'Long time no see', as the defrocked bishop
said to the friend he hadn't seen in years. Here I am again,
Christmas with its feasting and washing up just a dim memory
and a less dim impression on the waistline. The only resolution
approaching a 'new year resolution' I make coming up to Christmas
is to fully utilise time off normal schedules to catch up
with other things….it didn't work this year either.
Anyway, hopefully your batteries got recharged a bit, mine
did, so for that I can be thankful.
But, it's that time of year, yes, our amazing,
unparalleled, Adolf Awards, the ones you've all been waiting
for. So, only here in Nun Vile End Noose, a quick blow on
the drums, a tap on the trumpet, and da da da da - Ladies
and unisex toilets, we present, proudly -
The Adolf Awards for 2004
Survivor of the Year; David
Trimble. Yes, he has made it again, still there as leader
of the Ulster Onionist party despite the Ulster electorate
being DUPed into giving them second unionist slot. Having
won it several years in a row (is that row (roe) or row (r-owwww?))
he gets to keep the (broken china) cup; alas, it may well
be the last time he lifts this trophy........
Political Prevaricator and Untruth Teller
of the Year; Bertie Ahern. No doubt about this one.
He gets it on two counts. One is for proclaiming himself 'left
of centre' when he presides over a populist but profoundly
right-wing government so far as economics are concerned, and
secondly for having stated that he and his government had
been opposed to the war in Iraq. So that explains why he gave
the USA the only assistance the latter wanted from Ireland,
unrestricted use of Shannon airport?
Warmonger of the Year: The
nominations are George W Bush and Tony Blair. Let's call it
a sanctimonious tie (though Tony and George both go tie-less
if they want to look informal); they both lied (as in telling
untruths) repeatedly and went to war when there were still
lots of options, and no weapons of mass destruction to be
found. Fools rush in and they're certainly not angels. The
USA and UK also get the associated Illegal Combatants of the
Mourner of the Year: George
W Bush. He is so keen (multilingual joke). He has attended
zero funerals or memorials for soldiers killed in Iraq who
were sent at his behest, and permitted zero coffins returning
to be photographed. Meanwhile, he is so hard pressed for time
that during 2003 he or Vice-President Dick Cheney only managed
to attend a hundred fund-raising events. [And to think I thought
I was 'Mourner of the year' for going up Slieve Donard on
St Stephen's Day! - Ed]
Dinosaur Returns Award; Ian
Paisley Senior. His bark and his bite may not quite be what
they were, and the DUP may have won much more votes in the
last Norn Iron elections because he was kept in the background,
but the dinosaur is still alive, kicking, and casting his
shadow yet. Remember, this is the guy who has been repeatedly
written off (e.g. after the debacle of the loyalist strike
of 1977 - and he had promised to quit politics if it failed!)
but has hung in there, come hell and high water. Now that
his party has arrived, so to speak, it will be interesting
to see how things evolve -seeing he doesn't believe in Evolution,
we'll have to see whether he actually believes in creation
- though the latest DUP proposals reveal something suspiciously
like original thinking.
The In Out Shake It All About Award;
The DUP for managing to participate fully in the Stormont/Good
Friday Agreement system while simultaneously attacking it
and contributing to its downfall, and subsequently gaining
votes to become the largest Norn Iron party. A major political
Human Rights Defender Award;
Here he is agin, David Thimble, I mean Tremble, I mean Trimble,
one of our very own Nobel Dynamite Peace Prize Winners, makes
this award because of his amazing speech in January '04. At
a meeting of the International Congress on Victims of Terrorism
in Madrid he said; "One of the great curses of the world
is the human rights industry. They justify terrorist acts
and end up being complicit in the murder of innocent victims".
Enquiry Needing an Enquiry Award;
There have been a lot of tribunals and enquiries on the go,
particularly in the Republic, but the one that stands out
in its unjustified whitewash (and anyone can read the evidence)
is the report by Norn Iron's own (former Lord Chief Justice)
Brian Hutton into the death of David Kelly in England, and
the role of the Blair government and the BBC.
