Adrian Lunney: Building sites, fiddle lessons and being a republican in Purley

February 18, 2021 00:56:12
Adrian Lunney: Building sites, fiddle lessons and being a republican in Purley
The Plastic Podcasts
Adrian Lunney: Building sites, fiddle lessons and being a republican in Purley
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Show Notes

Writer, journalist, editor and PR guru, Adrian Lunney graduated in English at Cambridge and was EMAP’s feature writer of the year in 1991. He now runs Adrian Lunney PR.

Born to Northern Irish parents in West London in 1960, Adrian’s story covers the rise of The Troubles on both sides of the water as well as left wing activism, the Catholic Church, the joys of Rory Gallagher and becoming reconciled to his identity and place in the world.

There’s also talk of music masters, Henry Cooper, squeamish butcher’s sons and David Soul.

Plus Mo O’Connell and Mary Tynan set the record for the largest number of Plastic Pedestals ever nominated in one episode…

https://the-plastic-podcasts.castos.com/episodes/adrian-lunney-building-sites-fiddle-lessons-and-being-a-republican-in-purley

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:03 <inaudible> Speaker 1 00:00:21 I'm Doug Giovanni and you're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora it's reunion time today here at the past two podcasts, I've known my guest, Adrian Lanae one way or the other for over 20 years since he and I both attended a screenwriting ma course in London at the fag end of last century, already a business journalist at the time he went on to edit such fearsome titles as med-tech innovation and the rather appropriately named plastics and rubber weekly, and is now a PR guru with his own agency. He's also a member of the diaspora whose story is both unique to him and typical of his time, born in London to parents from fair manner educated at a public school, but conflicted by his own Republican leanings. It's a tale of having one foot in both countries, but a home in neither it's best. If we let him tell it with a few moments of adult language included, but first we discuss his love of Irish music and playing the fiddle, or is it the violin? Speaker 2 00:01:18 I started with music about six or seven years old, I would say. Um, and, uh, after a period I became where there was such a thing as Irish music and it was different from, um, other music. Um, we lived in the London bar, Brent, um, and, um, so, uh, uh, there were little music competitions all over the place in Wembley bread, town hall. Um, so you'd play your Tompkins worth a piano with 40 other kids, and you might get a medal or two. Actually, I did get some metals now. I recall it, I got a, you know, silver and a gold, and that was all part of the fun in the sixties. Wasn't it? Kitty competitions. So that led me further into the musical matrix. And, um, uh, I suppose I became aware of, um, folk music, Irish music, um, well, let's face it at that time because, um, as a North London, occasionally my parents would, um, leave us at home at night and head out to, uh, the Kelty mall or the national, which were the two main, um, dance halls in, in London, Northwest London anyway. Speaker 2 00:02:32 Um, and so they they'd have all those tunes, um, together. Um, and, um, after the piano I picked up the violin, which is a, is a, is a horrible instrument if you're not prepared for it, um, in its raw state. Um, uh, but, uh, I slogged away and eventually when we had to move South of the river with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, um, I won a scholarship to, uh, the minor public school that I went to in Croydon. Sorry. Um, and that necessitated keeping going with the music. So I was kinda, I've kind, kinda been shackled to musical in my life, really, Doug and, um, and Irish music has been a very interesting, um, tributary, I would say to the, to the main flow of all of that. So, um, yeah, that's, uh, that's, that's the, those are the musical beginnings. Um, and, uh, what, what, uh, I mean, I could, I could talk a bit more about the, uh, the physical background to that cause, uh, if you want me to, well, please go ahead. Speaker 2 00:03:40 Uh, so I was born in a hospital called park Royal, which is off I London as might not get this, but it's off, um, hanger lane, the hanger lane, gyro gyratory junction or whatever it is now it's in Northwest London. It's sort of, I guess, Ealing is the nearest sprawling suburb. Um, my parents, uh, when they came over from, for Manor in the fifties set up shop in Holston, um, above the shop, we weren't there for very long, um, a few months, I think before we moved to, uh, near the tube station called Preston road. So Preston road is itself a suburb, a Wembley, Wembley park, Wembley manner, all that kind of stuff. And I'm of an age. So I was six years old when the world cup happened. Um, 1966 when I was able to see that, uh, well, I was able to see the, um, the carnival processing as it were out of our, um, out of our front window in Preston road with, um, everybody coming and going. Speaker 2 00:04:48 Um, so I'm a child of the sixties, I guess, in some ways, um, in that particular neighborhood, I guess it was a time of building, it was a, let's not say bill back better, but it was building back after the war, I would say. And the law that it was a time of concrete, rarely, I think. And, and the fifties and the sixties were the time of, of the Irish really in Britain, I would say. And I went to three schools around there and one of them was located in Hinden where the M one was being built. And I think a signature memory for me as a kid, as a, as a six year old seven year old was, um, leading a party of my classmates and my teacher down to the junction of the motorway and the M one where a neighbor, um, a guy called Dan Kreegan was a foreman