Bernard MacLaverty: The story you have just finished is of little help to writing the next one

Acclaimed Northern Irish writer Bernard MacLaverty has taken 16 times to finish his latest novel. A plenty of things just got in accordance with the rules, he says

In his jacket endorsement for Bernard MacLavertys Midwinter Break , the celebrated American novelist Richard Ford describes the new journal as much-anticipated. It is a polite course of went on to say that MacLavertys fifth novel has been taken its time in coming. Sixteen times, to be precise, since his last, The Anatomy School , and longer still if you go back to the honour days of the 1980 s and 1990 s when this Belfast-born but Glasgow-based writer was everywhere, winning plaudits and prizes in equal evaluate for his short story collectings (< em> A Time to Dance , Walking the Dog and The Great Profundo ), his novels Cal and Lamb , both of which he adapted as acclaimed films starring respectively Helen Mirren and Liam Neeson, his television series and radio plays, and his Booker-shortlisted Grace Notes in 1997.

A case of novelists block? More life getting in accordance with the rules of art, MacLaverty answers, perched nervously on the edge of his armchair in a central London hotel as we spoke. I have a diary mention from 2001, when Madeline[ his wife] and I went to Amsterdam for a break in January. So I presume I was starting to think about development projects from there, but there were so many things that came along to get in the way.

Among the distractions he lists and this affable and unassuming 74 -year-old has a prompt sheet to hand were: an un-turn-downable summon from Scottish Opera to write a libretto; two years as a classical music DJ on Radio Scotland; a five-year stint on a movie script based on Robin Jenkinss marvelous 1950 s novel, The Cone Gatherers , which ultimately came to nought when individual producers behind the project died; a collecting of short narratives; and Bye-Child , a Bafta-nominated short movie of a poem by his close friend Seamus Heaney, which he directed in 2003.

And, he adds, Ive likewise had eight grandchildren in that time. Or we have. His four grown-up infants, two boys, two girls, all live in the same postcode as he does, so “hes having” his hands full. Its a brand-new twisting on Cyril Connollys line about the pram in the dormitory being the foe of good art.

MacLaverty would be the last one to take himself so seriously, but his brief run through those 16 lost years reveals him as a man of many talents to which should be also added teach stints at British, European and American universities. With so much he is good at, what would he pick if he had only occasion left for one more project? Id paint something good, he answers without a pause.

No hint of any autumnal narrowing of scopes here, but Midwinter Break is, by compare, a narration of quiet letdown, about long-married Gerry Gilmore, a retired architect, and his wife Stella, as they head off on a mini-break. Both are at odds with their heap and with one another. He is retreating into drink, she into religion.

She is thinking, MacLaverty announces, on a different plain. This is not a tale about old people. Its the story of two young people who got old-time and they have fallen out of step.

A two-hander, it encompasses the same broad-spectrum territory as 45 Years , the 2015 Tom Courtenay/ Charlotte Rampling movie, based on a David Constantine short story. In the case of vehicles of Midwinter Break , though, the past trauma that haunts the couple is bound up in the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which they moved to Scotland to escape.

The similarities with MacLavertys life are plain. In 1974, he, too, stimulated the same refugee journey with his young household. The Trouble were frightful and bloody, he remembers, bombs and people being killed on their doorsteps.

His homeland, though, continue to remain loom large-scale in the books he has published in exile. You write from what you know, and one of the things you know is that you are not telling your own narrative, but chips of it are your own tale. Its like tessellation of a mosaic. You take a bit that happened to you and you set it beside a little bit that you make up.

It requires a delicate touch, he emphasises, and can be a time-consuming process. We are perimeter back around to that long room between novels but now he is more willing to address what has been preventing me back. Whatever backdrop, or even tone his books may share, he explains, the tale you have just finished is of little help to writing the next one. He quotes Thomas Mann in his defence. Didnt he reply, a columnist is person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people?

There was at least one false start with Midwinter Break , he declares, with an opening section, set in the now derelict modernist Catholic seminary at Cardross in Argyll and Bute, that had to be scrapped.

Is he a perfectionist? MacLaverty makes a very warm, intimate chuckle. Im a columnist. Theyre the same thing.

Religion is one feature of his novels. Though he long ago rejected the Catholicism of his childhood, it continues to fuel his imagination. I cease to believe in one facet of it, but I continue to believe in the trappings.

