these extravagantly long days, the pair of them constantly squeeze in and out of their breeze block nest, delivering a constant conveyor belt of worms and grubs to their babies.

Now I’m looking forward to seeing cheeky beaks appear, and then watching those fluffy fledglings make their big leap!

Back in the human world I enjoy the time I spend in my nearby town. My face is known in the Post Office and electrical shop, as well as the wonderful ‘everything’ shop, and of course, the cafe where I have my Saturday breakfast.

When much suddenly changes in your life, you hang tight to the few things that stay the same: precious friendships, family support and personal rituals.

Working for myself, it’s important that one day a week I feel free from responsibility. That includes cooking, so one of the first things I did in my new town was check out all the pubs and cafes which served breakfast.

My needs are simple yet quite particular: I want two eggs without having to ask for an extra one, and I want to pay no more than €10 with healthy tip.

After a whirlwind tour that took in four establishments of varying poshness and one eggness, I found the venue for my Saturday ritual.

It’s a working class caff type place, with perfect menu and pricing, but on my first morning there I started to wonder if I’d made a booboo.

I was the only bloke around.
Ah but it was early yet.

Within 15 minutes the place was jammed with groups of local men, devouring huge breakfasts as they talked and laughed with each other.

Sound choice.

On my third visit the owner greeted me with words every human with testicles longs to hear:

“Good morning! The usual, sir?”

As things stand that’s the limit of my interaction with my new town, but that will change this summer. In the meantime I’ll enjoy these last few days of - Oh!


My hand involuntarily lifts itself to my mouth, as 5 metres away, outside my office window, the fox trots calmly across the lawn with one of the baby bunnies in his mouth.

Good news for fox cubs, and to be fair, there’s no shortage of rabbits around here.

But oh.

The French nailed that one:  

C’est la vie, c’est la guerre.

©Charlie Adley

Sunday 9 June 2019


The evil spawn of The New Rude was born when we were forced to accept waiting on help lines. 

Not one of us escaped that moment when we first had to decide to give in; to relent; to realise we had no choice but to obey their corporate rules.

There is no alternative: we have to relinquish any lingering feelings of self-respect, as we hold the phone to our ears, listening to an irritatingly smiley voice telling us in doublespeak that our call is important to the company, while simultaneously and emphatically showing us it is not.

If you ever need a definition of disingenuous, it is that slimy suggestion.

Were our custom in any way important to them, we’d not be hearing 37 minutes of a looped recording telling us that we can solve our problems on the web. If we could, we’d most certainly not be calling them.

And the music.
Oh the music.

Be it Billy Joel singing while he's being electrocuted, or a jazzed up distorted Bolero screech, the music serves to wear down our resistance; deplete our will; whittle away at our self-esteem.

As part of the overwhelming response to this colyoom’s recent complaint about Eir, I was sent a clipping from the Sligo Champion, in which Ciara Galvin was reporting on mass walk outs by employees at Eir’s call centre.

According to one of those workers, Eir had told their staff to “Take as many calls as you can and don’t worry about the customer.”

We are the casualties of this war. We are not customers. We are enemies, to be cash-extracted in the way that least damages the corporate entity.

The New Rude stems from the way these companies make us feel less than worthy as humans. We absorb that lack of respect, and then export it, allowing it to influence how we deal with each other, increasingly in less than worthy manner.

The New Rude is infecting us all.

I’ve seen how it manifests itself, draining down like a leaking poison from mega global organisations into tiny family-owned businesses.

I left home at 7:30 as I was teaching a class in Galway at 10am, and needed to pick up work from the print shop on the way in.

The printers’ website clearly stated they’d be open at 8:30, so I was upset to arrive at 8:45 and find the place closed.

At 9:05 lights finally came on inside the building, and I made sure to keep an even tone as I mentioned their opening times.

“We open at nine.” she said, with her back turned to me.

“Well, sorry, but not according to your website.”

“No! Our website says we open at nine.”

Really? Are you really going to argue Trumpian fake facts with me now? 

I know it’s early in the morning and you’ve not had your double mochalattechino yet, but rather than being polite to your regular customer, or even, gasp shock horror, apologetic, you’re going to argue with me over your own inaccuracy?

Instead of thrusting my phone towards her to prove the truth, I smiled, gave her money, took my work and left.

Generally I like to spend my dosh in my local community, but as I drove away I wondered why.

My chimney needed sweeping, but there only seemed to be one person available, who lived in a town 25 km away. He said he’d let me know when he was going to be working in my area.

Six weeks later he sends me a text to say he’s in my town the next day. I text back saying that’s great, any time after 1pm would be wonderful, as I’m out in the morning.

He replies: ‘I’ll be there at 10:30.’

Angry at the disdainful way he’s dealt with me, I text: ‘No you won’t! I’m not here then! Can you please come at 1?’

I’m still waiting for a reply, but this is The New Rude: a callous disregard for the customer, propelled by universal belittling of individual needs.

The New Rude loves banks, where humans pluck us out from queues, to make lodgements with machines that we know are putting people out of work. 

It thrives in supermarkets, where we’re forced to interact with other machines that are putting people out of work. The New Rude depresses and dehumanises us, when we or the machine makes an error and we have to seek help from a human, who still has a job. 

When the machines all work and we all know how to use them, there’ll be no need for humans at all.