on one of the gangs working the M one. Speaker 2 00:05:48 And, um, so, uh, my journalism was already in hand and you'll be pleased to know because I six or seven, I wandered onto the building site and explained to Dan and I we'd come to do some research about, um, uh, the construction industry and all the rest of it. And he was very happy to let, to let, um, to let the kids wander around, talk about all that. And, um, I think, uh, again, in London and, and in the construction boom with the sixties, uh, another signature memory for me would be the sound of the Atlas Copco compressor and of the road drills and of the jumping journeys and all of those gangs working around town at that time up and down the country and in the motorways. And I guess 99% of them were Irish laborers. And indeed that was my dad's profession. My, uh, my, his profession, my dad was white collar. My uncle was blue collar up in Liverpool. Um, one of my uncles anyway. And, um, so I think that that was kind of the music of my first 10 years, really, that, that that's that constant building. Um, indeed, uh, when I, when I worked on the buildings myself, that's what it was called. You worked on the buildings, uh, no other word for it. Uh, so, um, I don't know if does that cover infancy in five seconds, Speaker 3 00:07:15 Move ourselves even further back if we will. And, uh, you say that your parents came across from Humana. Um, how did they meet? Speaker 2 00:07:21 They met at a dance. Speaker 3 00:07:25 Uh, so my, Speaker 2 00:07:27 My mother is blown in 28. My father is born in 26 and they met at a local dance or we'll hop or whatever. Um, and she was 17 and he was 19. And, um, the word about him according to her father was that he was Benny was his name. Uh, Benny was the nicest Valley. You could meet in a day's walk, you know? Okay. So he was the village postman, this guy saying it, and he did walk 14 miles a day. So, uh, delivering his post and I said, my mother's father. So, so maybe that was a compliment. I keep, I keep thinking about it as, as maybe there's a hidden Bob in that somewhere, but anyway, in the country and from Anna country, that look, that was the thing. Uh, so they met them, actually, both my parents went to boarding school. They were, my mother was the oldest of six and my dad was number five in a tribe of eight. Speaker 2 00:08:30 And I think they were the only members of, um, the siblings to go away to school. My mother went to, uh, a condom called Mount <inaudible> and my dad went, uh, over the border to some pats or some Patrick's college in Kevin. Uh, so I guess, yeah, there were fees to pay, but these kids, my and father were considered, I guess, to either be the lucky ones or to be the brightest of the bunch. So my mother, uh, studied hard and became a teacher teacher training school. She went to, my dad went even further South. The legend is he went to UCD. I never found the papers, but he says he went to UCD university, college, Dublin, and, um, got his engineering something or other degree. And he ended up working in the UK for the, was it called the department of works. I'm not sure. Speaker 2 00:09:32 Uh, but he worked for the civil service in an engineering capacity, roads, bridges, dams, and in the sixties, one of his key jobs was working in the Naval dock yards in chatter because either they need to be built, I think actually they needed to be decommissioned these, these dockyards and Chatham. So we had quite a long commute out there, uh, from, from Wembley to Chatham every day. Uh, that's what he did and that's how they got. And every, every summer as if it was just the compass resetting itself, we went back to Ireland for our holidays. So, uh, and, uh, since my mother was a teacher, we had, we had, we were able to have some long, long, old times back up, back on the homestead. Um, and if my dad had to go back a bit early, so be it. But we did that. Speaker 2 00:10:24 You, our Maurice traveler, the white ones with the wooden bits around them, that, um, that, that kind of thing, um, until it broke down, um, uh, or else one or two times we flew into Belfast at midnight, I think the flights were cheap then or something. And my, my mother's brother had a job at the airport and baggage baggage handling. So he was able to kind of show us the way, you know? Um, so, um, so yeah, that was, that was, that was the sixties for us. Um, but, um, yeah, but we're still in the fifties, maybe I'm not sure. Anyway, Speaker 3 00:11:02 Did they move across to England for economic reasons? Speaker 2 00:11:06 Yes, they did. Yeah. Um, uh, they felt rightly so. I guess that, um, their prospects were limited in Ireland, especially perhaps in the North of Ireland where, uh, there was, what, what, what can we say that there was, there was competition for jobs, some of it, um, in an unfair manner. Um, and they felt that, um, post-war UK had many more openings. Um, so, um, uh, particularly for my mother, I think, uh, no, no, for both of them really, there was, there was, there was opportunity in the England and there was more equal opportunity, but say, Speaker 3 00:11:51 But they're both highly educated individuals in Northern Ireland. And you were saying that there was a sense that, that the, uh, the employment system was perhaps stacked against them. Was this a sectarian thing, do you think? Speaker 2 00:12:02 Yeah, I guess it's pretty casual. I would say back there at night, I guess. I mean, Northern Ireland, hadn't been going that long. I don't think since the twenties. And, um, so it was a kind of infant state as well. Uh, and yeah, I think, I think the try, it's not, it's not the case now, but, um, less so now, but, um, the, the tribes were fairly well distanced from each other. And, um, the apparatus of the Northern Ireland state was almost completely with the majority