Thursday, June 30, 2005
On Monday evening, whilst on my tea break, I was able to enjoy some summer sounds. The festival? Ballymena Mini Twelfth. The bands? No one really well known but boy could they make a noise. My quibbles? Maybe a bit samey in places. There was plenty of drum but not enough bass. Guitar bands were in short supply. The performers (and the audience) didn't really seem to be enjoying themselves. Quite honestly I've seen more jollity in the Crisis Loan queue up at the broo.
But hey - each to his own. I'm going to another one on the twelfth of July. Can't get out of it really.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
So Bert grew this bit of privet into a very nice standard. It's about eight years old now and he's been offered good money for it on many occasions. But as I said it's not for sale. We don't have Danny any more but we do have his tree and it will be planted at our new house. Old Danny is already planted there under a mountain ash if I recall correctly.
Last year's goldfinches raised the young ones successfully but they're not the last birds to fail to make a distinction between nursery stock and other nest-building options. This year we have wrens nesting within a group of six larches in the polytunnel. Those larches should be stood outside but they cannot be moved or sold until the wrens are done with them.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Jonathan Larner of the protest group "Stop the Parade" said [the proposed parade] was "offensive". "Our outlook on this parade is a wholly peaceful one, we find the whole parade morally offensive," he said. "As evangelical Christians we believe what the bible says regarding sodomy - that it is a sin - and for that reason we want to oppose a parade that we see is promoting a sinful lifestyle."
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that sodomy* should be compulsory for everyone. As far as I'm concerned it's a lifestyle choice. And far be it from me to diss 'The Good Book' but I believe it gives certain advice on how 'bloody' women ought to be conducting themselves, not to mention dietary guidelines that most of us are happy to ignore. This country could be doing with more fun parades like Gay Pride.
*Sodomy - evangelical Christians and others of that ilk can only see or hear of a male homosexual person than they are immediately fixating on an act of anal penetrative sex. I cannot help but wonder why this concerns them so. Do gays when coming across heterosexuals think so much about what they do in private? I'm inclined to think they do not. I'm inclined to think that the private lives of gay people are just as diverse and maybe just as dull as those of heterosexuals.
Monday, June 27, 2005
His eloquence does not desert him when there's something bothering him.
Yesterday found him angry, hurt and disappointed. Who with? You need to ask?
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Kerry sister bought fish for herself and Matty. The Fish Man was a very keen salesman. She pointed to the fish she wanted. He weighed it.
FM: Is that enough for you?
KS: Aye. It's just for the two of us.
FM. For two? Do you not need more? There's only £1.40 in that.
KS: That'll be plenty. Sure me ma doesn't eat much. She'll only be wanting a wee sliver to 'taste her mouth.' Did you say £1.50?
I reckoned the 10p he did her out of was worth it for the amusement it provided me.
Kerry sister told me about this remark a neighbour made to her.
"I was just saying to our Annie that it's a blessing your Daddy died for this heat would have killed him!"
"turning into one of those great bonkers old women and I love it.."He also adores Germaine. Well I'd just like to say - fuck you Bobby Boy. I'm thrilled you love bonkers old women - except I actually think you're a patronising, lying misogynist.
This strong opinion based on an interview by Ginny Dougary featured in today's Times.
Friday, June 24, 2005
So I devised this Amusing Game to top up my opinion count. These are the rules.
- Grab a book, any book.
- Open at random.
- List the first five words or phrases that are suitable for opinionating on.
I grabbed Ian McEwan's Enduring Love. I opened it at the beginning of Chapter 9. I have emboldened the five words/phrases I found.
It would make more sense of Clarissa's return to tell it from her point of view. Or at least, from that point as I later construed it. She arrives up three flights of stairs, bearing five kilograms of books. And papers in her leather bag...
Sense. I have a strong opinion on sense and consider it necessary to survival. To have a lack of sense is very unfortunate indeed.
Point of view. Points of view are similar things to opinions. A point of view is worth having but I would argue that it is better not to be ramming it down other people's throats.
Three flights of stairs. Undoubtedly useful. Especially for reaching higher floors. And keeping fit.
Five kilograms of books. Well that would depend on the class of book wouldn't it? In most circumstances I'd say that five kilograms of books would be a good thing.
Leather bag. Without a doubt and with no apologies either to Stella or Sir Paul I applaud the leather bag. Leather, beef and milk are what we grow cows for. Moo!
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Last night Bert decided to do that. But why bother erecting a tent when he's already got three big permanent tents otherwise known as polytunnels.
