Gavan Reilly

thinking out loud

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Things I’m Going To Do Now That I’m Finished At The University Observer

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  • Catch up on sleep.
  • No, really, catch up on sleep. A LOT of sleep. Most production weekends sleep is a sincere luxury.
  • Corollary to this, I’m going to try and address the bags under my eyes. You could fit a small independent republic in them right now. I’ve always had some bags, but not on this scale. Cucumbers and wet tea bags ahoy.
  • Exercise more. Production weekend diets are delicious, but fail.
  • Try to figure out what to do with every second weekend of my life.
  • Observe a graaaaaaaaaaand stretch in the evenings.
  • Try to get a job. Interested?
  • Write a manual on the nuances of the Observer website and how the whole thing is synced with our Twitter and Facebook, as well as how the whole podcast (and iTunes integration) thing works. It’ll be far too mind-boggling for anyone to try and fly blind in so some kind of crossover document is very much called for.
  • Get back blogging on a regular basis. (No, really!)
  • Bid a fond farewell to a university that has given me a hell of a lot in the last six years. I’ve gotten far more than a degree out of UCD: I got a sense of what I want to do with my life, I’ve gotten to present radio shows and edit newspapers, be the secretary of an association with 23,000 members, and – far most importantly – make a fortunate series of  very, very good friends, too plentiful to name, who I’ll try not to leave behind me as I go on to whatever comes next.
  • Oh, and I’m not going to go about setting up a new country again. Well, not for a while… *wink*
  • Go to Amsterdam for a few days in May with the other half. Can’t wait.
  • Master the Italian language. I started learning it last summer using a Pimsleur guide and love it. (Note to self: also rescue your once-formidable, now-negligable command of German.)
  • Reintroduce myself to the friends I’ve become sadly all too distant from as a result of working 60-hour weeks.
  • Thank the people who convinced me to go for the Observer job in the first place. You know who you are – I owe you for pushing me over the edge.
  • Really miss the fun, political incorrectness, late nights, early mornings, sport-watching and everything else that I shared with the rest of the team. To Sean, Conor, Grace, Sweetman, Matt, Peter, James, Farouq, Scally, Killian, Bridget and to Catriona: thank you for making my year such a blast. There was never a day where I didn’t want to go into work – the Observer has been far more than a mere job. You’ve been my second family and I’ll remember it for a long long time to come.
  • Finally, I’m going to make sure my long-suffering girlfriend Ciara gets to see a little more of my face, and that she’s full aware of how much I’ve needed and cherished her patience with me when I’ve had other things on my mind over the last eight months. The Observer is an all-consuming black hole of time and I’d fully understand if I’d been told to pack my bags for the short attention she’s gotten this year – but I haven’t. She’s been a rock all year and I’ll owe her forever.

So. What’s next?

Written by Gav

April 13th, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Posted in Personal

3-0 up

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As I typed the original title of this post, ‘2-0 up’, Antonio Valencia scored.

It’s a midweek Tuesday and I’m watching Manchester United beat Wolves on a not-in-any-way-illegal-I-swear online broadcast, having just read Declan Lynch’s excellent book Free Money, a tome I’d highly recommend and one I’d been (he wrote an extended preview for it in the otherwise meritless Sunday Independent in May, definitely worth a read if you’re not the book-buying type).

Declan is a sportswriter for the aforementioned Sindo, and is – by his own admission, though he makes a compelling case for not using the term itself – an alcoholic. Free Money is about a nine-month project of turning €100 into… well, whatever his instinct and sporting acumen will allow him. As someone with a more-than-everyday familiarity of the worlds of journalism and addiction – worlds that one fears might be a little bit less distant than one would first suspect – and writes with particular eloquence about the addiction industry and its craft with words.

A therapist would reply that in taking the positives I’m ‘rationalising’ it, that I am using mere words to give myself a false impression, and to keep betting.

Words, words, words, the therapist would say disdainfully. Words are nothing, it is all about feelings.


I take it personally when I hear these people denigrating about words, words, words because I know something about words. I make my living out of words, and I can assure these people that words are not mere objects that the mind produces in the absence of feelings, they are not ‘mere’ in any way.

I set up this blog – or, at least, this edition of my blogging life – in the second-last week of December 2008. My intention was to post one blog per day, trying to work myself into the habit of writing at reasonable length on topics that I may not necessarily be particularly interested in, or motivated by. It was to fall between every stool going; one day it’d be about Stephen Jones missing a last-minute penalty to seal a Grand Slam for Ireland, the next it’d be about staying motivated to work in journalism, on a student newspaper that offers infinite reward but horrific wages.