community. Um, and, and, you know, better, better sociology sociologists than I have got a, a handle on exactly how this was. So, you know, since 1928 to the present time. So, um, but apart from that, I mean, I think the mood music there for my mother and my father was, was to leave town really, I think, um, just on a personal note, I think my mother was more excited about a cosmopolitan metropolitan future than a life in the country. Speaker 2 00:13:14 Uh, and, and it essentially, she led the charge, I would say, uh, my father a little bit less. So he was maybe a little, a little happier with, um, uh, his surroundings and, and, and all of that. But I think my mother wanted, uh, you know, w wanted the bright lights in a big city, as well as everything else. So, so she was very happy to be, to be, uh, making it in London and, um, sending, uh, parcels of money back from time to time and, um, and calling over her siblings to go to university or to get jobs in, uh, as car mechanics or, or whatever. So, um, yeah, she led the way I would say Speaker 3 00:13:59 I was going to ask, was there an exit as from both the families? Not just them? Speaker 2 00:14:03 Uh, well, I would say that, uh, England was, was, uh, was an opportunity for everybody to dip into and dip out of according to their wants, needs and circumstances. So I think let's see now. So my mother's one is, I think nearly all of her siblings would have spent some time in England working and one still remains. So what's that that's yeah, I know of my father, uh, one brother settled in Liverpool. He settled in the London area, but, uh, the other six stayed in Ireland. Um, so my father in sense, my father's family was perhaps a little bit more conservative. You might say. I mean, it's outlook. Yeah. Speaker 4 00:14:57 <inaudible>, you're listening to the plastic podcasts. We all come from somewhere else. The 1960s, London of Adrian's youth was a different world to the one we know today. Just how different Speaker 2 00:15:13 Well from having to wear ear muffs every day. Um, um, what I remember what I do remember Doug was, it was a feeling of there were new newly minted immigrant communities, um, uh, all around. So the roll call up, my cool, I think with the majority of the names they called out. Okay. So there'd be, O'Connor, there'd be Bern. There'd be Lonnie. That'd be Murphy. That'd be, you know, Riley and so on, but they'd also be, uh, Kuklinski uh Koleski um, uh, so there'd be Irish Polish, and then there'd be a master level Rini that'd be Italian. So our parish, Polish, Italian, all kind of, like I say, all a bit new. I would've been a little bit freshly minted. I, um, uh, I, yeah, my, um, my parents, my mother in the spirit of optimism, uh, which reason that, um, the London public transport could take care adequately over five, six, seven year old. Speaker 2 00:16:25 So for a time more in hope than anything else, she put me on the buses thinking that I would know how to change outfits on and on all the rest of it. So, um, and indeed there were thousands it's you don't see it now, do you do that with like thousands of kids, um, in their white shirts, swarming the buses, you know, all very young age or were the old money, you know, the big, big pennies and all of that trying to get from a to B. Um, but that I think has, as we got older and cynical and little, little less innocent towards the end of the sixties, we, we organize lifts and what we have today. And, uh, one, one of the people of, of one of the characters of that era, Henry Cooper, the boxer, um, I lived around the corner for us in a, in a, um, in another part of Wembley. Speaker 2 00:17:13 You had a twin brother who had a grocer shop that, um, uh, was, uh, every, um, every weekend. Uh, and Henry's, um, wife, I'll be now, I think that's her name. She was Italian. Okay. And Jaime Marco. And I went to the same school, so I lived off of her. Um, and, um, and she used to say to Henry Marco, uh, Anne Marie, what can't you talk proper, Adrian. Um, which was nice of her to say, you know, cause my English accent was coming on wonderfully at that time, dark and it quite different from my parents, you know? So, um, and that's a part of the, I think that's a part of the plastic experience if you like, that's uh, well, what is it is, it is a little strange in a way, you know, because during those sixties, cause little Lord Fauntleroy would be going back to full Manor and talking in a kind of quite precise and posh way, you know, as an English, as an English boy among, uh, complete among strangers in a way, you know, among very, very different apps and so on attitudes and all the rest of it. Speaker 2 00:18:24 So I think, I think that was mainly amusing for everybody, perhaps not so amusing for me, but, um, Speaker 3 00:18:30 Was it your mom or your dad who insisted on you speaking properly? Speaker 2 00:18:34 It didn't, it never, it wasn't, uh, it wasn't a directive. It wasn't even, I, my mother was a teacher, you know, so she would have recognized sloppy diction when she saw it, you know? Um, but nobody, no, nobody, nobody made me talk. I went, I could a lot of that, you know, but I didn't. Um, uh, so, um, it was just the way it happened. I think, you know, it was just, it was just, uh, it just happened. Um, and of course I think, I think the, I think, um, so I have a younger brother and a younger sister, brother is three years old, the sister's five years old. So, uh, and I think we recognize that after three weeks in a infer manner, my parents, my parents accident changed. It went back to a deepen than it went back to what it was before really. Speaker 2 00:19:28 And including expressions. I can't think of one now, you know, that wouldn't have made any sense in, in Wembley, you know, in London, but their voices changed the longer they will back in their, in