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29 January, 2014 at 11:48 pm by belgianwaffle

My siblings pressed upon me a random collection of children’s books which they gathered up at our parents’ house in Cork. They included the very popular Krazy annual.

This is a source of fascination to our childminder as it dates from the year before she was born.

There was also an illustrated “Bible for Children” which my mother used to read every night. My brother repeatedly begged to hear about the plagues, so there was quite a focus on locusts and rivers of blood in our bedtime stories which is, I feel, unusual. It was funny to look through the old and very familiar 70s pictures. Herself picked up the book and read it through. At the end, she announced that the Bible should be over 18s. She doesn’t approve of the story of Bathsheba. Indeed, who would?


30 November, 2013 at 11:15 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess, her aunt and I went to see Pride and Prejudice in the Gate this evening. It was very long and the lead actors had as much chemistry as a pair of lemons. Disappointing and very tiring.

Naming Policies

29 November, 2013 at 7:39 pm by belgianwaffle

A lot of Irish women are called Majella. St. Gerard Majella is the patron saint of expectant mothers and those parents who didn’t fancy Gerardine for their daughters often went for Majella. Whenever I meet a Majella, I think, difficult birth. I am not sure whether Majella has any traction elsewhere but it continues to be a reasonably common name here for women aged 35 to 65. Goretti (another saint’s surname – St. Maria Goretti) is also a, less popular, choice for women of that age group.

You think that pair are bad? There is worse to come in this trend of using saints’ surnames as girls’ first names. My mother has a friend called Labouré which is, I think, the world’s worst name, just shading Gobnait (second worst girl’s name). I am reminded of all this because there was a quote from St. Catherine Labouré in the leaflet at mass on Sunday: I place myself before the good God and I say to Him: “Lord here I am, give me what You will.” If He gives me something, I am very pleased and I thank Him. If He gives me nothing, I still thank Him because I do not deserve anything.

So, not only the source of awful names but sanctimonious also. Feel free to share weird names you have known in the comments.

Swimming against the Tide

9 November, 2013 at 4:50 pm by belgianwaffle

In today’s paper there was an obituary of a Fianna Fáil politician. He was one of the Ansbacher account holders. He was described as “a devout Catholic, non-smoker and non-drinker”. I am not quite sure how he squared his banking arrangements with a devout catholic conscience; anyhow, these words do make him sound joyless and judgemental and I feel that they were intended to do so. It certainly painted a mental picture for me and it was not a particularly positive one.

It then occurred to me that the words might also be applied to me. Given that the criteria for devout catholic have relaxed quite a bit since I was younger and weekly mass-goer seems to be sufficient to make the grade, I am in there. I have never been a smoker. And I don’t like the taste of alcohol, so I tend not to drink. I will often take a glass of wine, if people are insistent (and, in Ireland, they often are) but I’ll just have a sip and in my experience, people don’t notice you’re not drinking, if you have a full glass of something in front of you. My only hope of salvation is, clearly, to continue to pretend to drink.

Did you know that you were reading the blog of a devout Catholic, non-smoker and non-drinker? Also, a pedant which is why I wonder, catholic, c or C? Advice in the comments please.

First out of the Suggestion Box

8 November, 2013 at 9:13 pm by belgianwaffle

I think for the remainder of the month, I will be working my way through the suggestions my kind readers have made.

So first up: what do I make of Roy Keane’s appointment? Well, I know next to nothing about football but even I know that this is going to be a complete disaster. Obviously, the only saving grace is that he is from Cork.

More tomorrow. But not on Roy Keane.

It’s Not Cheating

5 November, 2013 at 10:17 pm by belgianwaffle

You may have thought that there was no post yesterday but you were wrong. I lovingly crafted something when I came in from bookclub last night and posted it. For reasons that are mysterious, it was posted date stamped March. I have updated. It still counts.

But, today, today, I have nothing. And it’s only November 5. This is unlikely to end well.

Please suggest themes to cover in the comments. Please.

10 Books That Make You Look Cool

4 November, 2013 at 11:23 pm by belgianwaffle

Litlove has a great post on books that make you look cool. She has given a list of 10. She qualifies it as follows:

And I tried to think which books would engender most respect in me, if I saw someone reading them in a café. This is only a bit of fun, though, not intended to be in anyway definitive, and indeed I could have come up with about ten lists, there are so many cool books. Frankly, I think it’s cool to see anyone reading in a public place, particularly if it’s a real book with a cover that will satisfy my curiosity!

Here is my list of 10 based on books I have read myself. Feel free to do the same – in the comments or elsewhere (if you are doing Nablopomo, you may need inspiration also). I haven’t included any of Litlove’s because variety is all to the good though they are undoubtedly good ones.

1. “What I loved” by Siri Hustvedt

A truly brilliant book and a very literary one as well. You’re on a complete winner here. Just that little bit more obscure than her husband, Paul Auster, who many would consider cool but I consider utterly unreadable.

2. “Mad, Bad and Sad” by Lisa Appignanesi

A book about mental illness and women. Grand big thick book and extremely readable and genuinely interesting.

3. “Cranford” by Elizabeth Gaskell

A Victorian classic but not an obvious one. Very restful.

4. “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote

An American classic.

5. “Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth

A completely different American classic. The funniest of all Philip Roth’s books.

6. “Stupeur et tremblements” by Amélie Nothomb

Ideally in French, obviously. Unless you live in France. A great writer with a very odd and idiosyncratic view of the world. Also, Japan is pretty weird.

7. “Aristocrats” by Stella Tillyard

This is very good, letters between four sisters in the 18th and early 19th century. But will it make you look cool? For historical biography you might be better off with “Castlereagh” by John Bew

8. “Maus” by Art Spiegelman

The obligatory graphic novel. There are a number of these that would do the trick ["Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi also leaps to mind]. This one is clever with Nazis as cats and Jews as mice. Prepare to be depressed though.

9. “What If” Blake Morrison

This is about the case in England where two young boys murdered a toddler. It’s a great work about motivation and society. Lovely writing.

10. “Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis” by Wendy Cope

While poetry is obligatory the accessibility of the poetry I read does not make for coolness. You’ll have to put in your own cool poetry book.

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