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Archive for May, 2011


31 May, 2011 at 11:31 pm by belgianwaffle

“Wait for Me” by Deborah Devonshire

How many Mitfords can one girl take? The sane sister gives her take on her upbringing and relationships with her sisters. A bit like seeing how the magician’s tricks are done. She has a style that tends slightly towards listing things. There’s a whole chapter at the end devoted to all the great parties she’s been to which, frankly, could have been left out. She’s also much too sensible to be nasty about anyone so that side of her personality, which was visible in her letters, is left out. Which, though worthy, is, alas, dull. Only for the hardcore Mitford enthusiast.

“Free Agent” by Jeremy Duns[New Year’s Resolution]

This is not my kind of book at all but it was written by a friend from Brussels and my loving husband bought it for me for Christmas. I must say, it was quite thrilling and I was dying to get back to it even though I did get somewhat confused between agent and counter-agent. It’s set in the 1960s and our hero is a spy. Any further details might ruin it for you.

What is hilarious, at least for me, is that the author is so utterly unlike his anti hero. I was emailing him back and forth about the book and he commented that his daughter was sitting near him watching television while eating a jam sandwich and refusing to get dressed while he was mentally preparing for another day of researching secret weapons.

“The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell

I am coming to this somewhat later than everyone else on the planet and maybe because the internet has changed so many things in the past ten years or maybe because the ideas are now mainstream, I am distinctly underwhelmed. There’s a lot about Sesame Street for aficionados. There’s a whole chapter about smoking that was clearly written for something else and is shoehorned in at the end. It’s alright, I suppose.

“Pigeon Pie” by Nancy Mitford

I thought that this might be another name for “Wigs on the Green” which is a roman à clef and given my doctorate level knowledge of the Mitfords due to incessant reading over the past couple of months, I think I have the clef. Alas, it is not and, I realised, as I read, that I had read this before and not enjoyed it much. On re-reading, I wasn’t overly impressed. It’s alright but just a bit slight. Very mildly amusing in places. Sigh.

“Noblesse Oblige” edited by Nancy Mitford

It contains the famous “U and non-U” essay. If you need to know who said mirror and who said looking glass in 1955, this is the book for you. Oh, it’s alright and of mild historical interest, I suppose but it’s not worth a re-read.

“Mothers and Sons” by Colm Toibín [New Year’s Resolution]

A collection of short stories on this theme. Some are better than others. I think this collection suffers somewhat from the William Trevor phenomenon where all the stories feel like they are from the 1950s regardless of when they purport to be set. He’s a good writer though. He really is.

“The Ruby in the Smoke” by Philip Pullman

This is a detective novel for teenagers set in Victorian London. It was seriously recommended to me by someone at a party before I was married and I have been meaning to read it ever since. It probably wasn’t worth storing up for 11 years but it’s perfectly acceptable aside from the author’s tendency to lecture about the rights of women. I am all for the rights of women and I would describe myself as a feminist but I feel slightly hectored by Mr. Pullman.

“The Shadow in the North” by Philip Pullman [New Year’s Resolution]

More of Ms. Lockhart, Victorian London’s most liberated young lady. I am now officially tired of Mr. Pullman hectoring me about the rights of women.

“Testament of Youth” by Vera Brittain [New Year’s Resolution]


“Letters from a Lost Generation” Edited by Alan Bishop and Mark Bostridge

It turns out that Vera Brittain and Vera Lynn [Blue clouds over the White Cliffs etc.] are completely different women. You knew that didn’t you? I read these two books in tandem. “Testament of Youth” is far superior as it has a voice from the 30s, a surprisingly modern voice, describing the events which are covered in the collected letters and frankly, some of those letters deserve to be cut as Vera Brittain has done in her book. For example, as far as I can see, the bulk of Vera’s brother Edward’s letters in 1918 deal with his lost valise and lost luggage was about as interesting then as it is now.