their home. And they, and another weirdness I suppose, is that they used to refer to for manner at home. You know, it was like over, well, we're going home now. Well, what, okay, so w so where do we live? Where do we live? Where in Wembley is that well known, particularly, you know, where, you know, home is where home home was. So, um, that was another kind of linguistic conundrum, if you like. So, um, Speaker 3 00:20:11 So going on to school, because you mentioned that, um, when did you go to, um, this, uh, public school in Croydon? Well, that was, uh, so my father, Speaker 2 00:20:20 His job moved him and he was going to move to Newcastle, or he was gonna move to Croydon to, um, to one of those concrete skyscrapers there, the property services agency, that's who he worked for. Um, and they had their own building in Croydon as did the home office and living in a house. Um, anyway, they call the shots for Croydon. So after we had to go, um, so it was a case of, um, sitting exams actually dug for slightly posher schools than the general norm. Um, uh, and so that I did, I think, I think I sat maybe three or four exams, a couple in Wimbledon, couple in Croydon, and basically like a lot of things I just took the best offer, or we took the best of which was a music scholarship to the Archbishop school of John wikis in Croydon, which is a very old school actually. Speaker 2 00:21:22 Um, some people have heard of the wikiup center in Croydon, some people I say, um, but it's the, it was a big mall experience of its day. You know, it was up and running by the time we arrived, uh, in 1970. And, um, it was the, the freehold of that site was owned by the school I went to. So, um, and the school also owned another school called Trinity and a girls school. So the school was a wealthy, wealthy foundation. And, um, it was actually cited in the middle of Croydon until the twenties DH Lawrence taught, taught there for a couple of years. Um, but other than that, it, it, it, it wasn't really, um, it's not a major public school. I think it's a minor public school in the lingua. Um, but nonetheless, it was very, very solid. It had a lot of pupils. Speaker 2 00:22:23 I don't know what it's like now. I haven't been back for decades. Um, but at the time when you compare it to the roll call of, um, Irish, Polish Tahlia, and the names of the roll call was solidly English and it had, um, it had two feeder preparatory schools. Uh, so in other words, um, parents could pay to send this son to a prep school for four years in order that they might qualify for the desirable ground school of John Wayne gift. Um, so all this, all this I discovered in my first term in four short trousers. And, um, after, after a while, I, I, I also began to discover that, um, aside from the names and the culture and everything, um, the, in a school of maybe 1100 boys, I think there were, uh, three, um, people, uh, boys from my religious background. Um, now one or two of which happened to be head boy eventually, which is a bit weird, but, um, but yeah, so from 19, so in 1970, a difficult year, really, because I would say that the civil rights March in actually, I don't know, I think it was coincident with the Paris uprising and 68 perhaps. Speaker 2 00:24:03 I don't know Doug. So 1970 was, it was just getting started really let's say so. So everything was kind of colliding into each other. My parents were having to buy school uniform and things like that, despite the scholarship. And, um, you know, there are quite a lot of the time anxious phone calls back home, how are you doing? You know, did you hear about this? Did you hear about that? And so on and so forth? Um, and so, yeah, it was, uh, it was a new decade and quite an anxious opening to it. I would have said Speaker 3 00:24:36 Just to kind of summarize here, there, you, while you've been, you've been raised in England, um, and specifically in London, uh, all your life, but you're very much aware of your, your Irish roots and your, and your Catholic, um, roots. Um, you're coming from, you've got a family that come from Northern Ireland where the accent sight comes and goes, depending upon whether or not you've been back home, um, for, for some time. And there you are in what is essentially an English establishment. Yeah. I mean, I'm, I'm presuming there's a dichotomy here. Speaker 2 00:25:08 Well, you just play it as it lays, don't you? I mean, um, I w whatever, whatever happened, uh, at the weekend and whatever, um, traditions I was compelled to take part in, uh, on a Sunday or, or anything, you still play your school as a kid, don't, you, you try to, at least, you know, you still make friends break friends, you, uh, with quaking, you know, legs, you get involved in this game called rugby. Um, uh, or you, you realize that within three or four years, you're going to be less enlisted into the, um, into the cadet force that the school had. Um, you just try and do what you gotta do and survive, you know? Um, and while realizing that perhaps you need to up your manners even more, um, in terms of, I mean, I honest flop to this day anyway, but, um, and I'm sure my parents did their best with me, but, um, things like, um, eating in the street or covering your mouth where when you yawn, you know, this was all a little bit new to me for my sins, you know, no doubt. It's just me dog, you know, but, um, I'd been slumming it in, you know, County Kilburn, maybe a bit too long, I don't know. But anyway, Croydon was different. Speaker 0 00:26:38 Well, Speaker 3 00:26:39 We'll be back with Adrian Lany in a moment, but first a matter for your attention, have you subscribed Speaker 1 00:26:44 To the plastic podcasts? I know, I know it's probably slipped your mind, but it is a simple thing to do. Just go to our [email protected] and insert your email address in the space