When I’m 64.

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me…” Part of what makes this a great song is that a 25 year-old Paul McCartney could put himself in the shoes of a 64 year-old and imagine the things that would be important to him at that age. I’m sure that 64 seemed an awful way off for him at that point but time moves on, the years go by, and now the song is 51 years old and he’s 12 years older than 64. “The future doesn’t be long coming around”. I heard a sports journalist say this on a talk show yesterday when criticising the FAI for the lack of good Irish soccer players coming through. The current head of the FAI, John Delaney, has been in his role for 13 years, and as the journalist said, the boys who were 10 year-olds when he took the job are now 23, the prime age to establish yourself as an

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Auditioning

I dislike the audition process. It introduces competition into an area I believe it shouldn’t be. However I also accept that when 50 girls want to be involved in a production that only has room for 25, there aren’t many better ideas out there on how to decide. Coolera Dramatic Society’s annual Christmas pantomime will be performed once again in Sligo in the weeks leading up to Christmas this year. It is the 40th consecutive year that the society have produced a pantomime and it is a huge part of the Christmas tradition in Sligo. So big in fact that there is never enough room for all the people that want to be in it, and indeed all the people that want to go to it. Auditions don’t just happen in the world of theatre and drama though. Job interviews, funding applications, sporting contests – there are many ways in which processes similar to auditioning form part of our lives

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Singing – how well should you know the song?

I played piano at a party late last year. The brief was to entertain the crowd but also to encourage and then be ready to back any of the guests who wanted to get up and sing. It turned out to be a really enjoyable night – there must have been 20 participants in the sing-song, and every single one of them not only knew the words, but put their own twist on the songs in a way they knew would excite the crowd. That’s not always the case however.. Equally as often you might hear someone get through the first verse and chorus OK, and then halfway through the second verse they’ll ask for help with the words. Everyone laughs along but is secretly wishing that they never bothered starting the song since they didn’t know it all. You see to know something for a sing-song, all you really need to do is know the words and some version

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“Yeah – it’s done”.

These words can have a huge impact. I wrote here before about the effect that someone who is on top of their brief can have on other members of a team. The other side of it is the feeling you get yourself when you’re in a position to say these words. The feeling of having lived up to your end of the bargain, of doing your job, of being that person upon whom others can rely. They are so much nicer to say than “I have time set aside for it later”, or “It’s nearly finished”, or “I’m really sorry, but I actually haven’t got round to that yet”. Especially on a Friday.  

Flukey’s drums

When I was a child in the 80s, my parents told me about some guy in Sligo who registered a political party called the “All Night Party” and ran for election. He was also a drummer, and his name – Flukey Gorman – stuck with me. 30 years later I finally got to play with him. Now I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that he’s not of an age where he would be regularly partying all night any more. But age brings wisdom. When I saw the amount of room on the stage, I wondered where the drum kit was going to fit. Drummers are usually the first to a gig and the last to leave. Because they have to be. They have the most gear to set up and take down, and like to claim their space before someone else takes it. Not Flukey though – he showed up just as the rest of the band were ready

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Top of The World

Such a feeling’s coming over me… Even as I write this blog I can feel happiness taking over. It’s that type of song. Seamie O’Dowd and I have been playing a Monday night residency in Thomas Connolly’s for 4 years now – and the only time the crowd have spontaneously burst into song with us was when Tabby Callaghan was our guest and he did this number. It’s that type of song. Listen to the playful nature of the Wurlitzer and electric guitar lines, how the violins come in and add even more cheer to the second half of each verse. And the lyrics – it ticks all the boxes of joy, mentioning wonder, love, the sun, a dream, wishes, tomorrow, leaves on the trees, the breeze, heaven. But the first line of the chorus and the title of the song is the one that gets me. “I’m on top of the world”. Think about it. Aren’t we all on

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Weeds.

I have this new tool. I don’t even know what it’s called, but it makes me feel invincible against the weeds in my garden. Even it can’t get every weed though. There are some that you just have to get down on your knees, manoeuvre your fingers into the right position, fiddle around for a while until you have some purchase, and then slowly but surely…pull. But what a feeling when it comes out – that contentment, satisfaction, sometimes even a thrill because you know – whatever about the other ones, that particular weed won’t be annoying you ever again. Weeds exist in our minds too. Things that clutter our headspace, things that prevent our creative and important thoughts from flourishing. They’re not as easy to see as garden weeds, but it’s important to be able to identify them. It could be the anticipation of your phone pinging on the table beside you, an interaction that left you feeling restless,

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Your name

Jim. Facebook. The Beatles. Aisling. Starbucks. U2. Sienne. Adidas. Pink Floyd. If you have ever tried to name a child, a company, a band, or indeed anything else that needs a name, you’ll know that it can be a complicated process. Many books have been written, many lists have been compiled, and many companies have been formed in order to try and help people/cash in on people’s inability to choose. All sorts of factors come into play. How it sounds, what associations it brings up, what message it gives, and other stuff that may be important to you but that I can’t even think of right now. Indeed one of the reasons my parents chose my name was because it couldn’t be shortened. The thing is, you, your company or your band become your name. Go back to the first line of this blog and consider how strange these names would look and sound if you didn’t know a person/company/band

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All-Ireland Final Day

There are Irish people all over the world feeling a bit out of sorts today because the All-Ireland football final, an important marker in their calendars, is taking place at least 2 weeks earlier than usual. A friend of mine told me once that after being out of Ireland for a few years, he could feel his mind and body craving the natural rhythm of the Irish seasons. You’ll sleep better if you go to bed at the same time each night. You’ll find it easier to train or study if you are in a routine. It’s what you’re used to. And it’s great…when it works. But it won’t work forever. The All-Ireland final was moved because club players all over the country felt they didn’t have enough time to run off their competitions before winter set in. That friend of mine – he came back to Ireland soon after, but he also had previously felt the need to leave,

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Background Noise

A teacher I had in school used to tell us not to study with the radio on. His reasoning – simple – when we were in an exam situation, not having the radio on would impede our ability to recall the relevant pieces of information. In my undergraduate degree in psychology, I learned he was right. I read about Godden and Baddeley’s study in relation to context-dependent memory. It showed that divers were more likely to remember things underwater if they had originally learned them underwater. It’s a useful thing to know. As I write this blog I’m listening to a beautiful live version of Bridge Over Troubled Water (thanks Sarah Crummy!) and it reminds me of struggling to learn it as a 16 yr-old. Back then my ear was pretty undeveloped and so I relied on sheet music to learn it. And even now, more than 20 years later, the fact that I originally encoded this music visually not

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