Saturday 3 December 2022

 Make sure to welcome the calm of Winter.

Winter storms will unleash their fury, crashing breakers hurling rocks over the beach car park wall, but this winter is arriving on a gentle easterly breeze.

Next week it will swing round to become polar, bringing northerlies and braced nipples, but today, this week, it’s gentle.

Gentle and quiet.

Well apart from yer man’s JCB.

With no crowds at the beach, a soft whisper of silence swims the air.

When I pause between shovels of compost, my breath sounds like saws cutting whispers in half.

I love this about winter.

Somewhere else, there are millions running around like crazed beasts, preparing for Christmas, Hanukkah and Diwali; precisely what we should not be doing.

As mammals we’re meant to be taking it easy, sleeping a lot and - ah, well, here Christmas and Hanukkah hit the right notes - eating lots of high fat food to keep us warm.

Warm is good: it helps us to think; breathe; love life. 

John the delivery driver arrives with a package, and sees me hobbling across the courtyard to meet him.

I’m limping and groaning like I’ve been shot up the arse with a blunderbuss.

“Jeeze Charlie, what’s up?”

“Fucked mate. Knackered. Been gardening like hell.”

”Gardening? In December? Are ya kiddin’ me?”

“You don’t garden, then, I take it, John."

“No. I know fuck all about gardening, as it happens.”

“Well, y’see, this is my busy time, ‘cos come July it’s good to sit and look. So I’m putting everything to bed with what they need, and sewing seed, and planting bulbs, and collecting leaves and-”

“Well yeh, I mean no, I mean never thought of it at all.”

“I love it mate, but need to get a lot done before it all freezes next week. Gonna be taters, guv’nor. Brass Monkeys.”

This impending cold spell couldn’t have come at a better time for me. It has forced me to get out and do these jobs that must be done, on the way wrenching my head free from a vice of darkness and dread, into a place of hope and relaxedness.

Climate change presents fresh challenges, but in a way they’ve always been there, because there are no absolutes in gardening.

There is no definitive right or wrong way to do things - it depends where you are, what time of year it is and what the weather’s like.

Sometimes the new warmth of November just messes things up, but often you can use the heightened temperatures to helpful effect.

I underplanted tulips in containers with a few wildflower seeds, thinking they’d look pretty for my friend’s daughter’s wedding in March.

The tulips we’ll see about, but the wildflower seeds went

“Blimey it’s warm, lads and lasses, time to wake up!” 

grew tall thin and fast,
took one look around, went

“Oh bugger it’s still last year!”

flopped down and died.

They won’t be back, unlike the comfrey I cut a month ago.
Taking what I believed was the last of its annual growth, I stuffed it into the compost bin, before my little winter composting break. 

Like I said, there’s no rules, so every year I stop composting for a month or so, ‘cos I can.

Every winter I lift my containers onto rocks, so they don’t become waterlogged, water them well, and then mulch them, to leave them 'til spring.

The comfrey grew back straight away, so when the threat of first frost came, I put a layer of comfrey leaves under the mulch.

No idea if it’ll work, but figured layering this fresh comfrey growth like a verdant lasagne, it might leech some of its all-round goodness in the pots over the cold months.

And if there's any in doubt about climate change, say hello to my little December rose here. The green bits are the comfrey leaves I laid below.

All the fallen leaves have been stacked in a huge pile of black bin bags, to turn into leaf mould, but they need to be out of sight up the top meadow.

The trees in the orchard need to be mulched, to give their roots a winter duvet, and the grass in the top meadow needs to be stripped right down, with all associated cuttings gone, so that I can plant yellow rattle, the meadow maker.

Yellow rattle is semi-parasitic in grass, inhibiting grass growth and thereby allowing wildflowers to prosper.

Its seeds need several months of stratification, which is a fancypants way of saying cold weather, so right now they’re in my fridge, and early next week I’ll sew them on the mown ground where the grass was.


Then in February and March I’ll sew my filled tins and stuffed envelopes of last year’s wildflower seeds, and hopefully next July I’ll be showing you beautiful plants.

Meanwhile, back on the job, for three hours of three days, I blissfully lose myself in a beautiful solitary ballet (well, I'm accompanied by two robins.) 

Two chronic lung conditions have forced me to slow down,
taking many breaks,
to catch my breath,
gasp at the sight of the tide rising in the silvery estuary. 

These days I move at the speed of a caffeinated snail, but my pace is steady, stopping frequently to listen to the gabble of the Brent Geese back from the Canadian High Arctic, for a County Mayo winter.

I look, listen and appreciate the wonder of where I am.

Three bin bags full of leaves go in the wheelbarrow, which I take take up and dump at the far end of the top meadow.

Then I mow the long grasses, filling the wheelbarrow with three mower bags of cuttings.

If you don’t clear away the cuttings they will feed the soil, allowing the grass to beat the yellow rattle, and the wildflowers will be stifled.

Once the wheelbarrow is full I take it back down to the orchard, where I use the cuttings to mulch the trees.

Then I load three more bags of leaves, go back up, and repeat this happy productive protective cycle.

Slowly, bit by puffy bit, the job gets done.

Once that seed is in, my work will be done until the new year.

