The planes are back spinning above my head and the tubes rumbling beneath my bed in Stockwell, London. I presume that the powers that be have succeeded in changing night operations to day and that everything in our skies is back under control. It is a riddle is it not? How mankind can be so brilliant to put planes in the air but ridiculous enough to forget how to land them? I was dreading my journey from Cavan this weekend when I heard about air traffic control problems, but in spite of cancelled flights, I arrived, as I said I would to my mother, at the dot of 5.30pm. Calamity and chance worked for me.
So here I am back in London town. I am choosing which exhibition to go and see, which part of the river bank to stroll along, which museum to visit, where to shop. I will miss the Pop up Art shop being set up at 61 in Cavan, but I hope to get back to go to the Hanzel and Gretel performance next Saturday night.
Not for the first time, it struck me last Friday evening when I was still in Cavan at the Finale Show of the Culture Cavan project, just how rich in culture, art and talent, Cavan is. The Cavan Choir was wonderful (I still don’t know how they reach those notes), I loved the Cavan Big Band (what an age and musical range), Aine Cahill has a wonderful voice and the Bailieborough School of Music…I have never seen such large recorders! Sadly I missed the later musical acts as I had to go a Father Ted quiz being run by the Community Radio. But, the Culture Cavan project did fabulous work. I did the Finale exhibition text and so had the pleasure of reading up on each individual projects (dancing, writing, theatre, murals, crafts, choirs, songs, art, music) which involved such a wide range of folk, old and young. Hats off to the organisers, facilitators and the participants who threw themselves into the theatre of operations, so to speak (and of course the funders, the International Fund for Ireland and Cavan County Council)! It has made living in Cavan much more buoyant.
I lived in London for 35 years (having been reared here) before moving to Ireland, and while there are opportunities for art second to none in this city, I don’t think I ever came across the vitality, enthusiasm, and dynamism of the art scene that has existed in Cavan these last few years. Somehow, the music, song, dance, performance, poems, art in Cavan is a part of the community and belongs to everyone. I guess that is because you always know someone who knows someone else. While London is a series of villages, and so had a sense of community, its real identity is as a city. This seems to preclude the ownership and engagement in different art forms in the same way. Having said that, the choice, the wealth, the beauty, the noise, the vibrancy and multi-cultural make up of London make it one of my favourite cities for culture. For instance, I think today I will go the Tate Modern for the Paul Klee exhibition and the South Bank for the Christmas markets. It is all free. And I can walk or travel by public transport. I love London. I love Cavan. Different lives!
Talking of different lives, I am reading Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life. The protagonist, Ursula, keeps dying and she begins life again…and each rebirth takes a different direction. Once again, Atkinson seems to be addressing the layers and scenes involved in life. As a Londoner moved to rural Ireland by way of Dublin, I appreciate this. I often wonder which person is the real me…the woman in London, jiggling and swaying in the tunnels of the Tube on my way somewhere exciting… or the woman tramping the bogs, forests and lakeshores of a land bathed in the vast electric green, orange, blue, white and red skies of an evening. I feel I belong to both, and sometimes… neither!