Thankfully at the moment The New Rude is merely the rusty hinge making noise. Here in the West of Ireland most of our social hinges rotate silently and smoothly. Here respect still exists between company and customer.

When I need to overnight in Galway City I usually stay with friends, but when that’s not convenient, I take a room at Flannery’s Hotel.

Crisp, reliable and unpretentious, Flannery’s is affordable and friendly, but a while back I experienced a minor misunderstanding with a member of staff.

Had the place been taken over? Had they too been swallowed by a plastic menu chain, who’d enforced a change in  attitudes to customers?

After having a gentle word in the manager’s shell-like, I felt wholly reassured and forgot all about it.

Months later I stayed there, and entered my room to find a box of chocolates and a card on my bed.

“Welcome back, Mr.Adley. We hope you enjoy your stay, from all of us here at Flannery’s.”

This hotel will never become rich from my occasional custom, but evidently other matters mattered more to them.

My spirits soared. They cared. As long as customers and companies continue to respect each other, The New Rude will never completely control us.

©Charlie Adley

Sunday 2 June 2019


When I realise I’ve been incredibly stupid I become excited; all of a quiver. 

Neither a potato with legs nor a member of Mensa, I like to think I’m smart enough, and then -  bam - I hear something I should know, or say something crass and I’m instant Homer Simpson.

As long as my ignorance has been benign, with no blood spilt, no dreams trodden on or hearts broken, I will revel in my own folly.

A few days ago I was sitting in my front garden with a good friend of mine, debating the difference between extrovert and introvert.

“I’m an introvert,” he said, “but I also need time with others. Of course, it’s all a spectrum anyway.”

That was my moment. My jaw still feels like dropping when I think of how fast and wide runs my River of Dumbness.

Shock and disgust came on heavy and strong, because they were built on two separate ares of my own ignorance.

The first was simply that I couldn’t believe I’d never thought about it in those terms, given that this whole introvert/extrovert malarkey fascinates me.

In no small way it has defined my major relationships and the way I live.

The second reason I was shocked was that all my adult life I’ve lived frustrated by the way others dwell in the land of absolutes, when it’s starkly clear to me that just about every aspect of the human condition exists within a spectrum.

Goodness knows why I’d chosen to perceive introvert/extrovert in absolute terms. I suspect that ego was involved, in that I am an extreme case of introvert, and by making the huge misjudgment of creating a false normal, the idea of moderation never occurred to me.

Of course, in my own case (and yours, because you’re human too!) there are contradictions.

One might expect someone who sees themselves as extreme introvert to be shy and nervous about social interaction, but happily I can shuffle a full deck of social skills, and appear to be a gregarious type.

I’d forgive you if you thought I was an out-and-out extrovert, but even though I’m genuinely having fun with y’all out there, behind the flesh, with every chat, every moment in the company of others, my energy levels are depleting, my equilibrium wobbling.

Where an extrovert might feed off such social energy, becoming stronger from the company of others, I gradually fade if I have no time to be alone; to process; to rebuild.

That’s just me. You and everyone else will have as many differing parameters of introvert/extrovert as we differ in every other way.

Of course it’s a spectrum: just about everything is.

The blokes sitting on the barstools to my left have been in heated and heartfelt debate about whether yer man was lying to himself, when he was in bed with his wife, if he only ever wanted sex with the fella from the Statoil.

The man further from me reasons that you wouldn’t go for the fella from the Statoil if you didn’t have to, or, like, y’know, unless you really wanted to.

All my life I’ve had to decide whether I’m going to hold my breath and stay silent. If I’m going to intervene and offer an alternative perspective, it’d probably be on race, because I can’t fight ‘em all.

Sadly, most of the time there’s little point.

These lads seem decent enough though, genuinely concerned about their mate. I sit beside them and think of spectrums. 

Theirs is private business, so I’ve not the slightest intention of tapping himself on the shoulder and going off on one, in an English accent, about the tiny subtleties of life and sexuality.

Not going to happen.

Instead I simply wonder. 

Maybe their mate was faking it when he made love to his wife.
Maybe he wasn’t. 
Maybe he loved sex with her as well as the fella from Statoil.

These young men have smartphones. They’re connected and they watch Netflix. The idea of bisexuality and talk of gender fluidity must have crossed their paths. However it’s absolutely not on their agenda, when they’re considering their own lives.

Only identical twins and clones are born exactly the same, and then even they are socialised differently, and evolve differing personalities, sexualities, minds and behaviours.

All the rest of us are utterly different, so why oh why do bigots and ignorant people (they can be different) insist and often evangelise that gay is gay, schizo is schizo, autistic is autistic?

A psychotherapist recently told me that he has four clients on his list who each identify themselves as bipolar. As an experienced doctor of the mind, he accepted that’s how they saw themselves, despite the fact that they all presented utterly different symptoms.

Attaching labels to ourselves and other humans is like trying to plant a flag on top of the ocean. It might float in the desired place for a moment, but every person is uniquely individual and permanently in flux.

All human traits, characteristics and behaviours are fluid, washing into each other as they wander around our various spectrums.

It is crass to talk of humans in absolutes. To aspire to become absolute in some way, completely one or t’other, would be utterly pointless.

I’d be really surprised if you were 100% straight. I’m not saying you fancy the bloke from the Statoil, or the woman in the Post Office. That’s not the dividing wall.

We’re all a blissful one-off blend of race, gender, sexuality and mental health.

©Charlie  Adley