In the Rick of Time- Rick O’ Shea Interview

Last September I spoke with King of the Wireless, Rick O’ Shea

Chatting with 2fm radio presenter Rick O’ Shea is almost like resuming a conversation with a big brother- older, wiser and not afraid to tell you the truth, he is the type of brother you’d actually take advice from. Since 2001 Rick’s witty tongue and natural charisma have been emanating from the 2fm airwaves, allowing the country to fall in love with his unique humour on a daily basis. His popular show, Rick in the Afternoon has a huge listenership and is famed for its light-hearted and quirky nature, yet Rick himself started off as a university student like us all, not expecting to get into radio.

“I didn’t decide to get into radio, I just fell into it”, says Rick at the beginning of our chat. “I never overly thought about it. I applied to DCU, but didn’t get enough points, so I ended up doing Arts in UCD. I started with the student radio there in 1991. I stumbled into radio really”

While Rick’s 2fm show can be heard blaring in kitchens, hair salons, offices and waiting rooms every weekday afternoon, Rick’s radio career has been one of hard work and commitment, starting from the bottom and working his way to the top. “You know it was a very, very long road. I started student radio in 1991 and did some local radio stations. I ended up in FM104 for 5 and a half years and I started here in 2fm in 2001”After thirteen years on the air, Rick is still quite unsure as to why his show (which he is assisted in by Cormac Battle), is so appealing to audiences. Is there a specific secret to the show’s success?

“I don’t know if I could answer that”, muses Rick “If I could answer that I would bottle it up. I suppose we try not to do what everyone else is doing. A lot of radio shows sound very similar to other radio shows. We try and do something different that makes us stand out from the crowd”

Features on Rick’s show including the humorous “Pointless Piece of Research of the Day” and “Dead or Alive” are certainly comical idiosyncrasies that make the show different in the overly crowded radio schedule of today. Yet even after his own achievement’s in the field of radio, Rick is quick not to encourage young people to get into radio on a whim.

“Think twice about radio. I say this every time I’m asked by student media societies about getting into radio.  Think long and hard about it. It’s not a job that you will make a lot of easy money from. A lot of people think it’s easy that it’s just a microphone and someone talking, but it’s much more that that”

Perhaps aware of the frivolous nature of radio, Rick also dabbles in other creative activities. His popular blog features his book club and reviews the plethora of books he reads. Moreover, he also writes a column every second week for Insider Magazine which accompanies the Irish Independent every Thursday. “The stuff I did on the blog is not part of the radio show, which makes it different. I also got asked to write a column for Insider Magazine, in which I was told I could write about anything which is great,” explains Rick.

Since Rick’s blog focuses mainly on books of all sorts of genres, it’s clear that reading is a deep passion of his. Not limiting himself to any genre in particular Rick enjoys everything from Sci-fi to autobiographies, reading one book a week. So where did this affection for reading stem from?“It’s something I fell into when I was a kid” says Rick “Since I was quite small I read extensively. Like a lot of other kids in school you get bogged down with schoolwork, but by the time I got to college I took it up again because I like to read, I like stories and I like books”

Since Rick has such an adoration for the written word, would he ever consider putting pen to paper himself and construct a novel of his own? “It’s something I’ve considered extensively and something I’ve never got further than writing chapter one. I’d never say never, but I’d rather not do it, than do it and make a bad job of it”

While Rick won Celebrity Mastermind in 2012, his involvement in TV has been limited due to a decision on his own part. His dedication to his radio show and writing his blogs has left him with very little spare time to consider diving into the busy world of television. “I never pursued it. It’s something you’ve to put a lot of hard work and effort into. I’ve to work five days a week, nine to five here, but it might happen if it’s something I’m really into”

Another very important aspect of Rick’s life is the work he does on behalf of Epilepsy Ireland. A sufferer of the condition since the tender of sixteen, Rick has learned to live with the condition and has been patron of the organisation since 2006.

“I have been a sufferer of the condition since I was sixteen, it happens to many as children, but some as teenagers. I’ve been working with the organisation since 2006/2007. I saw that they were looking for someone to support them and I was the only one who replied to the email. I get to meet people and bring new information to light. I’ve met lots of people who say nice things. It doesn’t have necessarily change your life completely”

While many of us feel like we are so accustomed with the voice of Rick O’ Shea, speaking to him today allowed me get a glorious glimpse into the life of the man behind the microphone. He truly is a gentleman on and off the airwaves

Rick in the Afternoon airs Mon-Fri 2-4:30pm

Living It Up In The City- Street Style

Last February I discuss Street style, a concept often captured in a picture, yet rarely written about

With Paris Couture Week having closed its colourful catwalk for yet another term and London fashion week fast approaching, those who don’t eat and breath fashion would be forgiven for thinking that it is merely a concept reserved for the runways of the world. But of course, those of us who don’t just see fashion as a way of life, but life itself, know better. As the Queen of classic couture, Coco Chanel once put it “fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live and what is happening” and decades on there is still nothing but truth in this statement. Fashion is fabricated into the veins of society; finding its origins in youth and popular culture with the result being presented on the pavements and park benches of the world on a daily basis, from New York to Newbridge. This form of fashion, which is hardly ever written about, but displayed to us through images varying from the candid to illustrious, is known as street style.

