Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A girl called Sombrero


Over the past few weeks in Dublin, these are a few exchanges I have heard between people, reminding me how important dialogue is in our writing and how much it tells us so quickly about the characters.

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A train inspector among a group of us trying to placate a little lost girl:

Have you lost your mammy, sweetheart? Do you know your name? (She was lost, not an amnesiac, I thought to myself)

Girl: My name is Sombrero.

Train Inspector: Sombrero, but that's a hat........

Girl: That's me name..

Screeching woman across the road, a bean sidhe (Irish evil fairy) crossed with Jordan the page three model:

SOMBRERO......SOMBRERO...I TOLD YOU TO STOP GETTING F****** LOST !

Mother and child are reunited but not quite in the Hollywood ending we onlookers hoped for.

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At a newsagent counter, two elderly women buying newspapers:

Slightly older looking elderly woman to younger looking elderly woman:

I think I'll get you some flowers, they're lovely, what do you think?

Slightly younger looking elderly woman:

Don't bother, Ma, (she was the daughter, she must have been at least 70)
Sure you just put them in a vase and in a few days they'll be dead...... and then I'll just have to throw them out.............and clean the vase again and everything.

Stunned silence from the older looking elderly woman (and the rest of us).

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Myself and my kids were in a very busy street in Dublin, renowned worldwide for it's friendliness, I might add.
We had just got off the bus and were organising bags, jackets etc so we got in an old lady's way:

Old lady:

The next time you come into Dublin, can yous learn how not to walk crooked, Jesus.....

Stunned silence from us, well, in fairness, we were not walking in an orderly way but really, we weren't expecting to be berated for it.


All these lines will be appearing in a short story by me soon and anyone looking for a slightly different leading female character's name, 'Sombrero' is all yours.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ordinary, extraordinary : Thursday lunchtime

I'm standing at the queue for the A.T.M.

There is a son in maybe his thirties teaching his Dad how to use the machine.

They get to the end of the transaction and the Dad holds up his cash like it's a magical trick.

They tell me to go ahead as they have more transactions to do.

'I've got three bank accounts, you know' - the Dad says to me.

'Really, are you single?'- I replied. Cue, son laughing.

'No, but I have all my own teeth' - the Dad retorts, cue me laughing.

'Don't worry about your teeth, can you remember all your pin numbers? - I said, laughing.

'Course I can, it would be easier to forget the wife' the Dad laughs.

I complete my transaction and bid the two goodbye.

Happy Thursday, everyone.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A very taxing morning

If anyone ever doubts the wonder of the Internet, let them spend a morning in a Car-Tax office.
Due to our other car being off the road for a while, I had to manually make payment with all the relevant forms at a local Tax office. Normally, used to clicking a few buttons to achieve this result, I am astounded at the time and bureaucracy involved.

The Car tax office is in a large Provincial town and is situated about 50miles from Dublin.

As my car, Lottie, is a bit asthmatic at the moment, (her clutch is slipping), I was terrified to find that the office was at the top of a hill. Lottie isn't doing hills well at the moment. I inched her up the hill and then wasted a few euro on a non-functioning car park ticket machine.
As there were signs everywhere warning us motorists of the risk of being clamped, I hand-wrote a note in pink crayon (thats all I had) saying :
'Do not clamp my asthmatic car or I will have to hire a hit-man to come after you) or words to that effect.
When I got to the tax office, it resembled the waiting room for Hell. The staff were the usual mix of people who answered a job ad :

'Do you loathe dealing with people face to face?
Do you get great pleasure from telling people their form-filling skills are inadequate?
Don't even send your C.V., just turn up on Monday'.

In fairness to the staff, it is a fairly unrewarding job, full of customers who do not want to be there handing over more tax to our current Government.

I took my ticket and realised I was 19th in the queue and took a hard seat with the rest of the sinners.
The local farmers were in and as they smelt like they slept with their cattle, I moved seats only to be surrounded by the boy-racers.

There was a clutch of boy-racers wearing surfing gear and flip-flops.
'Do they not realise they are at least 60 miles from the nearest ocean? It's
raining outside and they are speaking in a weird country hillbilly accent with a dash of surfing Californian dude added on,
God, if they were my sons, I would send them to Paris or London and tell them not to come home until they learnt how to dress properly and why are they wearing flip-flops?
No wonder they have so many accidents for crying out loud',
I thought to myself, although I think at some point I may have said some of it out loud as they were giving me weird looks as they chatted on their mobiles :

'Yeah, I'll have tuna and coleslaw for lunch, dude' to their callers, probably their Mammy. Not cool at all, dude.

