Saturday, October 28, 2006

Raining Semolina

The Irish Independent reports today:
"Amount of semolina which fell on seaside town

"MORE than two tonnes of semolina fell on a seaside town after a factory silo malfunctioned and blasted the grain into the air.

"Residents of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, woke up to find a dusting of white grain covering roads and pavements. The problem proved a major headache for the local council because as staff tried to clean the semolina away with water it simply turned into the much-loathed dessert.

"Council spokesman John Hemsworth said: "We had 15 people trying to clear it up, but as soon as it got wet it became more of a problem." "

George Best £5 Note for only £10

Enterprising eBay sellers are already offering specimens of the George Best commerative £5 note for only £10, including postage and packing.

Now that's Capitalism!
Pic shows George's father, Dickie Best, at the recent press conference held by Ulster Bank.

Edit: The five-pound George Best notes will be available from mid-November coinciding with the first anniversary of his death. Application forms will be available from Ulster Bank branches in Northern Ireland & Republic of Ireland or on-line at or from 13 November. The commemorative notes will then be available to purchase at any Ulster Bank branch in Northern Ireland from the 27 November.. More information at the Ulster Bank website at this link.

Friday, October 27, 2006

5 years and counting daily

My mother, Maureen, will be dead five years in another hour or so. In no particular order, here are some of the things she liked:

Whiskey and red lemonade
Ice cream
Strong tea
Sweets wrapped in coloured paper
Hair curlers
Armchairs with cushions
Long walks
Little House on the Prairie
Her Sisters
Her Brother
Pride before a fall
Cousin Paul
Clean sheets
Green fields

Miss you, Mam.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cranes endangered species in Tallaght

Cranes are being replaced by elegant buildings in Tallaght as more and more of the construction work around The Square reaches that sudden stage of near-completion. Stuck in a traffic jam that wound its way around Belgard Square this evening, I admired the new shop fronts and the even newer, uncompleted units that gape out from under the apartments, their unfinished ground-floors filled with white dust and oddments of builder's rubble. The hoardings are now gone and the most minimal of fences keep the public out. Gangs of second fixers march about, shouldering cable reels and pneumatic drills. Heavy construction machinery is being supplanted by fork-lifters, shopfitters, glaziers peering out through new spans of modern glass. It's great. Come on the future! I love it!

HALLOW-een. Note spelling & pronunciation.

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I'm to cry.
Oh, wasn't it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

Did you ever take potato cake in a basket to the school,
Tucked underneath your arm with your book, your slate and rule?
And when the teacher wasn't looking sure a great big bite you'd take,
Of the creamy flavoured buttered soft and sweet potato cake.

Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I'm to cry.
Oh, wasn't it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

Did you ever go a-courting as the evening sun went down,
And the moon began a-peeping from behind the Hill o'Down?
As you wandered down the boreen where the leprechaun was seen,
And you whispered loving phrases to your little fair colleen

Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I'm to cry.
Oh, wasn't it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Irish Battles - GA Hayes-McCoy

Just finished this book which I picked up in the shop of the Museum back in August. A refreshing kind of approach to history, focussing only on the battles and not generally unbalanced towards the glorious past as some other books on the subject are.
One thing I found in it is that many of the generals and leaders of the major engagements covered in the book were either as bad or as unlucky as I tend to be when wargaming. The account given of the Battle of the Boyne being a case in point. Should Jimmy have moved the troops off the dodgy flank and risked being overrun in order to have a better chance of winning the battle?
Good to dip into. Tell the people around you to prepare for unexpected groans.

Good smell of rot in the air

Autumn definitely here over the past few days, with slightly rotted leaves everywhere and the smell that accompanies this damper season. Its still tremendously mild, though. Because of the time of year, we have our heating system ticking over at minimum. But because of the unseasonably warmer evenings have to open windows a little at night to avoid suffocation...

I've been visiting the blog, Honey Where You Been so Long? for a while now and enjoying continuing the education on music that I started with the DVD collection, The Blues - A Musical Journey. Heard one of the best blues titles there: "If Blues Was Whisky, I Would Stay Drunk All the Time", and lately one entitled "How Can I Miss You Daddy When I've Got Dead Aim?" Blues might seem a gloomy subject to take up for someone already gloomy, but in fact I find the music uplifting and a definite improvement to the mood. I'm reminded of the oft-coined quote "The Blues ain't nothin' but a good man feelin' bad." It isn't an original quote, but it was used in the movie, "Crossroads", which I hope one day to get from Amazon. It will be interesting to listen to the mimed playing of Ralph Macchio emulating his old time blues heroes now I actually know a bit more about them all.

It's a big and wonder filled world.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Keep your 5c if it means that much to you. Fucker.

