Thursday, December 28, 2006

Knightly Aspirations

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Her Noble Excellency Barbara the Coherent of Bumpstead under Carpet
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Another one just for fun, picked up from Hedgie, Julie and every one else!

I think this meme generator picks up on the fact that deep down, we all like to think of ourselves as faintly noble and raised from the general masses in some respect.

Wearing a ridiculous name is one way of establishing it.

The difference between 'it's' and 'its'

I always know before opening the envelope of a returned submission, whether I've been successful or not. It's the thickness you see: the thicker ones generally indicate failure and the thinner ones, a degree or two of success.

Today's return was a failure - and the briefest of notes on the typed letter pointing out the difference between it's - it is, and the commonly confused its - the possessive, which it seems my internal editor never quite got the hang of. And tucked behind the refusal were the poems, first of which included the offending piece.

My guess is that the editor read this one, and probably didn't read the rest. I'm not sure whether re-submitting other poems to the journal will prove productive, as I've probably tarnished myself with that particular editor - forever to remain 'the person with the problem with grammar.'

Even with my trusty Strunk and White, Elements of Style for reference, there will always be that time that I make boo-boos. For this I blame, if there should be such a thing, my imperfect English on the cross-cultures in our house: two languages in circulation seem to have made for a poorer grasp of both sets of rules!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Not quite there yet - But!

Many years ago the megalithic passage tomb of Newgrange used not to be so strictly looked after as it is these days by the Irish Office of Public Works.

It used be that you could *ahem* access the site on the winter solstice to view the shaft of early morning sunlight as it entered down the main chamber and struck the back wall, illuminating the whole chamber with a soft reddish-orange glow.

There is a story in my family that we went there one year, my Mum, Dad and baby me, accompanied by some of their other hippy/student friends to witness the event.

Alas, I was far too young to remember this!

Nowadays you can only access the vault on this special day, through a lottery system – and of course the weather is never guaranteed to perform as wished either – this is Ireland after all, home of the ‘soft day.’

Newgrange megalithic passage tomb is part of a wider area of megalithic mounds to be found very close to each other in this area, which is just south of Drogheda on Ireland’s eastern coast. Knowth, and Dowth mounds each have their own story to tell, and Knowth in particular has been undergoing extensive archaeological digs and explorations in the last ten years or so. Dowth was unfortunately ‘blown up’ by an overenthusiastic mound hunter in the 19th century, leaving little for modern archaeologists to work on.

If you ever happen to be in Ireland and want to explore this area, there is a very good Interpretative Centre, Brú na Bóinne, located just across the river Boyne (plenty more legends about this river – but that’s for another day), which runs bus trips to these sites and guided tours, explaining what has been discovered about these mounds and postulating all the current archaeological theories.

I could sit here all day and come over all celtic about Newgrange, telling the legends of the area, and how the mounds came to be viewed as the homes of the Sídhe, but instead, I’ll just direct you to these other two sites: and Mythical Ireland and let you discover some of the jist of it. Especially interesting is all the discussion of what the highly abstract symbols inside the tombs just might mean!


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Snapshot, 1974

Satsuma scent and Old Spice
set off jingling bells in my head
I see the picture clearly now.
Spruce pine baubled with
vivid blues, reds and gold.
Tinsel fronds that furl through
every twisting uneven branch.
Tin foil star hoisted,
attached to the top-mast.

I am forever seven
in that photograph.
With much brushed hair
polo-necked and trousered.
I proffer my gift forward
Like an Eastern Princeling,
smiling on Christmas Eve.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Results are OUT!

Finally the day arrives - we students log on to the message board in dribs and drabs, all nervous. And then the cry comes! "The results are out - go check the OU website!"

So we all do - and can't get in! And spend ages logging in and out... the tension builds, tears are shed, and the-e-n - there's a wee back door that I push gently on the website - I'm in!


I passed both courses, doing better on the 20thc Lit course than on the 19thc novel course. Well blow me down!

I am now the proud owner of a basic Literature degree, to be upgraded to an honours when I complete the last calming year in - wait for it- Creative Writing! Imagine - a whole year writing, and earning points towards my degree!


Now, I'm off to...
clean me house,
wait for the plumber to come and fix the upstairs sink that the kids have broke,
wipe off the wet stains on the dining table where the leak fell,
wash a few hundred items of clothes,
supervise homework,
cook dinner,
go to work,
empathise with 40 moaning mobile phone customers,
...and get pissed later on!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Coven of One - Review - finally!

We are used to thinking of novels like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice as the über typical bildungsroman, or novel of personal development, where the feisty heroine endures hardship and attains maturity rewarded by their just desserts. But what happens when you combine the esoteric genre of fantasy with the bildungsroman? Coven of One by Kate Bousfield is one answer.

After the intriguing prologue, the scene is set with Dorcas Fleming, the heroine, about to graduate from her thoroughly long education and embark on her first witching placement. Life is only just beginning for Dorcas, as she is despatched beyond the normal boundaries of her known land. Initially, the pace of the novel reflects a rural perspective: nature is lovingly invoked without being overly wordy and the slow build up to Dorcas’ departure is justified by the incorporation of additional exposition which is essential to later plot development.

Bousfield’s created world holds intact for the most part in her novel. The successive trials and tribulations of Dorcas’ sojourn with the heathen unbelievers of the foreign land are not only entertaining but explore our own deep-seated beliefs about the ‘other’ in society. What happens when seemingly opposing forces come together within a feminine context? Rather than war, there is resolution through communication, understanding and good old-fashioned feminine wiles, as Dorcas wins the confidence of a deeply mistrustful community through the women-folk first.

Coven of One as a debut novel reflects a world carefully crafted from imagination and reality, with a superb writing style and a sure voice. All characters are vividly painted: most especially Dorcas. Bousfield draws on sea-lore, herb-lore, witchcraft and much, much more in this novel. Without giving too much of the plot away, it is enough to say that although this novel fuses realism with fantasy, it is neither too clever, nor superficial, it bears re-reading and the dramatic climax of the book is well executed.

Following Dorcas’ development to emotional maturity through this ‘other’ world definitely enhances reader’s enjoyment. Fantasy works on a level that some readers may find difficult to reconcile with fiction set in the contemporary world. But sometimes the imagined fantasy world created, reaches from the ordinary world we inhabit to beyond it, credibly stretching our notions of what is possible. Magic can, and does happen in real life (although that may depend on your own point of view) and perhaps that is the best satisfaction of all.

This is highly recommended reading for a wide range of age groups, whether a young adult or more mature reader. It is to be hoped that Bousfield’s imaginative world houses other characters and novels for the future! Available from Opening Chapter.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Over the River and Back again

Well - that was an interesting, if action packed weekend! I only wish I had more time to spend over there. Minx' second launch went very well for her first novel, The Coven of One, and there was great support from other authors and bloggers. The best bit, was the blogger, enthusiam, who had just read about it that evening and hopped on a bus and arrived!