It's not the first time he's slept in a polytunnel. One lovely summer day a few years ago he curled up for a nap in a cosy nest of horticultural fleece. He was awakened some time later by the nudge of a sensible laced up shoe (not Ganching's.) He looked up to see a concerned looking, seventy plus, potential clematis buyer looking down at him. 'Oh thank goodness,' she said 'You gave me a scare. I thought you were dead.'
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Today we learned that if we leave our own dogs at home we will meet lots of new dogs that our own dogs would not have let us be friends with if they had come with us.
Today we found out that the man who owns the ice cream shop in Carnlough knows Nelly's real name (Mary) and we do not know how this can be so.
Is he an old boyfriend that Nelly has forgotten about? We hope not.
Pearlie: Have ye any of that black paint left ye were painting the spoutings with?
Pearlie: Och. That's a pity.
Bert: Was there something you wanted me to paint for you?
Pearlie: It disnae matter.
Bert: Go on. Tell me what you wanted me to paint for you.
Pearlie: I was going to ask you tae paint my shoes for they're awful grey luckin'.
Bert: Have you ever had your shoes painted with Hammerite before?
Pearlie: No, but I thought it would have made a brave good job of them.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
The Kerry sister was wanting to do a bit of decorating for Matty. Dutifully I asked if she would like me to help her. She requested, instead, that I take Matty out for the day so that she could get on with it.
So we headed in the direction of Tyrone stopping first for coffee in Draperstown. When I used to be a market trader I'd visit Draperstown twice a month. I'd always liked the town's wide streets and the way it sits among the foothills of the Sperrins. I loved the soft voices of the people. I came across my first transvestite in Draperstown. Wearing a cheap wig and a dowdy cloth coat she was far from glamorous but she did have a quiet dignity. I never felt the need to laugh at her anyway.
While we were there Matty said she wanted to have a look at some shops. She led me into the most old-fashioned hardware shop in the world. The only objects there that could possibly have held the slightest interest for me were some Pyrex measuring jugs. 'Can I help you?' ventured the young assistant. 'No, just looking.' I replied. Looking at what? Coils of rope? Shovels? Galvanised buckets? Then Matty piped up, 'But I thought this was a dress shop.'
Onwards to Tyrone - Land of my Ancestors
Matty's parents came from Tyrone. Granda's family were from Moy and Granny was born in Newtownstewart. While Granda's people had migrated to Belfast in search of work Granny spent her childhood in Plumbridge. There were cousins in Gortin so it was to Gortin we went as Matty was remembering a wonderful holiday she and her sister had spent there, in the summer of 1947, as the guests of their mother's cousin Mamie. We found the road where Mamie had lived but the lane was overgrown and the cottage long gone.
This is one of the joys of driving Matty around. She starts remembering and telling stories. And as this journey was one she had taken on many occasions with Daddy some of the stories were very poignant. Once again I listened to the stories about their meeting and courtship. She told me about the funny sayings and silly games they enjoyed as they travelled about. She told me all about the wonderful holiday she'd had with Mamie. This had been her first parting from Daddy since they'd started going out and she'd written to him three times in two weeks. 'Did he write back?' I asked. 'Not atall,' she said, 'Sure he never wrote a letter in his life.' Apparently she'd written to him to reassure him that she hadn't gone off with some Tyrone boy. For according to Matty, and I do not doubt her, she was very popular with boys in her young days.
Hearing Matty tell her stories I sometimes feel envious of the times she lived in. That holiday to Gortin, 60 long miles from home, was such a novelty for her. She told a story about her sister and herself, out on their borrowed bikes and getting themselves lost, meeting a group of young, kilted men, also on bicycles, who were on their way back from Twelfth of July celebrations. She said that these fellows escorted them to the right road and said how exotic it was to be riding along with a troop of Protestant boys in kilts and how this would have been unthinkable behaviour at home.
Matty and I behaved very well in Tyrone. We waved at passers-by and were extremely courteous on the road. 'After all,' Matty said, 'Anyone here might be your cousin.'
On the way home Matty asked me, 'Do you ever look at the clouds and imagine you can see pictures in them?' I said, 'Not while I'm driving.'
Sunday, June 19, 2005
So this time I'll honour Mick - the father of Zoe, Katy and Hannah. Happy Father's Day Mick - you're the best.
I'll also take this opportunity to wish marc and mquest a happy Father's Day. I know it's a different day in the States but good wishes are good any day of the year.
And Mick - if you'd update your Amazon wish list I might give you a present too!
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Bert: Well I couldn't care less what happens after I'm dead.
Nelly: Funerals are for the ones left behind. I've said to Zoe and I've said to Bert that if I should die before my mother they're to bury me with the full rites of the Catholic Church.
