Trinity News Two Arts & Culture Supplement Issue 4 13th April 2004
Malcolm Sen talks to Salman Rushdie
Ruth Patten talks to Eileen Ni Chuilleanain ALSO: Fay Godwin Colm Toibin Alan Warner
All about me: DBC Pierre talks to TNT
13th April 2004
Dictionary Head John Townsend sexes up the word-related lexicon 2. Contents. Editorial. Dictionary Head. Or what you’re reading now and what you’ll be reading next. If you’re methodical. 3. Take the bus. Please. Anne Rutledge travels around Dublin in a tourist bus. 4. Eileen Ni Chuilleanain talks to Ruth Patten about her career in poetry. 5. Kate Hartnoll tries to capture the essence of novelist Alan Warner with a phone and a tape recorder. 6. Fay Godwin - Sarah Ingersoll profiles the prolific, outspoken landscape photographer. 7. Jenn Gannon chats to local novelist Colm Toibin about his latest book and forthcoming play. 8-9. TNT Interview 1: John Hollingworth cosies up to DBC Pierre and sneaks a look at his Booker Prize. 10-11. Fashion – Where would we be without it? Naked, very naked. 12. TNT Interview 2: Malcolm Sen grabs a quick interview with novelist Salman Rushdie before his Phil Address. 13. Helen Collins profiles Guinness tunesmith Mic Christopher while Jeremy Strawson shares a crafty cigarette with the organisers of this year’s Players’ 24 Hour Show. 14. Travel. We sent two intrepid students abroad. They sent back words. And saucy postcards. 15. Kevin Byrne investigates Dublin’s museum scene. Finds rooms cluttered with old stuff. Gives up.
Editorial "Give me 325 words", said John, my editor, before disappearing back into the bowels of TNT towers to quaff glucose-enriched energy drinks and slowdance to the dulcet tones of Al Green. Yes, the man is clearly far too busy to pen an editorial. So the crushing responsibility of welcoming you to this, the fourth and final issue of TNT, drops onto my bony shoulders. I suppose I could regale you with stories of all the mad times we’ve had up here: the lush parties, the all-nighters, the frenzied race to finish the layout as the first tendrils of dawn snake across the hobbling cobbles of Front Square. But the truth is, real life is never that interesting. TNT is a group effort, but when the deadline looms its head and our dear contributors disappear into the night, it comes down to a dedicated few individuals: eyes shot with blood, fingers curled into keyboard
claws, swearing randomly, laughing at unforgivably poor puns, playing air guitar and shouting "you sexy beast" for no apparent reason. Why do we do this? Is it for the money? Clearly not. There isn’t any (except what you can pass off as essential, life-prolonging expenses). For the joy of seeing our names in print? Probably not, when you consider that aerosol cans are so inexpensive these days. I suppose we do it because someone has to. Who would you look down on if there were no student journalists? Who would know what was happening around College if not for those brave journalistic souls? How would Trinity College, a university without a single journalism study program, produce so many fine media moguls, if not for our devoted journos? So when you wander into Trinity on Tuesday morning (our editor is chanting and waving a copy of the latest Harry Potter to ensure this issue will arrive on time), and you flick through these pages, remember one thing – this isn’t our paper, it’s yours.
If you scratch our back…
Many thanks to Camilla Elworthy at Macmillan, the Zelda Cheatle Gallery, Audrey Fitt at Random House, Chris Potter, Naomi White, Ed Burke and the Phil. You can all sleep soundly at night knowing that you have done good deeds. Go raibh maith agaibh.
couple are lying in bed together. The girl turns to her partner and says, ‘you’re perverted aren’t you?’ Her lover considers the question and replies, ‘perverted is a long word for a nine year old.’ This joke clearly carries a moral lesson; long words catch our attention. It must be acknowledged that the use of unusual words constitutes, for many, very dangerous ground. Words in many respects are like clothes, their use tells us much about people and their misuse makes people look very silly. To sprinkle long, opaque words into conversation out of context is very much like dressing in the dark. Equally the purpose of language is, of course, the achievement of clear communication. In this respect the use of archaic, cryptic words and needless circumlocution can make you appear unhelpfully pretentious. I was, thus, aware of the problems of undertaking to write this article and of appearing to be a didactic arse. However, amidst so much danger of confusion, offence and misuse it is easy to forget the many positive aspects of long word usage that TNT has been celebrating for the past few issues. It is important to remember that there are times when it is important to confuse. Many arguments the world over are won each day not by rationale or logic but by a throwaway, ‘don’t prevaricate,’ or a flippant ‘that’s the contradistinction.’ The interlocutor must either admit ignorance of their own language or wander punchdrunk through a discussion which they no longer understand. Furthermore, students everywhere appreciate that tenebrous prose is far more interesting to examiners who, forced to wade through near identical answers, relish the flavour of silly words. In that spirit here’s a selection to get you thinking and confusing the bejaysus out of your professors. CHROMOPHILOUS Easily staining. Great one for any lads trying to appear intelligent and sensitive at the same time. If you happen to spill wine down a young lady’s top the simple remark, "Oh dear that looks somewhat chromophilous" may confuse long enough to escape the inevitable slap.
ESOTERIC Referring to a concept adapted exclusively for the initiated and enlightened few. A word which I often come across, and have indeed used, without ever really understanding. That’s fine though as this is its innate purpose, by using the word you are yourself being esoteric. Can make you look like a twat when used socially but is an absolute diamond in class as it covers up ignorance with apparent intelligence. Blakeesoteric. Aristotle- esoteric. Marvellous. GALLOPHOBIA Fear of France or of the French. Often heard in international football team dressing rooms before matches against Les Bleus, rarely heard in German war planning areas (as Germans don’t speak English). PANTOPHOBIA Not the fear of pants, as so many erroneously believe, but the fear of everything. (Including the fear of not being afraid.) POST-PRANDIAL This one just means ‘after lunch’ (from the Latin I think...pranzo is lunch in Italian anyway.) Instantly makes you look suitably pretentious and intellectualizes, and therefore justifies, any post-prandial drinks or naps you have lined up. STEATOPYGOUS Meaning fat-buttocked. ‘A word’ remarked Oliver Wendell Holmes, ‘is the skin of a living thought.’ This skin covers the subject of those possessed with a healthy J-Lo jiggle. TENTIGINOUS Lust-provoking. I find steatopygous ladies tentiginous. Hmm. TERAMORPHOUS Of abnormal or monstrous form. Those buttocks are teramorphous! That must be a clear case of tentiginous steatopygia. (Look I don’t have an obsession or anything. Repetition is the best form of inculcation, that’s all.) FASCIOLARIDA A family of rachiglossate gastropods, with aspindle shaped shell (that’s enough dictionary reading for today).
TNT Anne Rutledge is gutted to discover that there will be no sex on the bus. Not a sausage. Put that down.
