To kick this thing off I thought I’d do a quick selection from the past year of six pieces, three fiction and three non-.
‘Mother’s Friend’ in Port Magazine is about a woman who leaves an abusive boyfriend in Dublin and starts anew in London. In ‘Family News’ for The Irish Times, Cáit is evicted by her landlord and has to move in with her sister and teenaged niece. And in ‘The Drummore Cromóg of Meadhbh Ní hUigín’, the titular heroine does whatever it takes to get her nose job. On the non-fiction side, I wrote for Granta about why I don’t plan my novels and don’t particularly aim to make readers like or relate to my characters. For WePresent I interviewed London photographer Tami Aftab about a project celebrating her grandmother who left Ireland in the 1940s. And for the Guardian, I discussed Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman from a personal lens.
Here’s a somewhat seasonal snippet from Noël Coward’s 1939 short story ‘Me and The Girls’:
Miss Llewellyn was a character and no mistake. She had frizzed-up fair hair, very black at the parting; a heavy stage make-up with a beauty spot under her left eye if you please and a black velvet band around her neck. She always wore this rain or shine. Peter said it was to hide the scar where someone had tried to cut her throat. She wasn't a bad old tart really and she did get me my first job, in a Christmas play called Mr. Birdie. I did an audition for it at the Garrick Theatre. Lots of other kids had been sent for and there we were all huddled at the side of the stage in practice clothes waiting to be called out. When my turn came I pranced on, followed by Miss Adler, who made a beeline for the piano, which sounded as if someone had dropped a lot of tin ashtrays inside it, you know, one of those diabolical old uprights that you only get at auditions. Anyhow I sang "I Hear You Calling Me" – it was before the poor darlings dropped so I was still a soprano – and then I did the standard sailor's hornpipe as taught at the academy, a lot of hopping about and hauling at imaginary ropes and finishing with a few quick turns and a leap off. Mr. Alec Sanderson, who was producing Mr. Birdie, then sent for me to go and speak to him in the stalls. Miss Adler came with me and he told me I could play the heroine's little brother in the first act, a gnome in the second, and a frog in the third, and that he'd arrange the business side with Miss Llewellyn.
That’s all for now! Thanks for subscribing and see you in 2021.