Just as I thought I was going to die from the stench of farm animals and / or be lynched by boy-racers, my number came up.
Just as my number came up, the counter staff pulled their blinds down. What do they do in there? Are they having blood transfusions because they are all so pale? or are they doing that Madonna circle of prayer thing to keep themselves motivated?.

Finally, a blind opened and I was served by a lovely member of staff and parted with vast amounts of cash to drive on pot-holed roads again.

Oh, joy !! Next time I am going online.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Things I have discovered about blogger / writers

They all love coffee.

They wear comfortable, stretchy clothes while writing, until they have to go to some literary event and then they morph into Sarah Jessica Parker and talk about shoes incessantly.

They all love the colour purple, instinct has drawn us towards the 'creative' colour.

They all seem to want to live in the south of France.

The ones who were teenagers in the eighties all had big hair and probably contributed to global warming with the volumes of hairspray they used.

They will not judge you on anything in your home except for your book shelf choices.

They will travel miles just to have a coffee and scone with a fellow writer.

They cheer lead when you have good news and offer you virtual tea and sympathy when you feel dejected.

There are a lot of writer/bloggers who have cats.

Writer/bloggers have saints of husbands who put up with us when we are casting the movie adaptation of our unwritten novels over dinner.
Really, Johnny Depp, you are going to be very busy soon !!

Writers/bloggers' families live in messy houses with burnt dinners, unmade beds and overflowing laundry baskets.
It's amazing how the muse strikes just at dinner preparation time.


Anybody any more to add ?? Love to hear:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Desperately seeking a literary salon

I need to join a literary salon.
I feel the need to discuss literature and art and who Andrew Lloyd Webber is going to pick to be Dorothy in the 'Wizard of Oz' West End musical in London.
It needs to be full of interesting people who under no circumstances, unless in a fascinating plot twist, are allowed discuss money, how much their house is worth or how many holidays they are taking this year.
They must never discuss their day job unless they are Seamus Heaney or Neil Jordan or Anne Tyler.
Actually, they would be perfect guests in my imaginary 'salon'. I would just need to dash out a few actual books before they would consider me as a rightful member of the group.
Actually, forget that, it's my imaginary literary salon, of course I'm going to be at it. I'll grab someone else's book and just paste my name over it, they'll never guess.

And while I'm on the subject of groups of interesting people, while watching a T.V.documentary the other night, I just realised that Bono and U2, along with some very interesting Irish artists and musicians, had such a 'salon' in the 1980s.
They called it 'Lypton Village' and they sat around plucking guitar strings and being really artistic and bohemian and they all went on to wonderful things.
Now, two things struck me about this documentary:
1. The very horse and cart I wrote about in one of my short pieces was shown in black and white film delivering coal.
I had a very surreal moment thinking, Gosh, Bono got his coal delivered by exactly the same horse as me, which I am sure will be a fascinating conversation opener if I ever get to meet him, which is highly unlikely.
and
2. Why the heck wasn't I invited to join 'Lypton Village' ?. I was just as Bohemiam as them. I had stacks of weird records and I was incredibly pale and intense. I also only lived about two miles from them, I could have been up there in an hour walking or I could have hitched a lift with the horse and cart. Did I tell you that I had the same coal delivery as Bono ??
Also I wanted to go to their secondary school, but went to an all-girls school instead,which was great, but we had only one famous past pupil-the wonderful Veronica Guerin.
What a sad twist of fate, I could have been lead singer or drummer with U2 now.

Anyway, maybe I'll just have to live in the real world and try and integrate my writing life with my home life.
I will possibly emulate William Wordsworth, whose cottage I visited once in the Lake district. He had stairs built from his upstairs study which led straight out to the gardens. He didn't want his artistic mood to be disturbed by 'domestic clutter'.
Hmmmm.... I'm off to see if my ladder is long enough to reach the back garden.

I'll pick some daffodils while I'm out there.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Story writing - Great tips

As we are all such avid followers of genealogy programmes on both RTE and BBC,
I thought I would post this link to a great blog from Karen Gowen in the States.

She has a blog called 'Coming down the mountain, from reclusive writer to published author'

Link is: Karen :

She has also set up a new blog called: From the shadows to the Page, with great advice for writing memoirs.

Link is: Shadows to the page


Karen has written a book on her family history called Farm Girl and has other books out. Check out her blog for the details.


For a more humourous look at writing and the struggle to do so, check out my previous blogpost:
I'm going to write 10,000 words today
written before I accidentally deleted all my comments.
Good luck with writing your own stories !!