Thank you to Canadian expat Hubert O’Hearn (who wrote this review of my book the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide) who has kindly written his own take on his new life in Ireland. I love his very distinctive humour and I can think of a few fellow bloggers who will probably appreciate it too! Enjoy!
When it was suggested to me by a mutual friend that Clara Wiggins might appreciate it if I wrote a guest post for her website – the word blog sounds to me like the song of a depressed frog – of course I leapt to it like a, well like a non-depressed frog taking aim at nearby fly. I’m a writer, I’m an expatriate, and in writing about my own experience I get to write the word I a lot. Including me and my and I’m, there’s a dozen already just in this opening paragraph. We are our own favourite subjects after all. Oh and there’s no denying that. As both a book reviewer and an editor/writing coach, If I (thirteen) had a dollar for every book I’ve (fourteen) read whose story began with a lonely, misunderstood writer who suddenly has a buxom Russian spy come bursting through his door bearing secret passions and a pizza with double cheese I’d (fifteen) be able to settle the national debt of Greece.
I probably should get some pencil-sharpening necessary exposition out of the way while I decide what would be the most interesting thing to discuss with you (1). A half century ago a drunken stork got lost on its way, said ‘oh the hell with it’ and dropped its load smack in the middle of Canada. Thus I was born and I haven’t had a good word to say about large birds ever since. Half a century later I finally ended up where I was supposed to be in the first place. I packed three suitcases, bribed my border collie Stella into climbing inside a pet carrier and three flights and a limo jump between LaGuardia and Newark later, I was in Ireland. Despite the best efforts of the Irish government, I’m bloody well staying. So there.
Now of course I’m faced with a choice as to how to best fill the rest of this space. There are three definite options here:
The Romantic Allure of Ireland
Oh it definitely has all that allure in spades and I knew it from the first time I saw the little moss-covered island from the air when, at age 10, I was taken here for a summer tour by my mother. That was when I made up my mind to move here, although it did take a while to put the plan into action. And you think you have writer’s block! Anyway, writing about that would lead to sentences like this:
I no longer write, but record what I hear as I listen without listening to the voices whispered in coastal winds through the hawthorn tree in my back garden.
‘Ere now, ain’t that all grand like? But that is an option.
Now this is ever so popular at all the best dinner parties and is guaranteed to charm the pants off the guests, which would certainly be my specific intent if the guests were vivacious and single. Actually, never mind the single part. I’ve had affairs with married women and leaving the sinning aspect aside, you get to have all the fun and still can lay about alone on weekend afternoons in a robe and bare feet watching the football (2). Yes, there are lots of liquored laffs to be had in telling tales of learning to live in Ireland, such as:
Having decided to learn the Irish language, I downloaded a series of lessons produced by Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTE. The very first lesson – I swear I am not making this up – implied that the three essential phrases to know are: The weather is terrible, Can I get you a cup of tea? and, Isn’t this the employment office?
Serious Words of Advice
Oh gawd, you don’t really want to know about taxation policy and registering for National Health benefits do you? If that’s what you’ve come to me for, not only are you barking up the wrong tree you’d best be seeking out the National Health services in your own country to find treatment for this odd habit of yours of barking up trees. Well, I suppose if that’s what you’re after I had best toss a bone your way (3). Besides, to omit doing so would break the rhythm of this piece that is bound to be nominated for a myriad of Webby Awards if I can just find the link to place it in nomination. Here is your sample sentence of advice:
In seeking accurate assistance prior to emigrating to Ireland, the best and most accurate information is not likely to come from a clerk in the Irish Embassy in Ottawa whose accent has more of a distinct lilt of Delhi than Derry.
No no, that one’s true. My initial immigration was completely mucked up by said clerk in said Embassy which meant that I had to decamp to England for ten months while waiting for a UK passport to be delivered so that I, as a resident of the EU (4) could freely and legally return to the Republic of Ireland.
As you may have guessed, this post is nearly done and that’s why they all call me Clever Clogs (5). However I do have to say at least one serious thing about Ireland because I love it so. Somewhere in this often rotten world there is a place that meets your needs, suits your pace and matches your own energies and dreams perfectly. That is something I truly believe from the bottom of my heart. Just as migratory birds have an inner compass drawn to some mysterious energy pole that leads them safely to Capistrano or North Africa every autumn, so too is there that needle within you that tries to nudge you where you are meant to live. If you are very, very very lucky that place is where you live now. And if not, I truly hope you find it soon.
1. In other words, this paragraph is dull as hell and you’re welcome to skip it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you Sparky.
2. What? You think I called this piece The Charms of Indiscretion just because I liked the sound of the words?
3. Seriously, why do you think you’re a dog? Your mother’s concerned and people are starting to talk.
4. At least until David Cameron bollixes up the EU Referendum in 2017.
5. No one has ever called me Clever Clogs.
Hubert O’Hearn is an independent editor, writing coach, arts reviewer and author of two books and six plays. He has also developed the Six Months to Better Writing Course designed to sharpen skills through individual mentoring for both developing and professional writers. He is delighted to hear from other writers any time on either a personal or professional basis. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and an archive of his work can be found at www.bythebookreviews.blogspot.ie.