Jess Moriarty: Grandmothers, Witches, Writing and "God"

September 17, 2020 00:48:12
Jess Moriarty: Grandmothers, Witches, Writing and "God"
The Plastic Podcasts
Jess Moriarty: Grandmothers, Witches, Writing and "God"
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Show Notes

The full plastic of our interview with Jess Moriarty, writer and academic. We talk writing courses, grandmothers, Brexit, Covid, seeing her dad literally play God.

Oh, and witches…

Plus Craig Jordan-Baker raises Moy McCrory onto the Plastic Pedestal…

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:01 <inaudible> how you doing? I'm Doug <inaudible> and you're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. We all come from somewhere else, find out more and subscribe to [email protected] Now the plastic podcasts was never intended to be a hotbed of academic debate, however, one way or the other we're on our eighth episode and we're already onto our third doctor following on from John O'Donohue Craig Jordan Baker. We now have Dr. Jess Moriarty, a course leader for creative writing at the university of Brighton and a third generation member of the diaspora being the daughter of Paul Moriarty also of this parish just specializes in stories and in particular community stories. But the first thing I wanted to know was can you actually learn how to write from a call? Speaker 1 00:01:10 I think creative writing can be supportive, encouraged, inspired. I think you can learn about different approaches, different techniques, and then kind of think about your own, um, uh, kind of what your sense of good storytelling is and use all of that to inform and enhance and develop that. Uh, but yeah, of course being a great storyteller is reliant on so many other things, as well as a kind of collapse or a university experience, you know, so, and we're not a conveyor belt. You don't just come in and we promise that you will, uh, you will kind of leave all with the same skills or the same experience and the same way of telling stories, because that would mean our courses were failing. Um, so it's a, you know, a lot, a lot of my work has, has kind of been built around the fact that autobiographical experiences and, and, and the things that we engage with when we're children and, um, our life experiences and, and all of those other things go into the culture. Speaker 1 00:02:03 And that, that, that have a massive effect on the kind of writers that we end up being. Um, but certainly I think that, that, you know, at the university, we provide a supportive environment, uh, with really passionate tutors who are all writing themselves. So have a kind of empathy with, with, with how amazing, but also how difficult writing can be. Um, and to give students kind of, you know, the, the, the, the time to, to share their work and their ideas, and think about what might kind of, uh, develop their writing and also hear from professional writers. So this year, Bernadine Evaristo is coming in to talk to them. Uh, we've had machine, how many come in, we've had Ollie Smith. We've had Karen joy Fowler, but, um, you know, so we had Dorothy coonskin come in, um, last year as well. So, so some really fantastic writers share their experiences with them as well. And I think that combination of all those things can support people, uh, students to become come stronger, better, uh, more confident writers. Speaker 2 00:03:01 Now you also emphasize the notion of community don't you? Speaker 1 00:03:05 I do, yes. Uh, Oh my goodness. You have been stalking me. So, uh, so, so because there's this idea that the, uh, writer is quite a narcissistic, uh, or lonely passing, you know, the idea of the writer in their Garret, uh, writing reams and reams every day, uh, uh, a cut of the Virginia Woolf, a room of my own kind of, uh, uh, notion as well. And of course, there's a lot to be said for that. A lot of writing does involve sitting on your own and, and getting on with it, but obviously, and, and, and, you know, a lot of Irish writers I know, would agree with this, that, that it's a writer's responsibility to look up and out at the kind of world around them as well, and also to engage with new ideas and new communities and, um, new histories and kind of concepts and, and research that maybe they haven't even thought of before twin life and their writing and create huge genres and new ideas in writing as well. So, so, yeah, so we really, um, uh, on the AMA, for example, students have to do, they have to become artists and residents. So they joined an organization or a site-specific, um, uh, uh, kind of placement, uh, where they draw on that space as a way of kind of improving and developing their writing. Speaker 2 00:04:21 None of us comes fully formed out. Um, and so I go, right, I'm going to be a, um, I'm going to be a creative artist. So you, you you're born as, um, with, with, uh, with Irish grandparents. Yes. Speaker 1 00:04:32 Yup. Uh, so on my dad's side, I had Irish grandparents, uh, both, uh, brilliant storytellers, but not, uh, none of, neither of them. Um, and on my mom's side as well, they might, um, none of my grandparents, um, got to go to university, uh, but we were really, uh, intelligent love to go to the theater. You know, my, my Irish grandparents in particular, they loved to be out. They love to be at the theater. They love to be at kind of music events. They like to be out kind of just out where it was happening. My, my grandmothers, there was a joke that my grandmother's suitcase was always packed because she was always ready to be off and out and, and kind of up to new adventures and creating new stories. Um, and then my parents, uh, you know, I am, I am, as I consider myself as, as, as lucky as they come, because my dad's an actor. Speaker 1 00:05:25 My mum was a teacher and a counselor as well. And, um, she specialized in English, literature and drama. Um, and of course all the time from a very young age, you know, I've got really early memories of being encouraged to go to the theater. In fact, this is a very good Irish Catholic story. My earliest memory of going to the theater is