What is interesting about the letters book is that it quotes from letters which Vera Brittain did not have access to for copyright reasons and includes photographs and copies of original documents. So, we see Victor Richardson’s application for a commission in the Territorial Army which asks – question 1 “Are you a British subject by birth or naturalization?” followed by question 2 “Are you of pure European descent?” Other less vital matters follow. The letters book also provides more general information that Vera Brittain’s clearly could not, for example it states that “In 1934, the year following the publication of Testament of Youth, Vera made the discovery that, shortly before the action in which he was killed, Edward [her brother] had been faced with an enquiry and, in all probability, a courtmartial when his battalion came out of the line because of his homosexual involvement with men in his company.”

Both books do convey the misery of war, particularly the dreadful uncertainty but to me the startling thing is how the first world war seems to have really ushered in the modern age. Apparently, it’s true, wars do speed up social change. Early in her book, Brittain comments on clothes for young women before the war:

… all girls’ clothing of the period appeared to be designed by their elders on the assumption that decency consisted in leaving exposed to the sun and air no part of the human body that could possibly be covered with flannel. In these later days, when I…watch the lean brown bodies of girl-children, almost naked and completely unashamed, leaping in and out of the water, I am seized with and angry resentment against the conventions of twenty years ago, which wrapped up my comely adolescent body in woollen combinations, black cashmere stocking, “liberty” bodice, dark stockinette knickers, flannel petticoat and often, in addition, a long-sleeved, high-necked, knitted woollen “spencer.”

At school, on the top of this conglomeration of drapery, we wore green flannel blouses in the winter and white flannel blouses in the summer, with long navy blue skirts linked to the blouses by elastic belts which continually slipped up or down, leaving exposed an unsightly hiatus of blouse-tape or safety-pinned shirt band. Green and white blouses alike had long sleeves ending in buttoned cuffs at the wrist, and high collar covering the neck almost to the chin and fastening tightly at the throat with stiff green ties. For cricket and tennis matches, even in the baking summer of 1911 we still wore the flowing skirts and high-necked blouses, with our heavy hair braided in pigtails..

Meanwhile, her family have gone from a large house full of servants to a flat where it is impossible to find help and her brother Edward finds himself doing the dishes when the maid is ill – mind you this is still so odd that it’s worth commenting on in a letter.

By the end of “Testament of Youth” I do begin to feel really sorry for Vera. The world has changed utterly and the people she loved most are dead. Unfortunately I find it very difficult to relate to her in her letters as she sounds a bit of a prig. There is a huge difference in the narrative which, is, for the most part, more reasonable and self-deprecating but, also, by definition, written for publication. I think she’s patronising throughout about her parents but she had a difficult time with them, I suppose.

At the end of the book, there is quite a hefty bit on after the war. The author was an early feminist and she talks with considerable enthusiasm about carving out a career for herself. Then, she met another man

Marriage, for any woman who considered all its implications both for herself and her contemporaries, could never, I now knew, mean a “living happily ever after”; on the contrary it would involve another protracted struggle, a new fight against the tradition which identified wifehood with the imprisoning limitation of a kitchen and four walls, against the prejudices and regulations which still made success in any field more difficult for the married woman than for the spinster and penalised motherhood by demanding from it the surrender of disinterest intelligence, the sacrifice of that vitalising experience only to be found in the pursuit of an independent profesison.

Are you listening Oliver James?

She goes on to say:

Today, as never before, it was urgent for individual women to show that life was enriched, mentally and spirtiually as well as physically and soically, by marriage and children; that the experiences rendered the woman who accepted them the more and not the less able to take the world’s pulse; to estimate its tendencies, to play some definite, hard-headed, hard-working part in furthering the consturctive ends of a political civilisation.

Would you say that this has been achieved? No, really?

There is a lot of detail about the early days of the League of Nations which the author ardently supports. However, it makes for heavy going especially when the events are not as clear as they would have been to a contemporary reader – the following paragraph is typical:

“In the opening days of the Assembly, Mr. MacDonald and M. Herriot…had made “Arbitration, Security and Disarmament” the triple slogan of the hour; they had wrung one another’s hands in public, had been photographed together, and now had left Geneva to simmer pleasantly in a consoling atmosphere of peace and goodwill very different from the hectic antagonism aroused by the Corfu dispute of the previous Spetember.

You need to be strong to get through a lot of this stuff.