contains over 25,000 texts, the oldest dating from 1472. Unhappily, it resembles Trinity’s many libraries in that it has negative views towards lending any of its books. Continuing onwards, we pass by a tower that is popularly known as Archbishop M—’s tower. I don’t know what his name was. I didn’t hear. A warning to all those undertaking bus tours – to sit downstairs is to be closeted with the inebriated tourists, shouting at each other and talking a
nal city gates of Dublin. There were seven in all; the best known is St James’s Gate which has had a brewery on site since 1759. Arthur Guinness - the father of 21 children took a lease out on the site for 9000 years at the rate of forty-five pounds a year. The Guinness brewery was, until 1935, the biggest in the world. Stop number 13 on the tour, the Guinness Storehouse – still the biggest brewery in Europe – saw a lot of eager people jump off the bus and a Graham Mooney
y first solo bus journey was at the age of eight, the consequence of some parental failing or oversight that necessitated my solitary expedition. An unspecified number of years later, a veteran of many failings and oversights on the part of public transport in general, I ventured forth once more into the dark and labyrinthine territory of Dublin Bus and saw through its eyes a very different Dublin than the one I was used to peering out at through the windows of various buses. The official Dublin Bus ‘CityTour’ is an amorphous, nebulous entity that veritably defies the common binary suppositions of ‘beginning’ and ‘end’. You do not start this tour. You join it, become complicit in it. Our initial point of complicity was at the Tourism Centre off Trinity Street, built in 1866 and deconsecrated in 1984 due to the dwindling of its parish to only two members. Turning left, the tour meandered up Dame Street with the seductive voice of the driver crooning in our ears. This, the first rendition of ‘Molly Malone’, accompanied us as we passed the Carmelite Church which houses the petrified heart of St Valentine, learned about the seventytwo ethnic restaurants of Temple Bar and finally came upon Dublin Castle – built in 1204 during the reign of King John – and City hall, built in 1769, and the location of a free multimedia exhibition about Dublin. A pause in the song gave the driver ample time to tell us about how Christchurch (built in 1171) was the first stone building erected in Dublin, and beats all other European bell towers with its resounding clatter of twenty-four peals. Jonathan Swift lends his name to the nearby accommodations of previous Christchurch deans: an author best known for his novel ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, a children’s classic written by a notorious hater of children. St Patrick’s Cathedral, rapidly approaching on the left, maintains its status as the oldest Christian site in Dublin by consistently housing godly edifices since 1191. The cathedral itself is built over the river Poddle, which flows six feet below the cathedral floor and precludes the possibility of any basements or crypts. Take a moment and consider the word ‘Poddle’. The graveyard of St Patrick’s is, we were informed, the geographical centre of Dublin and the nearby Marsh’s Library is the oldest library in the country, founded in 1700 by the fantastically titled Narcissus Marsh, it
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Tour buses: subnormal tourist prop or really quite a laugh? lot about Guinness and smelling a lot like Guinness, while to sit upstairs involves a biting wind and the company of uptight tourists who brought their children with them and so can’t get drunk. Note-taking becomes difficult after a certain amount of exposure to the aforesaid biting wind, and important details may be lost. The use of a Dictaphone or some form of expensive recording equipment is advised. Hopefully your budget will cover it. Moving on, this illustrious tower was built in 1370 and is 43 metres high. The clock, presented by Queen Elizabeth in 1592, is the first public clock to be erected in Dublin. We then passed by one of the origi-
lot of happy people stagger on, who were then informed over the speakers that ‘THERE’LL BE NO SEX ON THIS BUS’. The downstairs people shouted. The uptight upstairs people clamped their hands over the ears of their ugly children and the tour continued, passing the last windmill to be constructed in Dublin (known as the Onion Tower) and continuing on to the Central Reservation where, in 1846, a sundial was installed, only to be rendered obsolete by all the trees that were planted around it in 1848. Just opposite is St Patrick’s Psychiatric Hospital which, from 1745, has been in constant use, and then a pigeon flew right in front of the
bus and distracted me. Passing by Heuston Station – built in 1845 – we came upon the building that housed the contagious diseases hospital. Built in 1720, it was the main resource for the sufferers of typhoid and Molly Malone died there in 1734. And then the singing began again. We pass the headquarters of the Eastern Health Board. Still singing. Past the Kings Bridge, built in 1821 to commemorate the visit of King George IV. More singing. Phoenix Park! At 1750 acres, the largest enclosed park in Europe, housing over 400 deer, maybe some goats, and the keys of the city. The lamps that line the avenue, the original fittings from the 1700s, are the only gas lamps still used in Dublin. In 1831, Dublin Zoo opened, with visitors paying one shilling to see a wild Irish pig. The most famous resident of the zoo is probably Rory, the MGM lion. Yes. That lion. His name is Rory. The tour continues although I cease to take any kind of legible or relevant notes. It’s cold. We pass by Ryan’s Pub where Reagan stopped off for an un-scheduled pint during his visit to Ireland, going on towards Collin’s Barracks. Built in 1701 and now housing the Museum of Decorative Art and Design, it was at one stage the largest military establishment in the world (a pattern is emerging here). We pass the new stupid looking bridge that has been coated with ‘de-climbing grease’ to dissuade children from using it as a slide and plunging to a herpes-ridden future in the Liffey below. Across the river is The Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Dublin, on site since 1169. During the tour we hopped off the bus for a while at the Museum of Modern Art, which has recently opened its refurbished gardens. A labyrinth and some very ugly children are to be seen in the grounds. As well as goats. Maybe. The Dublin Bus CityTour is a very lazy way to see parts of the city you may not be familiar with and to learn a huge amount about the history of Dublin. Depending on the driver, entertainment and tomfoolery may also be included in the very reasonable price of E7.50 for students. The tickets last for twenty-four hours, so you can come and go at your leisure, compare the musical stylings of different drivers, and use a Dictaphone to capture all the relevant information that would make an article about a bus tour both factual and informative instead of inconsistent and plagued with error. Which is sort of what my impression of Dublin Bus has always been, so maybe it’s valid after all.
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Portrait by Graham Mooney
Poetry please Eileen Ni Chuilleanain talks to Ruth Patten about her life and poetry.
ccording to Eileen Ni Chuilleanain, it has never been as financially rewarding to be a poet as it is now. No more the impoverished verse-writer suffering for his or her art in poverty and destitution while basking in the glow of literary acclaim or otherwise. These days it seems a grant from the arts council, a little help from AosDana and a few readings and commissions go a long way to securing a little financial security for poets. It was not always this way, especially for women. Ni Chuilleanain reflects that during the 1960s often female poets felt the need to apologise for being what they were, "women were traditionally connected with fiction and children’s books, poetry [was considered] grand, more masculine." Now women are "more visible" and the male domination of verse and the misogyny that came with it, in Trinity as well as elsewhere, has softened to the extent that it is rarely seen -publicly at least. She points out that this change has taken time, especially here in Trinity where attitudes have really only changed "in the last fifteen years." This she has seen from her position as
a senior lecturer in the English Department, as well as being a member of the Board in the 1980s. Ni Chuilleanain feels that since her mother was a writer, poetry came naturally to her. At thirteen years of age, or younger, she already knew instinctively what she was going to become. A lot of her poetry, she says, "comes mostly from things I read as a child." Much of her early reading revolved around mythology and folk tales, a favourite being Homer’s ‘Odyssey’, from which a number of her poems get their themes and subject. She now teaches a course in mythology and literature, finding it was something she "knew too much about not to teach." As she grew older however, new themes began to emerge in her poetry. The one she is still quite preoccupied with is religion, particularly relating to her aunts who were nuns. These figures from her family "wouldn’t go away." She is not particularly religious herself but has a "fascination with rituals and the trappings outside of religion." The idea of being outside looking in at the performance of faith is "bracing". More recently she has been reading about lives of differ-
ent Saints- the "more extravagant the better." She feels there is a link between religious customs and heritage to the classical mythology she loved in her youth. She says she never understood what was behind the traditions and by "writing about things you don’t understand, each poem becomes an attempt to break into them." Ni Chuilleanain has been teaching in Trinity since the age of twentythree but was familiar with college life from a very young age as her father was a University professor in Cork and the family lived on campus. It was this academic childhood that was to shape a scholarly career, taking her from Cork to Oxford to Trinity to the point that, as she says herself, she "wouldn’t survive long in the wild!" "I have lived all my life in a University setting; it has been naturally part of my experience." She has had a unique joy in seeing the college develop over time, "Trinity is much bigger, in some ways much more open to Ireland." However the college is yet to become "aware of Irish culture fully, especially the Irish language culture as something not to be exploited or put on show." The recent economic prosperity has also had an effect on Trinity and its students, making a huge change from the 1970s and 1980s when many students emigrated after graduation: "there was a time when you would see worse [written] work than you would ever see now. The buoyant economy
has created a terrific buzz, you are not teaching somebody who does not want to learn anymore. Students are now choosing to do subjects such as English because they want to, not because they feel they need a job out of their degree." Ni Chuilleanain feels that the whole education system has changed: "the real work of education is done at Secondary School, and there is a higher level of knowledge in students [entering the college]." Ni Chuilleanain is married to the well-known Irish poet Macdara Woods and finds sharing a profession with her husband a bonus: "I need someone to understand what it is I am doing, that writing poetry is not a hobby and I am serious about my work." They are both involved with the poetry journal ‘Cypher’, a name taken from the title of one of her poems, and because of this she has a unique view of new Irish poetry. She has found that more Irish poets are working with other poets and artists from all different areas of life, such as collaborations with musicians. As a result of this, Irish poetry has been brought into "the public arena, it is becoming more open and entertaining, much more than the rest of Europe." Eileen Ni Chuilleanain is a major asset to the English Department of Trinity College and the modern Irish literary movement in general. She has broken down gender barriers and led the way for aspiring female poets when the consensus still stands against women in poetry.
