Sunday, May 02, 2010

Festival of Fools

Rainy Belfast Sunday. In a place known as Bob Marley Square innocent magic happened. People crowded around performers wo made us laugh and cheer and forget our own little bubbles for a while. Children joined in and a French guy pulled down his pants to play bum-off with the performer. This is a form of sumo wher each person tries to push the other out of a small circle by pushing with his backside.
The Festival is under threat in these austere times. Its funding from the Arts Council has been cut by a third. It may not happen next year or the following.
I hope it does. We need all the innocent magic we can find.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Road to Hell

Well the Fianna Fail government have lived up to their reputation once again as a bunch of chancers and gombeen men with the approval of the controversial M3 motorway which is set to desecrate the ancient site of Tara. Read Indymedia for comments and take the poll at this site.
The Republic's government seems to be of the opinion that everyone should be within 5 miles of a motorway. Whether this affects quality of life, heritage or environment does not seem to matter to them. The real reason for their continued support for this road building madness is perhaps the huge amounts of money they and their supporters gather from the Irish (and European) taxpayer. Look at the collossal amounts of money spent so far on the great infrastructure projects. Not one of these roads was built to budget. Most are twice or more than their original estimated cost.
I'll be down at the protests.

Monday, April 18, 2005


Well we finally made it to Skellig Michael - that lonely, mysterious island off the coast of Kerry!
After a marathon drive down from Belfast on Friday we arrived at our camp site on Valencia at about 11.45 after calling in to The Point Bar for a quick refreshment and a look at a picture of Gerry Adams and happy family pictured with the bar-owners and kids. The campsite was close to a field of sheep who bleated frantically on our arrival. They probably thought we were the farmer bringing goodies. It was a terrific sound. I swear each one of those sheep has a distinctive bleat. They also like rubbing themselves against the metal gates. Not the most restful of nights! Next morning was glorious. The last couple of times we've gone down to Kerry the weather has either been crap or we've missed the sailing. Today we got down to Portmagee in plenty of time. Even so we only got on because of a couple of cancellations.
It takes about 45 minutes to get out to the Skelligs. On the way I chatted to a South African couple with their child. They were interested in the local bird-life. Mainly gannets and razorbills and kitiwakes.
Little Skellig is passed first. I don't think anyone has ever tried to survive on this rock. It hosts the largest colony of gannets in Ireland. You can smell the guano from some way off. A little later the jagged bulk of Skellig Michael looms up. We had a couple of hours on the island - enough time to climb the 600 steps to the monastic settlement. They've done a lot of restoration work on the place. The beehive huts have been restored and you can see the original cruciform crosses. Pity there were so many gabbling tourists but then again what are we?
I took off down another set of steps for some solitude and was shat on by a passing fulmar.
Kitiwakes abound and in the sheltered landing cove we saw a seal playing in the clear blue water.
How the monks made it out there in their leather coracles is beyond me. They would have been cut off for most of the year.
If you fancy a good read on the history of Skellig buy or borrow Sun Dancing by Geoffrey Moorhouse. He mixes fact and fiction to give a feeling for the place.
L and I then repaired to Dingle where I met an old work mate starting of a new but still boozy life there. I also met a school fellow whom I hadn't heard tell off for a quarter of a century. Strangely my workmate had just split up from his sister back in Belfast.
That's all the Irish World Heritage sites done now. I'll have to find other reasons for going back to Kerry. I don't think that'll be hard!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Artist's Date

Went on my first Artist's date a la Julia cameron last night. Went to an Ulster Orchestra concert at the Ulster Hall. Most of the audience were middle aged or elderly. It's unusual now for me to feel one of the younger people at any event! The Ulster Hall is looking pretty tatty now. A makeover is well overdue. Still the place has a lot of history going back to the big anti-home-rule rallies of the early 20th Century. For me - I saw my first concert here. Thin Lizzy in1977. I swear the place looks exactly the same.
I don't know what I think of classical music. I find myself drifting in between the melodic or exciting pieces. I watch the expressions on the musicians faces, notice that many of the women players bring their handbags out on stage with them or watch the audience. Maybe the purpose of the boring bits is to give me an excuse to sit motionless in the same place for long periods of time and simply think.
Following the concert I had an hour or so to kill so I headed up to Lavery's Bar. I used to come here quite a lot when I was younger. It's become more of a bloke's bar now with Gerry and his pals betting on American racing. The bar staff don't let you smoke at the bar now. I got told off. It's only a matter of time now before they introduce a smoking ban in all public places. I'll miss smoking cigars with a pint. In Lavery's Back Bar they were playing old punk classics. A completely blootered fella was dancing on his own to 'My Sharona'.
I went up to the new QFT. Took me a bit of time to find it but it is impressive. The old place was like a shebeen without the drink. The new place is all plush seats, coffee and wine bar chic. I was there to watch Sky Blue. I had thought it was going to be a film about pollution, environmentalism etc. Turns out it's an anime cartoon. Great animation but the story-line and characters are straight out of a Marvel comic. The audience were all young geeky student types.
So am I more creative... Don't know. In some ways I just felt like a sad loser wandering around on my own.
A cooky middle-aged woman approached me during the concert interval to find out if I was married and to tell me of her relationship with a cellist 24 years her junior with 4 kids. She didn't think it was going anywhere.

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Things might get tricky for Sinn Fein if they are found to have connections to the big money laundering operation uncovered by the Garda today. What with Republicans being implicated in the murder of Robert McCartney things have not been going their way recently.

Friday, February 11, 2005

happiness and Distraction

Some say happiness is what humans seek in life. I'm convinced its not. I think its distraction we crave. Take me for example today. I did some good work and was feeling happy as Larry off early downtown to visit my favourite library after having a sausage, egg and bacon soda. What do I do? Check the share price of Bioprogress on my mobile. It had gone up another 3 points. A nervous kind of impulsion overtakes me. I feel I have to buy these shares because they WILL go up tomorrow. I take myself in hand saying 'Don't chase only leads to ruin and a wasted life'. But my piece of mind is destroyed. If we were programmed to seek happiness all the time I don't think I would have put myself through this.

Spent a pleasureable afternoon reading the Irish Naturalist of 1915. The guys who wrote in these periodicals were true naturalists - people like Praeger and Scharff really knew their flora and fauna.
In 1915 the last native Golden Eagle was shot in Mayo. The previous year another had been shot at Ardara.

Monday, February 07, 2005

You Are Me and I am You and We are all One

I used to see this written on a wall every day I travelled up the Antrim Road from school. I think it is a basic truth. We are all of the same essence even though life and circumstance have shaped us differently. Our basic consciousness is the same. It is this consciousness that we sometimes (rarely in my case) grasp when we meditate.
Successfully through to my second week without gambling. I can feel a difference. I can feel myself focussing more on my work and on things that are important. I still visit share bulletin boards out of curiosity - perhaps also to perversely test myself.
Liz has done three seperate pregnancy tests all of which were positive although the line is faint. However the hormone level should increase during this week.
Its strange being in work alone knowing that Brad shared the same space only a week or so ago and now is gone forever. I get a feeling we're just on different sides of some great valley.
The anti-road campaigners are going to be allowed to submit evidence to the Oireachtas inquiry. This is good news as the narrow terms of reference were being used to exclude them up to now.