Anyhow, I think that both these books are too long. In my view, by far the best book I’ve read on the first world war is Robert Graves’s “Goodbye to all that” [in college at the same time as VB and rates a couple of mentions] which I think I will reread and which, if memory serves me, is also quite a bit shorter.

“Gone” by Michael Grant

Very enjoyable sci-fi teenager thing, if that’s you’re thing. Everyone over 14 disappears. Everyone left is trapped in an area with a diameter of 20 miles. And there are mutants. Great stuff.

“Hunger” by Michael Grant

Three months later and the kids in book 1 are running out of food. Not as good as volume 1 but there you are – still very pacy.

“Lies” by Michael Grant

Volume 3, very put downable.

“Plague” by Michael Grant

Volume 4 and we’re back on form – nasty illnesses strike the abandoned children. Not for those who don’t enjoy reading about parasitic insects.

Weekend Round Up

30 May, 2011 at 10:26 pm by belgianwaffle

The boys went to two birthday parties this weekend. Very exciting. Birthday party one was in one of these indoor play centre places which they both loved and I dropped them and ran. On my return Michael confided to me sadly, “There was nothing I liked to eat but I drank the orange juice.” They had chicken nuggets, chips, ketchup and cake. When you would really like your child to eat chicken nuggets, you know you have hit rock bottom.

On Sunday we went to a completely different party. The birthday boy was 4 and an only child. As it happened almost all the other invitees were 4 or younger. It was a collection of the north inner city’s middle classes. One pipe bomb could have taken us all out. There were about 20 kids there and a good sprinkling of associated parents. The Princess wandered up to a table where I was chatting to a father who was there with his 4 and 2 year old children. She was deriving mild entertainment from rubbing a balloon on her hair. “My goodness,” said the Daddy of the two small children, “your hair’s standing on end, why is that?” “Static electricity,” she said coldly, leaving him somewhat deflated. That’s the difference between 4 and 8, I suppose.

On Saturday night Mr. Waffle and I went to see The Pride of Parnell Street. This is two monologues with no interval and we were in the fourth row and I was tired so, towards the end I fell asleep until woken by the sound of elderly ladies giving a standing ovation. Oh dear. We did a lot for the average age of the audience. The only person we could see who was younger than us was a little girl of about 9 further down our row. Would you take your young child to a play about domestic violence and the collapse of a marriage? Answers on a postcard, please.

The play itself was good but it dragged. I’m not sure whether it was the direction or the script; I don’t think that it was the format, I’ve been to compelling monologues and at least this had two actors. And it was likely to please. I know the setting intimately and could summon immediately to mind every location that the actors mentioned. It was nicely written. I thought that the wife was really excellent although the husband failed to impress. It was full of [described] incident but I fell asleep [during one of the husband’s bits]. Never a really ringing endorsement. And Mr. Waffle did lighting for the director when they were all students together [Mr. Waffle’s lighting career probably peaked about then] and the director’s wife was in my bookclub years ago. So you can see how we really wanted to love it. But we didn’t. I think I preferred “Thor”. Will we all cry together?

Sense of Place

26 May, 2011 at 10:18 pm by belgianwaffle

Email from husband:
For URL nerds
Was looking at headlines on Google news (as you do) and saw this thing about a foiled plot to plant a hoax bomb in Kildare so as to annoy the Queen. The story is a bit dull but what amused me was the Belfast Telegraph’s URL classifications: local ? National ? Republic of Ireand ? Let’s have them all !

Is Féidir Linn

25 May, 2011 at 10:16 pm by belgianwaffle

Dublin is just about recovered from the past fortnight. During the Queen’s visit, former Taoiseach Garrett Fitzgerald died. In between the Queen’s departure and Barack Obama’s arrival, he was buried. A State funeral between the two biggest visits of the century so far, I’d say that the protocol people were gibbering by the end of it.

Obama had a very flying visit further curtailed by the danger of the Icelandic ash cloud confining him indefinitely to the land of his (very distant) ancestors. After the collective national holding of our breath which accompanied the Queen’s visit [historic moment, will someone assault her etc. etc.], Obama’s visit was much more relaxing. Ann-Marie Hourihan had a slightly cynical article about the Queen’s visit in yesterday’s Irish Times but she did make one comment that seemed to me very true: “The visit of Eilís A Dó has raised several interesting questions, but above all it demonstrated a central truth: official Ireland is fascinated with itself and never tires of hearing its own fragile story.”

