Friday 8 December 2023

Fancy a touch of zorbing or wadi bashing?

Time to renew my travel insurance, so online I go to check out a few quotes.

In the past this was pretty simple - around 70 smackers for a worldwide year of insured travel, but well into my 60s, I have several of what insurance types call ‘pre-existing conditions.’

I could of course pretend I don’t, but insurance companies just love not paying out, and I’m buggered if I’m going to give them a chance to nullify a claim.

Say I lost my suitcase and everything therein, but they somehow found out about my dodgy knee.

You could spend several hundred years trying to ascertain what links these two issues, apart from my good self, but link them they will, and then take great pleasure in telling me my policy is invalid.

“But but but my belongings are not lost because I have a torn meniscus!” I cry in outrage.

“Makes no difference, puny human. Be gone before we sue your sorry arse for lying to an insurance company, and oh yes, remember, your call is very important to us."

The initial quote looked very reasonable, but once I’ve told them I had half a lung cut out, and yes, this does affect my breathing, and yes, there’s a couple of other chronic conditions attached to my lungs as well, their premium calculator spins into hyperdrive.

All of a sudden I’m looking at having to fork out several hundred spondoolicks.

As the amount due inflates, so the health issues covered start to shrink. Now they’re saying that they won’t cover me for anything to do with breathing, which includes blood issues, heart issues and, well, y’know, life in general.

Breathing’s pretty high up the old Being Alive Pyramid.

While I wonder why the price is going up at the same time as they’re refusing to pay out for just about everything that might go wrong with a human body, I advance to a page on their website that - s’cuse me - takes my breath away.

We’ve established I’m somewhat limited breathwise, so why on earth are they now asking me if intend to enjoy an insane list of sporting activities on my travels?

Of course it’s reasonable to ask about scuba diving and skiing. Even, at a stretch, not beyond the bounds of possibility I might at some juncture get up on a horse, a camel or even a nellyphant.

But they want to know if I’m planning to attempt any of the following:

Assault course.

Breathing observation bubble diving, maximum depth 30 metres, under 14 days.                                                                                  
(What even is that??)



(Parapenting? Answers on a postcard please!)

Ostrich riding.
(Really? I mean really? Have they seen me? Well, no, obviously not, but I have never met anyone who has wanted to ride an ostrich, or even talked of or mentioned in passing a penchant for ostrich riding.) 

Manual labour at ground level, no machinery or power tools.           
(On holiday? Why why why?)

Canyon Swinging.
(Errrm, wot? Does that mean Tarzanning across the canyon, or having sex with the neighbours near a canyon?)

Dragon boating.
(See above re: Errrm wot?)

Gorge swinging.
(More outdoor nookie?)

Hydro speeding.
(Perchance taking amphetamines while underwater?)

Mud buggying.
(Yet again, no idea)

Tree top walking
(Or any other supernatural or Jesus-like activities…?)

Wadi bashing.
(Beating up a dried-up river bed? Why? Is that really a thing? That river bed has done nothing to me. I mean no harm to dried-up river beds. I’m a lover not a basher.)

And finally…

(Is that the opposite of absorbing?)

I could look up each sport or activity or whatever the hell Cat Skiing is, just to make sure I won’t be doing it by accident on my travels, but hey, you know, life’s too short, especially with all my pre-existing conditions.

Clearly there are people out there who like nothing better on holiday than a few hours manual labour after a good morning’s ostrich riding.

If you ever meet one whilst enjoying a bit of Zorbing, please let me know.

©Charlie Adley

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Two questions every writer should ask!

Having respectively won and been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, I’m certain that Pauls Lynch and Murray will not lose sleep over my criticism.

I’m aware that neither author will pay the slightest heed to my opinion, but that’s never going to stop me saying how I feel.

As a vocational writer who’s made a living for three decades from his scribbling, I have the right to say what I think.

Truth is we all do. That’s what’s so great about the Arts. All opinions are important.

I finished reading Prophet Song a week before it won the Booker Prize. Although it offers more than a pure thriller, its greatest quality is that it is thrilling.

Lynch builds a terrifyingly credible justifiably paranoid 21st century Dublin, and although the political undertones are fascinating, the story sticks to the war narrative like hot tyres on molten asphalt.

Personally I would’ve liked more backstory of how this rightwing autocracy gained power, but that would be a different book.

I did however reach that wonderful point in a reader’s relationship with their book, when I looked forward to going to bed so that I could rejoin the story.

As the book that Lynch wanted to write, it was almost perfect, except for the writer’s refusal to hit return on the keyboard, so that we might know who is talking to whom at all times.

Ever since Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, the absence of quotation marks and character identifiers (he whispered, she said) has become de rigueur dwaaahhlinng for the Literati.

So eager are some authors to write in a fashionable style, they forget to ask themselves the two questions every writer must ask, when considering a narrative device of any kind:

Does it work?


Is it necessary?

Students on my Craft of Writing Course inevitably ask

“Charlie, can I do ‘this’?”


“Is ‘that’ allowed?”

to which I always reply

“You can do anything you want, as long as it works.”

The decision about whether the device is necessary comes only after it has been proven to work. When I read McCarthy’s The Road I never had any doubts who was saying what to whom.

Not only did his decision to omit punctuation work, it actually enhanced the reading of what was, essentially a double-header between father and son.

We knew who they were and had no need for identifiers or quotation marks.

It worked, and it was necessary.

When Paul Lynch decided to do away with paragraphs, quotation marks and identifiers, he did his book no favours.

As a reader, I want to be utterly engaged at all times. I want to feel sucked whole into this world on the pages in front of me, enveloped by the author's thoughts, dreams, rhythms and feelings.

I don’t want to be aware I’m on the bus or in bed, reading. I want to be there, in the book, seduced by beautiful simple stunning prose.

What I do not want is to have to read a sentence twice to understand its context, or to revisit a paragraph, so that I can work out who’s talking, when their speech ends and at which point it’s replaced by a narrative voice. 

Does it work?
Yes, it works. It’s stumbling and inelegant, but it works. 

Is it necessary? Does it enhance the reading of the book?
Absolutely not, in any way.

Welcome to the perilous territory of ‘Art with a Capital F’ wherein the writer considers how the book is written to be more important than how it is read.

Whilst busy criticising other scribblers, I’ll now take the risk of disappearing up my own hole, by quoting from the introduction to my Craft of Writing Course:

'Never write to impress.
Never try to appear clever.'

Prophet Song is an outstanding book. I was gripped, and felt sad when I finished it. Very possibly Mr. Lynch employed his block narrative style to create a sense of claustrophobia in his reader.