It was great to put faces to some the blogs I have been inhabiting this last while. Hi skint! And Debi, and the Minx herself! And of course I bought lots of lovely books, to support the authors who guested at the evening.

The venue itself, The Crow on the Hill, is a wonderful example of a really interesting independent bookshop, run by people who know their books and know people. It's always a good sign when you keep on seeing books that you know you'd like to read... The only teeny tiny complaint I'd have was about the Fantasy section, which didn't include any Guy Gavriel Kay

The other really good thing about Saturday, was meeting up with a fellow OU colleague and talking nothing but literary/study/books/film/art stuff non-stop for about 4/5 (possibly longer) hours, whilst driving, shopping and eating (lovely, lovely Italian restaurant) in South London and then dragging said colleague off to the Coven launch that evening, when I realised I was running late! THANKS!

A really big thank you to Debi Alper and her family for the bed for the night - my only regret is not having longer to spend over there. What lovely people!

Oh, and I seem to have beta now...! *scratches head*

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Three New Reviews

Posted at Gerald England's NHI site. Just follow the links.

If you have a poetry journal/chapbook/collection just out or coming out, this is a good place to send your work to be reviewed independently.

I love receiving packages from Gerald to review. You never know what you're going to receive and it's a very enjoyable way of keeping up with what's going on in the contemporary poetry world, both in England, Ireland and further abroad too!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Going to London Town, mate!

I am going, I am going, I am going!!!

Here, in case you were wondering.

Have to go and organise some long nails and get me hair done... ooh and some shoes/boots, no boots... and maybe an outfit... or a new pair of trews... or a dress, no a top.... decisions, decisions!

I mean, I don't to be outdone by everyone else! :)

This supporting Minx business is very costly, isn't it dahling?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Having a go at sonnets

Bird Cage Music

On the lines of a page the composer
transposes the collected melody.
Revenants sounded together from daily life.
Horizontal bars track on, right across
the white, peppered with black bodied birds,
sitting tight on the wires. When they take flight
from the hands of the musician, his breath
shapes their timbre and shadow. He wreathes
sunlight, wind and rain within their soaring,
beyond that shielding white.

And at the close,
those sleek bodies alight again, gripping
to the lines, in their twig-like claws, eye beads
shining within the confines of the page.
Roosting with the breves until the next time.

This has been hanging around for a while. Rob Mac and C.E. Chaffin regularly do Sonnet Sundays and I had thought of giving it a go, but I'm crap at working out whether these lines are making a potential sonnet or not and not very good at sustaining anything for a long time these days!

I can hear it oh so well when it comes to Shakespeare or any other's work for that matter but I can't see it in my own! Try, try and try again, I guess, and keep on trying until it comes without trying was the advice I remember from PFFA, once upon a time. To me it always feels as though I'm trying to fit the words to the form, instead of the form fitting the words. Or have I that arse about face too?

C.E. Chaffin has moved onto villanelles now, which I'm quite interested in. I like the way the repetitiveness piles up an extra meaning within the form, adding another layer to the whole.

But time, time, time, is the problem and when was there ever enough?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Chicken at the Dentist

I am the greatest coward when it comes to going to the Dentist. Three weeks ago, since the nagging pain I had was really getting on my nerves, I plucked up courage to go along to a new Dentist and get the nagging pain seen to.

Filling out the form in the waiting room, I thought it best to mention that I tend to faint after the injections for fillings or extractions.

'Hmm,' said the Dentist, 'Is that because you are a bit scared of the process. 'Hmm,' I said, 'It could well be.'

So the Lady Dentist proceeded to x-ray and count the teeth, in that lovely acronymic manner that they have, and I lay on the chair trying not to squirm too much.

'Hmm,' she said again, 'I think you could do with a good clean here, it's been a while hasn't it?'

So my teeth got the clean of their life and I was dead chuffed with the result, I could feel again the little gaps between them at the bottom.

'What about the nagging pain,' I said.

'Oh, that'll likely settle down now,' she replied, 'Give it a week or so.'

Three weeks later and I'm chewing painkillers like smarties. I had a chance last week to go in and get it looked out, but the old coward that I am, I chickened out. I rang again today, to be told that it's going to be next week before they'll see me. In the meantime, anything hard in the eating line is off the menu and I just have to hope that I stop waking myself up at night with the tooth-grinding, which isn't helping.

I just know it's going to be another extraction. They say that you lose one for every child you bear. Some price to pay for having six kids, eh?

And don't mention oil of cloves!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Halloween Reflection

You were an old flame guttering,
sputtering with the lie of life.
Closer to extinction you lived,
armchair convictions condensed to
badge the sleeve of your hair shirt.

You imagined me a mirror
fit for moulding to your image.
But I proved more enigmatic
than Leonardo's lady, my length
cramping, hampered by your frame.

What saw you last when the rattle
stuck fast, final, in your black craw
and then fluttered from your mute mouth?
A gilded moth trapped, flickering
in swirling wake of summer skirt.

I was good and angry when I wrote this one - it's about an ex who has died, and I suppose a bit of me being angry for the person that he used to be.

Don't get me wrong, I was very sorry to hear when he died, and am sure that he had changed into someone else as we all do as we grow older. This is more of a revisiting of the time before, when I knew him and an outpouring of all things I wanted to say but hadn't the wit for at the time.

Who'd be 21 again? *sigh*

Monday, November 06, 2006

Twelve Things you may not know...

...about sex!

1. Always entails a fight over whose side of the bed you're meant to be on - this ensures a raising of blood pressure which is essential for later on.

2. It's also a good idea to empty your bladder beforehand (in the bathroom!) - there's nothing more annoying than having to get up in the cold and run for the bathroom. But at least he keeps the bed warm for you!

3. Squelching sounds should be completely inaudible - if you can hear them, you're not breathing loudly enough.

4. If he asks if it's big enough - lie. Imagination is a wonderful thing.

5. If he has to ask if you're enjoying it, something has gone wrong!

6. A bed with a good stiff footboard gives him something to brace/push off against.

7. Small children can and will march into your room and ask for biscuits/drink/toys/stories. Try to anticipate these needs beforehand, and if you haven't got a lock for the bedroom door, try a chair wedged under the handle!

8. Make sure said small children are not running around the back garden in earshot - it is offputting when they start to argue. Loudly.

9. When it's all over bags the shower first - he really will appreciate you for the few minutes post-coital sleep it affords him.

10. A nice cup of tea never goes amiss afterwards.

11. Likewise a nice argument afterwards - just in case they were taking you for granted.

12. The above gives you a good excuse to do it all over again.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Plath and degrees of Separation...

Picked this one up from Todd Swift's Eyewear blogzine eyewear, about a very early Sylvia Plath poem called 'Ennui'.

There's an introduction to, history and links to the poem itself here in an ezine called Blackbird.

When I read it I thought straight away of T.S. Eliot's 'Portrait of a Lady', from his first collection Prufrock and other Observations, which according to our course work, had some basis in the Henry James' novel of the same name, and a basis in Eliot's former US life.