The bulbs are in their containers and along the driveway.
The foxgloves and fuchsia I grew from seed are in the ground.


The new herb garden is coming along splendidly in the potting shed, along with potentially many oak tress, thanks to Denis giving me sprouted acorns (sounds painful, I agree.

Come March, a ton of grit will be poured into this square, now colonised by nasturtium. 

In the shade of the bay tree and towering lovage from the other side of the wall, the new herb garden will be born. 

On top of that grit will go a few bags of peat-free compost, and then I’ll plant out all those mediterranean herbs.  

Oh, and there’s the forsythia, too. Three tiny leafless plants, behind the sage and next to the leafless witch hazel, which will in years to come be the first shrubs to burst into yellow splendour each spring. 

He’s always in that shed.
God knows what he gets up to in there. 

Well ain’t that the truth.

©Charlie Adley


Friday 2 December 2022

Thursday 17 November 2022

He was a good man. Is there a better legacy?

Today is Tim’s birthday. He still has a birthday, even though he died in 2014. Yet another gone far too young.
Tim was one of those rare people built purely of their own essence. Nothing about him came from elsewhere.  
Although he’d been living with cancer for a long time, Tim remained stoic and dry witted throughout his surgery and ensuing disfigurement. 
When I visited him in UCH a few days before he died, he showed not one single change of character. Of course he felt emotions just like any human, but Tim was English: he kept a lid on it.  

I asked him if he’d watched the game the previous night. He nodded but explained he’d not seen all of it. 

“So tired.” he whispered on stretched breath, as he lent back on the pillow.

“That’d be your body fighting the illness.” I offered, knowing it was no such thing.

Tim looked over to me and smiled. He was never a man to accept bollocks, even when disguised with a pretty ribbon.

He had no time for it.

“Nah. Nah mate. T’isn’t. You know that.” he said, forcing me to nod in agreement.

The silence that followed was laden with truth; the simple yet devastating truth that he was struggling to stay alive.

After my visit Tim texted me to say thanks for coming. 

Away from his bedside I was allowed to leave the trivial shores of Footie Talk, and text him back that he was a good man.

Smily emoticon came back; his way of saying “Goodbye” to my “Goodbye.”

He was a good man. 

Many said just that in the church, just after they played The Clash

It was said in the pub by many more. 

It was the summation of the man.

If our lives are to be summed up in five words, I can think of none finer. 

Once you’ve popped your clogs it makes no difference whether you climbed Everest or won X- Factor. 

Did you live a just life?
Did you do harm?
Did you spread the love?

The sadness that accompanies each death is as different as the human gone. When Tim’s coffin came around the corner of the village street, carried by close friends of mine, my emotions went into spasm.

Yes, he was loved by them,
and I am part of them,
and he is gone,
and they are carrying him,

and whoooshhhh ... my tears flowed.

Then I lived far away, but now I live once more among those friends. Today I write less than a mile from where Tim lived.

Up the road from here, in some other friends’ garden, there grows an oak that I helped along from acorn, when I lived in Galway.

On a Winter’s morning I drove it up here, and Tim and I planted it, together with his son.

Underneath it now lies my other friends’ beloved dog (also called Charlie). So beyond life, the dog nutures the tree, and the moniker ‘Charlie’s Oak’ now alludes to more than me.

Tim was humanity on legs, the human race in a single person.  

Yes, he was flawed; a smile appeared on my face each and every time I saw him; he was a good man.

When death comes to us, I hope we might all match that legacy.

Oh and to me it was never ‘Charlie’s Oak’: it was always the oak I planted with Tim and his son.

©Charlie Adley

Friday 2 September 2022

Only In Ireland - thank god I live here!

The final day of August finds me in the historic City of Athlone, sitting at a table outside a coffee shop, in what any Mediterranean country would call a plaça.

Beside cathedral and castle, the mighty Shannon splits Ireland asunder, in a quintessentially Irish blend of the understatedly powerful and gentle.

Over an aromatic dark-roasted cappuccino, I chat with the woman who was behind the counter, who has come out to join me.

We swap stories of gaining weight, losing weight, gaining husbands and wives, losing husbands and wives, and then we share the intimate laugh of those who have enjoyed each others’ company, for the first and last time.

We wish each other well, and I stroll on towards the bridge.

I’m on a gentle pilgrimage. As well as scribbling, I love to read, and alongside countless others, share a love of chaotic quirky unique independent bookshops.


Living in San Francisco I first stepped foot into City Lights bookstore with the reverence and excitement of a true worshipper. Here was the home of my adolescent literary heroes.


Jack Kerouac Alley runs between City Lights and the unique sprawling wondrous bar Vesuvio, which became my second home and first US local.


In Galway, Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop, rich in character, drenched in atmosphere, satisfies my need for sprawling unique bookshops, and now in Athlone I’m driven to find the famous tiny wonderfully chaotic and quirky home to tomes that is John‘s books.


However on the way I’m distracted in an alley that slopes gently toward the river by the sight of the latest Alan Garner in the window of The Athlone Bookshop.

When he was made redundant from Waterstones, proprietor Steve used his money to open this labour of love: a splendid little bookshop, as packed with great choices as Steve’s head is with bookish knowledge. 