To an extent – and I guess I’ve done okay in this regard – it has been that; Thinking Out Loud is a blog about nothing in particular. The only problem is that between the day where it’s been about Ireland winning at rugby and the Sunday Tribune being abject failures at covering gaelic games, there’s been ballooning voids of silence where Thinking Out Loud wasn’t a blog about ‘nothing in particular’ but rather ‘nothing at all’.

I might surmise that a lot of the problem with trying to write a blog about ‘nothing in particular’ is that the writer is so easily distracted and captivated by such a broad spectrum of topics that inevitably the devotion to any one subject – including the very act of blogging itself – is lost amongst everything else. But alas.

Which is why a book like Free Money works so very well. It’s a real journalistic endeavour, trying to gain genuine insight into the act of gambling, figuring out what its real function is, offering commentary on how the gambling industry tries to package and present itself as being the modern equivalent of sitting around with a board game… and yet, it flirts with the darkest nether regions of the habit and of the soul itself, contemplating the horrors of addiction from the part of someone who has genuinely been there.

I’d be lying if I said I was watching this United and Wolves game (still 3-0, into injury time) and not wondering what it might be like to have a punt on it, pitting my wits against the probability of the universe and earing financial gain for it. It’s a strange impulse and thankfully, for me personally, it’s one that comes and goes. I started into the habit of putting small-stakes accumulators on weekend cycles of Premiership games last April – as a part-time amusement to get me through the tedium of my finals – and by the end of the season I was impatient that I’d lose three months before I had the chance to place any more. And yet, I don’t think I’ve placed any more than three this season, maybe because given the day job I don’t get the chance.

It’s a strange impulse though. There’s always that fleeting moment where, drunk on the lethal cocktail of arrogant self-belief and the acute desire to make financial gain, one could casually log onto a sports exchange website or an online casino and risk it all on the flip of a coin, the width of a goalpost, or the fall of a ball on a 21st century roulette table where every number is a 1 or a 0.

Such are the small margins between immense wealth and chronic destitution – the flip of a switch between a 0 and a 1.

Tomorrow, as a result of a string of 1s involving my getting a placement in the first place, and subsequently the nature of the workplace and the circumstances of the breaking ball, I’ll be seeing a printed copy of my first front-page story for a reasonably major regional newspaper. Later this week I’ll be getting a headshot done. This weekend I’ll be going to a birthday party, and having good food with friends, and spending time with my nearest and dearest.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss,
…you’ll be a man, my son.

You’ll be a bonehead.

2009 might have been, on my scorecard, largely comprised of 1s, but I refuse to concede that the laws of probability have 0s in store. Better golfers get luckier more often, they say. I prefer to think of it as people making their own luck. If I don’t blog again before 2010, I’ll regret it, but I’ll be doing my best to make sure that it’s because I’ve been coming up tails and rolling sixes.

By the end of Free Money‘s nine-month narrative, Declan Lynch had turned his €100 into… almost precisely €100. 2009 has been pretty good to me thus far (touch wood), and with any luck 2010 will treat me the same way: 3-0 up.

With any luck.

Written by Gav

December 15th, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Knowing When It’s Time

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I’ve been thinking a little bit this week about when your time runs out, or what it must feel like to know that your end isn’t far away.

My dad’s grandfather, on his dad’s side, lived in times when medicine wasn’t what it is today; when a problem would be diagnosed more as a means to peace of mind than with a view of solving it. When he was beginning to have chest pains, and they diagnosed a chronic cholesterol problem, it wasn’t with a view to helping him get any better. He died, of a heart attack, at 54.

I’ll never forget the day his son, my grandad, had his first heart attack. We were sitting at home, on an average midweek evening, when Dad got a phone call, listened silently, hung up and promptly, silently, bolted from the house. My grandad was 61 at the time. A year to the day later, I bolted similarly from my bed, excited at a school tour – and not even reading too much into the fact that Dad was already absent from the house, and that the TV was turned off. “Noelie’s not well” was all I was offered. That was fair enough. It was only when I got home, and Mum came up to me in my room to break the news, that I knew it immediately. A year to the day exactly afterward. He’d gotten up, as normal, and my gran had been rooting around a medicine cabinet in their bedroom only to turn around and find him collapsed upon his bed.

