Sunday 21 January 2018

I'VE BEEN ABUSED AND ACCUSED. BOTH ARE HORRIFIC.



At the time it didn’t feel like abuse. Yes, there was a clandestine cloak over the event, in the shape of the pump shed behind the school pool, but to me and my mate, more than anything, it just felt exciting.

Well, that’s what I thought at the time, yet invisible to my teenage consciousness, deep innate within me, a moral code governed my memory.
 

Hence there I was, la...la...la... driving the backroads of Ballygonefishing a few years ago, when my brain decided that after 40 years, the time had come to return that event to my life.
 

Oh yeh, that happened.
 

Yeh?
 

Blimey.
 

We were 13 year-old boys, in our final year at Prep School, and I was flying high: Patrol Leader, Dormitory Prefect, almost top of the class, loaded with friends and having fun.
 

Our boy bodies were changing. We never met any girls, and knew all there was to know about sex, as long it was between locusts.
 

You needed no experience to teach at private English schools.The only requirement was an Oxbridge degree, to placate paying parents, so Prep and Public schools were magnets for sexual predators.
 

He was young, charismatic and as popular with the boys as a Master was permitted to be. He asked me and my mate if we’d ever fooled around, and then he took us to that pump shed and showed us photos of his ejaculation.
 

We’d never even seen an erect mature penis, so were grateful to him for contributing to our wholly inadequate sex education. There was no physical contact and although it evidently had to remain a secret, I did not feel wronged.
 

I remember well the emotional, physical and verbal abuse we suffered from teachers on a daily basis. Yet, of its own accord, my brain erased all memory of the photos from my life for 40 years. 

Had I felt traumatised at the time I’d understand. For me it proves we have an innate sense of right and wrong, an in-built ethos that precludes the necessity of artificial religious codes.
 

Several years ago I was walking down Taylor’s Hill, ushering a group of teenage girls back to their clubhouse. I’d only been working with this group for a couple of weeks, and things had not been going well.
 

For years the club had been run by a young woman from the local community. All the girls loved her, so when they saw the verbal aggression and antipathy she showed towards me, the teenagers picked up on it.
 

Our group of 15 girls were spread out over 20 yards of pavement, their long-term leader at the front, with me a good five yards behind the last girl.
 

“Charlie touched me! Charlie touched me, miss!”
 

Various screams of shock and amusement from the other girls.
 

After 8 years as a youth worker I’d learned not to get sucked in. I literally bit my lip, to stop myself protesting “No I didn't!” out loud. 
Any verbal exchange would prove fatal.
 

Instead I waited for my colleague at the front to respond.
 

Not a single word came.
 

As we walked down the hill the girl continued to shout that I’d touched her.
Continuing my silence I looked down towards Galway and saw my life here crumble in an instant. This life I loved, gone: obliterated by a whimsical teen.
 

This is a small place. Innocent or guilty, once the word is out, you’re screwed. Gossip will create terrible fictions. Friends will become erstwhile. Jobs will disappear. I’d have to move. A refugee from falsehood.
 

My silence continued, and gradually my accuser failed to remove the laughter from her voice. At no time did a word of support emanate from the person I was supposed to be working with.
 

As soon as they were back in the clubhouse I walked home, called my boss and resigned. I did not feel safe in my workplace.
 

You could say I’m lucky. My abuse was not physical, although the mental repercussions are still becoming clear. A year after that exposure I was bottom of the class, friendless and three stone heavier. 

In the past I put that down to the fact that I didn’t fit into the mould of English Public Schools, which exist only to create Oxbridge candidates. Uninterested in that future, I felt discarded; expendable. 

Now I wonder.
 

The feeling of being wrongly accused was utterly terrifying.
 

What an indictment of our culture, that it takes Oprah to lead the charge, after society deems the crimes of the Church and the boasts of the US President insufficient to change behaviours.
 

Now we hear talk of a backlash, of men hitting back against women. After centuries of the physical torture endured by women at the hands of men, even the word feels inappropriate.
 

I have written in the past about my disappointment with the way some women have abused their hard won power. Inevitably attacking men, they use the same sexist language that they battled to eradicate, while displaying attitudes they previously claimed to abhor; but equally, no, this is not the time for a backlash.
 