watching my dad play God. Uh, so, uh, and actually might own the stage. My dad got to decide which side of the audience went to heaven and which went to hell. Um, so you can imagine as a, as a seven-year-old, um, this was quite high stakes. Uh, so, but luckily we were inside of the audience that we went to heaven. So that was good. I don't know what happens to the rest of them. Uh, yeah, they're living through Brexit now, probably. Um, so, uh, so, so, so we will always going to the theater and encouraged to, to kind of, um, engage with, uh, you know, museums and galleries and, and, and, and, and so we had kind of a really creative childhood, you know, and, and really encouraged to tell and write and make stories, so make up plays and things, um, like that with our friends. So, so, yeah. Speaker 3 00:06:35 And what was the, what was the moment when you went, you know, I think I'd like to do this Speaker 1 00:06:40 Think, so a lot of my life, obviously I was being told, or you'll be an act like your dad you'd be an act like your dad. And I did do, um, drama at school and college, and I did used to really enjoy it. But I think as with any craft, you know, if you're doing something that you, that, that, that you, that you really love, but I was quite high part of a drama, like I could do it and I did enjoy it, but I never really seemed to get too nervous. And, and I just thought somebody that really gets that adrenaline kick and is in love with this should be doing it. You know, it's, it's an honor. And, uh, it's a, it's an honor and a privilege to, to, to, to be an actor. And, and, and as I decided, that was, that was for that, but those people, um, whereas, you know, I still get an adrenaline kick from teaching, but also from writing and sharing my work and working with other writers, doing collaborations, you know, that for me is kind of, um, what, what takes my breath away and pushes me and challenges me and surprises me and where I feel I kind of develop myself, you know, where I find out most about myself, but also get to hear from kind of new, um, new artists as well, which is always kind of reviving and refreshing. Speaker 3 00:07:52 So what was the first thing that you wrote as a professional writer? Speaker 1 00:07:55 Well, as a professional writer, God, cause I thought when I was, so when I was about 13 years old, I wrote a musical that was about the start of world war one, and I did it to the music of Joseph Technicolor dream coat. So there is a copy of, one of my friends has still got that, uh, that musical, uh, available somewhere. So she's used it to blackmail me for many years. Um, uh, so, so are you still things like that all the time, like makeup plays and makeup, um, and it just used to, you know, used to make my friends happy. Um, so that's what, that was what I used to do. And, um, and then I went to Norwich university and, um, I wanted to be a journalist. So I did work experience at that for different radio stations and, um, for different newspapers and then realized that actually journalism, uh, can be quite, uh, uh, cut throat, I would say. So that, that feel like that's what it was that that was right for me. Um, so then I actually worked at a cinema for a long time and realized, you know, which I hated, but I loved watching films. Um, and I decided to do, um, the ma in creative writing at Sussex and sort of since then, I've been, I've not stopped writing since then. Really. Speaker 3 00:09:14 He always takes us around to the first thing that you wrote professionally Speaker 1 00:09:19 Thing. I guess the first thing that I wrote professionally, I was always writing kind of, um, kind of poems and, uh, little plays and stuff like that. But the first thing that I actually got published was probably an academic article, which I say it's really bad that I screamed my face up when I say that isn't it. So I've written bits that didn't get through. So I wrote a written kind of TV scripts and short scripts and, um, things that didn't, that kind of the, I submitted that didn't get published and stuff. Um, but often got good feedback and things like that. And then when I joined academia writing, um, journal articles, um, that usually the kind of very early on included poetry and autobiographical writing as well. Um, and that's kind of, you know, since then, uh, that's, you know, that's part of being a, uh, an academic, you just, you have to, you have to write, um, and for me, right at first, I thought this academic writing is not for me. Speaker 1 00:10:11 It's not in the kind of style I want to do. I don't find it interesting when I read it myself. Um, but, but, but, but I actually think academic writing is evolving in a really interesting, um, way, you know, there's all sorts of different genres and styles of academic writing as much more permission to include creative, you know, in the past creative writing was sort of seen as the, um, as the poor relation to academics is crazy because obviously creative writing when all writing is creative, but kind of fiction poetry script, um, has a much wider readership, a much wider access. It is much more diverse and democratic and inclusive than academic writing. So there's that weird snobbery from academia. Why, why it's not as kind of important as academic writing, but, but more and more now, those boundaries are very positively, um, blaring. So, so, you know, all of my academic work has, uh, has kind of personal and, or, um, poetry, scripts, uh, pros writing in it. Speaker 3 00:11:09 So let's move on to the personal then an influences. I mean, what inspires you? Speaker 1 00:11:14 Well, one of the things that does really inspire me is working with other people. So, um, I had a book published last year, which was meant to be, um, written by me, but it was written by me. That sounds, that sounds terrible, but actually, so, so all of the chapters, I said that I was going to interview another artist and every single interview I did, the person I interviewed then says, Oh, I'd quite like to do a bit of writing this as well. So in the end, nearly every tap to ended up being co-written. Um, because, so