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It’s November 

1 November, 2015 at 8:11 pm by belgianwaffle

Another Nablopomo is upon us.  I will be posting every day in November.  This post would be longer except I am unwell and going to bed early.

Let us hope that the quality of posting for the rest of the month will improve.  As they say on “This American Life” – stay with us.

Suffering for Suffrage

29 October, 2015 at 10:04 pm by belgianwaffle

Last night the Princess and I went to the suffragette film. She is on mid-term break so she had spent some time preparing for the evening. She made buns with pink icing on which were piped the initials of prominent suffragettes:


Then when you cut them in half, they were purple white and green on the inside. These were, I now know, the colours of the suffragette movement.


The buns were something of a highlight. The film itself was quite dull. And felt like it went on forever. Alas. Not as bad as Lafcadio Hearn though, so that was something.

More Culture

15 October, 2015 at 9:37 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess and I went to a reading last night based on the life and work of Lafcadio Hearn. It was not a success. Notwithstanding the potential for real interest, I regret to report that the performance and script were dull. The audience was not large and most of them slumbered throughout the performance.

It’s not all fun and games supporting the arts, you know.


7 October, 2015 at 11:04 pm by belgianwaffle

We come back from holidays in late August and it is heritage week, then there is the fringe theatre festival, then the theatre festival, then culture night, then open house, now there’s the Dublin festival of history and something called gallery weekend as well and by mid-October we are so exhausted that we can face no cultural events for the following twelve months.

2015-09-01 22.37.27

I got all the brochures from the Dublin tourist office. They handed me out the brochure for culture night surreptitiously from under the counter. Apparently, if they were out, they would all be gone. Baffling.

So we took part in a limited selection of events. Foolishly, I had already booked myself and the Princess into “The Importance of Being Earnest” at the start of the season; our stamina was compromised early. It was long – I had completely forgotten, but she enjoyed it, notwithstanding the extremely uncomfortable seats and the slightly mediocre production.

Then, I sent her to a music workshop in the Chester Beatty library because I wanted to use up her cultural stamina and her friend was going. She did not like it.

The children and I went to the “Secret” exhibition in the Science Gallery which was really excellent. Michael learnt to pick a lock. What’s not to love?


Unrelated. But, we saw people swimming in the Liffey. The horror.

2015-09-19 15.09.09

Culture night began well. We had booked an acting session which the children found mildly enjoyable. They were taught by a talented, enthusiastic and energetic young woman. There was a group of about ten children of various ages. Among other things she had them freeze as various professions. “Doctors and nurses!” she said. Then to each of the girls, she asked “What are you doing nurse?” to some she would add “Or are you a doctor?” and to all of the boys in turn, she said “What are you doing doctor?” It was obviously unconscious. I agonised, should I say something or not. I went up at the end and thanked her for a terrific session then I said about the unconscious gender bias. I felt like a heel. The Princess was utterly mortified.

By the end of the evening, the boys were beginning to wilt. The visit to the Quaker meeting house was, frankly, a mistake. Herself was really interested but the boys most emphatically were not. She listened in fascination to the nice Quaker lady telling her how they wouldn’t dream of imposing their beliefs on others or judging others for their beliefs. So different from the religion she knows best. If she converts is that a win or a lose? Look, it’s not Catholicism but, you know, it’s religion.

Mr. Waffle and I went to “The Man and Le Mans” at the Irish Film Institute’s documentary film festival. If you like motor racing, boy, was this the film for you. I do not like motor racing. As a bonus, there was an interview with the director. He explained that they had set the sound to extra loud before playing the film that evening. That was obvious to the meanest intelligence

In the fringe theatre festival we copped out and went to see two comedians. They were mildly amusing. Moment of the night was banter with the audience as follows:
Comedian: I hate audience interaction, see you [pointing to man in front row] what do you do?
Man: I work in retail.
Comedian: See, that’s not funny, how can you make that funny? [He continues with this theme and then turns back to man in the front row]. So Mr. “I work in retail, where do you work?”
Man: In Knobs and Knockers on Nassau Street.

Got the biggest laugh of the night.

We went to a thing called “By Heart” in the theatre festival. It was recommended to us. A Portuguese man teaches 10 people in the audience one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. It was a lot more entertaining than you might think. I forced Mr. Waffle to be a volunteer and I was too. It was sonnet 30 which goes as follows:

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.

It doesn’t look too bad but it is quite hard when a) you can’t see the poem, b) the actor/director/writer/main man is Portuguese and although he speaks excellent English is a little hard to understand at times, just like Shakespeare c) the woman sitting beside you on stage is from Belgium and speaks little English and is getting you to translate the sonnet that you barely understand yourself, on the hoof, into French for her d) the audience is shouting out your line at you which you have forgotten in the stress of trying to translate into French the line “And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,” while the Portuguese man assures you that there is no need to worry as the audience always loves failure [this appears to be true] and e) you are trying to follow the action [talk of Fahrenheit 451 and Mandelstam and the author’s grandmother] rather than repeat your line constantly in your head.

