Archive for the ‘alcohol’ Tag

Worse for wear on Margueritas (Day 29)

jeremey-deller-the-battle-of-orgreave

I’m on the tube home from a meeting at the great media cliche that is the Groucho Club. Synchronicity in that on the way there I was reading The Origin of Virtue by Matt Ridley about the scientific basis of altruism in our species and it mentioned Groucho Marx and Charlie Chaplin in the section I was reading. … Actually I’ve just checked back – make that Karl rather than Groucho (easy mistake ;-) ) I’ve ended the Writing Day with a few Margueritas. It’s not the first post I’ve written under the influence. One that springs to mind was on the way home from the V&A after an amusing encounter with Janet Street Porter.

Anyway just had a meeting with a charming art collector and he confirmed Jeremy Deller as an ideal for the Art case study being “the most generous person I’ve ever met – one of the anointed”.

The rest of the day has been way more sober but nonetheless productive, mainly carrying on with the Paul Arden chapter. I read the opening of it to my Other Half and she liked it but helped me simplify it. The first unread-back draft had phrases like “a propos of nothing ” and “en famille” which really needed a good kicking. It made me aware of how important and impactful that second pass can be.

I took a lunch-break at a local cafe (the wonderful Amici, domain of Maurizio) to meet two French specialists in multiplatform production who want to involve me in their Paris conference next summer. Chatting about comic books and 60s French movies and translation and Asterix and Lyons (and multiplatform) and all manner of inherently interesting stuff was great fuel for a solid afternoon of writing.

Tomorrow I’m doing a speaking gig in Manchester with Bea Campbell (who inspired my wife’s university final film about miners’ wives in Ayrshire during the Miners Strike – connection to Deller and Channel 4 through The Battle of Orgreave) and Rod Liddle with a bit of input from Boris Johnson via video. I’ll get 3 hours each way on the train to write.

marguerita

Songlines #4 – Thank Christ for the BBC (London Irish)

What song means the most to you and why?

AUDIO FILE: Hear Conor’s answer: ws_10015conor-mcginley

Comedian Conor McGinley choses Rain Street by The Pogues and talks about the London Irish identity he shares with Shane MacGowan

The church bell rings
An old drunk sings
A young girl hocks her wedding ring
Down on Rain Street

Down the alley the ice-wagon flew
Picked up a stiff that was turning blue
The local kids were sniffing glue
Not much else for a kid to do
Down Rain Street

Father McGreer buys an ice cold beer
And a short for Father Loyola
Father Joe’s got the clap again
He’s drinking Coca-cola
Down on Rain Street

Bless me, Father, I have sinned
I got pissed and I got pinned
And God can’t help the shape I’m in
Down on Rain Street

There’s a Tesco on the sacred ground
Where I pulled her knickers down
While Judas took his measly price
And St Anthony gazed in awe at Christ
Down on Rain Street

I gave my love a goodnight kiss
I tried to take a late night piss
But the toiled(?) moved so again I missed
Down Rain Street

I sat on the floor and watched TV
Thanking christ for the BBC
A stupid fucking place to be
Down Rain Street

I took my Eileen by the hand
Walk with me was her command
I dreamt we were walking on the strand
Down Rain Street

That night Rain Street went on for miles
That night on Rain Street somebody smiled

Drinker with a writing problem

brendan behan

What do I think of when I hear the name Brendan Behan?

* Drink
* Fighting
* IRA
* Dylan Thomas
* Woolly jumper
* Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Drink:
By all accounts the man was an alcoholic for years. It certainly done him in. He described himself as “a drinker with a writing problem” (not quite Oscar wit, but amusing enough).

Fighting / Woolly jumper:
He looks like a brawler in the photos, even with those 50s Irish woolly jumper and tie arrangements. I’m not sure how much fighting he actually did – suspect most of it was with himself.

IRA:
He seems to have got caught a lot but I suppose at least it gave him raw material for his writing. His first stretch, the time he did in borstal, was for republican activities, specifically a half-baked attempt to blow up Liverpool docks. His first writings, poetry and prose, were published in Fianna, the magazine of Fianna Eireann, the youth organisation of the IRA. (My first published photos were in An Phoblacht [it's a long story] but from there, besides our shared wild&windswept hairdo, our lifestories diverge.) I get the impression he eventually grew out of the IRA and came to doubt political violence.

Dylan Thomas:
There appears to be a number of close parallels between Dylan and Brendan – lionised to death in the US, hounded by the media, the drink, the woman they couldn’t live with or without (Caitlin and Beatrice respectively), the woolly jumper with tie look, money worries, New York, the White Horse Tavern on Hudson St. in Greenwich Village. My sister-in-law Bronagh is arriving from Dublin this evening and she knows about these things so hopefully I’ll be a bit more clued up about these connections by the time I hit the pit tonight. Poking around on the web I came across a bit of a spat in the mid-60s on this very point between Conor Cruise O’Brien and a certain Constantine FitzGibbon (a biographer of Thomas) – O’Brien made connections between the two and FitzGibbon denied them.

I stumbled across this rather neat link last night: “Dylan Thomas wrote Under Milk Wood, Brendan Behan wrote under Littlewood” – referring to Joan Littlewood whose Theatre Workshop put on The Quare Fellow at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1956, transferring to the West End and ultimately to Broadway, establishing his international rep.

It’s the last commonality on the list above – time spent in New York – which gives rise to this posting. A new play entitled Brendan at the Chelsea is coming up this month at the Riverside in Hammersmith (starting 15th January) written by Behan’s niece Janet and starring Adrian Dunbar (The Crying Game, The General, My Left Foot, Hear My Song – who co-directs) and Brid Brennan (Dancing at Lughnasa, Topsy-Turvy).

It’s set in the 60s in the “legendary bohemian bolt-hole”, The Chelsea Hotel (where Dylan Thomas checked out of this world in 1953 with alcohol poisoning – hang-out also for that other poet who adopted Thomas’ name, Bob Dylan, and his buddy Allen Ginsberg, not to mention writers ranging from Eugene O’Neill to Arthur C. Clarke [who wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey there], and musos including Leonard Cohen, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead, and of course the ungrateful dead, Nancy Spungen, who had no fun in a room there with Sid back in 1978). So, fellow playwright Arthur Miller is just across the hall, the grooves of free jazzer Ornette Coleman are drifting down from a floor above and Brendan’s in his room, short of dough and inspiration – he’s hung over and way past the delivery date of his next book, not a line written. He’s been told to stop drinking or he’ll be dead in six months – and that was two years ago….

So all set for a lively night on 23rd Street. I’ll report back when I’ve seen it and if you fancy a night of drama, drink and the fascinating interaction of human Behans, you’re just a click away from the Riverside

Dexy’s Midnight Runners:
I remember buying their first single Dance Stance and being intrigued by the litany of literary Irish (including Brendan who I hadn’t read but if he was in the same list as Oscar Wilde that was good enough for me)

Never heard about Oscar Wilde
Don’t want to know about Brendan Behan
Don’t think about Sean O’Casey
Don’t care about George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett
Won’t talk about Eugene O’Neill
Don’t know about Edna O’Brien
Won’t think about Laurence Sterne

Shut it
You don’t undertand it
Shut it
That’s not the way I planned it
Shut your mouth til you know the truth.

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