Monday 22 January 2018

Anna Nolan: When I heard news of tragic Karen I thought ‘there but for the grace of God’

Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher
Ben Affleck
Breda O'Brien and Niamh Horan

There but for the grace of God go I.

It’s a phrase that many women have said to themselves after the horrific death of Karen Buckley in Glasgow.

While we don’t yet know the full details of how and why Karen left the club that night – and we may never find out – the reporting of her disappearance caused many of us to think.

I come from a family of six girls and one boy. There is no doubt that over the years we have all been in places and situations that if there had been someone who was intent on causing us pain, there is nothing we could have done.

Talking to my friends, each one of us could recount a night where we would have been in a vulnerable position.

In my 20s, I lived in Edinburgh. Every week I would have gone drinking with pals and gone on to a night club.

Sometimes I would have walked home with my friends. Or on some occasions I would have hooked up with someone and would have gone back to their place. 

I know I would have been told a million times by my parents to mind myself.

It was drummed into me the same way that it is drummed into most Irish girls, and indeed Irish guys too.

But after a few bevvies, it would not have been out of the question to end up back in someone’s bed. That was the way it was.

Most women have taken that chance and what a shame it is that we still, in this day and age, have to call it a ‘chance’.

I am in a slightly different position in that I was never going home with a guy.

But every single one of my pals can say that the beginning of Karen Buckley’s night out was often very similar to their own when they were young and socialising with pals.

As I said, we don’t know the full details in Karen’s case, and it appears she was targeted through no fault of her own.

But her night started out like so many of ours would have done, and still do.

I have gotten into a terrible habit of slipping away from my pals on nights out.


I will leave a group of friends without saying goodbye and make my way home, without informing anyone that I have left the pub or club. I just decide to head off.

I think lots of people do this. It’s stupid. I do it because I can’t be bothered finding everyone.

Maybe in future I need to find just one person to let them know I am off. Not say goodbye to a whole gang but just let one person know.

Karen Buckley did nothing wrong the night she went out with her friends. She was targeted, it seems.

The fact that her friends knew that something was wrong immediately is a lesson for us all.

My heart goes out to them, and to her family. There but for the grace of God go all of us who are no different to Karen Buckley.


Star Wars is back and it's enough to reduce grown men to quivering wrecks

There is something very funny happening to men in their 30s, 40s and maybe even their 50s around the world.  

Thousands and thousands are turning into seven-year-olds as they watch the trailers for the new Star Wars movie, starring Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, among others.

A friend of mine cannot contain himself. When he watched the most recent teaser, in which Harrison Ford and that hairy fella turn up at the end, he almost burst into tears. He's bloody 45!

I remember the movies and I loved them. Apart from the characters and the stories, what really sticks in my mind are the sounds.

Whether it was C3PO's voice, Chewbacca's roar, the space crafts whizzing through space, Darth Vadar's breathing or the magical buzzing noise from the light sabers - the soundscape in the films was unforgettable.

Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher

Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher

Sound memory, or echoic memory, is stronger than visual memory. Even though we can recall Princess's Leah's funny hair buns, or Alec Guinness' monk-like garb, it's the score of these movies that really evoke the strongest memories for me.

Even the music. That incredible major fifth opening will bring goosebumps to the most cynical of us. For all that though, the films still appeal to men more than women.

I'm not saying that women don't like the Star Wars movies but the films seem to tap into something the young boy loves more so than the young girl.

So be prepared for your husbands, brothers and boyfriends to turn into quivering wrecks over the next few months as Star Wars gossip is drip fed to fans.

It's going to be a long lead-in until the opening notes of the new Star Wars' movie's theme so until then, put in your ear plugs and block out the fan-sound.


Trying to conceal past is just naive

The most recent Sony emails' leak is fascinating. It's reported that actor Ben Affleck asked a production company to omit the fact that one of his ancestors was a slave owner.

The US series 'Finding Your Roots' had already uncovered similar information about other stars who featured and were happy to let the information be part of the programme, but Affleck allegedly felt that this information shouldn't be in the public domain.

Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck

How embarrassing. Denying the sins of one's ancestors to be seen as whiter than white (excuse the pun) is naive. Ben Affleck is not responsible for the actions of his forefathers, but he shouldn't seek to conceal that they took place in the first place.

Here's some free sex advice, Breda

Breda O'Brien from the Iona Institute thinks that gay men and women should abstain from sex. She thinks that they would make better Christians if they led a celibate life.

Remember decades ago we were taught this rubbish by priests and nuns? That sex was purely for procreation? I'd like to tell Breda something from my own experience. I abstained from sex for three years when I was training to be a nun. Well, two and a half years really. No kissing, no tickling, no groping - nothing. 

Breda O'Brien and Niamh Horan

Breda O'Brien and Niamh Horan

Here's a great big secret I am going to let out: I wasn't a better person. I wasn't a better Christian. I was exactly the same person, who reacted to dilemmas and situations in the same way as I would today. Breda wouldn't want a life without sex, so why should she suggest it to the gay and lesbian community?

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