Thursday, March 30, 2006

Irish author John McGahern dies


Irish author John McGahern dies

30 March 2006 20:32

The death has taken place of the author John McGahern. He died suddenly in the Mater Hospital in Dublin at about midday today.

President McAleese said Ireland had lost an outstanding literary talent.

'His work often pitched him into a place of some discomfort, not only for himself but for the reader also,' Ms McAleese said.

John McGahern was born in Dublin in 1934. He was raised in counties Leitrim and Roscommon.

He first came to prominence in the 1960s with his second novel 'The Dark', which was banned. After the publication of the book the author was dismissed from his job as a teacher in Clontarf in Dublin.

John McGahern's other novels include 'That They May Face The Rising Sun', 'The Barracks', 'The Leavetaking', and 'Amongst Women', which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1990.

Three collections of his short stories were published, and he also wrote plays for theatre, radio and television.

His last published work was his autobiography, 'Memoir', which was released last year.

For the past three decades he lived with his second wife, Madeline Green, in Co Leitrim.


"Well I'm a mushroom-cloud-layin' motherfucker, motherfucker! Every time my fingers touch brain I'm superfly T.N.T, I'm The Guns Of The Navarone. In fact, what the fuck am I doin' in the back? You're the motherfucker should be on brain detail. We're fuckin' switchin' right now. I'm washin' the windows and you're pickin' up this nigger's skull."

Not on my watch

For my twenty-first birthday, my brothers Jim and Garrett bought me a leather jacket. My brother Patrick bought me a watch. The jacket was stolen in The Garavogue a few years ago after a Walls gig. I was so pissed off that I hadn't looked after it.

Yesterday I dropped my watch. It landed horribly, without a bounce and I immediately knew that it was screwed. My heart went into my mouth – not my brother's watch! – I picked it up and sure enough it had stopped.

In town, I brought it to a jeweller's and left it there. I returned within the hour and, lo and behold, he fixed it. Brilliant. I went on about my business but after forty minutes, it'd stopped again. I brought it back to the same jeweller.

Walking into the shop – stopped again. His wife was there and she said – time to get yourself a new watch.

The man took her apart again (the watch, not his wife) but warned me that it might be beyond repair. However, he fixed it and it's been running fine again.


What is it about our culture that we just throw things away so easily? Sure the watch is seven years old or so but time to get a new one? Watches have been handed down parent to child for generations. Just think of Butch's daddy's gold watch. Okay, the jeweller's wife would've been understandably happy if I'd spent money in their shop but this attitude that nothing's worth fixing is a sad attitude. No wonder the shit is piling on the horizon.

The first mobile phone my brother Karl had was that Nokia phone with the stubby aerial. This was a great phone. The battery lasted more than a day and it was sturdy phone. Karl's an electrician and that phone would've been on-site a lot and dropped and kicked and knocked and generally abused. It never stopped working.

That phone was so popular, that even when the next model arrived in the shops (one of the first of the no-aerial phones), people still asked for the older one. It was simply dependable.

I swear to you, Nokia learned from that phone, and so did all the phone manufacturers and network providers. Build something that's got a lifetime of more than two and a half years and you've got a problem; no-one's gonna buy a new one in two and a half years. Design and build a cheap piece of crap... well, you get the picture.

This might sound a little close to conspiracy theory country but if you've got a mobile phone ask yourself, how long have you got it? What happened the one you had before? Did it just stop working? Battery wouldn't keep a charge? Dodgy display? Button #2 on the keypad wouldn't work?

What did you do with your old phone? Chuck it in the bin?

Last night at work, a girl was paying up and she left her Sony-Ericsson on the counter.

Cool phone – I said.
Actually, it's a piece of shit – she replied – I was dying to get it for ages and now it doesn't even work.

They convince us to buy shit that we don't need. Camera phones. Video phones. Polyphonic-psuedorealistic-pain-in-the-arse-when-you're-in-the-cinema ring-tones. (Don't forget, you can download new ring-tones at for just €2.69 a pop!)

I don't want a camera on my phone – I want A PHONE THAT WORKS! If I wanted a camera... wait for it... I'd buy a fucking camera! (By the way, I've got a camera-phone. My previous phone accidentally and brutally died a horrible death when I hopped it off the kitchen floor after it just crashed in the middle of a phone call.)

