Tag Archives: Dublin

You South African beauty

Nelson MandelaWho could resist that winning smile? Well… 28+ years in prison proves there’s no accounting for taste.

What a beautiful man.

He may have been a bit of a rubbish MK leader of the armed struggle, but Rolihlahla the troublemaker went on to be the world’s most effective ambassador for peace and reconciliation in prison and afterwards. (Though here’s a less rosy view of Mandela’s legacy.) He changed tack on HIV/Aids too. If only more of us were able accept enlightenment.

I was fascinated with South Africa when I was young – one of the causes. So in 1984, when “Mary Manning of Kilmainham, a 21-year-old cashier” (as the song goes) and IDATU member was suspended for refusing to sell South African (apartheid) produce in Dunnes Stores on Henry Street in Dublin, Irish Anti Apartheid Movement members like myself got up to mischief at other Dunnes branches in support.

The strike never really grabbed the popular imagination in Ireland, but it also led to a law change on the import of apartheid produce to the country, and the strikers eventually had a street named after them in post-apartheid Johannesburg. Back then the strike made me proud to be Irish. (Here’s the song – I can’t find the Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger version.)

Nelson Mandela mural, Falls Road, Belfast 1988

Nelson Mandela mural, Falls Road, Belfast 1988

Nelson Mandela has long been (appropriated as) an icon in some parts of Belfast. However, to be fair to the appropriators, the same man seemed pleased and sympathetic.

I guess it was at least partly because of Madiba that I travelled to work and wander in South Africa. Lots of good times.

Among the highlights – taking a street paper seller to Cape Point (he was the only black visitor), operating an informal taxi service for the day round Khayelitsha Continue reading

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The oddest place I’ve ever slept…

It was pipe like this – except without the bed, the door, the electric light…

Top five oddest places I’ve slept in, on or under…

  1. In a pipe – at some construction site near Grenoble, France. (“Ce n’est pas un lit,” I thought to myself.) I woke and left before being hoisted up by a crane.
  2. Under a wardrobe (and some mattresses) – after a big night in Dublin. Took a while to be discovered and then extricated.
  3. At the edge of a cliff – by accident. It was dark. We had been trekking over some small mountains. We were tired. Luckily – so we didn’t walk any further forward. In the morning we discovered the tent was covered in snow. As was the land on either side. But not in front. That’s where the cliff was – and the sea.
  4. By petrol pumps near Karlsruhe, Germany. That’s where my last lift dropped me. I’d hitched from Poland. There was grass and undergrowth which looked more soft and inviting, but was rustling with quare fellas.* So a nap amidst the hard surfaces, flourescent lighting and idling engines seemed preferable.
  5. In the middle of a sentence while broadcasting live on the radio. One moment I was giving out some racing results, then next I was slurring… murmuring… silent. People checked the tuning on their radios. Then they heard snoring. How mortifying.** Continue reading

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Parachute sex and molten lava cakes

High time I took a break from my self-absorption (thanks Maxi) and shared some moving, joyous and simply bizarre goodies from elsewhere.

Parachute sex & frisky turtles from SamHenry. She usually keeps a beady eye on US politics and economics, but amorous airborne antics are distracting her. It’s a funny news story, played straight for more laughs. And then there are the turtles – very very… intrusive? C’mon, if you were a turtle, or even if you weren’t, would you want someone filming your orgasm face?

The Secret of Molten Lava from Kristina at Ten Minute Missive. Firstly, you get a nom-nom recipe for molten lava cakes – the result of a happy accident. Secondly, you get a brave, honest, moving and enlightening account of coping with depression. It’s better than I’ve made that sound.

Two books to read (& even buy) by Gerard Butler Brennan at CrimeSceneNI. As well as being top bloke and providing a thriving online forum for the new wave of Northern Irish thriller writers (and some from south of the border, Scotland and the USA), Gerard also has Wee Rockets published as an e-book and The Point out in paperback. Oh, and if you want to hear and see him blethering on in person, he’ll be on a panel at Derry Central Library on Tuesday (Oct 18th) talking about the Booker Prize winner as the award is announced.

Still looking for something new and noirish to read – let Sean Patrick Reardon guide you. Don’t let the hat put you off. He writes himself – he’s the author of Mindjacker – but he also consistently links to other interesting new writers – lots in the USA, with a bias towards crime and mystery.

Póló falls foul of the tourism propaganda police in Dublin. Sure, tourist boards aim to put forward an appealing face of wherever they’re promoting. But when they announce a flickr forum and claim to welcome everyone to contribute with the sole proviso that the picture content is related to Dublin, should that bar the the inclusion of beggars? Should only the glitzy primped preened and sanitized version of the city by shown? Should Póló’s images be banned from next year’s tourism calendar? See for yourself here.

And finally…Liverpool Salad and Sheffield Panino. Add a foreign placename and a dish or phenomenon suddenly sounds exotically appealing. Wonder how well that would work if you were to encounter English placenames used in the same way abroad? Journo and travel writer Rudy Noriega did in Palermo, and reveals all at his Gullible’s Travels blog. Made me smile anyway.

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Forget paperbacks or ebooks – the next books are on T-shirts

Hardbacks, paperbacks and now ebooks too. What do they have in common? They’re old news.

You could be reading – or publishing – your next book on a T-shirt. Continue reading

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The dog wee art wipe man

So many questions. What is it about New Yorkers and their dogs?

Is it art?

And have I just met the most dedicated art lover in the world? Continue reading

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My favourite St Patrick’s Day joke

So now you know how the miracle happened. Obvious when you think about it really. Happy St Patrick’s Day to you all.   (The cartoon is an episode of The Adventures of Festy O’Semtex, from the July 1st 1994 edition of Phoenix Magazine, Dublin.)

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