It’ll never be time for that.
 

If there is to be a dreadful avalanche of accusations then we must adhere to due process. I know how it feels to be abused, and I know how it feels to be wrongly accused. 

Vigilantes are not the answer, but neither is a backlash.
 

Revolutions have a horrible habit of leaving behind losers. Hopefully, as the abused come forward and society takes note, respects them and convicts their abusers, women will gradually grow to trust the billions of good guys out here, who are appalled yet still hated and feared.
 

We’re on the same side, so let’s talk less of backlashes and more of heartfelt mutual respect.
©Charlie Adley
11.01.2018.

Sunday 14 January 2018

This British Bulldogs's got Brexit Flu!




Holy bloated bedbugs, Batman! I’m not under the duvet, I’m slammed against the mattress. 

Thankfully it’s been ages since the flu and I met up, so I’d forgotten how crushing this feeling is.
 

Unable to sleep for the last 48 hours, I’m dazed, incoherent and immobile. This bastard bug has me floored me, damaging my body from top to bottom. My head hurts, but you'd expect that. My toes are cramping weirdly. I’ve a rash breaking out over half of my body and a pain in my gut like I was stabbed with a stiletto.
 

My teeth are jangling and aching and in my middle, even my bloomin’ dangly boy-bit baubles are  - Ouch! Ohh! - tender and sore.
 

Stay warm, they say. Keep an even temperature and drink fluids all the time, they say. You have to flush your kidneys, to rid yourself of all the toxins, they say, which is all well and good, but these morsels of advice don’t go well together.
 

I’m drinking water by the gallon, but as a result I need to go to the loo every half an hour, which means leaving the warm cosy environment of my sick bed. Trouble is, on the way I go through a temperature change that brings out of me explosive sneezing fits.
 

I can’t help the fact that, at the best of times, I sneeze very loudly, and with the backing of this virus it now sounds like I've smuggled several tiny piglets into the bathroom, where I'm systematically strangling them.
 

In fact the only laugh I’ve had out of this illness so far was when the Snapper told me that one of my sneezes, amplified by the echoey bathroom walls, gave Lady Dog such a shock she fell off the sofa.
 

As the fever first hit, Storm Eleanor was raging outside, offering a hellish and apt soundtrack to my suffering. However, despite all my whingeing, I’ve not had it as bad as herself.
 

December was a difficult and demoralising month in the Adley cave, with obstacles to ambition appearing suddenly, constantly and randomly. My usually endless resolve and boundless optimism were already starting to fail me when, a week before Christmas, the Snapper came down with her first bout of flu.
 

Burning chest coughs and high fever kept her bed-bound for a week. Despite my own deteriorating health, I had to keep going, as our lovely doggie needs to be taken out for walks, peepers and poopers. 

Everyone took great pleasure in informing me that we are the bosses and the dog’s needs come second, but when you can you tell that to the dog’s bladder and bowels, let me know!


I knew I was running out of steam when I managed to prang my poor car’s rear offside wing three times in three different supermarket car parks on the same wretched morning. The signs were there, but I couldn't be ill.
 

Not while she was.
 

True to Christmas Miracle form, herself became well again, and we enjoyed two days of communal festive revelry. Then on Stephens’s Day (Boxing Day in this house) she fell ill once more, this time with what I suspect was the Australian Flu.
 

I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice to say she shrank and shrank, until I was really worried about her.
 

Then, on New Year’s Eve, it finally took control of my systems. Walking Lady Dog, I felt as if I was tripping out. Lady sensed something was up, as I tried not to fall over. She walked very slowly, looking up at me, as if to say
 

“Go to bed, you fool!”
 

Left with no choice but to seek reinforcements, I abandoned my stoic post on the Bridge and picked up my heroic friend Whispering Blue. A brave and loyal man, willing to risk his own health to help others, he stayed a week, looking after the dog as we looked after ourselves. With his arrival I could let go and finally allow myself to be ill.
 

I am, in fact, writing this in bed, a trembling snotball of a man.
 