provided one confirmation click later at each fresh podcast will wing its way across the ether street to you. It's both easy and peasy, and indeed lemony squeezy. And now the plastic pedestal, which is where I ask one of my interviewees to name a member of the diaspora of personal cultural or political significance to them this week, not one but two guests as Mo O'Connell and Mary Tynan nominated, not just a pair, but a plethora, a parade indeed of plastic pedestals in partnership. First of all, it's married. Speaker 5 00:27:31 Oh, Elsa has always been somebody who's come to my mind because, uh, um, I really admire what he did with, um, uh, bandaid and live aid and live aid, which I was actually at well, um, that kind of got very overshadowed because the, um, 11, 11 bombings in London came shortly after that. So people kind of forgot about, about that, but it was, um, that was a wonderful event. And he just, and the way he I've read his own biography, that he went over to Africa and he just like, he, um, one of the teenagers that he basically said to him, you are a C word. He said that to his face. I was like, and you could just like, this was a man who had people killed, like at the drop of a hat and Bob gals with Fox NSR, Tim. And I just thought, well, you know, he really was, yeah, Bob, the garbage they called him. Speaker 5 00:28:17 But, you know, he put his money where his mouth is and he did you, if he did what he said he did. And like the way he spoke to Margaret factor, when they were like, everybody else was doing everything on that record for three, and she still insisted on taking VAT on it. And, you know, he just w he just wouldn't take, you know, he just wouldn't take it. So, yeah, he was be the first person that would come to my mind in terms of the Irish, diaspora, um, somebody who had started off him and he started off as a musician and they were a good band as well. So, yeah, that's mine. Speaker 6 00:28:53 Tons of people. Well, George Bernard Shaw read any of his essays. He's easily. He's amazing, man. Just even read debate. Um, then there's, uh, God, there's like I can, Jesse Bowlby is amazing. You know, she's a stunning actress. Um, just even just to watch her performances, like in warm piece, that's like just, uh, she plays everyone. She plays Jim broadband. How can you play Jim Brooklyn? But she did, you know, I am, gosh is so my, who else is there can't think that cause because there's so many, uh, Sinead O'Connor, uh, ripping the, the picture of the Pope, you know, um, live on TV, um, causing an uproar, but then transformers, she's absolutely right to do it, you know? Um, gosh, uh, who else? I mean like it's like even Bondo is inspiring, you know, um, then there's, uh, who else is, I think there's loads of people I shared Morgan. Speaker 6 00:29:52 And so she wrote pulley and she's written, you know, catastrophe, um, people who already won that she's Irish, which is interesting. I think she's from BlackRock or gallops from BlackRock. So it's wherever you know, where I come with. Uh, she's, she's phenomenal writer and there's, uh, I mean, as I know Ryan as well, there's Evan Boland and who passed recently, uh, who wrote some of the most beautiful famine poems ever. Um, there's WB eights, jappy eights, you know, they do Gregory Case Markovich. Well, what claim? Right. Anyway, um, Morgan, we claimed as well, uh, I mean, you know, got, I can keep going Speaker 1 00:30:39 Mo O'Connell there. And if you want to hear more of our interview with Moe and Mary, then make your way to www.plasticpodcasts.com and click onto the episodes page. There you'll find our entire archive of interviews, which are also available on Amazon, Apple podcasts and Spotify. Now back to Adrian Lany. And we talk about how as the sixties rolled into the seventies, his sense of family and country changed with those years Speaker 2 00:31:06 As the troubles wore on. And there was sufficient aggravation, I think, and disturbance in the fact of, um, the increasing violence in the province, um, and the increasing effect it had on everybody who, uh, didn't have a main role in that violence. Um, and as a kind of growing teenager, I think, um, it kind of absorbed that wherever, wherever one is. And I happened to be in, um, in Purley Croydon, sorry, you know, in a very distinct, um, on the immigrant community. Uh, so I'll just, I'll just pick off a couple of milestones maybe, um, when internment began because a wonderful recruiting ground for the, uh, provisional Monterrey, um, since it was so, um, mistaken in its application. And, uh, there was a book, uh, produced called brutalities, and this was authored by a character called father Dennis full, who I think has he's quite well known in the history of the troubles, this book, um, with simply, um, it was, it wasn't, um, it was, uh, it was more like, uh, a pamphlet, I guess it was the, I'm a five, I would say in size with a red cover. Speaker 2 00:32:45 And, um, it certainly had a lot of, um, it's called brutalities and it was edited by this priest. And it had pictures on pictures of, um, people who had been basically beaten up or tortured or, or whatever, by the security forces over the period of a year or two. And my parents had a copy of this book and they took this book. They, they sort of meeting with our local parish priest in Purley, who is, and it was a very English, elderly guy called cannon Denning. And they thought that he needed to hear about this. And they sought the explanation from the parish priest as to what was going on. What are the moral guide? What's the moral guidance here? What, what do you think, uh, father and I do remember that the evening that they left us for an hour and went down to see him and seeking something. I don't quite know what in hindsight, but coming back very, very quiet and very, um, I