Monday 28 October 2019


Saturday 19th October (yes, 10 days ago, slack git...)

06:10: Way too early to wake up! I told myself last night that I don’t need to get up until 7:45, so I can make tea and toast before the game. 

Everything else can wait until the gap between quarter finals.

Yeh, but I need to go to the loo, so I might as well take the next antibiotic, which means I need to eat a banana in bed with it, which means I’ll just finish reading that chapter in my bedside book.

That’s it.
Lights off.

Back to sleep now.

6:35: Sod it! Brain’s racing.

Still dark outside and no, just chill out and read another chapter.

07:45: Gave up on bed an hour ago. Made the fire and showered. Caught up with the latest from Westminster. 

In a parody of Sky Sports, they’re calling today ‘Super Saturday’, as it might be the day that sees Brexit sorted, and (yawn) it might not.

If Letwin’s vote fails, there’s a slim chance the government might win their vote and pass the deal. Unlikely, and right now nobody knows, so time to cook eggs and bacon.

08:05: Noshing cooked breakfast with a mug of builder’s tea, WhatsApping with my mates in London who are equally excited, sending photos of themselves in their England shirts. Come on England!

09:07: I want to live in the place where Owen Farrell’s eyes go to before he kicks. I totally understand his ritual. 

Whether he’s right in front of the posts or aiming at a crazy awkward angle, he treats each kick exactly the same way; the same rocking arms back and forth; the same peering at the ball, the same eyes rolling off into another dimension; the same run-up and the same kick.

There is no easy kick nor hard kick: just the kick. A little spooky to watch, but I get where he’s at.

11:00: Fired up for Ireland. I’ve completely bought into the hype, instead of listening to expert friends, who suggest that Ireland aren’t as good as they think they are.

More to the point, they advised me, it’s irrelevant Ireland have beaten them twice in the last 3 meetings, as the All Blacks are a different outfit when they’re playing a meaningful game.

Before kick-off, my mind wanders to the possibility of an England v Ireland World Cup Semi Final.

In previous years, my loyalty would be 100% behind my native country.

Although I’m Irish now, I have lived as an Englishman in Ireland for nearly 30 years, and nothing makes you feel more patriotic than being perpetually blamed for 800 years of history that was nothing to do with you.

Today though, I feel a bit different, and that disturbs me.

England have won the Rugby World Cup and Ireland are yet to win a knockout game in the competition.

If England made the World Cup Final, the country would be thrilled to bits.

If the Irish beat the All Blacks, this nation would be gripped in a rabid frenzy of excitement.

If then they beat the Auld Enemy, to make the Word Cup Final, these 32 counties would go absolutely ballistic.

November would be cancelled and we’d party all the way to Christmas.

It’s impossible to imagine not shouting for England, yet part of me would love to see Ireland make it through to the final. 

Throughout this interminable Brexit debacle, the English have shown arrogance and ignorance to the island of Ireland.

Ignoring the fact that Northern Ireland voted to remain, successive Prime Ministers have clung to and then discarded the votes of DUP extremists, as and when it suited.

The average person on England’s streets doesn’t have a clue about this island, and doesn’t give a monkey’s about it.

I know, as I was one of them.

If it comes to England v Ireland then I think, for the first time, I’d shout for my adopted home.

Ireland deserves it - all 32 counties, shoulder to shoulder - by way of an apology for all the suffering that Brexit has bought and is yet to inflict.

12:50: Oh dear. Oh dear dear dear. Make a metal note not to mention this game to any of my Irish friends.

Still, at least my heart won’t be torn in next Saturday’s semifinal. I will be wholly English, and while there’s always hope, I don’t fancy our chances against the All Blacks.

There’s always hope.

Off out to buy newspapers, milk and victuals, and back to catch up with the debate in the House of Commons.

In or out, up the wall or round the bend, whichever way they’re voting they’d better get it done before Chelsea’s 3 o’clock kick off.

14:50: Come on! Hurry it up, Westminster! Tension rises to critical levels in my living room, as I wait for the result of the Letwin vote. Aha! Amendment passed. Brexit delayed. Time to watch footie.

14:55: Not yet. Johnson is claiming he won’t ask for a delay. Like an over-excited six-year-old, through his cunning wheeze of sending two letters to Brussels and only signing the one he likes, the PM is going to obey the law and simultaneously ignore it.

14:57: Completely confused by my day’s shifting lines of devotion and feelings of belonging. 

It looks like my beloved native nation is oozing slowly towards civil war, along with Spain, and so many other crumbling countries formed of dubious unions.

Ho hum.

15:00: Off to Stamford Bridge. The eggy balls confused my heart, but this round one offers the pure and simple pleasure of one loyalty that holds no controversy for me: I’m Chelsea, through and through.

Come on you Blues!

