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Opportunity knocks

  Fri 15th April 2011

I found a flight to Knock in September for 35 pounds. There's only an airport in the middle of rural Co Mayo because of a misunderstanding involving too much poitín and a policeman's lantern in 1879, following which the village has cornered a good portion of Ireland's considerable offerings in delusional tourism. But it's a hitchable 50 miles to Galway, and last night Linda, a Galwegian, serendipitously texted for a post-work drink, so I sat in the Water Witch with the best (and the best-looking) tourist guide money can't buy, trying to subliminally inculcate in her a desire to spend the first week in September on holiday with a sozzled male friend she doesn't fancy.

Then to my book group. I spent several minutes banging on the door at wall-shaking volume, causing a well-mannered commotion in the heart of the macrame belt of Lancaster. I gave up and started striding homewards in a bad temper, mentally composing a pissed-off email to Harry suggesting he might invest a few quid in a bell. After a few yards a complete stranger, whom I later found out was Harry's wife, calmly pointed at another house and said "It's that one."

We discussed Treasure Island. The novel as a commentary on the C18th British class system came up quite a lot; and everyone was keen on the language, a point slightly lost on me. Apart from the nautical argot and one or two dialect passages, I didn't find the language particularly rich.

Never mind: that was the least of the evening. The conversation somehow came round to a project of mine that has been languishing untended for some years now: my stage adaptation of Yuri Andrukhovych's novel Recreations. Andrukhoych is little known outside his native Ukraine, but writes in a demotic, hyperreal style reminiscent of Flann O'Brien or Rabelais. In a solicitor's safe room in Lancaster is a document signed by Andrukhovych, Marko Pavlyshyn (the translator), the solicitor, and me, assigning me worldwide rights to the play in perpetuity. A grand sounding and utterly useless document for as long as the play's sitting here on the shelf unperformed.

One of the members of the book group is a theatre director and actor who was, for many years, in The Archers. He suggested we could organise a read through. What an opportunity. The cash cow that is postmodern Ukrainian literature is once again in my sights.

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