These are the recollections seen through the eyes of a young Irish boy growing up in Notting Hill and Chelsea in the 1950s and 1960s with its trials and tribulations. However, great joy, poignancy, humour, and sadness that shines through from an era now long gone. It is a living testament to the love, courage, and fortitude of the human spirit which can always come shining through in any trial or, indeed, any tribulation.
'Shall I start at the end and go back to the beginning? Or shall I go back to the beginning and start at the end? While you are making that one out. I'll make a start.' Uncle Jack in a few, short sentences had tied me up, unaccountably, all in knots. 'Sure it is a strange world that we are living in.' My Ma would always quip. For me she was the greatest quipper in the world. Bar none. 'Things are sent to try us, they surely are. Well, they are!' Uncle Paddy emphasizes the fact. 'Life is a conundrum.' He pauses. 'I would agree with that if I had the faintest idea what conundrum meant in the first place!' I'll be welcoming to my world in order that you will not in the blazes be left out in the dark. It is now the late 1950's in Notting Hill and I hear a deep voice. 'No surrender!' Uncle Paddy is living in some kind of time-lap. After a few jars he loses all sense of proportion, time and place. It is a boozy location he falls into. A kind of convenient comfort-zone. Especially, at this time of the day life becomes a bit of a blur. 'No surrender!' echoes down through the ancient streets and bye ways and still exists in the wee small hours of the awakening morning. Semblances of an era have somehow shifted and passed away before his weakening eyes.
Kevin Barry is a fifty-nine year old artist who has had three one-man painting exhibitions in London. This is his second publication. The first was World Traveller. The latter was series of short stories from around the world. The author is an extensive worldwide traveller. He is a great believer in art for everybody, both young and old folk, for self-expression and to sense and feel the joy of life.
Essays like this are so important to bordaneing people's horizons.