©Charlie Adley
28.10. 2019.

Sunday 20 October 2019


In my tiny freezer I’ve a large brown pan and a sourdough loaf from Griffin's Bakery, which closed its doors for the last time a few weeks ago.

The longer the loaves sit there, the drier and less bouncy they become, but driven by a sad desire for delayed gratification, they sit there still.

My reaction is not so much about the bread, but my attachment to Griffin’s. Fans of David Chase’s masterpiece, The Sopranos, will understand when I say I’m coming over all Bobby Baccalieri.

Realised by actor Steve Schirripa, Robert Baccalieri Jr. was a shy, comparatively gentle mobster, who was at his happiest playing with model trains.

Bobby had several nicknames,  (’Baccalà’, ’Calzone on Legs’ and ’Burger Boy’), all celebrating the way his waistline crossed several time zones.

When his wife Karen died in a car crash, Bobby focused on looking after his two young children, Sophia and Bobby III.

Unfortunately, Karen’s death caught the attention of Mob Boss Tony Soprano’s machiavellian sister, Janice, who used all her malign talents to inveigle her way into Bobby’s home.

Karen’s last baked ziti sat like a holy relic in Bobby’s freezer. He saw it as a vital final sensory link to his wife.

Driven demented by Bobby’s refusal to embrace her as his new saviour, Janice cooked up a vile scheme, which involved abusing Bobby’s kids’ grief with an ouija board.

Bobby arrived home to find his children terrified, while Janice played a manipulative blinder, telling Bobby that she’d heard them talk about Karen’s ghost earlier, but worried she’d be overstepping her bounds if she intervened.

Faced with his freaked out kids, Bobby finally caved in to Janice’s pleas to move on from Karen, allowing her to cook his wife's last ziti.

Janice’s victory was so complete that by the time they ate the ziti together, it was in honour of their engagement.

Thankfully my life is far from gangsters, but I do have two Griffin’s loaves in my freezer, for purely sentimental reasons.

We all have our little routes when we head into town, and for decades mine always included Griffin’s bakery.

Their large brown pan was a thing of beauty. Unsliced, that loaf would stay fresh and last me a week. It was real bread: the stuff of life.

No more.

There’s no shortage of O’Hehirs Bakeries. Offering lovely bread, gooey cakes, and a nice little social scene, where locals can enjoy a cuppa and a chat, they’re a great chain, so what’s my problem?

Grumpy Old Man Syndrome is what we’re dealing with here. If I walk into O’Hehirs and ask for a large brown pan, sure as orders are orders, the server will ask:

“Only one?”

because if you buy two, you’ll save on the unit cost. Small thing, I know, but if I wanted to buy two loaves of bread, I’d ask for two loaves of bread.

Just around the corner from Griffin's there’s fancy fresh bread available at Le Petit Delice, but their small loaves would survive no more than a couple of days in my home.

There used to be order in my Galway cakery-bakery connection.
If I wanted bread I went to Griffin’s.

For a good cake, I’d go to Goya’s and buy their chocolate fudge cake. If I needed a mind-blowingly wonderful cake, I’d go to Goya’s and order their chocolate mousse cake.

For scrummy shmancy patisserie, you can’t beat Le Petit Delice. Many a ‘tea and buns’ session with Dalooney is enjoyed while sharing a slice of their Black Forest Gateau and a strawberry tartlet.

It may sound strange to you that I miss a shop, but I grew up in retail, with both my parents running shops, as has my sister all her life. I’ve managed several myself, and worked in many others, so doubtless that influences my emotions, but also there were personal connections.

For several years I had the pleasure of living a few doors down from Anthony and Eithne Griffin, and it was impossible not to enjoy their company.

In 2008 the business was bought by their son Jimmy, the fourth generation to run the bakery. In 2012, Jimmy made an incredibly generous gesture towards me, that unfortunately - some might say tragically - missed its mark.

In this colyoom’s 2012 DV Awards, Griffin's Bakery were awarded the More Rare Than An Honest Banker Lifetime Achievement DV for decades of consistently superb bread, the best sausage rolls ever and several inches on my waistline.”

Jimmy Griffin responded to this honour by sending boxes of hot sausage rolls over to the Connacht Tribune building.

Trouble is, I work from home, popping into the newsroom once every couple of weeks, so it said a lot about Griffin’s sausage rolls, that days later everyone still had satisfied smiles on their faces, as they teased me in wistful tones of the treat I had missed.

In Connacht we’re lucky to have loads of great places selling spectacular baked goods - loud shout out to Galway’s Gourmet Tart Company! - but I’m yet to find a bakery that simply sells me a large unsliced wholemeal pan, if I walk in and ask for one.

All colyoomista suggestions gratefully received - as long as they’re about bread!
Meanwhile I’ve still two Griffin’s loaves in my freezer.

