Arts reviews Blog Life

Email from the past

Thursday, May 05, 2005

faith brothers :: eventideSometimes the Internet can be scary. I woke up with a song in my head, from the British late 80s band The Faith Brothers.

These days, not many people might know much about The Faith Brothers’ album, ‘Eventide’ (except my schoolfriends Shomit and Dale), but for a while it was on heavy rotation in our rooms, and I loved the songs, and the delivery of lead singer Billy Franks. He burned with an earnestness that was so much better than most of the synth-pop nonsense of the time, and tracks like ‘Whistling in the Dark’ and ‘Daydreamer’s Philosophy’ really left an impression. 

As you can tell, since nearly 20 years later I wake up in Santa Fe singing them. At the office, a ridiculously easy piece of internet detective work reveals that Billy’s still going strong, doing some film work and offering some of his latest songs for download.

And here’s where it gets weird. ‘Eventide’ has long since been deleted, so I email Billy to ask him if he knows how I could get hold of a copy. And he replies within a couple of hours.

Now I’m a grown up, and have published a book and all, so I shouldn’t be surprised that there’s actually a real person behind the art. But this is the guy from the Faith Brothers, and the passage of time and my ignorance of what he’s done since then makes it particularly striking that he’s now sending me email.

The good news is that he can get me the CD I’m looking for (my old tape version is in rag order).

And the better news is that his new stuff is good too.

But Billy’s email is like getting a phone call from your favourite footballer when you were growing up.

Posted by David in • Arts reviewsLife

Accidental Pilgrim Blog

‘Cycling in the rain, sorting his head out’

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Irish novelist Dermot Bolger has written what I reckon is the best review of ‘The Accidental Pilgrim’ yet.

He’s writer in residence for the South Dublin Libraries and his one of his diaries, he gives his view of the book.

(UPDATE: Dermot was kind enough to email me and let me know the review originally appeared in the Evening Herald)

Here’s the full text:

The first thing to be said about his The Accidental Pilgrim: Travels with a Celtic Saint is that it is a surprisingly good read. I say this as someone with a jaundiced view of what passes for deliberately quirky travel writing ? be it an alternative English comedian playing tennis for a bet against the soccer stars of an impoverished nation or hitching around Ireland with a fringe or even Peter Carey?s recent Wrong about Japan where he simply admitted to making up characters to jolly the plot along.

On the surface, we seemed in for another dose of staged quirkiness with The Accidental Pilgrim as David Moore ? English born of an Irish family and Trinity educated ? returns to Dublin after working in (and profitably fleeing before the crash came) the Silicon Valley dot-com tech bubble. Relatively young, relatively cash-rich, at a relative loose-end and with no real idea of what he wants to do, Moore decides to cycle two thousand kilometres across eight European countries to retrace the footsteps of Saint Columbanus, an opinionated, hard-nosed and hard-line sixth century Irish missionary who founded monasteries and took lip from neither kings or commoners. 

Moore sees Columbanus as the sort of original Irish ex-pat, constantly in search of new horizons and constantly bringing his Irish baggage with him. While recognising the ludicrousness of comparisons between Dark Age ecclesiastical history and modern soccer, he also depicts him as the Roy Keane of the early church, uncompromising and principled to the point of self-destruction, with both being sent home early ? even if Columbanus managed to get himself shipwrecked so that he could flee back into Europe and found yet another monastery.

If this sounds rather too neat a conceit, the book works because of Moore?s sheer absence of cleverness. He possesses no religious belief and recognises that the interest in Columbanus for his college days and this long trip across Europe are primarily an excuse to postpone the future. He is doing this because it alleviates the need to be doing something else. It is a way to put his life on hold.

The nice thing about the book is that nothing much happens. He descends a few hairpin bends at dangerous speeds, lusts after but never manages to bed the odd passing waitress, and spends a lot of time cycling in the rain and sorting his head out. He has a dry wit and is very aware both of the importance of the pilgrimage for himself and how it is slightly ridiculous. He travels alone but in this writing is a surprisingly good companion. David Moore now lives in Dublin, is married and cycles to work. He has never got a puncture, which shows that even agnostics have someone looking after them.

Review from here (in ‘Dermot’s Diary, Feb 8th, 2005)

Posted by David in • Accidental Pilgrim