Another hallmark is the spareness of his writing , not a wasted word or detail between the embraces of what become as a result small masterpieces. Its not like putting together Lego, he agrees. You have to be very careful that you are weighing the words.

The phrase constructs him remember something his mother once use. Shed discovered a wee dead fowl. She picked it up and she said, youd have known by the load of it that it was dead. He chuckles. And its the same with a tale. You know whether you are able to attain it in six pages[ as a short story] or whether the government has will take 200. And this one he points to the copy of Midwinter Break on the table between us is hefty substance. It is about love and life and death and belief and what matters.

And then, of course, theres his other recurring topic, Ireland. All the fictions nod to what is happening to Ireland, he concurs. Lamb [ 1980] was at the worst of the Troubles. Cal [ 1983] likewise had a downbeat pointing, but then there were the ceasefires and things began to mend. So Grace Notes had an upbeat middle-of-the-road, and a downbeat demise, or two endings. I was hedging my stakes. And this one well, I mustnt say more about the ending, but Im mildly optimistic about Ireland. I dont think they are going to go back to slaying each other.

Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty will be issued by Jonathan Cape on 3 August( 14.99 ). To order a imitate for 12.74 going to see or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p& p over 10, online orders only. Phone orderings min p& p of 1.99

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Jon Jones smashes Daniel Cormier to reclaim title, then calls out Brock Lesnar

Jon Jones reclaims illuminated heavyweight title with a third-round strike of Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 in Anaheim

Jon Jones had scarcely reclaimed his UFC name where reference is called out Brock Lesnar to be his next opponent.

And Lesnar was listening.

Right after Jones stopped Daniel Cormier in the third round at UFC 214 on Saturday, he reignited his growing rivalry with Lesnar, the former UFC heavyweight champion.

Brock Lesnar, if you want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by a guy who weighs 40 pounds less than you, gratify me in the octagon, Jones said on the pay-per-view broadcast.

The Associated Press reached Lesnar shortly after he watched the championship contend and then heard Jones call him out.

Be careful what you wish for, young man, Lesnar replied.

A heavyweight superfight between Jones and Lesnar would be one of the most difficult occurrences in UFC history. Lesnar is an extraordinary pay-per-view depict as likely the more popular boxer in mixed martial art, while Jones victory over Cormier is expected to set him back atop most pound-for-pound indices as “the worlds” best fighter.

Lesnar returned to MMA last year with a succes, but he is under contract to the WWE as health professionals wrestler until next spring.

Jones and Lesnar traded verbal jabs earlier in the week. After Jones said he doubted Lesnar would ever accept a fight with him, Lesnar told the AP that he would gratify Jones anytime, anywhere.

Lesnar is at least considering a return to the sport in which he won a UFC title in just his fourth professional fight.

UFC president Dana White was in the enclosure when Jones called out Lesnar, and the advertising can understand the growing buzz surrounding the matchup. White is also aware of such obstacles in its lane, including the remainder of Lesnars suspension for miscarrying a doping test last year.

Its fun to talk about, but the reality of it happening anytime soon, its not a reality, White said.

But its emphatically a lucrative possible if Lesnar decides to resume trained for MMA. Jones is the light heavyweight champ, but have all along contemplated a move up to heavyweight and his post-fight commentaries make it clear that hes interested.

Lesnar beat Mark Hunt at UFC 200 in a unanimous decision that was changed to a no-contest after the failure of the exam. He received a one-year suspension from the Nevada Athletic Commission, but could return to MMA after completing the final months of the ban.

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Gerard Piqu winner lifts Barcelona over Real Madrid in pulsating friendly

Barcelona described first blood against their competitors ahead of the upcoming season with a 3-2 victory over Real Madrid in Miami

Barcelona gleaned firstly blood against Real Madrid ahead of the new season with a 3-2 victory in a pulse Clasico friendly on Saturday in Miami.

The historic rivals will meet again twice in August in the Spanish Super Cup and this International Champions Cup match gave the recreation saloon high-pitched, with Barcelona maintaining their 100 per cent record in pre-season.

Physically “were just” good shape, the team is winning, we are only have to correct our errors, Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets told Premier Sports.

Were happy for the win, it was a lot of fun for the fans because there were a lot of opportunities, although the players suffered in the heat and humidity.