don't think disappointment covers it. I think it was something deeper than that. Um, in that you could say the ledge of the faith met the of politics and what they found was that Canon Denning dismissed. It said it didn't, it couldn't possibly be happening. Um, they shouldn't worry about it. They shouldn't involve themselves. They shouldn't really pay it any heat. And I think to be honest, um, that's the advice they took from that point on, Speaker 3 00:34:36 But you're are not your parents and whilst your parents may well have had, um, uh, economic reasons as much as anything, uh, to just simply take the priest's advice. You're, uh, uh, 11, 12, 13, 14 year old and so forth during those periods of the early seventies, did you feel differently? Did you feel a need to kick against things? Speaker 2 00:34:57 Yeah, yeah. That 14 year old. 15 year old. Definitely. Yeah. I mean, the mine can't let some things rest to kind of, let's put the age to one side, the issues keep burning away, don't they, you know, so I heard what my parents had to say. Um, but the young agent couldn't couldn't help, but be at least baffled by some things and in other ways more indignant about others. Um, so another moment in the seventies was when I decided all on my own ear that the, the visit of Bernadette Devlin to a conference organized by Marxism today with something that I might be interested at the London school of economics, um, with Ken Livingston making, um, quite, uh, I think he was chairing quite a lot of it. Um, and somehow, or other in a manner of, you know, slipping out to the disco without letting them know. Speaker 2 00:36:04 Um, I managed to slip out to this thing, um, which is, I think it was near the old witch. Um, anyway, as far as they were concerned, this was worse than, you know, um, um, getting on heroin or anything like that because, um, well, a couple of things, number one, the special branch would have been recording and taking photos of people around in and around. But number two, uh, you know, it's not like, um, the stamp club, you can't join one day and then say, Oh, perhaps I won't bother with that. You know, if one can enlist in a cause and then forget about it the next month. So they were very concerned that I should not, um, become a hothead, um, about this. Um, and I remember the dressing down was at least as least as powerful as, you know, stumbling in drunk on a Sunday morning or anything like that. Speaker 2 00:37:03 So, um, and yeah, I, I, uh, bound up with my own adolescent struggle with my parents, I think was the, this cause was tacked on. So in order to annoy them even more, this was earlier though, I think this was more of that 14, 14 years old. I, um, I got a brand from the, uh, fire in the back garden and in the letters of Holly, I wrote, uh, a Adrian Lanae IRA. And, um, so this was from our, from our detached house garden, visible from all the other good people of pearly, you know, Ooh, we got one of these. Have we? Um, and, um, yeah, so the, again, that was not a good move really, as far as my parents. Speaker 2 00:37:59 Uh, so that had to come down this same day, but did you do this in the, on the grass? So now this is burned onto the shed side onto the shed side. Okay. So yeah, pretty visible. Yeah. Uh, well, you know, they're doing it in Belfast show, some strikes, some solidarity, you know? Um, so, um, yeah, so, so one gets impulsive. I mean, adolescents is about sprouting and pimples and being impulsive. Isn't it? And I guess this is, this is one of my, my, my best temples ever. You ran off to Northern Ireland. I did. Yeah. Again, it's part of the suffering of being an adolescent is you, can't one cannot fucking stand being with one parents for a single day more. Um, and if they're not going to play ball well, bye-bye, you know, so, um, so my cousin who, um, who, who shipped out of belt fast a couple of years earlier, and he was two or three years older than me had a boyfriend, uh, who shall remain nameless. Speaker 2 00:39:03 Um, he worked for the British transport police, uh, who I persuaded to forge me a rail ticket from London to Liverpool return, which he did, uh, cause I always put in a good word for him on a Saturday night. And, um, and, uh, I got a somehow or other, I bought my, my ticket for the ferry sleeping on the deck overnight. And I got my mother's brother to pick me up in his van at six in the morning and drive me, uh, draws me West through Northern Ireland from Belfast to County lead from where my mother's sister was living. And that's where I spent my running away weeks before, before I ran back again to finish my levels and stuff like that. Yeah. So, uh, so I would say that was one time, uh, I was trying to get, I was trying to think of some other time, uh, uh, kind of, yeah. Speaker 2 00:40:12 Anyway. Yeah. So that, so that happened in, I think that was the summer of S yeah, I think that was 76 or 77. I can't remember. Yeah. That summer. And when I, when I was in lead from, um, the act of David's soul was there at the same time, just so we all know, remember Starsky and Hutch, he was the blonde one. So he was the big news in town at the time, little village, just outside, um, uh Bundoran in Slugger. And so I learned how to do hay and I, I, so I arrived, um, with, with, uh, an kind of an empty suitcase and three LPs member LPs. Yeah. So, so what are those LPs was Rory Gallaher live in Europe. And so I played that, uh, more or less all day, every day for three weeks while I was mucking about doing, Hey, uh, there was a butcher in the village and I helped him. Speaker 2 00:41:16 His sons were a bit squeamish about helping him or at least one of them was so, um, uh, got involved with that and have a lovely time. Do you remember major cigarettes smoking major cigarettes, sweet Afton CA all the cigarettes were different