When we were kids, we had an old VW Beetle. We called him Charlie. What a car. We had him so long that he went around the mileage gauge – twice! Charlie was often brought to the bog and he helped bring the turf home. (That's true by the way; I'm not being all self-deprecating with the Leitrim upbringing.) We bought a new car once; a Rover. Not a great car. I remember one winter morning when the Rover wouldn't start. Daddy went around to the side of the house, where Charlie was sitting idle. He said that the old VW Bug started up before he had the key in the ignition.

Can you imagine bringing one of the new marketer's-wetdream of a Beetle to the bog?!! It'd probably shut down in protest on the first bothrín.

Nothing's built to last. Everything's disposable. I put in the bin and wheel it out for the lorry and then I forget about it. It's just easier that way.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Radiator frog

Bob being... Bob.

What's the rush?

The real reason I started this blog was to get something off my chest. Last Friday night, myself and Trish were heading back into town after a Tai Chi workshop in the college. Now, maybe we were super chilled out and, as a result, the outside world seemed more garish than usual but the town never annoyed me as much as it did that night.

And the biggest annoyance was the cars. As we passed the hospital, some lunatic came around the corner at a ferocious speed. He was going so fast that his car took a slight speed wobble. It was worse when we got into the town centre. Boy racers flying around the town in those ridiculously looking hatch-backs with those fucking loud exhausts. Speed and noise. It never got under my skin like it did that night. A line of them were waiting at the lights and they were beeping and revving at each other (male and female drivers). I nearly wept in frustration. I was almost taken aback by how much it bugged me. I let a roar at them to shut-up but no-one heard me.

O Connell St. was like The Monaco Grand Prix. And it wasn't just young fellows; taxis, “regular” folk, everyone was bombing down the main street. If a pedestrian fell out onto the road, he'd have no chance. It's an unsettling experience when you don't feel safe on the footpath. And not a squad car in sight.

You just know that it's gonna happen; some drunk is gonna tumble off the footpath and get hit and get killed. And then they'll all howl about how SOMETHING must be done.

Why must it take a death to cop people on? How much would it really cost to put a few speed cameras on the main street?

Speed. What is it about speed?

Something like four hundred people die every year on the roads in Ireland. Four hundred a year! That's over one person a day. If the stats for air traffic deaths were anywhere near that, would you get on a plane? Over one person a day.

What's to be done? Well, if people actually thought they'd be caught and punished for reckless driving, it'd be a start. The evidence is there; when the penalty points were introduced, the number of fatalities fell. But when the public realised that the computer infrastructure didn't exist and that they had a good chance to get away scot free, the numbers rose again. So let's get the penalty point system going right. If people were scared of getting caught, they'd soon slow down.

Plus, there's way way way too many people out their driving without a license. You don't need much more than the ability to fill out a form and pass a pop-quiz to get a provisional license, yet they're all out there, on the roads. I drove for years on just a provisional. I drove home after failing my first test, tell me any other country where that happens.

Full license holders aren't a whole lot better. Too many people are unfamiliar with what lane to be in when approaching a round-about. Do you know? People driving too slow, not using indicators, straying across lanes, not using indicators, talking on the phone while driving, not using indicators, putting on make-up while driving, NOT USING GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING INDICATORS! We need refresher courses for people with full licenses.

The state of some of the roads is cat. They're guck bad. They're lethal. The speed limit system doesn't make sense. It's as if roads are given a grade on paper in relation to the towns they connect and then given a speed limit according to their grade, a speed limit that may or may not match the reality.

The Ray D'Arcy Show decided to take a stand. Ray made a brilliant suggestion. The will to tackle this problem needs to come from the top. Therefore, he asked his listeners to bombard the Taoseach's office with emails, demanding action. And the emails didn't just make ambiguous statements like “SOMETHING must be done” - they said that the penalty points had to made to work, that the Gardai need to be available more, that we need more Gardai. This was a good idea. The emails were sent and it had an effect; a couple of days later, the Taoseach made a speech in the Dail in relation to road traffic deaths. Unfortunately, Ray didn't focus on this. Instead, he went in the direction of the problem of boy-racers.

