Exposed

photo-10-09-2016-11-45-04My writing life has been punctuated by a series of exclamation events recently: I have been a featured poet in Blue Nib Literary journal, had six short stories published on-line and in paper over the Spring and Summer and won the Westport Poetry prize. I’ve been racing around doing readings, master classes in poetry, radio workshops, enjoying the wisdom of mentors as well as running my own literary evening, AT The Edge, Cavan and my own poetry and creative workshops. So, indeed, I have been enjoying the plot line, and characters of my life, but I’m wondering how this is going to finish. I’m just at that stage in the story where the reader is checking how many pages are left before the end. Where do I go from here? Having written a collection of short stories, two novels, and a second collection of poetry, what next? Is it time to try and find an agent or publisher?

Like most writers, I write because I love it. But I worry it is a self-indulgence. There is the world physically collapsing around me, flames licking the sky, the earth collapsing, people starving, and fleeing monsters and I am sucking the end of a pencil, wrapped in the comfort of my winter duvet, writing stories and ridiculous blogs reflecting on the ambiguities of life. It’s not exactly super hero stuff. On the other hand, I rationalise, I have no super hero powers. In fact, I have very little power. I am retired, unemployed, increasingly cynical, live in the middle of nowhere and so have little to offer in terms of making radical change and putting the world to rights. Writing is my distraction.

So, if I love writing, why worry about getting published? Because getting a poem or a story published makes me feel less hedonistic and guilty. Winning an award, makes me feel that I do have a value, a skill, that I am not wasting my time, and I am doing something that others appreciate. But really, I ask myself, really? Awards and publication is all about luck, and, of course, is subjective, based on the person judging. Still, it is validation. For, what is the point of writing if there are no readers? The readers make the writing – as is said at many a workshop.

I have been to a good few ‘how to get published’ events, received volumes of advice, written synopses, re-written synopses but still sending out material is a challenge. I have developed a thick skin when it comes to rejections from magazines, but I still feel a little sensitive when it comes to agents and/or publishers for I am submitting my ‘all’ not just an ‘amuse bouche’. Their rejection letters make me feel like I am the fraud I mentioned before, and also then lead to my writing  “self-conscious, first person, micro narratives” like this blog to ameliorate my ‘hurt’. I quote Jonathon Franzen in The Guardian Review (4/11/17) discussing the increasing influence of the Karl Ove Knausgaard books where “the only authentic and politically defensible mode of narrative is autobiography.” Oh dear, I thought as he went on to talk about how the personal essay as developed by Montaigne, Emerson, Woolf and Baldwin (whom I love) are in eclipse. Now I am worrying that my written blogs serve only to contribute to the general slide into solipsistic analysis.

Publishers have a lot to answer for.

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A Meandering on Civilisation

I was encouraged to do a little preparation exercise by Siobhan Campbell who facilitated the ‘life writing’ workshops at the Bray Literary Festival last weekend. I had to choose a subject/word and see what other words/thoughts it prompted. The word I chose was politics and I ended up writing about the meaning of ‘civilisation’.

For me, ’civilisation’ conjures up an image of Egyptian pyramids stuffed with jewels and mummies, the Incas’ khipu (their system of communication and keeping records), Socrates, Kant, Derek Jacobi who played Claudius in the Beeb’s drama,  and stone tablets. That’s very old fashioned, I think to myself. Try again. I do. An image of a world of happy clappy people travellating to work in a Fritz Lang Metropolis full of repressed violence comes to mind.

I was reared on the importance of civilisation. I was taught that civilisation provides for progress; that from civilised actions emerged law and legal conventions that developed and protected human rights. Civilisation, rode hand in hand with ‘education’ across deserts, mountains, jungles and oceans, spreading progress (it now sounds a lot like colonialism). However, politics and culture were also a part of my understanding of civilisation. In my Western world, democracy was a key element of civilisation, (particularly the British variety along with the Spinning Jenny, Brunel, Cricket, Westminster, Shakespeare, not to mention the good old British sense of ‘fair play’). Then, as I grew older, I understood that every country and people had its own form of civilisation, based on its own progressive society, origins, lands, history, and culture.