Get a grip, Adley.
Defrost ‘em, eat ‘em and move on.

One last time, for the record: thanks, Griffin’s, for the bread; the cakes; the sausage rolls; the consistency and reliability; the charm and the chat.

We will miss all that.

© Charlie Adley

Sunday 13 October 2019


I’m meant to be in England today, but I’m here at home, writing this.

I’m meant to be in my lovely mum’s living room, enjoying the company of the astounding, energetic, astute and lucid 90 year-old who made me.

Instead I’m staring out of my office window, waiting for hours of rain to arrive, and much as I’d love to have been there, given my health at the moment, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than here.

Two days ago I was in great form. The house was hoovered, laundry done, suitcase packed.

This was going to be a tiny trip, just two nights to see family, because back in August I’d cancelled a much longer trip at the last moment.

That one was going to be my holiday. Family and friends in London, but I couldn’t do it.

The tiniest sniff of conflict was setting me off. After I’d cried three times in public in six days, I pulled out of the trip.

Back in July this colyoom told of the arrival of a depression. It has been fierce, intense, long-lasting and extremely useful, because the foundations of my life have fundamentally altered.

Being a control freak, I find it hard to let go, yet I desperately needed to grieve.

Within a depression I have no defence against my emotions, so I’ve been able to engage each as they presented themselves, took the hit, took it again, marvelled at how ridiculous life is when this 59 year-old can still feel pure naïve pain, and tried to simply accept the different losses and conflicts that have dominated my life over the last year.

That sounds good, that ‘over the last year.’

Hopefully I’m now emerging, and soon will be able to enjoy looking forward, without carrying the past on my back.

That’s my target.

I’m not quite there yet, although writing about those dark periods in the past tense is pure therapy.

You poor downtrodden souls who read Double Vision regularly may have noticed that recently there have been many colyooms of whacky things Adley did in the past.

Some colyoomistas wondered what was up (Bernard! John!), so as a general guide the way Double Vision tends to work is that the more fluffy my copy, the darker my mental state.

When pumped up with courage and positivity, it’s easier to delve into deeper, possibly more meaningful fodder.

However, after last week’s fascinating exposé of my cleaning routines, I sufficiently disgusted myself to come clean with you too.

It has been yonks since this colyoom told new tales of drunken wobblings around the pubs of Galway, or (apart from Brexit, which feels personal) virtuous rantings on social justice and the lack of it.

Apart from when I teach my Craft of Writing course or visit the homes of friends, I’ve simply not been up to socialising with people, so there’s been precious little life to write about.

I’d planned this summer to reach out to my new town, because I still don’t know a soul here, but as Dylan or Lennon said, “Life’s what happens when you’re busy making plans.”

Bang! Depression hit, and while it temporarily kiboshed my chances of creating a new social life, it delivered the chance to heal.

I stay home alone. Not always pleasant, but for the last three months infinitely better than any alternative.

I’m an extremely lucky man to have this space, and even through the most wretched times, I make sure to give thanks for my wonderful friends and family.

They worry that such solitude is not healthy, but for my mental health this peace has been perfect.

Galway is an hour away, and my (not so new) local town awaits: an opportunity still very much available, which I intend to grasp, with all social skills blazing, as soon as I’m up to it.

Thankfully I do feel I’m gradually emerging from this depression, so hopefully the content of these colyooms will soon improve.

Two days ago, mentally and emotionally ready and eager to go to London, I zipped up my suitcase.

Two hours later my entire body started to shake, inside and out.

My legs, arms, fingers and toes were beating out macabre jazz riffs, my guts cramping and twisting, my lungs grabbing whatever air they could.

Scared the hell out of me, it did.

Felt like an adrenaline drenching, and since having two panic attacks in the past, I keep a couple of emergency valium in the house, so I took one and texted my friend, who’s rashly agreed to be my medical emergency person.

I asked him to call me in a few hours, to check in, by which time I’d stopped shaking, but felt weak and beaten up.

The serenity and solitude that I enjoy here may be great for my spiritual and mental health, but knowing nobody local when you’re physically unwell is an unsustainable situation.

New friends are nearby, I just haven’t met them yet, and there is: my life reduced to a beer mat slogan.

Next morning I awoke with a fever, zero energy, physically knocked out.

Oh no.
Please not now!
Not the day of my England trip!

I called my mum to tell her I had to cancel the trip.

I’ll never know if those two hours of shaking were a form of panic attack, or a ridiculously ostentatious way for a virus to announce its arrival in my body, but holy guacamole Batman, they were terrifying.

In August I cancelled because of my mental health.
In October physical illness made it impossible.  

I’m booked to go again in November.

Never mind all that 'things coming in threes' malarkey.

I’m backing ‘third time lucky.’

©Charlie Adley
13.10. 2019.

