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Double Vision

My backside and barstools – a life-long love affair!

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Charlie Adley

Double Vision with Charlie Adley

Arriving deliberately early, I plonk my ass onto a barstool in the Hotel Meyrick and take stock.

As human beings we tend to seek constancies: people, places and possessions that might always be there. I’m lucky to have many precious and astonishing people in my life, a benign possession in Blue Bag, and for places: barstools.

There’s something about a barstool that sets my mind at ease. It has nothing to do with the drinking. Of course I’m looking forward to my whiskey but first I breathe out, slump forward a little and rest my elbows on the bar.

It makes no difference if it’s a tiny corner bar in a train station, a barstool in one of my old locals or a pub in which I’ve never been. Wherever the barstool, I sit, relax and stare at the optics. My back to the world, I’m defiantly alone. Might want conversation but more likely I just want to sit, sip whiskey and think of random barstools in countless other bars, and how I’m doing in life right now, compared to then.

It’s not obsessive. I’m not fascinated in rating my life performance to any great extent. It’s just that barstools trigger reflections in my brainbox.

This barstool here equals that barstool there.

What was life like, back there, back then?

Can I glean from it some wisdom or just self-indulgent romanticism?

That barstool in the Deluxe on Upper Haight, San Francisco, when I lived down the road. The barman wore a straw boater, cheeky eyes twinkling between his hat and his grey waxed moustache. That was a good cocktail bar.

America arrives familiar to our European eyes, as we’ve already lived there through our movie screens, TVs and books. I love American bars. Different from both English and Irish pubs and European café bars, they feed my love of American low-life culture.

My mind wanders to that wobbly tall wooden barstool in the bar just up from the Projects.

Good people who were looking out for me advised me not to drink there but they needn’t have worried. I grew up sitting on barstools in pubs where mine was a rare white face, so I never gave it a second thought.

I was fine, as I am now, sitting in this bar in what used to be the Great Southern Hotel. I’ve been to the Meyrick only once since its conversion, and that was to a wedding, yet it lived up to my expectations.

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, so I’ll resist stifled sniffs and singing lyrical of the old place. There’ll be no yearning for concepts such as ‘cosy’ and ‘sumptuous’, no wittering wistful for the grand old Dame of a hotel she was.

No, I won’t do that, because the Meyrick appears very good at what it does, occupying the metallic monochrome glitzy side of anodyne. Looking across to the optics in front of me I feel like I’m in a place that knows what it’s doing, all the way from the staff to confidence that allows such sparseness on the walls. It’s neither different nor clichéd because there’s nothing to see, except the bricks which are, as my friend astutely points out, identical to London Underground’s restored platform walls.

To read Charlie’s column in full, please see this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Space and silence – it’s all us oul’ lads ever wanted in pubs

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The crowds that flocked into the centre of Dublin last weekend provided the clearest indication yet that, thank God, a cure had been found for Covid.

The masses dancing and hugging on the streets was vindication that all of the self-isolation had been well worth it, when you could now congregate as close as you like to each other, to your little heart’s content.

Or so you’d think.

One weekend of slightly relaxed licencing laws was all it took, and in the blink of an eye thousands of revellers were up and at it like this was Paris in 1945 after it was freed from the Germans.

The newly-imposed regulations for relaxation would suggest that all of these bouncy people at least had the benefit of a nine-euro meal inside them – how else could they get served?

So, we’d better brace ourselves for when they go out on an empty stomach.

Much has already been made of the fact that pub life will never be the same again – and that might well be the case.

Social distancing is bad news for the publicans, limiting their ability to wedge the entire student population of NUIG and GMIT into the equivalent of a phone box.

But it’s great news for curmudgeons – particularly for those whose capacity for imbibing alcohol is shot.

Advancing middle age has seen the tolerance of the early twenties reduced from the equivalent of a sizeable plastic bucket to an amount that once wouldn’t have even pass the standard definition of being out.

Three pints? That’s what you’d order when they rang the bell at closing time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Angels took pain out of hospital Christmas

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Charlie Adley

Double Vision with Charlie Adley

More than any other time of the year, when we sit around our dinner tables on Christmas Day, we are aware of who is there and who is not. At the age of 17, having performed impressive acrobatics with my Yamaha 250, a saloon car, a ditch and a barbed wire fence, I spent six weeks in hospital over Christmas and New Year.

My femur was snapped in two, which is no mean feat with thighs like mine, and my tibia had a crack or two as well.

Bed-bound, with my leg in traction, I developed a bronchial chest infection after an emergency operation.

Every two seconds for six weeks I coughed in hacking spasms, thus shaking my smashed leg, which was hung in a sling, supported by a metal pole they had driven through me, just below the knee.

Suffice to say I came to terms with pain.

In our part of the ward, there were four beds and three bikers with broken bones.

There was Kev, who had fallen off his sleek and mean Suzuki GT750 (a two stroke 3-into-1, since you ask), and opposite us two was brick shithouse Yorkshireman Gary, ex-SAS, and mighty embarrassed, having survived several covert tours of duty in Northern Ireland, to have to admit to falling off a Honda 125.

Compared to the other patients in the hospital the three of us were well off.

We were not sick. We’d had our operations, and apart from antibiotics for wounds, and pain killers for broken bones, we needed very little medical attention.

We were young, male, bored, and allowed to drink beer. Naturally, we tried to attract the attention of the student nurses as much as possible, and equally, they were happy to have a bit of a laugh with lads who were not ill, physically, at least!

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Don’t be a slave to the algorithm

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Charlie Adley

Double Vision with Charlie Adley

Saying “I love newspapers!” feels these days like buying a ticket for the next David Bowie gig, but I do: I love them. When I read a newspaper, I’m not a slave to the algorithm. Were I ten years younger, I’d read all my news online, on apps that I’ve set to my personal preferences.

Even when I visit media sites I’ve never been to before, there are cookies and bots and gordknowswot working away to offer me more of what the algorithms think I want.

Every link off each page is tailored to please me, but that’s no good.

I don’t want to be fed things that only fit into my areas of interest and opinion.

Sitting at my living room table, mug of tea and two slices of toast (peanut butter, since you ask), and a paper – any paper – open in front of me, I can see the full wonder and horror of the world, as interpreted by The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Irish Times or Daily Mirror.

As I browse into the heart of the paper, far from major news items, I let my eyesight fall all over the place, because each page is full of varied items, and, here on page 14, I’ll find the big story that’s being buried: the story they have to report, but are under instruction to dampen down.

Also here are stories that no algorithm-driven link would ever lead me to. Quirky little tales, able to dissolve an adult brain in seconds.

When driven sufficiently doolally by what I’m reading, I tear that particular piece of madness out of the newspaper, placing it on top of the wobbly towering stack of other torn madnesses by my desk.

There are dark torn madnesses and fearsome ones, but today I’m in the mood to prowl the ones that force me to furrow my brow, gasp for breath, pout my lips and grunt “What the -?” at the universe.

Notes are seeds, from which every writer will grow different fruit. When that writer is working for the Daily Mail, the fruit need bear only minuscule relation to the seed.

To read Charlie’s column in full, please see this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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