We chat about the new Donal Ryan and Clare Keegan and short stories, and I buy some plays, and then we talk of Brian Friel and the Drama Festival.

Now armed with a small bag of books, I cross the bridge, pausing half way across because you must, to watch the great river mosey on by.

I mutter as I pass the Eastern European playing his accordion at the far end of the bridge.  

As a Chelsea fan who lost to 'The Saints' of Southampton FC last night, the very last tune I want to hear this morning concerns the moment

When the saints
Oh, when the saints
Oh, when the saints go marchin' in...

But he is, I think, Romanian, and I am a tourist in Athlone, so I decide to keep that one to myself.

I pass him three more times on my rambles over the next four hours, and each time he is still playing the same tune. Clearly it was not a cruel irony sent to torture me as a Chelsea fan: it’s just the only damn tune he knows how to play.

Despite feeling slightly put off by a rather twee arty sign welcoming me to Athlone’s 'Left Bank' (come on, this is a truly lovely place, but it ain’t Paris, and should not aspire to be) I find myself happier on this side of the river, unaware then as I know now, that I am in County Roscommon, and therefore in the West of Ireland. 

John's bookshop does not disappoint.


Quirky, chaotic, hilarious and crammed with wonder.

Back in the day when I took the bus from Dublin to Galway I used to cheer as we passed west of the Shannon.

For many this country is cruelly divided between the six counties in the UK North and the twenty six in the Republic’s South, but in personal emotional, economic and spiritual terms, the split for me is more East West.

The former: wealth; power; corruption; homogeneity; indifference; no thanks.

The latter: poverty; power; corruption; exceptional; compassionate; home; yes please.

Walking back over the bridge, I lope slowly along the banks of the ancient Shannon, with the sun shining in the August 31 sky.

The sultry warm air is lightly chilled to perfection by a gentle easterly breeze.


Towards me strides a man of my own age, with white hair, light blue T-shirt and dark blue shorts.

As we draw near, he turns towards me, smiles sincerely from deep blue eyes, and in a way that I believe nobody of any other country would do, embraces me verbally, as if I’ve known him my entire life.

“How are you this morning?”

“I am good, thanks!” I reply. “Enjoying this wonderful weather!” 

“By god yes, ‘tis a magnificent morning, and we are lucky to be alive, to see it, are we not? It is a great day to be alive!”

Only in Ireland.

“Yes! I declare, “Yes, yes yes it is!”

As I walk on, a smile stretches deep, long and strong across my face.

Recently I have felt ephemeral and uncharacteristic envy of others who send photos from swimming pools in Crete and beaches in far-awaydom.

I'm able neither financially nor physically to holiday in that way, to travel far, so - along with two nights of cosy luxury, accompanied hopefully by gale force winds, at Connemara’s Rosleague Manor in October - this 48 hours is my tiny holiday.

My tiny trip has been simply lovely.


Yesterday I walked with a friend through woodlands, bedazzled by dappled leafy sunlight and glowing lily pads.


Today, I spent a few hours wandering bookshops and eating superb pastéis de nata at a Portuguese cafe, chilling out for a few midweek morning hours, which in itself is a wonderful luxury.

Oh, and today a complete stranger reminded me how good it is to be alive.

As someone who struggles profoundly with issues of mental health, this was no small assertion. 

Only in Ireland.
Thank god I live here.

©Charlie Adley



Sunday 28 August 2022

Time for drastic uncosted ideas to save lives this Winter.


Every night on both my nations’ news: the same bloody crises. In England it’s the cost of energy, rising inflation, the prospect of children going hungry and pensioners dying of hypothermia.

In Ireland it’s the homeless crisis, the housing crisis and the prospect of children starving on the streets and older people dying from hypothermia.

Every night I become more and more furious with our leaders’ unabashed greed and lack of imagination.

Enough already.

Screw Blue Sky Thinking and Thinking Outside The Box. 

Crush the bloody box, and paint the blue sky blood red.

The Housing and Heating crises that threaten the lives of the most vulnerable require Red Sky Thinking. 

We desperately need to recover our collective humanity.

DV presents two temporary drastic uncosted ill-considered ideas to save lives this Winter, and one quiet but vital request.

The Tories fight over how high to pitch the price cap on energy bills, and claim Windfall taxes on energy companies’ profits discourages investment. 

Labour promise they would freeze the price caps, and redistribute some windfall taxes to help the poorest.

DV says they're both completely missing the point.

British Gas made a profit of £1.3 billion between January & June.
BP announced profits of £6.95 billion between April and June.
Shell Oil reported profits doubling this year to a record $11.5bn - up from $9.1 billion in the first quarter of 2022.

Never mind capping the cost of energy.
We need to cap the profits energy companies make.

Shareholders can shut their cake-holes for a while, and revert to becoming the investors they used to be.

They can suffer the squeeze of smaller dividends, because if they don’t they’re complicit in the manslaughter of thousands of weaker poorer people.

Cap the profits not the prices.
Redistribute the excess profits and review after 5 years.

Meanwhile here Ireland we’ve totally lost the plot with housing.

It’s impossible to know the true total of homeless people here, because so many are unaccounted, but right now there are 10,049 people in emergency accommodation.