The intro on Blackbird links the poem to Plath's reading of The Great Gatsby and explains the other allusions as well. What I find quite amazing, is the density of imagistic compression, with flashes of what becomes her later trademark voice.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Not forgetting a heartfelt wish for Minx!

Can't be there tonight, as the necessary evil of work is required :¬(

But I'm thinking of everyone there in Cardiff and the Purple book by the Purple one.

May it be a long remembered launch! Raise a virtual glass to absentees ;¬)

Minx linx

Maxine's Challenge

..yesterday was the six word biography challenge.

A fun way to exercise words and life-writing.

Here's mine:

1. Lives hard, but living is hard.
2. Ran out of gears to change.
3. Road testing an alien's ship instead.

Not quite sure how I got from 1, to 3, like that... but it's for fun, isn't it?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Transports of Delight

Want to see your work getting around?

Then try Litro - a relatively new reading adventure for publicly transported Londoners!

Litro Link

Thanks to Seoman for pointing this up :)

Friday, October 27, 2006


What is your idea of perfect happiness?
There is no such thing. I'm quite resigned to degrees of satisfaction.

What is your greatest fear?
That when I pop me clogs, that will be it!

What is your favorite journey?
It used to be from home in Northern Ireland to Rosslare in the very south of Ireland to collect our Mum from her annual journey home to Alencon, in France - but the coast trip from San Francisco to Santa Barbara last year almost tops it.

What do you consider the most over-rated virtue?
All of them!

What virtue do you wish you had more of?
All of them!

On what occasion do you lie?
On a need to lie basis, which given the fact that I have kids is quite a lot. Mostly white ones, though - I swear!

Which words do you most over use?
'Actually', and 'we'll see'

What is your greatest extravagance?

Ever?... bugger... probably having so many children! Think of all the descendents... agh!

What do you dislike about your appearance?
Where do you want me to start? It's a body!

Which living person do you most despise?
I would have had much firmer opinions on this subject when I was younger. Now I'm more uncertain, especially when I look around the world today. It's sad really.

What is your greatest regret?
Having no regrets.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

When and where were you happiest?
When I was a child before the age of six-seven. They were the days, when a day seemed so damn long! Especially in mid-summer.

Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to fit a lot more into the day.

What is your current state of mind?
I have a state of mind? I thought it was just a mind...!

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
Nothing, really - we are what we are.

If you could die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?
A key.

What is your most treasured possession?
My brain.

What thing would you like to have, that you do not?
Don't really do 'things'

What do you think is the lowest depth of misery?
Seeing others in depressed states and being unable to help.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Tolerance. In large measure.

What physical quality do you like in a man?
A large cock. There - I've always wanted to say that! ;¬)

What do you most value in friends?
The ability to keep secrets and not to judge.

What quality do you most dislike in a person?

Who are your favorite writers?
William Blake, W.B. Yeats, Patrick Kavanagh, Virgina Woolf, George Eliot, Jane Austen, Eavan Boland, Abdulrazak Gurnah... must I choose...?

Who are your heroes in real life?
A woman who used to be a neighbour of mine. I've never met anyone so original and kind. She performed daily miracles with the liberal application of tea.

What are your favorite names?
Ones that are unusual and aren't heard very often. Or old names that you've not heard in years.

How would you like to die?
Quickly. Very, very quickly.

What is your motto?
How many sugars in that?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Getting ahead of meself!

If You Were Born in 2893...

Your Name Would Be: Vor Kin

And You Would Be: A Robot Hunter

If You Were Born in 2893

Thanks to Chief Biscuit for this one - funnily enough I used to look like this (no really, I did) about ten years ago. I hated my hair and went a la Sinead O Connor for about ten years.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Tilting away in the Northern Hemisphere

This is why October is such a beautiful month to me... amongst many other reasons!

October in our house, especially late October is known as the official month of the donning of the school tights.

It's also when I get out my crock pot and start cooking things like Irish stew, and homemade Steak and Kidney pie. Yeeeuuumm!

From here on in I start to turn my head towards the midwinter festival:

The Crumbs of a Prudent Housewife’s Year

After Dylan Thomas

When the thieving hands of time steal back
What the tilt of the seasons has lent,
When the dim twilit hour fades in our hearts
Insistent the chime of Chronos’ song.

When the cook's thought turns to humble pie
And tender stewed meat and barley soups,
Then you know truly that winter is come
All toil of the year is the tale in the broth

When the lacklustre light of dreary days
Calls the blackened kettle to hale good cheer
T’is then all good folk give greeting and say
You won’t feel it now, ‘til Christ’s Mass is near.’

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Blog of the Book

I thought it might be handy to blog the book making process so I've started a blog especially for the purpose over here, to keep it separate from here, and as a record.

So, any news about it you'll find there!

Like I don't have enough to be doing with this blog already, huh?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Astonishing News!

I received a telephone call last night at 21:30 from a very nice man in Kerry. Hmm, I thought to myself as the Kerry lilt asked for me by name, I wonder who this is calling at this time of night.

You see, our landline number is one of those that people seem to ring by accident - is that the insurance firm; the radio station; the local newspaper; are all questions that I get asked a lot, so when someone asks for me by name and I don't recognise their voice I am woken out of auto-answer mode.

Imagine my astonishment when this sonorous voice introduced themselves as the editor of a small press publisher in Ireland and went on to tell me that the press' editorial council had selected my manuscript as one of six books to be published next year - contingent on funding!

Finally! After two years of hawking the manuscript around, sometimes with publishers not even able to read it, my work has persuaded a small press to take it on and give it a launching pad.

You know, I do believe that some of Inner Minx and skintwriter's luck is starting to rub off on me!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

All Done!

Woo hoo! I shall go off now and get inebriated as students are meant to and will be back to normal by the weekend.

Oh how I shall enjoy doing nothing, without feeling guilty!

For a short while anyway.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Eyes Down...

...for a full house.

Blogging will resume as normal after the 11th October, when the exam is over.

Then, I will swap blind panic stove lids, through which I can see nothing, for my rose tinted spectacles, through which I shall fondly appraise the nineteenth century - until the exam results in December of course!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Looking for Something a Bit Different?

Then pop in here and check out Mairead Byrne's of course - in fact check the whole blog out.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Song of Myself - Poetry Thursday



One morning, you wake
to the rumble of the wardrobe door
as the 8.10am bus bears
your eldest child over the speed ramp,
along the street where you live.

Groggy, you rise, tiptoeing
downstairs to the kitchen, pull
out a saucepan, placing it quietly,
pouring in the white shush of milk
and turn the knob.

A warm breakfast feeds
five other children. You wake them
from their duveted dreams,
place the dishes on a dining table,
with spoons and call on them to eat.

Making lunches of ham, always ham,
and bananas instead of apples, sealed
in plastic boxes – one, two, three, four, five,
and fill their bottles; three pink ones,
two black ones.