It’s probably fair to say, so, that there’s a history of heart disease in my Dad’s side of the family.

Well, Dad (as an aside) has had problems with infections in his fingernails for a couple of years; every time he goes to a doctor, he gets a course of antibiotics and it clears them up, but they’re not about coming back. So recently, when going for another course, his doctor asked him to do a blood test, to make sure there wasn’t an underlying problem stopping a recovery being permanent.

Without divulging too much detail, something’s come up that makes you wonder about it all.

I don’t know how I feel about it. Maybe I’m not meant to react at all. All I know is that the next time I smell a bacon butty I’m going to be thinking long and hard, and end up remembering that evening when I sat on my bed, absorbing the news that I’d never see my grandad again.

Written by Gav

July 18th, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Personal

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When life is being an arse, it’s difficult to remember that some time soon you’ll look back on your circumstances and smile that you survived them – or maybe smile at how nice they really were, through the rose-tinted lenses of hindsight.

I found being on Erasmus a really, really tough experience. I missed home, I missed friends and family, I missed my involvements, I missed my missus. I made some amazing friends over there – or more accurately, better friends of ones I already had – but the whole thing was a massive emotional drain.

Nonetheless, as I said, hindsight is a pretty brilliant thing. Four of the five of us – plus one of the Welsh – are going back to Munich for four days today, joining up with the fifth who actually lives out there now.

Just a message to bear in mind. Things get better. Time heals things. Just keep plugging away and eventually you’ll gain the ability to look back with a wry smile, smiling at the challenges overcome and relish the challenge of taking it that one, final, step further.

As I said, I’ll be away til Friday night but I’ll be trying to get stuff up on a daily basis nonetheless. Take care of yourselves.

Written by Gav

January 12th, 2009 at 11:54 am

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Another year over, a new one just begun about to get started…

I’ve always thought New Years’ Resolutions were a fairly odd custom – I don’t know what of the human condition it is that needs mob mentality to keep oneself disciplined; surely if you really wanted to join a gym, lose weight, get fit, quit smoking, stop biting ones nails, blah blah blah, you wouldn’t need to wait for a specific date to improve your ways, you’d want to just get on with it straight away. It’s a little like Weight Watchers – I never used to understand why people needed to get together in a group to gain the willpower to make positive changes they wanted in the first place. Not, of course, that it’s stopped me from trying to setting resolutions before, then swiftly succumbing to the all-too-human ability to fall away from an ideal, reverting to type, and generally being fail at the art of self-improvement.

Somehow, though, there’s a resilient aspect to humans that spurs them to pick up the pieces of their desires and, against all logic of doing any better, starting on the road all over again.

Personally, there’s no point pretending that 2008 wasn’t a rough year. There were downfalls and deaths, exams and tests; times when friends turned out not to be, and where people who had benefitted from a lot of help, goodwill and patience from me and my closest made it clear in very tangible ways. It’s rare that I’ve looked forward to the end of a year as much as I have this one, and wherever I am at the turn of midnight, I’ll feel little remorse at seeing the back of the year just finishing.

And so, to New Years’ Resolutions, and to why I’m here. Over the last eighteen manic months of my life, starting from living in Germany to going into full-time employment and then to full-time Final Year, and being on aeroplanes more times than I can care to count – actually, nineteen times, which isn’t bad for a student, I must admit – I’ve somehow lost my earlier fire to write, to play, to listen… well, that’s what my 2009 is for. The year might turn out to be a long one – and let’s face it, there’s as much as chance it’ll be worse than 2008 as it’ll be better.

And so, I introduce the newest chapter of my blogging life: Thinking Out Loud. The title comes from the simple fact that while my overcooked brain flits from thought to thought and doesn’t often incubate an argument to its conclusion, I tend to construct better thoughts if they’re said out loud at the pace of speech. This blog is with the same idea in mind: they mightn’t be long, but blog posts will be more regular, honest, and (at least a little) contemplated. Maybe I’ll flesh out a proper personal philosophy on life, or a manifesto of sorts – call it however you like. The hope is merely that this place sees a little more regular thought and paternal care than the other online hangouts I’ve started and abandoned over the years. And as for the mob mentality? Well, time will tell. I guess the social media must be a start.

Happy New Year, everyone – I hope you all have a genuinely good year. For those of you who care, I’ll see you tomorrow. 🙂

Written by Gav

December 31st, 2008 at 4:15 pm