Monday, 16 September 2013

A Book To Read When You Realise that a Change Is As Good As A Holiday

Posted By Daisy

YESTERDAY, I realised I’ve been smiling to myself lots since I moved to London. Smiling as I march through Kings Cross/St Pancras at 8 a.m. on the way to work, ever-present earphones jammed in my ears. Smiling at the huge crowds of commuters waiting to cross the ticket barriers, at the ads lining the walls on the way up the escalators, and at the two ladies wearing shiny, swishy, curtain-material-patterned prom-dresses, at the girl nonchalantly boarding the tube wearing a see-through dry-cleaning bag over her clothes, and at the gorgeous guy in the check shirt and jeans who I lock eyes with for a second before whoosh – he's gone.

Smiling at the punters sitting outside on a damp Upper Street, Islington, having cups of tea and cigarettes, and at the elderly lady in a jaunty suit boarding a bus to Battersea.

Smiling at my new colleague as we walk past the barbed wire at Pentonville Prison, and at the custard tarts in the café across the road from work that I’ve been craving since watching ‘The Great British Bake Off’ last week.  

Daisy pinkened slightly while taking a photo of the ad
but then realised this is London and no-one cares!

Smiling at the dog barking at the grey squirrels skittering over the headstones of the graveyard I walk through every morning, and the shoe shops on the King’s Road, and the French shops on Butte Street, and at the early-morning dog walkers on the river’s walk near Hammersmith Bridge, and the amazing book shop behind Putney Bridge tube station.

Smiling as I sit on a bench in South Kensington waiting for my sister, watching men and women in Porches, Maseratis, Range Rovers and vintage Rolls Royce's whooshing past. Or as we walk home through Chelsea, spying huge chandeliers through apartment windows, and crowds of people standing outside the Troubadour enjoying post-work pints.

Hmmm, which celebrity do I fancy seeing today?

Smiling as I realise how easy it is to just pop into the Lowry exhibition in the Tate (I loved the song ‘Matchstalk Men’ in primary school), or listen to Simon Baron-Cohen talk about kindness in an evening lecture at the Royal Geographic Society or hear Ellie Goulding play in the Hammersmith Apollo in November.

Dalston - where you can get your hair cut in a cool hairdressers at 10pm on a Friday night, if you so desire

Smiling as I sit in a crowded Dalston pub eating chilli chips and drinking beers with my new workmates on a Friday night, and have to take three trains and a taxi home in the rain afterwards, and smiling as I write with a new writing group in a café in Primrose Hill before heading off to a nearby cupcake shop.

Smiling as we eat cronuts and tartiflette in Herne Hill Market and watch strangers swing dance in the drizzle.

Smiling as I pop to Zara in Regent Street after work and walk past the Ritz sign on the way to the tube, and at the fruit and vegetable stall propped up against the far side wall of the hotel. Smiling even as I push my way through a sea of suits at the turnstiles and have to let two crammed-to-the-brim tubes pass me by.

I don’t think I knew how much I had craved novelty until now.

I've been reading this book on my daily commute. It’s not an easy book to read and I often find myself flicking backwards in the story. But I’m hooked.

Elevator Pitch: An old gangster has arrived back in Bohane after 25 years, and all around feathers are being ruffled and old feuds being resurrected.

It’s Charles Bukowski’s Post Office meets Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (more specifically the scene with Mercutio and Romeo posturing by Venice Beach before the masked ball.)

And the writing is bring-a-lump-to-your-throat amazing.

‘She looked out at the night. A swirl of stars made cheap glamour of the sky above the bog plain.’
Barry lived and worked in Cork for years, and it’s apparent in his prose. Bohane is a melted, twisted, tarnished-Dali-clock version of Cork city. It’s the city seen through a Valley-of-the-Ashes haze. The language and descriptions are familiar ('norrie', 'gatch', 'pikey') and I smile when I realise Barry has immortalised a real-life Cork character.

The madwoman of Smoketown paraded in her white cowgirl suit, sequins aglitter, and directed the sky traffic of angry gulls.’

 I haven’t seen her in a decade, but I remember this lady, directing traffic outside the Capitol Cineplex, with white cowboy boots and shiny, over-pink cheeks.

‘City of Bohane’ also makes me happy that someone from Cork,  such a tiny city, can create something as beautiful and lyrical as Shakespeare.