Here’s A Word To The Wise

We have known Florence and David Wise for some years now, having been introduced to them by our new neighbour Sandra Kinghorn, only weeks after we had retired here to Lanzarote in 2015. We had holidayed here on more than twenty occasions but learned a lot more about the island from Florence and David. Florence had plenty of favourite village stories and local eateries and David was a customer at the famous barber´s shop in Haria where the hairdresser is a man with some physical difficulties who nevertheless gives his customers, like David, a tidy short back and sides. It might be said of this British couple that they are retired (because they are) but retiring might be a more appropriate word. That is surprising because David gives occasional public performances of my some of my favourite monologues and Florence, with her semi Irish childhood, has something of the gift of the gab about her. So let’s add to our Lanzarote Information , a story told by a woman who says she is not a storyteller,…..but who opens her conversation with us by saying “I’ll tell you the story,….¨

The man I consider to be Americana´s greatest ever singer-writer wrote a lyric that become somewhat romanticised when he recorded For Those Who Are Wise with The Kingston Trio more than half a century ago.

I use to sit in the shade of an old cedar tree

and dream of the days, what they’re holdin’ for me.

But all those should know who gaze at the sky. 

It’s for those who are wise. It’s for those who are wise. 

And the west winds would blow. They’d be singing to me. 

They’d say, “Look, you, out yonder, just as far as you can see.” 

But all those should know who gaze at the sky. 

It’s for those who are wise. It’s for those who are wise. 

And the years went their way as the good years will go.

But my dreams linger on in the hills of my home. 

And young men should know who gaze at the sky.

It is you who are wise, only you who are wise.

read more : http://lyrics.jetmute.com/viewlyrics.php?id=159516

They (whoever they are) say that everybody has a story to tell. And yet, among those who are Wise, is a lady, Florence, who has told a story to the world, and yet doesn´t recognise herself as either ´wise´ or a storyteller.

She and her husband David Wise spend a lengthy holiday or two each year here on Lanzarote and have become good friends of ours. David is actually a former football league linesman and, admittedly many years after he had retired, I sat with him in the stands watching a match at UD Lanzarote,…and I didn´t agree with a single decision he made from his prime view high in the stand.

He is now retired and a Spurs season ticket holder, so as a former linesman and as a current fan, he too must be a man with a story to tell and a view of whatever the hell it is that VAR is trying to do. He is, however, also quite reticent when talking about himself. Rest assured, though, we are working on him, and that world exclusive will come !

As soon as I learned from Florence that she had recently seen her short story published in a collection called Grassroots, written by a number of contributors and edited by PJ Cunninham, I arranged to mee up with her top learn how all this had come about. She told me that…..

´Two years ago I saw an invitation from PJ Cunningham who was compiling a book about memories of the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) from the grassroots up.  The sports involved with the Association are Hurling (men), Gaelic Football and Camogie (women’s hurling).  I knew that most of the replies to that invitation would be from men and decided that a memory of women’s participation in GAA sports should not be overlooked.  

I’ve always enjoyed history as a subject and to participate in a series of books which creates a history of it’s grassroots members etc. seemed right at the time, to create a history of my mother’s participation in a sport like camogie and, win a cup final medal, will allow extended members of our family a memory. The story won’t die with me, as its keeper. 

The memory I had was of my mother, Rosaleen Swan (as she was then) who won a medal in a cup final and who was very proud of her medal.  The story goes on and details how the medal was subsequently lost.  The editor, PJ Cunningham liked the story and included it in a chapter of the book and included a few photographs I sent with my mother wearing her medal while in Wiltshire and a photo of the team.  All way back in the 1930’s..

I asked PJ if he had press releases about the book to hand and he sent me a little piece about the Dublin entries, of which I was one.  I’ll attach it so you can see.

There has been serious coverage in Ireland since the launch of the second book in October and it’s hit the shelves in all the major bookstores in Ireland as there are entries from all the Irish counties.  Radio and TV coverage and, of course, all Irish newspapers have covered the book’s release and highlighted some of the stories.  

Should you decide to do a feature on my chapter it could resonate with many of the Irish who live and visit the island.

David and myself have been visiting the island of Lanzarote for the past twelve years: latecomers by some standards.  I love the island and the people and we have made some good friends here [like yourself and Dee)  over the years.  We also gained a lot from our visits, from viewing the spectacular scenery and visiting our favourite places time and again, to the great food at our local Lanzarotein cafes and restaurants.  

As you can see from David, in the photograph,  we also enjoy trying out our ever growing Spanish phrases in the hope we will be understood and are so pleased when we pass muster.  The health benefits are enormous too, lots of Vit ‘D’ and plenty of walking to keep our joints working.

My history, such as it is….  Born in Garstang in 1941, evacuated to Dublin and stayed there for the next 19 years.  Back in the uk, before I retired, I was an Local Government Officer in Economic Development & Tourism.  I later bercame Regional Officer for the West Midlands for four of the Brussels MEP’s and then a spell as Administrator of a business forum before finally escaping to join the silver retirees scene.  

We also spend time with our caravan visiting places in the UK we might not have seen otherwise and also time on the Continent.  You could say we  are travellers rather than tourists.

The PJ Cunningham mentioned early in her story by Florence has almost a dozen books on Goodreads that name as author, co-author or collator. Florence once shared a story with him, and I ever do that I will have it chiselled on my grave-stone.

One of  PJ Cunninhham´s books, The Long Acre, was reviewed in The Irish Times in April 2015 by Brian Meye.