Anyway, there didn’t seem to be the same need to prove ourselves with Obama and nobody was fazed by the Obamamobile getting stuck on a ramp leaving the US embassy. A huge crowd turned out at College Green to hear him speak in uplifting, slightly not-specific language. We just have a much, much less complicated relationship with America and we could all relax and enjoy it.

Well, not all of us, when I got home from work on Monday night no one was home. The children’s bus was cancelled due to the US presidential visit [crucially, not signalled on the Dublin Bus website] and they were traipsing home on foot with the childminder. When I called her they had reached a church about 20 minutes away. I told them to wait there and I would collect them. My poor mites were tired, cold [it was unseasonly chilly], hungry and cranky when I picked them up; they’d been tossed out of the church because the verger was closing up and they were sitting mournfully on the porch. “Obama cancelled our bus,” said the Princess bitterly, “I like the Queen much better.” “Well,” I pointed out, “the Queen cancelled your bus too.” “Yes,” she said, “but she gave us the day off school so it didn’t matter, God save the Queen.”

Oh yeah, and just like the Queen, Obama came out with some Irish. “Is féidir linn” he announced – as Des Bishop said on twitter: #isféidirlinn actually means we can and not #yeswecan but there is no direct translation for positivity in Irish. Nevertheless, I understand that the t-shirts are selling like hot cakes.

First Communion

24 May, 2011 at 10:13 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess made her first communion on Saturday. Although the weather was not terrific, the whole thing passed off reasonably peacefully. Relatives travelled from far and wide: one aunt from Holland, one from London, one great aunt and one grandmother from Cork and all the others from the South side of the Liffey, a journey which my brother pointed out was really further than any other.

As our house, alas, is too small to accommodate visitors, my mother stayed with an old friend of hers – a really lovely woman who is also a friend of mine. When I told her where the ceremony was she gasped in mock horror and said to my mother, “What have we done to our children?” And the location was a little daunting. The ceremony was in a church in the north inner city surrounded by boarded up flats and beautiful, though sadly decaying, Georgian buildings. Very authentic.

The congregation contained more people with tattoos than I have ever seen together in one place. When I mentioned this to a colleague she commented, “You’ve never been on a package holiday to the sun, then.” True, I suppose. Many of them were the kind of people you would feel slightly nervous about meeting in a dark alley. On the plus side, if you did meet them, clearly, “My daughter is your son’s class” would be a get out of gaol free card.

The service itself was lovely. The children looked very smart in their school uniforms. They all had speaking roles [in Irish] and they were very impressive. I was really proud of my little girl who delivered her prayer of the faithful confidently and fluently and who led singing after communion [reprise here]. Unlike other cases I have heard about, the congregation didn’t do odd things like talk loudly throughout the ceremony. Although those of us who spoke some Irish were at a considerable disadvantage as we would hop up when the priest said “Seasaigí” and nervously sit down again when we realised that the only other people standing were the first communicants.

After the mass we took ourselves off to a restaurant on the quays which served pizza and things that the grown-ups might like also and the Princess started raking in cash. She did say thank you very nicely to her generous relatives. As with all group events, it took ages for the food to arrive but, miraculously, all of the children were exceptionally well behaved. The boys were clearly influenced by their new jackets [too big, alas, worn over trousers which turned out to be too short, sigh] which they thought were very smart.

All in all, I think it went very well.

Questions, Questions

19 May, 2011 at 9:54 pm by belgianwaffle

“Why is no one in Ireland allowed to see the Queen?” the Princess asked me. Alas, this is completely accurate as security is v. tight and the Irish public have all become royalists overnight. Actually not, in fact, completely accurate, everyone in Ireland who is remotely famous, well-known or in the media did meet the Queen and they have been warbling about it in a slightly star struck way ever since: please see this effusion.

Also, watching the Queen at a stud farm on the news [only third item this evening, upstaged by the extraordinary DSK adventures and the death of former Taoiseach Garrett Fitzgerald] this evening, the Princess asked who is in charge in England now that the Queen is away. I said that they could call for advice, if they needed it but she persisted, “Does that man who has been waiting forever to be king get a chance to practice?” I think not.