When I described it to my sister, she said that it sounded exactly like the kind of thing that happens in a nightmare and I see where she’s coming from but I did quite enjoy it. The next night’s volunteers were featured in a photo in the review of the play for the paper and it sums up the difference between Mr. Waffle and me that I was quite sorry we weren’t in the paper and he felt, strongly, that we had dodged a bullet. It was unfortunate, then, that shortly after the performance, it transpired that a colleague of Mr. Waffle’s had been in the audience. This man glided up to him at work and said, without preamble, “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought…”

I didn’t book anything for the children in the theatre festival, but happily, the boys got taken to something they really enjoyed with school and herself had been to “The Importance of Being Earnest” so honour was saved.

Between this cultural onslaught and the boys’ birthday and the return to work and school this is always an exciting time of year but you may look forward to more regular posting now that this year’s cultural work is done.


29 June, 2015 at 6:56 pm by belgianwaffle

“An Utterly impartial history of Great Britain” by John O’Farrell

Funny. Accurate, I am sure. I have now almost entirely forgotten all the details. So it was good that I enjoyed it as I read it because the improvement in my historical knowledge is nil.

“The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins

Um, very famous and an early example of the detective novel but, if you ask me, only alright and not half as good as the “Woman in White”. Apparently its fame is in part due to the fact that it features opium addiction and was written by an opium addict. Those Victorians.

I enjoyed this quote on page 488 of the edition I read, plus ça change and all that.

“In our modern system of civilisation, celebrity (no matter of what kind) is the lever that will move anything. The fame of the great Cuff had even reached the ears of the small Gooseberry. The boy’s ill-fixed eyes rolled, when I mentioned the illustrious name, till I thought they really must have dropped on the carpet.”

“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” by Winifred Watson

Heartwarming, entertaining republication by Persephone Press. Life has been cruel to Miss Pettigrew. It perks up when she falls into (what her clergyman father would almost certainly have considered) a depraved circle.

“Consequences” by EM Delafield

If you have read and reread “The Diary of a Provincial Lady” and all of its sequels and you love it, approach this book by the same author with EXTREME caution. It is a very good book. It gives a very clear account of the misery of depression. But wryly humourous? Frankly, no. Set your expectations to extreme, relentless misery.

“Sense and Sensibility” by Joanna Trollope

I quite enjoyed this. It updates the Jane Austen classic and uses the same plot and the same characters. I went back and re-read the original afterwards and I was very impressed by how very closely the Trollope version stuck to the Austen novel. What was intriguing was how this was entirely a Joanna Trollope novel; her voice, the characters, the situations, everything.

“The Buried Giant” by Kazuo Ishiguru

I quite enjoyed this in a mild way. It has divided reviewers. It’s about two Britons going on a quest in a magical post-Arthurian Britain. Harmless. Not as good at all as “Never Let Me Go” though.

“The Secret Place”
by Tana French

I think Tana French is a wonderful writer. This is another detective story set in Dublin. This one revolves around a murder in a girls’ boarding school. I am not normally a great fan of the detective novel but I plan to read everything this author has written.

“A brief History of the Smile” by Angus Trumble

I was a bit disappointed by this. It does what it says on the tin. There is an original angle on history, there is lots about art but yet, I found it a bit dull. Also the black and white illustrations in my edition were not great for looking at the reproductions of art through the ages.

“Us” by David Nicholls

I know lots of people were enchanted and delighted by this novel but I was not. I found each of the three main characters very annoying and tedious in their own particular ways. It follows a family on a Grand Tour of Europe, father, mother and son about to leave for college. I did not like the characters and the plot left me cold. It’s very readable, I suppose. For my money, his best novel continues to be “Starter for Ten” which combines excruciating embarrassment and hilarity.

“Solace” by Belinda McKeon

I didn’t really expect to like this book, but I did. It’s a bit overwritten (you know the kind of thing, nobody ever hops up and opens the door but walks through the treacly sunlight filled with dancing dustmotes to answer the insistent tolling of the doorbell). The author patronises her main characters a bit. But, that said, it moves snappily enough. Though there are some strands that could usefully have been got rid of (what was that philosophy lecturer doing?) I was engaged and interested. I was genuinely quite shocked by the twist in the middle and that was really well handled as was the aftermath. I would definitely try another.


5 May, 2015 at 10:17 pm by belgianwaffle

I went to see the Anu production about Gallipoli with herself in Collins Barracks. Anu does “site specific” interactive theatre and despite the awful sound of this, I have found them terrific. My most memorable theatre experience ever was courtesy of Anu.

There was an age limit of 12, so we waited until after her birthday and off we went; I am spectacularly law abiding. It was challenging enough for 12 and, to be fair, it was aimed at adults. I think she found the audience participation a bit off putting. The production did try to convey some of the horrors of the war; it also addressed the views of those in the newly developing Ireland on the soldiers who had fought for King and Country (not positive) and the lasting impact of the war on the soldiers themselves (one of the characters commits suicide after getting home): all quite difficult themes. At the end, she got to wave to one of the soldiers as they marched off to war (it was interactive and it kind of jumped around in time) and I think she found it all a bit overwhelming though, unlike me, she shed no tears. She is tough that way. Not her most comfortable theatre experience, but I bet she will remember it all the same.

She May Very Well Pass for 43 in the Dusk with the Light Behind Her

10 March, 2015 at 11:42 pm by belgianwaffle

I am 46 today which is surprising. It turns out that 46 isn’t as old as I once thought. If you were to say something in the comments, it would prove there was somebody out there and fill my middle aged heart with joy. No pressure now.

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