What is a stop-and-chat on a street in Ireland if it doesn’t contain a comment or sigh about the weather? As a nation, we are eternally optimistic and perpetually disappointed by the climate. Though this is the one thing the Celtic Tiger and its culling couldn’t change, when we relocate to sunnier, more reliant climes, as many of my peers have had to do of late, we continue to obsess, all be it in a less manic way.
What keeps us sane, so at the mercy we are of this petulant observer of soggy denim hems and ‘drownded’ up-dos, tights in June and wellington boots on holidays? Perhaps we could suggest that our nation’s literature, its vast and acclaimed output, is one way in which we choose to see through the fog, the hazy sunshine, the flash-flooding and the ‘minus at night’.
I’m talking in metaphors now, you understand. True too that the most successful of our literature which speaks of disappointment, loss, heartbreak, tumult, scandal, historical misadventure, mischief, does so with the lightest and often funniest of touches.
This is the reasoning behind our choosing the four stories for issue 2 of THE SOUTH CIRCULAR. The work of Andrew Meehan, Albert Moore, Sheila Armstrong and Paddy Doherty expresses a darkness and a sadness at the centre of their characters, worn with such humour and clarity so as to deflect from devastation and to offer a state somewhere in between.
My Design Things’ specially commissioned jacket uses a photograph of a headstone from a cemetery in Malmö as its background. The headstone is a carving of two lovers, seated and facing each other for eternity. Every time John passes the headstone someone has placed real flowers on the couple’s lap.
It is the pursuit of this balance then, of light and dark, of highs and lows, which engages all of us in life. Perhaps these four stories will go some way to fortify our readers’ as you go about this game of ping-pong.