July 2-9, 2013
This is one race of people for whom
Psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.
I have been coming to Ireland, usually to visit Paul and Marie Woods for five years now not counting the time in the late sixties when I painted in Ireland and the visit I made for Columba Corbett’s art exhibit with Annie Kelley. When I stay with the Woods, I am at home. I know my room, I know the block and I know Percy, their 13 year old Corgi who lost his tail. The only thing I do NOT know is how to use public transportation.
I have done comedy every time I come here and am actually a bit of a regular at Anseo, Aidan Killian’s lovely little room on Camden Street and The Bad Ass Café in Temple Bar which folded this year, very sad to say. I have done Tony Ferns’ room three times and he always welcomes me as well. Marie and Paul know me and know my idiosyncrasies. We all get along.
Marie started photography the year I met her and now she is an accomplished photographer who exhibits regularly and wins prizes for her work. She is the kind of woman who masters every project she undertakes. A year ago she started painting and now she is working in pastels and does really amazingly good likenesses of her grandchildren. Paul is the humorist, the singer, her very special other half. They get on so well together and have for 50 years. Their relationship convinces me that marriage CAN work…but I still believe I escaped. I do not have a co-operative personality. My plan is to return to Dublin for their golden anniversary November 9 and stay the week if I can to do a bit of comedy.
I did not stay with the Woods in January when I was here because THEY were in Naples, Florida that month. This time, Marie and I saw each other in Brighton two weeks before I was to fly to Dublin. The two of them were visiting their Brighton friends Jo and John (?). Jo is not doing well. She has heart problems as does Paul, but hers are slowing her down and depressing her. Marie and Paul go with them to their property in Italy once a year to clean it up and get it in shape. This year, the Woods were in Lake Coma for a week or so in the north of Italy and then they went south to Jo’s property and did some really rigorous work cleaning the place up. They returned the afternoon of the evening that I arrived from Brighton.
That day was a wild one for me as well. Bill had put off our viewing my cabaret show that I am taking to Edinburgh and finally decided he would view the film that morning. He told me he would pick me up at 11:45 and I rushed to pack, finish up the e-mails, do laundry and be downstairs for him. He was a half hour late. We had to stop to pick up Val because the video was on her laptop. It turned out that she did not have the film William took of the performance at The Latest with audience reaction (which is so important when you are evaluating the quality of what you are doing). Instead, Val only had a copy of the TV filming which was disjointed and very hard to follow. It was done at 11 in the morning with no audience and is absolutely no indication of the quality or flow of the production.
We all sat in the downstairs sitting room at Bill’s house and while I watched, the two of them chattered away about this and that and the other thing. Whenever I gave an opinion about the filming, they ignored it. Bill did call Karen Rosie however and the two of them actually had a decent conversation about what to do to shorten the production to 45 minutes.
Bill drove me to the station and when I got there, he told me that he was not willing to pay my expenses because it was too much money. He said he never wanted to go to Edinburgh in the first place and was doing it for me. Furthermore, he thought paying a pianist was too expensive as was paying a technician. He said that he simply could not do this project if he was going lose money. I had been telling him since last February when he contracted with C venues to do the show that it was a risky proposition and he always said, ”It’s too early to worry about this now.” I kept reminding him that C Venues has lots of charges and unexpected demands that he would have to deal with but he either ignored me or said, ”I will call_____ tomorrow (pianist, technician, Hartley at C, Richard).
There we were at the Brighton Train Station. I had to buy my ticket and get some lunch. He suddenly was arguing me about all the issues he had said he would handle. The conversation escalated and then, he said, ”Maybe we should just cancel,” and I said ”That is fine with me but I will NOT go to Edinburgh, do YOUR show and not have my expenses covered.”
He said, “It is YOUR show and I did this for you,” and I said, “No. It is the show YOU put together. If I were going to Edinburgh on my own, I would have done a different show, gotten a venue to give me a split and not risked losing £3000 of anyone’s money.”
He said “I will talk to Angi (as if she had the last word…Bill is the owner of the entire enterprise) when you get back.”
Then he told me that I get back on the 9th, he leaves with Val and Angi on the 10 and 11 and we would meet on the weekend. I am going to Kate’s wedding on the 13 and hoped to go to London on the 12. The 14 I am in London all day.
