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Cultural Forces: Day 11 – Dissonance

When news came of my aunt Mary P’s diagnosis I was in London studying for my finals. They thought they would operate and they tried but couldn’t. It was terminal. From that moment on I started living this dual reality. My body went about my day-to-day life in London but the rest of me was [...]

Cultural Forces: Day 10 – Beginnings

A little over 3 years ago I went to see a one of my clients giving a talk in London. He’s an American very active in the Catholic community, so his talk was in St Patrick’s Church on Soho Square. He told me to meet him at the door of the sacristy afterwards and we [...]

Cultural Forces: Day 9 – Londoner

I have two friends who are brothers. They were born in the US to German parents and moved to London when they were around 10 and 12. You can still hear a little something in their accent that speaks of both their heritage and place of birth. Officially they are British citizens but I once [...]

Cultural Forces: Day 8 – Playing Along

There are two naming events for every child. When the child is born everyone wants to know, “Have you got a name yet?” So there’s the official naming decision to be made. And you don’t want to screw it up. The kid is going to live with this name the rest of their life. Once [...]

Cultural Forces: Day 7 – Rage

“Where are you from?” I had just sold him a couple of second-hand Joy Division 7 inches. He’d been in the shop a good half hour and hadn’t asked me a single question as I’d fetched him various records to listen to. But now that he had his records in his bag and his change [...]

Cultural Forces: Day 6 – Grief, Trauma, Work

I felt very familiar with death during my childhood. The final one that capped off two decades of regular diagnoses and deaths of close family members was that of my aunt, Mary P, who felt like a lot more than just an aunt; she did a lot of mothering of me. I was talking to [...]

Cultural Forces: Day 5 – Breaking Away

Growing up I thought I had a charmed life because we had 6 TV channels to choose from. 2 Irish channels and 4 UK channels. I felt so sorry for the kids who didn’t live minutes from the border. Those poor sods in Antrim or in England with only 4 channels, and even poorer souls [...]

Cultural Forces: Day 4 – Complicated Times

I remember my mother saying that when she got my grandfather’s death certificate the list of contributory factors on it were as long as your arm. He essentially died of old age and had been living with many of the ailments on his death certificate for years. I was very young when his deteriorating eye [...]

Cultural Forces: Day 3 – Worst Month

The day before Halloween, 1993. It was a Saturday and I’d spent the evening trick or treating with my best friend around her neighbourhood. We’d rushed to the house that was famous for its toffee apples, secured two, and then filled our bags going door-to-door at our leisure. We were back home, sitting on the [...]

Cultural Forces: Day 2 – Páirc Brid

Our daughter’s at an age where her natural inclinations and abilities are starting to show. She threw a ball to me the other day that nearly took my head off. She has similar power and precision in her feet. I could kick a ball from a young age too. Playing football – soccer – was [...]