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Warning signals Kate Hartnoll catches up with novelist Alan Warner.
approach my interview with Alan Warner with a certain amount of trepidation, having heard some odd rumours out there on googlesearch. Interviews featuring journalists who have met him in a pub and are having obvious difficulties remembering a word said after the first ten minutes, for instance. Indeed, after asking around, I do get one piece of direct advice: "If you’re meeting in a pub DON'T GET TOO DRUNK. By all accounts he can down a pint or two." As I'm not meeting him, just calling, this problem seems sorted. But then I run into a journalist from the Irish Times whose wife interviewed Warner. Apparently, he asks journalists for a list of their ten favourite books before agreeing (or not) to talk to them. "But I'm sure you'll do fine", he says, with a smile that exhibits a lot more confidence in himself than in me. Now, I don't like this man from the Irish Times -he is smarmy and patronising in a way only opinion columnists and professional critics can bebut he does get me thinking. Despite having spent the last three and a half years studying the damn things, I suddenly can't remember a single book I've read since I was seventeen. So I am pleasantly surprised when I do call Warner and find that the only uncomfortable thing about the interview is the technology-inflicted cramp induced by having to hold a tape recorder over my head and aimed at the ear piece of the telephone receiver for forty minutes. And although this really is uncomfortable, it doesn't overshadow the fact that the interview is highly enjoyable. Warner not only has a lot to say and the articulation to say it very well, but, perhaps most noticeably, an interest in almost everything. ‘Curious’ or ‘curiously’ are words that I am to hear repeatedly throughout, in an odd assortment of contexts. "It was a curious exercise for me" (writing his new novel, which is narrated from the point of view of a man whose first language is not English). "Curious quest novels" (a tendency in his work) "It’s curious you should mention that..." and so on and so forth. It's a word that suits Warner's writing as well: somewhere between odd, existentially questioning and driven by a desire to always investigate new perspectives. For despite being set mainly around a single small community in a tiny
port town in the Scottish highlands, Warner's four novels show a remarkably daring interest in the world in all its bizarre, twisted, no-holds-barred glory. So one minute singing, sexobsessed schoolgirls are given his full attention, then one-eyed travellers, Scottish history, the dubious rave scene in Benidorm and death. And all told in a style that mixes social realism, high poetry, stream of consciousness and good ol' fashioned storytelling. In fact, the only constant that binds his characters is a sense of indefatigable curiosity to know and under-
selves as humans and the world we live in. Critics have often concentrated on this darkness, especially when talking about ‘Morvern Caller’, Warner's first and best known novel, filmed two years ago by Lynn Ramsey. Perhaps this is not surprising considering the plot. Narrated from the point of view of its elusive title heroine, it tells the story of a woman who wakes up one morning to find her writer-boyfriend has committed suicide, leaving her his credit card and unpublished novel. She grieves, empties his bank account, publishes the novel under he own name and spends the money clubbing in Spain. It is a plot that raises both moral questions and morPortrait by Jerry Bauer
Alan Warner, author of ‘Morvern Caller’ and ‘The Sopranos’ stand more. Erratic, yes. But in the best possible way. If I were to sum up Warner's style, without resorting to the lists of adjectives which up until now seem to be characterising this article, it would be thus. The illegitimate love-child of Joyce and Camus, writing on the alluring but potentially disastrous cocktail of LSD and Speed. The switch between feel-good and violently dark can come any time. He aims to "create worlds", not necessarily realist or even reliable ones, but which ultimately tell us something about our-
bidly hilarious incidents, but I find Warner more keen to talk about the characters. He talks about his characters as if they were real people he cares about, and I begin to realise that it is this humanism, this absolute lack of cynicism that illuminates his work, even when it gets seriously twisted. "A lot of people strangely went on about her (Morvern Caller's) coldness", he muses. "I was always astounded by that because she cries and she prays and she's clearly in shock. I think people confused a char-
acter who holds back feelings with coldness. But you don't want to lapse into sentimentality either... Everyone has their reasons, even the most terrible criminal." And then the mission statement: "Novelists are usually kind of poking a bit at the reasons people are what they are". So there it is. After three and a half years some one has finally given me a answer to what the actual point of books are. However, the question is complicated somewhat when "what they are" are travellers obsessed with carrying water in plastic bags, with a physical inability to walk up slopes when drunk (‘The Man Who Walks’). Or even female. Does he think that it is ever possible for a man to capture a female voice? "Yes... Novels are acts of imagination and to try and branch out into characters who are other than you seems fundamental to what a novel is. Its about the result, the end product, if the end character isn't believable than the writer shouldn't have written from that point of view. For instance, I don't think Martin Amis can write working class criminals at all". I agree with his point, but even if I didn't, slagging Martin Amis in a lovely soft Scottish accent is a sure way after my heart. So what does he like in a novel? Or a film? "When I saw the film of ‘Morvern Caller’, I thought 'that would have inspired me when I was eighteen. I think that's a great yardstick...I've always been terrified by novels that bore me, so I've always wanted to draw people in (to my writing) When I was younger I was often very scared of a novel. Especially very intellectual ones. They felt intimidating and they felt cold." This statement at first seems slightly amiss, coming from Warner, an author who is not easy to read and whose style can be as dense as Joyce's at times. And yes, the dreaded adjective ‘pretentious’ has been applied by the occasional critic. But ‘accessible’ does not necessarily mean ‘easy’ or ‘simplistic’. And as the popular success of Warner proves, a challenging book is not necessarily by definition an elitist or ‘intimidating one’. In ‘The Man Who Walks’, Warner makes the statement: "along with pot, intelligence should be legalised." With more writers such as Alan Warner, it might just be. (Intelligence, that is. Not pot). Alan Warner has written four novels; ‘Morvern Caller’, ‘These Demented Lands’, ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘The Man Who Walks’. He is currently working on his fifth, the story of a Spanish man who believes he is HIV positive and attempting to track down the women who gave him the infection, to warn her and perhaps also for some darker reason. Filming for ‘The Sopranos’ will begin next year in Scotland.
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Inveterate pursuer of ancient roads Sarah Ingersoll profiles English photographer Fay Godwin.
ohn Fowles once said of her: "You are an inveterate pursuer of ancient roads". This description could not have been more apt in describing the philosophy of Fay Godwin’s photography. Born in Berlin in 1931 and currently residing in the south of England, Godwin took up photography as a hobby when she turned forty. She has since been heralded as one of Britain’s greatest landscape photographers, and her career is still active after almost thirty years. One of the most inexhaustible artists alive in Britain today, Godwin has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a Major Arts Council of Great Britain award in 1978, the first Green Book of the Year Award from Books for a Change for her book, ‘Our Forbidden Land’, 1990, and an award from Erna & Victor Hasselbad Foundation, 1995. In addition, she is an honorary fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, and is also a fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. Godwin has had a number of firsts, including being the first photographer to have a full-length feature on the South Bank Show, the first photographer to have work purchased by the Contemporary Arts Society and to exhibit with the British Council's Fine Art Department as well as at the Yale Center for British Art. Godwin has had a prolific career, publishing over seventeen books of prints since she began in 1975 with ‘The Oldest Road: An Exploration of the Ridgeway’ with J.R.L. Anderson when she was 44. Her most widely recognised work has been primarily natural and man-made landscapes, but she has also produced a considerable number of portraits of authors and poets, including Dorris Lessing, Salman Rushdie, Saul Bellow, and Edna O’Brien. After meeting Ted Hughes, he asked her to become involved with a new book of poems, his ‘Remains of Elmet’ (1979), based in and around the countryside of West Yorkshire. In 1994, they reissued the book, called Emet, with new photographs and poems. It has been said to be the definitive collection of poems from that area. Godwin soon followed up ‘Remains’ with her own landscape photographs, which sharply contrasted with her earlier idyllic images of rural Britain.
With works such as ‘Land’ (1985), ‘Our Forbidden Land’ (1990) and ‘The Edge of the Land’ (1995) Godwin documented a post-industrial environment under threat from government politics, in particular the public right of access to land being ignored. ‘Our Forbidden Land’, in particular, reflects her unequivocal, impassioned appeal to the effects of the closure of vast tracts of countryside for commerical, venal reasons, such as the rearing of animals and birds merely to shoot them. These landscapes fall under the category of "new topographic" a style which reflect man’s interaction and intervention with his
“Fay Godwin is a photographer of immense importance and international standing. With almost thirty years of experience, she has had a huge impact on the photographic arts.”