There are 160,000 vacant properties in Ireland, with over 48,000 vacant for six years.

In June 2022 there were a measly 657 properties available to rent in the entire Republic: a drop of 70%.

37 properties were available across the country last month at rents that came within Housing Assistance Payment limits.

There are currently 25,515 AirBnB listings in Ireland, 60 per cent of which are entire homes or apartments.

Of the 23,000 active AirBnB listings in Dublin in 2018, 5,358 were entire homes, while there were just 380 rental properties advertised on

Analysis of problems caused by AirBnB always focus on the major cities, but AirBnB creates massive housing problems everywhere.

I am only able to live here in Killala because a friend had a vacant outhouse. When I was looking for a place to rent here there were none.


Zero properties for rent, yet hundreds of AirBnB hosts hustling for my business.

We need to get a grip.

We need to temporarily ban all online platforms that offer short-term holiday rentals.

There’ll always be a need for guest houses and B&Bs, so let hosts and customers contact each other by talking on the telephone,

Radical, eh?

For five years you, me, Delilah from Texas and Mikey from Mullingar can live without AirBnB, while we make sure people have homes to live in.

Finally, in a different tone and context, I plead with campaigning politicians of all parties to stop going on about ‘Working Families’ as if they're the only people that matter.

And before I incur the wrath of Daily Mail types (and members of my family) who believe all Left-of-centre people to be ‘scum’; who are, as they read this, straining at the leash to point out that it’s working people who pay the taxes that create the welfare state, I suggest they stay lucky, healthy and able to earn a living.

God forbid they fall on hard times.

Those less able, differently abled, and those unable to find work have to feed their kids too. They have to find homes and then heat them.

Astonishingly, (because you wouldn’t think so, to listen to politicians) they also have the vote. So stop appealing only to ‘working families’, and appreciate that others less fortunate are equally important.


That’s the homeless housed, their homes heated and everyone respected.

Feel better now.

My name is Charlie Adley and I am NOT running for president. 


©Charlie Adley


Thursday 25 August 2022


There are three cracks running from top to bottom on the inside of my Chelsea mug. Against the white they look like long thick dark strands of hair.
The base still appears sound, but I’d look a right plonker if it fell apart and scorched me with boiling hot tea.
Binned. It’s a goner.
The mug that presently qualifies as my mug is emblazoned with photos of the 2010 Double Winning team. 

A gift from another True Blue, it reminds me of the day I turned 50, stomping exuberant and ebullient around a bar in Greece, swigging a bottle of Jameson from the neck, watching Chelsea win at Wembley.

In proper Chelsea tradition, this mug is also strangely defective. It seeps from the bottom.

Always has. Pick it up and there’s a little ring of dampness on the surface left behind. 

Votcha gonna do?

My this, my that: does it matter?

Mugs come and go, part of a lifetime conveyor belt of fading ephemera. Worn out, broken, lost or discarded, we no longer possess much of what we once felt we owned.

Unless there’s a personal significance to an object, I see no value in owning it.

Ironically, the things that matter most to me are not mine at all. In the eyes of the law (and family members!) everything I have is rightfully mine. Yet I’m only their caretaker. They’ll survive beyond me, in the family.

There are a few possessions I care about that aren’t heirlooms. I love the tiny sea stack I was given by a dear friend, who found it while we were together on Omey Island, soon after my return from America. 

Then there's the two neolithic stones I found decades ago, in a flower bed in my Salthill back garden. One is a cutting tool, worked well to a sharp three inch blade; the other a simple hand axe.

These are not mine either. I have them, but they belong to the soil, and will doubtless be returned there at some stage. 

It’s okay for me to feel I own them for a while. Their original owners no longer miss them.

There is Blue Bag, my 38 year-old travelling companion, and even higher in the longevity league, my gold Parker pen, which I was given as a bar mitzvah present.

This pleases me, as those gifts given to the boy becoming a man are supposed to last a lifetime.

There’s a sentimental corner of me that loves the memory of using that pen to start writing my daily diary at the age of 15, while here it is, 47 years later, sitting beside me, and here I am, still scribbling.


Is it that kind of continuity we seek, when we try to own things?

Does the idea of owning something delude us into believing we have cheated death for a weak beguiling minute.

Maybe, but there’s more to it than that. 

I have objects around me in this house that long ago travelled from London and Brighton to the west of Ireland, to California, and then back to the West of Ireland.

Far from my family in the UK, I take great comfort in seeing Gran’s tiny chest of drawers in its rightful spot, beside my desk, wherever I work.

Dark oak, with carved acorn drawer handles and perfect dovetail joints, it was handmade by a craftsman, where today some glue or a weak nail would do.

Much more than that - it’s Gran’s. My mother’s mother was a wonderful woman: eccentric, kind and always interested. Along with her magnifying glass, which sits atop my fireplace, her presence is here with me.

My Dad’s parents are here too. I found them both difficult people, yet truly appreciate the two paintings I have from their Hove flat. They bring me much pleasure.

Do I own them?

Once again ownership feels contentious. Both artists have respected reputations, but what fascinates me is not what they might be worth, (although naturally I’m curious to know) but more whether those who  curate these artists’ collections know these paintings even exist.

I suspect my father's father bought both paintings soon after they were completed, and ever since they have been in our family. 