The Glass Crystal Fruitless Bowl for
Extravagant Ideas That Will Never See the Light of Day;
The Opposites Attract (Hatred) Award
plus The Community Relations Award; To the electorate
of Norn Iron for making the DUP and Sinn Féin the two
largest parties in the erstwhile Assembly. So when is the
affair going to start????!!!!***
Paramilitary Grouping of the Year; 'C'
Company, UDA, associated with Johnny Adair, whose stalwarts
disbanded in Northern Ireland and emigrated to Britain in
February '03. 'We will forsake the blue skies of freedom for
….well, another part of the UK…..'.
Paramilitary Grouping of the Year, Runner
Up Award; The IRA, for its unwillingness or inability
to disarm further, and prove it has disarmed, to help Norn
Iron politics to be kick-started.
Paramilitary Supporters, Special Award;
To those within the British & Northern Ireland state(s)
who colluded with loyalist paramilitaries in dozens of murders
during the Troubles (as the Stevens inquiry revealed).
Transport System of the Year;
It has to be LUAS, the work for which has played fast and
luas with Dubliners' ability to get about easily, but will
be a small addition to Dublin's transport infrastructure when
it starts to come 'on line' in the summer. Meanwhile each
car in the Republic travels an average of 25,000 kms a year
- far more than other European countries or even the USA.
Consumerist Nonsense Ad of the Year;
There are thousands of possible nominations for this
- you only have to look at the Saturday or Sunday papers.
After a great deal of consideration (31.25 seconds), it is
awarded to Seiko for their "It's not your car. It's not
your friends. It's not your job. It's your watch that says
most about who you are." (e.g. Irish Times 30/12/03)
Oh, the horror of being horologically challenged, and to think
we never knew, we'll have to watch out in future. There is
so much rubbish advertising about that it passes us by but,
like so much of its sort, it is really a bit sicko.
Incinerator of the Year; The
proposed Indaver (should that be 'Cadaver'?) hazardous waste
incinerator for Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour (close to Spike
Island, can anyone spike it?), granted planning permission
by An Bord Pleanála despite 14 (excellent) recommended
reasons for refusal from the senior planning inspector. Crazy
or totally crazy? It is not just Cork people who are bound
to be insinuators that something is gravely remiss with the
decision on this incinerator.
Disability Access Award; Well,
it has to be Ireland's own ("we're a European airline")
Ryanair. Forced to make a settlement in Britain in favour
a man with cerebral palsy who was charged £18 for use
of a wheelchair, in a fit of pique Ryanair decided to add
a 50p/70c surcharge to all fares when the Disability Rights
Commission estimated the true cost at around 2p on every fare.
Evidently Ryanair have never heard of either public relations
or disability access. There is no truth that the 'Ryan' in
'Ryanair' is a corruption of the French 'rien' ('nothing')
as in "We care rien".
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Xenos marks the spot
and "I wish I was in …..[somewhere or other]"
Nice mistake I saw there recently of someone
writing 'zenophobia' for 'xenophobia'. It's amazing all those
people afraid of a brand of Buddhism. Actually 'xenophobia'
comes from the Greek word 'xenos' meaning 'stranger'. With
a racist attack or incident of some form reported a day in
Northern Ireland in the recent past (which means there must
be a lot more) and a young Chinese man killed in a racist
attack in Dublin a few years ago, it looks like xenophobia
is a national pastime. Isn't it amazing, for the first time
in modern Ireland we have some parts of the world coming to
us with their different cultures, ways of life, and language,
so that we have an amazing opportunity to learn about other
people - and what do we do? Assault them verbally or physically.
They thought they were coming to a civilised country and we
make them afraid. That is so sad. Of course there are good
experiences too, and people who relate to anyone else as a
human and not as a foreigner, but we are all tarnished by
the actions of, regrettably, a lot more than a few.
The recent anti-racist demo in Belfast, following
those brutal racist attacks, made me think again how lucky
we are to live in a society which increasingly has different
cultures represented. But even the idea of the Republic being
monocultural (cf David Trimble's comments of a year or more
ago) is a myth, and a relatively modern myth at that (and
becoming increasingly more mythological). Ireland has had
constant waves of immigrants, some coming peacefully, some
coming and conquering, since prehistoric and mythological
times but all adding their bit to the jig-saw that is Ireland
today. All right, the Fee State from 1921 quickly adopted
some of the persona of being a Catholic State for a Catholic
People, though for various reasons didn't have the same forms
of discrimination as those practised by the Northern State
which to some extent tried to become a Protestant State for
a Protestant People.