the process was that we would walk and talk about creativity and then we would, and then I was going to write about it, but then the person often said, Oh, I'd like to take some photos or I'd like to do a bit of writing as well. Speaker 1 00:11:55 Um, so, um, and some of those, so I had, um, an artist, I had a poet, um, I had a teacher, I had, um, uh, a whole range of people from different backgrounds. So somebody that works in inclusive arts, I'm a fine artist. Um, so, uh, so all people from kind of different backgrounds who, who wanted to, to, to kind of be part of that. And actually at first I was a bit like, Oh God, this is kind of being taken over by these, these people. Um, and then realized actually it's much better for is that the dialogue between myself and the other artist was kind of what, what, what kept me passionate and motivated about the book. And hopefully it's what makes it interesting as well. Speaker 2 00:12:38 There is kind of like the stories being shared, Speaker 1 00:12:44 Which Speaker 2 00:12:44 Kind of brings us to a really tight when we talk about stories and storytelling. And obviously this is a podcast about the diaspora and storytelling comes quite high on the list of things that people describe the Irish as being type none for. Speaker 1 00:13:00 Yep. Um, and I think that's it, you know, some, some of my earliest memories of being with my, um, grandparents is sitting in my Nan's, um, living room in Wembley, on her green cipher with various aunts and uncles around, um, telling stories, you know, singing songs or being taken up to Kilburn to go and visit my auntie Doreen or auntie Kathleen, um, in their flat and talking about the past and talking about kind of this person from the family or that person from the family. Um, and I used to absolutely love it. I was kind of, um, spell bounds, um, by, by, by, by those kinds of instances, if you like as well. Um, and that's coupled with, uh, you know, my dad is a brilliant storyteller and really interested in new stories and I'm kind of hearing from reading stories, but also seeing stories at the theater and in the cinema as well. And my, uh, my mum very much too. So, so, you know, I think stories are at the very heart of what it is to be human. It's how we make connections is how we understand history. It's how we understand the world around us. It's how we understand and relate to each other. And, uh, and also how we understand ourselves as well. So, so yeah, I suppose it's, it's the kind of heartbeat of everything we do. Speaker 2 00:14:20 It's a skill that we lose. Speaker 1 00:14:22 I think we can. Um, definitely I, and, and this is why I think storytelling is so tied up with our wellbeing as well. I know that we're not because obviously working at the university, I've got three children, uh, life gets in the way as well. So I know when I'm not writing stories, um, it's sort of a neat, the ties as me. I feel that I become less sensitive to the world and sometimes maybe that's a survival strategy the moment who knows. Um, but yeah, I find that it's only when I'm writing and kind of putting down what I think and what I've heard, um, that, that, that I'm kind of most sensitive to, to what's going on. I mean, sensitive in a, in a positive way, not in a kind of, you know, um, overly emotional way. Um, but it's, it's kind of means I feel like I'm kind of tuned out of, of what's really happening in the world and also with me, if I'm not writing. Um, and yeah, you know, that, that, that, that storytelling when I was young with, with my grandparents and with these kind of, um, magical, uh, aunts as well, um, at, at that's again, when I felt kind of alive, when I felt kind of sensitive to, to, to the world and the people in it, Speaker 0 00:15:34 <inaudible>, you're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. We all come from somewhere else as an academic, Jess Moriarty has championed the importance of community and autobiography in literature. I wanted to know a little more about her own biography, starting with her childhood. Speaker 1 00:15:59 Um, see I'm I'm, I, I know I'm really lucky. So, so in my, um, memories of childhood, it always feels like it's light and summery. Now, of course, that's not true growing up in Edgware wasn't Saba all the time. Um, and then eat growing up in Brighton and sort of, you know, it's, it's, uh, there, there must have been rain and wind, uh, but my childhood memories are always, um, pretty, uh, sunny, you know, uh, I feel like I come from a family who, uh, OD really kind of connected that, uh, that, that for whatever kind of, uh, differences or tensions always did want to kind of work through them and stay connected to each other, um, that did kind of going out and socializing a lot together and sharing experiences of going abroad of, uh, trying out new cultures and things as well. Um, and having, having a lot of laughs and a lot of fun, um, but also, uh, you know, very political as well. So it's so, so, you know, so all of my grandparents, um, um, my, my parents as well, but what kind of, um, socialists in their own way, uh, especially my, my mother and my father. Um, so yeah, so, so, so my memories are kind of culturally rich, um, happy childhoods, uh, uh, uh, with lots of kind of interesting characters and lively experiences. You say Speaker 0 00:17:27 There was a lot of storytelling from your, your, your, your Speaker 1 00:17:29 Aunts and grandparents, I think very early on as well. It felt like a privilege to be listening in on those stories. And I know I didn't get all the stories. I know that, you know, my Nan's that my aunts had their stories that they, that they, that they didn't share or couldn't share for whatever reason. Um, but it generally like, you know, to be sat in an armchair, listening in, um, to the stories being told, it felt like a real gift. It felt like, uh, I was really lucky to be in on it. I felt, you know, I felt like I F I felt lucky and grown up to be hearing all those hearing, these kind of snippets of, of stories from the past. Speaker 2 00:18:09 Does the sense of being Archie form your