He underestimates us, and the power of his own language. The device was not necessary. It just felt he was trying to be clever, to write Literature, and in the process forced me to feel disengaged, thrust out of the book, time and time again.

Had he not tried to be clever, it would have read so much better. Just my opinion, for which I make no excuses. I can’t read it as you.

What a joy it was then, to pick up The Bee Sting and encounter simple, hilarious and knowing prose.

What a relief. 

So accessible was Murray’s narrative that I felt my criticism of Prophet Song (oh but how I loathe this word) validated

From Son to Daughter we stray, and then to the voice of Imelda, the Mother and oh, Lordy Miss Maudy, Murray’s at it too.

Maybe he's using the device to portray how frantic and non-stop Imelda is, so her passages have no quotation marks, although, strangely, they do have identifiers. 

Equally odd, while there are no paragraphs, there is a capital letter at the start of each sentence, even though there’s no full stop/period before it, to announce the end of the previous sentence.

It’s a kind of mish-mash half-arsed version of the style employed in Prophet Song and several other contemporary novels. 

Tragically, yet again, it adds nothing to the book, and serially breaks my engagement with the narrative, as I reread a few lines for clarity.

Yet again a talented writer tries something he believes to be clever, underestimating both his readers and his own skills.

Nevertheless I’m thoroughly enjoying the book, and hoping that when we reach the Father character, we’ll be back to using paragraphs, punctuation and all that standard stuff…

... unless Murray tries something else that works, which proves necessary and keeps me more engaged as a reader than ever before

©Charlie Adley


Monday 27 November 2023

Even Space Cadets get the job done!


Five years single now, more in fact, and apart from that nearly dying stuff during 2020, I'm happily adapted to doing things my way.

When I want; how I want.

Course I’d much prefer it if I didn’t live with 7/8 pain in my right knee, and wouldn’t mind sending back my two lung conditions in return for that half lung which went AWOL, but this is me now - who I is today - and yes, they slow me down, and the ensuing obesity doesn't help either, but the jobs still get done.

This colyoom has talked before about a certain type of selfish that’s a pure good thing. It neither harms nor affects anyone else: it’s just you being you.

Well, there’s been plenty of that.

It’s incredibly comforting when you discover you are the person you thought you are; that you do mean what you say.

Just takes a while to adjust to doing things more slowly, to learn my new limitations, which require many grunts of


and plenty of exclamations of 


...with many pauses... catch my breath…

…to restore the air intake... a happy rhythm.

Those are the moments when I grasp the opportunity to take a look around; to peer through the trees, looking for the silvery sheen of high tide glowing; to watch the rooks reinforce their giant nests, way up high in the ancient ash trees; to listen to the salty sea wind in my ears.

I’ve always been happiest when lost staring into nature for indefinite periods of wonder.

Time was the one commodity I missed beyond all others when I lived in California in the 1990s. Now I have the luxury of it, and I bathe in its glory.

Like I said, it’s a relief to turn out to be the person you thought you were; to find out that the object of your dreams truly does make you happy.

Better still to have faith in what you say. This space cadet will always stop and stare, but also, I get the job done.

I pay my rent by working on my friend’s magnificent garden, but due to my unique athleticism, I’m not exactly Monty Don.

I tell her that even though I’m a month behind, the trees in the orchard will be mulched before first frost. She believes me.

Last week, on the two dry days advertised by Met Eireann, that was done, and I came dangerously close to feeling smug, finishing the day before the night temperatures plummeted.

I tell her that the little patio just up from my wee gaff will be sorted, and she says nothing. I say it might take a while, but it will be done, ‘cos it all gets done in the end.

Casting her eyes over the neglected terrace, now transformed into a layer cake of grasses, creeping buttercup, moss and mud, topped off with an amber frosting from the million zillion leaves, fallen from overhanging copper beech, she says nowt.

Tacitly she trusts me.

As I sit here today, it’s half done, liberated from that messy mire of a carpet, the fig tree and rose cut right back, and tomorrow, on the second of two days of sunny high pressure, I will perform slow motion trickery with the loppers, a step ladder and hedge trimmers.

Everything takes a little longer now, but it all gets done.

And there is much pleasure in the doing.

So much, because I do it when and as and how I like.



I am who I think.
I mean what I say.
It will be done. 



©Charlie Adley


Wednesday 1 November 2023

One thing left of three that mattered to me!

“What’s this tosh?” I hear you cry. “Yon scribbler has more than three things.”
Indeed I do, but you don’t, ‘cos nobody talks like that.
I have many hundreds of things; so many, in fact, that I’m about to hire a mini-skip and dump a large tranche of my possessions.
How many do I care about?
Aside from a couple of hundred books (I’ll know precisely how many after I’ve sifted through them and decided which ones will be recycled via charity shops.
Some are beloved reads, while others hold great sentimental value, like the hardback copy of Treasure Island, awarded to my late father in 1936 ‘For all your hard work at the village fête.’ while others, like that one about the egg creature, are doomed for being pure shite.
Anyway, for the purposes of this colyoom, the books that I love are excluded, as this is about ‘things’ that matter to me.
Good books transcend being ‘things’. They are dreams made manifest.
Colyoomistas of old already know that stuff, in general, holds little meaning for me. Spending money rarely gives me a thrill, but spending time in my own little world of wonder brings me much joy.
Spending time to sit on a rock on an empty beach and watch the tide turn; to write here right now, watching the edges of Storm Ciarán whip my corner of the world into a furious mess of fallen leaves and sideways rain; to walk myself into a sweat along the Summertime bohreens of Connacht, between the meadowsweet, purple loosestrife and fuchsia laden with orchestras of buzzing bees; to stand on a bog on a Winter’s morning, and feel the profound calm and quiet, as I watch a sparrow hawk plunge for prey: all of the above make my life worth living.
Throughout that life I owned three things that offered some measure of meaning.
Back in 1973, my father’s best friend gave me a gold Parker biro, engraved with my initials, as a bar mitzvah present. This mattered to me, not because of the donor, an unpleasant sadistic criminal, whose claim to be dad’s best friend was based upon the longevity of their friendship, alongside the power he held over my father.
No, the pen was meaningful for two reasons: because pens are considered the quintessentially classic bar mitzvah presents, which are supposed to last a lifetime (as this one nearly did), and because the writer in me loved that pen, seeing it as representative of the skill that made my life worthwhile.
My diaries from ages 15-21 were written with that pen, as were the signatures on every legal document and each heart-rending love letter in my earlier life.
Then last year, I reached for its familiar old red case, opened it and found it empty.

Unless the several million wood lice with whom I share a home have transported it away to a place where they can worship the shiny cylinder, it remains very possible that when I move out of this place, I might find the pen down the back of somewhere unthinkable beneath my desk. 

