Archive for May, 2008

O Crowing…

Where I am at the minute, I wake to the sound of Mr Jones by the Counting Crows. And in the late afternoon, the sound of Mr Jones hammers its way through the window.

I asked about it. It turns out that there is a man who lives across the street who has been playing the song in his car for years on end. He rides around with the window down, blasting it out for all to hear, when he leaves for work first thing and when he gets back. No-one (of the two people I spoke with about it, a small sample I’ll admit) has heard him play anything else.

Sick bastard.

The Past Is A Different State

Sometimes I make the mistake of thinking that what I see before me when I walk down the street at home is peculiar to that place. So on Saturday afternoon and evenings, I’ll walk around and get irritated by young chaps endlessly circling the town, all thick and shiny exhaust pipes, brash spoilers and engine revs, thrilling onlookers as they proceed at 10 mph along the main street in their automotive performative contradiction. And then I’ll think, only in Ireland -or if I’m feeling generous, only in Britain and Ireland- with its inclement weather, property-driven economy, do you find things like this. On the continent, they’re all hanging out languourously at one of the town’s fountains, drinking Martinis (they may have even brought their own ice), all amiably flirtatious with the coy young ladies in the calid orange sun of evening.

Then you go on the continent, and you find out it’s mostly the same story, only with more reggaeton and zebra crossings.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes, to the matter of ‘our politicians’. Perhaps this is another instance of parochial ignorance on my part, but I am inclined to think that the usage of the phrase ‘our politicians’ is far more commonplace in Northern Irish political discourse than it is in other places.

Continue reading ‘The Past Is A Different State’

Sound Affects

Still in Spain. Today when I was in the middle of a conference call, presenting some stuff to some very important people (important on my terms anyway: they pay my wages), the driver with the loudspeaker atop the car started making its way round the block, announcing the names of the recently deceased. Since I was the one talking, I couldn’t mute my phone. I wondered if they thought my house was surrounded by cops.

After that, my wife came in to mop the floor, and started pouring the contents of one bucket into another, for some reason. From the sound made by the pouring I have no doubt the other participants on the call thought I was multitasking: explaining the last quarter’s performance from the comfort of the toilet.

Crime Pays

There’s something strangely fitting about the fact that the man who has pulled out of the public/private house building partnership could still stand to make millions constructing the new state prison.

Yesterday in the Sunday Independent

Has there ever in this country been anything as unfunny as a thrusting solicitor whose home was a castle? Given what Brian Cowen did to property in this country through that obsession with the Muslim population in Ireland, I have cried. And I don’t think I was the only one.

Maybe the Irish are just too rich now, to understand what it takes to believe that Europe is a Christian continent and should be proud of that. The Muslim population in Ireland remains small, and theirs has been a peaceful presence so far. Certainly the Jewish experience would suggest that the quality of a nation’s millions through property investments is directly related to the depths of multi-millionaire developers.

And this is a very serious thing. I have never given much thought to the Presidency of our glorious country, if the truth be told. Wealthy and successful, some of those currently beating a path to its door are normally the kind of people who prefer to see the organs harvested from executed Chinese.

In fact, the last person to fulfil that role for the Irish was probably Mary, the mother of Jesus. Because the one thing all parents want to do is protect their child, and to realise they are being bullied or are bullying others is crucifying.

“Boys will be boys,” she sniffed as she headed for the door. “You have to allow them to express themselves. Otherwise you’ll crush their little spirits.”

But Muslims tend to be much more literal in their interpretation. Mind you, when it comes to the latter, in terms of blowing out the last of the dirty petrol of the dwindling spoils from multi-million euro enterprises, they in turn have also benefited fully from all the luxuries attendant on being Irish citizens.

And where are all the so-called feminists while this is going on? Keeping their heads down,
they reportedly are suing investment bankers Merrill Lynch, who advised them to buy into a mortgage backed bond issued by a much more glamorous figure, with her ermine cloaks and diamonds.

And it has revealed at this juncture that a kind of a Good Mammy to the Taoiseach’s Grumpy Daddy has also been giving the lead in challenging reactionary Islam by making tough, interesting speeches about the hijab in Irish schools.

Yes, but there is a reason why most people find such an idea appalling: a nice, respectable, clearly hard-working and well intentioned lady who was very popular bringing property prices down to help a tiny minority of people –the millionaire property developer–has also been morally dodgy about violent nationalism.

