Delving through old written and recorded material recently, it occurred to me that this really is a great time to be a writer or a singer. I am not referring to any greater possibility of becoming successful, rich or famous but rather the physical effort of actually doing it. Most people who dabble in the arts do so because they enjoy it and get a measure of satisfaction from their endeavours and they are the people to whom I am addressing my comments.

Not too long ago, most writers had to bite the bullet, buy a typewriter and learn to type even if they only employed two fingers. But it was laborious work and correcting or changing passages of text resulted in very ‘dirty’ pages that had to be typed out again in order to achieve a ‘clean’ version of your work. The electric typewriters, when they came along, were only slightly better. And, if you wanted copies, you still had to use messy carbon-paper although, from the 1960s on, photocopiers eliminated that task.

Today, word-processors are becoming easier to use and cheaper by the day. If you don’t like a phrase or sentence, then simply delete the offending words in an instant and write new ones! It’s like opening the flood-gates for all those amateur writers, poets and local historians. It really is so easy and all you’ve got to do is to actually make the time for sitting down to think and work. The processors will even help you with spelling and grammar!

In my opinion, the key to success is to make the actual time dedicated to writing the main enjoyment. Don’t worry about being published or of writing a best-seller, just do it for the sheer pleasure of it and you won’t be disappointed. Don’t worry either about self-appointed critics who are stupid and ignorant enough to sneer at your efforts. If writing is your hobby and your passion, it doesn’t really matter what you write or how good it is. The world is full of god-awful golfers who will never win a tournament yet that doesn’t stop them from going out and enjoying themselves every week and, in my humble opinion, writers should adopt the same attitude.

And then, after a period of time, if you think you have a body of work, it will give you great satisfaction even if you just leave it lying in a drawer somewhere. It will be work done and you will have enjoyed yourself doing it. If you were of a mind to, as a bonus, you could always run off a small number of copies on your processor, fold and stitch them yourselves and give them to family members and friends who, no doubt, would treasure your special gift.

Singing for joy

A similar situation pertains for singers. Lots of people love to sing but, because of inhibitions, they restrict their vocals to the shower or, perhaps, an empty house when everybody else is out. There was also a time when many people used to attend the various cabaret lounges where bands would invite them up to sing and that still happens although the number of music lounges has diminished.

But, my friends, so much has changed in that sector. You can now buy karaoke machines suitable for home use or you can buy backing tracks that you can play on your own music system. For a small amount of money, you can sing to your heart’s content backed by orchestras, rock bands, country bands, whatever takes your fancy. Be you a professional, semi-professional or amateur singer there are backing tracks out there for you so go ahead and enjoy yourself.

Live music will always be the best music for me but there is nothing wrong in embracing technology so go on, throw back your shoulders and partake in the sheer joy of singing. And if the band isn’t good enough, turn them off and replace them with another. God, you could go mad with power!


Avril or Bertie for The Park?

The Wexford-based MEP, Avril Doyle, has announced her retirement from public life after 35 years service but speculation still surrounds the future plans of a politician who many people had predicted would become the first woman Taoiseach.

There are those in Fine Gael who want her to become the party’s candidate at the next presidential election when Bertie Ahern is expected to be the Fianna Fail nomination. She has declined to rule herself in or out saying she will give her answer much closer to the time. Ms Doyle said she had no definite plans but added somewhat mysteriously that she intended to ‘reclaim her own agenda, personally and professionally’. I wonder what that means, exactly.

Incidentally, many racing fans were toasting Ms Doyle’s horse-trainer daughter, Liz, when her 50 to 1 outsider, ‘Penny’s Bill’ romped home at Leopardstown recently.


Scientist (13) has lawyers and gardai in a spin

More than a few of the country’s leading defence lawyers were beating a path this week to the Tralee home of a 13-year-old girl who competed in last week’s BT Young Scientists Exhibition.

Ciara Stein believes she may have discovered a flaw in drink-driving breathalyser results. A pupil at Tralee’s Presentation Secondary School, she maintains that her research indicates that diabetics and people on low-calorie diets are more likely to return false positive results when breathalysed because of chemical changes in their blood.

At the Young Scientists Exhibition, Ciara grabbed a lot of attention when she maintained that, when blood sugar levels drop too low, a chemical change occurs in the blood. In other words, a diabetic, or person on a low calorie diet, could become hypoglycaemic causing ketones to form on their breaths. According to the report, defence lawyers are not the only ones interested in Ciara’s research as her experiment has also attracted the attention of senior gardai in the Phoenix Park. Who knows, Ciara may yet be at least partially responsible for setting a legal precedent within the criminal justice system and that’s not bad for one so young.


Love found, love lost

Dan is a single man who runs a successful and lucrative family business with his father not too far away from Waterford. Despite being a decent chap with a nice car and as much money as he wants, he has never had any real luck with girlfriends. He even joined several golf and tennis clubs in the hope of meeting a suitable partner but to no avail.

However, he put all thoughts of romance out of his head when he discovered recently that his widower father was very ill and was unlikely to see out the New Year. He knew he was going to inherit a large fortune but that also brought responsibilities so he began taking more and more interest in the business.

Then, just before Christmas, he attended a shareholders’ meeting of a company in which he and his father had a large investment. He found himself sitting next to the most beautiful young woman he had ever seen and, to his amazement, they got chatting and ended up going out to dinner afterwards. She was a successful entrepreneur in her own right and they got on so well that he unburdened himself to her, telling her all about his ailing father.

Her name is Samantha and she was so concerned about Dan’s sick father that she decided to visit and cheer him up. That was on Saint Stephen’s Day and last Saturday she and the elderly man were married in a quiet ceremony in Rome. Dan did not attend. And the moral of this story? Woman are so much better at financial planning than men!