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The O-Zone: One for the Road

Those January blues, magical McGahern, great Scot Paolo and Trickster Tommy

Monday

It's Blue Monday, readers. No, nothing to do with porn. The third Monday of January is generally considered to be the most depressing day of the year. It's the day when the perfect s**tstorm of failing our New Year's resolutions, working through post-Christmas debts, and the terrible weather combine to bring us to our lowest ebb.

So to the Galway Eye Cinema to see The Road. I'm a great admirer of Cormac McCarthy's bleak novel about the relationship between a father and son in a post-apocalyptic world, and thankfully, John Hillcoat's adaptation is very faithful to the source material.

Unfortunately, The Road doesn't cheer me up. There aren't too many films about the relationship between a father and son that also feature marauding gangs of psychopathic cannibals.

Tuesday

Afternoon telephone conversation with Coco Sumner, 19-year-old lead singer of up-and-coming British band, I Blame Coco.

Their excellent debut single Caesar (which features Swedish diva Robyn on backing vocals) has just been released, but as a daughter of Sting and Trudie Styler, Coco is expecting a bit of flak.

Having said that, she's philosophical about it.

"I think the grass is always greener," she says. "If I wasn't in that position of who my family is, it actually would kind of make it easier in some ways. But then I might not have had the same interest in music if it wasn't for my background.

"I've always had music around me. It's not really a plus or a minus, it's just the way it is. There's not a lot I can do about that. I'm just gonna do my own thing and hope for the best."

Wednesday

This week OZone has mostly been dipping in and out of a couple of things. The one I can tell you about is Love of The World, a recently published collection of essays, articles and reviews by the late John McGahern. There's a brilliant piece about Galway in there, which really opened my eyes to what a great little city I drink in.

Walking down by Bowling Green, I decide to pay the €2 entry fee and visit the Nora Barnacle House. I've passed the place thousands of times, but never before ventured in.

Built in the 19th century, it's a tiny two-roomed house with a very small back yard (it was only renovated and opened to the public in 1987). James Joyce first met his mother-in-law, Annie Barnacle, in the downstairs room when he visited Galway in August 1909.

If you look closely, you can still see the bloodstains on the walls.

Thursday

Having previously cancelled due to a reported heart attack, the notorious Pete Doherty is playing the Roisin Dubh tonight. OZone isn't a fan, but I decide to head down for the crack. Sorry -- that's craic.

Friday

OZone notes with utter dismay that support for the Government, the Taoiseach and Fianna Fail has increased since last autumn. What can you say to that? Obviously, countless scandals, broken promises, gross incompetence, bank bailouts, and blatant cronyism aren't enough for some people.

Afternoon interview with mega-selling Scottish singer Paolo Nutini, whose sophomore album, Sunny Side Up, has just gone to No 1 in Ireland (a full six months after it was first released) and who'll be performing live at the Meteor Awards next month.

He's a lovely guy to talk to, but his Glaswegian accent is occasionally indecipherable.

Interestingly, he credits Damien Rice as being a major influence on his decision to pursue music as a career.

"I remember hearing O a long time before Damien Rice released it," he tells me. "I think the first thing was the song Volcano on a VH1 special. A black and white video with just him and Lisa Hannigan singing the song.

"And then through his website I found other pieces of music. I found the release date of the record, and that really made me pick up a guitar, really, because I could play most of the album over four or five chords.

"So it helped me, it helped me a lot. And I eventually got a chance to meet him and thank him. He's a good guy. So that kind of makes it all the better."

Saturday

There was an all-day benefit gig for Haiti in Sheridans on the Docks this week which raised €5,000. While I can't recall being there myself, Keith the barman assures OZone he was in attendance.

"You bid €200 for the Galway hooker," he informs me. "Did I win her?" I ask. "Erm . . . no, you didn't," Keith replies. "Somebody else paid €250 for a keg of Galway Hooker."

"Oh!"

Sunday

OZone has had the great pleasure of meeting actor Gabriel Byrne on a couple of brief occasions, so I wasn't especially surprised at the heartfelt honesty of his interview with the other Gabriel Byrne on RTE 1's The Meaning Of Life last week.

Tonight, I stay in especially to watch Gaybo interviewing Tommy Tiernan.

Despite his occasionally outrageous public persona, Tommy has a deeper, more thoughtful and spiritually aware side to his character, and Byrne drew it out of him well.

When the subject of his controversial Electric Picnic interview with OZone last September came up (following which he was wrongly accused of anti-Semitism), Tommy defended himself articulately, citing the persistence of the Trickster -- a mythological character for whom nothing is sacred -- in our culture and making the point that he should be allowed to say anything in the special protected environment of a comedic stage.

OZone couldn't agree more and has often cited the Trickster when arguing with the Herald's legal department. Unfortunately, those damn libel lawyers never let me get away with it.


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