Archive for January 12th, 2006

Book ends, Bookends

Some time ago I spoke of my strange habit of stopping reading books half-way through, even if I found the book enjoyable. I regret to note that the habit persists. Recent casualties include Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, and Arthur and George by Julian Barnes.

I am left with a backlog of books that I have resolved to get through before I buy any others. These include the ones mentioned above, and the following:

All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Federico Garcia Lorca by Ian Gibson
The Age of Capital by Eric Hobsbawm
If Morning Ever Comes and A Slipping-Down Life by Anne Tyler
The Muslim Jesus by Tarif Khalidi
The Gaffta Awards by Larry Ryan, Gareth Power and Paul Little
Suite française by Irene Nemirovsky

That’ll take me to the end of March at least.

Expertise Fatigue

I’m too clapped out to write on this weblog when I get home at night, so I sit slumped in front of the TV for a couple of hours. It starts with Eastenders, which only ever has one storyline: will Phil/Johnny/Sharon/Pauline/Martin/Gus/Keith/Wellard ever find out the truth?

The rest of the evening’s programming is no less predictable, with an infuriating amount of airtime dedicated to taking instruction from on-screen experts, all seemingly with the purpose of fuelling consumer/worker drone appetites. How to get your life back on track by losing a stone training your stranger-humping dog to look ten years younger and impressing your boss while a woman with a strange accent analyses your stool as your toilet seat gets tested for traces of dysentry and the contents of your fridge get tested for brucellosis and you organise the sale of your two-up-two-down house so you can move to a finca in Andalusia and open a restaurant.

People on the internet make big noises about the future of the citizen blogger, but the reality is that most citizens are too tired to care.

Not Quite a Wing-Nut, But….

Over the last year and a half I have started looking at birds. Dublin City Centre is home to the occasional angry gull and vomit-eating pigeon, but little else to hold the interest, so when I moved out to Duburbia I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and quantity of species of bird, and take no small delight in watching them. I would list a few names here, only my interest hasn’t gone so far that I have bothered to look them up. I know that I have seen a few grouse for one, because I recognised them from the Famous Grouse label.

Anyway, it seems that plenty of these birds are in serious decline because of modern farming, according to David McKittrick in today’s UK Independent.

One of the endangered species mentioned is the corncrake. I thought the corncrake had already been wiped out. When I was in primary school, one of the teachers, when not extemporising about the importance of Fatima, used to reminisce about how he used to wake up and hear the call of the corncrake, but no longer, because it was extinct.

Smelling What One Shovels

I liked Salman Rushdie’s piece on the corruption of language:

On the question of ‘extraordinary rendition’:

People use such phrases to avoid using others whose meaning would be problematically over-apparent. “Ethnic cleansing” and “final solution” were ways of avoiding the word “genocide”, and to say “extraordinary rendition” is to reveal one’s squeamishness about saying “the export of torture”. However, as Cecily remarks in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, “When I see a spade, I call it a spade”, and what we have here is not simply a spade, it’s a shovel – and it’s shovelling a good deal of ordure

I myself made an extraordinary rendition of Tainted Love by Soft Cell at Karaoke over Christmas. It was torture.

It’s a Gas

It was almost a blast from the past in Armagh yesterday afternoon as the British Army defused a car bomb made out of gas cylinders in the car park of the Armagh City Hotel where I hear cross-border bodies meet to do whatever it is that such bodies do, and eat soup and sandwiches. It is also the place where the Armagh team staged a post-All Ireland victory celebration 3 and a half years ago.

It appears that men describing themselves as ‘republicans’ took two cars and a shotgun from a house a few miles outside the town, scaring an elderly woman in the process. (I am sure she was reassured when she heard that they were republicans. One time I got mugged in Madrid. The muggers told me at knifepoint that they needed the money to buy cocaine. Fair enough, thought I, as long as it wasn’t for something frivolous like a spacehopper.)

Update: it looks like the police have lifted three men in connection. Rumour has it that investigations started with individuals who weren’t allowed back in to get their coats on Saturday night.

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January 2006
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