work? Speaker 1 00:18:11 See, this is this, this is really interesting because I think definitely, you know, I talk about my, um, my, my nanny, my work a lot, and with it linked, and I talk about my sense of identity and where I feel that comes from including, you know, autobiographical memories, autobiographic experiences and the, um, characters that inspired and, uh, what kind of like my touchstones, I suppose, as well. You know, when you're, when you're trying to make sense of yourself as a child, as a teenager, as an adult, as a 42 or a woman, you know, you often do look back to the past and the people in it as a kind of touchstone for, for a sense of where you're at and, and, and why you are the way you are. Um, so, uh, so I think in terms of that, my connection with my Irish heritage does inform everything I do. It's like, how could it not? Your Speaker 2 00:19:02 Mum was English, Speaker 1 00:19:05 English, her father, her father was well. Um, but he kind of, he didn't have a very happy childhood, so sort of, um, denied his Welsh heritage. We never went to Wales or anything like that. So, so, yeah, but my, you know, my, my, my Irish grandparents where I'm kind of always talking about Ireland and, and how amazing it was and how much they loved it, and about their journey from Ireland to this country and what that had been like and how it felt to be, um, kind of an outside we're not, and I'm wanted and, and what they'd done in order to make this country, their home. Speaker 2 00:19:42 And do you feel that you share some of that sense of estrangement being an outsider Speaker 1 00:19:47 Strange meant to this country or to Ireland? Um, see, you know, this is where I have to be careful, cause I don't want to romanticize too much my connection with Ireland, but definitely I did feel a very deep connection to my, um, Irish grandmother. I wanted to be like her. Um, I was going to say, I looked up to her, but she was only four for 11. Um, so I don't remember looking up to her too, and she wore these, but she did wear these massive heels all the time. Uh, and she, she used to work, um, in all the big department stores like Dickens and Jones and Selfridges and Harrods. So she would always be very well dressed. Um, and she, you know, that was something really important to her. She never had a naked nail or toenail, and that is definitely something that I have, uh, inherited from her, you know, and that's kind of my homage to her, I suppose, as well to have these, uh, it wasn't, it's not green on purpose today for the, for the Irish interview. Um, we thank you for the Speaker 3 00:20:48 Subconscious tributes anyway. Speaker 1 00:20:50 Um, so yeah, so, so, so I, I really did feel, you know, when I, when I grew up, I wanted to be like her, she lived this very glamorous life, you know, even though she lived on our kind of housing estate in Wembley, she was always out, she was always partying after work with this, you know, this range of women from different backgrounds. They were always going off on holiday together. Um, they were always, you know, living this kind of this, they, you know, they were the original sex in the city gang, if you like. Um, and yeah, just, just wanted to be one of these strong, uh, funny women. I'm saying that to say, and I realized I am in my pee kits. Uh, so the, uh, so maybe that's a quite come across this morning, but yeah, she was, she was a massive inspiration. Speaker 3 00:21:36 And, and then, uh, the English, I was that w w was there still a sense of belonging there as well? I mean, just by virtue of being in England. Speaker 1 00:21:44 Yeah, absolutely. I don't feel, I don't feel, I mean, I don't feel like I am, you know, I am, uh, I'm more whites, uh, middle-class uh, heterosexual woman. I am, you know, I am not, I don't feel marginalized, so I'm very, I'm in a very privileged position and I'm very aware of that. Uh, so yeah, so I don't feel outside, um, kind of, uh, my English culture, but I definitely have always felt this very strong golden thread connecting me to my Irish heritage. Speaker 3 00:22:13 And that's much more family, I suppose, than it is place Speaker 1 00:22:16 It is family not placed. Yeah. I mean, I have, obviously I've been to Weiland. Um, I love Ireland. Um, I've taken my children's wildland. My, my children actually have got my surname, not my husband's surname because, um, and it's because I feel, you know, felt so strong and he did as well, you know, felt so strongly about, um, them having, um, the Irish surname. So, uh, so you say, you know, I definitely do have a kind of a golden thread linking me to two islands. Speaker 3 00:22:47 And what was the sense of that? Speaker 1 00:22:50 Uh, I thought, I mean, what was the sense of that? So, um, we weren't, we actually weren't married at the time anyway, and we'd, we'd kind of made the decision not to get married, although weirdly we are married now. Um, and, uh, just from, it was a feminist thing, but also I do have a very strong sense of my name. Um, and, uh, there wasn't an argument. It wasn't, there wasn't any tension. I just said, I'd really like the children's have my surname in and he was fine with it. So, you know, that was, it was good. They are Moriarty's as well. He often says it himself, so they have not listened to the goons actually, weirdly their wealth grandfather, great grandfather would have wanted them to do that. So, but that time will come. They're still small. They've got lots to look forward to. Um, so my youngest is nine. My middle child is, um, 11, and then I have a step son who's 20 Moriarty's themselves. Speaker 0 00:23:46 When I was talking to your father, he was saying that the vast, vast majority of Moriarity's in Ireland basically. So around one particular, is it true? Speaker 1 00:23:53 Yep. So, uh, so actually I went back to, um, my husband, my now husband, I went back to Ireland when we first got together. He took me on holiday to Ireland. We went to Kassavin and Shirley and to Dingle. Um, and in England particular, there are loads of Moriarty's like on the shop fronts on restaurants, on bars, you know, the