Posted by: susanjcaldwell28 | August 3, 2012


A few years ago I announced to a very materialistic friend that I could not live without theatre.  I will never forget the look on her face as the realisation of what I had said seeped through to her.  A week earlier she had asked me what Jessica would like for her birthday and I replied “a book”.  Well I thought she was going to ring childline and report me!!.  She again stared at me and shouted “a book, would she not prefer clothes”. So I just relented and said “yeah, clothes would be great”.  Strangely enough, we have not stayed in touch.  Different strokes and all that.  Her idea of a great day out was running amok with her credit card in House of Frazer.  Shopping leaves me cold and even if I could go shopping I would only be interested in buying the odd bit of vintage clothing. I could never understand womens’ obsession with shoes.  I would like more clothes but would never like to progress to the walk-in-wardrobe category of possessions.

A few weeks ago we went to Gate Theatre as a family.  We used to go to all the plays but have not been able to go for the last few years and I was straining at the bit to go. John and I used to go on our own but as soon as the girls went past the panto stage, it was straight to the Gate with us.  Jessie began to find plot holes in the panto at the tender age of 6 so we decided she was ready for the next step.  I was so relieved cos I always hated pantos. From the moment my girls set foot in The Gate Theatre they just loved it and this set in motion many years of matinees with dinner afterwards wherein we would all discuss the play, my favourite day out.  Of course, its also an expensive day out, so it had to be knocked on the head over the last few years.  Two weeks ago we all headed off to the final matinee of Glengarry Glenross in the Gate.  I had booked front row seats.  Being a frustrated ex-actor, I like to get as near to the stage as possible, so I can almost reach out and touch the actors and pretend I am participating in the show, instead of just being an audience member.  It was absolutely fantastic.  Owen Roe, who is an FB friend, was amazing.  I have seen him in many shows over the years but this was certainly his finest hour, thus far.  The whole cast gelled amazingly well together and I was not surprised when he informed me it was one of the finest casts he had worked with.  You could just see the magic taking place in front of our eyes. We all left the theatre on a high.  We have exposed our girls to so many different facets of life from ballet to hockey to art to girls brigade.  They have been there, done that.  I was very conscious of not foisting our interests on them and I still laugh at the memory of Sarah going to a football session in Ranelagh Multi-Denominational School, and the look of horror on her face afterwards as she told me her shirt had gotten dirty and it was very noisy or the 10 minutes she spent in Basketball training in first year in Muckross.  Ironically, she is as fit as a fiddle now and a great summer gym buddy for me.  Jessie is sporty and does basketball and hockey but what has risen to the surface with the girls is drama, dance and art and literature.  I think its wonderful that there are things we can still all enjoy as a family when they are teenagers.   Ive also realised with the passage of time how important it is to have a partner with common interests.  We have interests apart.  John was mad into science fiction when I met him first, not so much now, but I was never interested in it at all. John reads an awful lot more than me.  I should read more but sometimes I just space off into my own world whilst looking at the ceiling! John, on the other hand, can rarely be found without a book in his hand, he even walks down the road reading!   But I do love the mutual joy we take in going to book launches, music gigs and plays. I mean if John was plugged into Sky Sports all day whilst I was flying off to the theatre, it would make for a very strange marriage.  I know couples who have completely separate interests and even go on separate holidays but that would not work for me.  The last guy I went out with before John just went to the local pub and watched football. I think it was the day he announced to me that he knew all the people he ever wanted to know that I called curtains on the relationship.  I swore after Id finished with him Id never go out with anyone who was not creative again. Ive always gelled with creative men and always feel most comfortable in the company of creative people.

Last weekend we went to see Honor Heffernan in Bewleys.  I adore Bewleys Café Theatre on the second floor.  Little round tables bathed in candlelight surrounding a small stage.  It’s a really intimate setting and I always feel transported to a Parisian Café when Im there.  It was only 15 euro in and a few of my FB buddies Strum T Strummer and Karen Gabbiano met us there as well and I also met in the company of Strum my now FB buddy tarot card reader Grainne Ni Mhealoid.  It was a fantastic night and I mentioned the next day that I would rather be there than go to see Madonna and its true.  Ive no interest in going to see headline acts in large stadiums like Westlife etc.  Honor was absolutely fantastic.  Every song was spine tinglingly brilliant and we had a laugh and a chat with her afterwards.  I floated home on the LUAS.

