I am Declan Buckley. This is what I do… but what do I actually do?
The truth is I haven’t really figured that out yet.
I’m a Jack of All Trades and Master of None (except for the Masters of Arts in Digital Media Technologies that I earned a few years back. They seemed to think I mastered that). For the record, I also have a Business degree from DCU and many years of experience in real, regular jobs — the kind where you wear a tie to the office and sit in meetings mindlessly regurgitating phrases like ‘By the end of play today’ and ‘No… you’re the one who’s drunk’.
By accident, not design, I found myself possessed by the character of Shirley Temple Bar, who has brought me more attention than I ever truly wanted and more opportunities than I ever considered. I have become the leading ambassador for Bingo in Ireland even though I never particularly liked playing the game. Then again, I don’t have to play. Over the past 20 years, I’ve ‘called the numbers’ for thousands of games of Bingo and transferred more wealth than an African dictator whose days are numbered.
I love books and I read a lot. I also love film. I’ve even been in films – sometimes as an actor, sometimes as the rather presumptuously titled ‘Himself’. Because I like to think I know a little about everything, I’d talk on radio, TV and in print about anything. Any chance I get. Lately, I have been giving advice to strangers on radio, which seems to be going down better than when I try it unsolicited on the bus.
I’m not too fond of walking but I do love to travel. I’m fluent in Irish Sign Language but my Irish is not as good as it once was. Same with my French, so I’ve given up dreams of ever hosting the Eurovision Song Contest. I studied Latin in school. And I’m now learning Greek.
As an out and proud geek, I taught myself Object-Oriented Programming so I could design an application for my show in The George. I’m pretty proficient in Adobe After Effects®/Premiere®, which I use to edit and composite videos. I have built websites, designed posters & flyers and created stage props. I can’t really draw but that hasn’t stopped me making animations and cartoons.
I’ve been a history buff ever since I was 7 years old, when my aunt bought me a Ladybird book on the Kings and Queens of England. Those stories (and other experiences) have left me fundamentally opposed to the principle of monarchy so I tend to shy away from titles and honours. I’m fascinated by sociology and philosophy — in particular the politics of gender and privilege. I am terrible with make-up (but I try) and I’m a mediocre cook (because I don’t).
I take a lot of photographs. Few are of myself. I’m learning to use my Canon 5D camera to mixed results, much to the annoyance of my beautiful nieces and nephews. I’ve learned that even a beautiful niece or nephew can do with a ‘touch-up’. I’ve also learned that you can push the filters too far – even on ageing drag queens.
I love music but I can’t play any instruments. I can pretend to play several — like the bodhrán, the ukelele and air guitar—but music is mostly a spectator sport for me, if I can mangle a metaphor like that. Then again, I grew up listening (with my eyes) to artists like Madonna, Michael Jackson, ABBA, The Cure and Kate Bush while my older brother tried to drown out my sounds with Heavy Metal noise. I’ve learned compromise is at the core of every functioning relationship. Earplugs or headphones are advisable for lesser functioning ones. I still get a little weak whenever I hear Madonna is releasing new music. I don’t hear that so often any more.
I love meeting people – and by ‘people’ I mean ‘strangers’. Few of them have been as dangerous as my parents made strangers out to be. I like figuring out what makes people ‘tick’ and I like discovering the similarities that we share. But only on a superficial level. A single meeting is usually enough. I have interviewed hundreds of people for my column in the GCN, including Gloria Estefan, Donna Summer, Mark Almond, Tommy Steele, Dickie Rock, Hazel O’Connor, S Club 7, Boyz II Men, Westlife and Twink. I’ve also interviewed countless pornstars, reality show contestants and has-beens. I would like to believe I found common ground with all of them but I doubt any of them remembers me.
I am Declan Buckley. And I still don’t know what I do.