I’m in poteen country.No I’m not. Not really. There’s no such thing as poteen.
But, as I sit on my Ottoman and gaze out the window, I have learnt a beautiful new word –
the view from my ottoman
According to Wikipedia - Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, Aleister Crowley, Erik Satie, Edgar Allan Poe, Lord Byron and Alfred Jarry were all known absinthe drinkers.
Did this result in their Absenting themselves from their families?On Saturday last, former literary editor of The Irish Times and eminent author John Banville told Kathy Sheridan, who was interviewing him for the said Irish Times, “I have not been a good father. I don’t think any writer is. You take so much and suck up so much of the oxygen that it’s very hard on one’s loved ones.”
This quote – particularly the six words ‘I don’t think any writer is’, has made writers go a bit mental on social media….This has in turn provoked Martin Doyle of the Irish Times to gather no fewer than 23 pieces from writers on Monday 24th in an article entitled, ‘Do writer’s make bad parents?’.
Walsh’s Love Letter from her ScriptoriumThe first and most moving piece is by Triona Walsh. Hers is a veritable love letter to her husband and children. She has ‘four of the beautiful, unique, fascinating little creatures,’ and she describes, ‘It is not just the pram in the hall that is the enemy of good art but also the nits in the hair, the mouldy kit in the sports bag, the 2am vomit on the bedroom floor, the squabbles in the living-room, the ketchup on the ceiling, the house phone in the toilet bowl.’
As you read her struggle to write alongside her fascinating little creatures you know, and you know she knows, and you know that John Banville rightly knows too, that none of these things are the enemy of art.
O’Connor's Reflections from his OttomanThe funniest piece, by Joseph O’Connor, is a mock conversation between a teenager and father:
Father: Mmn?T: It’s me, dad. Your daughter. I’m at the door of your office.
F: Term it my scriptorium.
T: Your, er, scriptorium. Sound. Can I come in for a sec?
T: I’ve brought your absinthe.
F: Leave it on the ottoman.
So - what epitomises Banville?
Banville went on to tell a story that, according to his interviewer Kathy Sheridan, perhaps epitomises him.
So anyways –the two articles taken together have made me resolve to shirk on the Absinthe to make for a clear head.