21 May 2011

The Buttercup Season in May.

This wildflower meadow is just on the edge of Dublin city.


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20 May 2011

Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

The Queen's trip around the world for sport has nearly given me a heart attack.

Whoever the eegit was who decided that a trip to an open air ruin in one of the most wind swept sites in Ireland should take place on the fourth morning of a gruelling trip that would kill an ox I do not know.

The frightening sight of her husband, hatless and without a scarf, listening to a doubtless fascinating diatribe on Romanesque arches was one of the most unusual spectacles I have ever seen on TV.
Much more of this and we'll be accused of trying to kill the royal couple with kindness...


19 May 2011

Coming, Beeping, to an Airport Near You

I am now living proof that the human spirit can survive the most stupid rituals, get the hang of them and sail on through.

My first encounters with changes in airport security after terrorist attacks were not encouraging. I thought that the oversized child with what seemed to be a cattle prod at Dublin airport was about to electrocute me and I refused to go through the system. To give them their due, the people who took me into a room and explained the situation for twenty minutes were doing their best given the circumstances. They explained that they frisked one another every morning at which I became even more alarmed.

"You mean you don't trust one another?"

After several attempts to not beep on trips to Britain, I just gave up and decided to drive. The English, a tolerant people, used stand by impassively while I sobbed like a drain and explained that I was a not a threat to national security, but really even I found this boring.

Then I unleashed "Operation Beep-Off". Before one long haul flight to Australia three weeks were spent in my bedroom with a weighing scales and a measuring tape and, though I drew the line at the expense of a metal detector, I studied how I might lessen stress at every move.

The greatest humiliation, I now longer wear a foundation garment while travelling, as the French thugs who decided to explore my person at CDG seemed to find this detail particularly interesting. Having refused to be pawed all over there and threatened with the police and "the black glove" they finally found somebody who had not been trained in a prison, got on with the business and I got home. I have not been back, as the insolence has not been forgotten, much as I am used to French life. Comparing their system unfavourably to that in Singapore made me no friends there so we now go through Heathrow where some of the chatty attendants are actually friendly.

"You're shaking", a cheerful voice said as we went through after a twelve hour ordeal and I explained that we had been travelling for hours. We all have our pride and the cross-patch with the barking voice who had just asked me to step back behind the line would have been pleased to think that he had been the cause. There are sadists everywhere and they must be ignored.

However, having forensically removed every piece of metal from my person, apart from my teeth fillings, I am astonished to find that my hand luggage is still being either scrutinised for strange objects or, wonder of wonder, actually beeps.

"There's something in your bag" I was told at six in the morning at Dublin airport a few weeks ago. "What is it?" I asked, by now more intruiged by the eerie x-ray image on the screen than annoyed or frightened.

Not a good answer...

"You tell us, it's your bag..."

I had no idea that my companianable little Robert's radio was letting out pathetic signals. I have not studied electronic engineering, but this subject must now be added to the curriculum for the World Traveller. How, in the oceans of print that I have studied in the past few years could I have missed the word "radio". No wonder I got a mediocre degree.

"It's a radio... nobody mentioned radios" was my only limp excuse but every fool except me seems to know that radios must be put in a special tray.

Leaving Marco Polo airport I didn't beep which is not surprising since I have now banished hairclips (or, as my American friend call them, bobby pins, from my person. But even the security agent who asked if they could open my hand luggage rushed to help me find the culprit when the horror of its beeping presence dawned on my stunned face.

The radio was in the tray. We had thrown out any water bottles before coming through. I did not have any gifts or new purchases as the weight restrictions are now killing commerce. I had bought absolutely next to nothing to bring home and in any case the CD and books were in the main luggage.

This time it was the industrial grade earmuffs I wear while travelling, it seems. The had never beeped before but the metal content was seemingly enough to cause the noise in Italy where they must have bought a very sensitive sensitive system indeed.

I'm now on the market for a set of metal free industrial grade earmuffs...

But only a lunatic would design such a silly object, I fear.

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Pillar Talk

There is a frisson underlying life in Venice, especially in relation to the two famous pillars on Saint Mark's Square.

With images representing Saint Mark and Saint Teodor of Amasea atop these imposing poles, they are a reminder that the square was, up to the 18th Century, a place of execution.

The religious art of Venice, after several days, began to make me wonder (and not for the first time), how such a terrifying fantasy life could have been transported so readily to Celtic and Nordic countries where nature, not artifice, is so much more in harmony with the tastes of the people.

The glorious Church of Saint Anastasia in Verona gave me my breath back after the Baroque splendors of Venice. The soaring pillars are decorated with intricate tendrils and flowers.