Sunday 6 October 2019


My eyes are dazzled by the sunshine flooding through my bedroom window.

This isn’t right.
No, not right at all.

Today I was meant to wake up and see lashing rain falling sideways from dark skies. The trees were supposed to be bending over in a gale, leaves green and brown ripped off branches, erupting up, tumbling down.

That’s what the weather app said, and the BBC, RTE and ah well, who cares?

Maybe today’s not going to be the day I finally clean my bathroom.

The outside world was going to look so menacing that I’d ripple a body shiver of comfort, turn on my bedside light and read my book eating a banana, luxuriating in the lack of rush.

Instead I’m now thinking of getting up, doing my stretches and going for a bike ride.
Blue skies, fresh air and staying alive.
That sort of thing.

No. This is neither about the weather nor my cardiovascular system.

This about the state of my bathroom, and the months I’ve managed to ignore its deterioration. 

Truth is ‘Bathroom’ might be too grand a term for it, as it has no bath and does not really qualify as a room.

If I stretch out my legs while sitting on the loo, my feet are in the shower.
If I bend forward, my head is in the washbasin.

Should I ever suffer the grave gastric indignity of ‘both ends burning’, I’ll be grateful that the lack of space in this house has inadvertently created a handy design feature.

Don’t be guilt-tripping me with all that ’What more could a man want?’

I’ve everything I’ll ever need, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss a bath.

Mind you, with size of me these days, even when I’m having a bath, there’s more of me out of it than in it.

Even this tiny space is bigger than the bathroom I had when I lived in the Claddagh. That effort was also nothing more than a plumbed cupboard, but it was cold; so incredibly cold that I’d lie awake in bed for hours, hanging on to that particular muscle for dear life, rather than suffer the freezing air.

It was physically impossible to dry my voluminous self in such a small space, so I had no choice but to step into the corridor, where on more than one occasion I gave my kind and stalwart landlady a right eyeful. and most unpleasant shock.

In this house I can cross the kitchen in half a step and two steps later be in front of the living room fire, giving it large with the towel in perfect privacy.

Enough with the blather, Adley, get on with the cleaning. Grab the wicker laundry basket and pile all the bottles of bathroom gubbins into it. Throw the mats in the laundry bin. Now move the loo library.

Ooooh, the loo library!

No no, don’t be going off down that route.
Don’t go convincing yourself it’s okay to take a few minutes off.

Don’t even think of using some kind of contrived excuse, like it’s taking a s
napshot of your life, when you peruse the Ladybird Books, nerdy etymological tomes, leaflets and magazines that make up your ablution entertainment centre.

They’re not going to fall for it.
Your colyoomistas are a pretty sassy bunch.

Okay, but I feel a confession coming on. In an act of pure self-indulgence, every week I buy the Sunday Mirror, just to read a tiny column written by Flavia Bertolini, the editor of the tabloid’s Notebook supplement.

She’s writing for young women about dresses and being a mother, so I’m far from her target audience, but I just enjoy her writing. Only talent can make a subject that fails to interest you a delight to read about.

Talking of talent, there in the the pile of books I’m carrying out of my bathroom is Juggling With Turnips by Karl MacDermott.

I’m often sent books and press releases, and Karl’s book accidentally languished for months in the offices of the Connacht Tribune, before it made its way to me. I found it an absolute delight, yet felt it was already too late to promote it, and that was last year.

Knowing, surreal, witty and true, MacDermott’s writing fits neatly into a particularly Irish literary slot: self-slagging satire.

I loved it and feel sure that the author won’t be offended by the way that his book has become a permanent part of my loo library.

Aha! Look! A slim volume of poetry, written by my friend Richard Nunn in the 1980s.

Affirmations from inside a Nepali jail cell accompany a prescient poem, written 15 years before Greta Thunberg was born. Entitled Why Oh Why, it concludes:

“The seasons are changing
And it might not be too long,
When we cry out loud,

Adley! Come on man! Focus!
There’s mildew to be scrubbed off grout.

Focus focus focus.

“Small?” they said, when I moved in here. “Less to clean!” they said.

“True!” says I now, out loud to invisible people long gone, “But less space to clean in!”

By contorting my not so supple middle-aged frame like an arthritic python, I manage to reach and clean the murky corners of my shower.

A few hours later the tiny space is gleaming.
The grout is white, the tiles shiny, the shelves spotless and the floor mopped.

Grunting and groaning as I stand up, my back muscles and hamstrings let me know they wouldn’t mind a little break.

Outside black skies unleash torrential rain.

A sad self-congratulatory part of me wants to sit on the loo and revel in the cleanliness. 

Instead I sink into my armchair, and listening to the wind, drift off into satisfied nap dreams of huge marble bath tubs, filled with steaming hot water…

©Charlie Adley