Dec 16 2014

I Can’t Swim

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Apparently it’s the most natural thing in the world. If you throw a baby into a swimming pool (and let’s face it, who doesn’t want to do that every time you hear a screechy infant?) they will, with natural grace, begin to sink, thrash about, find the surface and learn a valuable lesson in how little trust you should place in adults. Thankfully, I was an angelic child who never drove his parents to attempted infanticide.

The downside? I didn’t get that natural start to becoming an Olympic Gold Medal swimming champ. I have vague memories of swimming lessons in Presentation College Bray. I have more distinct memories of a freezing, filthy cesspit. That was the locker rooms in Presentation College Bray, not Bray itself. Although, there’s an argument to be made.

When I was a kid, we often holidayed in Trabolgan in Cork. Their very awesome pool had a wave machine, a giant snakelike slide and a gradiated pool which meant I could always avoid going in too deep. I still have ridiculously fond memories of that pool, even now. However, I also have one fleeting memory of nearly drowning in said pool.

A siren went off every fifteen minutes or so to announce the wave machine was about to go tsunami on our asses. Myself and the other pathetically cowardly, weak-willed, scrawny, pitiful, wretched excuses for small humans would usually accept this siren as a call to abandon pool (or at least move to the paddling end in a feigned attempt at bravery).

On occasion, some of us would pluck up a modicum of courage and wade a couple of feet deeper, allowing the weakened waves to lap against our torpid torsos, proving we were real men.

I’m not sure what age I was when this happened. I guess I was about ten or eleven, which means I’ve been holding on to this traumatic experience for nigh on twenty plus years.

While attempting one of these fetes of bravado, I ventured a few inches further into the pool than I perhaps should. One of the waves that I had been so fascinated with was slightly larger than I expected and caught me harder than I could handle. I was knocked backwards. Then the previously insignificant undertow grabbed me like deaths hand in one of the horror movies my grandmother allowed me to watch at the time but my parents would have banned (my childhood relationship with and my ultimate love of horror movies is something I’ll talk about another time).

I’m not sure what I thought, but I’ve no doubt my brief period of existence flashed before my eyes. I kicked wildly and could feel myself being dragged deeper, in over my head. Water flowed into my mouth, my throat, my lungs. My screams were non-existent, but I tried to scream them none-the-less. I have a tiny photograph in my head of my final moment – my eyes were open, I was deep under the waves above, looking up at the water’s surface which was probably only inches away, but it may as well have been three miles from my face. This was it, my final moment, my last farewell, my death.

Then I was thrust forward and upward. Up high, out of the water. I came back down with a splash and was submerged again. The same sudden thrust happened again. My arms were wrenched up and water burst out of my mouth. I coughed briefly before plunging back into the spray again. With one final boost up and out, I caught a glimpse of my dad. He was swimming beside me, pushing me up out of the deep, closer to the edge of the pool. I found my footing, I was well within my depth, I was saved, I was alive. Coughing, tears, embarrassment, and panic followed. But I was alive.

So, you’d imagine that after that encounter, I would have made it my business to learn how to swim, to ensure I never endured anything like that again. Nah!

Nowadays, I love going to the pool in my gym. It’s not so deep that I can’t stand and breathe the wondrous air, so I never worry. I can float. I can wade a bit. I can flap my arms and kick my legs and slowly but surely flounder my way from one side of the pool to the other. I actually find the whole thing relaxing. No, I don’t need to swim.

Watching people doing endless lengths of the pool, plunging their heads and bodies deep under water for what seems like minutes on end, thrashing their arms and legs pointlessly from one end to the other – this all seems far too much like hard work to me. I’m happy as I am. And if I do end up dying because I fall from a ferry while crossing the Irish Sea, then so be it.

I can’t swim and I’m ok with that. The title of my next post? –  “I can’t drive”. :P

One response so far

Nov 06 2014

I’m In A Choir. Did You Know I’m In A Choir? I’m In A Choir.

Published by under Blog

Paul-PottsI love singing. I’m no Paul Potts (I’ve a better waistline for starters), but I really do enjoy it. It’s relaxing, thrilling, challenging and, above all else, so much fun.

So… I’m in a choir. I joined the ‘Songs in the Key of D’ choir about a year ago and since then have met some amazing people, enjoyed singing the bass parts to some incredible mash ups and have performed the National Concert Hall twice. Who’d a thunk it!!

The ‘D’ in Songs of the Key of D stands for Dublin. It’s a Dublin choir, but certainly not in the traditional sense. We’re made up of Dub residents from all walks of life, all ages and all nationalities (well, not ALL nationalities, but we’ve a few foreign bodies in our mix). The music is a mix of traditional, modern, Dublin based and Dublin inspired songs (ok, there are a few loosely connected tracks in there too, but you’ll still love them when you hear them).