But how did it leave its case, where it had rested since 1973?
Why and what and who knows…? 

I let it go, just as I did my Ricoh watch. 

Eleven years after I received that pen, I awarded myself my Ricoh watch, when I worked for said Japanese photocopier company.

 From October 1983 to November 1984 I shot up their corporate structure like some kind of marketing Icarus, constantly and incredibly swiftly being promoted, given more and more responsibility and money, until I was earning more than any 24 year-old should ever be allowed to earn. 

They promised me I would be Marketing Director by the age of 30, but after seeing the Sales Manager drop dead from stress on the office floor, and my good friend and boss endure an excruciatingly slow and horrendous breakdown in front of my eyes, I confronted a profound truth. 

Money does not make me happy.

In fact, despite everyone in my personal and professional life telling me what a massive success I was, I felt utterly empty.

My soul was a void of despair.

Even though exceptionally able to empathise with purchasers from conglomerates and corporate giants, I did not care how many photocopiers were sold to anyone anywhere. 

I hated my job, and felt deeply depressed, convinced I was wasting my life.

The company paid for my car, my petrol, my household bills, gave me an unlimited expense account and an American Express card, thereby making it incredibly easy for me to save money. 

Also, among several other job titles, they made me Head of Giveaways, so natch I gave myself a wonderful Ricoh watch.

I’d worked my voluptuous butt off. I deserved it.

Having accumulated a small fortune in savings, I quit the job and on November 22nd, 1984 boarded a spanky new Virgin Atlantic flight to Newark, New Jersey, and proceeded to travel for a year, very slowly, around the world, whilst writing a craftless yet passionate first draft of a novel.

Even though that book was never published, I went on to enjoy the privilege and good fortune of living off my writing, loving both my work and the meaning it brought to my life.

For nearly 40 years I sported on my left wrist the Ricoh watch that reminded me every day of that decision I made at the age of 23; of who I am, and what matters to me.

Then, six months ago, I stayed in an hotel in Sligo, left my watch behind in the room, and never saw it again.

I mourned neither the pen nor the watch. Of course I was a little sad that two significant lifetime possessions had left me, but I shed no tears.

I still had Blue Bag.

Relax, loyal colyoomista: there is no ‘had’. I have Blue Bag, and yes, as my friend Andy suggested many yonks ago:

“You’ll be buried with that effin’ bag.”

Were it not for my wish to be cremated, I would most certainly and happily rot into the soil with Blue Bag decomposing upon me.

Instead I say burn me with Blue Bag. Scatter our combined ashes off the cliffs of Kilcummin Back Strand.

Purchased for a tenner, from a tourist shop on Oxford Street the day I left Ricoh in 1984, Blue Bag and I have been around the world twice together.We have hitch-hiked over 200,000 miles together.

In the Cadillacs of California, the buses of Bali and the 24-wheel rigs that monopolise European motorways, Blue Bag stood on its end between my legs, taking up no more space than I do myself.

That allowed it to stay with me on buses in the developing world, while traditional backpacks were hoisted onto the roof, far from their owners.

In strange bars Blue Bag’s handles are hooked round my bar stool so that no stray hand might whisk it away.

Before the ridiculous limits of carrying of liquids in airports, Blue Bag used to be my hand luggage, allowing me to be off the plane and out into a new country while all the other passengers were left behind, waiting at the baggage carousel.

Through all manner of insanity and tribulation, Blue Bag has been by my side.

When it’s hoisted onto my right shoulder, I feel safe; complete; ready to take on the world and win.

Oh, and (slightly embarrassed cof cof) I simply want Blue Bag with me; always. Metaphorically and practically, it’s been my fast track to freedom.

Now that my craziest travels are behind me, I still use Blue Bag for two or three day trips, but when heading to London or further afield, I pack Blue Bag into my suitcase, because … well … you never know when you might need a mad dash.

One man and his bag.
That’s the only possession I need.

©Charlie Adley


Friday 27 October 2023

Time to break all my rules. Sometimes I have to.

The knee’s pure agony. The war’s cutting deep slices into my soul. My lungs are well gippy and ah, look, my tomatoes are finally ripe.

Time to break all your rules. Sometimes you have to.


Crusty white bread. I never buy white bread, but today has to be crusty white bread.


Dry Cured rashers, 97% if you don’t mind. Haven’t bought bacon for two years, but that’s what we're talking here.


Unsalted butter. Makes no sense, you’d think, with the all that salt in the rashers, but I swear the toasted white bread tomato tangy rasher topped slices will taste better unsalted. 

Sugar in my tea. No, two sugars in my tea. Never put sugar in my tea, unless in shock or gravely hungover.

Noticed over the decades that me and many of my testicular brethren find Autumn tough on our mental health.

Maybe the mists damp down our spirits.
I call Autumn Male Depression Season.

Time to break your rules: two sugars in the tea; crusty white bread; dry cured rashers; unsalted butter and my own tomatoes.

And yes, hipsters, a little drizzle of himself the extra Virgin.

No ketchup; no HP. Not this time.
Just a celebration of me ‘matoes.

By god, it helped, and I need all the help I can give myself.

©Charlie Adley



Saturday 2 September 2023

High Street shopping beats High Speed Broadband!



Thanks for shopping with us! Your order will be delivered in multiple packages.

(Oh gord, that means you’re going to send me two copies of all your bloody emails.)

Our courier has received your order!
Our courier has received your order!

(I really couldn’t care. Just get my stuff to me.)

You’ve left something behind. Please see below the socks left in your basket.
You’ve left something behind. Please see below the socks left in your basket.

(I didn’t leave them in my basket. I chose not to buy them. Stop it, stop it, right now.)

Your order is on the way!
Your order is on the way!

(I bloody hope so. You’ve taken the money from my credit card, so if my stuff wasn’t on its way, you’d be robbing me. No running commentary necessary. Just bring me my stuff.)

Your order has been delayed. We are very sorry but due to volcanic eruptions in the South Pacific and the star B652a34 going Supernova, your socks and shirt won’t arrive on Wednesday the nth, but probably Thursday the nth.
Your order has been delayed. We are very sorry but due to volcanic eruptions in the South Pacific and the star B652a34 going Supernova, your socks and shirt won’t arrive on Wednesday the nth, but probably Thursday the nth.

(I really couldn’t care. When you declared that initial delivery date I took it as advisory rather than compulsory, because I have been through this shite before.)

Your order has left the warehouse!
Your order has left the warehouse!

(Oh good god. Give it a rest. I don’t feel the need to tell you I’ve eaten my breakfast once, let alone twice. You’re doing what you exist to do, so shut up and just do it.)

Your order has been shipped to the courier!
Your order has been shipped to the courier!