A few weeks before that John and I went to a brilliant poetry launch in The Unitarian Church in Stephen’s Green. Book launches are great, free wine and readings and buy the book at the end, what’s not to like?. We met up with Peadar O’Donoghue who did a great reading of his work and also met for the first time Sarah Clancy and Colm Keegan, who are brilliant poets and thoroughly enjoyed their readings and connected with them on FB afterwards.  If any of my friends are involved in cultural pursuits, I do try and go along and support them.  I went out to see Jackie Roy’s art exhibition in a café in Balbriggan a few months ago, it was fabulous and really enjoyed Evelyn Walsh’s book launch in the Gutter Bookshop (another place I adore) in Temple Bar. Its not possible a lot of the time, but I do try my best.  Its great fun and really expands your network of friends and your horizons. Im on the guest list for a lot of opening nights in art galleries like the Gallery of  Photography in Temple Bar and The Gallery in Trinity College.  Again, free wine and you dont have to but any art!

The joy of eating out in Dublin, Chez Max Little French Restaurant beside Dublin Castle.  Sipping wine and chomping on bruschetta outside the wonderful Italian Quarter in Millennium Walkway, whilst watching the world go by.  The lovely restaurant at the top of Fallon and Byrne that is very reasonable for a white table clothed waiter serving gaffe, or Ivanise Locci’s wonderful Terrazzo Italia at the top of Powerscourt Centre, a fabulous friendly family run restaurant.  Soya lattes in The James Joyce Room in Bewleys or the foyer of The Westbury Hotel.  12 years ago when we bought our little cottage in Dundrum, we thought about moving down the country, but decided we could not be away from all the things we love in the city.  To satisfy our urban rural yearnings we bought a riverside cottage with a country vibe.  Id love a bigger house but I could  never leave the city, Ranelagh village is my dream location.

This Sunday Im going along with John and the girls to Patrick Sutton’s (another FB friend and Director of Gaiety School of Acting)  matinee of Playboy of the Western World in Smock Alley Theatre in Temple Bar.  We are all looking forward to it and the guided tour of the theatre beforehand.  This is the life I love and I would do so much more if I could.  You can keep your shopping and big cars and holiday homes, all these things leave me cold. Music, drama, books and art are what draws me and Im very lucky I share a home with three people who also delight in these gifts.  Long may culture shine and define my life.



  1. Brilliant piece Susan. Really enjoyed reading that. Well done you. :O))

    • thanks Strum and you even got an honourable mention!

    • Hey Strum, just noticed you are not on Fb at mo and checking you are okay?. xxx

  2. Great piece Susan! Will keep you posted on more ‘high art’ theatre coming to Ranelagh soon with Mrs Nellie Murphy. 😉 !

    • thanks hon, cant wait to see the aul bat again. Long ago and far way when I worked in a bank (the fucking shame,!!) anyway, somebody’s mother told me I should act, I met her in the bathroom cos I was so bored I went there a lot and sent me on the road to creativity and poverty, but sure Ive never looked back, tell your mum I said Hi!!

  3. Well Susan, It is saturday morning and I have just read your really enjoyable piece, it flowed so well and I was drawn in to your life for a good few minutes. I finished smiling.

    Like you, creativity and culture is oxygen to me, it runs through my veins. And again I am most comfortable with people who enjoy the arts, even if we are the oddballs.

    Saturday morning and a great start to the day,

    Thanks Susan : ))

    • Thanks hon,thats so sweet of you. Im just back from the gym and off to meet a friend in town for a bit of a session. Catch you later. Happy Saturday, long weekend here. xx

  4. ‘Long may culture shine and define my life.’ says it all. Glad to be the lucky man sharing life with you. xx 🙂

  5. Cool Culture !

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