I'm not one to say it, because I know what they have to endure from bastard members of the public, but "Bastard busmen!" anyway!

A Chinese woman hopped on ahead of me on the bus this evening, paid her fare, took her ticket and sat down.

I popped my exact-change 90c into the machine, took quite an outsized ticket to the accompaniment of what I thought for a moment was an odd look from the driver and started climbing the stairs. Whereupon the bus took off at a terrific pace into a 90 degree turn in the carpark of The Square, causing me to crunk over on the outer edge of my left foot just as I reached the upper deck. I've a fairly niggling sprain, I think, along the outer left foot.

Of course, the reason was soon apparent when I sat down and looked at the ticket. There was a 5c change ticket attached that the driver obviously felt was his tip. Bastard. My foot hurts.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

When "You're seriously ill" is the good news

My father, Tom, is 79 years of age and apart from diabetes (which hardly bears a mention given his present situation) has had variously a burst appendix, hepatitis, cataracts, bruised ribs, colon cancer and prostate cancer. The colon cancer arose in the past eight years and the prostate cancer in the past five. He has undergone operations to help cure or manage both these conditions. He also received chemotherapy for the colon cancer. The treatments all appear to have been successful until recently when he lost his appetite and complained of pain in the abdomen. The thoughts of his GP immediately turned to a recurrance of cancer of some kind and so he has spent the past couple of weeks in hospital undergoing treatment and a battery of tests.

The family has been fearing the worst, especially since our minds have been concentrated on the matter of death given the recent loss of our Aunt Nelly from colonic cancer and our most recent loss of her (and my father's) brother, Jim, from lung cancer.

In 2006, Tom was diagnosed with an aneurism in an artery. He is usually compliant when it comes to keeping hospital appointments but in February an administration error in the hospital to which he was to go as an outpatient gave him the perfect excuse to walk away and refuse to go back.

Wikipedia says: "An aneurysm (or aneurism) is a localized dilation or ballooning of a blood vessel by more than 50% of the diameter of the vessel and can lead to instant death. Aneurysms most commonly occur in arteries at the base of the brain (the circle of Willis) and in the aorta (the main artery coming out of the heart) - this is an aortic aneurysm. This bulge in a blood vessel, much like a bulge on an over-inflated innertube, can lead to death at any time. The larger an aneurysm becomes, the more likely it is to burst."

On Friday my sisters and I met Tom and the professor heading the team of doctors handling his case. It transpired that the abdominal pain was caused by a stomach ulcer whose initial tests came back clear of cancerous cells. They plan to do further examinations in this area, but he is being treated for a stomach ulcer and is responding well to treatment. Tom is anemic from blood loss, probably from the ulcer, and they plan to treat him for iron deficiency. Finally, a vascular surgeon is going to examine whether or not it would be feasible to treat the now four anurisms in the arteries of his body.

We were so happy to hear the words "You are still seriously ill" because the conference with the professor appeared to rule out more cancer as a cause. In fact, we were positively beaming afterwards. Tom's morale is much improved and he was planning to change out of his pyjamas and into his everyday clothes for the day.

If you had the choice between a potential catastrophic failure with a quick death and a long, lingering suffering, which news would you be happier to hear?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Buses, rain, and a red-haired girl with umbrella.

So, waiting once again for a 49 or a 75 on Thursday evening, I was standing near the relative shelter of... a bus shelter... on Level 3 of The Square in Tallaght, watching the rain going by from inside the relative rainproofing of my hood. Whenever something else went by that I wanted to look at, my head revolved inside the unmoving nylon such that one of the lenses of my spectacles disappeared momentarily. People had the impression, no doubt, of a one-eyed figure peering out from a cowl, or, if I had only an antenna to stick on top, of an irate Bender robot from the Futurama cartoon glaring out at them.

The arrival of several buses that dropped off passengers then rolled up their "Out of Service" sign did nothing to add to my humour. Then a red-haired girl arrived to join the maddening crowd. And as red-haired girls generally increase my good humour, I thought that things were looking up. She had a maroon-coloured umbrella and she stood to about my shoulder height. This, unfortunately, had the effect such that the wind-blown rain skidded right off the top of the umbrella and sprayed me directly in the face. Not deliberately, I'm sure. Just my late mother having fun at my expense.

There was comment on talk radio on Friday morning about the quantity of the extraordinary traffic on the roads of Dublin on Thursday evening. I don't know what the problem was other than rain, but I know I left my job at 5.30pm and didn't arrive home (a potential 45-minute walk if the rain wasn't skidding along horizontally at 30 miles per hour) until 7.45pm.

Bite my shiny metal ass indeed.