Self-portrait by the photographer natural environment. "I’m not interested in the anatomy of the flower or anything like that. I never have been. I’ve always been interested in human traces on the land, not the wilderness areas. They leave me cold." After the publication of ‘Land’, a survey of her first ten years of landscape work, Godwin was asked to become president of the Ramblers Association. Officially founded in 1935, the Ramblers Association was founded to increase access to and educate the public toward the land. President from 1987-1990, she has remained vice president for life and is still vocally involved with the politics related to the publication of her works. Godwin did not consider these photographs to be political, but they were picked up as such. ‘Our Forbidden Land’, which she accompanied with
her own text, was the most direct in highlighting land issues. "I went out to do a book about access, but it wasn’t possible just to look at access, I found, without saying, well, what sort of land were we asking for access to? It became an extremely environmental book." It was the most difficult work she has produced, but also the one of which she is most proud. Having earned her fame and reputation as a landscape photographer working in monochrome, the publication of ‘Glassworks’ (with Ian Jeffery) in 1999 came to mixed reviews. In place of the grand sweeping vistas and painstakingly printed images of the English countryside, these new photographs were shockingly sensual, almost abstract, close-up montages of rich vibrant colour. Like many artists, Godwin has always sought to challenge herself with new techniques.
However, the switch to colour was not met with same critical acclaim as her previous works. ‘Glassworks’ was seen as so controversial that none of her publishers would go near it. In the end, she was forced to publish it herself. "People had decided to pigeonhole me. I didn’t start my work until I was forty, and I was an older photographer anyway. What I found was that it’s extremely ageist in this country. I was simply told that I was a black and white photographer, and that’s all there was to it. I’ve even been told, ‘how dare you do colour!’ as if I was betraying them. When Bob Dylan went and changed his style of music, they made the analogy that people felt like that about my work." Godwin has since left black and white photography altogether, even to the point of selling her darkroom. In recent years she has been using digital formats. She has no qualms about leaving manual cameras behind, partly because of health, but also because she feels that images can be made in lots of different ways. Her most recently exhibition was held in a local gallery showing, for the first time, her digital photographs. "The digital work is basically just another way of printing for me. I have not made a radical change, and in a way, it is all man-made stuff in the same vein as ‘Glassworks’. I sit here overlooking the landscape and working at the computer, and I must say it’s a lot pleasanter." In 2001, she published ‘Landmarks’ in conjunction with a major retrospective of her work in the Barbican Centre in London. She was seventy (so much for ageism!). Along with her traditional prints, her colour work was well received. The exhibition has travelled as far away as Sao Paulo, Brazil, and has just finished touring in Edinburgh. Fay Godwin is a photographer of immense importance and international standing. With almost thirty years of experience, she has had a huge impact on the photographic arts. In addition to producing books and holding exhibitions, Godwin has lectured and toured worldwide. She is a highly versatile artist, with images ranging from the grandiose to the minute, from the political to the humorous. Her contribution to how we view our landscape today cannot be ignored, and as an artist, she continually invokes admiration for remaining true to her creative ideals through utilizing newer forms and processes of photography.
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To be the novel master Jenn Gannon catches up with local novelist Colm Toibin.
olm Toibin is a man who enjoys a challenge, a man who does not believe in artistic limitations. When faced with the prospect of writing an in-depth essay on the history of the colour blue to accompany an exhibition in the Chester Beatty Library, the author remained typically unfazed. He could not refuse this unique opportunity to investigate something that seems standard and to have the chance to delve behind the obvious. He took on the project with enthusiastic vigour, overseeing what objects went into the exhibition, and unearthing a wealth of information that obviously fascinated him. He talks animatedly about the Greeks’ and the Romans’ surprising aversion
really can become tired." Joking aside, in Toibin’s latest novel his usual spare, lyrical style has been replaced by a richer, more elaborate rhetoric. ‘The Master’ is the story of the critical and commercial failure of Henry James’ debut play on the London stage. It gave Toibin artistic licence to combine his insatiable desire to investigate and examine lit-
a novel. Using a fictional key, I thought about what he was thinking, what he was feeling. I think it’s a novelist’s job to express that. I’ve never written a historical novel before, I’ve never wanted to." The ominous task of mixing fact and fiction did not dissuade him, he actually found it to be a liberating and intriguing experience, as he was able Portrait by Perry Ogden
James and give it to him, to put it back in some way." During the course of writing the novel an ironic coincidence came about that drew a strange parallel to the events he was describing in ‘The Master’. Toibin was commissioned to write a play for the Abbey centenary. Apart from giving him more insight into the artistic effort required in writing for the stage, something that James would have endured, it also saw Toibin tackling the life and work of another great literary figure, Sean O’Casey. The play, ‘Beauty in a Broken Place’, which opens in the Peacock theatre on August 16th, centres around the controversy that arose during the production and performance of O’Casey’s ‘The Plough and the Stars’. The writer wryly notes the similarities of the circumstances but hopes he will not suffer the same fate as James or O’Casey "Although if they booed James… I could shock the audience" he laughs. Both the book and the play brought Toibin into places far removed from his last novel, something that he
“Colm Toibin is a man who enjoys a challenge, a man who does not believe in artistic limitations.”
"Hemingway acknowledged that you could put the emotion between the words, not just in them."
to the colour: "they didn’t recognise it in the rainbow, they said it had only four or five colours. To them the sky was just clouds, transparent." The rigid concentration on a single colour, the blue room filled with blue pieces, free from the clutter and chaotic variety of the modern world, could seem to be the visual equivalent of Toibin’s own novels, known for their sparseness and powerful beauty. From his debut novel ‘The South’ to 1999’s Booker Prize nominated, ‘The Blackwater Lightship’, Toibin discloses the art of the unsaid, the emotions that can reside between the spaces, something he attributes to the influence of other writers on him: "Hemingway acknowledged that you could put the emotion between the words, not just in them, and if you get the rhythm right you’ll be able to feel the emotion. What you try to do is draw the emotion out." Although he is aware of the limitations of the style that he has become synonymous with, adding, "you can easily become a parody though, y’know, ‘He got up and went down to the door. The door was blue. He went out into the light.’ It
enjoyed as it ensured the dissolution of the familiar and the self, a preoccupation that Toibin believes does not have any place in imaginative literature. "I think if you’re interested in the self and expressing yourself you should go and write poetry. When you write you should enter some other world. In the novel you get to describe a life, to create a form, completing what is never completed in actuality. In life everyone is a sort of shambles, they’re not complete or beautifully formed. If I had the choice between life and the novel I’d take the novel." Which is why the chance to envelop himself in the world of literature through the writing of ‘The Master’ appealed to him so much, though he is certain he will not visit this territory again. He will instead return to the entirely fictive form when embarking on his next project. Whatever he chooses to work on next, we can be assured that due to Toibin’s voracious curiosity about life, art and the world around him, he will once again challenge and surprise a willing audience.
