Headlights? OK. Wipers? Check. Reverse? Found it. So I rolled out of the lot to explore Mayo’s book shops, restaurants and scenery.
Then I remembered what I forgot:
How the hell do I tune the radio? Hell, how do I turn the damned thing off? When you’re on a narrow winding road in the middle of magnificent scenery dealing with oncoming buses and massive freight hauliers, it’s not the best time to be playing with your tuner or anything else. Particularly when the weather report mentioned ice on the roads.
So I spent a couple of hours listening to the music of today’s youth.
To be honest, the lyrics weren’t bad. Essentially they cover the same pop topics of love, loss, lust and disappointment that youth-driven music has been full of for years [forever?]. What intrigued me was the synthesized background beat. No matter the particular genre – boy band, rap, hip hop and whatever else is popular these days, the underlying sound tracks all appeared to come from the same synthesizer. [Am I sounding like an old fart yet?] While I remember similar lyrics and emotions in the pop music of a million years ago, I also remember how drums and guitars made a difference. Even metronomic drummers and died-in-the-wool bluesmen would slip in a few identifying bits of personal style. I miss the personality and complexity of individual musicians, even the ones I didn’t care for. And I bemoan the budget-driven lack of imagination in the commercial music industry. At one point in my life I taught computer music composition, so I know they can do better. I’m also resigned to the fact that they won’t.
Am I sugar-coating the past? Did parents growing up in the big band era say the same thing about our music? Maybe I should go to YouTube to sample the new groups to see if there’s an equivalent to drum solos or guitar riffs in today’s music. But I probably won’t. I’ve too many other things on my plate. Enjoy yourselves, kids. In a few years you’ll be sounding just like me.
The music died when I turned off the ignition in Louisburgh. Real life re-started.
I walked into Books@One to the sounds of four kids competing for their parents’ attention over how many books they could buy. And trying to out-shout each other as to how many they’d read in the past month. [“But all yours were really short.” “But yours was full of pictures” “But…]
They restored my faith in the future. Sure they were normal kids. But they were reading, not texting.
The store itself has a wonderful mix of new and used books, including a fair number I’ve never seen before. If this was all there is to Books@One, it would be good. But it’s also a community bookstore and centre, with co-working spaces, a state-of-the-art Print On Demand Machine and more. If you’ve got a few minutes you might want to go to their website or read this Irish Times piece on the store. It includes a wonderful 2-minute video that reinforces my firm belief that independent local retailers make a town a community. They’re a town’s heart and soul. https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/the-shop-that-could-change-ireland-1.3331239
Back in my car, I took a few minutes to play with the radio. I turned it off so I could enjoy a half hour of the Wild Atlantic Way on my way to Westport, where I found some more faith in the future. Tertulia opened its doors just last summer. They’re a distance away from Westport’s town centre and operate what they’re calling a literary hub, sans the usual inventory of school supplies. “Why duplicate what two other stores in town are already doing well?”
I wandered and chatted with one of the owners, settling on Solar Bones with its pair of prizes and a Kevin Barry blurb on its cover. I would have stayed to talk some more, but in less than five minutes four more customers came into the store [at 3:00 pm on a Wednesday]. If this is their traffic pattern, they’ve a good future in front of them
If you’re interested in the origins of their name, Tertulia, go to their website. I like what’s printed on the bookmark they placed in my book: “a magical place for booklovers, film lovers, Harry Potter lovers, a place to relax, have a cup of coffee, a place to meet, a place to chat about…”
When I finally made it into Westport proper I found both The Bookshop and McLoughlin’s with a good mix of adult books and art and school supplies. But what impressed me was finding – after months of visiting bookstores – books I hadn’t seen anywhere else. Is it due to their tourist trade or just the tastes of the local store owners?
It doesn’t matter. I now own – and look forward to reading – four new books from four stores I’d never visited written by four authors I’d never heard of.
It was a good trip.
Westport – The Bookshop
This piece is just one of a number I’ve written about my long-term love affair with books. If you’d like to see more simply click on the “Books” category below. You can also subscribe, so that you’ll see these blogs as they’re written, as opposed to social media’s algorithms. As the saying goes, if you like my writing, tell your friends. If you don’t, tell your enemies.