What can YOU say in six sentences?
Middle of the night, I hear these voices in my head or are they, because when I throw on my pants and follow the sound I find it located somewhere else in the house, so on I pad down to this room, and there is this growing cast of characters all sitting and standing around looking, well, ill and agitated and one of them says, ‘Oh, so you decided to wake up,’ and Charlie steps out of the shadows, ‘—we were beginning to think you had given us up.’
‘If this is a union meeting,’ I demand,…Continue
Alice is quite the opposite of me, more of a social butterfly who appears superficial and impulsive, in the restless way she flutters about a crowd in a room being witty and attentive but that is because she is self-contained by her intelligence and judgment; whereas my melancholy exterior presents me as stern and puts people off when, I suppose, partly because I pulled myself up my the bootstraps and am largely self-educated what I need most of the time is reassurance whenever I fall off a…Continue
What disturbs you most about returning from a front where poverty has developed its own economic system based on the waste of Westerners, or where war is an industry; is the clarity with which you see through the complexities of your own world, where consumers devour the fodder of Goliath corporations that warp the minds of the people on brands and logos in the holy name of democracy, and governments send their young to war while bleeding their families dry through taxation and we, the…Continue
Traffic is quieter driving through Dublin at night since the world woke up to its liabilities, and we cruise without hazard along the quays of the Liffey towards the M50 turnpike where, joining the southbound lane for home, Alice, seemingly mellow and perhaps contrite says, ‘Charlie, all I’m trying to say is that if you jump out of the knife box the rust will set in and getting back to what you have now might not be easy. People move on, form new alliances and there is always somebody coming…Continue
‘I don’t think you should look upon writing a book as some kind of cure-all,’ Alice says. ‘I know of too many people in my profession and yours who gave up their working lives due to stress or who were fired and several said they were going to write a book and you know what – they never did.’
‘Well, maybe I could write a bestseller,’ I say, hoping to win her over, 'and anyway, why should it matter as long as I believe I have something to say?'
‘Do you know the percentage of…Continue
As I marvel at Alice’s logical mind, she asks, with measured curiosity, ‘What kind of book are you planning anyway?’
‘A mystery based on experience, but as Don Quixote, a reporter in modern times.’
‘Why does that make me think that is a perfect description of you, Charlie - don’t answer that - I have no doubt in the wide world that you are capable, but while we are on the subject of writing as a profession, have you any idea what the average annual rewards are for fiction in…Continue
Alice orders chicken with gruyere Comté wrapped in ham cured in Bayonne, mustard and tarragon sauce with pilau rice, and I go for steak and frites. The waitresses weave between tables with a certain grace, and it occurs to me that maybe this is what they do between ballet performances.
When the food is delivered, we eat in silence and I consider Alice’s place in my life and how her wisdom is the bulwark that has so often in the past prevented me from rushing headlong over the cliff…Continue
NGOs put ‘exposure’ high on the agenda when introducing strangers to projects they want funds for; I mean, when they take you to districts where shelling has brought people and buildings to their knees.
Exposure is just another word for orientation to extremes where the people had nothing even before a quarter of a million dollarsworth of hits came in - nothing that compares to fresh water at the turn of a tap, or a lavatory that flushes.
The question is, what would the poor…Continue
My compulsion to write is sometimes a burden too heavy to bear.
Never to write a single line in a day makes me ill and withdrawn.
As a rule, I rise before dawn like Olympus to write,
then take a walk, boil an egg and have breakfast late.
These rules must never be broken but may be amended,
or relaxed to be flexible and do something else.
As rules for writing they are sometimes buckled and bent
when I find myself…Continue
When people sign on to fight they do what we expect of them. If they get killed so what they are sub-human - right?
Wrong - the invincibility of youth is a wonderful thing and bolder when it has a trigger to pull all in the name of humanity and social justice.
I like Bill Lapham's piece for its honesty and insights into fear and concerns for family that really he can do…Continue
Such encounters began with tours to the land of the Taliban in 1996 and ended for me, a dozen years later with the Taliban plunging fire down American throats in 2008 in the Korengal Valley.