To take an example of our richness. If choosing
names for a child in Ireland you have not only all the well
known English and international options for boys and girls,
you also have a beautiful selection of Irish names, some of
which stretch back millennia and some not so far. We are richer
for this choice. If we are exposed to more choice, we are
Having a CD at the moment with the song Carrickfergus
on it made me think - what is its origin? So a Google later
I came across www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm.threadid=16707 which
if you visit shows just the richness and complexities of culture.
The song is macaronic. Does macaronic mean a) the adjective
indicating something to do with macaroni? b) trying to get
a deeper meaning from a McDonalds burger ad? or c) in more
than one language? Somewhat prosaically, the answer is c)
with my dictionary indicating a 'burlesque' in more than one
Anyway, my web search indicates that Carrickfergus,
the song, may be a mixture of different songs in English and
Irish, possibly from North and South (or more likely West),
with its origins going back at least to early in the 19th
century and probably much further back, but with Peter O'Toole
and Brendan Behan playing a modern role in bringing the song
to prominence. In short it is of complex and fascinating origin.
Some of it is enigmatic but it is still a beautiful song.
It is indubitably ours. Time and tide, many hands and voices,
different cultures have added to and adapted that song. The
moral is that cultures which become static and do not change
are going to die. The future is a wonderful challenge, and
if we rise to the challenge and not to the bait of the racists
who would seek to exclude and put down then we can build a
culture of which we are even more proud. And one which values
everyone's presence and contribution.
All you need is Luv,
'All you need is love' sang the Beatles a long,
long time ago, aeons ago it seems now, and also with a great
deal of naivety. But what kind of love, seeing it is one of
the words most used and abused in the English language? This
is not surprising, perhaps, as the following quotation shows
it's a word sadly lacking in definition. On the way to my
place of paid work I pass by a students' union where I can
buy the Guardian newspaper for 20 pence, so this is often
hard to resist; I came across the following in their 'Notes
and Queries' column of 14th November 2002 - in this column
readers ask quizzical questions which other readers answer,
succinctly, humorously, or otherwise. In reply to the query
"What is love?", Ray Billington from Springfield,
Monmouthshire had this to say: "Confusion on this matter
arises primarily because of the inadequacy of the English
language. I love my children, my sexual partner, cricket,
roast duckling, my friends, and, if I try, my enemies. The
word in fact covers a range of meanings, which is Greek are
expressed in four quite different words. Eros, from which
is derived erotic; storge, meaning family affection (or not!);
philia, meaning liking (as in philosopher, philanthropist);
and - the word used in 1 Corinthians 13.4 - agape, or what
Kant called goodwill: sympathy, empathy, non-exploitation
of others. "Many kindly people think they're being wicked
because they dislike some of their follows; but liking people
relates to chemistry rather than disposition. One can have
agape where there is no philia, which is why Paul called it
the greatest. This dichotomy (or guadrotomy) explains why
mother-in-law and son-in-law often don't get on: the storge
of one conflicts with the eros of the other, so there's no
philia: but agape can still keep the peace. The best thing
to do with the word love is to expel it from the language,
because without further explanation it is always ambiguous,
as in 'Alcohol is my enemy, but I'm told to love my enemies.
' " So there you have it, amusingly and extremely succinctly.
Might I also say that in this case in a competition between
the classics (Greek) and English, its 40 - Love.
So there we go, or there I go. Enough is enough
[too damn much - Ed], so until I see you again in a month's
time, be good and if you can't be good be batter. [A reference
to Pancake Tuesday coming up? - Ed] [And I was thinking that
if you made a joke at the end it had better be good - Billy]
is Billy King? A long, long time ago, in a more
innocent age (just talking about myself you understand),
there were magazines called 'Dawn' and 'Dawn Train'
and I had a back page column in these. Now the Headitor
has asked me to come out from under the carpet to write
a Cyberspace Column 'something people won't be able
to put down' (I hope you're not carrying your monitor
around with you).
Watch this. Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman
pass by (because there'll almost certainly be very little
about horses even if someone with a similar name is
found astride them on gable ends around certain parts
of Norn Iron).