“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Gravy Train Is Leaving The Station

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … Back when I was still young, dynamic and bearded, I lived in Portstewart in Co. Derry, doing my level best to avoid lectures at the nearby university of Coleraine. Of marvellous assistance in my endeavours to avoid toil of any kind were my housemates and fellow Panucci Brothers (above) - l-to-r: Davy ‘the Reader’ Panucci, Dec ‘the Alibi’ Panucci, Barry ‘the Hat’ Panucci, and Mik ‘the Orange’ Panucci, and Barry ‘De Niro’ Panucci. And, yes, we were all old enough to know better, even back then.
  Anyway, we got some bad news last year about Davy Gray, aka Gravy Day. I’ll let Gravy pick up the story:
“In February 2009, two weeks before my 36th birthday, I collapsed in work and was taken by ambulance to Belfast City Hospital. The next day following an MRI scan I was given the devastating news that the scan revealed a significant tumour on the right side of my brain. To say this was a shock is obviously a huge understatement. I had not experienced any of the symptoms associated with a brain tumour, and had led what I considered to be a fit and healthy lifestyle.
  “After a few days I was moved to the neurology unit of Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital but after performing a biopsy the neurosurgeons at the Royal told me they considered the tumour to be inoperable - in their opinion the risk of causing brain damage during surgery was too high.
  “Despite this setback, I decided to get a second opinion and was referred to a surgeon at The Beacon Hospital in Dublin. After examining my case, the surgeon in Dublin told me that, in his opinion, surgery offered "no significant risk" and he agreed to operate on me. In April 2009 after a major operation, my tumour was successfully removed. In June I began a 6 week course of concurrent radiotherapy and chemotherapy at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre. This was followed by 6 months of chemotherapy, the last dose of which I received in January this year. To our enormous relief, a scan at the end of January was completely clear and showed no sign of disease.

THE CHARITY - “Every year in the UK, 16,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumour and more people under 40 die of a brain tumour than from any other cancer. Despite these statistics, brain tumour research is woefully under-funded and lags significantly behind other cancers.
  The Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust is the leading adult and childhood brain tumour charity dedicated to scientific research and patient support in the UK. To date the charity has spent £5m on innovative, world class research projects led by top UK and international scientists.
  “The charity’s aim is to raise awareness, significantly fund brain tumour research and to give support to brain tumour patients, their friends and family, and to give hope to brain tumour patients in the future. Further details at www.braintumourtrust.co.uk

THE EVENT - “The 26th annual Warrior’s Run takes place on 28th August 2010 in Strandhill, Co.Sligo. It’s a gruelling 15km run from the beachfront in Strandhill to the peak of Knocknarea mountain, around Queen Maeve’s Cairn and back down to the beachfront again. The race is classified as a road and hill race or multi-terrained - nine of its kilometres are on paved roads, but six kilometres in the middle include a 700 foot climb through fields and along loose gravel and heather paths. I have competed in the race several times in the past and always find it a huge challenge but great fun too! Further details are at www.warriorsfestival.com

HOW TO DONATE - “To donate online please go to www.justgiving.com/warriorsrun. Donations are in sterling, but for those of you in the eurozone or elsewhere on the globe, justgiving.com accepts payments by all major credit cards and by PayPal.

  Much as I hate to use this here interweb yokeybus to flog anything but my own paltry tomes, I’m agreed with Gravy that this is a worthy cause. Over to you, folks …

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