Colm Toibin with fragments shored against his ruin
erature - previously seen in his extensive back catalogue of non-fictional works - with his artistic flair and fluidity. He originally set out to write a completely different book, a comedy that he abandoned after one chapter, he then returned to the idea of James after reading Leon Edel’s lengthy, detailed biographies of the writer. Edel’s intense, five-volume collection on James made Toibin think twice about writing a straight biography on the novelist, he instead decided to embark on a more creative journey: "I wanted to write a set of meditations on James or essays even, and then every time I would try and write them, something would come out like
to fuse some of James’ musings with his own fictional idea of him. When searching for the right words to capture James’ visceral, emotional response to a night of considerable debauchery, Toibin scanned James’ novels and found his perfect phrase in ‘The Wings of the Dove’: "I thought about all the novels but there was nothing describing when somebody actually sleeps with someone, except in ‘The Wings of the Dove’ where Merton Densher sleeps with Kate Croy. All I wanted was one sentence and I got a great sentence from him, "He felt as though he was dipped in something", so sometimes I would do that, take a straight sentence from
tnt interview:1 8
13th April 2004
Deadly Buzz, Cool: DBC Pierre John Hollingworth has a few pints with last year’s Booker Prize winner
don’t know, fuckin took too long, and fucked their schedule up… They dragged me away and I was abducted for god knows how many hours to just do interviews and press conference." Such success was a far cry from life ten years before, in 1993, when the writer was mired in a protracted legal Tony Kiely
he novel has died. The funeral was a quiet affair, held down a side-street in an obscure country town. The burial was swift and sombre. Roddy Doyle muttered a short elegy, Irvine Welsh puked undigested Tennants over the coffin and Sebastian Faulks warmed the congregation by burning obscene heaps of cash reaped from hawking his sentimental tosh to banker’s wives. Then they all fell into a grave on top of lots of very dead white men, some of whom sported beards. The world breathed a sigh of relief. I’ve heard it all before. Every year another bookish hack short on rent wheels out the same argument, decked with identical banners of irrelevancy, obscurantism, formlessness and degeneration. It makes a nice change to talk to someone, a Booker prize-winning author no less, who still believes in the simple power of a well-told story. I’m sat in the smokefilled snug of Dockers talking to D.B.C. Pierre over a pint. At the mention of the word ‘postmodern’ he almost spits a mouthful of Smithwicks and soggy cheese toasty across the room: "…self-indulgence. And that’s a London thing. It is fuckin wanky, and that’s one thing that… I want shooting if I get to that. I mean… obviously it’s comfortable to write long ramblings that reflect one’s own cleverness and shit, but they’re not, that’s not what books are about… the reader is more than half the equation." That attitude may well explain the novelist’s success and wide appeal. On October 14th of last year 42 year old D.B.C. Pierre (real name Peter Warren Finlay) won the Booker Prize for his novel ‘Vernon God Little’. A British national, he was born to English parents in Australia, but grew up in Mexico City where his father worked as a scientist for the U.N. The Booker decision, reached in under an hour, was the second fastest ever, and was agreed upon by a panel comprised of A.C. Grayling, Rebecca Stephens, Francine Stock, D.J. Taylor and the irritatingly ubiquitous John Carey. Pierre found the build up far from relaxing; "the dinner was very tightly orchestrated by the B.B.C. because it was live in TV at the time… I was out the back trying to have cigarettes and they kept dragging me back in saying ‘we don’t want you walking in front of
the fuckin… thing all the time’. I said ‘well what if I have to go for a piss or something’ and they said ‘well it’s only an hour, you know?’ It had that kinda tension, you know, so there wasn’t much mingling." Matters improved little after joyfully making his acceptance speech. Stepping
Thinking outside the novel box: D.B.C. Pierre down from the podium he was accosted by a hungry band of publicists and B.B.C. officials. "They literally dragged me by the arms, cause I, I
battle concerning fraud and undergoing rehab and therapy in Adelaide, Australia. Pierre’s problems began at the age of 19 when his father died. He
was left in charge of the luxurious family home in Mexico City, as his parents had gone abroad for his father’s treatment and his older sister had moved to Australia. The author enjoyed diplomatic immunity and influential clout thanks to his father’s job and money. Consequently Pierre and friends could, and did, get any kind of drug delivered by bicycle courier to his expensive front door. They lived in a protected, luxury world with servants to cook and clean up the mess from frequent house parties. That lifestyle was cut brutally short by the devaluation of the Mexican currency which impoverished Pierre’s family: "I was, you know, 21 or something when the big collapse [happened] and we lost zeroes off the end of it [the family bank account], ten grand or fourteen grand left out of hundreds of thousands… it was serious, but I didn’t quite tell her [his mother], you know? What do you say? By the way you’re fuckin busted, that’s it now? I thought no I’ll fix it…because I felt a power that I would do something, and… um, and therein lied and of course that grew and grew… once you start on that path then, you know, a few months down the track they say oh could you send another seven grand from the account? So where’s that going to come from? You need a few more drugs before you can even think about it." In between the drugs, the author managed to raise the requested money by doing "some good work and some legitimate scamming as well." I ask him to expand upon the latter. "Oh you know, just leveraging things, you know… I’ll take an advance on this job and… in three months I’ll do this for you, and… you know? Setting up a quite legitimate… a loan structure if you like, or an account structure." Intermittent work as a photographer and cartoonist and attempts to raise money for a proposed documentary on searching for the lost gold of the Emperor Montezuma failed to raise enough cash for himself and his family. In a bid to clean up and succeed financially and artistically the author moved to Australia. Adelaide, in South Australia, proved to be a black spot for the author, a place "where anything bad that’s happened to me has happened, or anything bad that I’ve done I’ve done… you get the feeling as soon as you land that the only way to make a million is to work at the Mitsubishi factory, save a bit of money, have a barbeque on Saturdays, mow the lawn, learn to clean carburettors and shit." The opportunity to work on a production line, despite the surrounding antipodean splendour, was not Pierre’s aim when he left Mexico. He
tnt interview:1 TNT you know, disassembling my character from scratch actually brought forth the work." That work, his first and only novel, began life as a one page sketch written after Pierre saw television footage of a teenage high school killer in Oregon being bundled into a car. "Before I had the idea [for the novel] I wrote a page just on an angry day after that thing [seeing the Oregon kid] and Vernon’s voice just came
but that was just for me, just for inspiration, tacked on the wall." ‘Vernon God Little’ was intended as the first part of a trilogy based around the same characters and the town of Martirio in Texas. "I wanted to do a black one, a white one and then one down the middle, so that the second one would have been a very conservative take on the world where all of these progresses are actually beneficial and supporting and life’s wonderTony Kiely
swiftly felt disorientated. "I came from Mexico, from the top two percent of welfare, and came to Australia, but suddenly went into, because I had family there and whatever, went into a quiet working class milieu…um… where I fitted in alright, ‘cos I can get on… with, you know, all of these people. But at that age, you know, my head was all over the place, and clearly none of my dreams were going to happen there, so it was like, I was suddenly seriously, seriously out of water, and they told me I had a fuckin disorder." Ironically that ‘disorder’ was the belief that he could produce an original piece of artwork that would stun the world. "See I grew up, for one or another reason, whether or not it came from me or was from… environment or what, but… this idea that I could do anything was seriously fixed in my head… I honestly felt an extraordinary power and I was a great fuckin dreamer, I felt an immense power to bring things about, and others felt that in me as well which made me a great bullshit artist because I could feel that they connected with that. Essentially, um, I had the notion that any moment I’d pull some fuckin rabbit out of the hat, and that was classified as a disorder, that was classified as a narcissistic personality disorder. I so believed in myself, and so believed in my fuckin dreams… I ended up in rehab and I sat across the desk from a social worker, a lady, who looked across the desk and I said, I just, in life, I know I can… do something. She stopped me and looked across the desk and said ‘life is a series of troughs’… and she described an ocean without any peaks on it and said ‘this is what we want to do then, is just to make it like that’ [moves hand, palm down, flatly through the air] and then you’ll be normal… that one moment really, really stuck with me." Whilst riding high on a euphoric wave [certainly a ‘peak’] on their first American tour, the Beatles were asked about their early days. With no trace of egotism John Lennon told the reporter that he always knew they would make it. Surely all great artists have to believe in their own dreams, and have to suffer from some form of narcissism? I put this to Pierre: "well, the thing is, now here’s the interesting thing, until I completely lost that feeling, until the notion of any bigger work had been kicked out of me, I didn’t do that work. I did this work from the… the fire burned from a real fuckin humble… a real corner of failure, and I wonder if it would have happened previously. I had to work my way through obviously. There’s a ten year gap between that therapy and me writing… I wonder to what extent,
Reinventing the past: Pierre enervates an atrophied tradition straight out. Yeah, and then it grew organically, it was the page that told me oh fuck… actually that’s quite punchy… I started with the same first line [as begins the novel], but he was actually already in jail, and I just wrote this fuckin angry thing about where the fuck we were at the time, and, and that struck me so I kept up with it and then organically Vernon became innocent, and the whole, the moral balance, the dynamic changed and we were into something new." When he began writing the novel, Pierre "designed the cover for it… a very different one, just a blank page and I had a photograph of a… a very rustic wooden crucifix with a pair of trainers hanging off of it… just that,
ful and he’s a cunt. And then a third one which tries to draw a line down the middle of them, so he’d probably have to become President of the USA I think." The book was actually written in London, where Pierre refused to sign on the dole, believing that others needed the cash more. Instead he worked out an arrangement with his girlfriend: "I used to cook her hot meals and clean the house and, she would, um, she’d bring cigarettes home and I’d work through the night, you know? I literally took three hours crossover when she’d come in from work and I’d work all night and come to bed as she got up. We did like a switch shift for 18 months." Any romantic writing illusions were
quickly shattered by this regime. "I fuckin sweated blood over that thing and… it did come you know, it came, it was in my head walking the streets of Streatham and Tooting and Balham and I… I lived in Texas for all of that time, for all that I was in fuckin Streatham and Tooting. It was very weird." The ‘D.B.C.’ prefixing Pierre’s name stands for ‘Dirty But Clean’ which, when combined with the Australian cartoon character ‘Dirty Pierre’, gave the writer his pen-name. He was supposedly christened ‘D.B.C.’ by a friend convinced that everything that he did was fated to go badly or produce an opposite, undesired result to the intended one. The name accurately describes the impression that he makes. Though when I meet him he is clean-shaven, the rosy patches of burst capillaries on his cheek bones testify to a legion of long, drink and drug fuelled nights. Though he wears a smart jacket and slacks, he also wears running shoes as if he may have to sprint off at any moment if he spots an unpaid creditor. The author has lived life at its most extravagant and its most austere; he has been both privileged and underdog, rich and poor. When he was signed by the literary agent Clare Conville he told her, "all I want out of this, if it doesn’t sell or whatever, is just to be able to continue writing ‘cos I reckon I can develop and do this in the future, I just need a good shot at it." Having won the Booker and Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse awards, and shifted over 350 000 copies of his first novel, he has earned the chance to have ‘a good shot at it.’ That’s not to say he’s not proud of ‘Vernon.’ "I hope it’s not forgotten. I hope it counts for something, because… what I mean to say is there are a lot of very clever people, I’m not the cleverest, by far away not… educated boy, but creative works have to have a spirit and I hope that the spirit of it is true anyway, the fact that it has taken energy… from my life and… you know, relates to where we are… it’s a funny thing, it’s mysterious." There’s no mystery to Pierre’s success. Anti-novel nay-sayers and postmodern novelists writhing in disgust at the very idea of earnest storytelling take note: D.B.C. Pierre won last year’s Booker Prize because he came up with a good story and told it well. His idiosyncratic narrative voice and energetic prose has re-enlivened a genre that has been too frequently dismissed as an irrelvant relic of the past. Anyone who needs a reminder of the tasty pleasures of reading should pick up a copy of ‘Vernon’, and do so quickly before it reprints. Pierre’s second novel ‘Ludmila’s Broken English’ is out later this year.
