Thursday, August 02, 2012

Old Non-Stories and the Lady Writer



(Old village school that my subject attended}

I'm in one of those moods. You know, the kind where there's very little you, I or the fairy godmother can do for me. Not that I need anything done. Just leave me be.

Grandgirl has gone back to Toronto, but that's not it. I'm a gregarious loner by nature. Others are visiting in the next wee while. Long term friends at different times. I'll have to fire up for them. I don't feel like firing up. Daughter understands this, we had a chat today. She's built of the same flying-solo-is-best gene pool. We understand each other. Don't do dumbos on each other like: "Ah, snap out of it," "Look at all you've got to be grateful for" and other depressing phrases of that ilk. Just leave us alone with our books.

Currently mine is: Broken Harbour, Tana French's latest. I'm nearly at the end of it. A massive 536 pages. But gripping. Tana can do it. Writing of the devastated building boom with its detritus of a half-finished and abandoned housing estate in Ireland and making it the bleak setting for the gripping drama.

Then, in the afternoon, I toddled over to a pre-arranged interview with one of the last of a dying breed of old timer inhabitants of my outport. One, I was assured, who would fill me in with the history of the place.

He was from the "life was wonderful in the old days" school of thought. We bonded over the Clancy Brothers and nights of song and dance in the houses of our childhood. But not much else. My inquiries about his school life and original work career were met with fairly monosyllabic responses. Ditto for arrival of radio and electricity and roads to his neck of the woods. And his lifelong bachelor status (he and a bachelor brother, the mayor here for over twenty years, lived together in happy siblingdom) caused no ripple of a sweet dead love to emerge. He was an extraordinarily good looking man, well into his eighties. I had the thought he would have been beating off the ladies with a stick in his time. I dug gently and persistently but no story to be found.

He wanted to talk about my hometown of Cork and asked when I was coming back. He may be of the mind to entertain himself with the lady writer for as many sessions as he can squeeze out of me as he gets far too few visitors.

And who's to blame him?

16 comments:

  1. "Living together in happy siblingdom" is a phrase we don't come across that often these days - at least not if relating to people over the age of, say, 14, and under, say 85.

    Sounds as though he's become adept at hiding his story, WWW. Or alternatively, perhaps he's always been simply just a very boring guy with whom no self-respecting female would wish to consort, good-looking though he may have been.
    :-)

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  2. Hmm. I, too, am a gregarious loner. That's such a good way to put it. I enjoy your writing and insights very much.

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  3. T:
    There was a spark to him, know what I mean? So many elders walk around in grumpy geezerdom, he didn't seem that way. He struck me as highly intelligent. I could be wrong.

    "This and that" was one of the responses when I asked him to be more specific about work but the look in his eye challenged me.

    I will go back. It could be trust issues and I also have to look at the agendas of the people who referred him to me, n'est pas?

    XO
    WWW

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  4. Hattie:
    I sensed that in you, many of my blog readers are thusly.
    We take inordinate amounts of time to reflect on things and hate interruptions :)
    Backatcha on your blog!
    XO
    WWW

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  5. I'd be willing to bet that you will make it through the shell of protection. A little home baking on your next visit might ease the way - a bun or cake that has a story to it! A few words with the folks who suggested the interview as to why they did so.

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  6. GM:
    You are on the same wavelength, I was thinking the exact same thing, nothing like a teabun to ease the way!!
    XO
    WWW

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  7. I would like to be a gregarious loner. I shall now make it my life's purpose!

    The description of the bachelor siblings brings to mind a similar situation down South. Two extremely successful brothers, sans other siblings, double handedly started up a business with very little capital and have now made it into one of the big success stories of the region. Neither is married nor intends to and their background and family history are all complete mystery to the locals. They simply arrived one day in that town and the story starts from there.

    They are in their late sixties now and are looking to sell their business off and to retire and travel. Lucky sods.

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  8. I like your phrase "gregarious loner." Hope you won't mind if I lift and adapt it to describe myself as "gregariously shy." I'll yak away with anyone who strikes up a conversation with me, but I'll never initiate one. So I tend to spend a lot of time at gatherings hovering on the margins, while the current husband wades in and engages people.

    I loved Broken Harbour. I managed to find Faithful Place a year ago, but had been unable to get any of the others in her Murder Squad series until now. Then I found all of them on Kindle, so I had a Tana French pigout last week. Her books bring back so many memories.

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  9. "Gregarious loner" has always fit me as well. I enjoy being with people I like for manageable chunks of time. Then I like to go off and do my own think(no typo). And I like visitors, but I also like saying goodbye.
    On an unrelated topic, I just started a blog (http:/marcleavitt.blogspot.com) abouty language and other matters if you're interested.

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  10. Ramana:
    I think we're all brainwashed into thinking life should be a certain way. I remember two successful single older sisters along with their elderly mother living next door to a neighbour. I don't think I've ever met such a happy family. The three would take cruises together and breed Golden Labs. I'll never forget the image of them all frolicking (no other word) in the back garden with the dogs.
    I like your mystery story.
    XO
    WWW

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  11. Tessa:
    Don't mind at all. Lovely to hear from you again and follow your doings on FB.
    Have you read Gillian Flynn?? You HAVE to.
    I am reading her latest. It is breathtaking.
    XO
    WWW

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  12. Any mention of the "good old days" turns me right off. The old days were seldom as good as people make out. They carefully gloss over the cold, draughty houses and the gruelling working conditions. It's all too easy to falsely romanticise the past.

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  13. We were separated at birth, Marc, that is exactly how I feel. I need a lot of alone time. I was trying to explain this to an old widower who is on the application list for "comfort" today. I caught myself calling myself "selfish" for needing these vast swathes of time but then I retracted.
    It really is not selfish at all. It is who I am and I've always been that way even as a child. It wouldn't be for everyone to share lengthy time with me as I would wander off and fall into a book. Or thoughts.
    Congrats on blog start-up - I'm there!!
    XO
    WWW

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  14. Nick:
    Oh me too, it is painful to hear it, I actually wince.
    Another one is "beautiful people, gorgeous family, wonderful parents."
    I think these phrases have a way of telling the listeners:
    "You and your sad old life and two divorces are an awful failure, not to mention your drug addled son."
    I keep hearing the adjective "wonderful" enough to make me want to throw up. I am so thankful my play with its flawed characters is touching the men in the audience enough to make them bawl like babies.
    XO
    WWW

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  15. Yes, WWW, I have read Gillian Flynn. I rather liked Gone Girl, although I thought the first half could have been shorter. And I also liked Dark Places. But I found her earlier novel, Sharp Objects, quite repellant. Fortunately, I read it last; otherwise I don't think I would have bothered to read the later ones.

    I've just finished reading How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. It's really funny, but also it gave me real hope for feminism, which I was beginning to think was dead and gone. And I heartily recommend anything by Sophie Hannah - she's like an English version of Gillian Flynn.

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  16. Tessa:
    Maybe I have too many dark places myself, I loved Sharp Objects. I duly took notes of the other books and also the one mentioned on your blog!
    Tx
    XO
    WWW

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