When we came back from Belgium, Saint Nicolas came with us. He didn’t come last year as we had been back in Ireland several years and he just can’t cover everyone. However, due to persistent local demand, he is coming tonight. At least, I hope he is; boots have been left by the fireplace, a carrot for his donkey in the hall and a bottle of beer on the table. Yes, beer, Leffe, since you ask. He is a Belgian tradition after all.
Archives for December 2011
Slightly unlikely but, nevertheless, today I cycled along a road lined with winter flowering cherry trees and it was lovely.
A new priest turned up to say mass this morning. “Good morning,” he boomed cheerfully into the microphone, “I am Fr. Pat from America.” We all sat up and had a good look at Fr. Pat. He’s the new head of All Hallows and he was reaching out to us. I think it’s fair to say that we were all a bit tense about the reaching out. The majority of the congregation is well over 60 and the remainder of us are timid, nervous creatures (apparently only 14% of Dubliners are weekly mass goers so my whipping out the children on a Sunday morning must add significantly to the total).
During the sermon he made us all repeat several times “dignity, passion, believe”. We didn’t evince enough enthusiasm for him and I was irresistibly reminded of the pantomime which we graced with our presence last weekend as he tried to whip up his lacklustre congregation.
In his sermon, he talked about how he had been at a conference and the organisers had asked how would they introduce him. “Now,” he said, “I have lots of formal official titles, but that was a moment for me, I said, ‘Just introduce me as child of God.'” I know he meant to be humble and I shouldn’t mock but I found myself thinking, “Wasn’t that really just being a bit awkward for everyone concerned?” I mean, we’re all children of God and it would be handy to know what particular attributes this child of God might have before he addressed the audience.
We had to do the “passion, dignity believe” thing again at the end of mass and we were urged to communicate these words to those around us during the week. I’m not getting any pictures here.
The older I get, the more conservative I get; doubtless I’ll be looking for the Latin mass back soon. As for Fr. Pat, I’d say he has his work cut out for him. I represent the liberal face of the Church in Ireland.
Me (to children): What’s my job?
Them: To mind the house and be a housewife.
Me: And what’s Daddy’s job?
Them: To go out to work and make money.
Micheal: And to do the laundry.
Need I say that we both work outside the home and split work around the house equally?
“Snuff” by Terry Pratchett
Not vintage Pratchett but not bad by any means. Involves smuggling and slavery.
“Abyssinian Chronicles”by Moses Isegawa [New Year’s Resolution]
I bought this because it got good reviews. It sat beside my bed for years. Picking it up and reading the back did not fill me with enthusiasm. It’s by a Ugandan who moved to the Netherlands. Funnily enough, this first novel is also about a Ugandan who moved to the Netherlands. And it was going to feature magical realism. I hate magical realism. Whenever I think of Ben Okri’s “The Famished Road”, I feel mildly ill. However, good news – there was no visible magical realism. In fact it zooms along with lots of plot and incident. Our hero spends about 100 pages in a catholic boys’ boarding school and though the time, context and many other things were different, I was very surprised how much the mood reminded me of the school in Paul Murray’s “Skippy Dies”. That book features a Dublin boarding school which is a very thinly veiled description of a school run by Holy Ghost fathers – a missionary order, I do wonder whether our hero also attended a Holy Ghost seminary and could that explain the atmosphere or are all boys’ boarding schools, in some ways, the same? It drags though. 460 pages is a good 200 too many. But, you know, it could have been a lot worse. Author is very keen on lush adjectival use which is tiring. But let those of us without sin etc.
“Des Histoirs Vraies” by Sophie Calle [New Year’s Resolution]
More art than literature. A series of pictures about her life taken by the artist and her commentary on them. Mildly disturbing.
“Dei Bambini Non Si Sa Niente” by Simona Vinci [New Year’s Resolution]
This got good reviews and I thought it would be good for my Italian. It is a good book and it was good for my Italian. Unfortunately, it is also a deeply unpleasant and disturbing book. Not recommended if you are at all sensitive.
“Ladysmith” by Giles Foden [New Year’s Resolution]
I read and disliked “The Last King of Scotland” by the same author. Why would I torture myself this way? I suppose I was curious about the Boer War. “The Last King of Scotland” is a very literary book about Idi Amin in Uganda. This is not literary. In fact, it’s pretty clichÃ©d in many places. It begins with an eviction in the West of Ireland. It has a distinct whiff of shure and begorrah. The action then moves to South Africa where anyone who turned up at all at the Boer War puts in a cameo: Churchill, Gandhi, MacBride (one for Irish audiences) – you name them, they’re there. It’s alright, I suppose and, mercifully, a very easy read, but mostly underwhelming. And also, I still didn’t know who’d won the Boer War at the end.
“Death Bringer” by Derek Landy
The latest Skulduggery Pleasant offering and very acceptable, if you like teenage fantasy novels set in Dublin. Go on, you know you do.
My son Daniel is obsessed with Star Wars although he has never seen it. I may have seen it once but I can’t really say that, despite my interest in sci-fi in general, it really held my interest. I think that’s because it was really bad. Daniel has never seen the film but, perhaps, over Christmas, that pleasure will be granted to him.
In the interim, he brought this tome home from the library. It’s a list of all of the Star Wars plastic figurines ever made. He showed it to me proudly and said, “I brought this home for you, Mummy.” “Why?” I asked warily. “Because you love Star Wars,” he said happily. We spent quite a while going through it. What can I say, if you love “Star Wars”, then the plastic figurines are endlessly fascinating. In other news, my daughter compared me to Jabba the Hut. You can see a figurine of him on page 146 along along with a piece of dialogue from the film which shows why it makes the heart sing: “There will be no bargain, young Jedi I shall enjoy watching you die.”