So, spending some quiet time in a coastal haven courtesy of friends (currently abroad), is an amazing gift. Here, I can look at the beautiful sea at any time of the day or evening. The song of the waves down on the shore makes its way up the hill and through the upstairs window where I read, or the downstairs conservatory where I work.
Having this space, breathing out and into clear air with an open sky above and clear sea water to dive into and swim through is a rare privilege, and one I’m very grateful for. Conversely, my intention this month is not solely to “retreat” but to attempt a re-boot, and to re-connect. I confess to deliberately backing out, during and post-Covid, from the digital world. Some used it as a chance to digi-up and Zoom into new screens we never even imagined before, others read Matt Haig’s Notes On A Nervous Planet and decided it made sense. But as one friend (thanks, Des), said, “yeah, people did that, but you really disappeared!”
Thus, while we all know the warnings about screen time, cybersecurity and how the Masterverse has actually brought down small nations, to deny this new digital existence is a different kind of cop out, like it or not. I hate it. I still write actual letters, make greeting cards and send them in the post. But unplugged, not only do we cut ourselves off from news and current developments, lose work opportunities and are unable to even call a damn taxi – let alone balance our current account – more importantly we lose contact with friends, family, artists and colleagues that we love and have spent time with. It just happens by default. I mean, who decided that to phone people and actually talk to them is rude (among other things). But while we are all still human, if friendship has been forced to adapt in this way, then at some point we have to adapt or lose out.
So getting back with the proverbial programme is my Spring 2023 experiment. So far, it’s pretty funny. I can’t even work out the new Facebook interface and why it’s not letting me see my messages. In my defense, I’m not a Luddite. In 1997, I co-created a website in raw code (Banshee.info) when the Internet and its nit-picky, painfully slow hand-typed HTML commands were pure magic and not terrifying; an algorithm was an obscure mathematical term and a cloud was a fucking cloud. In my freelance work down the years, I’ve created over two dozen websites, two indie publishing imprints and sigh a BLOG (and yes, this is my first new blog post: feck the begrudgers!)
Yet, navigating my way into my brand new MacBook Pro, Apple ID, iCloud interface, Adobe Creative Cloud Suite and even the Office 365 apps, I feel like Basil Fawlty attacking his 1967 Austin 1100 with a tree branch.
Starting with a photo or video per day, for now, I’m just going to take this calmly, step by step.
But, HELLO, HAL – do you read me? Can I just ask WHY humans have apparently lost all fear of the machines? I mean, Jesus, lads, did nobody see ‘The Matrix’?
Eh – no wait – sorry. Ahem. I am calmly and systematically going to embrace and enhance my digital and virtual challenges. Step by step. If you’d like to ease this project by re-connecting with me and “liking” or “sharing” or whatever, all feedback, advice and old fashioned emails (or even, shock horror – phonecalls) are very welcome.
This is my contrbution to a piece by Martin Doyle with reactions from Kevin Barry, Mia Gallagher, Joseph O’Connor, Louise O’Neil, Roddy Doyle and more. For all writers’ contributions, please click this link.
It’s a sort of grief, the process of coming to accept that a misogynistic, racist madman is about to take over the world’s most powerful country. There are several stages. First, I had a session of black humour banter with a friend on Facebook (denial). Then I exchanged furious emails with a friend who had not voted for Hillary, because she is an “undeniable” crook. I argued that in this case, anybody with half a brain should know that not voting democrat was an undeniable vote for fascism (anger). Then I got a call from a distraught Muslim friend awaiting a Greencard in the mid-West. Having escaped the horrors of a true police state, she fears she will be sent home under some Trump deportation programme. I tried to calm her, suggesting his threats are all bluster (bargaining). Then I simply remembered the last time a country in the so-called developed world voted a misogynistic, racist madman into power: 1933. And I succumbed to the final stage, depression.
Because it is entirely possible that like the poet said, things may change utterly – that terrible will become a word abundantly used, but this time beauty will not be part of the brief. – Helena Mulkerns
For more articles like this on IrishTimes online, see Martin Doyle at the Irish Times
Following an excellent launch on Saturday, 5 November to “Focus On Jim Mulkerns” – November’s Archive at Lunchtime programme at The Irish Film Institute this month, here’s a novelty preview of one of the films on offer. This excerpt is from Ireland Invites You, a 14 min promotional film made in 1966, commissioned by the Irish Tourist Board. They were keen to promote the attractions of the Ireland of the day, including golf courses and Bunratty Castle. Note, in this Dublin snippet, the lack of women in the pub. On the other hand, they are allowed grace the “well appointed, sophisticated” cocktail lounge! This tourist board short contrasts sharply with the film, Dublin Capital City 1974-75 made by Brendan Halligan and Jim Mulkerns some years later, which showed the reality of certain areas of Dublin’s capital. Family and friends will recognise those enjoying cocktails in the lounge scene at .30 secs! Loving the music …
Dublin Nightlife 1966 from Cyberscribe on Vimeo.
A special screening will be held today for the launch of “Dublin Capital City 1974-75′ at the Irish Film Institute, 12:45pm – with an introduction by Brendan Halligan. Please scroll down to read full press release, or click here.
A new version of Capital City Dublin 1974-75, a film by Brendan Halligan and Jim Mulkerns, will be launched on 5 November next, and screened weekly as part of the Irish Film Institute’s “Focus on Jim Mulkerns” Archive at Lunchtime showings this November, 2016. (more…)
Thank you so much for all those who came to the launch of “Ferenji” at The Irish Writers’ Centre on Thursday last, it was a wonderful evening, and it was great to see so many old and new friends, fellow scribes and family members. Thanks to Michael O’Loughlin, who gave a really incisive introduction, to John Walsh and Lisa Frank of Doire Press for publishing this themed collection of short fiction, and for organising the event, and to the team at The Irish Writers’ Centre for making the event run smoothly. Here are some photos:
The first review to appear of the short story collection by Helena Mulkerns is from Sarah Gilmartin, in The Irish Times. Click here for live link.
BACK TO BLOG
‘Blue Tarpaulin’ is one of the flash fiction pieces offered in the debut collection, FERENJI by Helena Mulkerns. In this book trailer, the author reads the piece, accompanied by photographs taken herself in the field, where she was based in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Afghanistan. For more details on FERENJI see here.
BLUE TARPAULIN – from ‘Ferenji’ by Helena Mulkerns from Cyberscribe on Vimeo.
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This weekend you can read one of the stories from my debut collection Ferenji in a free Kindle download from Doire Press. “Mare Rubrum” tells of a encounter in a post-conflict ghost town on the Red Sea, between two strangers who meet by chance on a beach. The day blazes with an unexpected union, and dusk brings a magic that only the ancient town can lend, but like the country they are both about to leave, with darkness come truths that are better left unsaid.
US: Amazon.com / UK: Amazon.co.uk / France: Amazon.fr / Australia: Amazon.com.au
For more about this title, and about the publisher, Doire Press – or to pre-order your copy – click here: www.DoirePress.com