Do I have some kind of moral obligation to let their estates know about these works, hung in private homes since who knows when?

Do they, in some way, belong to those others as well as me?

What’s he bloomin’ on about?” I hear you cry. “Get the paintings valued, pronto Tonto! Then we’ll see how much he still wants to own his precious paintings!

I’ve no children, so one day they will pass to my nieces and their children, and so it goes. 

Also treasured are my father’s father’s long lens field glasses. They sit by my door in their sturdy old leather case, strung all over with romantic little silver, blue and scarlet tags, telling stories of decades ago, when Pops had access to the Members Enclosures and Private Clubs of the racecourses at Newbury, York, Sandown Park and Ascot. 

During the coming Winter I will sit in my armchair, draping my old family picnic blanket over my legs.

Sitting by the fire.
Fed and housed.

I don’t own any of that, yet it’s all I need.

©Charlie Adley


Monday 1 August 2022

Happy 30th To Me!

Fresh off the boat, outside my first Salthill home in Flea Lane, August 1992


It’s Saturday August 1st, 1992. I step off the ferry from Roscoff, onto Irish soil for the first time, and begin the greatest love affair of my life.

For 20 years I’ve travelled, trying to find where I belong, but never visited the country next door. After a couple of laps of the planet I’ve now run out of countries, so this place is going to be my home.

When I started hitching around Europe as a teenager in the 1970s, addresses and contacts were like gold dust. Now as a 32 year-old, I have neither friends nor family here.

I don’t know a soul.
Ireland is a clean sheet.

Yet to encounter the word ‘soft’ is this context (and the forty other words the Irish have for rain) the air is drizzly damp, so I go into a big shop called Dunnes in Cork city centre, buy some waterproof clothing, and head into a pub.

On the barstool next to me a guy called Con offers me a hand the size of my head. Having never heard of the name, I wonder if he’s making some kind of post-modern joke, and aiming to rip me off.

No: I’m a paranoid fool and he’s a lovely man, intent only on getting me ver’ ver’ drunk. When he feels satisfied that he’s succeeded, he tells Mary the barmaid to book me a room in a B&B.

Later, in my bedroom, I reach for a giant ashtray on a high shelf. Lowering it reveals the sign behind it. White letters on red card declare:  


No Smoking in capitals.

I decide I’m going to love this country. It’s the first of many a million Irish paradoxes, which will, in a mere two months, give birth to a colyoom called Double Vision.

Lying on the bed in a Guinness-induced reverie, I light up a Marlboro, flip on the TV and watch the Galway Races.

30 years ago today.

I win a competition and have my one woman show Aileen Stays In staged in Galway City. I’m published in the Irish Times on several occasions, and the Irish Examiner give me a column. The Irish Post in England takes a fancy to my blather.

Thanks Ireland, for allowing me to pay my rent for 27 years through my scribbling. I’ve had the honour and enjoyed the pleasure of open briefs (that is: always writing exactly what I choose) and thanks to the Irish here, in the UK and USA, who seem to find my opinions and observations engaging, enraging, irritating and amusing.

Thanks also to all the students who attended and contributed towards my Craft of Writing Course. 

It has been a privilege to encourage, inform and assist hundreds of aspiring Irish writers over the last 15 years. I’ve loved every minute of teaching, and discovered that as a teacher, I continue to learn as a writer.

Over three decades I live in four homes in Salthill, one in Claddagh, one in Connemara, one in Ballyhaunis, three in California, and two in Killala, the north Mayo village that steals my heart in 2001, where I live now and will remain, forever; amen.

I have the privilege of loving several wonderful and remarkable women, marrying and divorcing two of them, while knowing to this day that one was and always will represent the closest bond I’ll ever enjoy with a member of the opposite sex.

I’m sure you’ll forgive that turn of phrase. Y’see, I come from a time when there was an opposite sex.


I also fall profoundly in love with Connemara; with the gobsmackingly beautiful Mayo wilderness between Ballycastle and Belmullet; with the entirety of what was once the West Coast of Ireland, until a marketing genius rebranded it The Wild Atlantic Way.

Some countries are divided North/South. Ireland is split East/West by the moity Shannon, and here on the Atlantic seaboard I find in 1992 a culture that embodies all that is good and bad in being old-fashioned.

Compassion thrives as life’s blood; nobody thinks less of you for being poor; time is the most precious commodity, a jewel prized way beyond the acquisition of stuff.

All of that fits me and my soul as if made to measure, but I hate the lack of ethnic diversity; the racism and homophobia; the absence of contraception, divorce and abortion; the denial of a woman’s right to choose.

30 years bring a social, secular and sexual revolution that rectifies all of the above, unfortunately taking things just a tiny bit too far, so that now the sensitivities of molecularly minuscule minorities dictate the freedom of scribblers like me to write what I want.

Ireland has changed so much for the better since I arrived (it’s all about me, of course) that it now fits like a jigsaw piece into my societal aspirations.

Whatever that means. Jeeze, I certainly overdo the waxing bleedin’ lyrical sometimes.

That’s another thing. The amount of swearing, cursing, effing and bloody blinding that erupts from my gob has grown tenfold since arriving here.

