In Con­ver­sa­tion

The Irish Times Magazine - - INSIDE -

What is the worst ad­vice you’ve ever re­ceived? Lynn: I find that hard to an­swer be­cause I have a tiny small num­ber of peo­ple to go to for ad­vice and they’ve usu­ally proved them­selves over many years to be the kind of peo­ple to give me rea­son­able ad­vice. I don’t think I’ve had ter­ri­ble ad­vice. I don’t al­ways ask for ad­vice un­less it’s for a par­tic­u­lar rea­son or par­tic­u­lar topic or is­sue. I usu­ally go to peo­ple that know more than me in the area I need ad­vice in. I strate­gi­cally ask for ad­vice mores than lis­ten to peo­ple giv­ing me ran­dom ad­vice. Bressie: Worst ad­vice I ever got was from some­one dur­ing my Leav­ing Cert who told me not to bother study­ing Yeats. It was the first ques­tion to come up. English was my banker sub­ject, I didn’t bother study­ing Yeats, and the f** ker came up.

Like Lynn, as soon as I hear bulls** t I switch off. I don’t lis­ten to it. I do have a very small group of peo­ple I would go to for ad­vice on not even se­ri­ous things but as much as my pri­vate life is doc­u­mented pub­licly, I am still quite pri­vate. If there’s some­thing that’s on top of me, there’s cer­tain things you ask a pro­fes­sional, cer­tain things you ask a friend. Who is the first per­son you call when some­thing brilliant hap­pens? Lynn: My ma. I call her when any­thing hap­pens, even if it’s not brilliant. Bressie: I’m the ex­act same. I’ve a very close re­la­tion­ship with my mother. What’s your best mem­ory of this year so far? Lynn: One of them would be fin­ish­ing my de­gree whilst in the Seanad. I work about 60 to 70 hours a week, and try­ing to fit in my fi­nal year of my de­gree, and be­ing ab­so­lutely pet­ri­fied be­cause I’ve be­come the poster girl for ed­u­ca­tion in­equal­ity – I couldn’t fail! I’d never live it down. I ma­jored in phi­los­o­phy and I passed. Bressie: What was a very big mo­ment for me was go­ing back to col­lege. I dreaded my un­der­grad. Hated it. Hated be­ing in UCD, so to go back there was a very big choice for me to make. I re­mem­ber go­ing in the first day and the re­lief that I knew I made the right choice to go back to study. They al­ways say with mem­o­ries you find dif­fi­cult, you shouldn’t run away from them, you should go to­wards them, softly. That’s kind of what I did, went back to the one place I swore I’d never go back to, to do a masters in mind­ful­ness, a ridicu­lous thing to do. Lynn: I need to give out to you for that, say­ing some­thing is pos­i­tive and ridicu­lous in the same sen­tence. Own how pos­i­tive it was! Bressie: I’m Ir­ish! With one hand I give, with one hand I take away. What would be your death row meal? Bressie: Any­thing with chorizo on it… And I’d have to have it with Jes­sica Fletcher. Don’t tell me you don’t like Jes­sica Fletcher? Lynn: I’ve never re­ally thought about it! Bressie: That’s the fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence be­tween me and you. Lynn: My last meal would most def­i­nitely be a crispy baguette with two pack­ets of Mega Mea­nies crushed on it with but­ter. That’s very Tal­laght in the 1990s. What do you dream about most of­ten? Bressie: Do you know what’s a weird dream for me? Lynn: It’s Jes­sica Fletcher, isn’t it? Bressie: Now that you say it! Well, I have a weird dream where I’m go­ing to play a rugby match, I ar­rive to the pitch and I’ll al­ways for­get my boots or some­thing so that I’m not able to play the match. Lynn: I have a lot of night­mares. The most re­cent re­oc­cur­ring dream was the week I was speak­ing for the very first time in the Seanad. In the dream I bought this blue suit I def­i­nitely wouldn’t wear, and I was due in the cham­ber to speak, but ev­ery time I went into the cham­ber the suit turned into Mickey Mouse fleece py­ja­mas. Ob­vi­ously some sort of in­se­cu­rity about not fit­ting in. When did you last cry? Bressie: The last time I proper sobbed was the day I fin­ished the Iron­man… I saw my mother and she had an Ir­ish flag and I cried for 15 min­utes to the point where my mother was go­ing, “stop, you’re mak­ing a show of your­self!” Lynn: I cry a lot more than I used to. I was quite hard­ened over the years, and as I get older I’m shed­ding a bit of that. Last week I cried twice. When the guys from TFMR shared their sto­ries on the re­peal com­mit­tee. It was re­ally hard. I also cried watch­ing The Re­hab [ on TV3] about the guys in Coolmine. I worked in ad­dic­tion for a long time. Be­ing in pol­i­tics, I miss work­ing at that real hu­man level of com­pas­sion and em­pa­thy and peo­ple’s real life ex­pe­ri­ences. I’m slightly re­moved from that now, and I do miss that. I got up­set watch­ing it be­cause so many of my friends would be still caught in prob­lem­atic drug use. What are some of the mean­ings be­hind your tat­toos? Bressie: I have the cover of Clos­ing Time by Tom Waits on my arm. That al­bum saved my life. I lis­tened to that al­bum ev­ery night for five years. The only prob­lem with this tat­too is when I got it, a girl said to me at a fes­ti­val, ‘ oh my god, I love Sim­ply Red!’ I thought, ‘ If she thinks I’ve Mick Huck­nall on my arm, I’m go­ing to vomit in my mouth.’ Lynn: The ones on my arms are flow­ers based on the time of the year they grow. They rep­re­sent my friends who have passed away, and the dif­fer­ent months. The more I suc­ceeded, I wanted to re­mem­ber ex­actly where I came from and the stuff we’ve ex­pe­ri­enced in our lives. What fault do you most tol­er­ate in peo­ple? Lynn: I tol­er­ate a lot of faults. When some­one’s fault neg­a­tively im­pacts me con­sis­tently, I con­tinue to see past that way too much. Bressie: Self- preser­va­tion. Peo­ple who con­stantly look out for them­selves. I think we’ve cre­ated a cul­ture where we’ve made that an ab­so­lute must. Peo­ple are scared… When they get scared they start look­ing out for them­selves and their fam­i­lies, but that’s not how com­mu­nity works. But when I see that hap­pen­ing, I don’t say ‘ self­ish bas­tards’, I just see that they’re fright­ened. Lynn Ruane was elected to the Seanad in 2016. Niall Bres­lin is a mu­si­cian and men­tal health ac­tivist and a co- au­thor of The Lit­tle Book of Sound, ¤ 4.95

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