While social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram, may have pushed the concept of Street style in to the public sphere, it is far from a new phenomenon. Since the invention of the camera in the 19th Century, street style has been at the very core of fashion. Women in the late 1800’s were just as infatuated with the idea of posing for picture after picture, as we are today for pulling “duck faces” and showing off our outfit swag. Continuing into the 1950’s, rival magazines, Vogue and Harper’s Bazar, dedicated their glossy pages to the street savvy. These remarkable and historic, monochromatic images, featuring men in dapper suits and women in preppy poodle skirts, allow us to gain a glimpse into the fashion of our ancestors showing the importance of street style in understanding the development of our culture.

These black and white photographs, although endearing in tracking the evolution of fashion, the subjects more often than not posed for these images for a considerable length of time, taking away from their authenticity. This is where Bill Cunningham comes in. Celebrated fashion photographer, Cunningham came to prominence during the 1970’s for his capturing of honest and original images of sidewalk style, as pedestrians went about their daily lives. Unlike the stilted images of the past, Cunningham had the unique ability to take candid images, in casual situations, yet proving that street style was anything but casual. Known for his signature bicycle which he used to glide through the streets of New York, Anna Wintour once stated that “we all get dressed for Bill”, indicating how Cunningham and his brand of street style photography has been just as influential, as having a front row seat at any couture show.

Perhaps, Cunningham’s greatest achievement has been that he demonstrated to the world that anywhere has the ability to be a fashion capital and that being chic isn’t confined to the bustling boulevards of Paris. The funky fashion of Manhattan morning commuters, is different to the understated brogue wearing French, but just as worthy. New York street style, although ever-changing, ranges from the preppy Upper-East side Gossip Girl generation, to the Brooklyn hipsters who team sleek trainers with over-sized jumper dresses while managing to still look immaculate. London, street style, which is giving its French and Stateside counterparts much needed competition in their titles as fashion capitals, also has its own unique look. Since the swinging sixties, London has attracted the youthful and fresh fashionistas of the world.  From Twiggy and her signature eyebrow flick, to Georgia May Jagger’s gap-grin, Londoner’s have had more than enough inspiration to unleash on their own style.

While street style is most prominent in the smog-infested cities of the world, its influence can also be seen in smaller urban centres. Edinburgh, Dublin, even Cork are fast becoming hubs for quirky, fashion conscious trendsetters. And it’s not only the high end fashion magazines which document street style, most newspapers, not forgetting Verge, dedicate their print space to footpath fashion lovers. Is it any surprise then that most of fashion’s popular trends have had their origins on city streets rather than in the style houses of London or Paris? Diego Zuko, photographer for Harper’s Bazar has noted that the recent trend of tassled kimonos and fringed cloaks, found its beginning’s on the streets of New York. Moreover, the variety of clothing sold in highstreet stores such as Topshop and River Island, along with quirky items in vintage outlets, allows for the mixing of old and new trends, and the creation of revolutionary looks. Skinny jeans, choke-chains and tartan all have street style to thank for their popularity in main-stream fashion. And it’s not just the cities that influence our daily attire, the strong waistcoats and shiny leather riding boots preferred by country dwellers has given way to the Heritage trend.

Perhaps the biggest threat to street style, is that everyone claims to be a hipster these days. Originality is harder to find and the obscure images of Bill Cunningham are more difficult to capture. But is anybody really original? Every single one of us is influenced by popular culture from Taylor Swift to Leonardo di Caprio whether we like it or not, that is how trends take off and that after all is what fashion is about! Fashion is about people, faces, situations, past, present and future. Street style is an embodiment of what fashion actually is; a means of expression, a manner in which we can make our dark days a little brighter by wearing that luminous hat. Long live Street Style!

Wishing On A Star- Emma Hannigan

In a candid interview I chat with author and self-proclaimed “cancer vixen” Emma Hannigan about battling the disease an extraordinary nine times

There definitely seems to be something in the water of seaside town Bray. With comedian Dara O’ Briain, presenter Laura Whitmore, and Olympic Gold medallist Katie Taylor all hailing from the satellite town, it certainly has star quality credentials. Author Emma Hannigan can surely be added to this list of well-known Bray off-spring. Having purchased her first books and met her husband there, Emma is now rearing her own children in the Wicklow town. Heart-warming and truly inspiring, an endless flow of endearing dialogue flows from the author’s mouth.