Onwards, next week Obama.


17 May, 2011 at 9:38 pm by belgianwaffle

I have never seen so many Guards in my life.  Town was crawling with them today.  I wish I’d bought a camera.  Nevertheless, I was able to cycle into work around the cordon of steel in the morning without too much difficulty. Helicopters droned above my building all afternoon.

About 3.30 I met a colleague, originally from Northern Ireland, who had grabbed a place to see the excitement at 1 and was then sneaking back to the office.  She said that it was very difficult to get any kind of view.  Despite her [quite untrue] pleas to the Guards that she wanted to go to Clery’s [a large Department store] they wouldn’t let her through so she went down to the quays and back up O’Connell Street where, at last, at about 3, her patience was rewarded by sight of the Queen’s cavalcade.  She said that the crowd were very sunny [weather overcast though – the Queen is experiencing Irish weather at its most authentic] and there was lots of waving on both sides.  My colleague lost the run of herself and started clapping.  There were no Union Jacks except for one little boy who had obviously brought his own. 

My colleague said that she could hear the Garda radios and there was some trouble further up the street some alleged IRA man was causing a disturbance with a couple of protesters but it seemed to be in hand.  She felt, however, that neither the black balloons rising into the sky nor the bangers were likely to have been part of the official plan.  There was also some kind of protest in a side street near the office but they were miles from the action. 

I can’t help feeling that the Queen is probably not seeing Dublin at its best what with the protests, the rain, the relentless helicopter drone that is following her everywhere and the dull but worthy attractions she is covering during her once in a lifetime trip.  I mean, the Garden of Remembrance is all very symbolic and that but it’s quite a poorly laid out little park that isn’t even particularly attractive to the sandwich in the park brigade.  Croke Park is a stadium.  A historic stadium, but you know, essentially a big field. 

I suppose, at least she has the Phoenix Park to herself and the War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge are nice – designed by Lutyens, lots of roses too.  In the novel “Skippy Dies” the teacher takes his class there and is upbraided for taking them to somewhere so rough and dangerous.  Of course, compared to near where we live it’s a haven of tranquillity etc.  Let us hope that the Queen thinks so also.   And she’s scheduled to visit two stud farms on the way to Cork so that’s likely to make up for it, anyway.  And, of course, she’ll be going to Cork City– lucky old her.

Myself, I think that’s the worst of it over.  The Garden of Remembrance was always likely to be the trickiest.  It commemorates those killed in various uprisings over the centuries.  No prizes for guessing who they were uprising against. I feel that Croke Park [this link will take you to a piece highlighting incorrect use of the apostrophe] will be ok.  And after that, she’s not visiting anything particularly controversial.

And then we can move on to Barack Obama next week.  At least he’s not as big a security risk. Maybe some of the Guards will be allowed to go home.

The main event of the week is still being planned of course. I received a frustrated email from my brother about various Communion logistics wherein he observed bitterly: “I tell you there is more planning involved in Mum coming up for the day than in the Queen’s visit.” I can see a new cliché in the making.

Historic Times [now with extra traffic restrictions!]

16 May, 2011 at 10:59 pm by belgianwaffle

The Queen of England is arriving in Dublin tomorrow. I hadn’t spoken about it particularly at home. However, as we live in an exciting part of town, I recently realised that this information vacuum was being filled by what herself was reading on the lamp posts – “No Queen in the city of ’16”, for example. So I explained to them that this was a historic and welcome step in the normalisation of relations between two countries and so on.

The first intimations I had that this was likely to be deeply inconvenient historic step etc. etc. came some time later. Normally when the Queen [or ‘an Bhanríon Eilís’ as she is known in communications from our school] goes to places, children give her flowers. School children in Dublin whose schools are near places she is to visit are being given the day off. Instead of our children greeting her with flowers, I gather that there is to be a sniper on the roof to keep the Queen safe. This has, understandably, made her visit hugely popular with the children and it seems unlikely, at this point that Barack Obama’s historic visit next week [yes, really, next week] will measure up. Unless, that is, he goes to the same places and the CIA insist that the school is closed again, in which case, I will cry.