13th April 2004
there s no place like home, but is it ever this exciting? modeled by hannah, joe & jim hair by donncha o dea make-up by emma weafer shot by dave ring
fashion 13th April 2004
tnt interview: 2 12
13th April 2004
Rushing with Rushdie
Malcolm Sen discusses India with the famous novelist.
thin Indian man with not much hair and bad teeth sits alone on a bare floor, wearing nothing but a loincloth and a pair of cheap spectacles, studying the clutch of handwritten notes in his hand." This is not Salman Rushdie. This is Rushdie describing Gandhi who appears in an Apple Mac advert. As Mac associates itself with an alternative corporate philosophy, so it chooses the iconic figure of Gandhi, subliminally sending messages of morality and leadership. Gandhi, the man, the ‘great soul’ has become a postmodern concept (Rushdie contends) and is now a free-floating symbolic figure, an icon on a Mac. Why begin an article on Rushdie with Gandhi? Why not? Physical similarities and saintliness apart, there is a connection to be made between the phenomenon of Gandhi that Rushdie describes and the phenomenon of Rushdie himself. This is the thing that needs to be said. Rushdie, the author, once he is ‘Googled’, reveals himself as an adjective and a malady: ‘The Rushdie Affair’, ‘The Rushdie Phenomenon’ and finally the source of an incurable, lexicon-mocking, ‘Rushdie-itis’. Many upcoming Indian authors suffered from this disease, but they are up-and-coming no more. Much of the adjectival connotations of his name surround the issue of the infamous fatwa, but much has been said about that. The other Rushdie phenomenon has generated out of itself a whole new generation of third world metro-writers, especially Indian ones, chutneyfying the English language and repeatedly portraying an idea of India. This is good considering the subcontinent’s colonial past, during which no-one with an unpronounceable Indian name full of diphthongs and tongue-twisters was considered capable of writing in the King’s English or representing one’s country. Rushdie is the great-grandfather of this recent spawn of the media-savvy and commercially-viable Indian author writing in English. What then, primarily, is the problem? It is this: the new generation provides for a market that thrives on image; specifically an image of India that counteracts the materialism of the west and allays fears while promising a New Age of spiritual regeneration. It breeds a false sense of India, explicitly challenging but implicitly following the early European travel writers
Rushdie talks to TNT shortly before addressing the Phil who wrote about the exotic east. India, and things Indian today, sell. Such things not far away from my mind, I phrase a question along these lines for Mr Rushdie. I am wondering whether he is conscious of such tightropes when he writes. He sits across from me, dressed serenely and stylishly in black. I am aware that Indian authors who write in English and are subjected to such trials of ‘Why write in a foreign language?’, ‘Who do you write for?’ are likely to respond with involuntarily ferocity. Not so Mr Rushdie, who smiles, draws both his palms in a namashkar, thinks for a brief second and says, "I felt that many of the representations of India that were available, certainly
in English, didn’t represent or didn’t reflect the reality that I knew. So the question was how to write a book that did. And of course to an extent that means you write against previous versions …the very Classicist way, the Forsterian way…. Some of those writers I admired very much, but my view was, that’s not the place I know. The place I knew was urban India, not rural India. The question is how do you write a novel that feels like that place, feels like Bombay in the fifties? Crowded, noisy, excessive, sensually…[thinks]…extreme, etc. I was trying to create a different aesthetic of how India should be written about, but which was not an aesthetic by itself but one which seems to reflect
more accurately what I saw and heard and smelt in the streets of the cities. It was a completely metropolitan idea of India." That different aesthetic culminated in ‘Midnight’s Children’, producing a quintessentially un-Forsterian notion of India full of characters with uncanny and superhuman abilities and described in a vocabulary that defies every established norm of polished grammar. Rushdie is not only a linguistic juggler par excellence but also a shrewd cultural critic, although he denies having any "critical model" for that seems "too worked out". This is not the first time he has been to Ireland. He is a friend of Bono’s from previous visits. On being particularly asked about another novel he wrote, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, and its connection with U2, he says he had shown the manuscripts to Bono. "I had shown it to Bono…and as a result he found that there’s a lyric in the novel which is of a non-existent imaginary song called, ‘The Ground Beneath Her Feet’ which the main character writes. And he rang me up and he said ‘I’ve written this tune’ [laughs] ‘And I think it’s quite good’." For a researcher who is always on the look-out for Irish-Indian connections, like I am, the miracle of an Indian writer writing a novel and being read by an Irish rock legend who turned it into a song was always fascinating. But it was more so coming straight from Salman Rushdie. "And now I can’t be sure of anything/Black is white and cold is heat/ For what I worshipped stole my love away/ It was the ground beneath her feet/ It was the ground beneath her feet." I remember that he had quipped that U2 owed it to him to rename itself as U2 + 1 or better still Me2! I have ten or so precious minutes with Rushdie in a noisy room in the G.M.B. with what at the time seemed like a zillion voices and mobile phones in the background. It is the most unhospitable setting for an interview that I could imagine but something tells me that this man cannot be ruffled easily and his description of Indian experiences is at once poignant and humorous. We were not so much a sub-continent but subcondiment, as one of his characters from the novel would say, pointing to the spice trade that brought the eversuffering English (from a bland diet) to India. Such Rushdisms are now familiar but they form an essential part of the Rushdie phenomenon; an ability to portray humorously what could otherwise very easily turn the other way. One can see that wit in his eyes when he sits across from you but it is as clear when he speaks later in the auditorium to a very large, and very satisfied, audience.
13th April 2004
About that Guinness tune Helen Collins fills you in on the man and the music behind the latest Guinness advert.
rom the modest beginnings of busking on Grafton Street to becoming a very successful musician, Mic Christopher’s career went from strength to strength. Tragically the singer died from a head injury received while touring in Holland in November 2001. It was during his five years as a busker that he met the many people with whom he would later form bands and record many songs. In 1990 he formed a group called ‘The Mary Janes’ with fellow busker and former ‘Kila’ bassist Karl Odlum, drummer Steven Hogan and guitarist Simon Good. Over the years the line-up of ‘The Mary Janes’ changed. Their first album ‘Bored of Their Laughing’ was recorded after Steven left. In 1994 the group got a publishing deal with Warner Chappell. 1996 saw Mark Stanley joining the band, as they needed a drummer. Their second album ‘Sham’ was recorded in 1998.