My next conscious brush with civilisation came with my studying of early American writers, Fenimore Cooper (The Pioneer and The Last of the Mohicans) and Emerson (On Walden Pond) and ‘the advancement’ of the American frontier. There was the discussion about the establishment of laws and structures that people needed to live together but also looked at how those laws and structures undermined the natural law of the wilderness and land, and Indian civilisations. I began to understand that the growth of ‘society’ comes at the expense of nature and that progress also introduces power, elites, and injustice. This is where politics became important. I thought we could create a civilised society that worked in favour of the many, and this could be done through politics. For me, politics provided hope. ‘Corruption’, ‘ego’, ‘mistrust’ were not words I associated with politics. The words were ‘rights’, ‘education’, ‘equality’, ‘self-determination’.

All the above words seem to have faded from civilised conversation today. Now we discuss capital, enterprise, industry, finance, and of course, technological development. Having got this far in my musings, I decided to look up the definition of civilisation. The Wikipedia definition of civilisation is ‘the stage of human social development, which is considered most advanced.’ Or according to the on-line Merriam Webster, civilisation is the ‘high level of cultural and technical development’. For me, that puts the cart before the horse as I think the State or political system influences the art and creativity produced.

In fact, the more I consider the subject of civilisation, the more convinced I become that political systems and culture drive civilisation.  Would we have the pyramids without the Pharos? So, today, if politics and culture are incubated by a civilised society more interested in consumerism and self (because of technological advancement), does this have a negative impact on civilisation. Is civilisation cannibalising itself?

(Am I beginning to lose my bearings and meander off course? Do I detect the edge of a grumpy rant? In recent times, this happens to me frequently).

So,  I better summarise, and try to clarify or walk in a straight line.  I was thinking that civilisation was a good thing. I was thinking that culture and politics were integral to civilisation; that art and literature feed science and technology. I was thinking that the current political landscape and current advancement of human social development is not beneficial to civilisation as economic and technological advancement is focussed on the few. The many do not benefit unless it is to serve the few.  Eventually, the few will not be able to sustain the system and it will implode, as maybe civilisation already is.

Maybe the Leatherstocking Tales by Fenimore Cooper were right and progress will ultimately destroy. What is odd is that the radio programme I am half listening to as I write is about how the IT wizards are working on longevity and the disruption of death. Indeed, this maybe advanced technological thinking, but, to my ear, it seems a far cry from civilised.

But, maybe I am wrong and I have got my understanding of civilisation wrong. Maybe, it is not glorious. I am sure the down trodden people of past civilisations: the Indians in America, the slaves of Mesopotamia, or Rome, did not feel empowered by civilisation. It is probably my age (a bad thought) that makes me realise that civilisation does not have the romance, the glory, the hope that I once trusted in as a young woman, but to prove that I am still young at heart, (a good thought) I know that even if my death doesn’t get ‘disrupted’, there will be another civilisation out there somewhere, beyond me, just not mine (thank God).

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A weekend of Culture with a Vengeance in Bray

On Friday 22 September, I could feel the slick in my throat and tried coughing. It didn’t move. I sighed and kept on driving, the wipers casting away the rain as I drove down N3 to Dublin, back and forth, lash and slash. Windscreen wipers, motorways and rain are the epitome of misery, I thought. Its not fair, here I am setting off for adventures in Culture, and my chest feels bitter, my eyes are icicles and my throat feels like a twisted snake. Mind over matter, I thought, twisting my mouth into a determined smile. Let the duel begin.

My first port of cultural call was Gortnamona where Gill, Stephanie and Samuel, Gill’s two year old grandson, were pitched. There is nothing more artful than a glorious, happy go lucky two year old boy who enjoys food, football, golf and is happy to kiss strangers under the kitchen table. He was a delight, particularly when watching him stuff his mouth with the joys of pancakes.

I was reminded of the windscreen wipers later at the Vera Klutz exhibition in the Hibernian Art Gallery, the first port of Cultural call for Steph and myself in Dublin. Klutz had a series of mechanically operated waving arms, maybe 25 of them on one wall, waving like wipers. I wanted to adorn them with bracelets, have dripping blood flowing down the wall. I really liked her sculpture, and her video looped brains/heads. Each exhibition piece was different. I was impressed by her versatility. It was a wonderfully eclectic, very exciting exhibition

Stephanie and I then meandered around St Stephen’s Green, stopping at Dublin artist, Dermot Brennan’s work: fantastic water colours where the paint trickles, fades, and leaks on to the beach, bridge, rain, rivers that are his subjects. The contrast of colours is superb. I want paintings of the lady with the orange umbrella. He is at St Stephen’s Green most Sundays. Worth a visit.