Now don't get me wrong, these little idiots in their souped-up Corsas are a problem and a problem that needs to be tackled. Ray and his team with the help of his listeners worked together to produce an ad that targets this age group and I think it might just have an effect. However, I think these boys and their cars are an easy target. It's nice to have generic, late-teenage boys in bling-mobiles to blame. That way, we can absolve orselves from the guilt and from the sin. The speedsters are simply a symptom of the disease. We all have the disease, it's everyone's sin.

The sin is our irresposible driving. The disease is speed.

Speed. What is it about speed?

I see a similarity between Irish road deaths and gun deaths in the US. As far as I know, Canada has a similar number of firearms per head of population as the US, yet they have far far less gun deaths. So, it could be argued that the problem isn't with the guns but with the gun toters. Again, as far as I know, Ireland has far far more road deaths per head of population than say the UK. Why is this? Why are we killing ourselves? What's wrong with us? We need to figure this out.

Where am I going with this? Well, here is what I think. The problem with road deaths isn't so much to do with the boy-racers. It's not bad roads or provisional license holders or lack of Gardai or ineffectual politicians. The problem with road deaths is you.

The problem with road deaths is me. It's all of us. We need to slow down. We need to concentrate more on what we're doing behind the wheel. And we really really need to lose this idea that we are invincible. That it'll never be me that ends up dead. We are soft, brittle creatures made of soft, brittle material. When we get hit by a few tonnes of metal, we make quite a splash on the road, quite a mess. And someone else then has to wash us off the street.

So... slow down, idiot.

One single lousy point

Rang Karl after work yesterday. We lost by a point. We had to play the whole second half with just thirteen men and the tight bastard of a ref gave us nothing (apart from two red cards). Karl said we never deserved to beat them more than we did yesterday.


I like football. No, I love football. (By football, I of course mean Gaelic Football; soccer is good when played well which it rarely is and rugby's better still but football and hurling leave them in the ha'penny place.) Leitrim football means more to me than all the others. This is unfortunate. It would've been much easier to be football mad in Tyrone or any other successful county but when you're from Mohill in Leitrim in Connacht in Ireland, well, you learn to live with defeat.

Except I don't think I have learned. I still get so disappointed when we lose and it hurts.

I don't think non-sports fan understand how much it hurts. I know a good number of my friends have little or no interest in GAA. I also know that some of my friends come very very close to thinking just a little less of me because of my love of the game. I know this because I come very very close to thinking a whole lot less of them because they don't even respect the GAA. I mean, what sort of Irish man isn't into Gaelic Football? The narrow-minded nationalism and sexism in that question says a lot, don't it?

I started this post yesterday in The Left Bank and now that I've returned to it I can't remember where I was going with it so I'll leave it at that.

Tyler Durden

"You are not how much money you have in the bank. You are not your job. You are not the car you drive or the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis! You are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world."

Sunday, March 26, 2006


I'm hungry. I'm at work so I got Bob to get me a sandwich in Tesco. The only one he could get was a Weight-Watcher's Smoked Ham Sandwich. What is it about me that I haven't eaten it yet? Just because it's a Weight-Watchers Sandwich, I don't see it as real food. I'm very hungry but I'll be done here in twenty minutes so I'll probably give it to Trish. Very strange.


Half-time and Roscommon have pulled level. I don't feel good about it.

Finger's crossed

Leitrim are beating Roscommon by four points. It's always great to beat Roscommon (sorry Daddy) so here's hoping.

My track record...

... ain't the best when it comes to sticking to something, anything. Jobs, college courses, salad (still can't decide where I am on salad). So, what makes me think that I'll stick to this? That's the problem; I don't think I will.

So, my friends - and I've got great friends, I'm blessed when it comes to those I care about, and those who care about me - my friends, I'll need your help to make sure I keep this blog alive for a few months at least. Check it out, leave comments, annoy me if I haven't posted regularly.

And it's up to me to stick to it and prove myself wrong.

So, let's roll.

John The Bad is on the web. Be afraid...

Alright. I'm live! On the intraweb yoke. Now the craic'll start.