Michael Harding’s long look back

Reading, signing, listening and talking on Thursday March 5 at 8pm
Reading, signing, listening and talking on Thursday March 5 at 8pm

HE’s a scribe in the Irish Times every week, in the best seller lists reliably and at The Gaeity Theatre as Bull McCabe in ‘The Field’ soon. Michael Harding comes to Limerick first, reading from his latest, ‘Hanging with the Elephant’ on March 5 to talk to and with the audience of what is between its pages.

“I find it relaxing, like going to meet people”, he says after some talk between us on this book’s impact on tour.

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The way Harding tells it, his wife, sculptor Cathy Carman, left for a couple of months in Poland where she has an exhibition opening March 5 also. “The story [Hanging with the Elephant – metaphor for the unruly mind] ostensibly is what a man does when his wife is away. Having the house for two months on my own, I thought I would meditate…When I sat down, the only thing in my head was my mother”.

Harding’s column has touched off their difficult, remote relationship in adulthood: “There was no sharing of emotional issues. Sit down with her and ask her about how she was feeling, she would turn the snooker on”.

“I had a beautiful childhood with her, yet that withered as I grew older”. As a writer – The Abbey has produced his plays – he feels his readership connects with this, the failure of familial connection in mature life.

I suggest that through his column his mother comes across as hard to please, and “yes, I thought she was, particularly in old age” but insists “she was a lovely woman who was great fun into her 70s, was at the golf club, loved a drink, was last to leave a party”.

Do we leave him at Lime Tree uplifted or with rocks in our heart?

He sounds exasperated. “Uplifted. It’s a laugh and a chat about your mammy, a bit of gossip and a bit of fun”. Not Brendan Grace’s take, though? He laughs. “No, not Brendan Grace”.

Book on www.limetreetheatre.ie