Recently seen in Amsterdam
When browsing in a bookshop recently, I found two collections of short stories by my favourite author, Roald Dahl. I immediately bought one collection and returned there a few days later to ensure that no one else would have the opportunity to buy the other. Now, the inevitable problem with collections of short stories is overlap, meaning that there are always some that you’ve already read somewhere else. However, there were some new and delicious finds, amongst them was this particular thriller - A Man from the South. The premise of the tale is simple; a young man enters into a bet to win a Cadillac; the forfeit being the loss of his little finger. It’s a simple story, loaded with suspense. I read it in something of a nervous frenzy.
Unsurprisingly, I was delighted to find this last night on YouTube. It turns out that that it was the first Dahl story to be televised in Anglia Television’s Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected, made in 1978. This episode features an introduction from Dahl himself, whereby he explains how by necessity, a short story must be lean and concise, in order to hold a firm grip of the reader’s attention. Thankfully this ethos has been upheld with this production. So what I advise you do now is to take put the kettle on, settle down with a cup of tea, and enjoy.
This blog is two today. In the last two years, I have had 12,399 page hits. Thank you to everyone who has visited the site, and especial thanks if you have liked it and came back for more.
Since I’ve moved to Prague, I’ve been keeping another, more literary blog – www.thechildofprague.com
My hope is to keep using this blog as a creative minefield of miss-mash odds and ends, whilst developing some longer written pieces over on the other site. I do hope that you’ll become a regular visitor to both.
In the words of Apu, “Thank you. Please come again.”
The Irreverent Mother
This blog is two years old today. It’s recently been going through some rather lean times, so I think the time has come to reinvigorate it. Therefore, it seems appropriate to re-engage with life with this little song about death.
It’s called Dumb ways to die - an ode to train safety, provided by Melbourne Metro.
My rowing season ended last Sunday, so in the last eight days have been blissful laziness. I don’t even know where my runners are, nor have I so much as looked at a river, nor sat in a boat, and the gym has become foreign territory. Instead, I have concentrated on becoming a cultural butterfly.
In the last eight days, I have ticked the following off the “Culture” list:
- 2 Hour Historical Walking Tour of Dublin
- Glengarry Glen Ross at the Gate
- The Angel’s Share at the Screen
- Woody Allen Documentary at the Screen
- Guided Tour of Russborough House, Wicklow
- Glendalough Monastic Settlement, Wicklow
- Hurdygurdys at Bray Seafront, Wicklow
- Trinity Orchestra play Pink Floyd at Christchurch Cathedral
- Marina Abromivic: The Artist is Present at the Lighthouse
And that list doesn’t include the drinking! Life is good.
I loathe soccer. I’ve always hated it. I was always crap at it, and it is dead boring to watch. However, this would spice things up a bit.
Here we see an antipersonnel land mine placed on the pitch, just to add an element of suspense. Now there is a game I would gladly watch.
Mount Etna is erupting at the moment. Here’s a picture of a toll booth in Sicily with the volcano in the background.
Who said that literary theory wasn’t fun?
They’ve done it again. Bord na Móna’s new “measure of quality time” ad now features a woman telling her partner she’s expecting twins, instead of the previously expected leanbh amháin. Once again, were supposed to think this is funny.
It’s not. Now there a second bawling mouth to feed, and that’s just the beginning. Never mind the consequences of double childcare bill, need a bigger house, bigger car, can’t afford to bring the family on holiday… Suddenly college is looking dodgey. Only afford to educate one I’d them. Now there’s sibling rivalry.
Unplanned pregnacies are not funny. And finding out that there’s a little hitchhiker still counts as an unplanned pregnancy; which can throw the family budget, and with it lifestyle and security, into chaos.
The message here: when your family gets devastating news, be it a puff in the pantry or an extra bun in the oven – just throw on a few briquettes there. Problem solved.
It could be a wonderful life.
because it is shite. It’s ninety minutes of long-drawn-out nonsense about nothing. Yes, it’s interesting visually, but so is a painting. If I want visual interest, I’ll go to an art gallery and look at the paintings or I’ll read a picture book; rather than subject myself to a film that moves at a glacial pace. It’s excruciatingly slow. I had lost interest twenty-five minutes in, and there were still another sixty-five minutes on the clock. I could feel the will to live slowly draining out of my body; at precisely the same rate as the film was creeping towards its conclusion. Of course as is the case with all Shakespearean adaptations, large chunks of the text had been cut. As I sat there suffering, I dearly wished that we would have cut some more. Of course, it’s been critically acclaimed.
However, if you must see something from The Tempest by Derek Jarman, as you feel that your cultural life would not be complete without it, have a look at this. It’s the bizarre closing number featuring Elisabeth Welch singing Stormy Weather.
