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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wellington Inn Brewery

The excellent Wellington Inn launched its brewery today. Above photograph shows two bitters, one their inaugural First Duke, the other someone called ‘Ioran’ (?!)’s Syllogismes de l’amertume.

This blog endorses the enjoyable pastime of sitting in the Welly transferring the contents of multiple pints of beer to the inside of one’s body.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

An Crotach

Osclaím Scéalta Éireann ar maidin agus is é an scéal a léighim ná go bhfuil laghdú tubaisteach tar éis teacht ar dhaonra na gcrotach in Éirinn. Siad na huimhreacha ná go bhfuil nócha sé faoin gcéad de chrotaigh na hÉireann glan imithe ó 1991 go dtí an lá átá inniu ann.

A Éire, bíonn a fhois agat riamh conas díomá a chur orm. Tusa fós tír na teipe, an cumaliomsachais. (Sin focal nua ar chruthaigh mé dhaoibh.) Níl sé i gcoinne an dlí seilg a chur ar chrotaigh in Éirinn fós, fiú. Arbh fhéidir leat níos lú a dhéanamh chun cabhair a thabhairt do na créatúir bochta?

Sin Éire dhuit, ach más mian leat crotaigh a fheiceáil anseo táid ann i gcónaí, ar bhruacha an Humber. Agus is ann a chuaigh mé inniu, fheiceáil conas atá ag eirí leo. Ar fheabhas, de réir dealramh. Scríobhas an haícú seo fúthú:

Amhrán an chrotaigh:
ceol níos bhreá ní heol dom i
gconsain ná gutaí.

Sé a bhí sa dealbhín ná duais sniúcair a fágadh sa bhothán cois abhann. Níl suim sna héanlaith ag chuile dhuine áfach.

Go mbaineadh sibh sult as, a chairde. Bígí ag éisteacht don chrotach agus an gníomh á dhéanamh agaibh, ar aon nós.

Shrine (?), Humber Estuary

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Birthday Message from the Chairman

‘Vive le Percy! Auto-anilingus for all! Eleven more glorious years!’

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


A while back my Uncle Des asked me to write some captions for an exhibition of his photographs he was having in Bray. I haven’t done anything with the resulting haiku, so I thought I’d put them up here. The ensuing frenzy of curiosity they induce to see the original images can then be sated here.

(Prom in snow, Bray Head)
B’shin easpa meidhre:
i lom-lár an gheimhridh, é
chomh fuar le h-oighre.

(Bray seaside in snow, rocks)
Everywhere you look
the prom’s a crazy pavement
of snowed-under rock.

(Church Road in snow)
Even steering blind
on this road, I’d still know home
was round the next bend.

(Cliff Walk in snow)
The Kish lighthouse winks,
miles out, and cormorants fly
with snow on their wings.

(Powerscourt waterfall)
No pool lies as still
as one that’s just white-watered
its way down a hill.

(River Vartry)
Slipped into reverse,
times floats me upstream on all
my childhood rivers.

Heavenly weather,
Saint Kevin: the sky fallen
into the water.

(Sugar Loaf in snow)
The cold’s a shocker.
To serve up a real Sugar
Loaf, add snow sugar.

(Ferris Wheel)
Coaxed back from exile,
another seafront summer
turns on its axle.

(Steps looking towards Dalkey)
Choose always the edge,
the zone where sky, sea and earth
are all within reach.

(Harbour Bar in snow)
Your hot port downed in
one. More snow outside. Best get
another round in.

(Looking out to sea, Wicklow)
That’s our last sun gone
down. That’s me setting sail and
not due home again.

(Sugar Loaf)
The scratch on the sky
this peak leaves I hereby name
the star I steer by.

(Bray Head with train)
Though still clinging on,
Brunel’s long-lost ghost tunnel
is going, going...

(Derelict window)
See through me, do you?
All’s transparent here: I too,
I see right through you.

(Steps, harbour)
Where green water lapped
round my ankles once, these days
my moorings are slipped.


Thursday, July 07, 2011

Monday, July 04, 2011

The Lifelong Habit of Breathing In And Out

Very cheering to find Adam Mars-Jones’ review of Gordon Bowker’s new biography of James Joyce in The Observer yesterday, as I travelled back from Ah-Trieste-ate-I-my-liver and the Joyce school there. Even with that link, the corkers in AMJ’s review are too good not to reproduce here. It would seem Bowker does a good line in historical scene-setting flannel:

‘For the British Empire, as 1882 dawned, it was business as usual. Queen Victoria... had ruled her domain for 45 years, and would reign for a further 19.’ Perhaps there was some sort of floral clock arrangement in public parks, displaying a countdown, so as to keep citizens properly informed of their future.

{Quotation ends}

He’s also fond of spurious but would-be clinching juxtaposition:

‘John's habit of regular long walks around Dublin and environs, caught by his children, foreshadows the wandering narrative line which snakes through most of his son's fiction.’ It's hard to see how it would be possible to go further in this vein. Perhaps: his father's lifelong habit of breathing in and out, in strict alternation, instilled in the young Joyce an abiding interest in rhythm and pattern...

{Quotation ends}

Of Bowker’s endless need to read Joyce’s books as straightforward autobiography, AMJ finally declares:

Seeking to extract personal testimony from any novel whatever is like trying to tell the time from a clock in a painting. Doing the same thing with Finnegans Wake is like trying to tell the time from the soft watch in a Dali phantasmagoria, undeterred by the fact that it’s draped over a branch, if not crawling with ants.

{Quotation ends}

{Paragraph temporarily redacted}

I always dislike the word ‘academic’ as a term of abuse, e.g. in the (inexplicable to me) way that some people spurn James Knowlson’s biography of Beckett in favour of Anthony Cronin’s skimpy and under-researched effort. I say this not because I work in a university, but because getting things right is absolutely not the preserve or the exclusive duty of academics. It is a prerequisite for writing a book about anything, whether James Joyce or the reproductive life of the blue-footed booby.
Bowker’s book though seems to have the intellectual credentials of a Daily Mail weekend supplement article subbed on his iphone by a books editor on holiday in the South of France. I suppose the good thing about the whole saga is that no publisher can point to it as a good reason for turning away a genuine scholar who did fancy writing a proper follow-up to Ellmann’s book. Really though, does Joyce not deserve better?