Posted by: susanjcaldwell28 | September 23, 2012


A night in Delvin : Champers in the garden,  baking a fruit cake, broken mosaic & Larium, the anti-maleria drug:


Yes, it does sound like a rather tall order, but this and more happened when I visited Jeannette Campbell in Delvin this weekend.   I met her in Athboy where she very kindly met me off the bus and took me to a local hostillery for lunch.  After viewing the salads on the blackboard, I decided to venture boldly in and ask the question, “cuda ya do me a vegan salad”, the proprietor veered between kicking me the hell outa the establishment and endeavouring to satisfy my lust, happily the latter won.  I have to say, I might have been the only vegan in town and once the suspicion abated,  an amazing vegan salad was produced.  Jeannette was a little jealous and amazed at the fact that the pineapple was twisted and contorted in an artistic way to compliment the sundried tomatoes, pineapples, rocket, cucumber and onion.   I told her whether people actually realise it or not, they actually do enjoy challenges and Delvin was ready for a vegan one. They lost 3 marks out of a possible ten for not having a wine licence!.

We went back to Jeannette’s house, I was not so much madly jealous as wildly livid when I walked in, no I could never claim this amazing cottage, it was soooo Jeannette, after a few minutes I began to wonder did she own the cottage or did it own her and I decided that they were soulmates, inextricably linked and could never be pulled asunder.  I always thought Jeannette and I were from another time with our velvet and lace and bustly skirts (and some people would like us to piss right back off to that time!)  I did not expect white walls, black leather couches and wooden kitchens for our Jeannette was always a leader not a follower but when I walked in, I was seduced into this amazing space.  First stop was the meditation room with books from every religion and non-religion and spirituality, candles and peace.  After this we walked into the country cottage kitchen.  The house was as eclectic, quirky, warm and diverse as its owner.  Then the country kitchen, with its panelled presses, old clocks, amazing chandelier and old teapots, a perfect mixture of character without clutter, a theme which carried through to the rest of the home. The house was so full of nooks and crannies and halls that its hard  to remember the layout, but I do remember her dressing room, the three bedrooms, the wonderful Victorian bathroom with the roll tap bath and eventually when I felt I could take no more of this envy being lead into the main reception room with its wooden fireplace burdened by the presence of candles, fabulous couches and a sun room and shower room behind.  Every little space in the house had a chair in front and betwixt and between it, making it the most welcoming house I had been in, in more ways than one.  The walls were also covered with beautiful paintings and in the drawing room, I spotted pictures of Jeannette with Pierce Brosnan and Richard Branson.  This gal, like myself, had lived so many lives, but still retained such an amazing humanity.

We then repaired to the garden for champagne, as you do!!.  We sat there sharing stories and laughing our heads off, as you do with people you truly know, but don’t make polite conversation with, I doubt that Jeannette and I, who I think are both very good with people, would even begin to understand the code of polite conversation.  Then the school bus rolled in, and in walked Molly.  I have to say, it was love at first sight for me.  This twelve year old girl full of energy and personality and individualism,  walked off the bus.  She had previously told Jeannette she was dying to meet her friend Susan J Caldwell, and I think she and I felt a little under pressure.  She shyly nodded and said she needed to change her uniform, duly changed she came out to the garden and started to talk to me, told me about her love of heavy metal and tattoo artistry and pale make-up. I told her I loved pale and advised her to try pale biscuit make-up for a good goth look, she looked at me and that was it, I was in, I was cool, result!.  We had a very funny moment,wherein I asked her to take a pic of me and her mum and her mum was saying, “just take me from the waist up and I was saying take me from further away”!!! The poor child was traumatisted, and I said “no don’t show my crows feet” and she replied in all innocence “but Susan, you’re feet are not in the photo”!!!.  To say we corpsed would be an understatement, bless!! Then Jeannette and Molly took me to her studio, yes, her studio, just when I thought the house could not get better.  I had joked with Jessie earlier that I may come back from Delvin.  She had a row with me that morning over a pair of knickers, she does have more than one, I swear!!.  She was doing what 15 year olds are meant to do and wrecking my head. I began to fantasize about running away from home and living in Jeannette’s studio.