in Southern Ireland. Of course. Uh, so, so that was from, um, uh, yeah, it was, it was a little, it was a little Rite of passage. It was a little walkabout, maybe something like that. Um, and, and I think, and when I came back, I was changed. I think I put something behind me, it's arrest or whatever, you know, um, Speaker 4 00:42:01 I had something to go to didn't you, which was essentially that you had this prospect of, of Cambridge and scholarship and, uh, or scholarly activity. Yes. Speaker 2 00:42:10 Well, well, yeah, well, I had that to amen. I mean, I didn't have a place and, um, and I couldn't say everybody believed in me. Um, I mean, my parents did, but I would say that the teachers knew had got my number as a sort of raggedy, assed troublemaker, um, and yeah, perhaps not quite fit for, um, Oxbridge, but anyway, I got there, you know, fuck it. I got there, uh, excuse me. Um, and, um, I normally go, you know, Speaker 4 00:42:50 <inaudible>, you're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. We all come from somewhere else, Adrian Lenny's story. Isn't just about the political or the familial. It's also about his musical heritage. We started the conversation talking about his love of Irish folk, and it's a subject which carries a tale of its own at the height of the troubles. Speaker 2 00:43:15 I, I, my uncle Philip took me under his wing in terms of, um, a bit of mentoring, uh, and on one of our holidays, uh, in the burning province, um, in Belfast, um, he presented me with a number of musical instruments, including a fiddle or violin, same thing. Uh, it was a saxophone nose. It was a trumpet. I, it was, it was a whole yard sale, you know, and, um, to go with that was a copy. I mean, copy of a book called O'Neill's thousand and one jigs and reels, um, uh, which is which back then anyway was a, kind of, was the starter manual, was the Bible. Um, and I took that home and I, I began experimenting with it. I mean, I had a day job, uh, as, as, uh, at the school, uh, to, uh, to fulfill my music scholarship, to lead the orchestra, to take part in the classical world there. Speaker 2 00:44:20 And, um, so this folk thing was a bit on the side as was the blues guitar that I'd picked up in age 16. Again, the Roy gala connection. My another uncle knew, um, the people that Roy Rory's people let's call them that, um, or the road crew. And so we were close to that side of things as well. So there was a lot of musical stuff going on or different bits and pieces going on and, um, the payoff for it. Well, Doug came much later, rarely, um, when my parents, um, God bless them, God rest her soul. Um, they both got ill. My mum got Alzheimer's and my mom, my dad had a stroke and had dementia. Um, and so this is maybe 15 years ago, I'd have been in my mid forties and I've resolved to brush up on Irish music. And, um, because I found that it was an instant healing, if you like, or an instant emotional entry point for, for my parents at this time in their lives. Speaker 2 00:45:31 Um, but I felt that I could do it once more with feeling as it were and the feeling I needed to get a bit of insight. I'd heard of, um, some classes, well, I'd heard of the Irish center. I don't know, discovered actually that there were two, there was one in Camden, there was one in Hammersmith and haven't missed was the nearest to me on the district line where I was living in West London. So I went there and I'm glad I did because I met, um, Brenda Mulcaire who, um, I think he's still involved, although the place that blacks road is no longer exists. I think he's all in Camden now. But anyway, he, uh, he was running a number of classes for fiddle tune, Wessel, the box, the accordion. And, uh, I turned up, uh, I think I'd, I'd be the oldest member in the class. Speaker 2 00:46:23 Probably there were, there were fiddle. There were people, men, boys, women, children, you know, every, every color, every kind of, you know, a nation under the sun. Well, not quite, but it was very diverse. It was a very drastic, his best student actually was a Chinese girl. I think she was, she, she wasn't a girl, actually. She was more in a mid twenties, but she was, uh, she was such a fan and a great player. Anyway, I learned the mew. I learned, um, a lot out from him from the end and actually, uh, another diversion his father was, um, I think he was the founder, if not one of the leading members of the very famous Kaylee band, um, from County Claire called the kill for Nora Kaley band. When you get into music of any kind, you find it. Okay. So, you know, in jazz or blues, there are people who've got chops, as they say, chops being a technical skill. Speaker 2 00:47:26 So, or it been to the Guild hall and learnt it all from books and other things, and they can play it backwards, upside down, inside out everything with a lot of technical skill. However, the musicality and the point of the tune may never communicate itself with such an approach. Um, and Brendan was the opposite to someone who had chops, he's incredibly musical, um, incredibly musical approach to, to, to choose. And you could S you could kind of see, you could see through the chain really the way why it was the way it was most, most of the repertoire, I would say, even the titles from Napoleon's retreat, you know, things like that. Most of it is from the 18th and the 19th century it's from as and melodies from that time. And the rest is, uh, the rest is invention and some improvising station to turn it into dance music, uh, to turn those, those melodies and tunes into dance music. Speaker 2 00:48:31 Um, and I could, I could, yeah, Brendan revealed all that to me when I went outside and a word about it, he, he was, he was a very, uh, he was, uh, he was the title for him would be music master as it is in Ireland. Maybe not. So now with the way things