ANNE GILDEA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - REAL LIFE - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­day.ie

Mis­take! Last week I wrote that this week I’d be re­veal­ing what it’s like to get a new breast made out of your stom­ach. Now I re­alise, un­less I speed-write a col­umn as soon as they wheel me out of theatre, it won’t make the dead­line. So, next week… I hope, be­cause get­ting the op­er­a­tion done de­pends on that old ch­est­nut: ‘bed avail­abil­ity’. What’ll I say if there isn’t one? Ask if there’s a sta­ble out back where they can put me up in­stead? The de­lay won’t kill me, but it’s the other two Nualas I’m think­ing of. We’ve had to can­cel work for seven weeks. I never both­ered telling them about the pos­si­bil­ity of fur­ther delays. I’m men­tally deal­ing with it the best way I know how: like a five-yearold go­ing, ‘La la la, can’t hap­pen, won’t hap­pen.’

We did our last gig be­fore ‘new boob’ break at the For­bid­den Fruit fes­ti­val in Dublin last week­end. Fes­ti­vals are strange gigs: you’ve to com­pete with the ‘mu­sic’ com­ing from other stages nearby, which, given what con­sti­tutes fes­ti­val ‘mu­sic’ th­ese days, can sound like you’re be­ing drowned out by the ca­coph­ony of full-blown war. Plus the au­di­ence — a pro­por­tion of whom are al­ways ‘out of it’ — can drift in and out of the ‘tent’ while you’re on, and most likely they’re a lot younger than you are, if you’re us. Sue-Nuala was talk­ing about hav­ing no feel­ing from the waist down, as her sup­port pants were so tight. ‘It’s like hav­ing the epidu­ral,’ she said. I cut across her and noted that most of the au­di­ence wouldn’t have a clue what an epidu­ral was; the near­est most of them had last been to one was the day they were born.

Our slot went re­ally well. We were on a high get­ting back to the Por­tak­abin dress­ing room and Kevin McAleer was in­side, psych­ing him­self up to go on. ‘That sounded great!’ he said. ‘Yeah,’ Sue mused, ‘it was in­ter­est­ing. In the first three min­utes we weren’t so sure, then it just seemed like we...’ ‘Erm, ex­cuse me, I’ve to go on stage now,’ Kevin po­litely ex­cused him­self; the MC was set­tling the crowd and about to in­tro­duce him.

I laughed so much about that ex­change: Sue, com­ing off stage, so buzzed up that she starts go­ing into a de­tailed anal­y­sis of our per­for­mance, obliv­i­ous to the fact the per­son she’s talk­ing to is about to go on them­selves. Maybe you had to be there: with the way she looks in char­ac­ter, her hair in a skew-whiff bouf­fant and her pointy 1950s glasses, it must have looked to Kevin as if he were sud­denly be­ing ac­costed by a Gary Lar­son

We ate Thai food at For­bid­den Fruit. Back in my day, fes­ti­val cui­sine was purely of the bun burger/chip va­ri­ety

cartoon. Away from the com­edy stage, I hardly recog­nised any of the mu­sic acts. Kasabian were head­lin­ing. Yes, I had heard the name be­fore, but it sounds as if it could as much be a type of eth­nic fab­ric as some top band. ‘Oh, Mau­reen, you went for the Kasabian cur­tains af­ter all — they look great with your Bondax pel­mets.’ Bondax? An­other band, ap­par­ently.

We ate Thai noo­dles with Viet­namese starter thin­gies, mar­vel­ling at the top cui­sine you now get at Ir­ish fes­ti­vals. Back in the day I re­mem­ber it be­ing more bun burger, burger/chip, chip in a bun, just chip or just a burger, and maybe a sausage, the com­pen­sa­tion be­ing that at least the main at­trac­tion — the mu­sic — was ap­peal­ing to the ear. Ah, I sup­pose I’m show­ing my age, but there was this band, or what­ever, on the main stage as we ate, and the racket they were mak­ing I could only de­scribe as ‘trauma to the ear­hole’. Crys­tal Cas­tles they were called. Never heard of them be­fore my­self; could have been a brand of Arnotts or­na­ment for all I knew. ‘Oh, Mau­reen, I see you got the Crys­tal Cas­tles — they look lovely against your Neon Neon’ (you guessed it: an­other band).

I gave my per­former’s guest pass to a young­ster, first-year Trin­ity stu­dent Chloe, the daugh­ter of the play­wright Jimmy Mur­phy. I bumped into him at the artists’ re­treat I men­tioned last week. He was up to fin­ish off an in­ter­est­ing com­mis­sion for the Abbey Theatre: adapt­ing Rebels by Fearghal McGarry for the stage. It’s based on the wit­ness state­ments of the 1,773 men and women who fought in the 1916 Ris­ing. The Bureau of Mil­i­tary His­tory col­lected the ac­counts be­tween 1947 and 1959, and they were locked away in steel boxes in Govern­ment Build­ings un­til the last wit­ness died in 2003. Hope­fully we’ll see Jimmy’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion on the main stage soon.

He noted that get­ting the pass for his daugh­ter turned him into a ‘cool dad’. I know the feel­ing. Ear­lier in the week I was a ‘cool aun­tie’ when I brought my nine-year-old niece, Rosa, to see The Lion King in the Bord Gáis Theatre. It’s such a mag­i­cal show: clever stag­ing, stun­ning an­i­mal cos­tumes that meld with the ac­tors’ own limbs, the mu­sic, the singing — we both loved it. But one day too soon, Rosa will be pulling on the fes­ti­val wellies, run­ning away into a mucky field and shout­ing, ‘I can’t wait to see Kabushian’ or what­ever the head­lin­ers will be called then. And I’ll be wav­ing, ‘Bye, en­joy the noise’, while lament­ing that mag­i­cal lit­tle girls have to grow up.

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