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Date Posted: Fri, Aug 19 2005, 4:01:55 GMT
Dear Frankie, it's such wonderful irony that you should have got At Swim with book tokens for being best-at-class at Religious Studies. Well done. I remember Religious Studies at my school. It was a time for dozing between 12 and 12.30 -- until some young Brother came in (yes, I went to Presentation College in Glasthule, same like Jim in the book) and he more or less turned it into a civics lesson, with questions fired out all ways. The upshot was, no more dozing, till the young Brother himself was fired away, and we were sleepily back to normal.
I guess I get emails from readers of all ages, but of course I would only know the age if I was told. A particularly memorable email came back in 2002, just after At Swim was published, from a 16 year old in Ireland. Well, two years later he was in Trinity College Dublin (the same university Oscar Wilde attended), he had joined the GaySoc there and didn't he have the audacity to invite me to come and read to them. That's growing up for you, too fast. But I had a great evening there with Senator Norris (our famous humanitarian politician -- well famous for us), and it was a pleasure to think there was already a history with the reading of At Swim. A pleasure and a priviledge.
You mention some personal stuff, and I'm not to be giving advice to people, but there was a wonderful French film about a boy falling in love with another boy (I forget its name, I'm sorry) -- but what struck me was that he didn't tell anybody anything until he had fallen in love. So that when he came to tell people (family and friends) he didn't say I'm gay, or I think I'm gay, or whatever -- he just said, This is my boyfriend, and I love him. Aesthetically that was nice; but practically it meant all the attention was focussed on the new person, and the boy had space to watch and witness. The onus of explanation was not solely on himself.
Uncle Jamie is taking his Uncle Jamie's hat off now, and he's just going to say that in Ireland Irish lessons mean Irish (that is Gaelic -- but we rarely use that word here.) English means Shakespeare and Dickens, the same as in England, but without the Bible.
Oh, and Jim and Doyler are still out there, you know. It's sometimes hard to find them in this modern world, but the heart I doubt has changed in a hundred years. Courage hasn't changed, the longing for nobility, for pride, is the same. They're out there still, Jim and Doyler. It's hard to see them for the mobile phones and walkmans, MTV and the web. But they're there, on sportsfields, in music class, feeling their unsure way, falling in love, at swim.
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