are, but 50 years ago, music monster would be the title. And he would in the, in the, in the manner of, uh, what I imagine a karate master would be like, you know, he he'd give you a bit and give me a little bit, and then when you got that under your belt, he'd give you another little bit, it wouldn't be explaining it. He wouldn't be, he wouldn't be theorizing it. He would be playing something and then you would play something and then you'd either pay that right. Or not. Speaker 2 00:49:22 So good. So you do it again and again, and then, and then you get to the next bit and the next bit, so you'd, it, it was, it was that tedious old, I'll demonstrate it for you. You copy me. It was kind of parrot fashion, but it, but it was his way, you know, and it was good. And, um, and I ended up taking my parents in their eighties up to the, um, Irish center for some concerts and, um, very, very chaotic events. These cards, these are a sensor Kaylee's, um, because everybody has to have a go and, you know, we could be talking about four in the morning before everybody's had to go. Um, uh, but, uh, it was a great gift. Really. It was a good, it was a gift to, uh, I don't know how, um, I'm being rammed in a rambling, but it was a gift to be able to, to plant that musical, that musicality back in my parents' lives at a time when they really needed it, I think, uh, because it's, it's sadly a feature of dementia and Alzheimer's, that person seems to retreat to an earlier stage, may, you know, 10 and, Oh, you know, the land of the young, they, they go back to perhaps their twenties when they go back to that time and it's still fresh. Speaker 2 00:50:51 So, so remembering these tunes of the dance halls and all the rest of it, um, uh, that was the payoff for me. That was the kind of, um, that was the way in which I think my fiddle playing got used eventually, you know, Speaker 3 00:51:08 I'm going to move across to, uh, bring us much more up to date. Now, when I, when I met you, you, uh, this was, uh, when we were both doing a screenwriting course and so forth. And prior to that, you'd, um, you'd decide to become a journalist. Do you find that you bounce from thing to thing? Speaker 2 00:51:24 Are you finding that today? Um, no. Um, I don't have, I do. Yeah, actually I do. Yeah. I, I prefer not to have a set plan or I prefer not to get too bogged down in what I think should be happening. Um, and, and mix it up a bit with, um, with, um, with the day, you know, and with opportunities and what comes, you know? Um, so, um, yeah, so, uh, so I can bounce. I think my wife would probably tell you, I do bounce around, but we can't involve her. Speaker 3 00:52:00 I share a similar characteristic, and I'm wondering all the top of my head, whether or not this is a vaguely Irish, diaspora quality that, um, the, because there's a level of uncertainty to the background, to our backgrounds, and there's a certain th then you kind of embrace the uncertainty of the future. Speaker 2 00:52:16 You may well be, right? Yes. You may. Well, I mean, some folks, uh, uh, I dunno, what, what do we think, what do we, the best of us as it's as it were the Wogan's and the Graham Norton's do they bounce around? Do they, I always felt that Logan had something of that sum. There is, there is an improvised relational nature to something, Doug. I'm not sure why or where, but there's a kind of, Oh, well, you could call it the crack, couldn't you, there's a willingness to step out into the step, off the pavement, um, into something else, you know, and then come back, you know, mate, hopefully. Um, but, um, I would say, yeah, improvised nation. I would say Speaker 3 00:53:12 One final question. And it's the question that I ask pretty much every guest, which is what does mean being a member of the diaspora mean to you? Speaker 2 00:53:21 Oh, I love it. I think, and I, it's really weird that I I've worked in the plastics industry a lot. I have a client in West cork and he's got a fierce West cork wit about him. Uh, and yeah, I introduced myself as a plastic potty to him. I, I, I like that I can speak two languages as it were. And we're working with this guy actually is in a business capacity over the last 10, 12 years. That's been, that's been very good for me. Um, it's another dimension of Ireland. West cork is a place unto itself. Um, but, but I love, um, how can I put it? Uh, I love both sides, really. I love the, I love having had the access to the best of the English tradition. I would say with a few bumps speed bumps in the way, but coming to appreciate the civilized virtues of, um, uh, middle-class education and, uh, the fairness values and, uh, intellectual achievements, blah, blah, blah, let's say of the English side. Speaker 2 00:54:40 And I also love the vernacular of the Irish and being able to treat life, uh, in a more improvised manner, let's say maybe a more creative manner, uh, and to be able to combine, to combine both really without necessarily anybody knowing anybody else, knowing what I'm doing and in kind of secretive manner. I dunno. I dunno. That's another story maybe. Um, so I'm grateful. I'm grateful for both actually now, you know, uh, even though it's a little weird, it was a little weird here and there, you know, um, hearing your valves on the wrong side of that, a bar or whatever, but, um, yeah. Um, no, it's it's yeah, no complaints. Speaker 4 00:55:38 You've been listening to the past podcast with me, Doug Nevada, and my guest, Adrian Lee, the plastic pedestal was provided by Moe O'Connell and Mary title music by Jeff Davis. You can find us at www.plasticpodcast.comoremailusattheplasticpodcastsatgmail.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. The plastic podcasts are sponsored using public funding by arts council, England.

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