When I sit in the genteel suburban hush of my mother’s living room in London, I realise how often I now use the F word, and wish my linguistic skills were less blunted by my adopted vernacular.

Having said that, I’ve also gained vocabulary. I’m now able to differentiate the ‘feck’ from the ‘fuck’, and find myself involuntarily and noisily performing the West of Ireland Sharp Intake of Breath, when agreeing with someone.

To this Blow-In, friends are as vital as family, and here in the Wesht I’ve been incredibly fortunate to form a plethora of solid, wondrous, meaningful and hilarious friendships.

For this I am eternally grateful. If my family are my life’s foundation, then these magnificent friends are my walls and roof.


Deep and meaningful friendships ... the stuff of life!


Tragically, the last four years have involved a catastrophic amount of loss. Alongside my marriage, my dog, two homes, half a lung and all my savings, I’ve lost many friendships that I previously considered unbreakable.
This has shattered my heart in more ways than I can describe. One simply turned his back on me. Another decided to become angry with me during a period in which the slightest emotional demand caused me to cough up blood, so I was unable - and unwilling - to find out why he was upset.

Another found my apology insufficient. I fully accept that I’m a difficult and demanding man, but when I apologise I mean it. There is nothing more I can do beyond that.

However, as my most excellent friend Dalooney eloquently observed:

“Jeeze Chazzer. I’ve never seen anybody lose so many lifetime friends and have so many left.”

Truly I am blessed.


 Moody in the Aughrus peninsular, 1993 ... one for the dust cover!

Tonight there was meant to be a celebration in the pub. I was planning on putting a message on my local posse WhatsApp group, asking for some lucky winner to transport me to the pub, and later drive me home twisted, locked, bladdered, trousered: all of the above.

However, the health challenges keep on coming. Ever since December 2019 I have been seriously unwell with serial illnesses, and on occasion I struggle to keep my pecker up.

Today I’m on powerful painkillers, while tomorrow I must spend yet another long day at the hospital, having scans and tests and gordknowswot.

Even though your motives are the finest, I beg you please please please do not leave online comments encouraging me to be positive, go onwards and upwards, eat slug nipple fritters or dance at midnight in front of the moon whilst humming the Marseillaise.

Often the greatest act of kindness is simply to be there for someone, silent and strong.


Pull that belly in, boy! On the cliffs at my favourite beach, Kilcummin Back Strand.


The celebration can wait. The pub will still be there, as will this wandering Jew’s joy at having found a home.

Today, inside my head, heart and soul, I’m giving thanks.

I'm so grateful to live in this gentle beautiful soggy corner of the universe, where I belong; to have the love of countless others; to indulge my conceited belief that in return for Irish citizenship, I have offered this country an extravagant amount of opinion, a luxury of criticism and a gargantuan outpouring of love.

Happy 30th To Me! I'm home, and I’m staying ’til the end.


 ©Charlie Adley

Monday 27 June 2022

The Arts Festival is going strong, but are you going to it?

Here’s (most of) a DV about the Galway Arts Festival from 2009. At the time it caused a bit of a ruckus, was cited in the Irish Times and my mailbag was full for weeks. 

Since then the GIAF has sailed far past Joe Boske’s fantastic posters, Ollie Jennings and Páraic Breathnach, although the inestimable Garry Hynes is still very much involved. 

This year’s programme offers an impressive blend of music, theatre, performance, discussion and visual art, from local, national and international artists, so are you separated, divorced from or remarried to the Arts Festival?  

As one of countless creatives who long ago left the city because I could no longer afford to live in it, I’m curious to feel the mood on Galway’s streets.


July 11th, 2009 

Everyone hates a whinger who comes out with the same knocking copy each year. Yet once again I find myself looking ahead to the Galway Arts Festival with a mixture of excitement, hurt and sadness.

I couldn’t pin down exactly why, until I read an interview with Noeline Kavanagh, the Director of the Macnas Arts Festival Parade.

“Macnas is like the largest divorcee in Galway.” she said. “Everybody has a relationship with it.”

There it was: replace the word ‘Macnas’ with ‘Galway Arts Festival’, and that’s how I feel.

We Galwegians used to be married to the Galway Arts Festival. We lived in the same place, loved each other, had our ups and downs of course, but generally knew that we were good together. 

These days, the people of Galway feel so divorced from the Galway Arts Festival, they can barely remember what it was like to love it.

I want us to renew our vows. I want the Galway Arts Festival to ask us to move back in; to woo us; love us; kiss us and lick us the way it used to.

I’m not sitting here on my voluptuous arse trying to diss that plethora of extremely talented people who put a vast amount of creativity and energy into the two week splurge.

They do a fantastic job, but somewhere along the way the whole affair was lost. At the moment the word on the street is that shows are simply too expensive. 

To be fair, I don’t think that price is the single biggest factor in the decline of the Galway Arts Festival. 

There are many cheaper happenings in this year’s programme than other years, but through their pricing policy we glimpse how badly the Galway Arts Festival has lost touch with the people of Galway.

I wanted to see the New York Dolls, Femi Kuti and Primal Scream, for which I would pay €112, to stand at all three gigs. But what really made me angry was the fact that if I was on the dole, I’d still have to pay €110 for those three tickets.