“Mic died a handsome young rover, he left no debts and no anger, just a lot of great memories and beautiful songs.” Glen Hansard
In 1999 ‘The Mary Janes’ split and Mic began a solo tour in Australia. Tragically Mic died before he had the chance to complete his debut solo album ‘Skylarkin’ ’. However, friends and family have managed to complete the album in his memory, just as he had intended it to be. The ‘Skylarkin’’ album has recently shot back into the charts thanks to becoming the soundtrack to Guinness’ latest ‘Quarrel’ advertising campaign. ‘Heyday’ is an emotional, yet up-beat, catchy tune which is my favourite of all Mic Christopher’s songs. The album is, on the whole, really good but I found it a bit repetitive. Some of the songs sound so alike that I managed to sing the tune and words of ‘Heyday’ along with a few of them. His music reminds me of ‘Badly Drawn Boy’; an observation and certainly not a criticism. Despite the fact that some of the tunes may be a tad repetitive, the lyrics are really worth listening to. The words in ‘Daydreamin’’ are a demonstration of Mic’s own philosophy– ‘Why should we wait For things we want in life When we can just go out and find them
The 24 hour party people Jeremy Strawson chats with the directors of the Players 24 Hour show 2004.
etween the hours of 10am on the morning of Friday 2nd April, and 10pm on the evening of Saturday the 3rd of April, you might have achieved several things. You might have enjoyed two long lieins, one boozy lunch or a bust up with a mate over who bought the last drink. Perhaps you were writing the fastest seven thousand words for a Monday morning essay deadline that you thought was humanly possible. Whatever you did, it wasn’t nearly as action packed and rewarding as this year’s DU Players’ 24 Hour Musical, ‘Girls and Boys’. Dictaphone in hand, I caught up with the musical’s four directors (Louise White, Tim Walker, Larry Ryan and Chris Potter) on Saturday night over an outside-thepub cigarette: TW: So what d’you want us to do? Talk about the musical? TNT: Yeah, you know, something like that…
24 hour party girls
LR: Well, we’ve just finished the 24 Hour Musical which is a show that is auditioned, rehearsed and put on in 24 hours – TW: You do it in two 12 hour stints: one yesterday (Friday 2nd) and one today. TNT: And it’s for charity? LW: Yep, it was for MS Ireland, the Multiple Sclerosis charity. I think we raised over one and a half thousand euro – LR: That’s right yeah. TNT: Congratulations. TW: Thank you. LW: …what the boys aren’t telling you is that they did it to score hot girls – CP: Hey hey, that’s hardly fair… I saw you eyeing up one of our leading men. LW: No way! TW: Yeah you were. LR: C’mon, can we hurry up? I’m freezing. I want to get back to chatting to that blonde girl. CP: Who is she? Is she a friend of yours? LR: No, she’s TW: Ok, ok… Usually the 24 Hour Musical is a well-known show – last year it was ‘Cabaret’ and the year
And stop dreaming our lives away.’ According to his friends, Mic was ambitious and always had high hopes. His determination got him far in the music business and were it not for his untimely death he would no doubt have gone far. ‘Skylarkin’’ is an optimistic album which displays Mic Christopher’s talent. An article by his good friend Glen Hansard (from ‘The Frames’) sums it all up: ‘Mic died a handsome young rover, he left no debts and no anger, just a lot of great memories and beautiful songs and a friendship that will never diminish. He lived as a poet and died as one. And I will never fear death again because I know when it’s my time, my friend will be waiting to show me around. We saw too much beauty to be cynical, felt too much joy to be dismissive, climbed too many mountains to be quitters, kissed too many girls to be deceivers, saw too many sunrises not to be believers, broke too many strings to be pros and gave too much love to be concerned where it goes…’ ‘Skylarkin’’ is an album which will appeal to almost anyone, no matter what kind of music you are into. You can listen to the catchy tunes or focus on the gripping lyrics; either way this is an album worth having.
before, ‘Guys and Dolls’. This year a group of us got together and thought that we’d write our own, so we wrote Girls and Boys, A ‘BritpOpera’, which was a West Side Story/Romeo and Juliet rip-off set against the backdrop of England in 1996. LR: …with all the songs from the era: Blur, Oasis, Supergrass… so on… TNT: Well it was really fantastic, I really enjoyed it. Well done. TW: You’re just saying that ‘cause Lu’s touching your thigh. TNT: No no no, not at all. No, it was really good, really impressive for 24 hours and like, a really funny script. Looked as though people had fun. LW: Yeah, everyone involved was great – the actors all worked so hard, our band were just so slick and our choreographers were brilliant. LR: Not to mention hot. LW: I mean just everyone – our producers, techs, stage manager… The thing with doing a show like this in 24 hours is that you get people from all around college involved who wouldn’t normally be, combined with those who are really experienced. Are you single? TNT: Sorry? CP: Can we go inside? It’s very cold, and all I can think about is warming myself up with a nice looking lady. Now listen to me Larry, this blonde girl…
13th April 2004
Kate Pruce discusses her year on exhange from Trinity in Paris.
s an English literature student, the idea of spending a year in France may not be the most obvious one. I certainly got some strange looks when I told people I was in Paris to study English! I would then have to launch into a justification of my decision to leave the cosy campus of Trinity in order to throw myself into the unknown that was Paris, having not studied French since school. The justification went something like this: Trinity has places available each year for English lit students to study abroad, including several in Paris. Presented with the opportunity to spend my third year strolling along the Seine, hanging out in Parisian cafes and having croissants for breakfast every morning, fresh from the local boulangerie, I just couldn’t resist. There was also the added bonus of being able to study through English, which was lucky because when I first
arrived my French was certainly not of a standard to begin discussing the finer points of Joyce, Woolf and the like. Of course this was the cause of further disbelieving looks and a general response of ‘what’s the point of that’? Well, the point was that although my classes were in English, I was able to use my spare time to brush up on my French. At least, that was the idea. The reality was that French students are extremely difficult to make friends with - a sweeping generalization, I know, but also true as my fellow Erasmus students will undoubtedly testify. In fact, the Erasmus experience is great for reinforcing all those cultural stereotypes, you find out that some of them do have basis in fact. It doesn’t help that ‘social life’ is a virtually unknown concept in French universities. For a start there are no societies, which would be the ideal place to mix with the locals. College consists of a combination of class and library. Between each class there is a stream of students rushing outside for yet another cigarette break (once again the stereotype is true). As a non-smoker I was at a serious disad-
vantage in this social interaction, with so many people smoking so furiously at one time it was impossible to get within about five feet of a group without nearly choking to death, so it was difficult to take part. And the idea of going for a drink in the evening, even a quiet pint, seemed to be pretty much unheard of. I had more luck meeting other Erasmus students, those in the same situation as me, and I have to admit I spent a lot of time with Trinity friends who were also in Paris and much English was spoken by all! It certainly helped having familiar faces around, particularly coping with the experience of a different culture, and believe me the French culture is very different! Don’t even get me started on the bureaucracy. Well, now I’ve started I might as well finish. As a warning to those considering doing Erasmus in the future, settling in is hell. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but in my first few weeks in Paris I felt like everyone had a personal vendetta against me, doing their best to deliberately put obstacles in my way for even the simplest thing. For example, joining the gym. I was told I
needed a medical certificate to prove I was fit to do sport. In order to get this precious piece of paper I had to make an appointment at a random hospital, hidden somewhere behind Gare du Nord, and I had to wait a week for it. When I finally got there the doctor asked me if I had done much sport during the previous year. I said ‘yes’, he immediately signed the form and that was it. I have to say, I was impressed by his thoroughness. But once I had opened a bank account, made sure that my course choices was going to give me the right number of ECTS credits etc, I was all set. Paris is a great city and I had an amazing year, despite the impression I might have given from my rant. I certainly found comfort in those warm croissants, pain au chocolats and baguettes that were so readily available. And I never got over the feeling of awe I experienced from walking around such a beautiful city steeped in so much history. Studying abroad is a fantastic experience: if you can cope with some strange looks along the way then take the plunge!