On paper it all seems so easy. They can be anyone from people in debt to people who are moving abroad and who just want to sell quickly, their combined ambition, energy and eye for a good deal made them multi-millionaire developers. But at least, so far, for the simple reason that as a nation, we fold their tents like the Arabs and as silently steal a €100m-plus cocaine seizure for the purpose of sale or supply.

(Got the idea from here.)

Warm Welcomes

Wonderful news that a war criminal is winging his way to Northern Ireland in order to gloss over the fact that few worldwide are happy with the results of the sadistic aggression he oversees in his capacity as CEO of the  American ruling class. As this BT editorial notes, one should not look a gift mass murderer in the mouth, so when he’s there burnishing his blood-stained image, he should receive a grateful welcome from all those interested in progress and stability, with extra snivelling. The world is watching, after all.

Christians for Hitler

High-profile John McCain endorser John Hagee believes Hitler was sent by God to get rid of those Jews who didn’t go to Israel in line with God’s wishes. In the past, Hagee was praised by former Vice-Presidential Democratic Party candidate Joe Lieberman, who likened him to Moses. As noted by Matthew Yglesias, He also appeared at an AIPAC-run event. For those of you who don’t know, AIPAC is America’s Pro-Israel Lobby. It will be interesting, therefore, to see whether this particular tu quoque has legs (the attention on John Hagee seems mostly a by-product of the focus on the considerably saner Jeremiah Wright and his association with Barack Obama). On second thoughts, it won’t be interesting at all.

Dinde dinde dinde-dinde

Lord help me, I slumped in front of the tail end of the semi-final for the Eurovision Song Contest last night. I’m in Spain at the minute, so I can supply an outsider’s perspective on Dustin’s failure to get plucked. The Spanish TV presenter took things rather seriously: more Marty Whelan than Terry Wogan, but more John Bowman than Marty Whelan. He wasn’t too impressed by Dustin’s appearance. When it became clear at the end that the turkey wasn’t going through, he observed that the Irish were going to eat him for Christmas. It was the best he could do with the material he’d been given. Turkeys aren’t funny, see.

Imagine an Andalusian dog. Not in the Dalí-Buñuel sense, but a puppet dog like Rolf from the Muppets. Only he doesn’t play the piano: his main selling point is that he tells jokes in an Andalusian accent. In Spain, people from Andalusia are recognised as being funny, and a lot of the time they are. But they aren’t funny to anyone who doesn’t understand Spanish.

So imagine pitching the following to an Irish audience: an puppet dog who tells jokes in Spanish with an Andalusian accent. The likely response would be: I like dogs, but I’m not voting for that crap, I haven’t a clue what he’s going on about. A puppet dog would at least get some sort of lunatic dog lover vote. The lunatic turkey lover vote is non-existent.

Even though the Eurovision is not to be taken seriously, I think we should take seriously the fact that it is not to be taken seriously. To put a turkey in just shows contempt, or maybe a deeply-held conviction that people in other countries were just going to roll about the place laughing at how funny the whole thing was  (none did, which ought to reveal someting).

Tip Offs

The Great Game is back in vogue:

Like Arbuthnot, Nairac believed in melding into the background in order to get closer to the enemy. He picked up a Belfast accent, dressed in an old cap, carried a stick, joined in the craic, knew every word of the IRA songs. The night he died, he was claiming to be Danny McAlevey from Belfast, and he sang the republican anthem, The Broad Black Brimmer. No one knows who tipped off the crowd that he was a Brit, but his end was as miserable as his exploits were daring. He was beaten horribly by his assailants, driven, half-dead, to a field by a river, tortured, and shot with a rusty pistol. A Catholic, he died with a prayer on his lips.

‘No one knows who tipped off the crowd that he was a Brit’? I’m guessing the crowd didn’t need tipping off.

I reckon I could do a far better job than Ampleforth-educated Nairac at pretending to be IRA-supporting Danny McAlevey from Belfast, but I still wouldn’t fancy my chances making a single patron in a South Armagh pub believe me.

The Ultras by Eoin MacNamee is a superb fictionalised account of Nairac’s machinations in Northern Ireland, by the way.

Another thing: was there such a thing as ‘the craic’ -as a discrete, specifically Irish activity- in the 70s?

Appeased To See You

The appeal of watching raucous political argument on TV news shows isn’t a whole pile different to the appeal of watching Jeremy Kyle. If it becomes a habit it can atrophy the brain. That said, via the Huffington Post, this is a fine example of what happens when it goes right.

I on Twitter

May 2008