I was also really taken with the Royal College of Physicians building in Kildare St which had opened its portal for the day. What a fabulous 18th century building: grand staircase, ornate wood panelling, cornices, stained glass and the most fabulous wooden Dun’s library dating from the 16th century. But what was most fascinating was the staff uniform. They looked very debonair, stylish and sexy in a fine 18th century military outfit. Steph had stopped to ask about the discrepancy between the 18th century building and 16th century library. The uniformed member of staff explained but I wasn’t really listening as I was too busy staring at her, wondering why she was dressed like that. It seemed rude to ask. I wish I had.

Then we set off for Poetry Ireland to catch the last of the readings from the Trocaire / Poetry Ireland competition winners (so sorry to miss Angela Carr and Bernie Crawford’s poem) but it was lovely to chat to them both. Later, I enjoyed listening to Matthew Sweeney and Jackie Gorman who are part of this year’s Introductory Poets Series. We popped over to the Irish Writers Centre just in time to hear the last few readers of the writers’ soap box.

Now, food and wine are an important feature of culture, and I was delighted to have Stephanie drive me all the way back to Glenageary to feed me leek and potato soup and a lovely New Zealand sauvignon blanc. The throat was stilled after half a bottle. Sadly, it came back with a vengeance in the night. The voice went missing altogether in Bray at the Literary Festival the next day. The ears were still in place  so most of my body parts did pay attention to the wonderful array of poems, stories from Nuala Ni Chonchuir, Alan McMonagle, Catherine Dunne, Anne Marie ni Churreáin, Paul Bragazzi, Orfhlaith Foyle, Tanya Farrelly, Martin Malone, David Butler and John McKenna (phew) in lovely venues across the town. Well done to the Bray Literary Festival Team. But this morning, the chest set up its cannon ball of coughs and the nose was on artillery duty, so I took to the hills and had to miss the rest of the fest!

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Summer in Cavan, China, London, Istanbul, Palestine and the USA

photo-10-09-2016-11-45-04This summer, I have pottered about Cavan, walked, swam, visited London, Borris, Dublin, Belfast, Galway. I have had a few poems and a couple of short stories published and have done a lot of editing of my first novel. I have also been at a few readings and festivals. I have sent material to an agent, and I am looking forward to a second mentoring session with my second novel. So, not a bad season. I have also travelled around the world, reading novels.

A Spring foray was to China, reading The Vagrants by Yi Yun Li. It was a grim depiction of Muddy River, a small town in China at the end of the Communist era under Mao. Poverty, violence, madness, despair, cruelty. Layer apon layer of human degradation with the occasional ray of love quickly snuffed out by the social system. It was an incredibly sad portrayal of the ruthlessness and utter devastation social oppression brings to bear on humanity. There was little of positive enlightenment except for the comment of one character that today, tomorrow, this month, year or season is not the whole of your life. It is only a part of your life. I guess, that is encouraging to remember: everything always changes.

The impact of society is a prevalent theme, at the moment. I guess, it is because people are feeling increasingly powerless. In My Name is Leon, Kit de Waal reflects on the battle the individual child faces in the development of modern society. She captures the innate love of a boy for his irresponsible and incapable mother well, and then his dawning realisation of difference. She tells a fascinating story of the journey of a black nine year old boy struggling with separation, a white social order, its collapse, and the slow growing awareness of his own presence, coloured by his skin and the violence thrust upon him.

I did not feel the same engagement about Colm Tóibín’s Testament of Mary. He describes Mary’s worry, anxiety, love, and fear for her son, and while, as a reader, I believed in her tangle of confusion, disbelief, longing, but, for me, Tóibín was unable to capture the tension I felt there should have been. To be honest, I felt conned and found it superficial. He has written it all before both in Brooklyn and Nora Webster.

Colm Tóibín shared (dominated) a platform with Richard Ford at Borris back in June. I would like to have heard a lot more from Ford, having just finished Let Me Be Frank With You. The book reflects the random haphazardness that exists today. ‘I am here’ is the theme of the first section, constantly undermined by characters needing to be ‘there’. There are parallel conflicts throughout the book: democrats/ republicans, the past/ the future; youth/ age, the wealth of Carnage Hill (the home of the wealthy sick) and the poverty of the dying, man/woman, black and white experiences.  I really enjoyed the subtle tension of the book and the questions Ford raises about the nature of individual existence within a runaway, chaotic society.