I was in Heaven there.

Venetian Sun

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18 May 2011

The Political is Personal?

The queen's visit has caused an outbreak of transference and counter-transference which would make Freud chuckle, I think. He had a good sense of humour, as his hilarious book "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" goes to prove and his cracking open of human motivation is always worth a look.

One person stopped on the street yesterday by the police worked in the context that her grandfather fought with the IRA almost a hundred years ago and that up to that very moment,when being stopped and scrutinised, she had roamed wild and free though the streets of Dublin, unhindered by any force.

She has my sympathy. I have a similar problem when getting through airports but I do not call on the sins of the fathers as a link to the inconvenience of having my underwear examined as if it contained all the fowl and characters from that jolly ditty "The First Day of Christmas". If you go where security forces are, you are fair game I think, which is the reason that I stayed home yesterday and wondered, vaguely, if it might be safe even to go shopping.

The paranoia that world leaders bring in their wake is entertaining, but a bloody nuisance too.

When Prince Charles came to Dublin, I forgot about all the problems it might cause and got stuck in a car park that had cars parked illegally ending up late for an appointment. Bad planning on my part, not a reminder that my grandfathers had a political viewpoint that had led to such a nuisance.

The mockery that the parking attendants poured on me that day was simply a reminder of the coarse nature of city life back to the dawning of time. It also ensured that I did not go back to that carpark for years.

And, just in passing, one of my grandfathers was in the Somme during the Easter Rising in Dublin. He survived and lived to a ripe old age, giving instructions daily as only an Irishman can, regardless of their political hue...


17 May 2011

All a Glitter...

Italian art is often gilt and glitz.

Very pleasing indeed...

St Mark's Venice

Mime in Verona

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The Last Straw

The French radio has gone into meltdown after yesterday's court appearance by Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

And I have to admit I have joined the shocked commentators who looked in total horror at the humiliation, seemingly consciously inflicted, on this prisoner. While the French have focused on the handcuffs, I wondered if there are no water and facecloths in US prisons. Though it is not easy to inflict self harm with a safety razor, I am being kind in thinking that it was for Monsieur Strauss-Kahn's self preservation that he was not allowed to shave.

But the absence of a tie was the last straw.

If the State of New York had any sense it would have judged the situation better. It might have thought about the effects that this horror show might have on tourism. I can now quite happily live with the possibility of never setting eyes on the Art Deco architectural jewels in New York and being able to, in real time, think about the ambiguous nature of the Statue of Liberty.

I would be terrified to visit such a very unthinking place.

In France one was considered guilty until proven innocent during much of my life.

But appearing in a dishevelled mess before a judge would be considered a marked sign of disrespect to all concerned.

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Egg on My Face

My first attempt to post on the comment page of "The Telegraph" in London did not go swimmingly. Somewhere in the morass of comments and cogitations is my little offering on the colour of the Queen's outfit, which may be one of the hundred shades of green that the RGB lover can name easily and while giving the exact numbering.

The system offered to upload my post simultaneously to Twitter, which did not happen, but more puzzling, the post seems to have suffered editing in transit and leads to a dead link. I never trust people in offices but cannot muster enough paraonia to think that somebody might have intercepted the post and made a pig's ear of it. Obviously I must have, as usual, hit some unseen button or key on the keyboard and botched the attempt.

Anyways, better luck next time and this reminds me to advise anybody who comes here that one of the most useful freeware progams is a RGB picker that gives the exact maths for every colour under the sun.

A Favour, Please

Friends are bringing an Australian garden to the Chelsea Flower Show this year.

I have just tweeted a post to wish them good fortune, and if the gods should smile, a gold.

If you chance to read this, I would be very grateful if you would retweet:

#Australia at #Chelsea The luck of the #Irish to all concerned, love from #Dublin

Replacing "Irish" and "Dublin" with one's chosen location and city could build up a nice kaleidoscope of goodwill.

And good luck to all who are going to Chelsea this year.

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16 May 2011


Today the BBC offered an apology before uploading a video clip on the news channel. After being bludgeoned with homicidal world leaders, crazed sex offenders, dead people, boring politicians and boring sports persons who seem to need no apology to exist and be held up to public scrutiny, Aunty apologised for showing a clip about a tarantula.

Here is an insect whose self survival instincts include the clever ability to spin silk out of its feet if its in danger of falling and whose inconvenient, but non-fatal, bite has improved the human art world by contributing to the invention of a lively dance, the tarantella.

Why apologise?

And if you do manage to get bitten, which seems a very difficult feat, here is the treatment:

Not Quite Figure and Ground in Venice

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