For god’s sake, get real, Arts Festival people! Are you trying to intimidate the poor with art? Do you want us once again to believe that art exists only for the affluent élite? Isn’t that the opposite of what the Galway Arts Festival once stood for?

Climb out of your ivory towers and take a look at how many of us have been laid off, or are just plain broke.

Cop on to the fact that a night out which starts with a pair of tickets at €90 belongs to a dream of a Galway past, and exists now as an insulting anachronism.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Tiger is dead, and we’re trying to stay alive by picking mouthfuls from its rotten corpse

We all have our personal beefs about what is wrong with the Galway Arts Festival.

Project 06 splendidly reminded us how vital it is to include local artists and performers, yet each year, the official word comes forth that the Arts Festival have pulled off another major success.

Trouble is, for years now, it hasn’t felt like a success to us, the people of this city.

If the organisers of the Galway Arts Festival understand anything of Galway City, they know that you could take a burnt banana skin, mount it on top of a bus shelter, and advertise ‘The Burnt Banana Skin On Top Of The Bus Shelter Festival - the biggest thing to hit Galway since last Tuesday Afternoon!

As long as the people of this great city are behind it, hundreds of thousands of people will flock to Galway, because we’re the finest hosts in the best city in the world to throw a party, where fun is free and family-oriented.

Don’t tell me a over a half a million people came to our little city to see a Volvo yacht sail puff in the wind. They came because Galway is uniquely packed with brilliant, skilful and diverse talents.

We’ll give you the time of your lives, as we do every year during Race Week, but the joy of Galway is on the streets.

Doubtless during the Galway Arts Festival, our city centre will be strewn with buskers and performers of all kinds, which is just as well, because this year’s Galway Arts Festival programme lists a paltry 2 street acts, performing in total 5 times on 3 different days.

Shame on you, Galway Arts Festival.

If this marriage is ever going to work again, you really need to listen, learn and understand that whereas 15 years ago we were all buzzed up and proud of you, now you appear like a distant lost relative who expects us to run around, cook, clean, sweat and serve whenever you turn up on our doorstep.

Do I have any positive suggestions?

Why yes! In order to save this sick marriage between the Galway Arts Festival and the people of Galway City, first quadruple the free street theatre; return the Parade to the middle weekend afternoon, and offer hefty price concessions on all tickets sold to locals, upon production of a locally-addressed utility bill.

Then we might learn to love you again, and put the best of Galway - the fun, family and free - back into our own Arts Festival.


Is that colyoom now ancient history? Are you separated, divorced from or remarried to the Arts Festival?  

Are you now back in love with your festival, or has the ‘I’ for International in GIAF meant the Galway Arts Festival left town for good?  

As one of countless creatives who long ago left the city because I could no longer afford to live in it, I’m curious to feel the mood on Galway’s streets.   

Do you love the GIAF?

©Charlie Adley  


Wednesday 15 June 2022

We need inexplicable wonder in our lives. Long Live the 5 Day Test Match


Forget your glorious rugby Grand Slams and that goal in Stuttgart decades ago.
What better way to get one over the Auld Enemy, than beat them at their national game?  Ever since moving to this country I wondered why, more than any other population colonised by the English, the Irish hung on for so long to their loathing of their imperial oppressor.
The only other ex-colony where people talk with as much venom about the English is Australia, but their verbal attacks are laced with confidence.
Because they know that they have regularly whipped our English arses at our national game, in intimidating fashion. Like many other countries colonised by the English, they have revelled in giving their old brutaliser a sound beating on the cricket pitch.

Does that really hurt the English as a nation? You’d better believe it.

Imagine Roy Keane in his prime, decked in whites with a dash of green, sneering and snarling as he runs up to hurl a rock-hard leather ball at 90 mph towards an English chinless wonder.

Dribbling yet?  
Cricket should suit the Irish down to the ground: intelligent, contemplative, subtle and intense, it encompasses all the best Irish characteristics - even wit. 
Better still, the game has official breaks for both Tea and Drinks.
Although there are many shorter and speedy versions of the game, a Test Match is as slow as Gaelic Games are fast. After five days, it may well end in a draw, which doesn't mean the match is tied. It just means five days wasn’t long enough for two teams to bat and field twice.


It was the weather, of course, and what could be more Irish than that?

Now that Irish cricket is accredited by the ICC, you can play Test Matches until your brains explode or your hearts sing: whichever you choose, remember James Joyce, who wrote in Portrait of the Artist:

“The fellows were practising long shies and bowling lobs and slow twisters. In the soft grey silence he could hear the bump of the balls: and from here and from there through the quiet air the sound of the cricket bats: pick, pack, pock, puck: like drops of water in a fountain falling softly in the brimming bowl.”

Who needs rules, when there is such poetry in the game?

In soccer, players cheat as a matter of course. When a player in the box feels the wispy damp breath of an opponent on the back of his neck, he will collapse to the ground. 

By comparison, consider this wonderful cocktail of brute force and eccentricity included in this despatch from the 2005 Ashes Test at Lords:

“A bouncer beats Ponting for pace, and crashes against the grill of his helmet, cutting the Aussie skipper on his right cheek. A drinks break follows, to allow time for the blood to stop flowing.”

