Archive for April, 2005

Unwelcome Packs

Words fail me.

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Welcome Packs

Dear Foreign Family,

********Cead Mile Failte! – Wilkommen – Bienvenue – Bienvenido – Benvenuto – (Add Mandarin greeting here)*******

As the chair of the Mid-Ireland Residents Against Racism Committee, allow me to take this opportunity to welcome you to our humble and verdant land. A member of our committee indicated that there was an immigrant family living at this address, so in the spirit of deep solidarity and mutual respect, we are sending you a welcome pack which we hope will help you to integrate fully in our community.

Coming to live in another country can be a stressful affair, so by way of this short note, we would like to draw your attention to some voluntary guidance we have provided on matters that will make your permanent stay in Ireland a mutually enriching experience.

******Background Information******

Languages

Few sights are more appealing than to hear how our once bi-lingual nation has become a veritable Tower of Babble. It is permissible to speak one of our two national languages on this island. Either Irish, our native tongue, or English, are equally acceptable under most circumstances. It is advisable that any interaction with British Crown Forces or representatives of the Police Service of Northern Ireland should be conducted in Irish. Should you wish to learn Irish, please attend our ‘Ranganna Gaeilge for Immigrants’ Dé Mairt agus Dé Ceadaoin sa Chulturlann.

Few sounds are more heartening to our ears than the sound of a foreign face speaking with a native accent! 12 year old Filipino girl Margarita Fernandez is one example of a person who has caught the ‘accent bug’, and now speaks in a heavily accented Mid-Ireland vernacular. Do not be surprised if you hear her greet you with the local salutation ‘How’s she cuttin’ boy!’

Food

We value very much the diversity and deep repository of cuisine-related knowledge that the arrival of so many ethnic minorities brings to the people of Ireland. In this vein, we would like to invite you to prepare some of the dishes from your native lands and bring them along to the Ethnic Minority Bake Off, Dé Satharn sa Chulturlann arís.

Religion

Whatever the concerns you may have had before deciding to come here related to whether or not your religion would be accepted, we would like to reassure you that in Ireland we cherish all children of the nation equally, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Mohammedan (pbuh) and Dissenter. Whatever your choice of religious worship, rest assured that all are equally approved of and protected.

Sport

Few sights are more bracing for the spirit than to see young black, Chinese and Indian boys or girls playing Gaelic Football and Camogie. Ireland is truly a multicultural society where the colour of your skin does not matter.

Drink

After a hearty afternoon cheering on one’s team at a football match, it is a common custom in Ireland to partake in a few alcoholic beverages at the local public house. We would cherish your company at this most hallowed and convivial of Irish cultural exchanges. (Note to Muslims: A wide range of non-alcoholic beverages are also available. Note to Orthodox Jews: Some Irish whiskies may be indeed suitable for the purposes of your alcoholic intake. Please consult the publican who will only be too happy to advise.)

Travel

All motorists, regardless of colour or provenance, are held in equal esteem on our roads. We tend to drive cars with steering wheels on the right, but if you choose to drive one with a steering wheel on the left, we respect and value your choice to so do.

*******And Finally*********

Once again, on behalf of the entire side of the community, I would like to extend a warm, fraternal and hearty welcome to you all. Lovely to see you!!

Hugh

¡Hala Madrid!

Sid Lowe in The Guardian is perhaps the most perceptive and entertaining commentator around on Spanish football and its personalities, providing an English football fan’s perspective on La Liga. This week he writes on Real Madrid’s griping indignation at Barcelona’s ascendancy.

‘ ‘And then there’s Real Madrid, football’s gentlemen’s club, every bit as convinced of its superiority and utterly insistent on its godly behaviour – determined to prove itself holier than thou (except for that bit about not coveting thy neighbour’s best player of course). A great institution of great humility; one that humbly celebrated its centenary with a trip to see the King, the Pope and the United Nations. Oh, and by lobbying Uefa to ban all other football, all over the world, on their birthday.”

Inspiration Flagging

Spent the last hour struggling to find something to write. I have given up, but in my search for inspiration I found this short poem by Ogden Nash:

REFLECTION ON INGENUITY

Here’s a good rule of thumb:
Too clever is dumb.