In the tumult of their trousers, tights and shirts
you fill their bags and send them, hatted,
scarved and gloved, to school
and listen to a silence frayed
by the distant rumble of a wardrobe door.

As the kettle reaches boiling point,
you turn on your PC and plan a menu for tea.


Tuned to the noises of her home –
she rose fairly soft with rosy cheeks.
A house upon a road that ran

from east to west across two countries.

One country of army towers and ramps
of sudden khakied strangers, talking into
radio sets worn on shoulders that carried guns
and the scent of an older menace.

The other country of cattle, the smell of manure.
A faded cottage in a colour garden,
of lawns and apple trees. Box hedges borderlined
a market garden, kings and cabbages suffocated

by the trees gone over through excess of water
and light. Both sides of the one coin, spent
by two families of the one branch.

But she rises, fairly soft with rosy cheeks,
she is seven, not six, nor eight neither.
She does not know.


Before you knew, in the sense of that awareness,
what you held? The song of wood pigeons calling,
answering, in the wood behind your home,
told all – the realm of territory, a few square mile

to fly over, a wood of trees before the disease
killed slowly, choking out the birds, giving less
cover to the games of children; cops and robbers,
cowboys and ‘injuns – heard but never played with.

A solitary breeze blows across a marsh field
your playground; hillocks and mounds preparing
you for the tumble of ancient monuments
and the organised disorder of grass that died.


A square box of a bedsit: a bed, a wardrobe,
a sink and a counter gashed with a white cooker.
A black-and-white TV, a three-in-one stereo.
White counterpane, white walls plastered

with teenage detritus. Posters faded, frayed
matchsticks, butts, sink full of dirty knickers,
a pedal-powered Singer, that served
as dressing table. Nights of ‘Sex Dwarf’

and days of black clothes and maquette faces.
An apprenticeship of make-up, drinks,
appetites for loud, thoughtless remarks;
a remaking of personality within those walls.


Breathless with the pulsing, purging pain –
you’ve got to feel your way toward
the end of this. You’re stuck in this panting,
waiting time. It’s four in the morning,

the black outside the frosted window fades
grey. They tell you it will be soon.
You’re waiting on your body too.
You know it’s a big ask, to push 4.2 kilos

up a hill, whilst lying on your back,
but vertical’s out of the question now.
You beg them to cut you, anything to
get it over. The midwife smiles a secret

to herself, knowing you at that point
of baby before body. And so you push,
getting ready for the crinkled blue, basted
with vernix and more hair than ever thought of.


A summer gone by, hearing children’s voices
playing make-believe: doctors and nurses,
houses and schools, their world populated
by your roles and those of imaginary

friends – too sketchy to make
it into this world. Your’s had no image,
just a voice that helped at night, before the
days of siblings, when you needed language

out loud. Their’s have blurs
from Pokemon or Yugioh, cartoonish

colours that hop-scotch with them
around the water-feature and up the garden path.


The side window at the top of the stairs
overlooks next door’s stage of patio doors.
Twin boys of one, orbit their mother,
dark haired, framing her company.

She’s always hanging clothes up,
when I catch her, on an airer inside;
not much drying in this drab winter.
I guess that she sees brighter colours

back home, kept wrapped inside her
head-dress. A colour like orange
or red doesn’t glimmer here under grey.
Better held inside for warmth.

And behind me the crone sleeps
in the morning. She wakes at night.
I hear her voice, alcohol tempered
she drones a life by, without waiting for a reply.

If you made it down this far - thanks very much for reading!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Another Short Story Competition

A short story competition for intelligent short stories for the 12 year old and up

Closing date is a good bit away: 30 January 2007, so that gives plenty of time to write it up and test it out on some of your feckers!

I'm going to give it a go in November/December :¬)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Horrendously Busy!

These last three weeks have been a challenge in many senses, since I seem to have bitten off more than I thought I could chew! First of all, there were the pressing needs of getting the kids back to school, which were compounded by the taking on of a new job.

The job in itself is simply a means to an end - cash - so I won't go on about it.

But the real sticking point was trying to tie up late course essays, which in effect are a form of revision. On the nineteenth century course, the emphasis was on comparing and contrasting an earlyish text with a later nineteenth century text in terms of context and how that could add greater meaning to the text. At least that is how I interpreted the essay choice! I can now say that I have revised Jane Eyre and Dracula to the point of distraction and hope that either of those novels might prove useful in the exaxm.

On the twentieth century course, I am in the process of judging two novels (Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah, and Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig), for an imagined literary prize and am still working out which one should win. I am notoriously indecisive and keep wavering between one novel over another. The problem is that the more I look at them the more I like them both!

Once this prevaricating is out of the way, it only remains for me to do a lot of revision and the exam for the nineteenth century course on the 11th October. Which brings me up short at the realisation of today's date.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Check out...

This post on writing a haiku for a Book Giveaway competition. You have until the end of august to write a haiku using the word 'prose' within. Great fun

Here's mine:

only prose knows how
the borders of a book bind
the house of fiction

Very timely spotting this one, since my End of Course Assessment on the 20thc Literature course is hoving into view on literary judgments, and I'm also embroiled in the nicieties of context and meaning in 19thc literature... gawd help me...

I soothe myself with the notion that it will all be over in about seven weeks. Eek! That means I'd better get my skates on.

Pass it on!

What Passes for Time

Time passed you one day
while you grappled life’s minutiae,
as you held the baby,
counted your grey hairs,
planted seed in your garden.

Impatience never tempered
you learned to stand quiet
in the eternal queue.

And now there is
no time to spend.
and years have creased
your solemn brow-
what then?

Distil your memory
to drink deeply
a life draught
that keeps solace

will be your fate,
of foolish exile
and the faith
all shall be as memory

What then?
the ravage on your face
the years have traced
no more time to spend
and when was there?

Lost in reverie
hours idly strewn;
did you waste time?

On an ancient clock face
golden seconds glimmer
scenes held orb-like
as weight yearning in your hand
you felt passed time.

Blogger doesn't allow me to show this poem the way it was written - the two halves, as such, are meant to appear side by side as mirrors/echoes of each other. Oh well.

Thanks to Poetry Thursday for another gift idea! Time is one of my favourite preoccupations.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Books, books, books!

I got tagged for this by Chief Biscuit, (tut tut)

1.One book that changed your life? Taliesin: The Last Celtic Shaman
2.One book you've read more than once? The Fionavar Tapestry (trilogy)
3.One book you'd want on a desert island? The Lord of the Rings
4.One book that made you laugh? Wyrd Sisters
5.One book that made you cry? The ending of The Portrait of A Lady
6.One book that you wish you had written? Paradise
7.One book you wish had never been written? I can't think of any!?!
8.One book you are currently reading? The Awakening/Dracula/Paradise/Wat Whitman
9.One book you have been meaning to read? To The Lighthouse
10.Five people I am tagging: Becoming Amethyst
Apprentice, RobMac, Blank Paige and Carter's Little Pill
although I know they won't thank me - sorry!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Letter to my Parents

You're angry again, I can tell.
Slience drips like muzzled rain,
too disgusted to fall whole.