Should you study abroad? Two students tell all Lisa McGonigle remembers her year on exchange in lovely Aberdeen.
hen people ask me where I spent my year abroad, they anticipate the glitz and glamour of the French Riviera or the chic sophistication of Switzerland. My reply of "Aberdeen" is generally met with muffled coughs of embarrassment, baffled silences and a general inference of "why?" The perceived inferiority of North East Scotland is entirely unjustified. Granted, the main industries may be oil and fishing which, coupled with the bitter Aberdonian winter, do not lend themselves to artistic endeavour. But Dublin is a city where – and no doubt I am throwing myself to the lions in suggesting this – style frequently takes precedence over substance, and after two years in the epicentre of such histrionics I needed a respite. I’m not trying to shackle together such disparate terms as "pretentious" and "Arts block" but let’s just say Aberdeen was a welcome relief. For a city of 200,000 people, Aberdeen attracts an astonishing volume of old-skool hip-hop artists much better than that gangsta shite that gets peddled nowadays. I admit
The elegance of Paris or the isolation of Grampian Aberdeen? to having bling tendencies, and have been known to slip phrases such as ‘killing it’ and ‘steez’ into my everyday parlance. I even own a Ghetto Fabulous coat, a sumptuous creation of purple suede and fur that begs the question: ‘Who’s your daddy?’ Thus one of the highlights of the year was the appearance of seminal hip-hop pioneer of the early 80s, Grandmaster Flash. We reasoned that it was an "early show" because, God love him, Flash would be getting on in years now and therefore needed a good night’s sleep. Out strutted an unsmil-
ing, Kangol-wearing, muscular figure who oozed cool, embodied charisma and commanded respect with his sheer physicality. Similarly, when I found out Jazzy Jeff (he of Fresh Prince fame) was coming to the ‘Deen I genuinely couldn’t speak with awe and Graeme, my trusty henchman, had to painstakingly decipher my dribbling "Jaa…Jaaa…Jaaazzz". There is also that quaint Scottish dance form which consists of wildly hopping and flailing your arms. I refer here, of course, to drum’n’bass. I unwittingly became a participant in
Jungle Nation because of a drink known to the select few as Bullshock. It amazes me that a nation which does not allow red lemonade has no compunctions in allowing this concoction, which contains equal proportions of Red Bull and Aftershock. Bullshock is not for the faint of liver and has dramatic effects. It left me with eyes like saucers, unable to sleep for days and churning out college work in a stream-of-consciousness trance. My rate of speech increased and I sounded like a gabbling hummingbird - absolutely incomprehensible. I really was bouncing off the walls, and the only solution to this excess of energy seemed to be to pogo up and down for four hours, i.e. go to a drum’n’bass club. However, the halcyon days of Bullshock did not last long, and after one too many nights I’ll never quite remember I renounced my evil ways and became the model of sobriety and temperance that stands before you today. Plus alcohol was too darn expensive. I have a – quite literally – crippling addiction to snowboarding (you should see my scars), which siphoned off any available funds and left me living hand-to-mouth. Scottish snowboarding may not be as illustrious as its Alpine counterpart, and is more a case of slush, rocks, and heather, but this did not affect my devotion to the Continued>
entertainment 13th April 2004
pop in to the National Gallery for a quick visit. Again, admission is free, but only to the permanent collection. There are a lot of portraits here, which I generally find as interesting as a retired couple’s holiday photos. However, if you manage to get through these (you could, like me, run past them to get through them more quickly) there is a great room with works by modern Irish artists, which I found to be surprisingly entertaining, especially the portrait of Gay Byrne. If you are in the mood for a bit of a walk, you could head down to Parnell square, which is home to both the Irish Writers’ museum and the Hugh Lane gallery. The Irish Writers’ museum charges E5.25 for students, with which you also get an audioguide. Being an intrepid journalist, I didn’t have to pay. Yet, had I paid, I would’ve been mighty peeved. The museum, on top of being about the size of your average flat, exhibits the possessions of complete randomers. I say this with some authority because, having read a book once, I know the names of a few writers. I went to this museum with a remarkably well-read English student, and between the two of use we had heard of about 20% of the writers. I wouldn’t recommend a visit, unless you have a penchant for feeling ripped off (how wonderful Ireland must be for those freaks who do). The Hugh Lane (again free) was an experience. The entire interior looks and feels like a Stanley Kubrick film (think wide angled shots, unnerving symmetry, and lots of whooshing noises). The first few rooms are great: full of interesting, thought provoking and visually stimulating pieces. The further you go from the front door, the more ‘modern’ (read: dire) the art gets, the final room being filled with a whole bunch of crap, all entitled on variations of the ‘blank canvas no.17’
theme. The Francis Bacon studio is at the very back of the gallery. This wasn’t too bad, he could’ve tidied up every once in a while, but apart from that it was quite interesting. After all that art, I took a trip Dublin Castle (E2 for the tour) and to the Chester Beatty library (free). It’s probably not the best time to be going to Dublin castle as a large portion of it is closed due to the European presidency (damn Europeans! What have they ever done for us, eh?). The tour usually takes about an hour, but at present part of the tour is substituted with a video. The tour guides all seem really friendly, and my tour was very informative and quite amusing. The Chester Beatty library is in the western corner of the Dublin castle complex. I can’t understand how it remains a relatively unknown museum; I found it amazing. It houses the collection of Chester Beatty, a benevolent old soul who bequeathed his entire collection of Eastern and Middle Eastern pieces of art to the Irish state. This collection, which is both priceless and startlingly vast, is well worth a visit, even if you are a fellow sufferer of museum fatigue. All the above mentioned museums pale in comparison to the ‘Heads in jars’ museum located on Merrion St., between the National Gallery and the Dáil. On entering this museum (the National History Museum), you feel as if you’ve walked into the 19th century; it’s musty, dusty, cluttered and endlessly interesting - everything a museum should be. The majority of the exhibits are either stuffed or in jars (look out for the ‘stuffed domestic cat – acquired 1912’). I would urge everyone to go, it cured me of my museum fatigue; I got kicked out, but this time because the place was closing. On the issue of closing: the National Gallery, Archaeology and History, Natural History and Hugh Lane are closed on Mondays. The majority are open from 10h – 17h, and have reduced hours on a Sunday, usually 14h – 17h.
tainly been left loath to spend money on anything except the bare essentials, i.e., food, clothing, snowboarding. Apart from going on the wagon, in some hideous parody of Mrs Doyle I continuously foisted cups of tea on my flatmates, proving that you can take the girl out of Dublin etc etc. I have a peculiar love-hate relationship with Ireland, loathing it whilst here but once I leave, while far from being a roaring patriot, am nonetheless absolutely obsessed with it. This
"Road to Damascus" conversion manifested itself in that while I had previously dismissed Irish literature as misery, mud and modernism, I’ve somehow ended up taking not one, not two, but three courses on the subject this year. Naturally I am keen to leave Ireland as soon as possible. When – with the grace of God and the Postgraduate Registry - I return to Aberdeen, I shall emerge from the plane and kiss, Il Papa like, the blessed tarmac. It’ll be nice to get back.
Anyone for the museums? Kevin Byrne wanders the dusty corridors of our ancestry searching for... a way out.
ome people appreciate the exhibits in museums, others appreciate the fact that they are appreciating; I fall under the latter. In museums, my brain only allows me 40 minutes to appreciate appreciating, in the 41st minute I get restless, in the 42nd I stamp my feet, in the 43rd I get violent, in the early seconds of the 44th I get thrown out. I suffer from a common affliction - museum fatigue syndrome. Being far too self-assured to doubt my own ability to appreciate culture, I started to question museums. Are they just a complete waste of time and space? Would the government do better to invest in healthcare or education (now there’s a crazy thought), than to pump countless millions into national museums? After all aren’t they simply emporiums of old junk, and warehouses for the hand-medowns of super-rich old people? Not being one to jump to conclusions, I decided to check out a few of Dublin’s museums and galleries. My first destination was the National Museum of Archaeology and History, on Kildare St. As with all branches of the National Museum of Ireland, admission is free. This museum exhibits most of the country’s archaeological treasures, the bulk of which appear to be made of very shiny gold. It also houses a wonderfully cluttered ‘what we managed to steal from Ancient Egypt’ exhibit, which is well worth a look. For those of you who fancy a look at some of the many guns that featured in our history, there is a well-presented section devoted to the Irish Independence movement. Whilst in the area, you should really
cause. Despite a string of increasingly worse part-time jobs, I became a subsistence student and ‘lunch’ became a forgotten concept. At one stage I even dreamt of steak. Whilst the Freudians may wish to deconstruct this lust for red meat, I am personally inclined to believe it was attributable to the fact that I was joylessly eating my way through a veritable EU pasta mountain. I don’t buy into the myth of the shrewd Scotch character, nor was I exactly starving in a garret for my art, but I’ve cer-
“The perceived inferiority of North East Scotland is actually quite unjustified.”