It’s a rare experience that offers us nothing, and this illness has taught me a lot. All those vital things I was stressing about? They don’t matter any more. 
The tiny matter of our citizenship applications will have to wait. The chase for that massive payment is on the back burner, until I stop burning. Things I considered most urgent have been wholly let go.
 

“Remember that, Adley!” I tell myself, as I squash an ant strolling over my bedroom floor. 

Hoovering?
Cleaning?
No chance.
 

Thankfully this is not (yet!) anything like as bad as the Beijing flu that nearly killed me in 1993. I’m also grateful that I haven’t had the gastric nasties that came with her bout of Aussie flu.
 

Seems like this British Bulldog has got full-on Brexit flu. None of yer Johnny Foreigner bugs for me: just the good old-fashioned traditional cold, cough and fever, accompanied by an absence of energy that feels alien and utterly dispiriting.
 

A few months ago the Doctor decided that as I’d never presented myself with flu at his surgery, I didn't need a vaccination.
 

Now I wish I’d pointed out that I’d never go to the doctor with a flu virus, as there's nothing he can do, and yes please, stick me with your needle.
 

Some believe vaccinations only make things worse, encouraging viruses to mutate and disguise themselves, so that our immune systems cannot spot them.
 

It’s all very humbling. There’s nothing medical science can do to cure these viruses, and no war has killed more people than the flu.
 

Excuse me: I’m off to the loo to impersonate some more piglet murders.
 

Stay well!
 

©Charlie Adley
03.01.2018

Sunday 7 January 2018

A fine breakfast starts a good year?

Delighted to be back working with the inspired Allan Cavanagh of 
Caricatures Ireland (caricatures-ireland.com/blog/)
Feels like the band's back together again.


There’s no better way to start the day and this new year than with a fine breakfast, and I’m not talking about a healthy breakfast. Much as I love my weekday porridge or yoghourt, fruit and muesli, everyone deserves a little treat, so every Saturday I enjoy taking myself out for a Full Irish.
 

Of course I’m aware that rashers, bangers and thick rings of black and white do my body no good whatsoever, but for some bizarre reason the pleasure I incur from the entire experience replenishes my soul beyond reasonable expectation.
 

Sitting in peace and quiet, taking my time, perusing the lies and nonsense written about the Beautiful Game on the back pages of red top tabloids: it all puts a smile on my face.
 

As a self-employed person it’s really important I create one real day off each week. That day starts with this breakfast, and when everything goes right, I can import enough bonhomie and relaxedness to turn into a half decent human being for the entirety of the following week.
 

Over the years I’ve built in my head what others might consider a rather sad list of ingredients to make the experience perfect. 

Spare me your witty accusations of First World Problems. That’s where we live, and anyway, there’s way more to this than food.
 

If I go to the same place on a regular basis, I’d like to be treated like a regular. They don’t have to know my name or even what I want to eat, but a smile of recognition goes a long way.
 

In the Full Irish there comes a variety of hot meaty ingredients that require  two eggs to spread the flavours and mix the tastes around.
 

One egg just won’t do, so if that’s all the menu offers, I ask for another.
 

Then there’s the matter of butter and marmalade: are they on the table, or will I have to ask for them? 

Oh and please don’t be bringing me steaming hot toast sitting on top of melting butter packs.
 

At this stage you could be forgiven for thinking that I’m a right little pain in the arse as a customer, but you’re wrong. I’ve spent my youth working in shops, bars and restaurants, and am incredibly grateful that somebody has come to work on my day off.
 

For years, after I moved out of the city, I went to a pub in a nearby town. 
Each week I’d have to ask for an extra egg, and a little later try to catch the waiter’s eye to see if I could please have some marmalade, but the place was nice, and the staff friendly.
 

Then it changed hands and I knew none of the faces, and more to the point, they didn’t know mine. Up to then the breakfast had been €8.50, so I could leave a tenner and know that I’d paid a decent tip.
 

Then the new manager said “€9.50 with the extra egg!”
 

I looked at her and handed over the tenner, knowing that I’d left an inadequate tip, mostly because she’d just charged me a whole euro for an egg.
 