Marty: I wouldn't want a Catholic funeral. I'd want it religion free.
Nelly: If I die after my ma I might want to be buried here on this land.
Marty: I wouldn't want to be buried. I'd rather be cremated.
Nelly: If I'm cremated I'd like my ashes to be buried here in the garden.
Bert: Beside the dogs?
Marty: I'd like my ashes to be scattered.
Bert: In some place that you really loved?
Nelly: So Bert- we'll scatter yours in your bed then.
Against her will I am posting a picture of Ganching . She's the blonde with the naked doll.
The picture was taken sometime last century.
P.S. That Zoe one has posted another last century one over at her place.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Her Claim To Fame. An unknown person shot Caps with a pellet gun resulting in her having a front leg amputated at the shoulder. She survived this and lived happily for a few more years. She was a great favourite of Hannah.
Secondly came Attila. Palmed off on us by kids. Caps and Attila did not get on. She was found one morning stiff and dead behind the sofa. Caps declined to comment.
Her Claim to Fame. A friend was visiting and remarked "That cat's having kittens." I replied resignedly, "I know - it's a bloody nuisance." She went on. "No. She's having kittens." I looked over and she was. My friend got the pick of the litter.
Then there was Muff (not pictured in previous post) He was a ghastly ginger tomcat who was palmed off on to Hannah by her then boyfriend's granda. He was a thug of a cat and a dirty low-life thief.
His Claim to Fame. We took him half a mile up the road to Pearlie's. He came back. We took him to the crossroads. He came back. We took him to Lisnahuncheon. He came back. We took him to Portglenone. He came back to the houses across the road. I believe he thought we didn't like him.
Finally there is Harry de Cat. We called him after our favourite Dutchman Harry de Kooter. Harry is a neutered tomcat. He does not answer to poofy cat calling noises like 'puss-wuss' or 'pooshy-wooshy' but only to his name.
His Claim to Fame - fighting dogs and pissing on his enemies. He is also the first cat that Bert has ever liked.
Row 1 features Caps, Danny and Attila. All dead.
Row 2 shows Polly, Rosie, Blaze and Bob. Rosie is still with us. The horses have been sold.
Row 3 features Harry, Molly and Paddy. Harry and Paddy are still with us, Molly has died.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Was he worrying about his forthcoming interview with the Inland Revenue?
Had a new problem arisen with the sale of the house?
Was the van playing up?
Was he hungry?
Then he spoke and I knew it was none of these things that bothered him.
"Can you go on the internet and get me the sheet music for 'The Rocky Road To Dublin'?"
"Sure you were sitting here on this sofa two days ago with that on your lap."
"I know but it's disappeared."
"It must be around somewhere."
"I've looked everywhere. It's vanished into the ether."
Bert's belongings frequently disappear into the ether. If I lose anything it's because I am careless, daft or have 'too much crap.' However the ether, into which Bert's possessions regularly disappear, teems with his stuff including several woolly hats, many pens, scissors, penknives, the sheet music of the Rocky Road to Dublin, tin whistles and all of his 2002 business invoices.
Strangely he never loses any cash to the ether but then he is from Cullybackey.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Cullybackey, Ballymena, Antrim - we called at a garden centre where Bert was collecting a cheque. I had a chat with one of the trainees. Her training is coming on well and she's only been there for about eight years.
Belfast - we had our first argument.
Ballygowan - Bert collected eight trays of clematis liners.
Mahee Island - a beautiful place. We promised ourselves we'd return when the weather was less wintry.
Balloo - was it here I had a huge row with Bert?
Saintfield - or was it here?
Dromore - visited a reclamation yard near here. I refused to get out of the car. Bert stomped about. I wept.
Hillsborough - got a fry somewhere near here. That helped.
Lisburn, Antrim - cried all along the A26.
Galgorm - dried my eyes.
Cullybackey - went to bed and slept for several hours. Bert woke me at seven pm for eggs and toast. Afterwards watched a programme that showed big baby owls eating whole voles while their smaller nest mates looked on enviously.
The following day I drove the van.
Cullybackey, Ballymena, Tannaghmore - where I picked up the Kerry sister and her dog.
Galgorm. Cullybackey - Kerry sister took some measurements at the new house.
Rasharkin, Ballymoney - went to the builder's office and left in a large cheque. Sorry a lie. The cheque was only 5 inches by 2.5 inches.
Coleraine, Articlave - visited reclamation yard and purchased a cast iron radiator.
Downhill, Limavady - had a late lunch and visited a wonderful bookshop. I bought The Rough Guide to Classical Music.
Garvagh, Kilrea, Portglenone, Randalstown, Tannaghmore - drank tea with Matty.