I understand from a friend of mine who is on the Western Circuit that prosecutions have stopped as there isn’t a Guard in left the West of Ireland. They’ve all been moved to Dublin for the impending back to back State visits. This morning, most of these Guards appeared to be posted in the centre of Dublin between our home and the children’s school. I am forced to confess that if I were looking for dissident republicans in Dublin, I would certainly start in our postcode area and areas adjacent. It’s a bit unfortunate that two of the Queen’s official engagements take her into the heart of these areas. I suppose that she’s been in more dangerous places, Northern Ireland leaps to mind but still, I wouldn’t fancy it myself, if I were her. Of course, if I were her, I would have abdicated years ago, so, quite different personality types then.

This morning, the traffic was dreadful with many roads sealed off. In the car, on the radio [as opposed to in person, ok you knew that], the Garda Commissioner refused to comment on whether British police would be lining the streets of Dublin and reinforcing Gardai. But he made positive noises about co-operation and excellent working relationships with British counterparts.

We abandoned the car some distance from our destination and skipped through bizarrely car free streets to the school, being diverted several times on the way. On the way we saw authorities hacking away at foliage with untoward vigour. Doubtless more security measures. At the final hurdle a guard seemed to have been authorised to let us in and he ushered us through saying cheerfully, “Brostaigí!” [Hurry up]. Michael turned to him and said, in tones of amazement, “You’re English, but you know Irish!” The Guard was somewhat baffled, as was I, until I recalled the discussion on the radio. This you realise, is 24 hours BEFORE the monarch’s plane touches down on Irish soil. As we were going around several windy blocks [with Daniel complaining bitterly that he was freezing but that he wouldn’t wear that coat because he didn’t like it], she was quite possibly sitting in Buckingham Palace having toast. I suppose that’s a perk of a job that involves being protected by snipers.

Apparently, there is no private car access to one of the city’s main maternity hospitals for security reasons on Tuesday and Wednesday. Trained obstetricians will be posted on the street corners to make sure that those approaching the hospital on foot are really pregnant [ok, I made that up].

And the Queen’s visit has even more momentous counsequences, on Wednesday, the children are going to school but will not be able to leave the school premises during school hours. What is the problem with this you ask? Well, it was to be the occasion of one of the final church rehearsals for Saturday’s First Communion and they have been unexpectedly confined to base. The múinteoir is apparently tearing her hair out. I think that they still had quite a bit of rehearsal to go. My suggestion to herself that they might spend the time in prayer and spiritual preparation fell on distinctly stony soil.

I also work in the city centre and ever more alarming press releases have been circulated on to staff from the Garda press office and public transport providers.

Edited highlights from Press Release circulated last week [my comments in brackets]:

General advice:

There will be diversions and rolling road closures which will be flagged in advance.

For security reasons, there will be periodic searches of pedestrians and vehicles by members of An Garda Síochána at key locations.

The following roads are among the routes that will be subject to temporary closures at various times between 17 May and 20 May 2011 (full details to be notified to the public when finalised and closer to the time):

N7, N4 and M50 [i.e. main routes out of the City to the South and the motorway around Dublin – the M50 is to Dublin what the M25 is to London]

Phoenix Park [Apparently, the Phoenix park is closed for 2 weeks. For 2 WEEKS – this is the Queen and Barack Obama combined – they are both staying there [sequentially, obviously, otherwise the protocol and logistics might kill us all]. Problems with this include the following: it’s a huge amenity for the city – I think it’s the largest city park in Europe – it has the zoo, playgrounds, cricket pitches, polo fields, GAA grounds, parkland, deer, the President’s house, a hospital, a main road running through the middle of it, the US ambassador’s residence and a residence for visiting dignataries. You can see how those last two have turned out to be more problematic than planned. My sister tells me that every time I phone her, I say, “Do you know that they’re going to close the Phoenix Park for 2 WEEKS?”]
North and South Quays, and adjacent bridges and streets. [All the traffic in Dublin flows along the quays, stop the quays, nothing moves anywhere – yeah, I know, great system].