Jeannette had made the most delish dinner of stuffed curried peppers, she put 3 on my plate and I asked her was she mad, I could not possibly eat so much. We sat in the luxurious dining room and munched stuffed peppers as I gazed at old signs for flour bread and bourbon biscuits on the wonderfujl old dresser . I would only eat one, always mindful of calories and never eating big portions, I went to one and a half and then thought no-one was going to eat that miserable half, and sure it was the decent thing to do as a guest to eat two, just to be polite, ya know!!

Twas then time to get ready for Culture  Night in Delvin, so the jeans and top were ripped off and black fringy skirt, camisole and velvet top put on, and off we went. We walked into a garden centre, resplendent with not only plants but beautifully lit lanterns that formed a beautiful muti-faceted stage into the art gallery beyond.  The gallery was amazing, the garden centre to the front and the amazing light and fields beyond and the gallery itself living within but not contained by the limitations of physical space because of the outdoor space that illuminated it and enhanced it.

Outside, there was the mosaic workshop complete with mosaic fragments and hammer and a wonderful supervisor.  Most people decided to become artists and have a go, whereas Jeannette and I could be tomorrow’s politicians. We just decided to walk around and critique everyone.  I remember Dave doing a black and white mosaic and I suggested to him that he should use more colour and do more Mexican colours and he said “I just want to deal in black and white”. The meaning of this did not become clear to me until later in the evening.

Inside the art gallery with wine and nibbles and amazing artists, I looked around, some artists amazed, some intrigued and some left me wondering but overall the standard was very high.  I homed in on Hazel Revington-Crosses art or maybe it homed in on me, but her paintings totally captivated me, muti-textured and jumping off the canvas, and the theme was about Larium, an anti-malaria drug that was forcibly fed to soldiers worldwide, the side-effects were apparently as subtle as Hitler, paranoia, depression, hallucinations and suicidal tendencies.  They have been documented worldwide.  Soldiers were told if they did not take it, they would lose their pension

My  current husband had occasion to visit many countries as a Business Development Manager in a previous incarnation, and had to be vaccinated greatly.  One colleague choose to have a weekly larium tab above a daily one and spoke about the affect it had on her, and I have since wondered about the affect of booster larium injections. She had major hallucinations, thought she was going mad and felt depressed, and that was only after a week of these tablets.  Soldiers who refused to take them were told they would be struck off without a  pension, and now we live in a world where there is talk about childrens allowance being cut down for people who do not vaccinate their kids, as if somehow they were remiss.  You can inject yourself with heroin , snort coke, drink your tits off. Drag your kids up, but somehow if you decide that you do not want to inject your babies with mercury (the most harmful substance on the planet) and all the other formaldehyde substances therein, you are a BAD parent,REALLY, someone asked me a while ago were my meds vegan,meds, what the fuck are they, Im a vegan and have been a vegetarian ,I don’t need meds. Or maybe I do!

Her business partner Dave stood up to speak, and then he said he could not, and walked away .  A few minutes later, he was back on stage and said he could speak again.   He said he had taken Larium as a soldier and the Dave pre 2003 and the existing Dave were different people..   He had lost most of his friends and  even with existing friends, there were times within 20 minutes wherein they knew he had to go home.  I thought of an old friend of mine who had joined the army and I thought he had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, but I wondered had Larium being added to the pain ,a double whappy so to speak.

The next part of the evening involved walking in from the mosaic smashing and viewing the artists to watching Mary McEvoy performing “Fruit Cake” by Alice Barry.  I knew Alice when she was a mere slip of a gal, when were were both in Grove Theatre Company, she has gone on to prove herself as an amazing playwritght.  This play was very clever, in that, twas an ordinary middle aged woman doing what I imagine those types do (51, never baked a cake and proud is me!!)   The one woman show was built around the character building her cake and telling her life story.  Mary McEvoy’s energy and brilliance at defining this character-were captivating,  this “simple” soul, whilst baking also managed to get across the themes of suicide and murder all so neatly embodied (excuse the pun!!)  within a fruitcake.  The performance was superb and the writing brilliant.  Alice and I never met eye to eye, and one day I was trying to walk by her and coolly ignore her and a branch of a tree bashed into my eye a millimetre away from her,!!.  Respect for her writing and the amazing Hazel is this beautiful, willowy, ethereal creature, who also has this amazing head to run such a fabulous space.

