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