“I lived in Bray and that’s where the first Dubray Bookshop originated. It was called the Bray Bookshop. It was an amazing bookshop and my mum was a Montessori teacher. Both myself and my older brother were able to write at the age of three. We got a book every week. My Mum instilled it in me, you blame your mum for everything I suppose”, laughs the author

In 2005, Emma’s seemingly picture perfect lifestyle was rocked with the news that she possessed a rare gene, BrCa1, which made her 85% more likely of developing breast cancer and had a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer. Instead of viewing this information as a negative, reflecting ten years on, Emma knows that had she not known about this gene she probably wouldn’t be alive today. “I feel that knowledge is power. So I always saw it as a positive thing that I knew I had it. I know now for a fact had I not been diagnosed with that gene and if I hadn’t reacted when I had I wouldn’t be here now”

It was perhaps Emma’s steady educational background that allowed her to view this potentially fatal news in a positive light and in 2006 she took the brave step in having a double mastectomy to prevent the manifestation of cancer. However these precautionary steps didn’t prevent Emma from falling victim to breast cancer in 2007 and a whopping eight times thereafter. Still in her early thirties at this time, I ask Emma did she ever say “Why me?”

“No I’ve never said that. It was one in 3, it’s now one in 2 people who will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. You know it’s not that unusual, it is unusual to have cancer 9 times, I’ll give you that” As in every aspect of her life Emma viewed the situation as a positive and was practical in her approach to tackling the disease.

“My prognosis was always positive, the doctors were always very clear about that. I’ve been very fortunate in that every radiation and chemo session that I’ve had has worked and eradicated the cancer that was there at the time. I’ve had recurrences and that is due to the gene, but I know that I’m very lucky that the new treatments are working on me”

Although she is not a “guinea pig” for new drugs, Emma is aware of how important these new clinical practices are in building cancer research and removing the deadly stigma that is attached to the disease. “I suppose I’m at the forefront of this new age of cancer in that it can be a chronic illness rather than a disease that will kill you and I’m very much the proof of that. I was born at the right time I think”

Emma owes her survival to modern medicine and doctors “I don’t have special powers; there isn’t a reason why I survived. It’s not that I’m better at it than somebody else, it’s that the treatments are getting better all the time”

It was this time spent in hospital undergoing gruelling chemotherapy and radiation sessions that Emma turned to writing as a form of solace. With best friend, author Cathy Kelly guiding her towards the names of various publishers, Emma received two book deals within ten days, avoiding the usual strenuous process that many authors face when trying to grab their first book deal .

“I didn’t quite understand how difficult it is to get published. My heart goes out to those struggling with it and I’m sure they want to batter me right now. I don’t know, I’m not a religious person but I do believe that things happen for a reason and I do believe that people watch over us. Somebody good up there is minding me”

In 2011 Emma wrote Talk to the Headscarf, a memoir documenting her own battle with cancer. Written in her signature heart-felt and humorous style, Emma admits that it was a cathartic, yet surreal experience.

“I found it really odd to write. I’d written two fiction books at this stage and then to have to write something that was fact rather than fiction, it’s very hard not to let your mind wander and think it would be great if she went off to Paris in the next chapter” says the author heartedly.

“There was definitely a sense of when I was writing parts of it and thinking ‘Jesus imagine if that happened to you!’ and it had happened to me. Bloody hell, if somebody told me all of these things were going to happen, I’d have never believed them. And you do forget. So I suppose it was a way of getting it all out. I don’t really look back as a person, I always look forward. It’s really weird writing something that actually happened to you. You block out a lot of things I think”

In remission, Emma is now a full-time author and as our conversation comes to a close she lets us in on some trusted advice her father gave to her which she believes should be applied to writing

“The main thing I would say is to be honest and write from who you are. A thing my dad said to me years ago which was one of the best pieces of advice I ever got was if you are going to lie you have to have a brilliant memory. If you try and be Marian Keyes, you might be quite good at it for one book but if you try and continue, it’s very difficult and it’s very exhausting, so be yourself”

Emma’s latest book The Secrets We Share is available in all good book stores April 9th.

Poetry Chamber

Brilliant

Danger. That’s all she sees in his dark chocolate eyes, yet she always comes back for more.

He stares like she’s the only one in the crowd-clogged room.

She leans her leg against the wall, she knows the score.

But maybe she’s sick of laughing at jokes that aren’t funny? Or tasting the weak tinge of weed in his mouth.

 

Afterwards he slips away, but she doesn’t even care.

Care. What is that word? Hudson Taylor speak up now. Please?

It’s not like they’ll get married. Marry? Him? Never. Marry? Ever?

But it’s all so blurred.

 

Right and Wrong used to be so clear, frozen in her mind.

Rewind.

Faces from the past flick through the pages of the night, dreams and reality mesmerise her days.

Cute. Nice. Pretty. Pathetic adjectives. Please.

Call her brilliant any day. Because that’s what she is.

 

He’s back again asking her to go home with him, back to his grumbling “gaff”.

His molten-mousse eyes make every effort to entrance her cobalt ones, but to no avail.

“No, no, no” are murmured numerous times.

He walks off. She stands amongst the beaming lights and teeming drunks.

 

Lone dancer. Brilliant.