I have learned to read pitch perfect
tones, scaled arpeggios, orchestral scores,
that strike chords of nothing.

Seeping misery percolates through
the breeze block bedroom wall.
Gazing at the blind ceiling I wonder
who offended who?
Now, frustrated rage
filters through-- one voice raised,
the weeping other discrete in it's crescendo.

Resolution waits for other rainy nights.

This isn't actually about my parents, more about the discussions and arguments that couples have and my own wondering about how much of our parents lives on in us, in those arguments. These kind of conversations always seem difficult to record or recreate, because if you were to record them, they probably wouldn't make much sense anyway, due to the circularity of most conversations.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Covenant

(after Leonard Cohen)

I am not Marianne
and this is no so long.
It is the last day
of a good year where the
old sun has dared it's shine.
A believer in portents
would say a blessing has been served.

And so a harvest glows between us.
A flame that moves us both,
as I hang upon your cruciform
braced for this acceptance:

our covenant is given freely --
not said, nor signed, nor sealed.
It is the motion between two
that transfigures life for moments.

This was originally written in November 2003. I have long held a fascination with Leonard Cohen's lyrics and poetry and there are shades of 'So Long Marianne,' in this poem in that I felt I wanted to give the woman's side of things.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Short Story Competition

For those who like writing, skintwriter is running a competition for short stories of 1000 words or less, closing date 31st August.

Get writing!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sang Réal

A Recipe

Take one winters day sliding sunset,
chop finely and brown in a large stockpot.
Add onions halved and sliced
and salty tang of tears drawn involuntarily.
Season with a smattering
of children chattering
about Halloween costumes
and add water.
Bring to the boil and simmer gently
on the stove of your soul.
Serve with a portion of nostalgia and
garnish with relatives.

Serves 12.

Another Meme

Borrowed from I didn't quite catch that

What curse word do you use the most?
variations of the f word. Swearing in Ireland is de rigeur ;¬)

Do you own an iPod?
A Creative Zen

Who on your MySpace “Top 8” do you talk to the most?
Nobody, don't do MySpace very much at all

What time is your alarm clock set for?
None at present during school holidays - hence the guilty feeling when I sleep past 9am

What color is your room?
Lilac. Haven't decorated since moving in last year, but its an okay colour.

Flip flops or sneakers?
Flips for hot days and sneakers for cold

What was the last movie you watched?

Do any of your friends have children?

Has anyone ever called you lazy?
Not really - I mean in my position with six kids, the cooking and washing...!

Do you ever take medication to help you fall asleep faster?
No, I just read myself to sleep.
Occasionally if it's a good book I end up staying awake longer.

What CD is currently in your CD player?
Snow Patrol's earlier stuff which was re-released this year.
One or two really good tracks.

What DVD is currently in your DVD player?
Considering that the DVD player also functions as a PS2, it's actually a game that the kids (and I) like: The Hobbit.

Do you prefer regular or chocolate milk?
Regular milk.

Has anyone told you a secret this week?
Nope, but then I've probably forgot!

Have you ever given someone a hickey?
Love bites - yuk! Yes I have done that. It belongs to the teenage territory.

Who was the last person to call you?

Do you think people talk about you behind your back?
I don't really care either way.

Did you watch cartoons as a child?
Scooby Doo was a favourite as are Tom and Jerry cartoons. Still are in fact.

How many siblings do you have?

Are you shy around the opposite sex?
A little bit, yes/

What movie do you know every line to?
Monty Python's Holy Grail - a misspent youth

Do you own any band t-shirts?
I don't think I ever did.

What is your favorite salad dressing?
Olive oil and Lemon juice with worcester sauce

Do you read for fun?
And for study too.

Do you cry a lot?
Every once in a while

Who was the last person to text message you?

Do you have a desktop computer or a laptop?

Are you currently wanting any piercings or tattoos?

What is the weather like?
Hot, with occaisional cloud

Would you ever date someone covered in tattoos?
No, it wouldn't appeal

Is sex before marriage wrong?

When was the last time you slept on the floor?
Does camping count? About two weeks ago

How many hours of sleep do you need to function?
At least eight!

Are you in love or lust?

Are your days full and fast-paced?
No, they sort of glide past in a ground hog sort of way - thats summer holidays and kids for you. Roll on September!

Do you pay attention to calories on the back of packages?
I tend to avoid packages in favour of real food.

How old will you be turning on your next birthday?
One never asks a lady her 'real' age!

Are you picky about spelling and grammar?
I try to be, but I'm sure I make mistakes

Have you ever been to Six Flags?
No. Where's that then?

Do you get along better with the same or opposite sex?
Not really much of a difference I'd say.

Do you like cottage cheese?
It's okay but I like lots of different cheeses

Do you sleep on your side, tummy, or back?
Side and tummy

Have you ever bid for something on eBay?
I got a book of Robert Graves' lectures there for about £1.
Never really bothered since.

Do you enjoy giving hugs?
All my kids are 'huggy monsters' so I guess I do.

What song did you last sing out loud?
I really can't remember.

What is your favorite TV show?
None really, I'm not watching it much this year.
West Wing at a push, but I think it's gone past it's sell-by now.

Which celebrity, dead or alive, would you want to have lunch with?
Oscar Wilde.

Last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
Going for a job interview. I got it too.

What one thing do you wish you had?

Favorite lyrics?
Nick Cave's "The Mercy Seat"

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Nothing Major to Report!

I have broken the back of both courses by now and have fifth (second last) assignment in the bag for The Nineteenth Century Novel course and am busy planning the sixth (and last) assignment for the Twentieth Century One. I am pleased to have even got this far, having spent the last three weeks seemingly marooned on a desert island with no fair wind to speak of, and some very ill-tempered children to boot.

That essay is to analyse passages from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and some poetry from Heaney’s New Selected Poems, 1966-1987, using the judging criteria for the Nobel Literature awards committee.

The trouble is there are two ways (of many I’m sure) that this could be argued. You could say that the vague line of Alfred Nobel’s will left interpretation wide open: "the candidate should have bestowed "the greatest benefit on mankind" – and the special condition for literature, "in an ideal direction" (possibly a good thing), or you could argue that the committee tends towards conservative choices with Beckett and Heaney appearing to reward that criteria (possibly a bad thing).

Oh the whole thing now seems so nebulous that I’m giving myself a headache!

I chose the Heaney/ Beckett option, thinking of it as a rehearsal for the final End of Course Assessment, thinking that looking into the judging of literature might open a few cracks for me with regard to that particular nut.

For that one, we must devise a literary prize of our own conditions; choose between Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah or The Ghost Road by Pat Barker (the third novel in her Regeneration trilogy) ; and then compare to a text chosen from the entire 20thC course (!) and then decide which book should win. All about literary decisions, and I am notoriously bad at making them.

So, first select your critical weapons and then try to use them, whilst aiming vaguely in the right direction – target practice anyone?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Need a Laugh?