As I negotiated my way through buying a ticket, getting a lunch and getting on the train all I could think of was how I would manage to stay in London until my departure September 5 or how I could stay in Edinburgh and do my show without Bill. I was close to tears of frustration when I saw my train station angel, Ros helping another poor soul get on the train. Sure enough, she got me sorted and I managed to eat my lunch calm down and get to Gatwick in one highly emotional piece. As soon as I settled in the waiting room, I called Karen Rosie and left a message and then I called Richard. Richard said “No worries. We will handle this. If Bill won’t pay for Alison (the pianist), I will stay in the room at Margaret’s that was supposed to be Alison’s. I can sort out the technical stuff myself and get you launched. I will drive you up to Edinburgh in my car.”
Great!!! BUT no one can get Bill to call back or respond…so at this point (three days and several e mails later) nothing is resolved.
The minute I got to Dublin, my little black cloud lifted. Paul came to the airport to pick me up and we joked and chatted all the way to the house. We tried to arrange a ride to the Wicked Wolf comedy club. Maxine Jones had contacted me and wanted me to do a set for her that night. However, it turned out that she didn’t get enough people to pay for a cab to get me home so that gig never happened. Instead, I had a good dinner and marvelous discussion with Marie, Paul and their eldest son Caoimhin. Caoimhin started an eco-village 14 years ago that, while not flourishing, is coming along and is solidly entrenched in Tipperary. It is a group of people on land purchased from the government but each family had to contribute their own money to pay for their property. Caoimhin has built his own home and designed it. The organization is considered a charity and has a non-profit status. The families there govern their commune; have classes there, a farm and a forest. The children go to government schools. The problem is that the established community are suddenly afraid of diversity and do not want to allow anyone to participate that has not bought property in the village. Caoimhin objects because he believes diversity will strengthen the community. The four of us talked a great deal about the future of the world and the danger that in 50 years there will not be enough water, food or resources for the ever- burgeoning population.
The next day, Marie and I drove into the country to Daindean in County Offlly to pick up Percy. He was boarded with a Tom Ivers, who had lost a brother, and whose wife divorced him. He is lonely and unhappy and Percy has become his best friend. We picked up the dog, checked Marie and Paul’s country home in that little village and had a lovely lunch at the golf course. And home we went.
On the way we saw a new-born foal and his mother and it was truly delightful. Also fields of peat bundled to be sold. Ireland is in a severe depression now and peat is good for heating homes when you cannot afford more eco-friendly food.
Than night Aidan Kllian picked me up at 7 to take me to dinner at a lovely restaurant Green Nineteen next door to Anseo where I would perform that night. I ended the first half and as usual at Anseo the comedians were so-so, the audience not great and the laughter out of proportion to the quality. I did very well but I suspect it was more that I had jokes and the others did not.
Aidan is compiling his crank letters into a book and read some of them to the audience in between comedians which killed the room each time. Aidan is evidently from a very wealthy family. His family owned Lafayette Photography and Marie’s grandparents used that company for their wedding picture and for a visit to Dublin. When Aidan saw the picture on the library wall he said, ”That was taken by my grandfather!” Small World.
He came to get me in his motorcycle and I actually rode behind him to the comedy club. I am still in a state of amazement that I did not fall off the cycle and that I got there in one piece. Jonathan was there and he was as delighted to see me as I was to see him. He is truly a lovely man. One of the comedians was a boy named Brian who just began doing comedy and is dreadful. BUT he had a very interesting story to tell: His wife had nerve damage when she had their son 7 years ago and is in a wheelchair still. The two have been trying to adopt another baby to no avail and Brian says that no one can adopt in Ireland anymore because of the restrictions that limit local and international adoptions. Hard to believe, but he says it is true. He says there is only one organization that processed Irish adoptions and they only approve 11 adoptions a year. He says that the children have to be at least 2½ years old so they all need extensive psychological services available.
When the evening ended, I climbed on the motorcycle with the help of another comedian pulling my leg up and over. Helmet on, and off we went to Marie and Paul’s house on Healthfield Road. To say I was rigid with fear is an understatement. I can honestly say I have never been as quiet as I was on the back of that motorcycle. I was determined to arrive in one piece.
The next day was the 4th of July. We all went to see the exhibit put on my Marie’s photography club at the library where she had her own exhibit. It was spectacular. Hard to believe these photographers were amateur. That night Caoimhin drove me to The Black Sheep for Gary Lynch’s Ha-Ha Black Sheep show and after that we went to Tony Ferns’ Battle of the Ax . I did really well in both places but what I was proudest of was that I did different material each time. That night Andy and Eire came to film me for her documentary that she is doing on what makes happy people It was great to know that such a successful set was actually captured on film.