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak was one of my favourite books this summer. It looks how history plays its role in the present. It is set in Istanbul and Arizona. The story focuses on the impact of the Armenian experience at the hands of the Turks and shows how the experience reverberates through the generations – each individual gathering the bitterness and bequeathing the hurt and resentment forwards. The main protagonists are a family of women (the men die early) of different shapes, sizes and temperament. They display a series of reactions – to their history, to each other. It reflects human chemistry in motion. The women are bold, startling and revolve around dishes of food and emotion, one feeding off the other. The males in the book are lost in an ocean of feminine determinism.

Using the ‘Café Kundera’ as a sardonic philosophical tool, Shafak spots a light on the how conversation influences, misdirects, inspires and is ultimately meaningless other than as a tool of self regard. I love her titles of the conversationalists: the Dipsomaniac Cartoonist, the Non-Nationalist Scenarist of Ultranationalist Movies, the Closet Gay Columnist and the Exceptionally Untalented Poet, to name a few. Her key protagonists are the teenage daughters who are whirl wind twisters in a storm of chaotic history that dissolves into magical allegorical ribboned with human cruelty and power. The book pulsates. A bubbling minestrone soups with cherries on top. It was a completely different experience to Graham Green’s memoir along whose dusty corridors of power I am currently creeping.

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The Best of the British Bulldog

I am just back from a few days in Belfast. We stayed in a great apartment overlooking the Lagan and wandered around the city centre on the first afternoon. I’ve always liked Belfast, it chimes for me of Northern England: messy, incoherent streets with the occasional wow factor in buildings, like the Opera House and City Hall. During this particular meander, the city was stuffed with tourists wandering around, turning maps upside down, stopping on street corners. Streets seemed to be cleaner, buildings shinier. The city seemed to be prosperous, booming, none of the jaded, bombed out fatigue of the past.

The next day we walked along the river walk – through the old Docks, littered with art, artefacts, tourism trails, old ships, the magnificent Water Front, the Arena and finally arrived at The Titanic, itself an extraordinary building. It rises up from the Harland & Woolf Dock, a silver, concertina like structure, solid, assertive but also looking like it might fold into nothing. It was humming with people and taking the tour, I felt part of a well-oiled machine. I was impressed. I learned a lot about ship building; the gantry, rivets, and Belfast, itself a hub of industrialisation at the turn of the 20th century. I learned about the Belfast Ropework Company, the biggest and best in the world, the linen factories, the glass factories, the breweries. We traversed the experience of working the gantry in a rail car, rattling up and down, through heights and depths, screens of men drilling, banging, balancing, hammering, welding, made me aware for the first time of the dangers, the skills, the courage and the pride of the ship builders. The exhibition showed me the real story of the Titanic from its planning, drawing, manufacture, it’s fitting out with the best of everything: luxurious Axminster carpets, mahogany, oak, brass, gold, furnishings of the highest quality, chandeliers, four poster beds, porcelain basins, menus including potted shrimp, veal, corned beef, ox tongue, soused herrings, galantine of chicken, custard pudding. And then, after all this magnificent build up, it was gone in a flash, very appropriate. All that I saw next was a gin bottle and a china plate floating in the debris field at the bottom of the ocean.

titaniv

When I was driving home, I was thinking about what it must have been like to work on the gantry. The men would have to be skilled, courageous and have their wits about them to be working thousands of feet in the air with heavy tools and no safety provision in the elemental hazards of wind, rain, cloud, sun and no protection. So different to the miners crawling along dark, dank, dirty shafts. Both trades involved such dangerous work yet men were paid a pittance and many lives were taken. It is a warped world we live in.  I couldn’t do either, and I don’t think many could nowadays.  But in a sense, at least the ship builders must have felt the power and glory of working in the sky and creating something so extraordinary.

The reason I was in Belfast was poetry. I attended a poetry event at the Eastside Arts Festival, an event co-organised with Over The Edge, Eastside Arts Centre and Poetry Northern Ireland. To get there, and later to the hotel where our friends, Over The Edge facilitators, Susan and Kevin, were staying, we walked through close knitted, two storey, red bricked terraced streets of houses hung together with pennants and union jacks, conjoined with streams of bunting fluttering over gardens. On many corners were murals of militia, firearms, words of freedom and unity were painted with precision on walls.  Suffocating defensiveness or claustrophobia were the words that muraled my mind.