(My bowels moved this morning. My bowels moved this morning. Tell me how much you needed to know that. No more nor less than I needed to know that a courier has my socks. And a courier has my shirt. And a courier has my socks. And a courier has my shirt.)

Your order has left the courier!
Your order has left the courier!

(Why? Shouldn’t it have stayed with the courier? Now I’m confused, as I drown in all this shitey spammish bollocks you keep sending.)

Your order is out for delivery!
Your order is out for delivery!

(I know. I got it yesterday. Very nice, thanks, and hopefully that means an end to all these emails. But what am I talking about? I really should know better.)

We really want to know how you feel, so please fill in the short review section below to share how you enjoyed your shopping experience with us.
We really want to know how you feel, so please fill in the short review section below to share how you enjoyed your shopping experience with us.

(Believe me, you really really don’t want to know how I feel about my shopping experience with you. Just go away and leave me alone.)

Hi there! You seem to have forgotten to review your shopping experience!
Hi there! You seem to have forgotten to review your shopping experience!

(Fuck off out of my life right now. I’ll never shop with you again, you hassling harassing sycophantic synthetic sons of Hades.)

Would you like to apply for our credit card?
Would you like to apply for our credit card?

(Would you like a kick up where the sun don’t shine?)


Meanwhile in the real world, I walk into a shop on a high street.

“Hello! I’d like these socks and this shirt, please.”

“Great choice. That’ll be €43.99, please, when you’re ready.”


“Thank you. Now here’s your receipt. We’ll look forward to seeing you again.”

“Oh I’ll be back. Lovely shop, stock and staff. Thanks so much.”

“Well I'm very happy to hear that. Bye then.”



©Charlie Adley


Thursday 3 August 2023

When I was your age, I could flyyyy…

Race Week 1992: I step off the boat from France, onto Irish soil for the first time. Double Vision starts in print six weeks later, and after thirty one years I’m still inflicting DVs upon you.
Below find one of my most cherished encounters, described in a DV from April 2005, during the Cheltenham Festival.



Stepping out of the Westside bookies I stop in my tracks. Beside my car Betsy the Blue Bubble, another is now parked, and a young woman is helping an older woman out of the back door.

She’s taking her time to emerge, so I hang back.

For once, I’m in no particular rush, and realise that if I walked up to my car now, the lady might feel under pressure, possibly even intimidated or embarrassed.

So I wait at a distance, as gradually she emerges from the silver Nissan in an elegant slow-motion swirl.

Feeling it’s now okay to move closer, I walk towards my car, only to see said woman clutching a healthy wad of €50 euro notes.

She stands for a moment like a statue, as if frozen in mid-run, poised like a predator with scent on the air, her body pointed toward the shops.

As a gun dog at a kill, her head slowly moves along the row of buildings, her eyes scanning for prey.

“It’s over there, Ma, the blue building on the far right!"

A second after assimilating her daughter’s directions, yer wan raises her hand with wad of notes high above her head, and marches at high speed directly towards the bookies,

Any more confident stride I am yet to see.
Poopers! I wish I knew which horse she had!

With a Galway smile etched onto my face, I turn back to the cars, wondering at how great it is to be living in Ireland, where an older lady can feel safe waving her dosh around like that.

Just as I’m about to open my car door, the front door of the same Nissan opens to reveal an older gentleman, who for the life of him looks like he stepped out of an Irish Tourist Board advertisement.

He couldn’t have looked more Auld Ireland.

Impeccable, with tweed jacket, flat hat and blackthorn cane, he turns his freckled lined face to me, and I smile back.

As he talks, his long chin moves up and down.

His eyes betray the weariness of age, although they shine too, with humour and a sparkle of gentle wit.

“Ye’ll have to be patient young man!”

“Oh, absolutely!” says I, not feeling particularly young, and eager to put him at his ease.

“There’s no rush,” I offer, “It’s a lovely day, and the races don’t start for another hour!”

By now he has swung his legs out of the car, and I hesitate to offer a helping hand, because he radiates an atmosphere of individuality and independence.

He stretches out his arms in well-practiced manner, and assuredly lifts himself out and up
onto his feet.

“Ah, yes, everything takes a little longer than it used to…”
he explains, as he turns back into the car to reach for his cane,
“…and on occasion, that can be a very good thing!”

As this septuagenarian’s double entendre sinks into my mind, a coin through jelly, happily surprising me on its merry way, he walks right up to me, engaging me close, eye to eye, his breath on my chin.

“Mind you…” he whispers, somewhere between wistful and a challenge,

“…mind you, when I was your age, I could                                  flyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy..............”

As he exhales the last word, he lifts both his voice and hand high to the sky, and for a second or two, I believe he could.

We stare into the other man’s’ eyes, laugh, and wish each other good luck on the gee gees.

I drive off, thrilled that a gentle encounter with a perfect stranger has left me enthralled; charmed; inspired.



©Charlie Adley

Saturday 29 July 2023

Immoral, magnificent, the Galway Races offer the essence of Ireland!

Around the world there are great cites that define the essence of their country.
Not national capitals, these are yer second favourites: much-loved places of culture, art and inspiration, like San Francisco, Liverpool, Melbourne and Galway.
Galway City is only Dublin's poor relation in economic and demographic terms. To this Englishman, Galway City is pure Ireland, and Race Week is the triple-distilled spirit of Galway City.
Ergo: Ireland is Race Week; wonderful and horrendous; immoral and magnificent.

Oh yeh, and it sends you mad. Stark staring cuckoo. Whoever you are, and whatever you're doing, if you are around Galway City during Race Week, it will infect you, as sure as a gee-gee has a leg at each corner.

Kitchen porters are clanging and rushing; chefs pouring sweat while barstaff fill buckets; hoteliers hop; gamblers and cards sharks a-pumping; prossies a-jumping; priests go insomniac with the overtime; the streets overflow with eaters and drinkers and dresses and hats, plastic pint glasses and a billion fag butts.

Up above choppers fly everywhere, buzzing-bizzing like is this a flashback or a film?

Spot the difference: Galway during Race Week and the set of Apocalypse Now.

The Horror.

The Mystery.
The marvellous madness.

What’s a fella to do, as the song says. Thunder clouds roll in and it’s sweaty. The flies are out and it’s Race Week.

On Thursday morning Siobhan from Claregalway spends hours in front of her long cupboard mirror, checking her accessories.

She’s broke but hell, she’s going anyway.

Tommy from Salthill, well, nobody’s seen hide nor hair of him for days, but that’s the way it is in Race Week.

He’ll get himself into a card game and you won’t see him ‘til he’s done. Used to be a problem back in the day when the kids were young, but now, well, to be honest, it frees up his long-suffering missis for a few days. So everyone’s happy.