She also lost a customer, as the next week I visited another pub nearby and discovered breakfast nirvana.
 

The smell of woodsmoke doesn’t even appear on my sad little brekkie wish list, but its calming effect was most welcome as I walked through the door.
 

Two eggs on the plate, butter and marmalade on the table, lovely smiley staff and an all round perfect experience, with enough price room under the tenner for a good tip.
 

After a couple of weeks the waitress smiled at me as I walked in, asking if I wanted 'my usual.'
 

Lovely!
 

Maybe it’s something to do with a blow-in’s desire to belong, this neediness of mine. Or maybe it’s just the passive delight of enjoying good service.
 

Did I say good? I meant excellent, as on the second or third occasion that my friend Whispering Blue accompanied me, the same waitress told him he wanted the same as me, but with coffee, and she was right.
 

She took pleasure in being brilliant at her job and we both appreciated it, as we did the food.
 

As I sipped the hot strong tea my mind drifted off to the last time I found a place that ticked all my breakfast boxes, long ago in Spud Murphy’s cafe on Dominick Street.
 

Just back from failure in America, I wrote in this colyoom about how much I’d enjoyed my breakfast in that cafe, and to my surprise and delight, the manager printed it out, laminated it and stuck it on the cafe wall.
 

For months afterwards he refused to take money off me for breakfast. He had no idea how profoundly his recognition and generosity affected me, at a time when I so wanted to feel utterly back home.
 

Nothing survives save change, and the great waitress is gone. 
I miss you, Katie!

Now they pass me a menu; a stranger once more. Not only that, the prices have gone up.
 

I'll get over it, because it's my place, even if they don't know that any more. I won’t stop going there, so it looks like I’ve just got to get over myself and accept that my Full Irish Experience now costs €11.00 with tip.
 

At this point I need to throw in an honourable mention for PJ at the Galway Arms, who opens on the stroke of 9:00 and offers an honest hot feed for €8.50 (or €8.75?), accompanied by his extraordinary vocals.
 

I mention the time because many places that advertise All Day Breakfasts don’t start serving ’til 11:00. If I waited until then, I’d be such a grumpy bastard I wouldn’t dare inflict myself upon the public.
 

No, I’ll stick to my favourite place, and take the price punches. 

They make me feel welcome, bring me copious amounts of tea and hot food and then leave me in peace. 

What more can a man ask for?


©Charlie Adley
31.12.2017.



Sunday 31 December 2017

DON’T BELIEVE THE FAKE DV AWARDS 2017!



Dwaaarlings, luvvies, leddeeez an’ gennellmen! Good evening good morning good afternoon! Welcome, bienvenue and fáilte to the Fake DV Awards 2017!
 

As the world trembles under an orange shadow, up has become down and truth a distant memory, so let’s get the show under way with the Bill Clinton I Did Not Have Sexual Relations With That Woman DV for being guilty as hell and not giving a damn, which this year goes to the despicable self-interested scum known as Republican politicians in Washington DC.
 

These people could, in effect, save the world, but rather than resist the Orange, they hung back in their own dark shadows, waiting until they could pass a tax law that secures their place in the dollar drenched edge of the desert that is the American economy. In the process they added trillions to the US national debt and opened up the Arctic for drilling.
 

Shame on them, and talking of shame, The Is That Steve Bannon In Your Pocket Or Is It Just Megadata? DV for selling your soul for power goes to Theresa May, who followed a disastrous UK general elections with a vile power-grab deal with the DUP. Involving over a billion quid, its success relies wholly on the ignorance of the English public to all matters Irish.
 

Moving to the Middle East and the Charlie Haughey Jeeze Lads Is That What Guns Look Like? DV goes to the security guards at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport.
 

Everyone who flies out of Israel is interviewed person to person in the terminal by a security expert. If you pass that they don’t care what you take on the plane.
 

As I started to remove my jacket before going through the X-Ray machines, the security guy yelled over:


“Hey! You can leave all your clothes on, and your shoes! You can bring your water as well. We are looking for guns, bullets and bombs, not belts, boots and bottles!”
 