Moriarty name is everywhere. Um, so yeah, so they're, they're all from that neck of the woods. Speaker 4 00:24:19 <inaudible>, Speaker 0 00:24:27 We'll be back with Jess Moriarty shortly. However, we're now at that point where I asked one of my guests to hoist upon the plastic pedestal, a member of the diaspora of personal or cultural significance to them this week, Craig Jordan Baker talks about the writer more immigrant Ori. Speaker 4 00:24:44 Yeah, I would S I would probably name, uh, Moya McCrory. Um, uh, Moya is a wonderful writer, um, feminist and, um, cultural activist, who is, um, someone I've learned a lot from, uh, over the past several years. Um, I, I met her at a creative writing conference, um, in London some years ago and we've, um, partly due to having, um, mutual Irish connections and just, I think, um, finding each other while the funny, um, we've got on really well. And, um, but she's someone that is working in the eighties at the Irish women's center. Um, she's, um, she's a prolific, um, short story writer and, um, and writer also about, um, uh, uh, uh, um, know Irish traditions of morning, for example, she's really interested in, um, in keening and, uh, and she's written a wonderful, wonderful, uh, essay, I think in, um, in, I wouldn't start from here. Um, uh, um, a collection of works, um, about the Irish diaspora, um, about, uh, about of keening and morning, I believe. Um, so, uh, yes, she's, so that's my nomination more McCrory, Speaker 0 00:25:53 Greg Jordan Baker there. And if you want to hear more about what Craig has to say, why not check out our interview with [email protected] Now back to Jess Moriarty as a third generation member of the diaspora, Jess can claim an Irish passport. I wanted to know how she felt about this and both Brexit and its sister in crisis. COVID. Speaker 1 00:26:15 Um, so it's interesting that you, it's interesting that you bring this up because I have applied for my, um, Irish passport. Um, and that was, that was a response to Brexit, I suppose. It, and it was political in that I, I was so angry about Brexit. I was so upset about Brexit. Um, and then also we started talking about, um, moving, moving to Ireland, actually. Um, so, and obviously we'll the only way to do that would be if I had my sister and ship on my passport as well. So we were hoping we'd be able to get it for that for the children too, which I can't, but, um, but still, so, so yeah, so I think, you know, Brexit was such, uh, it was it well, and still is, you know, such a disruption, you know, you're talking about the disruption to Ireland and how actually this is moving away from, from unity rather than, than unifying and the same in this country as well. Speaker 1 00:27:09 I think it has been so devices, you know, divisive, they're the kind of the tremors that it's sent through the country, even, you know, between friends, between family members as well. Um, on a suppose, I had this crazy notion that getting an Irish passport or with a view to booby Twila would kind of resolve that. And of course you can't run from Brexit. Um, is it the, the, the, the tremors in, in Ireland and the potential damage it can do in Islanders as, as, as kind of tangible as they are here? Um, so yeah, so I don't, we've moved away from the idea of weaving twice and that everything will be kind of green and glowing and happy in, in, in a post-Brexit Ireland, because as you say, it doesn't look like that, that those pieces are gonna work together or fit either. Um, but certainly in terms of here, I just feel so much despair about it. I still have this idea of running away from it all. Speaker 2 00:28:04 Is this a country then that you recognize, Speaker 1 00:28:07 Oh, well, it is a country that I recognize because I've lived in it all my life. So it's a, it's a country that I recognize, but I think some of the things that I worried about this country that were kind of, um, hidden, or there was kind of a facade that was th there was a particular living in Brighton, you know, living in Brighton is a bit like living in a glorious, uh, rainbow colored bubble. Um, and it felt like the bubble had been kind of popped, or at least kind of, uh, uh, shrunk, um, after Brexit, because, you know, you talk to friends and people in Brighton, you kind of had this sense that maybe Brexit was this thing that this impossible thing a bit like Trump winning an election in America, for example. And then, then, then the results come through and you realize that actually you're in the mind, we're not in the minority, uh, not in the minority. Um, but, but you realize that actually, you know, opportunities like Brexit or an excuse to pull down the facade and for people to say and do what they, what they really think, which is, which is often driven, um, by this kind of warped nationalistic and racist notions, Speaker 2 00:29:15 Which is where I want to come back to this notion of home, I suppose. Um, because, um, uh, the, um, the, the, the campaign for Brexit was predicated on a notion of something like taking back control on this is, and, and, and Britain is, is a home for the British and not for Europe and all that sort of thing, and so forth, you'd think therefore then that, that people would feel more secure as a result, but it strikes me that it's the opposite is true. Speaker 1 00:29:43 Um, Oh yeah. I think completely for a lot of people, the opposite is to, um, you know, I've got, uh, one of my friends who is Irish living in, in this country and she had comments like, Oh yeah, but you're not like them. When people, when she had friends voting for Brexit and she said, you realize what you're doing, you know, do you realize how that might affect or, um, offend somebody like me to actually have, Oh, yeah. But you're not like, you're not like, you know, something which is kind of the precast to most racist statements, just kind of, you know, it made people that have lived here contributed, uh, been a really valuable part of the fabric here feel unwanted. Um, it is, it is, it is very, um, undermining and, uh, and does kind of disrupt any kind of, uh, sense of connection