Nowhere in Shakespeare’s script does it mention that the room is full of gay boys dressed as sailors, nor does it mention that there should be a black lady dressed as the Sun King singing. It’s pretty much par for the course in terms of the surreal nature of this film. If we cast aside its irrelevance to the plot (honestly, but this time in the film the only plot you care about is the plot to hurt the director) and the control the instinct to loudly exclamation “WTF?” and somehow manage to objectively look at it as a performance – it’s actually a beautiful rendition of the song. Plus she’s dressed as the Sun King, so it’s worth watching it for that alone. A good costume may not save a show, but at least it distracts the audience.
The sailors, unfortunately, are rather disappointing. They are neither real sailors, nor are they dancers. They appear just to be a shower of blokes that he gathered up from whatever primordial gay bar he was frequenting in London. Many of them aren’t even particularly good looking and there’s a definite bit of pudge going on there under those uniforms. Finely tuned athletes they are not. It does however have a quaintness, when compared to the modern music videos that we are so used to. Modern music videos serve us up a homogenous diet of sculpted Adonises (what’s the plural of Adonis?); all firm on their feet, thrusting out routines to military precision. We are sold a body image which is unrealistic – yet we have come to accept it as normal. Jardan challenges this; showing us what gays looked like before they discovered the gym.
The film was made in 1979, before the discovery of AIDS. Appropriately enough for the day that’s in it, Jarman was a lifelong gay rights activist and one of the first high profile people in Britain to publicly discuss his HIV infection. He became infected in 1986. He died of an AIDS related illness in 1994, aged 52.
I found this today in Friday’s Guardian G2 and I thought it was sublimely interesting. It details the efforts of the suffragettes to avoid the 1911 Census. Their reasoning was that if they were not going to be “counted” and given the vote, well they would not be counted in the Census either.
Some of my particular favourites are: Hertha Ayrton, who made the affirmation that “I will not supply these particulars until I have my rights as a citizen. Votes for Women.” and Miss Davies; who wrote on her form the name of a male servant, adding “no other persons, but many women”.
There’s also some rather amusing anecdotes about women who hid in broom-closets, outhouses and on the Yorkshire moors overnight who to avoid “Census detection.”
So here’s a quick review of the year, starting with the bad stuff and moving on to the good stuff!
Living with Boo Radley.
Having no water and general breakdown of public service that the snow seems to bring.
Niamh’s mother dying. The subsequent deterioration of relations and breakdown of friendship between myself and Niamh, finally culminating in her moving out.
Going to Poland.
Failing fourth year architecture.
Telling Mam and Dad I’d failed.
Working with Michelle in the Cake Cafe.
Breaking up with Neil after Leonard Cohen.
Eoin mysteriously silence, resulting in his ipso facto dumping me.
Jumping from job to job and never having two pennies to rub together.
Gisela’s sudden death.
Lots of hiking with Out and About.
Starting the blog.
Going to Berlin.
Getting a job in the Cake Cafe.
Hundred peaks challenge with Dermot Reilly.
Meeting Frank and starting to visit the farm.
Meeting Neil and dating Neil.
Taking part in Dublin Pride with Out and About.
Brian McIntyre inviting me to my first opera.
Leonard Cohen in Lissadell.
Beekeeping Camp in Gormanstown – now I’m an apprentice beekeeper!
Grant telling me not to worry about paying for it, but to at least apply for Trinity College and worry about paying for it later.
Swimming with Eoin.
Getting into Trinity!
Living with Matteo, Kieran and Ida.
Meeting Joanna and getting involved with the Hist.
Signing up for rowing, and surprisingly being good at it!
Learning how to swim properly and beginning to take an interest in sport.
Getting the Nerd Award from College, and having Fíona come to the ceremony.
The stablisers coming off the boat.
Competing at the Cork IV.
The “initiation” into the Boat Club.
Doing decent Ergo tests and being at the top end of the squad.
Good to see that the good outweighs the bad; turns out I’m not a miserable auld fucker after all!
Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson, conducted by Leroy Anderson. If this doesn’t put you in the mood, nothing will. I especially love the bits with the woodblocks and the whip…
They must be sad, lonely people. God love them.
Hallmark are now specializing in cards for alcoholics, like this one that Niamh sent me.
No, it wasn’t Keats who said that; it was Mary Poppins!
Don’t say this to the Polo, in case it gets jealous, but “I WANT ONE!”
One of the few urban features that I liked about Szczecin was its graffiti. Here are some interesting examples. I really like the Miss Szczecin 2010. I think she embodies the genius loci – the spirit of the place.
Just to see what life a la wordpress is like, I’ll try and publish this and see what happens.