Next year, we’re going back to the National Concert Hall, hopefully to sell it out again. But before that, we’re hoping to record an album. The music ranges from the traditional Foggy Dew to the more modern mashups of songs like The Script’s Man Who Can’t be Moved and Boomtown Rats’ Tell Me Why (I Don’t Like Mondays). One of my favourites is the mashup of U2’s I Will Follow and Sinéad O’Connor’s Mandinka. We even bring things right up to date with our pretty awesome cover of Imelda May’s Mayhem. :)

Do you want to help us? Ah, you do! Go one sure. We’re in the middle of a big fundraising drive. We really want this album to come together and our founder Eoin Kilkenny has kicked off a FundIt campaign to raise some monies.

It’s a crowdfunding campaign, so you will get something back for helping us out. Here’s what Eoin has to say:

It’s important to us that the city reconnects with some of the music that has made it so special and that it’s sung by the people living there in 2014.

Rewards available to funders include advance copies of our album, copies of arrangements, tickets to an exclusive Christmas concert on Dec 2nd in UCD, and even a chance to sing with the choir!

All members of the choir are volunteers and in order to keep the choir as open to everybody as possible we don’t charge members a fee to join. Therefore, we would really love your support to help us raise the money to record this new album. It is important to us that this unique group has the opportunity to record the songs of their city, and so they can be kept alive through time.

We are aiming to raise over €6,000 to help us cover the cost of rehearsal venues, sound engineers, mics, mastering the tracks, designing the CD case and producing the final CD. The total cost will be over €11,000 and while we hope to raise some money through a fundraising concert and private donations – this Fund it campaign will make the bulk of the album costs. Through your generous funding we can make this album for Dublin City!

We’re half way towards our target of €6,000. If we don’t reach our target, we get nothing and the album won’t happen. And I’ll cry! You don’t want me to cry, do you? (don’t answer that)

We’re raised over €3,000 so far and we have only a few days to go. Please have a look through the rewards and help us out. If you think you’ll come to our next gig in December, then why not use this as an opportunity to buy your tickets early?

Songs in the Key of D has been an amazing group for me. They are all wonderful people and I can’t wait to see what we do next. Please help our campaign and be part of the group’s future. C’mon, look at these lovely people…

SITKOD001

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Follow Songs in the Key of D on Twitter

Add Songs in the Key of D on Facebook

Support our FundIt Campaign

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Feb 13 2014

Be My Valentine

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I’m having a week of home truths. I’m attempting to be honest with myself, to stop deluding myself. I’m trying to stop lying to myself so much.

And the biggest lie I tell myself at this time of year is… Valentine’s Day isn’t such a big deal, it’s just another day.

I was chatting with Anto on Tuesday evening and we both wholeheartedly agreed – it’s a load of shite, means nothing, Hallmark holiday, etc. But the problem is that I don’t actually think that.

There’s a pathetic, hopeless romantic inside me. I love the idea of Valentines. I love that there’s an entire day dedicated to love. I love the cheesiness of buying flowers and chocolates. I love the idea of a romantic candlelit dinner. I love the cute, anonymous cards. I love the balloons and the oversized teddy bears. I love it all.

But, I’m alone. I’m single. I’ve no one to share this awesome day with. No one will buy me a dozen red roses. No one will surprise me with a nice meal in Trocadero. No one will buy me chocolates and tell me they love me.

Maybe it’s better that I keep deluding myself. Because this Friday, while I put on a smile and laugh with friends, inside I’ll be watching the happy couples and I’ll be so very jealous of what they have – each other.

So, if Mr or Ms Right is out there, can you please get in touch. Like, soon. Be my Valentine! Please!

One response so far

Jan 30 2014

My Joycean Nightmare

Published by under Blog

So, this is the reason I got sweet FA sleep last night.

My Joycean Nightmare Image

My Joycean Nightmare

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Jul 18 2013

Miss The Rain

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I‘m done. I’ve had enough. It was pleasant for a day, but now I’m pissed off, I’m uncomfortable, I’m sick of it. I don’t like this weather. I miss the rain.

I miss the rain. I miss the dark and the cold and the grey clouds and the big jackets, wet feet, chilly nose. I miss it all and would happily take all of those wintry symptoms over this icky, unpleasant heaviness.

I know we’re not supposed to complain about this “wonderful weather”. I know we’re supposed to embrace it and say things like, “sure, it’s like being on holidays”, “it’s like we’re in Spain” and “it’s a great day for the beach”. Well, I can’t stand the frickin’ beach. It’s not Spain – it’s humid, muggy Dublin. And it’s not like being on holidays – I have to go to work.

I have to leave my apartment already sweating. I have to travel on a hot bus for 40 minutes. I have to sit in a poorly air-conditioned greenhouse of an office for 10 hours before hopping back on the same sticky bus for another 40 minutes. I don’t do any of those things when I’m on holidays. Do you?