The event itself was wonderful. Poems flowed. The open mic wound around the room while people shared poems that reflected on love, division, equality, nature, silence, uncertainty, violence, change. I felt privileged to be able to contribute. The East Side Visitors Centre has been open a year. It is light airy, a café and exhibition space and the people are warm and friendly. It overlooks a skate boarding park which also celebrates CS Lewis and Aslan, the lion, stands proud in bronze. While waiting for the poetry begin, I watched two British Bulldogs skating on boards with great skill and panache, three legs balancing while the fourth leg pushed. I felt privileged to be British, yes, but happy to be living in Ireland.

british bull dog

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Bird Watching in Galway

I joined the Club of the Unloved last Saturday and can highly recommend the experience. It split me up and blew me away. It was set in the Town Hall Theatre, Galway – a city last weekend thronging with arts festivities and sunshine – a heady combination.

The show, ‘Tristan and Yseult’, was a pizza of a performance: a high dough of olives, cheese, anchovies, squashed tomatoes, capers, magic mushroom, sprinkled with pepper and cumin seeds. The taste of drama, dance, humour was set to a music mix of Wagner, Daft Punk and Roy Orbison. What delectable joy. It all combined to make my tongue sizzle and hang out. It was performed by a Cornwall based company, Highknee, that, to quote the brochure, ‘creates vigorous, popular and challenging theatre and performs with joyful activity.’ The set was clever and the story was staged in the Club of the Unloved where all the characters were dressed at some point in the garb of bird watchers with binoculars. Kneehigh regaled the epic story with flare, arrow points, and a spirit that made me laugh and cry. It was theatre at its best.

Following the matinée, the good humour continued as we weaved our way through Galway’s lanes and found our own perch to watch a different performance: that of Quay Street on a summer Saturday night of sun. The ever-flowing river of pale, usually tired, sometimes happy, often gormless, occasionally angry faces make me ‘wonder’ and create my own stories. I once wrote a short story about the flow of the Galway lanes where the ‘flow’ was employed and controlled by Galway City Council.

The ‘flow’ of the weekend continued over wine, tapenade and crisps with friends. It was a heady mix of poetics and politics which always puts me in a good mood, particularly when nesting with poets who are also political egg heads.

The final egg head event of the weekend took place, appropriately enough, at the University with Colm Tóibín and Catriona Perry (the Irish Times Washington Correspondent) discussing the ‘Impact of Power.’ Colm Tóibín who, (to continue the bird watching theme), reminds me of peacock and a humming bird combined, was good. He wove a story around Trump that illustrated chaos, controversy, and anarchy with a strong (to continue the theme of flow) under-current of fear. He created for me a creature true to the American myth of the self-made man of the American dream now morphed into a dastardly but truly unpleasant cartoon character inserted in a Shakespearean tragedy of epic proportions. It was entertaining. Colm Tóibín is lovely to watch: his rubbery, egghead face rumples and contorts with intelligence, his hands gesticulate with flourish and his words whistle and flow. This time he outshone his co-conversationalist who was rather disappointing, with no original insights. She reminded me (six inch heels, slender legs) of a stork on its way to an abortion clinic. It must be the suggestion of Armageddon that Trump inspires.

All in all, a great weekend.

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Happy in the Hinterland

Last Friday, we drove the grey of the N3 into the wind and rain of the Irish Hinterland. Spires and ancient round towers arose out of Kell’s magical mists and I soon found myself installed in a front row pew in the church of Ireland, seeking adventures along a silk road.

Peter Frankopan took his place at the altar in a stylish blue (silk?) suit, and transported me East to the magic lands of Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Tibet. Waving his hands, his undulating Notting Hill/Oxford tones created a wonderful discourse, flowing with passion and interest. It seems my history has been mired in Western war fare, in crusades, in squalid sallies, in colonial battles, world wars, and King Henry’s wives instead of in the rise and fall of Mesopotamia, of Byzantine culture, of Persia, the truly great civilisations of our world, arising from the glitter and glory of the trading routes of the Silk Roads.   Compared to the glory of Sultans, Pharoahs, Ayatollahs, the people of Western Europe were little more than slaves (apparently the only thing of trading value). We had no riches, no spices, little in the line of the black stuff, not much in the way of sought after natural resources; somehow, though, we managed to convince ourselves, and others, that we were the centrifugal force of  history (obviously we had the gift of the gab, and those spears and poleaxes probably helped) while actually the original power and glory was invested in the riches of the East, now on the rise again. Note China’s new ports, gas pipes, and its railways being laid across Africa.  So, after 500 years, the balance is finally being redressed and the current conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, Pakistan are mere birthing pains for a new era (unless the West has a tantrum and starts throwing its upgraded boy toys around in pique).

