It’s the end of the summer season, the last chance this year (well until Christmas) for our bar to make a little money or even pay it’s way. It’s not looking good. Habits have changed so much in Ireland in recent years. Supermarkets have opened selling cheap wine and lager. Many are now choosing to rent a DVD and watch it at home. A couple of years ago it was unheard of to eat out in this area; now everyone is doing it and many take advantage of cheap flights and travel much further affield than they ever used to and spend their holidays in far sunnier climes than the west coast of Ireland. We had to think long and hard and have decided that we can only open 4 nights a week for the winter. Providing light and heat alone means that more often than not we make a loss on week nights. It’s a shame. We have lots of happy memories of those great nights in The George and so do many of our customers. Those nights in the holidays, both before and after we owned the place, the nights when there was a great crowd, the fire lit, a great sing-song and some wonderful craic. We hope there are many more of them ahead.
A few days after the donkey attack I was making friends with the foal when it bit me on the elbow. I’ve got a huge bruise and teeth marks. I’m beginning to worry that horses (and donkeys) are starting to find me strangely attractive.
Today, at about 7 a.m., I awoke to the strangest noise. It had been going on for quite some time before I became totally aware of it. First it was part of my dream, then, as I started to wake up, I thought the noise was coming from Al and nudged him a few times. It wasn’t quite the same as his usual snores – more of a honk than a grunt and eventually, as I woke up, I realised it sounded like a donkey. There was once a time that many people in this area had donkeys but there aren’t really any around these days, although one man, Charlie (who lives more than a mile away), has a few. Charlie’s donkeys are some sort of special type of donkey that he plans to breed. At the moment, we have a horse and her foal on the field in front of our house. They belong to our neighbour Peter. Peter and his family have been great friends to us and we are happy to let them use our field from time to time. It’s lovely to look out and watch the horses and it’s nice that the field is being used the way it should be. The honking noise was incredible and I and got up to look out of the bedroom window thinking that perhaps that the foal had been injured and was in distress. There was no sign of anything outside. When I tried to rouse Al to ask him if he could hear donkey noises, he just grunted so I decided I had better go and investigate. You can’t see the entire field from our bedroom window and so I went around looking out of all of the windows, all the time thinking, “I must be imagining this”. Finally, at the far end of the building I looked out of the window that overlooks over the bar car park and beheld the strangest sight. Remember, I was barely awake! There were 5 or 6 donkeys in our car park, all of them ee-awing like things possessed. The horses were going crazy, galloping around in a frenzy. I opened the window and shouted at the donkeys. My memory of the scene is that our car park was full of donkeys and they all looked up at me for a moment before carrying on with their ram-raiding racket. It seemed like they were very keen to get at the horses but the fence was in the way. One donkey in particular kept making a run for the fence. The whole scene was so bizarre especially as these particular donkeys are some kind of dwarf piebald breed. I was worried about the effect all of this was having on the horses and ran downstairs and rang our friend Peter who said he’d be right over. I went out into the car park couldn’t believe my eyes; I really started to worry for my sanity as there was not a donkey in sight! I walked along to look up our drive and suddenly the donkey attack was back on again. There they were, running down the drive, towards me. So there I am, in my dressing gown, in the rain, making whooping noises and trying to stand firm between the horses and the rampaging donkeys. Along comes Peter in his van; apparently the gate to the donkey field had been opened. Peter herded the donkeys away and I was left standing in the car park wondering if it had all been a dream. What an odd start to the day. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to grab the camera to prove my story. Anyway, what if anything does any of this nonsense have to do with Lifelists? Well it was just one of those daft, unexpected and slightly surreal experiences that occasionally occur which make up ‘life’s rich tapestry’ I suppose. Certainly, I don’t want to forget the sight (or sound) of a car park full of donkeys looking up at me. There are often sights, moods or experiences in life that we wish we could capture forever and a camera doesn’t quite do the job. I think I should be creating a list category for these occurrences or many they fit in under the category ‘other’. The question is; what to call this list of weird moments?
The BBC report on Q Magazine’s list of “guilty pleasures” started me wondering about my musical tastes. You see, Q Magazine compiled a list of music that was previously uncool but that is now acceptable to like. Top of the list is ‘Livin’ Thing’ by ELO . I quite like that song and some other ELO tracks. I had no idea that I was so uncool. Should I be ashamed? Does that mean that if I want to say I like an uncool track, I have to qualify my choice by saying that I like it despite the fact I know it’s ‘wrong’? I like lots of music that is probably considered to be uncool. As I’m writing this, I can’t help feeling that just the act of trying to analyse whether my music is cool or uncool is one of the most uncool things I could do. As Richard Reeves says in his comment on the BBC story “If you base your listening choices on what’s cool, you’re not a fan of music, just fashion”. A great friend of mine used to laugh at my love of Hall & Oates and the fact that I’ve always liked ‘Sarah’ by Thin Lizzy. For a while I felt that I had to keep these things to myself but as I’ve got a little older I don’t feel the need to pretend to be something I’m not. In the context of Lifelists, I wondered momentarily if we should be creating a list category for embarrassing songs? Should we be separating the music we’re proud to say we like and music we know we shouldn’t like, but do anyway? I’ve decided against it. If Lifelisters want to separate their “embarrassing” tracks, then they can create a new list under the category of music and call it “guilty pleasures”. I’ve started to create 70′s, 80′s lists for myself under the music category and I’m going to proudly add the tracks I love, embarrassing or not. I’ve done this because there’s some music that doesn’t make it onto my all-time list, maybe I don’t listen to it anymore, but there was a time in my life when it was important to me. There can be many reasons why we like a piece of music; sometimes we like a track because when we hear it, we’re taken back to an experience, people or a time or place in our lives that we like to remember. The same applies to books, films, everything really. I’m inclined to agree with some of the people who commented on the BBC story; cool/uncool seems to be quite an old fashioned concept in 2006 (or maybe I’m too old to care). Look at John Peel, he is admired because he knew what he liked and didn’t care what anyone thought. Isn’t the coolest thing to just trust our own ears (in fact, all of our senses), not be afraid, and list the things that make us who we are. We should be proud to celebrate the things that have brought us joy for whatever reason. This is the essence of the Lifelists concept.