Himself from Ballybrit is delighted to be back working the door at the Owners and Trainers Bar, watching the good money coming in and the bad money going out.

He’s grinning to himself at the pittance he’s being paid compared to these Fianna Fail gombeens.

He’s watching it all and lapping up the scenery. There’s yer trainers and owners, coming and going, and then there’s all these other yokes who are looking for nothing but a little bit of information, d’y’see? 

Just a nod or a wink from the bloke who owns a fetlock and Colm from Roscommon is on to his phone to do the betting faster than the Heineken floods cold nectar into his glass.

Then there’s the players. The really class ones are the types most people miss, but Himself on the door, he sees ‘em, because he’s learned to spot people hiding in plain sight.

Relaxed, happy, calm, but sucking up the hottest angles, placing the biggest bundles on the nose. They’re not yer each way betters.

He smiles as he thinks of it. No, these aren’t yer each-wayers. These are the players.

The work is good, he’s happy for it, but the watching, listening and learning, that’s better than a banker’s bonus.

Well, no, not better than a banker’s bonus, but great craic. Rather be doing it than not, safe to say.

Siobhan’s met up with her friends in Eyre Square, and they're heading up to the course on the bus. They were going to get a taxi, do it in style, but there was a bus right there, so wha’the.

Her mates all look amazing and it’s just a kickin’ day out.

She’ll get the first round in. That’s it, she’ll get the first bottle of bubbles, that way everybody’ll remember and nobody’ll notice that she doesn’t do much betting.

She’d budgeted for her share of a taxi,  but the bus was a money-saving godsend. Thank you God, she says to herself, as she listens to Anne-Marie’s story about and a lad called Brian and bottles of Bulmers.

As long as the bubbles aren’t too crazy expensive, she might even have a bit left to bet with, too.

Now that’d be a laugh alright. She’s working part-time in the Londis round the corner, and hitching to lectures at NUIG. Loans and rent and life’s not all fun, but you have to sometimes.

Sometimes you just have to, and today is Ladies Day.

After his stint working the door, Himself is back in town, sitting outside Coili’s, watching a fire juggler across the way.

Turning to the grey-haired boho next to him he says:

“He’s alright, s’pose, but not good enough for Johnny Massacre Corner!”

The man replies: “I am sorry. Who is John ze Masterpiece, pliz?”

Himself smiles. “S’alright mate, no bother.”

What was he thinking? Like yeh, really, the guy’s gonna be a Galwegian, tonight, in Race Week!

Cork’s got jazz and Kilkenny makes comedy and hurlers. There’s the All Ireland Finals at Croker, but that’s a couple of hours sport with a day and night’s drinking.

The nation comes to Galway for a week, but this is not merely some pathetic endurance test.

Back when Plate Day Wednesday was the big day, when the meeting ran only a few days, the Galway Races were no less significant.

There’s a depravity, corruption and decadence to the affair that cannot be ignored, but putting aside the traffic and the pavement pizzas for a moment, the best part of Race Week is the spirit of the city.

Galway soaks up the farmers, politicians, insurance brokers and hairdressers. They are all welcome to have their own parties, to gamble and screw each other, or gently sip tea and suck Galway oysters from the half shell.

Siobhan’s eye liner is a disaster by the time she’s back on Quay Street. The cobbled streets are a total mare to those heels now, ouch, bleedin’ exhausted, pure bubbled out, but nobody noticed about the money.

Now they want to go for a drink. She’s enough for one and the bus home.

“Coili’s for the music?” asks Roisin.

So they head up High Street, and in the distance, Himself spots Siobhan, and she kinda catches his eye.

What’s a fella to do?

©Charlie Adley

Friday 21 July 2023

Without this weather would we lose the place we love?

True to form, everyone has forgotten the wonderful late Spring and early Summer we enjoyed this May and June.

We walked under sunny dry cloudless skies for six weeks, but a fortnight of sodden July has erased from our brains all we then enjoyed.

The rains came exactly when they always do: just as festival season hit Galway.

Humid damp air cooks under morning hot sunshine, conjuring towering thunderclouds by midday.

We console ourselves with "We don't live here for the weather!" but that’s becoming less true with each warming year. 

I’ve lived in San Francisco and Melbourne, yet take the weather of the West of Ireland weather every time.

Wise words were spoken to me during a deluge decades ago.

October late evening, the rain roaring sideways up Dominick Street, I sought shelter in a shop porch opposite the Left Bank Café.

Crammed in beside me, an old bloke (think: Del Boy’s’s Uncle Albert) was lifting his head and smiling like he’d just picked the winner.

Together we watched as blankets of water ripped off the Atlantic Ocean, powered up Dominick Street, torrents of insistent swirls, dancing silver under the street lights.

“Tell me, without this weather would we lose the place we love?”

Impressed by his sensing I love it here, I stared into his eyes with a look that said

“Do what? Go on then, I’ve bitten.”

We turned our heads together, back out into the rampant bleakness;
both knowing well that this was not a passing shower;
that we would have to brave it and deal with the consequences.

Turning to me one again, Shorty White Hair threw back his old head and laughed maniacally.

“God’s gift to Ireland!” he screamed above the clamour of the storm. “God’s gift, the RRRAAaaaiiin!” he cheered.

Not really in the mood for theological debate, I resisted the urge to reply

“Well ta very much, God!”

instead settling for the more respectful:

“How’s that then?”

Delighted, he launched into his spiel, which was, I must admit, entrancing.

“Without the rain there’d be a hotel on every clifftop. Without the rain there’d be caravans and mobile homes as far as you can see. Without the rain there’d be millions of tourists here every month of the year and the farmers would go broke and sell up to build more hotels and the land would be gone and the space would be filled. Without the rain everything you love about Ireland would be gone.”

Silence fell between us.

Somehow this stranger could not have summed up better what I love about the West of Ireland. Almost beyond the compassion, warmth and wit of the people, I adore the pace and space of the West.

Step out of your shower in Florida in July and you instantly need another shower. The towel won’t take the water off you.

Humidity sucks, but not water from skin. Sleepless nights, above the sheets, scared to move an inch to break sweat.

No thanks.

In Rome they're telling people to stay indoors.
In Greece; Canada; everywhere, it burns wild and terrifying.

I’ve seen a forest of blue gums with their bases intact and untouched, their canopy still alive with green leaves, with all between scorched charcoal black.

The fire moved so fast it didn't have time to take the tops and bottoms of the trees.

70 mph fireballs racing from each exploding eucalyptus to the next.

No thanks.

When I lived in the Redwood Empire, it stopped raining in May, and you most likely wouldn’t catch a drop ’til mid-November.

