Sunday, October 21, 2018


My second novel, Be Do Go Have, is now available. The Kindle version is live and on the Amazon site, and as we speak, the PDF files are on the system of a printers somewhere in the UK, being converted into printed paper and coloured card, ready to be shipped back to Ireland and sold as books. The digital version is done, the printed one will be here shortly. It is a relief.

The actual writing of the thing didn’t take that long – probably a year or a year and a half, all in, once I got going – but it is the editing, the typesetting, the cover design and finishing touches that are time-consuming. I am still learning how to do all of this, so the actual production is slower than it could be.

For my first book, I outsourced the typesetting and cover design to a graphic designer that I trusted, who did a good job and produced a cover that I was very happy with. This time, though, I was determined to learn how to do it myself. My designer gave me some lessons in Indesign and I set about trying to grasp the ins and outs of the programme. I have learned a tiny fraction of what Indesign can do, but it was enough to put together a rudimentary cover, part of which can be seen above. In another iteration it was more complicated and busy, but I have since simplified it, and am now quite happy with the result.

The book started one evening when I was reading a passage in a book about language by Stephen Pinker. As a language teacher, the part about the centrality in every language of the four verbs; Be, Do, Go and Have, caught my attention. And then my writing brain kicked in…..

“The verbs be, have, do and go are…… the most commonly used verbs in most languages and often pitch in as auxiliaries: “helper” verbs that are drained of their own meanings so that they may combine with other verbs to express tense and other grammatical information…. Many language scientists believe that the meanings of these verbs – existence, possession, action, motion – are at the core of the meanings of all verbs, if only metaphorically.”

The phrase “the core of the meaning of all verbs” immediately made me sit up. “Existence, possession, action, motion” kind of sums up what it means to be a human being. We are, we act, we have, we move. What else is there?

From there came the idea of a story to go with each verb. Four verbs, four stories, four characters, all told in the first person, their lives criss-crossing over and back, into and out of the other stories, attempting to form a tiny picture of what it is like to live on the planet Earth in the year 2018, with all of our being, doing, going, having.

So I started writing……..

Saturday, October 6, 2018


Two little Lidls
(on the opening of a second Lidl store in Sligo Town)

The blue and yellow logo                  
emerges from the gloom
like the lights of a rescue ship,
like the promise of greatness.

There is a second Lidl in town
and Finisklin, where it resides,
is now like one of
those once sleepy villages that get
a Virgin apparition,
a moving statue, a picture of Jesus
in a slice of toast:
the pilgrims are already flocking
to this part of the town that,
for twenty-two hours of each day
used to be as dead as Christmas.

Now, the line of cars stretches from the mid-block
junction down to Finisklin, the Ursuline and the railway
bridge; all landmarks of my childhood.
I grew up five hundred empty metres away
and this road has never seen so much activity,
so many craving a bargain,
such an intense desire for random

They come for cheap drill bits,
anti-splatter shields, bike panniers,
children’s gloves, ladies’ jeggings,
patio lights, car fuses, garlic presses,
high-vis vests, nose-hair trimmers,
steam irons, first-aid kits,
mani-pedi sets, gym balls,
apfel strudel.
The hungry faithful
enter with their heads bowed
and handle the merchandise with wonder,
as they would a saint’s leg-bone or
a piece of the true cross.

This, finally, will put our place on the map;
it is what we have been crying out for
for decades.
Now we are whole, now we can
hold our head up high and take our
place at the top table of
the Irish urban landscape.

After all, what self-respecting town has
only one Lidl?