Moving to Europe now, and the Don’t Go Upsetting Those Nice Folk At Apple About Tax Avoidance DV for allowing power to take over without worrying your tiny head about boring stuff like justice goes to the EU, who sat back and watched the government of a member state forcibly close down a free election called by a devolved government. 

We sat and watched the scenes in Catalunya agape, as ballot boxes were destroyed and politicians arrested for participating in a democratic process.
 

Made you proud to call yourself European, didn’t it?
No? 


Well maybe Ireland should call Article 50 too, and seek their own Canadian Model, which seamlessly leads us into the Ronnie Reagan Loves Maggie Thatcher DV for politicians getting all luvvy duvvy in public, which this year is awarded to the yukky social media bromance between Leo Varadkar and Justin Trudeau.
 

As the world burned, these two young leaders pontificated about the colour of their socks on Twitter.
 

Pass me that fiddle, Nero.
 

Before we head to Ireland for local and national awards, we have the honour of offering a DV Lifetime Fellowship to the Orange himself.
 

In one short year he has managed to unify Christians and Muslims in disgust. Europe has never been more united against anything. In my native country, both Corbyn and May have expressed in public their revulsion at his methods. 

Outside of the US Rust Belt and Brexiteers’ backsides, we all stand together, as one species, rejecting his malevolence.
 

Talking of standing together, police ranks have had a great year. A lone Garda nearly bought down the government.
 

Not sure Sgt. Maurice McCabe would see it like that, but his bravery has exposed the depth of corruption and degradation at the rotten core of the Irish Establishment.
 

Now for some metaphysical musings on numbers: their appearance and disappearance. The 2017 Where Exactly Are These Weapons Of Mass Destruction, Tony? DV for stretching the truth beyond bounds of reason goes to the Garda Siochana. 

After enquiries into breath test numbers, a Garda spokesperson revealed that in some cases the Gardai were “Making up the test numbers,” and in other cases merely “exaggerating the numbers.”
 

And the difference between those would be…?
 

Would that be two offences or just the one, yer honour?
 

Finally we come to the streets and fields of Galway city and county, where 2017 has seen famous victories. This year’s Jack Charlton DV for Pure Plastic Paddy behaviour is awarded to your colyoomist.
 

Even though I cannot lay claim to the pride that true Galwegians feel, I must confess that tears tumbled, as I watched the families, the little girls and mums waving flags and literally jumping for joy, as they celebrated Galway's victory in the All-Ireland.
 

Then there came the massive win for Liam Mellows. Apologies to colyoomistas in Gort, but for weeks there was a buzz around Galway city that made life joyful.
 

Last but not least comes the Oh Are There Really Five Exits On That Roundabout? DV for total local incompetence,  goes to Galway council’s plan to charge for Sunday parking. 

They sent workers out to change hundreds of signs and recalibrate payment machines around the city ... and then they changed their minds and sent workers out to put tape over the bottom of the new signs ... and then they decided that not all of them should change … and right now I have no idea what the situation is, and I’m pretty damn sure the council don’t either.
 

Now that your minds are lost to bewilderment, I leave you perfectly prepared for life in 2018. Happy New Year!

©Charlie Adley
17.12.2017.

Sunday 24 December 2017

YOU DON'T GIVE A DOG - YOU BUY A DOG A HOME!


Sticks! More sticks!

“There’s a parcel for you in the newsroom. Will I send it to you?”
“No, thanks, I’m in town on Monday. I’ll pick it up.”
 

Hmmm, wonder what that is. Over the decades I’ve been sent many things by readers: some delightful, others disgusting.
 

Possibly a fair reflection of these colyooms.
 

It’s a tiny little present, perfectly wrapped with scarlet paper and a bow, which reveals a yellow box, inside which lies a tea bag.
 

Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to send me a tea bag.
 

Perhaps they find my blather boring, and have contrived to liven up Double Vision with a dose of magic mushrooms.
 

Ah, there, a yellow tag at the end of the attached string, with #PawsForThought printed in black.
 

Now I know what we’re dealing with. This is the Dog’s Trust campaign.
 

What is it with dog’s charities and creative marketing? This time last year I received another cute parcel, inside which was a slip of paper printed #stopkeepingmum, a campaign to counteract the evils of puppy farms.
 