By that time, frazzled beyond reason, I was that eedjit dancing with joy in the downpour in the library car park.

Irish weather is terrible, and as Autumn already threatens, consider this: wherever you live in Connacht, you’re never more than 20 minutes from somewhere stunningly beautiful.

If you step out of your bus or car and stand in the middle of nowhere for 15 minutes, you’ll be giving thanks, feeling privileged to live in this extraordinary part of the planet.

We have so much empty space. Wildflower meadows pop up in vacant lots between launderettes and pubs on Irish streets.

Here in North Mayo, I can walk for hours without the sound of distant traffic. I lie in my bed in the morning and listen to plaintiff donkey brays crashing through the air, pheasants gawaaaaghrrrk-ing.

Our mountain sides are empty.
Our clifftops are grassy, lined with wild orchids.

At night, in our rare and splendid area of darkness, we can see the Milky Way in all its glory.

During the day we can walk among wildlife, dreaming for a moment we are the sole representatives of the human race.

Yes, we have gorse and bog fires, but they don't outrun a speeding car.
Our land stays still; no significant tectonics.

The odd mudslide, once a year or so.
Flooding, yes, increasingly.

If I ever buy a house, it’ll be on a hill.

Flying low over Ireland, you fully appreciate how this nation is a shcattering of green bumps and lumps, sticking out of vast and many puddles.

We have windstorms in winter but little snow, and over 300 days a year between 10C and 20C.

I’ll take that.

I’ll take it all, with clifftops clear of hotels.

©Charlie Adley

909 words

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Do You Believe In SHC?

Image: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc./Patrick O'Neill Riley

The leaves of Dublin’s trees shrivelled and cried in the cold north wind.

Padraig arranged the turves around the burning coal.

“It makes a nice fire. A jolly nice fire.” said Paul.

‘And what would you know about fire?’ thought Padraig.

He didn’t like the young man, with all that button-down collar malarkey.

‘And him sitting in my own armchair. I do not like him, and I do not have to like him. Ice in his Jameson’s. It’s as well I didn’t offer the Redbreast.’

Paul stuck his finger into his whiskey, twirling the ice around in the glass.

Padraig stood in front of the fire. The heat was good, and soon the backs of his legs were roasting.

He stayed put, lest Paul might feel too warm.

“So, where would you stand on the issue of spontaneous human combustion then now?” asked Padraig, with mischievous flourish.

Paul sat up in his chair. What a startling non-sequitur! Still, it was interesting enough. Maybe there was more to Padraig than a nicotined beard and a shoulder chip the size of the British Empire.

“Well actually, I must confess to a latent fascination for S.H.C., now that you mention it.”

“What was that? What was that? What’s all this S.H.C.? Oh, I see, yes, and tell me this. Would that be what they call a ‘buzzword’ these days, young man, is it now?”

Padraig made it clear that his question was rhetorical, sniffing deep and long. Then, groaning with invented pain, he settled himself into the other armchair, all the while casting covetous glances at his own.

Paul showed no telepathic tendencies. So then, ousted Padraig was, and ousted he would be.

Slowly, deliberately, Padraig packed his pipe, allowing time for Paul’s mind to wander.

With smoke rising from the freshly-lit bowl, the flames from the fire reflecting in his eyes, Padraig turned to the young man.

“Now, let me tell you about your S.H.C. Yes, let me tell you about he-he–hexploding people. Listen now while I tell you the story of Bernie Collins.”

In some matters Paul knew his place.
He leant back in his chair.

“Well, Bernie was a Traffic Warden, off in County Kildare. You wouldn’t know the place so I’ll not waste my time telling it to you. Anyway, this would be a good few years from now, oh yes. This would be maybe in the next century, d’you see?”

“Ahhm, I think so.”

“Well, either you do see or you do not see.”

“Oh, well, yes, I see. A good few years from now.”

“So what was your problem?”

“I didn’t think I had a problem. Please, please go on with your story.”

“Well, that would be a lot easier without all of these hin-hin-hin-hin-h-interruptions.”

“Sort of ‘Stop talking while I’m interrupting’ kind of thing? Sorry, it’s a joke. Never mind. Do go on.”

“Yes, and I should think so too. Ah, but you’ll have that. Now, Bernie Collins was a Traffic Warden, and his uniform was brown. Bernie loved his job and he loved his uniform. He lived on his own, after his Mother died of course. All alone in his own wee house.

"The outside of his house he painted brown, and the insides he painted brown, and all of the things he bought to put inside his house were brown too. All of his everything matched his uniform, and that made Bernie very happy.

“He had one suit - brown it was - and he’d wear it every Sunday to Mass. Funerals and weddings he wore his uniform. And sure, every other second of his waking life, Bernie wore his uniform.”

“Did he sleep in his uniform?”

For a few seconds Padraig stared at Paul, lips drawn tight white with contempt.

“Sorry, I just wondered. You said he wore it every second of the day, didn’t you? Or was it every second day?”

Padraig exhaled slowly, shaking his head, and continued regardless.

“Yes, well now, Bernie wasn’t one for doing much. He was the shape of a barrel, a short barrel on legs, hoho yes. But he did love his job. If he could have he would have worked from dawn to dusk and through the hours of darkness.

"He knew every single, double or dotted yellow line in his town. He knew just exactly who owned every vehicle, and he tried his blessed best to know who was driving which car and where and when they were doing it.

“Y’see, he knew that the Undertaker’s pretty young assistant was out driving with the Mayor every Tuesday afternoon. Then there was the manager of a big insurance company down on the High Street, who was parked outside of his own wife’s si-si-sister’s house every Friday, between the midday Angelus and a half past the hour of One. He saw it all, and the more he saw of them the less he liked them. Their secrets.

“He just plain couldn’t face the horror of the world. Bernie, d’y’see, he’d loved his Mammy, and never had he felt the slightest h-inclination to step out with a young lady. Ohno. Not the slightest bit. Some are like that, so they are.

“So there he would sit, in his brown uniform, his head swimming with all their secrets. Their lies. Their deceptions. Their lies and their sinning. It was too much for him, d’y’see? He just plain didn’t want to know.

“So he’d settle into his tatty brown leather chair after eating his brown pie and brown gravy, and he’d watch his old black and white television. It was so old that the picture was all faded, like. You could almost imagine it being brown.

“But my, did he watch it? Oh my, did Bernie Collins enjoy his televison? Oho! He watched every soap opera, every chat show, game show, and he loved to watch a fil-m. He’d watch just anything that wasn’t a news programme or a doc-humentary.

“As he watched all those soaps and that, he’d think to himself he was watching the lives of all the liars in his town. D’y’see, he had not the slightest knowledge of anything that was happening in the world. All he knew was the inside of his troubled head, and the stories that the television told him. If it didn’t occur within his own sight and hearing he remained ignorant of it, and - oh yes - that was another thing.