or motivation or, or passion to be here, or at least feel welcome here, I suppose. So your visitors, your guests in a country that, that actually is yours, Speaker 2 00:30:46 Have you seen that reflected in the work that people in your course have done? Speaker 1 00:30:50 I have actually. Um, and I've just, so I'm editing a book at the moment on, um, storying, which is called storing the self. So it's about how we story autobiographical experiences. Um, and a former student has written, um, uh, a chapter where she talks about the effects of Brexit on, um, her identity. Um, and, and, and kind of, you know, this, this undercurrent of racism, which has now become, uh, not so much an undercurrent and, and, and recognizable in her family and friends and things as well, and, and how that's made her feel kind of outside this country again, or, or, or desire to be outside. And that definitely seems to be, uh, a theme in, in lots of students' work. So all sorts of levels. Speaker 2 00:31:36 Do you think that's been changed at all or will have been changed at all by COVID? Speaker 1 00:31:41 Uh, that is a very good question, because I think COVID has kind of, um, I think it's, it's interesting that, that, that Brexit has, is starting to gather momentum in the major again, at the moment for it, for obvious reasons. But I think COVID kind of dominated everything, um, for so long understandably, because, you know, it hit people in, in, in, in, in kind of in personal ways, in health ways in politically, uh, vocationally, you know, every kind of, of, uh, aspect of, of, of their lives. It kind of hit them. So, um, so I think Brexit was shelved, uh, or we can talk politically and ideologically about that and who's running the media and stuff, but, um, I'm sure that's all been said before. Um, yeah, so I think that has made a difference. Speaker 2 00:32:28 The thing is, is though that, um, and we've had, uh, the notion of home kind of psych, uh, narrowed down to a certain extent by, by COVID because, because people have been forced to stay wherever they are, uh, for quite some time. And so they can see their consideration of what home is it's IVR, if it's a place, um, if it's family, if it's, if it's friends, if it's, uh, if it's a sense of sense of wellness or a sense of being or whatever it is, is going to be magnified. Speaker 1 00:32:59 And I think that that is potentially, you know, because one of the, so there aren't huge positives about COVID because of course, thousands of thousands of people have died. Uh, millions of people have been affected by it. So I'm not gonna, I'm not going to kind of, um, downplay or undermine any of that. But from my personal experience, actually, I live in a really lovely place. Um, I have, uh, fantastic children. I have a very good, um, kind of, you know, family relationships. So it's, so, so actually, you know, that time in COVID gave me the opportunity to feel great, grateful for my home, my home, like right in front of my face now. But again, the aftermath of Brexit, um, again, that notion of Homan and what this country is, was put under the microscope. So, so to, you know, thinking about the NHS or, um, how, um, the government looked after vulnerable people, uh, how it will affect people for what this country will look like, what the kind of landscape, you know, the job market, the house market, people's health and lives and how they looked after. Speaker 1 00:34:05 And, um, just people's respect for vulnerable lives as well. And for a long time to come, that is not in a, I don't see that as being in a positive place on one hand, you know, the idea of people going out and clapping for the NHS. Well, well, that's great, but I think, um, unfortunately there hasn't been a much of a backlash against the government in terms of how they dealt it and how they looked after vulnerable people. And so the time in COVID gives you a chance again, to put that under the microscope and think about, um, your notion of home and your, your, your sense of pride and belonging in the country where you live. And for, for me, you know, that was problematic again, I think on an optimistic day, my sense of home is that I live in Brighton. Um, and, uh, and that I have a very lucky, happy, healthy family life, um, that the country that I live in is not at the moment, uh, run by the people I would I'd voted for, or, or chose to run it, but I still decide to live here. Speaker 1 00:35:07 You know, I didn't, I haven't moved, even though we kind of talked about it and fantasize about it during COVID, we are still here with, with no immediate plans to leave. So, but that, that does, as it does fit for millions of people, cause attention on the pessimistic day, Oh God, I'm a pessimistic. I hate it all on a pessimistic day. I don't want to turn on my phone or, um, or look at my laptop, uh, because you know, working in education, um, the experience of students, um, I find very, really worrying. I mean, as soon as you introduce fees for students parcel for an education, that's already worrying pro COVID into the mix as well, again, potentially, and that is difficult. And I know all my colleagues in, in higher education and that bright and are working really hard to make sure, um, that students do still have a fantastic experience, but of course, we're, we're all worrying about their safety and their health. And that does change the, the playing fields in, in higher education. Um, and, and yeah, I feel really, really sad for the dismantling of the NHS and the conservative party, if we responsible for that. Uh, and then been out clapping and using that as a publicity opportunity and things too. Speaker 2 00:36:16 The reason why I asked that, and the reason why we we've moved on both positive and negative there is that it's essentially, what's, what's been described as the diaspora experience only now writ large for everyone, I think, does that sense of having a foot in each country, but a home in neither. And this sense of home is very, very fragile. And it's, you know, that that's been thrown into relief again by, by, by recent events, I think. Speaker 1 