The best laugh I've had all week - yes it is Monday, but it's been a long day!

Knitting Serpent

Knitting Serpent

For Penelope (after Paula Meehan)

Entranced, I used to watch your work
stretch on clicking pins of steel.
One day you taught me how to hold
the twist and make my own work grow.

She took the twine
into the darkened recesses,
wandering wildly

But I was always dropping stitches
that unfurled into gaping holes.
Carefully you’d unpick my work
start again and off I’d go.

from season to season.
looking back always,
to trace the twisted cord’s progress.

You set me later to make my own.
I came to hate July’s dead heat
knitting up the bargain yarns
just in time for schools return.

There was no end, no beginning
to her searching, groping blindly
Jane saw all ways - but remained mute,

Then came complicated patterns
a cable, moss stitch or herringbone.
Your tricks taught, corrections made
my new repertoire outgrew yours.

tongue-tied in the web of fine twist.
Her fingers grasped
aching for the end,

We knew my skill beyond yours
I faked your antique designs,
Yet you insisted on your stitches
knitted in the dullest twist.

the centre, the eye of calm.
There, only
the shattered symmetry,

Long, since after you unravelled
I still complicate time and stitch.
No threadbare yarn, no knots entangled –
tongue untied by wordy skein.

blood moon radiant.
Fingers crooked behind,
there wasn’t much left to see.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

That oul Meme thing!

BB's (Becoming Amethyst) take, then Paris Parfait -

10 Favourites

Favourite season: Very hard to decide- invariably not the one I’m in – Okay Winter
Favourite colour: Porphyry, closely followed by red
Favourite time: before sleep, that unaware/aware feeling before you fall a la Alice
Favourite food: Difficult there are so many – steak is good, but only occasionally
Favourite drink: water, alcoholic – beer but wine will do at a pinch
Favourite ice cream:
Vanilla – nice and simple
Favourite place: Paris/London and Dublin on a good day
Favourite sport:
anything that induces sweat!?!
Favourite actor: Johnny Depp
Favourite actress: Sissy Spacek

9 Currents

Current feeling: Relaxed (post assignment)
Current drink: Beer
Current time: 22:22 BST
Current show on TV: Who cares?
Current mobile used: Nokia
Current windows open: Many
Current underwear:
Pink stripey shorts
Current clothes: Long skirt and Purple t-shirt
Current thought: Thank god I made a start!

8 Firsts

First nickname: Barbara Woodhouse –she trained dogs. I didn’t realize the import until many years later
First kiss: yuk. It felt so mechanical
First crush: Nah!
First best friend(s): Mary – still best friends!
First vehicle I drove:
Father’s shiny Datsun
First job: Painting on tiles for a tile place!
First date: The local ballroom of romance…!
First pet: Dagobear – an Alsatian the same age as me

7 Lasts

Last drink: Beer
Last kiss: Eimear, my twin daughter
Last meal: Dinner – new potatoes, carrots, parsnips and medallions of bacon
Last web site visited: OU website
Last film watched: Like I have time to watch them!
Last phone call: Mother-in-law
Last TV show watched:Prison Break

6 Have you evers

Have you ever broken the law: All the time
Have you ever been drunk: Don’t get me started!
Have you ever kissed someone you didn't know: Lots of times
Have you ever been in the middle/close to gunfire: Yes, NI upbringing
Have you ever skinny dipped: Yup
Have you ever broken anyone's heart: Part of life, I guess.

5 Things

Things you can hear right now: Traffic, computer whirring, phone ringing, children squabbling, beer settling
Things on your bed: pillows, books, papers, personal radio to drown out noise, duvet
Things you ate today: weetabix, bread, ham, bacon, spuds,
Things you wouldn't want to live without: Words, yes, no, maybe, beer, love
Things you do when you are bored: Paint toenails, cut kids hair, read, listen, rant

4 Places you have been today

back garden

3 Things on your desk right now

Madame Bovary,
The Portrait of a Lady
Empty beer glass

2 Choices

Black or white: Err, grey
Hot or cold: Cold feet are better than post hot bath blood pressure! I’m learnin’

1 Place you want to visit

Machu Pichu

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Getting Paid!

Cheery news this weekend: I received a contributors copy of the latest issue of Southword, the Munster Literature Centre's biannual journal. They wrote to me in April, accepting a poem for publication.

The really nice surprise was the cheque for €15.00. My very first payment for writing poetry. I have received monies for reading it, but never for writing it!

The journal is a nice A5ish format, with poetry, short stories and essays by contemporary Irish writers. I see Laurence O' Dwyer's name more and more lately - he read with me last year in Dublin at Poetry Ireland's Introductions series, and was already generating interest then, because he had won the Hennessy/Sunday Independent prize for his work. He is quite prolific and turns up in quite regularly, as a travel writer, essayist as well as poet.

It's difficult to get hold of this journal so heres a sneak look:

was crucified
in my back garden.
I know! I’ve seen the
tall wooden cross withered
by sun, rain and age – and
the lines they stuck in
to feed him juice
when he was dying.

I forgive ‘em,
he cried,
for all their sins
I’ve died. I took it on
myself, to do this in memory
of you all.

No-one ever heard that
But the pylon remains.
Steel or wood – there it is
without complaint.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

This and That

"It's hot -- damn hot!" says Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam, a film I remember as being one of those must watches in my early twenties. And that just about describes the weather here at the moment.

I guess we are waiting for thunder, the way it seemed today as I drove from one seaside town to another, passing over higher ground. Normally I can see the mountains in the background behind the wide expanse of Dundalk bay as I return from Drogheda on the motorway. Not so today. Ireland was sweating so much that the heat haze reduced visibility to about twenty miles!

So, is that it? Another post about the weather - how boring. Maybe so.

Oranges and cream
ingredients for a long forgotten
recipe, the lack of leading
to a telling off.
First year domestic science
retorted sharply, “don’t let this be
the fourth week that you fail to bring
anything to cook.”

At home,
the quiet report faced a last straw,
a tidal simulacrum of possession.
The companies of hosts, the world’s politicians,
prime ministers, personalities, all drew up
at her shoulders as she glowered and spat
a final threat and the final riposte,
“Where would you buy
bloody oranges round here?”

Down the green verge road, past the local shop yard
and keep on going. Point your compass
south east, past the lake at Drumbee, a narrow road
leading through the falling tree shadows
as hours drip the leaden tears into silence
soaking slowly up the last few miles.

A car coming closer, you recognise the driver
as it pulls in.
“You’ll have to go back,” he said,
“You can’t leave.”

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Brain and Culture

Last night I caught the last fifteen minutes of 'Night Waves' on Radio 3, where the interviewer had a spot with US Professor of Psychiatry, Bruce E. Wexler, discussing his book Brain and Culture

Wexler's theory is that as the brain develops in youngsters neuron connections are forged and reforged as a byproduct of environment, and cultural forces around us. As we approach adulthood, our internal environment becomes fixed, thus making it harder for us to adapt to changes in the external environment. He argues for one thing, that this could contribute to culture clashes, where one cultural group does not understand another.