There will be no parking in the following areas from 06:00 on Saturday 14 May [i.e. the Saturday before the Tuesday on which the Queen’s plane touches down] to Friday 20 May 2011. Barriers will be placed along all or some of these routes over the same time period:
Chesterfield Avenue, North Quays, South Quays, Parkgate Street, O’ Connell Street, Parnell Square (All Sides), D’Olier Street, Westmoreland Street, College Street, Grafton Street, Nassau Street, South Leinster Street, Lincoln Place,Westland Row, Pearse Street, Bridge Street, High Street, Cornmarket, Thomas Street,
James’s Street, Crane Street, Bellevue, Lord Edward Street, Dame Street, Conyngham Rd, Rainsford Street, Christchurch Place, South Circular Road (Con Colbert rd – Conyngham Rd), Beresford Place, Gardiner Street, Mountjoy Square, Fitzgibbon Street, Russell Street, Jones Rd, Memorial Rd, Castle Street, Werburgh Street, Ship Street, Stephen St, Guild Street, Sherriff Street Upper
[This is essentially, EVERY street in the city centre.]

And then, if you were thinking of taking the tram, the following turned up in inboxes:

On Tuesday May 17 2011 the Luas Red Line service, (Tallaght to Connolly and The Point Stops) will run as normal between Tallaght and Connolly until 13:00pm. From 13:00pm till 17. 15pm service will operate between Tallaght and Blackhorse Stops only. Please also note, Luas Abbey Street Stop on Tuesday May 17 will be closed from 5.30am to 17:15pm Passengers are advised to watch this website (www.luas.ie) for updated information. Similarly, there will be Red Line service changes on Wednesday May 18 2011. Luas Red line service will operate normally from Tallaght to Connolly stop until 8.25am. From 8.25am till later in the evening, approximately 16.25pm the service will operate between Tallaght and Blackhorse Stop only.

And then, the rail services added their mite:

Full services will operate across DART, Commuter & Intercity, with the following alterations:
There will be some brief suspension of services between Connolly and Pearse at the request of Gardaí for security reasons, at the following times:

10.45hrs-11.15hrs; 14.30hrs-15.00hrs, 15.30hrs-16.00hrs

During these times, northside services will operate from Howth / Malahide and Drogheda to and from Connolly Station; and Southside services will operate from Bray and Greystones to and from Pearse Station, meaning customers will still be able to travel to and from the city. There will also be delays to Maynooth line services.

Maynooth services will not serve Drumcondra Station between 10.30hrs and 16.00hrs on Wednesday 18th May. Trains will operate to a full schedule, but will not stop at Drumcondra.

Europa League Final

At the request of the Gardaí, for security reasons, Lansdowne Road Station will be closed from 17.00hrs to 20.00hrs on Wednesday 18th May, the evening of the UEFA Europa League Final.

Customers should travel to and from Grand Canal Dock Station or Sandymount Station during this time.

Did you like the way the Europa League Final is also scheduled? Is it any wonder that there are no Guards left in the West?

More Matters Linguistic

11 May, 2011 at 7:52 pm by belgianwaffle

Vignette 1

Me: Michael, how will you be able to speak to people when we go to France on holidays, if you don’t speak French to M (childminder).
Michael (with dignity): I am saving my French so that I don’t use it up before we go to France on holidays.

Vignette 2

A colleague of mine whom I know quite well and who speaks very good Irish encourages my faltering attempts to speak in our first national language by exchanging the odd bit of dialogue with me.

The other day we both had to attend a long meeting with a big group [like all such meetings, it was one to look forward to], for which he arrived quite late. I suspected that he had forgotten our vital meeting as I had seen him out the window emerging from the canteen with a cup of coffee. Not the act of a man in a rush.

After the meeting, I went up to him and said as much. Attempting the language of our forefathers, I said, “An rinne tú dearmad ar an gcrinniú?” “An ndearna,” he said, neatly pulling the rug from under my feet. “I knew that,” I wailed. This is why our first national language is so delightful:
An ndearna tú? – Did you?
Ní dhearna mé – I didn’t.
Rinne mé – I did.

That’s only the past tense, lads.


4 May, 2011 at 10:29 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess’s first communion approaches. Today, her grandfather realised that it is also the day of the Heineken Cup final. Torn between two lovers etc.