“Bernie Collins was as near to deaf as a man can be before you call him deaf. His television was turned up so loud you could hear it from a half-mile away, and there he was himself, sitting there, just right up in front of it all the time. Mind you, that’s not to say there was anything wrong with his sight, hoh no. Sharp as a kestrel.

“Bernie, he enjoyed his deafness. Oh yes. He thought himself lucky that he didn’t have to be putting up with hearing all the blaspheming that folk shouted at him when he gave them a parking ticket. Not at all. Not a bit of it.

“There were some who thought Bernie loved giving tickets, but that wasn’t the truth of it. Sure, he loved his job, but he would have been even happier if he never saw an illegally parked car all day.

“Bernie was not a man with an evil streak inside of him. Truth be told, he just felt sad when folk tried to get away with illegal parking. It made him sadder still when they shouted at him, as if it wasn’t them who had done wrong.

“Worst of all was when he’d be finding the same car parked on the same illegal spot, time and time again, day after day. That would make him feel redundant, d’y’see? What was the point in him being there, of him telling them not to park there, if they simply ignored him?

“It was the only thing that made him angry, and maybe, just maybe deep inside the heart of Bernie Collins, he knew that his tickets were nothing more than minor irritations to these people, and he - well, that meant to them he was nothing more than the bearer of minor irritations.”

“Was Bernie the only Traffic Warden in the town?”

“He was. The very sole purveyor of the parking tickets.”

“And what, pray, does this have to do with S.H.C.?”

“Well now, if you were a more patient man you’d find out. Now, so there was Bernie sitting in his chair, watching one of his soap operas, with the sound turned up terrible loud, so loud that he couldn’t hear the singing outside.

“He just plain couldn’t hear it, but every other soul living on the planet that night could hear the singing. It was the singing of Angels. Yes, Angels, singing from the skies, calling folk to come outside. Some say it sounded different to every soul who heard it, but certainly, to each and every one of them, it was the sweetest sound. A sound that had to be heard. Listened to.

“Outside, outside they went, onto the streets, looking up to the skies, looking for the source of that heavenly music. Children woke in their beds and followed their parents onto the streets. Nurses wheeled the old folk out to hear the cherubim, and soon enough there were great multitudes thronging the streets.

“When the sounds started to move away, the crowds followed, as rats to the piper. Off into the darkness they went, without so much as the slightest he-he-hesitation. Off, away, never to be seen again.”

Paul was engrossed. What a splendid yarn.

“All of them. Every man, woman, child and babe-in-arms. All except for Bernie Collins, who sat watching his soap opera until the picture went dead. All the lights in his little brown house went off, and Bernie grumbled to himself about power cuts and took himself to bed for an early night.

“Come the morn, and still he had no 'lectricity. No power. Bernie shrugged, shivered by the embers of his fire, and groaned when he found no milk bottles delivered to his door.

“Outside on the street you could have heard the flap of a lark’s wing. Of course Bernie noticed that there were no folks up and about, but why would that worry him? Wasn’t it good to walk the streets and do his work without all those eyes staring at him? All those nasty eyes, always just a pen stroke from shouting at him.

“So Bernie was not upset to have the world to himself. It took more than that to upset Bernie Collins. So now, tell me what would it take to upset Bernie?”

Paul had been off, walking the empty streets of County Kildare. He wasn’t ready for tests of mental alacrity.

“Sorry? What would upset Bernie? Well, I, err, illegally parked cars?”

Padraig nodded slowly and deliberately, as if Paul’s answer should have revealed a deep hidden truth.

Paul stuck his neck out, motioning Padraig to carry on, but Padraig merely continued his sage nodding, his lips turning down into a sad pout as if to infer that Paul had let him down in some small but significant way.

“Now, so, of course, all the cars were parked in just the same places they were the day before. So off went Bernie, giving out his tickets, slapping them onto the windscreens, over the ones he had given out the day before.

“Not one soul had seen fit to move their car. Not one soul had spared a moment to ponder how their illegal parking might have caused inconvenience to others.

“Not one soul had taken Bernie’s tickets seriously. Back home that night Bernie sat in the dark, unable to see his wee brown world. Indeed, of course, without d’lectric, he couldn’t watch his television, nor cook any food, so he sat there entertaining thoughts as dark as the air in his living room.

“That night he was barely able to sleep. Around and around poor Bernie’s head, illegally parked cars, imagined conversations he would have with all those folk on the morrow. Oh, he would tell them. Yes, how he would tell them what he thought of their selfish parking.

“Bernie set off at first trace of dawn, only to find every single car unmoved.‘Surely,’ he thinks to himself, ‘surely there must be one, just one person who cares.’

“No more the leisurely amble for Bernie now. Oh no. He was a man a-fired, walking full pace around the whole town. And then around again, and again, until his feet were sore, his soles burning hot on the pavement.

“Each and every time he passed a car he wrote another ticket and slapped it on top of the old one. And each and every time he did that, he felt a little more angry about it all.

“By lunchtime the sweat was pouring from his brow, his fingers were sore from the grip of his pen, and his shoes, well, he was sure that they had shrunk, hugging the skin on his swollen feet like that.

“ ‘Two more rounds, just two more rounds’ he told himself, ‘and then I can call it a day.’

“The quiet private voice of his soul started singing a song, a song of hope that he might find just one car that had moved, just so that he could feel like as how he really did h-exist, d’y’see?

“But, of course, he found all the cars just as he left them. Covered in tickets from top to bottom as they now were.

“That night, exhausted, dejected and desolate, Bernie lay in the dark on his brown bed. All his feelings melded together to form anger, and a particularly fearsome anger it was. 

“Hadn’t he only been trying to do his job? So why was it that they were all out to stop him? 

“That was it. They had all met together and decided to defy him. They had decided that life would be better without him.

“Had they stopped to consider what would become of their traffic flow once he was gone? What singular chaos might ensue once folk were parking wherever they felt like it, at whim? 

"Had any of them just once asked themselves why he was needed? Had they thought about that? Had they?

"And what did he ask from them? Was it so much? Was it really so very much? No, it was nothing. Nothing at all. Not a thing. And what did he get in return? Disrespect. Yes, disrespect, and parking on double yellows, that’s what he got, ho yes.

“What stupid senseless people he served. And why should he serve them? Why should he be their Public Servant, these folk who didn’t deserve to be served? And now they had taken his lights away. Taken the power for his television and his cooker away, and all the while not one had the decency to show their face.

