Well, my back window greenhouse is looking very green, I hope all the little plantlets I need will survive. It's way too soon in our climate to start putting tender plants out yet but I start off leaf beet ('perpetual spinach') indoors, it is pretty hardy, and I hope it can go out later this month. But I have been 'pricking out' lots of seedlings to give them more growing room. Time to get out a cloche and start sowing outdoors too.
Are ye a Prod or a Taig, neither or both?
While the Republic has changed beyond recognition in my lifetime [How long is that – Ed] [How long is a piece of string? – Billy] in relation to religious views, Norn Iron has also changed but not so much since the Prod/Taig question there is also a badge of political and cultural identity, in general. There are always exceptions to the rule. And if you don't know the origin of the term 'Taig' here's your guide. 'Taig', is a very negative or derogatory term used by some Norn Ireland Protestants for Catholics; it comes from the personal name 'Tadhg', and has the same origin as the term 'Paddy' for Irish men in Britain – what was once a common personal name comes to form a label for all of that ethnicity. But the name 'Tadhg' actually comes from the Irish word for 'poet' so you have people trying to insult other people by calling them 'Poet!'. And that I think is pretty strange not to say totally weird - "You poet you!" If I use the term it is in the context of this irony.
Inward immigration in the Republic has helped change things from the conservative Catholicism of just a few decades ago. Of course secularisation and the decline in the moral and political power of the Catholic church, some of it due to sex abuse scandals, some not, is also a factor. Now some Protestant churches in the Republic are very multi-national with people from many different countries.....and some Prod churches have been saved from closure by immigration. The Catholic church also has benefitted from incoming Filipinos and Poles. Traditionally the Methodist Church in Ireland was the fourth largest church on the island and almost certainly now it is not, it gets beaten to that spot by the Redeemed Christian Church of God, a church of Nigerian origin. Which reminds me about my old joke on the necessity of talking about 'the leaders of the four largest churches' and not 'the four largest church leaders'!
Interesting piece on Slugger O'Toole (the prime Norn Iron political discussion website) by Conor Johnston about religious identity in the North and what it does or does not mean today. It is based on an Orange Order report which indicates NI Prods are uncomfortable with work place Mass cards or banter about GAA matches. Why? Part of the conclusion to this piece is "Since we can't simply accept and openly learn from our differences in the workplace, meaning workplace policies and tick-box religious designations must instead be used, perhaps the Orange Order could agree that the introduction of statistics – if we must hold information at all – showing information such as whether a person is 'active' in a faith or 'strongly identifies' with a faith would be a welcome addition to the workplace environment debate. This further depth and clarity would benefit everyone." See also the thread which follows the piece.
Pilger on Trump and Clinton
John Pilger can be a brilliant analyst at times and his take on the 'leading' candidates in the US presidential election is an example.
'As the cartoon brute, Donald Trump, seems almost certain to win the Republican Party's nomination, Hillary Clinton is being ordained both as the "women's candidate" and the champion of American liberalism in its heroic struggle with the Evil One. This is drivel, of course; Hillary Clinton leaves a trail of blood and suffering around the world and a clear record of exploitation and greed in her own country. To say so, however, is becoming intolerable in the land of free speech.
"The 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama should have alerted even the most dewy-eyed. Obama based his "hope" campaign almost entirely on the fact of an African-American aspiring to lead the land of slavery. He was also "antiwar". Obama was never antiwar. On the contrary, like all American presidents, he was pro-war. He had voted for George W. Bush's funding of the slaughter in Iraq and he was planning to escalate the invasion of Afghanistan. In the weeks before he took the presidential oath, he secretly approved an Israeli assault on Gaza, the massacre known as Operation Cast Lead. He promised to close the concentration camp at Guantanamo and did not. He pledged to help make the world "free from nuclear weapons" and did the opposite." I might add that the current US development of smaller 'battlefield' nuclear weapons is potentially a greater threat than North Korea's braggadocio and bombast.
Our ecosystems are very susceptible to alien invasion. Just look at invasive rhododendron taking over some of the hillsides and bogsides of Ireland – why there was the case of hillwalkers who had to be rescued when they got stuck in a large stand of rhododendron and the mountain rescue people said it was one of the most difficult operations they had had to perform. Personally I think we need a concerted effort and plan by farmers, hillwalkers and others to stop its spread, but it's a difficult task.
Us? Well we have Japanese knotweed next door, current bête noir of suburbia. How did it get into the vacant plot next door? Was it thought to be an attractive ground cover plant with little or no maintenance? Or did a bit somehow get detached, by a bird or some other means, and work its way onward and upward until there were huge clumps of it? It hasn't succeeded in establishing itself into our garden but it was trying and, organic gardener I may try to be, but I used a toxic poison when it poked its nose into our garden.
As the site next door is about to be built upon, there is currently a major and expensive operation to remove the knotweed and then poison the hell out of the site. We hope it works because without it disappearing our property is next to worthless, if we went to sell no one who wanted to buy could get a mortgage as mortgage providers would refuse to touch it. It was nice having a vacant/derelict site next door, though our soft fruit may survive better from the birds without it. But getting rid of Japanese knotweed, given its significance, is one positive result from the development of the site.
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As you have heard me say before, April is the driest month in Ireland – the summer definitely has more rain. We were in the Bluestacks in Donegal recently and there was a hill fire at the end of March – a much worse one occurred in April some years ago. So I hope you are able to get out and about in the dry, and definitely with no hill fires to disturb you. It may not be too warm yet (I could say the same thing in August!) but it is good to at least feel summer is coming even if, in Ireland, it never really materialises. Illusions are powerful. See you soon, 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).