And if another person tells me that I’m tempting fate by complaining about the heat…argh! Ghosts are in your imagination, there are no vampires, aliens do not abduct redneck Americans, there is no God, werewolves are only in movies and there is no such thing as tempting fate!!! If there was, I’d be practicing my rain dance.

I can’t be alone in this. Surely at least some of you agree with me. We can’t all have bought into this insane mass hysteria. We’re in Ireland. We’re not built for this. We’re built for duffel coats and boots, for whiskey by the fireside and dark nights indoors listening to the splattering of showers on the window. I miss the rain.

I don’t want a tan. I’m perfectly happy looking like my pigment was removed at birth. I like wearing clothes and I hate seeing overweight, hairy alcoholics wearing nothing but tissue of shorts, putting their moobs on show for the world.

And as I finish this post, I lie here naked in bed on bed, sweating, too warm to sleep, windows wide open. Bring on the thunder and lightning, bring on the break in this weather, bring on the clouds and grey skies, bring on the storms.

So, who’s with me? Who wants to tempt fate and do raindance? Let’s extinguish that big yellow torturer above and welcome back the comfortable familiarity of the beautiful overcast sky. I miss the rain.

I miss my big red hat too!

I miss my big red hat too!

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Jul 11 2013

Three Little Things

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I read an article the other day that suggested a few simple things that you can do to make yourself happier. One of them was to “count your blessings”. Literally! I’ve heard it before too that if, each day, you write down three things that are positive in your life it can improve your general outlook. So…

1. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful, supportive group of friends.

2. I love where I’m living. City centre life is great and my apartment is awesome (so too is my flatmate).

3. Well, look outside! How could you not smile with that heaving yellow ball beating its warmth down upon us. Yay!

That’s it. A short little post to bring me back to blogging. :)

One response so far

Feb 21 2012

Signing On, Jay And Silent Bob, Morons And Danny Elfman

Published by under Blog,Vlog

Today’s video blog in which I moan about signing on for the social welfare, rant about a moron and look forward to Jay and Silent Bob and Danny Elfman.

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Feb 20 2012

Belfast, Nerdvana, Doctor Who And Titanic

Published by under Blog,Vlog

My first day and a half visiting Phil in Belfast was awesome. I debated, I walked a lot, I was surprised, I met a Doctor, I bounced around the nerd heaven that was the Heroes and LEGENDS (not Villains, as I say in the video) exhibition in W5 at the Odyssey and I saw the Titanic’s birth place.

Here’s me with Colin Baker. Thank you so much to the wonderful Phil for bringing me along.

Darren and Colin Baker

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Feb 16 2012

Before Belfast And Some Thoughts About Being Broke

Published by under Blog,Vlog

Just a quick update before I head up to Belfast for a few days to see my boyfriend. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to update the vlog over the next couple of days but I’ll try. Anyone know of any good video editing apps for the iPhone?

I also talk about being broke and some of the things I would like to do (and will do) when I’m back working and have money again.

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Feb 14 2012

Let’s Have A Debate

Published by under Blog,Vlog

Who wants to have a debate with me? I want to talk about religion and abortion, the environment and gay marriage, aliens and euthanasia. I have opinions…honest!

Argue with me in the comments below or on Twitter @DarrenByrne.

20 responses so far

Feb 13 2012

The Voice, Raw, Selling My Apartment, The Rugby And Fantastic Mr Fox

Published by under Blog,Vlog

In today’s update, I talk about The Voice of Ireland, the heartbreaking series finale of Raw, the rugby, selling my apartment, my iphone, John Green, Fantastic Mr Fox and…tea.

Some links:

11 responses so far

Feb 12 2012

The Voice Of Ireland So Far

Published by under Blog,Vlog

As I get (excitedly) ready for this week’s The Voice of Ireland, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the show so far with you.

Follow Culch.ie on Twitter @Culch_ie and follow me on Twitter @DarrenByrne.

2 responses so far

Feb 07 2012

TV3 Continuity, Bookworms And Video Fun

Published by under Blog,Vlog

Sinéad suggested I become a continuity announcer for TV3. Do you think I have what it takes?

I’m looking forward to seeing Bernard Farrell’s Bookworms in the Abbey Theatre this evening. I’ll let you know how it goes on Culch.ie.

7 responses so far

Feb 07 2012

New IPhone, Daniel Craig And A Birthday Greeting

Published by under Blog,Vlog

In today’s video, I play around with the Canon 550D for the first time. I’m not comfortable with it yet, but I’ll get there.

In the vid, I show off my new iPhone 4S, I rant about Daniel Craig as Bond and I send my brother Seán a birthday message. :)

19 responses so far

Feb 04 2012

I’m Not A Well Puppy Today

Published by under Blog,Vlog

I woke up this morning with the manflu and hadn’t planned on making a video today, but how could I deprive the world of my sexy sick voice?

11 responses so far

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