“Pah! He would show them. He wasn’t one to be defeated so easily, not Bernie Collins, not a bit of it, oh no. He would be back out there tomorrow, just as he was today, just as he always would be. If needs be he would cover every single car in tickets, if that was what it would take. He knew his duty, even if other folk knew nothing of theirs. Stupid selfish evil folk ...

“Now, if there had been even just a trace of light in Bernie’s bedroom, he would have seen the smoke arising from his tummy button, his navel, d’y’see? But it was dark as coal in Bernie Collins’ brown house, and so he lay there, stoking the fire of his own demise.

“As he glowed with rage he braised his liver, grilled his guts and stewed the bile that had risen in his stomach. As the juices boiled inside of him, his thoughts became more terrifying, more tormented, more tortured. Down in his bowel, his gases had expanded until they could expand no more.

“And so it was that in a flash of flame and fart, Bernie Collins h-exploded. The fire leaped from his torn torso onto to his sheets, his room, his house, until there was not a trace of Bernie Collins left on the earth. His parking tickets were the only things that remained, as a testament.”

Padraig leant back in his chair, satisfied and slightly wearied by the effort of the telling.

Paul felt the onus on himself to offer a comment of some kind.

The silence was pregnant with Padraig’s expectation.

“You tell a good tale, Padraig. I wonder, would you mind if I built the fire up? It’s getting just the slightest bit chilly in here.” 

“And why wouldn’t you? Go ahead young man. But do me this. Build a good fire, or build a bad fire, but save, oh save me and spare me from a jolly fire. The idea of it. Indeed.”


© Charlie Adley

Sunday 21 May 2023

Why I love the West of Ireland: #43,729


Above Knock Airport the sky hangs pure deep blue; not a tiny wispy cloud anywhere on the horizon.

The sun soaks my skin as I walk out into the car park.


My long weekend in my native London was great. Everything went really well. I drenched myself in the love of friends of forty nine years, and on Monday swapped those numbers around for 94, the age of my incredible wonderful mum.

Uber to Mum, Uber back, Uber to the pub: when in London do what you cannot in Killala.

I talked at length with three Uber drivers: a brace of Afghan and one Bulgarian. All with stories to tell. All - with no little pride - describing themselves as Londoners.

That was London, but here is the West of Ireland and recharged, I’m home on my 63rd birthday, happy and excited at the prospect of a few sunny evening whiskies at Sweeney’s later with the posse.

Maybe my mind is there, drinking beneath the Round Tower, because wherever I am, it’s neither here nor at all ‘in the moment’, as they say these days.

Indicating left, I swing Joey round towards the Northbound N17, turn to look far right to see if all’s clear, but forget to look straight in front of me, which some might consider important, generally and specifically, when driving.

Glassy tinklesplinter...... Glassy tinklesplinter.

Oh fuck fuck fuck.

Fuketty fukking fuck fuck.

Not now.
Not Now.
Not Bloody Now.

Yer man’s getting out his car in front, and I’m suddenly tense, not ready to encounter any kind of aggression, as I was off in such a happy place mere seconds ago.

Can’t sit here any longer. Have to get out of the car.


“Ah look, I'm so sorry. Fuck. So sorry. C’mere, do you want to do the insurance thing?”

“Ah no no no. I’d say you have it a lot worse than me. Look, you’ve only smashed my rear light. Yours is hit much harder. 

I turn and look at broken Joey. Yes I am that sad git who names his bloody cars. My vehicles, 2 and 4 wheeled, have all felt like steeds in some way, so I gave them names.

Despite having seen not one second of structured reality TV show The Only Way Is Essex, when I bought my Suzuki SX, I immediately thought of its star, Joey SX.

That’s it. Now his wing is gashed, his headlight smashed and bonnet crumpled a tad.

“At least let me give you something for your broken light!” I say.

As I open Joey’s back door to get €50 cash for the man, the contents of my travel bag spill onto the road.

Wallet, USB key. Coins.

Fuck Fuck Fuck

“I have your water bottle!” he shouts from somewhere. “It rolled out from under the car!”

I gather up all my spilled items from the hot tarmac.

Fuck fuck fuck

Standing, I look around but he’s nowhere.
Oh there he is.

The man whose car I just smashed into at the airport, (and let’s face it, if you’re at an airport there’s something happening in your life. No good time to have an accident, yeh, but airports are the worst) he’s on his knees struggling with both hands to bend the metal away from Joey’s tyre. 

“See now this was a bit jammed in there but now I’d say that wheel will roll. I’d want to be sure the tyre’s not binding though, so if you like I’ll just follow you down the road a while, and see how you get on.”

In my brain’s background there appears a volley of sugary primary colour explosions of unexpected humanity and compassion.

I say

“No, I’ll be fine, that’s so incredibly kind of you but thanks so much.”

He bends the torn metal around upwards, a few more inches away from Joey’s tyre

“There now, I’d say you’ll be alright. Keep an eye on your temperature gauge, I would, in case anything’s binding.”

“Really, and thanks so much for your help, and I’m really sorry about well, y’know. It’s pretty much downhill to Swinford and I’ll pull into that garage there to take a look."

“Sound. And sound!” he declares, waving the 50 back at me, and he drives off.

Joey’s partially blocking the airport road, so I roll him down onto the hard shoulder of the main road, stop and



God he was so nice
Offering to follow me to see if I was okay

So kind

Yeh get shopping in the garage, ‘cos I’ll not have a car.

But if I don’t have a car how do I get to Castlebar for my knee injection on Saturday morning?

No way I’m missing that. Waited months for that. 

And no way I’m asking anyone in the posse to get out of bed early on a Saturday.

And pretty sure there’ll be no public transport to get from the village to Castlebar by 10.

Stare into space
(definitely better when not moving)

Dial the mobile of the bloke who owns the garage in my village.

Rural West of Ireland means first name terms.

“Kev, it’s Charlie. How you doing mate? Listen, fucking smashed my car a bit outside of Knock Airport. Happy fucking birthday, eh? Yeh, it is, yeh, 63. Not an age event that rocks my world, to be honest, Kev. No biggie. But still, yeh, exactly. Not on your birthday and not at the bloody airport. Thanks Kev, yeh, so, I’m on my way to you now, but I’ve a few medical appointments I need to get to, so any chance of a car?"

“Not right now, Charlie, but by tonight or tomorrow morning latest there’ll be a car here for you, which you can keep for the duration of the repair.”

“Kev you're a bloody mensch, mate. Thanks so much. See you in an hour, I hope.”

The bloke I crashed into gets my car going, and the garage gives me a car.  

Not saying you wouldn’t get that in London, but. 

The West of Ireland is a great place to live. 

Oh, and by the way Kev, no rush: I’m loving the Qashqai!



©Charlie Adley