Friday was quiet. We all went to the Royal Art Academy exhibit and it was immense with a lot of photography and portraits. I was not that impressed with most of the paintings there except for two large landscapes that were spectacular. That night Maria Halpin met us at 7 and we all walked to a lovely Indian Restaurant in Terinure. The Woods brought the wine and this one was my treat.
Saturday, Declan, Marie and Paul’s son came over along with Tony the bachelor Marie always has over on Saturdays and her friend Francis who is an artist and has a disabled son and an alcoholic daughter. Tony also has a daughter with M.E. that Marie thinks is 90% psychological. I think she is trying to get something going with the two of them but they do not seem to connect. Declan ahs two delightful children, Maya about 4 and Ethan barely two years old. The day was sunny and hot and the children played in the yard with Percy the dog…very idyllic while we drank wine…very Irish. Tony is one of the sourest, most unhappy men I have ever met. On the other hand Francis who has the worst kind of life you an imagine since she is a full time caregiver for the son and has to deal with the daughter AFTER she spent years nursing the husband who died of some kind of cancer., is the most positive delightful lady. Go figure.
Marie and I left Paul to finish off the evening with wine, coffee and chocolate while we went to The International. I did really well there and met a delightful comedian David Doherty whom I intend to find in Edinburgh and review. His comedy was charming and very funny.
The next day was Sunday and Maria came by at 10 and off we went to Glendalough. I need to say this was a highlight of the Dublin trip. We hiked around two lakes, I got bitten alive by the midges, we had a delightful talk and a lovely lunch at the hotel there. Maria is a primary schoolteacher who discovered me at the workshop I did with Tracey in January. She followed up and we have become really good friends. She is delightful, interesting, has a daughter Rose, a collie Holly and an adventuresome spirit. She has traveled around the world 3 times and the last time she took her then 11-year-old daughter Rose with her.
We got home in time to eat dinner (and Marie always makes the most marvelous meals) meet Caoimhin and Aine and go to the International. That night 7 people Came to see me!!! Maria and her friend, Tim O’Connell, Mary Dunne who is especially lovely, Caoimhin and Aine of course and Pauline Curtin who has been supportive and so very kind…and we were practically the entire audience. The comedians were so, so terrible and I was sad that I could not offer the people who paid to see me a better show But so goes life. The hope is that next time I come to Dublin, I can get into the International again and get paid.
Monday morning Maria met me at 11 and I walked into town. It is about 3 miles and a lovely walk. I went to the Doorway Gallery on South Frederick Street. It was featuring Padraig McCaul and his exquisite landscapes Denise Donnelly was there. She manages the gallery She has a 3-year- old child and is becoming a real friend. Maria and I wandered through the gallery…every painting there is superb and McCaul runs painting workshops that I just might try to find him.
Maria took me to Peaches for lunch and then left to do her own chores and I met Danielle, a yoga instructor who chatted with me for a while. Then back to the to her galleries on Frederick Street and the Duke Street Gallery where I saw the spectacular works of Tom Byrne and Clare Hartiganå. All this art makes me want to rush home and start painting again. Met Tim O’Connell for a drink and while I was there and lovely, lovely girl was wearing a head scarf that I thought was adorable and she gave it to me and bought me a drink as well!! She was having several drinks with her ex-mother-in-law and the two were delightful. Tim was his usual scattered self but he did get me back to Marie’s and Pauls where I spent the evening with them and Caoimhin and Aine. As we talked it was decided that when I come back in November I will spend some time at his eco village and come back to Dublin with them for the anniversary gala. Pauline has said I could stay with her for that next week and I can also stay with Maria so I might make it a good two seek trip and do more comedy here as well as a workshop. Life opens up so many opportunities!!!
The next morning, we treated the midge bites, Marie took me to the airport and off I flew to Gatwick and the Bill problem. I stopped at Ella’s for lunch and a beautiful women came into the shop recognized me and made a huge fuss which I ate up of course.
When I got back to Clare’s, I showered, did the laundry and went over to Emma Gill’s for a yummy dinner. I met Anouchka first who is fast becoming a very dear friend. It will be very sad to leave all the contacts I have made here and if the Bill thing comes to nothing that is what will have to happen.