While Barcelona beat Juventus and Manchester United, Madrids defeat means they end their pre-season tour of the United States without a victory.

I dont care much about the overcome, it ever hurts but right now its not the important thing, articulated Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

Its pre-season. The makes havent moved as hoped for but it will not change anything. The important thing is to be ready for 8 August( when Madrid face Manchester United in the European Super Cup ).

Madrid were missing Cristiano Ronaldo, still on holiday, but both teams were close to full strength.

Ernesto Valverde, get a penchant of Clasico drama early in his vocation as Barcelona manager, selected Neymar despite supposition swirling over the Brazilians future at the club.

However, “its been” stalwart Lionel Messi who opened the scoring after only three minutes, firing residence with the assistance of a deflection, before Ivan Rakitic doubled the lead with a powerful drive from Neymars low-toned pass.

The sell-out crowd at the Hard Rock Stadium were in for a thrilling night and Madrid contended their style back into the game with Mateo Kovacic drilling home expertly, before Marco Asensio equalised in the 36 th minute after a lightning break.

After a lengthened halftime break with music, daylights and fireworks evidences more akin to the Super Bowl, video games restarted at the same hectic pace.

Gerard Pique mailed Barcelona ahead again in the 50 th minute by flicking home Neymars bending free-kick, and it proved to be the match-winning goal.

It was the first time the teams met in a friendly since 1991 and only the second largest time outside of Spain. Given its success, the sight is likely to be repeated.

Barcelona hoisted a trophy after video games but Valverde will be focused on ensuring they can enforce themselves in the same way when these squads fulfill in two weeks at Camp Nou, this time with real silverware at stake.

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How to conquer our obsession with eternal life | Matt Haig

Our anti-ageing quest only increases nervousnes, mentions Matt Haig. Instead, we need to understand the tricks of time

As a culture, we are obsessed with ageing. We have always been haunted but now, paradoxically, in an age where we live longer than ever, we are afraid it more than ever before too. Here i am, of course, a whole industry devoted to capitalising on our fears of the natural ageing process and its a lucrative one. In fact, the anti-ageing industry, which is the largest part of the glamour industry, is now merit more than $200 billion a year.

Our perfectly understandable concern about occasion and mortality are being capitalised on, and exploited. Every advert that encourages us to look young is substantiating the same thing: we need to fear growing old-fashioned. And yet no anti-wrinkle eye ointment in the world is going to stop us from get old. The anti-ageing industry is a marketers daydream because it is an industry offering continual answers for something that isnt ever truly solved. Ageing.

Even if or when we work out how to put an end to the physical process of ageing and organisations such as the SENS Research Foundation and various Silicon Valley biotech firms are trying to do just that it wont curb our nervousness. It will accentuate them( not least, the ultimate dread of missing out for those who cant afford it ), and render us many new ones( a new population crisis being the first one ).

In How to Stop Time , my novel about a 439 -year-old man who ages far more gradually than normal, I wanted to think about what being really old would be like. I wanted to explore a character who was fight with his relationship to period. To see if it would be possible to espouse the current when you had so much past and so much future. I wanted to look at how period does not ever feel like the same thing.

I firstly truly understood this when I became ill with an overlapping cocktail of mental health problems in my 20 s. I developed panic disorder, severe anxiety and depression, and it was well over a year before I began to feel anything like normal again. In my mind, that year felt like an eternity. Days stretched out for what felt like weeks weeks for what felt like years. In my thinker that year still feels like half a lifetime. Time was the opponent, in that sense, but in another way it was a friend.

You ensure, depression and nervousnes told me a lot of lies that time could rebut. It told me I wouldnt be alive to see my 25 th birthday, or that by Christmas Id be confined to a padded cell wearing a straitjacket. Time was the one thing bigger than depression itself. And I could feel its ability as I built up periods and weeks and months. It was the money I traded in and accumulated. I have been ill for six days. I have been ill for 22 days. I have been ill for 365 days and I am still here.

Eventually, very slowly, my intellect readjusted itself and used to work the lies that depression and anxiety were telling it. The oldest clich in the world occasion mends turned out to be a clich for a reason.