‘Plunging fire’ is when the other side hold the steep high ground; but it could be a metaphor for the terrible wars in Afghanistan’s history that nobody bothers to read, or if they do, to no effect - why else would anyone take on a nation that no one has ever defeated including Cyrus, Alexander,…Continue
‘Not quite Paris,’ Alice says in reference to the bistro’s décor, an imitation of Paris in the Fifties, and as she sits I glance over her shoulder at the woman on her cell and am mystified to see that she is no longer wearing an abayah and is holding a menu.
‘Why were you staring so hard at that woman when I came in, you looked, well, crazy,' she smiles and amends, 'crazier?’
Alice tolerates my reckless excesses, my failings and fads, even when they become obsessional…Continue
My eyes fall on the bomb shaped burgundy bottle on the table next to ours whose label tells of its travels all the way from a village community of vineyards in Avignon arrondissement, named Châteauneuf-du-Pape; and now two lovers are taking its pleasure in Dublin.
‘There was that therapist you took your old girl friend to see – I forget her name,' Alice murmurs persistently and my eyes turn to hers.…Continue
‘Charlie, please - where you are,’ Alice says again when I fail to reply becauseI am wondering if, out of concern, someone has called from the office to alert her.
‘I’m in town, Merrion Square,’ I say cautiously, ‘sitting on a park bench.’
‘Are you all right,’ Alice says, ‘your voice sounds funny?’
I parry her question with one of my own and discover she wants to dine out this evening before I head off to France, which is the day after tomorrow and I suggest Chez Max at…Continue
Leafless stands the tree beside the barn.
Empty are the stalls where the dog was born and named, a family pet.
How cold the concrete, how bare the stalls and now the barn is stooped.
Its back is broken by neglect.
Rampant termites have done their worst.
Too late to knock it down and start again.
[This exercise comes from The Art of Fiction by John Gardner, page 37. The challenge is: "Describe…Continue
I get up from my desk, grab my jacket, and head for the door as Esmeralda shrieking with laughter enters with Cobra who says, ‘Charlie, what’s wrong?’
A perfume wafts in along with them and there is a confirmation of blood and bone as we jostle together and I get a stench of muskrat and urine from the dust of something that died in terror, cornered and trapped, in that touching of bodies and I pass by or through them without a word; out through reception, away from the building…Continue
An email pops up on screen from Heavenly Bodies, the model agency handling accreditation for Paris shows, to say 'sorry, no room on the rostrum for your crew', which translated reads 'no room for a flea-bitten outfit from Ireland when we have crews from India and China to make up the numbers', so I re-schedule to shoot at other off-piste Paris shows, cross out C. Dior and St Laurent then arrange for news recordings to be made as an alternative.
Network’s Director of Programmes Janet…Continue
Some weeks ago I confronted Jeb about foot-dragging his artistic efforts on my behalf by asking, ‘Why don’t you leave this place and do your thing – be an artist instead of throwing away your talent ?’
‘You have to be a dead artist to make money,’ he said.
‘So you want to be one of the living dead — go buy yourself a coffin and park it somewhere else,’ I said and, after a week or so of similar banter he began to spark and his work ethic for me now burns somewhat…Continue
The afternoon passes quickly, talking to the set designer about Thursday's arrangement for the studio recording; we need to incorporate back and front projection for the ramp models will show off fashions for average woman; and thereby, counterbalance the introductory package of prancing human clothes-pegs in footage from shows in New York and Toronto.
There is the director of studio lighting to consult about positioning the ramp in relation to studio cameras; a spotlight to highlight…Continue
‘It’s not your style to beat around the bush,’ Esmeralda says, ‘you knock ’em down and burn ’em out - right?’
‘We don’t have time to sit around playing patty-cake,’ I say and note the rebellion that raged in her eyes an hour ago has gone and in its place are the limpid signs of vulnerability.
‘No adjectives you say, hmmf.’
She puts one arm akimbo, looks down and remains silent for several moments, wafting the script in her hand then says, ‘Charlie, this is hard for me to…Continue