This colyoom weekly receives umpteen requests to write about this, that and the other. Press release emails arrive advertising Cubist face painting festivals in Waterford and Organic Beetle Weaving Workshops in Carrick on Shannon.
 

Far away and less than thrilling, they are mostly left ignored, but just as I was this time last year, I’m quietly impressed with the dog charity’s minimalist tactics.
 

Instead of shouting their cause in bold print, they created a puzzle that I can choose to look into further.
 

 
 I love life!

Thing is, they’re preaching to the converted.
 

Four years ago the Snapper and I adopted a Labrador/Collie cross (most people call them ‘Labrollies’ but I’m quite a fan of Colliador’) called Lady, from the most excellent folk at madra.ie
 

We didn’t buy her, because you cannot buy a dog.  
You cannot give a dog to somebody else.  
What you can do is buy a dog a home, for the entirety of its life.
 

If you insist on buying a puppy from a private breeder, ask to see its mother first, to make sure she’s not being abused as a breeding machine.
 

Better still, go to Madra or the Dog’s Trust and adopt a rescue dog. You can have a puppy if you want one, but check out the wide selection of more mature dogs that might better suit your home and lifestyle.
 

Take your time.
Meet the dog, take it for a walk, and then try a home visit.
 

Of course little could equal the moment of explosive joy when your kiddy is given a puppy under the crimble tree, but a dog’s batteries don’t run out in two weeks.
 

 
First day in her new home...

If all this sounds a bit serious, I make no apologies. Guaranteed to outlast that brief gift-giving bliss on Christmas morning, the depth of love and trust that will develop between you and your dog as the years go by is unique and profound.
 

Every dog has its own quirks. As Marina at Madra said to us:
“There’s a reason why they're here!”
 

We’ll never know what happened during Lady’s first two and half years. Evidently she was trained to be an angel at home, but as soon as she steps outside - especially after dark - she becomes a very different beast.
 

We’ve livestock living around us here, so every single time she needs a peeper or a pooper, be it wind, rain or hail, we have to take her round the garden on the lead. 

We walk her every single day, whatever the weather, and in turn she rewards us inside by being, as the Snapper is wont to say, the best dog in the world.
 

She does not chew anything. She does not go for bins, no matter if they stink of meaty bones. I left a plate of chocolate biscuits on the coffee table, went to the loo and suddenly realised Lady was lying beside that table.
 

Yikes! That much chocolate could do her serious damage!
 

Not a nibble.
Barely a poochie head raised.

 "You are under my spell..."

The only vaguely naughty thing Lady’s ever done inside the house happened, aptly, on Christmas Day.
 

’Tis my custom to open presents at midday, drinking fizz and eating hot sausage rolls, to the sound of the Kings College Choir singing carols. 

During Lady’s first Christmas with us she became rather carried away by the shouty wrapping paper melée, and took a notion to pick a sausage roll off the plate with her mouth, walking over to her bed with the cheekiest of expressions on her face.
 

She knew.
 

The Snapper took it out of her mouth without a struggle, and that’s it, the worst she’s ever been inside. There have been rare dodgy tums and clear-ups off the kitchen floor in the morning, but never will there be a better inside dog.
 

Outside she is learning, improving and so are we. Imagine adopting a teenager from a care home: that was our challenge.
 

Having a dog is a huge commitment but worth every second of effort. The best present you can give this Christmas is a dog a home for life.
 

Hate to buck the trend, but I’m actually looking forward to Christmas. As blow-ins living away from our families back in England, the Snapper and I pass quiet Christmases in Ireland.
 

For two days the gate will remain closed. The world will seek nothing from me, save a feast, which I will gladly deliver.
 

All the ‘to do’ lists are filed away; jobs in progress put on hold.

The fire’s lit and the fridge is heaving.
 

A gentle peaceful Christmas, the very same that I wish for all of you, my loyal colyoomistas.
 

(When you adopt from a charity your dog comes neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.  To find out how to adopt a dog, go to dogstrust.ie and madra.ie)



13.12.2017.
©Charlie Adley