Herself has made a calendar on which she is crossing out the days up to the 21st, noting significant events. I asked her had she included space for prayer and spiritual preparation. “If múinteoir asks me, I will provide for that,” she said coldly. She still doesn’t quite see what her father and I find so hilarious about this.

Critical Appreciation

3 May, 2011 at 10:24 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: Guess what Daddy and I went to see in the cinema last night?
Daniel and Michael: What?
Me [Don’t mock – even the teenage ticket vendor sneered at us]: Thor, God of Thunder
Them [in unison]: And hater of hair cuts.
Me [Trying to figure out some parts of the plot]: Who were Thor’s enemies that he defeated?
Michael: The Jacobites.

Sweet Cork of Thee

2 May, 2011 at 10:16 pm by belgianwaffle

I took the children to Cork last week leaving Mr. Waffle to work alone in the big smoke. I stayed with my parents who I felt would welcome the excitement of being woken early, feeding our picky eaters and generally bonding with their grandchildren. That last worked well, the Princess and her grandmother are now both addicted to “Keeping up Appearances“.

We made the obligatory trip to Fota. I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself. Mr. Waffle, safe in his Dublin fastness, suggested that it might be fun to go. Hah. It was a warm day and I covered the children in sunscreen. Michael and Daniel insisted on wearing their jumpers which they resolutely kept on all day – turning slowly purple in the heat.

No sooner had we passed through the gates (long queue, of course) than the children scented the possibility of acquiring plush toys. Once this hurdle had been cleared, they threw themselves into the playground by the gate paying scant attention to the monkeys sitting nearby. The Princess discovered that she does not like sand in her sandals and, to my horror, I saw her sitting in the middle of the playground licking the sand off her toes. Does this kind of thing happen to anyone else?

We then hurried on to the cafe in the centre of the park because everyone was hungry. The cafe had long queues and the food was quite vile. I lost each of the children in turn in the seething mass of humanity in the nearby playground and, of course, had to drag the other two, unwillingly, on the search, so that I didn’t compound my losses. I spent €27 on a range of items which the children might eat. The Princess ate most of hers. Daniel ate some chips. Michael ate two or three chips, announced he was full and skipped out to the playground. As is his form, 15 minutes later, when the food was gone, he announced that he was hungry. Ice creams followed. Daniel kept asking to go on the little train around the park but we always seemed to miss it and he spent much of the day looking after it mournfully. At no point, other than when we saw the baby penguins in the incubator, did they show the slightest interest in the animals. Sigh.

Obligatory giraffe picture. They’re all looking at me exploding with rage.

On Friday, the boys and I dropped my parents’ car into town to get the clutch fixed. We found ourselves in the centre of town at 8.45. It was a perfect morning. Blue skies, leafy vistas and no one in town but ourselves. The boom was kind to Cork and the centre didn’t change fundamentally, it just got nicer. Cork is at its best in summer, it feels like a compact appealing maritime town which is exactly what it used to be. For me, there is nowhere in the world that is so lovely early on a sunny day. Maybe the fact that I no longer live there added some enchantment to the view.

We went into the market for a wander. The lady in the egg stall gave us free duck eggs to try and confided that they were all very excited about the Queen of England’s forthcoming visit. Michael walked around the market holding his nose because it was full of disgusting smells like olives, fish and fresh bread.

We got back to my parents’ house in time to watch the British royal wedding. Sample conversation during same:
Daniel: When will this be over, I want to watch cartoons!
Michael: Why can’t we watch cartoons?
Their mother, sister and grandmother: Wait, wait, look they’re going to kiss on the balcony.

Herself was somewhat confused by the extensive references to the Irish Guards and shouted out gleefully, “Look Mummy, the Gardaí are coming.” Of course, having spent the week in my parents’ house, we were fully aware of all aspects of the wedding. My father reads the Daily Telegraph – does it make it better or worse that they used to always take it in his house when he was growing up? The Telegraph outdid itself last week with pictures of the happy couple on the front page every day.

After the wedding, I prodded the children out the door to the beach. Despite considerable reluctance, they loved Garretstown beach where they had never been before and all got wet to varying degrees.


And then into Kinsale afterwards for an ice cream.

Is it always the last day of a holiday that’s the best?


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