Good Friday Agreement 20 Years on

If I Was Us, I Wouldn’t Start From Here
by Damian Gorman

Especially in a broken home like ours,

Where broken floors and windows feed the cold,

Each generation has a sacred task –

To tell a better story than it was told.

For we are reared by stories in such places,

Clawing through the bitter draughts of these

For something we can truly get a hold of

That seems to help us off our shattered knees.

The kind of myth my generation supped

Was, “We have better heroes than they’ve got.

For ours are much more decent – to a fault,

And if we’ve a rotten apple, they’ve the Rot”.

Our steps are now, at best, precise and formal

Like dressage horses going nowhere well;

Our peace a thing we part-baked in the 90s

And left to prove, and got used to the smell.

Yet even in this half-peace we are living

Where death is only half-dead, I am sure

That we could learn to change our tunes completely,

But if I was us, I wouldn’t start from here.

If I was us I wouldn’t start from here

For here’s a swamp we’ve stood in for too long.

We haven’t kept our heads above the water,

And haven’t seen a thing where we have gone

And we should fly now – frightened for our children –

Kick off the bottom, rush towards the air,

And break the water into different daylight

And gasp, and say what we can see from there.

For especially in a broken home like ours,

Where broken floors and windows feed the cold,

Each generation has a sacred task –

To tell a better story than it was told:

A story made, as honey is in bees,

From things that we have found outside ourselves.

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Petty thief

We have a thief in the workplace. Not the typical purloiner of pens and pencils, but someone who steals our food from the communal kitchen.

What would make a person steal food from their colleagues? I would willingly share my food if someone had none, but I like to be asked. If it’s being done for kicks…I hope they get a kicking…

Not quite a wanted poster, something to prick the conscience?

I am the thief
Who steals your beef
I raid your private places
My conscience clear
I have no fear
There are no clues or traces

And so I take and feel no shame
It’s just for kicks, a wicked game
The thrill of daring deeds
I trample on your moral stance
I see the stuff and take a chance
And pander to my needs

 

Rabbie Burns

On 25th January there will be celebrations across the world for one of the most celebrated Scottish poets, Robert Burns.

rabbie burns

 

In Belfast we will have various cultural events to honour this unconventional libertine whose words resonated with ordinary Scots…

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee!

The Scots English language had rarely been expressed in print, in this phonetic style, prior to Robert Burns’ pamphlets and other publications. The style was looked down on by traditional poets. Hip hop is given the same treatment by some folk today.

We can see a modern literary form of the way Scottish people speak in the books of Irvine Walsh, author of Trainspotting.

Haggis, neaps and tatties and peaty whisky all round.

Have a listen to this Rabbie Burns song, Scots Wha Hae

 

 

Cures for Love

cupid

…Good luck to any lover who likes loving;

Let him rejoice and sail before the wind.

But if some minx has got him in her clutches,

Succour and safety in my art he’ll find.

Why should a lover knot a noose and dangle

Aloft from a high beam, a tragic weight?

Why plunge a sword-blade in his breast? This bloodshed

Is yours, peace-lover, and it earns you hate.

Let him who’ll die of love unless he ends it,

End it; then you shall be the death of none.

You are a boy; you’re only fit for playing….

Ovid’s discourse with Cupid

from Ovid – The Love Poems translated by A.D. Melville

Goldfinch

I have been putting off finishing Donna Tartt’s brilliant book, Goldfinch. Not because I was struggling with the rich language or complicated characters. That’s what makes the book a great read. It was the disappointment I knew I was facing when I had to say goodbye to Boris and Theo and finish reading the last page of this hefty tome.

goldfinch

What next? Ovid beckons…maybe a 1955 translation from the library?

Is it Ovid time again?

Repressive regimes are prevalent once again throughout the world. What is it about freedom that frightens those who live their lives shackled to order and strict regimens?

Maybe that’s it – insecurity due to lack of empathy for those who take the unconventional paths, push boundaries and challenge dogma.

Ovid

Emperor Augustus was a bit like that. Fed up with all the louche behaviour of the Roman aristocracy, and it was full-on debauchery, he was determined to restore high moral values and issued edicts to that effect.

Ovid liked a bit of loucheness but was more interested in poking fun at killjoys with his witty poetry. I have yet to read Ovid’s Metamorphoses, but look forward to a slow read.

Ovid sailed too close to the wind and got himself banished to the furthest point East of the Roman Empire.

Kitchen Aesthetics

Our kitchen is a mess, and I don’t just mean the usual clutter you might find in any bohemian kitchen. The arrangement of cupboards, the location of the oven and the choice of colour are not to our taste.

We have lived with the irritating setup for about  15 years. There was an opportunity to redesign the ground floor space two years ago, but we hired an air ambulance for the miscreant instead.

As the person who spends the most time in the kitchen whether pottering about, sorting out laundry, listening to the radio or actually cooking, I feel as if my choices should carry some weight. Poor misguided fool that I am.

black kettle

My son impressed upon me the need for a fast boiling kettle to replace the silver-finish slow-boiling kettle that still functioned, albeit slowly. Tesco had a choice of two colours. I chose white over black. There’s too much darkness and I like the blue light framed in white plastic. Wrong. Black would go with the silvery toaster and the black and silvery monstrosity that is our new coffee machine.

I look forward to the day when we sit at our breakfast bar looking across at the black eye-level oven wondering when the brioche will be warm enough to put on our white plates next to the white kettle.