Back to Fern Cottage and wine n chatter afterwards,   thanks Jeannette, what a weekend. Xx

ADDENDUM:  Right, I was too pissed and traumatised to write this last night aligned with the fact that I did not want to tarnish the memory of a brilliant weekend by mentioning the fact that on the way home to Dublin, I nearly ended up in Cavan!!.   Right, I think I’m an intelligent person but bus timetables baffle me, especially bus eireann ones, apparently …. Means bus changes at this stop, who knew, there was certainly no explanation therein.  On the way down, Jeannette met me in Athboy because I knew the bus changed there for Delvin.   On the way back, Jeannette drove me into town. I’m not very observant when it comes to places and indeed geography was my least favourite subject in school, in fact I hated all the subjects, bar English, however, rather astute about  people .  She drove me into Delvin, but being a gobshite, I thought we were in Athboy.  I would hate to be a tourist from another country visiting here because down the country they don’t do bus stops, the bus just stops at the deli or pub etc and is prone to change without notice.  Anyhow, I jumped onto the bus having risked life and limb by running across the traffic in my high wedges that I can barely walk in.  I got on the bus and the guy said “right, you are going all the way to Dublin”.  I allowed myself to relax and assuage the panic I feel getting on provincial buses.  The next thing I noticed was Athboy, and I thought that is strange, I thought we were already there. Two people got off the bus and I thought, strange that they would do that, wait so long for a bus to go one stop, and more people got on.  2 minutes later, the alarm bells that had been buzzing inside my head began to RING. I’m going the fucking wrong way. I ambled up the aisle of the bus and approached the first person I saw, who was not impressed by having to de-earphone himself to answer my hysterical enquiry.  “Are we going to Dublin?”. ” Nooo, we are gonta Caaavan”.  Jesus, I ran up to the driver and told him I was going to Dublin, for some reason he thought this was a good time to do a comic turn and laughed and said “Well I’m going to Cavan”  I said “thanks a feckin million, you never told me I had to change bus.”  He began to take me seriously and turned the bus around, muttering to himself “what will I do with ya”.  I turned around and looked at the totally pissed off passengers and used my charm and said “sorry guys about the diversion”. My charm did not work,  I was met with collective icy glares.  We got back into Athboy and he said “a shure the bus is gon, twill be an hour for the next one”. I got off the bus and noted that there were no bars left in the power on my mobile, so I quickly rang John and told him to meet me at Busaras at 5 instead of 4.  Poor Jeannette was trying to contact me and the phone kept cutting out.  I walked across to the local hotel and ordered a glass of wine to while away the next hour.  Then I realised that I had wasted so much time that it was not really an hour and then decided to casually enquire from reception the time of the next bus to Dub.   5 minutes.  Jaysus, got me little bottle of Shiraz and poured it back into the bottle, pouring most of it on the table and walked across to the deli.  On the timetable Jeannette looked at online said McComiskeys pub, the driver told me to wait at the restaurant and the hotel said the deli!!.   I walked across the road and met two women and I practically grabbed them and enquired of them if they were getting the bus to Dublin.  They said they were and I began to relax a little.   The 111 came around the corner and sailed right by us with no explanation.  They informed me it often does that and another would be along.  Before the real bus arrived, I had another pang of anxiety,  the driver of the previous bus had marked my ticket, so to speak, so it was actually null and void.  Got on the bus and defensively told the driver that my ticket was still ok, that I’d gotten on the wrong bus the last time, or rather had failed to alight and get on the right bus.  He just scratched his head and allowed me on.  I was on my way back to Dublin, finally.  I dont apologise to the passengers for swigging out of my mini bottle of Shiraz.   We reached Parnell Square and wouldn’t you know it, fire brigade and ambulance and the gang at the scene of crash, traffic gridlock, I actually viewed one of my exes in the midst of the carnage and giggled to myself that he had certainly not gotten better looking with time!.  Out of the gridlock and dead late, managed to get my phone on and ring John and shout “Batcherlors Walk”.  Got off the bus, met John, walked down O’Connell Street, bumped into my old friend Martin O’Connor from Grove Theatre Company days, he suggested a pint, practically grabbed him into The Duke, 2 pints of Peroni later, LUAS home and dinner with my family. Phew!!!




  1. A great read Susan. I always love reading about your exploits. I’m kinda fond of sharing one or two as well. Great to see you recently in Dublin. More tales to be created and told 🙂

    • Absolutely love, looking forward to seeing you again and as the above post testifies, I should not be allowed out on my own!. xx

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