Sunday, 26 June 2011

What's Not To Like About Dinneen's Dictionary?

botún  –  a smith’s paring knife; an unfledged bird; an irreparable mistake.

dúdóg  – a box on the ear;  a small horn or trumpet: a tobacco pipe; a pinch of snuff.

fearb  –  a welt; a stripe; a blotch caused by a satire; the peg-box of a violin.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Dingle Wow Factor

This is the view from Gorman's Clifftop House back west of Dingle. Thanks for the photo, Síle.

The lilies are arums, natives of South Africa and practically weeds in western Australia. They're tall, ivory-coloured flowers with golden stamens. Their petals are like vellum powdered with shining pollen. The leaves curl round the stems like deep-green medieval scrolls.

Each year they flourish here on the western edge of the Atlantic. Not troubled by wind or spray or the thousands of miles of turquoise ocean between this last Celtic corner of Europe and the next parish, in America.

They're happy incomers, like myself.

I'm writing this on the Dingle peninsula. Sunshine. Showers. Mist. And sunshine again. It's the longest day of summer. The earth and stone walls by the roadsides have disappeared under miles of scarlet fuchsia and bee orchids, and bright orange montbretia with neon-green leaves. Fuchsia and montbretia are exotic outsiders too. They've escaped from formal gardens to flourish here in freedom.

Among them grow native plants, briars and ferns, cow parsley and valerian, the tiny purple orchids, and powder-blue cornflowers. I can see them now through my window, foreigners and locals, happily sharing the sunshine.

When you come here it's hard to leave. Like me, some visitors just stay put.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Voyage Of Bran

So they enter the glass boat and sail into the west. And the vision of the island is always before them, coming and going in the mist. And the mist is purple and silver. And light streams from the sky

On the seventh day they hear singing . 

And Manannán comes towards them, driving his chariot over the waves. 

And he sings of what he sees. 

They think they're rowing on water but the god sees a plain of flowers. For him, the leaping salmon are dancing lambs, and the glass boat floats over an orchard of branching fruit-trees. 

The voyagers hear the wind but Manannán hears music. And the music is all around them, between the dark waters of the ocean and the high arc of the sky.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Marbh Le Tae*

I'm blogging about tea. 

Without it I wouldn't be here today. No, literally, I wouldn't be sitting here at my computer writing this. I'd be gibbering in some padded environment where I'd been confined for my own protection. Actually, hold that thought, I need a cup of tea ...

.... had that. Better now.

So, here's what happened. My computer crashed. And - here's the ironic bit - it was caused by my anti-virus software. ( Don't ask. I can't go back over it again. It's too soon. ) So I screamed, shut down and re-booted. My screen  looked like an ultrasound image of something terribly diseased. Nothing worked. I screamed a bit more and made tea. Then I cried because there wasn't any milk.

Then I lugged it round to a wonderful guy on the Tower Bridge Rd. who got it up and running again. 

Then I lugged it home, plugged it up, re-installed my printer software, thought of starting work, and put the kettle on instead. Then I re-installed my Netgear software.

And screamed.

I'd lost my broadband connection. 

So, six hours on the phone to India. Not all at once. In hideous chunks of various sizes interspersed with brief half-hours of false elation. Time and again all seemed fine. I'd thank the technical help guy with tears in my eyes, and make a celebratory cup of tea. And then I'd try to get online again and find I couldn't.
Eventually, the magnificent second supervisor solved the problem in a shared screen session. Which was actually rather cool. He sat there in India and I sat there in Bermondsey, watching my cursor dodging round my screen. While we waited for things to happen, he told me the sun was shining in Mumbai and I told him it was pouring rain in London. And we both drank tea. 

* It's a saying in Irish. If you don't have connectivity problems you can probably find out what it means online .

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

From There to Here

Up at seven to stick things in a bag and drive to the airport. Stop on the way to say goodbye to the neighbours and the dogs. 

Airport, coffee, security, more coffee, magazine, bee-line across the tarmac, and – success! – a seat with decent leg-room. Stick jacket in overhead locker. Sit down. Belt up. Take out magazine.


Unbelt, stand up, remove jacket from overhead locker. Find glasses. Reverse entire process until belted up again. Put on glasses. Bing-bong. Remove glasses. Safety demo. And suddenly I'm on my way from one world to another.

But it's not like life in Corca Dhuibhne and life in Bermondsey are totally different, or that I lead different existences in each. Instead they're locked and linked, like stones in a wall, each supporting the other and making a powerful whole. Or so I like to think.

Tea this morning in Woolfson & Tay, and a walk down to More London. Wonder what Spot would make of the Bermondsey St. dogs? Probably see them as a crowd of sissies, poncing about in their leopardskin collars. But maybe not. Her pups are gone now, off to their new homes, and she doesn’t seem to be suffering from empty shed syndrome. Actually, she looks more like she’s about to get a haircut, a French manicure, and sign up to the gym. So maybe she'd fit right in.