The Long Acre

Author: PJ Cunningham

ISBN-13: 978 0 9926732 6 0

Publisher: Ballpoint Press

Guideline Price: €14.99

This second volume of memoirs of growing up on a farm in the midlands in the 1950s and 1960s, told in the form of separate stories rather than chronologically, is of the same high standard as PJ Cunningham’s first, The Lie of the LandThe Whip Hand,  tells of how a resourceful neighbour managed to fool his wife and feed his drink habit by secretly selling cattle and their best potatoes. Of the three “rebels” in The Unholy Trinity (rebelling against the secular and religious mores of the time), the author’s uncle is the bravest because he has the most to lose. The Robin’s Nest is an uplifting story about the author’s father’s respect for nature even though it meant more hard labour for him and his family. The Last Day of the Ploughman is a moving story of how their father handed down the “sacrosanct” art of horse ploughing to the author and his brother.

I was only very vaguely aware of Mr. Cunningham´s work, and it rang only a very quiet bell when Florence mentioned him, but because she did I researched him and found the above review of Brian Meye´s. Because I read that review above I have gently placed his style as being similar to that of Anthony Brady, a writer who also has several novels placed on Goodreads. We also met him on Lanzarote and although he lives in the UK he occasionally contributes art and literary reviews to our pages

Also mentioned in the response from Florence, of course, was the sport of Camogie, as played by her mother,  and cup-final winner  Rosaleen Swan.

Camogie (/kəˈmoʊɡi/ kə-MOH-ghee; Irish: camógaíocht [kəˈmˠoːɡiːxt̪ˠ]) is an Irish stick-and-ball team sport played by women. Camogie is played by 100,000 women in Ireland and worldwide, largely among Irish communities.[1][2]

A variant of the game of hurling (which is played by men only), it is organised by the Dublin-based Camogie Association or An Cumann Camógaíochta.[3][4] The annual All Ireland Camogie Championship has a record attendance of 33,154,[5] while average attendances in recent years are in the region of 15,000 to 18,000. The final is broadcast live, with a TV audience[when?] of as many as over 300,000.[6]

UNESCO lists Camogie as an element of Intangible Cultural Heritage.[7] The game is referenced in Waiting for Godot by Irish playwright Samuel Beckett.

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA; Irish: Cumann Lúthchleas Gael [ˈkʊmˠən̪ˠ ˈl̪ˠuː(h)xlʲəsˠ ˈɡeːl̪ˠ]; CLG) is an Irish international amateur sporting and cultural organisation, focused primarily on promoting indigenous Gaelic games and pastimes,[2] which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, Gaelic handball and rounders. The association also promotes Irish music and dance, as well as the Irish language.

As of 2014, the organisation had over 500,000 members worldwide,[1] and declared total revenues of €65.6 million in 2017.[3] The Games Administration Committee (GAC) of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) governing bodies organise the fixture list of Gaelic games within a GAA county or provincial councils.

Gaelic football and hurling are the most popular activities promoted by the organisation, and the most popular sports in the Republic of Ireland in terms of attendances.[4] Gaelic football is also the second most popular participation sport in Northern Ireland.[5] The women’s version of these games, ladies’ Gaelic football and camogie, are organised by the independent but closely linked Ladies’ Gaelic Football Association and the Camogie Association of Ireland respectively. GAA Handball is the governing body for the sport of handball, while the other Gaelic sport, rounders, is managed by the GAA Rounders National Council (Irish: Comhairle Cluiche Corr na hÉireann).

Since its foundation in 1884, the association has grown to become a major influence in Irish sporting and cultural life, with considerable reach into communities throughout Ireland and among the Irish diaspora, which, of course has a settlement here on the island.

So, Florence´s little explanation sednt me wandering down sidetracks and detours to find out mote that first of all led me to author and compiler PJ Cunningham and then led me to a review of his latest compilation by Brian Meye. The review was so well written, succinct and positive. that I made a note to read more of not only Mr. Cunningham´s works but also more of Mr. Meye´s reviews. On looking for more about him on line, I learned he has written in broad strokes about the likes of revolutionary and trade-unionist Margaret Skinnider and about actor Christopher Eccleston. I will certainly be keeping an eye on his work in future, and having read some of his work on line for the first time following your piece, I will also certainly find copies of The Irish Times in future.

Florence´s story about her cup final star mother and the game of Camogie had me looking for further information. From what I then learned on-line about the Camogie sport she played, I am absolutely certain she is deserving of her central role in the contribution to the book It looks and sounds and is spoken of as a pretty tough and physical sport, and she was a winner at the game. 

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I am also grateful to Florence because the tale of this story is another piece of evidence that supports a theory of American songwriter Hugh Moffat, who told me once, in an interview a few decades ago, that ´when we tell a story, we must intend it for light years of travel.´

Florence´s little story, nothing of note she says, has been woven now into a thread with several others of similar ilk, all telling stories that might have otherwise died. All those stories are now bound in Grass Roots Part Two, It has been widely reviewed, and those reviews have even taken flight from The British Isles to faraway places, reaching Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA; Spain; and now Lanzarote

Herr story also sent me back to the nineteen fifties in search of that John Stewart song still relevant today.

The more stories we slide through language barriers, the more truths we tell, the more we talk and listen to one another and listen to the great writers of all nations, and cultures and tongues, the more likely it is that these stories will indeed travel for light years and become a source of wisdom.

  • Agua Clara