00:36:35 And I think, you know, because obviously that was my grandparents' experiences, well, a kind of a, a foot in both camps. Um, and I do still think that home for them was in the people that they loved and, um, and, and their community as well, whether it was their kind of their neighbors on there, the estate or the, the mat aunts or whatever else as well, and having the opportunity to, to talk through their experiences in Ireland and in this country as well, that that made them feel sure about themselves and their identity and where they belonged. Speaker 2 00:37:05 So the sense of home is if it is fragile, then it's kind of strengthened by my telling stories. Speaker 1 00:37:11 Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Um, because I think, you know, storytelling deepens our connections with other people. It connects us to people. It makes us not feel isolated and alone. It reminds us that, that, you know, other people share some of our experiences and also it kind of gives us a stronger sense of self. So when we feel lost, when we feel like, where do I belong? Am I happy here? What, what is the point of, of, of being here, uh, then, then, then, you know, it's those conversations that, that, that, that can refreshers and reminders, Speaker 2 00:37:42 Do you think people are more or less likely to share stories just at the moment? I mean, for one thing, you know, it's like actually going out in public and sharing a story is, you know, whether whether it's performance or, Speaker 1 00:37:50 And not that hideous in that the government has encouraged us all to get back to the pub, but not to the theater. Um, I mean, <inaudible>, we're going to the pub, but, but, but let's have some support for the arts as well. Um, I think it's both, isn't it, because obviously COVID encouraged, inspired, um, it's massive outpouring of creativity. So people wanting to capture their experiences with COVID, whether it was through short films or poems or stories or images. Um, so, so, so, you know, people were using that to cut, to capture experience for these times and, and to, to kind of connect with people usually through social media or zoom meetings and things like that. And then for other people, it had a massive effect on their creativity and also on their, their wellbeing, which, which often means find it difficult to create and make, or even kind of tell people what's going on with them. So, so I think, you know, that, that, that, that, that that's kind of been on a, a, a really kind of split thing as well. Speaker 2 00:38:46 What would you say to people who don't feel as though they've got a story to tell? Speaker 1 00:38:50 Well, it's really simplistic, isn't it? But of course, everyone has a story to tell, to share. It's just a case of where to start and how to tell it as well. But again, I think that's where, um, dialogue can be really useful. So, so, you know, you know, Doug, you are very good at kind of disarming, um, people that you're trying to get a story out of at the beginning of it, of an interview, which is a real knack and a real, real skill with people trying to, trying to motivate people, to feel safe and supported, to tell their stories. Um, and I think that's, it's kind of, you know, with writing, with getting students to, I often, it's just getting them to, to, to write and start telling a story which will then hopefully lead them to the story that they actually want to tell a need to tell it to. Speaker 2 00:39:38 Um, but I'm in a privileged position here, which is, uh, I get the opportunity to talk to, to, to friends and indeed to strangers and, and, and people that I've not met before in this fashion, and actually have a conversation with them that is denied to me, say, for example, in the, in the traditional way that I would normally do in the pub, you know, I can't chat to a stranger at a bar in a pub and hear their story. I can't, you know, it's like, I'm now, sorry. I've got to sit at table number eight and sit with my requisite number of people in my personal bubble and never saw my bubble bounce off of anybody else. Speaker 1 00:40:08 And, and also, and I think this is a problem, um, during COVID as well, is that, of course, for a lot of us, we stopped having stories because there was that Groundhog day, um, experience of, you know, what have you been up to? Well, I've been in a zoom meeting and I've been for my one hour walk and, um, I tried to get us shopping slots. Um, and I I'd stayed. I tried to stay well, you know, but that was kind of fun if we were lucky. Um, you know, the story that most of us had doing COVID if we were really lucky, I know that a lot of people had horrendous stories and tried to hold, try to stay alive. Um, but for a lot of the people that I was communicating with the, you know, our story did become quite Groundhog day. And then that stops you wanting to tell a story as well. Doesn't it, when you, when you feel it's, it's quite a two-dimensional story, Speaker 2 00:41:05 You're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. We all come from somewhere else, find out more and subscribe to [email protected] And the last part of my interview with Jess Moriarty, we discussed the importance of storytelling and its relation to mental health and to Irish women in particular. We also talk about the possibilities for the next generation of Moriarty women. Speaker 1 00:41:30 Um, so I think mental health is, uh, is something we probably becoming more and more aware of affects all of us, you know, everyone at some point in their life, unless you're, unless you're really gifted or I don't know, you know, you will have, you will have, uh, you will have a mental health episode at some point it's, it's more than likely. Um, it's don't we talked about this a little bit yesterday, so this thing, two stories as, as I, as I used to get the opportunity to, which would often start with a cup of tea. And, but, and then, and with a, with a quite hefty tumbler of whiskey, not for me, I, since point out, although I used to always look forward to the days when that would happen, um, and the stories that