I know I'm simplifying things here immensely, but Wexler's book sounds really interesting. One for the reading pile after my courses end in October!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

quis custodiet...

or the domino effect of the power of opinion.

I’m not unaware of the importance of peer-related opinion. You can’t study for a literature degree without it banging you over the head after about five minutes of studying the courses.

All the many –isms of literary critical thinking have developed to a stage where plurality is just a nice word for saying that there are many diverse opinions about what and how we should think of texts that we have read.

My preferred method for reading texts is to stuff the critics and read the book (but drag the critics back in when it comes to writing the assignment and getting a better mark!), which may just be me missing the point, as I usually do.

In this case, I’m tying together some received opinions that, (a) Heart of Darkness - J. Conrad should not be read any more as a text for studying, because of the objections to racist content, and that, (b) the old debate between the ‘establishment’ and the ‘proles,’ has come to blogging and internet technology /usage.

This second debate sparked over An Army of Davids: Glenn Reynolds non-fiction account of what most people in the blogosphere who have a clue know already. That blogging serves as an instant way of getting around the big-gun opinion factories, and that you could possibly make money out of said insta-pinion while you’re at it. Reynolds has his own blog Instapundit, which amply demonstrates the point. Two separate reviews of his book demonstrate how the argument is developing into those who do appreciate the wider implications, and those who don't.

Why am I tying these two received wisdoms together? Because as someone relatively removed from the US sphere and the Euro sphere (trust me it’s an island), I don’t like to take things too far – whether Conrad set out to be racist or not, isn’t the point – the novel presents characters. Those characters are given words, actions, an opinion etc. by the writer, but that does not mean that those characters or narrators are expressing the opinion of the writer per se. You can only argue at the best of times, what a writer may have meant – but you can’t ultimately prove it.

As for Reynold’s Army of Davids being "trashed by Rosen?" Well, everyone knows how good infamy can be in generating sales for books – Ginsberg’s Howl being a case in point. In Reynold’s case the peers judging the judging demonstrate nicely the domino effect (I include myself ironically in that comment also). Reynolds doesn’t seem too bothered by the slating – he knows what he’s worth.

What the important point is, is to note that Reynolds is an advocate of what might be paraphrased as the rights of the many to use the power of blogging, for whatever needs that it may fulfil. Petrona's blog shows a far more considered response to this idea, than I am capable of.

By the time the dust settles on this one possibly Reynolds book will be already out of date, since the pace of internet business development is so fast.

And the word for the day is: bloviate – to discourse at length in a pompous or boastful manner.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


How do you look
for a tell in openness,

Recall the small eyes
convexed by spectacles,
the moment of surprise
when they revealed
the wide shy blue.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Not Midsummer's Day

A poem by Hedgie, (June 18th) sent me off thinking (like a coffee percolator - it takes me a while).

I always thought that Midsummer's day was the same as the longest day of the year, which in the Northern Hemisphere is today: unlike the Southern Hemisphere (hi CB) who enjoy the shortest day of midwinter (do you guys enjoy some sort of feast to break things up?).

I digress - St John's Eve - is the evening before Midsummer's day and according to research is the 23rd of June.

Confused yet? It doesn't take much with me.

The other thing is that it reminds me of The Eve of St Agnes, by Keats which again according to research is 21st January. Almost but not quite the opposite end of the calendar spectrum and the female to the male, the yin to the yang etcetera, etcetera!

So anyway, today is just the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere - not Midsummer's day.

So don't go visiting any weird hills, gyrating and celebrating just yet!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

More stuff on Frank

I found a copy of A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island, when I was browsing for Ginsberg links yesterday. O’Hara sets out a conversation with the rising sun, and uses his trademark candour to keep levity doing it’s job.

The Sun woke me this morning loud
and clear, saying "Hey! I've been
trying to wake you up for fifteen
minutes. Don't be so rude, you are
only the second poet I've ever chosen
to speak to personally
so why
aren't you more attentive? If I could
burn you through the window I would
to wake you up. I can't hang around
here all day."
"Sorry, Sun, I stayed
up late last night talking to Hal."

Isn't that so casual, and yet so effective? I love O'Hara!
He doesn’t let the poem get too serious until near the end when the sun leaves:
 "No, go I must, they're calling
"Who are they?"
Rising he said "Some
day you'll know. They're calling to you
too." Darkly he rose, and then I slept.

On investigation I discovered that O’Hara’s poem reinterprets a poem by Russian poet, Mayakovsky, who had a similar method of using comic diffusion and gravity. Mayakovsky belongs to the earlier era around the 1910's in Russia, part of the futurist movement in Russia. I was reminded of the beginning of our 20th C lit course, where we covered Chekhov, and all the discussion of diagnosis and letting seemingly insignifcant details do the work.

Mayakovsky's poem is called An Extraordinary Adventure
What is interesing about this poem is the challenge of the narrator to the sun:

I yelled to the sun:
"Hey, wait there!
Listen, golden brightbrow,
instead of vainly
setting in the air,
have tea with me
right now!"

So the sun agrees to come down – but my favourite bit is here:

"I've withheld my fires you see
the first time since creation began.
You've invited me?
So lay out the tea,
and, poet, lay on the jam!"

Mayakovsky’s ending is slightly more hopeful, without the seeping darkness that O’Hara’s turn has:

Shine all the time,
for ever shine.
the last days' depths to plumb,
to shine - !
spite every hell combined!
So runs my slogan -
and the sun's!

Brilliant to find one thing leading into another like this. I especially like the poet laying on the jam (I hope something didn’t get lost in translation!). It just goes to show that there really isn’t anything new under the old sun.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Frank O'Hara

The subjects of the next assignment I have are Frank O'Hara and Allen Ginsberg's poetry. Initially I was totally non-plussed by both poets, but I have to say they're both growing on me rapid!

This 20thc Lit course I'm taking is great for all the introductions to poets and writers that I might never have read otherwise! I'm having great fun currently looking on t'internet to find resources, since the local library wouldn't really be a goer for these.

Today, I'm mostly finding O'Hara links.

So far: The Academy of American Poets shows info on his life, and an essay looking at O'Hara's essay 'Personism' besides plenty of other prose essays. 'Personism' is in our reader, and demonstrates O'Hara's refusal to take art as seriously as some would have us do. That's a really fun way of looking at the meaning of literature and of art in general. I like O'Hara's attitude - it's so fresh!

Poems like Rhapsody really catch my eye, for his new way of looking at New York. I've never been there, but looking at a map today with the poem in front of me, led me to appreciate what he tries to capture in his work. I'm going to have to visit NY now. I can see how bands like the Velvet Underground and artists like Andy Warhol came out of this exciting time in the US, even if under the intensifying cloud of the Cold war.