So, I have an ambiguous are relevant to hour. I do have worries about developing old-fashioned, like everyone, but I would have equal worries about not developing old-fashioned. Rather than searching for a magical elixir of life eternal, we should understand like Emily Dickinson did that eternally is composed of nows. The objection is in how to stop worrying and occupy the nows that we have.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig is published by Canongate Books, priced at 12.99. To ordering a photocopy for 7.99, go to

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Im angry that my partner is not invited to my cousins wedding

Mariella Frostrup tells a woman bothered her boyfried has been excluded from their own families marriage must recognize that decision or diminish the invitation

The dilemma My cousin and I is very much open growing up as neither of us had friends or sisters. We expended summertime vacations together and went away abroad along with our families, too.

As weve grown older, we have floated apart and she has now started their own families of her own. Next spring she is getting married to her partner of seven years. She informed me that the two partners, and the partners of our other cousins( of which there are a lot our moms come from a family of six ), would not be invited to the wedding.

I am deeply angry and hurt about this. I live with my partner and love him profoundly. We have a clear future together and hope to marry at some point, too. We were told it to be able to do with the size of the venue and the cost, but neither of them is short of money. They both have very good tasks. Their friends will be invited with their partners.

I feel she is treating me and our other cousins, who are all in their 20 s and 30 s, like infants. My parents Save the Date card from her included me! I am virtually 30 and experience altogether humiliated at the prospect of attending her bridal with my mothers, rather than the two partners. How do I put my point of view across without unnerving her or damaging our relationship so far?

Mariella answers With great difficulty. It may not be ideal but, as you point out, its her wed and she can be as selective as she likes. The whole business of inviting one collaborator and not the other is fraught with social impediment at the best of periods. Few of us want to be joined at the hip, but the choice as to whether or not your other half accompanies you would ideally be up to you.

Naturally, at work purposes and on single sex outings, theres a free pass to eliminate those who dont qualify, but when it comes to social events theres a governing, manipulative and even brutal inclination to electing one half of a pair over the other.

I have a married friend who automatically dumps all invitations addressed simply to her in the bin, which may not be the most considered approach, but it surely solves the problem! Personally, having expended some time as a singleton, attending a party on my own is my natural habitat, but not everyone likes to operate as a lone ranger.

All that supposed, a wed is also possible expensive and fraught with challenges and how this couple chooses to prioritise their money is not your pertain. Perhaps with such a large extended family your cousin and her beau have decided to make it mainly a meeting of those of paramount importance to their lives together, together with a small minority of those they have to invite. Like it or not, you fall into the latter category. When you hail from a big family it can be difficult to escape them. Seats fill up soon. That is also possible frustrating and expensive.

Rather like Noah and his Ark, when embarking on a new phase of life, you should really be free to do the casting of comrades yourself. If thats their ethos its a select you should respect and understand, rather than feeling humbled by. You are not a child, so the notion that you are able to experience shame about your partner not being invited, or that you would attend with your mothers, seems extreme.

Outlining the stability of your own union as academic qualifications is also not something you need to be concerned with. As you point out , not one of her cousins is being given a plus-one so her selection to eliminate your other half is not personal and shouldnt be considered as such. As young adults you are free to do alone as you have selected, eschewing convention and even family ties if you so decide.

A marriage is a festivity of the union of two men. Its likewise, at its best, the coming together of two households and two decides of friends, but thats not compulsory. So often the pomp and rite we attach to the moment can obscure the simple ethos behind the working day, which is to gather together those you love to witness your promises and help to hold you to them when the starting gets tough.

Your cousin may not “ve chosen” as you are able to in terms of a guest roll, but its her period and she should be free to program it as she desires. If you choose to have a dialogue with her about it, I hint you dont do so from a position of thwarting, indignation or humiliation , none of which are justified excitements. Instead “youre supposed” telling her that you totally understand current challenges, in particular the wish to please everybody, but that as you consider your collaborator an integrated part of her extended family you would have loved it if he could have attended.

The alternative is to politely wane the invitation, citing a prior commitment that cant be avoided maybe an devised invitation from his side of the family. Either space, you havent been singled out, or infantilised and its not a comment on the durability of your own relationship. In short, I show you focus on her and her large-hearted day and put your own anxieties aside, certainly until after the wedding.

If you have a quandary, send a brief email to mariella.frostrup @observer. Follow her on Twitter @mariellaf1

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