they would tell it, uh, they had found a way to live with these stories. Speaker 1 00:42:18 You know, they had found a way to, to live with some of these stories, um, that meant that they didn't, um, have they didn't present with obvious mental health issues. And yet now looking back with the gift of hindsight, obviously quite a lot of these stories, you know, you, you thought, well, that would have, that would have kind of NG some kind of mental health issue, and maybe it was through the kind of the telling and the community, um, that supported them with that. But, but obviously then that was, you know, a culture with that with a lot of people who you didn't tell certain stories, you did keep quiet and, and you did just get on with it or make the best fits as my grandmother used to say. Um, and actually I think probably, um, you know, there's also this thing where we, where we do want to hear about, um, experiences with mental health, and we do want to have experiences of people living positively with mental health as well. Speaker 1 00:43:09 So, um, so, so, you know, how do you accept that you will have depressive episodes for the rest of your life and how do you kind of, um, how'd you kind of make peace with that, I suppose, too. Um, so, so yeah, so I don't my sense of it in terms of the <inaudible> isn't is only based on my interactions with my, um, with, with, uh, with my, with my arts and my Nan, for example, and my own kind of, uh, mental health, uh, too. Um, so yeah, so, sorry, that's probably not very well formed answer for you, you know, that this a bit, because it was just them. And I was thinking because you were, we were talking about, um, books from the diaspora as well. And I remember my Nat recommending that I read ed Nora, Brian. Well, of course, when you read those books, although, um, mental health issues aren't labeled as mental health issues, of course, there's a lot of mental health going on there. Speaker 1 00:44:00 It was interesting that she recommended those books. Now. Now I think that, that is that, that is interesting. What did your grandmother read? Everything? She really was a cheat and, and in terms of data as well, she would go and see absolutely anything as well. You know, she, she, and she loved, she loved going and again, she loved, she loved going to see everything at the cinema as well. So she, it wasn't that she would only go and see one type of thing she wanted to, she gobbled up stories, you know, she really did. Um, so, uh, so, so chair, she recommended me, um, ed R Brian, she did usually read women, um, writers, but, but she would read anything and yeah. Um, yeah, she, she, she really did love stories. She really did. And she loved telling her own story as well, which I definitely got from her as you can tell Speaker 2 00:44:49 Last couple of questions. One of which is, um, you talk about, um, uh, stories that have been told by <inaudible> generations to you, and you've got three, three children. Um, uh, two of which, uh, of whom were what, 11 and nine, what stories do you tell them? Speaker 1 00:45:03 I'm just getting to the side now where I've, where they've started doing a bit at the eye rolling and stuff. And also they tell their own amazing stories. You know, my, my son is, uh, is already a brilliant writer and that's not just with Rose tinted, um, mum's bet scores on, he is a really skilled writer. Um, and I think one of the things they are both really interested in other human beings. So, so, you know, as, as children's starts moving to that teenage phase, sometimes it can become quite, um, narcissistic and self-interested as it needs to be, to survive being a teenager in some ways. Um, but they genuinely are very interested in, um, other people and, you know, it's really easy to take them out in as much as you can in COVID in, in social, uh, places and for them to talk to people that are older than them, or from different cultures as well. Speaker 1 00:45:51 And for them to be kind of lively, but sensitive and respectful. Um, and I do tell them, you know, my, this is a really interesting thing about, um, connections and home and identity, isn't it? Because it, my daughter, my nine year old daughter, I see my Irish grandmother so much. Um, so, so I, I, I felt that I kind of, um, was connected to her and was like her, but I am very much the kind of more temperate, watered down version of my grandmother. Whereas my daughter has come like the full potency, you know, am I my grandmother? And then some, um, and she is unapologetic and she is, um, very, she doesn't mind if she sometimes says things that she knows that she has a powerful effect on people. So she sets us off. I know I'm like, mom, I know some people are going to get me and some people aren't going to get me and that's okay, which I never have had, you know, I'm 42 and I don't have that. Speaker 1 00:46:49 So it's so, you know, seeing that link between her and my grandmother. So I do tell her stories about her great-grandmother all the time, uh, in a way to sort of steer her away from being maybe exactly like her great-grandmother, but also to encourage her with how she feels about herself and her identity and has strengthened her power to Geico. I call her my, uh, my little, which I mean, in the most positive way, my grandmother was, uh, she had this weird pointed finger that went the wrong way that she broken in a bank door. And I used to call my grandmother a witch. And I mean, in the, in very much the, the, the, which has been powerful, intelligent, um, you know, amazing women. Uh, so yes, so, so are definitely two, uh, which is who inspire me. Speaker 5 00:47:36 You've been listening to the plastic podcasts with me, w D uh, my guest, Jess Moriarty, the plastic pedestal was provided by Craig Jordan Baker music by Jack Devante. Find out more about us and [email protected] Or you can email [email protected], or you can just catch up with us through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. The plastic podcast is sponsored using public funding by arts council, England.

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