Alphablog

A list of influences and inspirations.

By Paul McDonagh on 13/10/14 | Category - Comment

Bertie's Brochures is a song by the Fatima Mansions, released in 1991. It is a piano ballad, less discordant and aggressive than a lot of their other tracks. It's the title song of a mini-album released between more famous records, Viva Dead Ponies and Valhalla Avenue.

The lyrics have stayed with me through the decades. I often think about Bertie, wondering if he is guilty of the crimes that are alleged. It was only when I was editing Groundwork that I realised the massive impact that the song had on my creativity.

Bertie's Brochures is the story about a boy who grew up in Ireland in the 1950's and ended up in London in the 1980's. This is a path trodden by many people I know and many of the characters in Groundwork.

Bertie is an outsider, writing his brochures while holding down the day job. He 'Believes that everyone is a poet' and meditates on the purpose of art. There is also a subtle look at father-son relationships. Alongside this, there are the usual Cathal Coughlan motifs, the 'Detectives with crow-bars and skewers.' A lot of these themes have made it into Groundwork. When I was doing the final edits on Groundwork, I changed one of the character's names to Bertie as a tribute to this tune.

The song ends, 'It's the North European peasant experience,' a line that has always troubled me. I suppose Groundwork is an attempt to make sense of this song.

 

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