Ballymena, Cullybackey - watched owl programme again. Bill Oddie informed us that the reason barn owls hatch chicks at intervals is so that the big owl chicks can eat the little ones if voles are scarce.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
She was complaining to Bert and myself that she feels driven out of her own home by her sons Charlie and Rob who are 17 and 15 respectively. She claims they eat at least £40 of victuals per day and are thoroughly undomesticated. They are huge, noisy and always there. Swisser has a busy career in academia but finds that her home life is a continual round of shopping, cooking and cleaning. She says she rarely has a chance to unwind. So we wondered where she could go to find some respite. The boys are quite capable of fending for themselves for a week or so but Swisser says that the state of the house when she returns is enough to fill her heart with dread and spoil the whole exercise.
After running through a list of possible escape plans I asked if she had considered sending them on holiday. "Of course!" she answered, "But they just won't go." As it was too late to get them into the Big Brother house this year, benefits being that Swisser can see what they're up to while she has total freedom to do as she pleases, for at least a week, the only other alternative I could suggest was to fit them up for a crime and get them committed to a Young Offender's Centre. "No good," wailed Swisser, "They'd just grass me up right back."
Mad Muso husband has got the sound piped to every room in the house including the downstairs lavatory. I liked that - it keeps up the continuity. Now Mad Muso has, like myself, wide ranging tastes in music but there are areas where we differ. He appears to have no place in his heart (yet) for country music or for Aftrican music. As I have no place in mine for hip-hop or jazz. The closest Mad Muso comes to country in his large music collection is Alabama 3, and they reference country music rather than play it. No bad thing that for they are very good and I followed up his recommendation by making a purchase the very next day. I like getting recommendations because I can say afterwards - X introduced me to this artist.
As is right and proper Mad Muso loves the blues, for it is from that deep well that much other music has sprung. We talked about that and I recounted my recent return to listening to Canned Heat who I first heard at the age of fifteen. That was when I first started getting seriously interested in music other than pop. But I must have been a late developer as Mad Muso had also liked Canned Heat when they first hit the airwaves in Ireland and the UK.
On hearing this I started doing mental arithmetic. If Gilly is 3 years younger than me and if Mad Muso is 8 years younger than Gilly then when Canned Heat broke here he must have been four! At four years old I was into nursery rhymes and the theme tune to Andy Pandy. Mad Muso - I bow to your superior ear.
I hear that Albarn and Geldof are at loggerheads because Albarn asserts there is a scarcity of black, African or decent music on the bill. Geldof responds by saying that he only wants big selling acts to appear. He'll not be taking the stage himself then?
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Zoe used this photograph as inspiration for a portrait of her Granda, which is, incidentally the only picture she's ever painted that Pearlie approves of.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Recently considered - a radical change in my life which could include the termination of my current employment which, to lower the tone, sucks big style.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
On Saturday and Sunday there was a lot to do. There were journeys to the airport, Matty's house to get ready, the 'lift' from Marrion's funeral parlour and the wake.
Between Friday night and Sunday evening the family had all returned. My brother came back from Vancouver on Saturday afternoon after having left on the previous Saunday evening. On those two days the house teemed with people calling to pay their respects. It was tiring and it was good. There was a lot to do.
On Monday we buried Seamus. His was the most beautiful funeral I have ever been to. Daddy would have been proud of us. And we were proud of him too. Afterwards we laughed among ourselves at how he was breaking new ground even at his funeral. I think I can safely say that he was the first man in the parish to have been carried to the chapel door on the shoulders of three Protestants and a Jew.
Since then I wake every morning feeling this quiet sadness. And I try to fill my day with lots to do. Katy has returned to Norfolk butI still have Hannah with me. She goes back to Staffordshire on Saturday. Yesterday we sorted out the kitchen for the new house and today we'll be sorting out some of the flooring. It's better to be busy.
Monday, June 06, 2005
I'm just a poor wayfaring stranger
Travelling through this world of woe
There is no sickness, toil nor danger
In that bright land to which I go
I'm going there to see my Father
And all my loved ones who've gone on
I'm just going over Jordan
I'm just going over home
I know dark clouds will gather 'round me
I know my way is hard and steep
But beauteous fields arise before me
Where God's redeemed their vigils keep
I'm going there to see my mother
She said she'd meet me when I come
So I'm just going over Jordan
I'm just going over home
Today was a beautiful day. A good day for the work that was in it.
Thanks to everyone for your kind thoughts and wishes.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
We are sentimental fools and , at heart, always wanted the place to go to a friend. Unfortunately three of our friends were interested and we only had one place to sell.
In the end it was Ian.