There’s much talk of 5 Day Test Matches being irrelevant in today’s world, yet I love them for their unique arcane mystery.

And then there comes a Test like the England v New Zealand match that finished yesterday. 

Simply incredible: from horror and despair to a seemingly impossible victory, with a performance of pure magic by Big Johnny Bairstow. 

We need inexplicable bizarre wonder in our lives.
Long Live the 5 Day Test Match.


©Charlie Adley


Sunday 8 May 2022

Watching the footie has never been the same!


My Dad died 14 years ago today.

Oy, he put up a fight! Year after year, Dad grumped and exploded his way through procedures, operations, scrapings and inflations. 
Towards the end, tragically for a man who expressed it so much throughout his life, he lost his joie de vivre.

My mother, his rock, redeemer, and a great force of nature, mentioned how she sometimes missed the sound of laughter.
Watching somebody you love head slowly lethewards threatens to erase from your mind the image of the person they once were.

I have seen many people lose parents, siblings, friends and - horror - even children. The most tragic losses are the ones in which there remains something unfinished.

As the minutes ooze from the time of death, that lingering becomes malingering, and pain follows close behind.

Dad made it easy for me, because he had been unwell for so long. I had time to tell him everything I wanted to say. 
Today, I’m incredibly happy I told him what I thought of him, before he went.

A few months before he died, he was at home for a brief period, inbetween hospital admissions. He sat in his armchair, my mum beside him on the sofa. 
I had to be tactful, because despite the Jewish spirit, my parents' home and behaviour was quintessentially Olde Englishe, like the marmalade.

Hence to avoid melodrama, I had to tread carefully when trying to explain to my father that he had always been my inspiration.

To that Octogenarian these words came as a surprise; one which I had anticipated, and thought might fire his spirit and confidence a tad.

I told him, in front of Mum, that he had been my inspiration throughout my life, in two different ways.

At a most vital level, I appreciated how hard he had worked; how many decades he had climbed into his car at 7.40 am, and driven off through the dirty sludge of London's constipated commute, all the way to Soho, where he worked all his life for Pearl and Dean.

At weekends he ran a small chain of three record shops, until one of his managers did the dirty, and sent the business down the pan.

From my privileged and relatively cushy life, I am in awe of how hard Dad worked, so that we might enjoy the upbringing we had.

His was the last generation that would ever enjoy the 'job for life' culture. Somehow, back in the early 1960's he earned enough money to take all five of us on holidays to Europe every other year, with trips to Devon and Somerset in the intervening summers.

"Thanks Dad!" I told him. "I didn't appreciate how hard you worked when I was a kid, but I do now."

My mum spluttered out that she thought that was very nice, and my Dad did something with his mouth that showed he was grateful.
But then I looked over, into his eyes, and I sent them a shiny glint.
"There's another way you inspired me, Dad. Your mountains! Remember your books from the 1930's and 1950's about the conquests of Kanchenjunga, K2 and Everest? They all had the same tan cloth covers, and were packed with photos and maps and tales of those great mountaineers, walking around the Annapurna Circuit and reaching for the skies.

“Well, it took a while for me to realise it, but all my travelling; the way I've lived my life; it's down to you. Didn't cop on when I was a teenager, because all that hitching just felt so good, and looked to me a million miles from the life you lived, and the one you wanted for me. But when I went off for my first roundy-worldy jaunt in 1984, you whispered ... 
'Say hello to the mountains for me!'...
“... and it all made sense. In that instant I understood why I was who I was. I knew that your spirit of adventure was kindled in me; that the boy who read those books about mountains gave birth to another who could go and see them. 
"The greatest thing about a spirit of adventure is that it helps you live your life less dominated by fear. I wish you had been able to enjoy that feeling.

“So thanks Dad! You worked your arse off so that I might have a good childhood, and you also lifted my eyes, my horizons and my understanding of ambition, so that when I felt happy in my life, I knew that was success."

What I didn't say to you then, Dad, but do now, was that unfortunately, I don't think you ever enjoyed the same self-confidence that you helped build in me.
You taught me how to appreciate fine wines, how to carry myself in any situation, and always assured me that while posh things were alright, you could never beat the pleasure and honesty of a pie and a pint.
We always had time for the Chelsea. You first took me to Stamford Bridge in 1969, Wembley in 1970, and wherever I lived in the world, we talked after every match. I do not recall a game in which we lost points where you didn't complain about the referee. 
"Well, we'd have had more chance if we weren't playing against 12 men!"
You were a possessor of great charm, a flirtatious twinkle in the eye and unquestioning generosity. You gilded every lily, and lacked the self-confidence you deserved. 
You loved a simcha, a celebration, and enjoyed a Famous Grouse or three. A year before you died, we were all standing round your bed in Intensive Care. We'd nearly lost you in the ambulance, and had been discussing how to cancel your big 80th birthday party.

Unaware of where you were, or how close you had come to death, your first words as you opened your eyes:

“Who's ordering the wine for the party?”

You couldn't understand why we all fell about laughing.
Your spirit, charm and humour were so strong, you live forever amongst us.

I love you Dad.
I love you very much.

God knows, I miss you. The footie just ain't the same.

©Charlie Adley