Maybe tomorrow.

Yo, El Inculto

BBC reports on the death of Augusto Roa Bastos. For those of you thinking ‘who dat?’ he was ‘famous’ for his 1974 ‘masterpiece’ I The Supreme. The only reason I mention this is because after the Don Quixote post the other day, I got thinking about all the books I have bought myself but have never quite managed to read. I The Supreme is one of them. Normally I get turned off in the 1st 30 pages, but there are some I have dumped on the way to the finish line.

Here are a few more:

Underworld by Don DeLillo

Stopped after about 500 pages.

Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco

After about 300 pages. It was entertaining enough, but reading it conflicted with Euro 2004. So I stopped for a few days and never went back.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

I already knew she was going to top herself. I turned off round about the time she gets involved with her toyboy.

The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy

First page.

Murphy by Samuel Beckett

‘The sun shone down on the nothing new’ (or similar) is about all I can remember about this book. And I think it appears on the first page. In fact I’m not sure if it was Murphy, it could have been Watt because I did the same thing with that.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

I stopped about 250 pages in, after he conducts a fictitious MTV interview with himself.

Ulysses by James Joyce

20 pages or so.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

I would love to say that I stopped this one before the end. But I didn’t.

The Kids Are Alright (Without Voting)

The yoof vote in Northern Ireland is a piddling 35%, according to the BBC.

The Man from the Electoral Commission sez:

‘”Our research would indicate that young people are much more likely to discuss political issues than any other section of the population, and yet they clearly aren’t making the connection between the issues they are passionate about and the ballot box,”‘

Word.

The Man from the Guardian sez:

Even if a minority are working harder than we ever did, most still have plenty of leisure. They simply choose to spend it in different ways. They would rather drink than demonstrate. They are more passionate about sport than the fate of Iraq.

Booooom!!

The Kids Aren’t Alright

I bought Ben Folds’ new album yesterday. In Songs for Silverman he is mostly on cracking form, with the usual mordant wit and piano-driven, character-based songs. There was one song I found rather worrying, though – one where (unless I am missing something) he sings plainly and sincerely about his worries for his daughter growing up.

Almost without exception, pop songs about children, or more accurately pop songs about the singer’s children, are two-fingers-down-the-throat moments. There are few things more tiresome than a parent who witters on to all and sundry about how wonderful his kids are, blissfully unaware that the rest of the world couldn’t care less. Yet so many musicians feel the need to rend a musical homage to their offspring. Provided they do it in the privacy of their own homes, I have no difficulty with it, but I wish they would refrain from unleashing the results on the music-buying public.

Other offenders include:

John Lennon – Beautiful Boy

Sentimental doggerel dedicated to son Sean. Immortalised in Richard Dreyfus mega-turkey Mr Holland’s Opus.

The Beach Boys – When A Man Needs A Woman

A frazzled, gibbering wreck after the abortive Smile sessions, Brian Wilson adopted a more pared-down approach to making records, resulting in two pretty underrated albums: Wild Honey and Friends. When A Man Needs A Woman is off the latter, and although musically interesting, contains the diabolical lyric ‘Pretty soon we’ll be a family of three/Then it’s not gonna be/Just you and me/We’ll share all the goodies with the ones we bring in the world..’

I often wonder if this song inspired Charles Manson.

Jimmy Webb – Christian, No

‘You can’t prevent the world from being repossessed’, Wichita Lineman composer Jimmy Webb sings to his 3 year old son Christian. ‘I must confess that we’ve left it in a sorry mess/But you can save it if you try to do your best’

Christian responds by becoming a semi-rock star with The Webb Brothers.

Stevie Wonder – Isn’t She Lovely

She may well be, Stevie, but the tune stinks to high heaven. Stevie always had a sentimental streak, but this is a severe blot on Songs In The Key Of Life. Nearly as bad as I Just Called…

Other dishonourable mentions go to Madonna (Little Star), Joni Mitchell (for that one off Blue – Little Green I think it’s called) and, of course, Eric Clapton (Tears In Heaven). Not forgetting Cat Stevens/Boyzone (Father and Son), Harry Chapin/Ugly Kid Joe (Cat’s In The Cradle).

Any others?


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