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22 Mar

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Hudds via Barnsley via Arsenal

March 22, 2010 | By | No Comments

hudds via barnsley

As I entered my teens, my mum would often say to me “you don’t always need to go to Huddersfield via Barnsley”. She was doing this as a way of warning me about over-thinking things – often to do with girls, but also in relation to work. Whilst I haven’t literally been via Barnsley since taking my girlfriend to see Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ at the cinema there in 1999, I have repeatedly managed to over-complicate things, whether that be in search of romance, or on the quest for the ultimate (and self conscious) creative endeavour (indulgence).

Even as I’m writing this I’m jumping between paragraphs, adding a bit here, moving something else there. I’ve already written the end, and made notes for the next bit. Whilst that’s not necessarily the same as overcomplicating things, it says something of how the mind likes to jump around when being creative.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I like to go the long way round because it helps you make the kinds of connections, associations and leaps of imagination that you couldn’t have gotten any other way. There, I’ve said it. We can all go home now. But in fact it’s taken me writing every other paragraph preceding and following this one, before I could boil it down to that.

ceci-n-est-pas-une-pipe

In his book ‘The Element’, Ken Robinson discusses how humans, unlike animals, seem unable to just ‘get on with it’. We have to have ideas about things, and wonder what the meaning of it all is. Everything becomes re-made, re-imagined, re-interpreted. “C’est ne pa une pipe” – Magritte’s work highlights how our fluid our perception and projection of the world is, and ultimately how we love to question it all. The mind can get lost in these ideas and all too easily bend back upon itself. My mother on the other hand is a Yorkshire woman of mining heritage, and though an extremely sensitive, open minded and creative woman herself, knows when to call a spade a spade. “C’est une cosse”.

Maybe it’s my footballing heritage that is to blame. Despite being born and raised in Huddersfield, I and my brothers were raised as Gooners (my dad’s family came from North London). Arsenal Football Club have been transformed under the tenure of Arsene Wenger from “boring, boring Arsenal” to the Barcelona of North London. Their creative style of play – one touch passing around the team – is a joy to watch, except when you’re an Arsenal fan and you would rather see a result than a sexy build up leading to nothing in the final quarter. My friend used to wear a t-shirt with a Nietzsche quote that said “My idea of paradise is a straight line to goal”.  Arsene Wenger clearly has his own philosophy, and Arsenal seem to have a quest for the perfect goal at times rather than the easy goal, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to change them.

I like making connections and having weird ideas on the way to a solution – that is my mind doing its ‘total football’ thing. Finding those dead ends and secret passageways. It is both a skill and an expression of myself, however, applied to all areas of life all the time, then it does cause problems. The imagination is a wild dog and it will drag you where it wants. Sometimes you have to let the dog off the leash.

I know my mum is right about not taking the scenic route all the time, but at the same time it’s just the way I like to do it. Oddly enough, the last time I saw Arsenal play was when they came to Huddersfield for a pre-season friendly last year, and they didn’t travel via Barnsley. Nor did they play as such – they fielded and team of youngsters and won 2-0. They’ll learn.

23 Nov

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Huddersfield Connection

November 23, 2008 | By | No Comments

huddersfield Irish Centre - Hall

Tommy Walsh - guest speaker

Last week, myself and John O’Shea returned to our hometown of Huddersfield to present John’s documentary, ‘Connemara Connection‘ to an audience of over 300 hundred people from both the Huddersfield and Connemara communities, as well as our friends and relatives. It felt to me a very important and powerful experience, and in someways, a modern day approach to the traditional role of storytelling within a community. It was privilege to have been involved in caretaking the memories and histories of these communities and presenting it back to them in a way that celebrated the bonds between the two towns. It also felt like we had done something important in outlining the journey that the towns had made – adding our piece to the puzzle as it were.The pictures above show the hall of the Huddersfield Irish Centre as people were coming in, and also speaker Tommy Walsh, who said that Connemara Connection was “an important social and historical document”.

07 Nov

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Connemara Connection

November 7, 2008 | By | No Comments

Connemara Connection poster

On Friday 14th November I’ll be heading to my hometown of Huddersfield to watch a short film about the links between Huddersfield Irish community and the town of Connemara on Ireland’s west coast. The film has been made by my very good friend John O’Shea, who was born in Huddersfield but of Irish descent. John plays Gaelic football for the Brother Pearse club and is a strong believer in the importance of a game built around community rather than money. Last September he asked me to travel with him to Connemara and help document the community there, many of whom have family in Huddersfield.

We focused on a Gaelic football exchange trip between the Leiter Moir club and Brothers Pearse – an exchange that has been running for many years, and  one that helps to strengthen bonds betweenthe two  communities. John’s own father travelled with the club when he was a player. We interviewed the players, coaches, the club officials, and the local communities on both sides to get a understanding of the historical and cultural ties. Connemara is part of the Gaeltacht region, where Irish is the first language. As such, many of the interviews were conducted in Gaelic and then later translated by the Irish Studies department at Liverpool University.

It was strange to experience such a beautiful yet harsh landscape, a completely different language, and still meet person after person, each of whom had a personal knowledge and connection with the town where I am from. The people we met were extremely warm, friendly, generous, hospitable and of course with a great sense of humour. I felt both at home and away.

The film will be screened at The Huddersfield Irish Centre on the 14th November.

www.blog.29sunbeam.co.uk/connemara