Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The Irish Nomad (from my links below) has got me thinking about death; she blogged about the Irish writer Nuala O'Faolain who has just been told that cancer is killing her. My mind leapt to Julia Darling; she continued writing in her blog until she had no energy left - this is what a writer does, in my mind. I have added a link to her website, straight to the blog, which I've already reversed so it's easy to read from the beginning; before she even knew it was called a blog! It is a stunning testimony to her character and view of the world...and how she portrayed it in her writing.

She was such a laugh; I've just been reading some of it now and I miss her all over again; and Newcastle - no-one writes about the North East the way she did. And Live Theatre; Newcastle has an amazing theatre and poetry scene. I have tried to integrate since I've been back in Glasgow but it's not the same; there doesn't seem to be the same quality in the work being performed at open mic sessions (poetry). And, there isn't the same prolific playwriting going on either.

At the start of the blog she is writing 'TheTaxi Driver's Daughter', which reminds me of an hysterical morning in a writing workshop we both attended up at Newcastle Uni in the late 80s and early 90s; we'd been set an exercise to finish the phrase, 'The Tree of...' and pick words out of a box. Mine was 'Ready Meals'. I won't tell you what Julia had because it's in that novel. It's a great read.

That workshop was brilliant; run by Margaret Wilkinson and Gillian Allnut - boy they sent us on some fantastic trips, made us do weird and wonderful things in the name of Writing From the Inside Out. There's quite a lot of Julia's work on the website, and links to radio plays and interviews - loads of interesting surfing.

The radio interview where Nuala O'Faolain talks of her swiftly approaching death is so sad but compelling listening. It's Irish radio programme RTE. I think we all need a little conversation with death before the big event. You can really feel the silences and her struggle with emotion, but she controls herself and gets to make the most heartbreaking statements. I think there are few people who connect with you like this in your life; they make your mind work - both Nuala and Julia.  I haven't read Nuala yet but I will.


Gerry Kennedy said...

Upon deep reflection after listening to Ms. O'Faolain's interview on the subject of her "imminent" death from disease, I ask two questions:

1. Does she see how narcissistic, materialistic and selfish she sounds in the face of death to care more about her $1000.00 curtains than perhaps making amends to people she has wronged in her life through her own actions and words?

2. What will happen if, after all her sturm and drang, she does not succumb to her illness?

Ms. O'Faolain is a sorry character indeed and should be pitied, not exalted.

ireneintheworld said...

none of us know how we will face death and it's sad to listen to someone struggle with it; doesn't matter what she did in life.

maybe we should all be exalted! x

OSLO said...

Well put Irene. I quite like the idea of having exaltation to look forward to as the grim reaper approaches ;-)

ireneintheworld said...

actually jo, he read it wrong; i wasn't exalting nuala, but my old writing friend julia! x

but, yes, let's look forward to exaltation!