It was, truly, an invigorating presentation, providing a different perspective, sparkling with brilliance. Peter Frankopan was wonderful to watch (you can see why from the photo below), and his sales pitch was fabulous. He must have been practising on those Silk Roads. I bought the book.

In contrast, the historian, Turtle Bunbury stumbled about the church  while he told us how ‘1847’ had presented itself to him as ‘the year’ to write about. It had been the year the plans for his ancestral home castle were drawn up, the year the famine had got going (he didn’t comment on the structural relationship between the two), the year the Bronte sisters had been published, the year the USA conquered California. This was reason enough for an hour of stories about Black Ben Forbes (?) and Tom Thumb who apparently graced 1847 with their presence. Interesting? No. The historian, John Bowen was much more sober and erudite in his presentation of the ‘Autobiography of Ireland’ which is a collection of original sources: amusing letters, articles reflecting the hundred years after the Rising.

I was looking forward to the Brexit Debate on Saturday morning – Chris Mullins, David Murphy and Mairead McGuinness and was very, very disappointed. It was lack-lustre, un-engaged, uninformed, smug, and comprised an indifferent discussion. Chris Mullins performed like an oil painted portrait with a withering smile, (like one of those spectral portraits in Hogwarts, just not as interesting); Mairead McGuinness glittered with EU self-adoration, and David Murphy manufactured the statistics to suit himself. They bored me, and I felt sad at their lack of spirit, humour and passion.

Thank God, passion was not lacking thereafter. Ed Thomas, director of The Hinterland (a Welsh detective series on Netflix) was fascinating. He was a friendly, bubbly character, but clearly with a dark side. Hinterland is a slow, beautiful but rather grim portrayal of the Welsh countryside. It reflects isolation and is very bleak. He was well interviewed by Georgina Godwin who also later did a great interview with Stephen Frears. The first thing Ed Thomas said was that most of his work was autobiographical and that Wales was a ‘laughing stock’ and a country that didn’t really exist.  He described how being Welsh in the late eighties and nineties was akin to being invisible. He left, changed his accent, pretended to be Irish, or a loud South London lout. I was taken aback. My mother is from a South Wales mining town. In my mind, Wales was a small, beautiful country, the home of a strong, vibrant people who sang, worked and evolved a strong chartist, social spirit. It is clear that in the late 70s and 80s, the closure of the mines, the shutting down of a community, the abandonment of a people laid waste to a wonderful country. Ed recently had to sell his home place of a 130 years. He told us his daughter didn’t know what a miner was. What a sad indictment of a British Government that cruelly turned its back on its working people. An excellent interview which was followed by a second excellent interview with Stephen Frears (photo below)

At first, I thought Georgina Godwin (photo below) was going to have a difficult interview. Frears (who has directed The Snapper, The Van, My Beautiful Laundrette, Philomena, The Queen amongst others) answered her questions in short sentences with brevity. He faced out to the audience and seemed to find it hard to turn his head to look at her when she asked her questions. But she handled him very well. She always had another question ready when he didn’t seem disposed to answer the previous one. She was well prepared, incisive and confident.

Frears was laconic, dry and humorous. Classic Brit. He reminded me of a dragon, lurking in his lair, watching with glittering eyes, a grim smile and high intellect. He told us how fortunate he was. He was a child of a time. He had a golden letter box through which, over the years, amazing scripts were posted. He was self-deprecating in a humorous way which showed us how brilliant he was. The 1960s to 1990s were certainly the golden era for film and theatre. Shane Connaughton whom we had seen in The Town Hall, in Cavan the previous Thursday (interviewed by Philip Doherty) had said something similar. Shane had been in the right place at the right time. I asked both Shane Connaughton and Stephen Frears how much politics had contributed to their success. Both responded positively. The hope and optimism, the belief in humanity, the resources, the investment in the arts, and people had helped them create and become great artists. This is the reason the Brits need a new Government. Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!

 

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