But I got really enthusiastic about his work when I read Having a Coke with You
His sheer enthusiasm for life, especially when in love points out what he thinks all those artists have missed out on: "some marvellous experience" that validates what we are as humans and that is so difficult to truly capture in art, without seeming ridiculous.

The last third of this poem, reads like a potted history of modern art, from Rembrandt through Futurism and beyond. I had great fun looking up the references to art pieces in 'Having a Coke...' The best one was the Marino Marini reference to the rider and the horse. I think I might have found the piece he was on about but even if I'm wrong, it's still a fun picture!

Well, O'Hara did work in the Museum of Modern Art!

So, on to Allen Ginsberg tomorrow or Wednesday, life permitting.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Today is the day when the teddy-bears normally have their picnic.

The only problem is with C.J. Haughey getting the old heave-ho in Dublin, some of the events have been cancelled to show respect.

With that then here is one way of marking the day

It could be worse.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

From Laredo to the Green Fields of France

A comment posted by Dan (you know who you are!) further back about The Life of David Gale, prompted a little research on the quote that Dan left from another movie Bang the Drum Slowly.

I love finding out about something that I know nothing at all about – but I was intrigued to find the lyrics to As I was a-walking the streets of Laredo bearing a strong ressemblance to another song I do know from my childhood, The Green Fields of France. I know this reasonably well (due to being force fed by my Grandmother) from the Irish folk band the Fureys and Davy Arthur.

When I hummed along to Laredo, using the air from Green Fields, I knew there was a strong chance I was right…

Who cares anyway…?

"It's a long, long way, from there to here..."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A -Z meme

as per: BB

accent: Generic Irish, allegedly with a slight American twang (mother's influence). Although when up north of Ireland, everythings 'wee this and wee that' and when in the UK, I came back "wiv a lahvly Lahndin" accent.

booze: Yes. Beer and wine - not at the same time though. Not mad about spirits. Although I do like to polish off a bottle of Baileys over the festive season.

chore I hate: All of them - delegate, delegate, delegate! And then do them again yourself.

dogs/cats: Neither. I think six children create enough mess. Have two goldfish called Bob and 2Bob. Mother's day present, which I get to clean out as no-one else will *sigh*

essential electronics: PC. MP3 player. Cattle Prod (kidding!).

favourite perfume/cologne: Used to be Rive Gauche/YSL. Love Chanel 19. Sometimes plain old 'fresh out of the shower' is good though.

: White gold. Not mad about 9ct gold, prefer deeper shades, but it's too expensive. I like silver but rings always bend out of true on me

hometown: Dundalk, Ireland

insomnia: Seasonal/hormonal/stress... whatever!

job title: Female Humanoid

kids: 6. 3 girls, 3 boys aged 13 to 5

living arrangements: Semi-attached to the street - threatens to take off every time someone slams the front door.

most admired trait: Either my big nose or my big bum - depends on what mood he's in.

number of sexual partners: I stopped counting after 3...

overnight hospital stays: Does having babies count?

phobia: Used to be squeamish about the sight of my own blood. Got over it after first baby exploded over hospital wall - only kidding!

quote: "Oh, you're right there Ted," Father Dougal Maguire, Channel 4, Father Ted

religion: Lapsed RC

siblings: Younger sister of 31

time I usually wake up
: When the screaming gets too loud for my sleeping comfort.

unusual talent: Bending people to my will (according to eldest child peering over my shoulder at present).

vegetable I refuse to eat: None... although I do go easy on the oul Brussel Sprouts at Christmas - for obvious reasons ;¬)

worst habit: Picking my nose. Well...

: Lots of dental ones :¬(

yummy foods I make: All of them! Kids favourite is homemade steak and kidney pie - but that's reserved as a winter warmer. It is more expensive to buy 'convenience foods' for our lot, so cooking is one way of saving money.

zodiac sign: Sagittarius - as Billy Connolly says: "licensed to shit in the street."
Not that I ever did...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Gilgamesh - An epic coming to you soon!

Do you have a spare two hours to spend listening to an epic poem?

Would it make a difference if I told you that the poem is between 3000 and 4000 years old?

Did you ever wonder what may have contributed to the inspiration for J. R.R. Tolkien's creation stories for the Numenoreans?

Gilgamesh is the original warrior/king/hero, whose best friend Enkidu is created for him by the Gods, to teach Gilgamesh about humilty and mortality. This version that the BBC chose to abridge and dramatize is by poet and translator, Stephen Mitchell, better known for his work on Rainer Maria Rilke. Mitchell's version relies on a deceptively simple rendering of the epic, no less powerful despite his lean use of language.

The very best way of enjoying this epic poem is to hear it, as well as reading it. Buy it quick and then you can listen to it. Or just listen to it - it really is timeless drama

And hurry! This link is only live for another six days - do try and get to it!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Blogs and Writers...

The discussion on blogs over on David Maybury's blog has thrown up a lot of viewpoints as to how writers can achieve recognition and the divide between whether blogs/websites/links can further that end seems to show that there are no easy answers either.

It seems to boil down to the difference between hard copy and soft copy.

For myself, blogging has been about bouncing ideas around, but mostly its about blethering into the blogosphere, letting off steam and generally having the blog equivalent of a scream jar in a library, like in the cartoons - you scream into it and run outside and open it. But I like having some record of what I've thought, even if it does make me squirm further down the line.

Either way, I'm grateful to David for asking the questions!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Lil Fluffy Clouds

O praise be to the met office - the rain clouds have passed, literally and metaphorically speaking! Sunny days have arrived, even if the north wind doth blow - they say it will veer to the west in a day or two, so I am waiting for the return of salad days once more.

I took a few days off last week and to ensure that I didn't do anything study-related, I bought Tomb Raider: Legend, the latest installment of Lara's engaging lifetstyle instead! What a pleasure it was to jet all over the world, swinging off iron bars, riding motorbikes, crashing fork lift trucks (loved that one!), and generally enjoying oneself in the ironic manner that only one who has six children can: on a playstation, even though it didn't seem to last quite as long as Angel of Darkness did. I did enjoy all the nods to previous Lara incarnations, but I still felt cheated when I started it on Wedneday and finished it by Friday. Pffft, what can I say, either they are milking the other adventures into (yet another) sequel, or they ran out of time/ideas/disc space.

I had been waiting for this one since before Christmas when it had been allegedly due out, but it was held over until Spring. Anyway, Lara is just as improbably buxom as before, (how does she put up with the gravitational pull?) with improbably skinny arms, given all the swinging off them she has to do...

Anyway, the break did me a whole power of good, and I came back to study with renewed impetus this morning. I now have a good hook for the 19thc essay on Germinal and Far From the Madding Crowd, which involves gourmandising, ha, ha! But I'm still having doubts about whether my method of tackling the Eliot/Woolf essay is the right one. I'm torn between a complete rewrite and just leaving it alone - only so many times you can pick a scab, I guess. Nagging doubts are all part of the study thing and don't seem to diminish the further on you go either - you just doubt more of yourself! Aie, yie, yie.