Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy. ~Ernest Benn

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Closing Time

I wrote the following in a letter to a friend back in August.  Farewell, Mr. Cohen; thank you for the words…   With all the Doom & Gloom (sounds like a firm of Undertakers), it was nice this week to come across this…somewhat sad, somewhat lovely…little item. And I just wanted to share it – simply because it is lovely and, anyway, I always think that Leonard Cohen is a true Romantic. I’m sure you’ve heard his beautiful song So long, Marianne, which was written about a gorgeous young Norwegian woman (I’m just looking at her photo here) that he was in love with back in the summer of their lives, having met her in 1960. Well, as these things happen, they split up in 1970.  She was quite conventional and Cohen had for a while slipped into a lifestyle of drugs and groupies.  But in 1992 he said of the woman who inspired his famous song: “Marianne, the woman of So long, Marianne, when I hear her voice on the phone, I know something is completely intact, even though our lives have separated and we’ve gone our different paths.” Well, Marianne died last week on June 29th, of leukemia, 46 years after they separated.  She was living in Oslo and was 81 years of age, the same age as her one-time lover.  When he heard that she had been taken to hospital he sent this letter, which was read out to her two days before she passed: “Well, Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon.  Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. “And you know... Full Article →

Memories of Europe… Before the Flood

This article appears in Chicago’s ‘Irish American News’ for November, 2016.   If there even was such an outlandish idea as having a ‘gap year’ back in the 70s, then I had never heard of it.  It just wasn’t something that you did back then. All I knew was that I had just finished reading James Michener’s huge novel The Drifters and – with the last of my exams out of the way — I was keen to wave goodbye to home and follow what was left of the hippy trail throughout Europe. For an 18-year-old with a head full of romantic notions Mr. Michener had painted a hell of an enticing word-picture of free love, music, sunshine and adventure; and even though I was a decade behind his merry band of multicultural travelers, this was something I just had to do. Try explaining to anyone under thirty what it was like for a teenager to get around Europe in those days and they’ll look at you as if you fell off the back of the turnip boat.  Relax; I’m not going to drone on about 24 of us living in a shoe box in the middle of the road.  However, I’m reasonably certain that today’s average kid would probably have a massive brain embolism if you suggested to him that he find his way through northern Spain without Google Maps or an iPhone to hold his hand every step of the way. Travelling alone, my Bible – my absolutely essential, couldn’t-do-without-it, item – was a book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe.  And with that by my side I had as wonderful and magical a year as any young man could wish for. First experiences of Amsterdam, of Paris, of Marseilles.  Seeing them again years later, with the quiet... Full Article →

Straight Outta Mayo: Kenny Finds his Mojo

Straight Outta Mayo: Kenny Finds his Mojo     This was written a couple of weeks back.  I don’t think that anything has really changed, apart from Mr. Martin clarifying the clarifications on the U-turn that’s not one. I am amused, though, at Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly commenting that when it comes to water charges, Fianna Fáil has ‘more positions than the Kama Sutra’.  Considering what they did to the country the last time they were left in charge, it seems like a rather apt piece of imagery.   This piece appears in Chicago’s ‘Irish American News’ for October, 2016. What a week!  First of all Dame Edna Kenny gets his mojo back; and then Fianna Fáil makes a complete turn-around on water charges — which isn’t really a U-turn at all, according to no one but Micheál Martin.  I swear, between the lot of them, they have my head more bent out of shape than usual – and that’s really saying something. Whilst the Fine Gael Party were fretting, sweating and wondering what in the name of all that’s holy AND unholy they have to do to finally get rid of their Beloved Leader, Kenny somehow slipped off the straightjacket, escaped from his handlers and was let loose to actually come out with something that was unscripted. And let’s be honest, we know that NEVER ends well. Obviously still suffering from the rush of blood to the head that saw him playing air guitar at a recent Bruce Springsteen concert, the Dame told a bewildered interviewer: “I’m not interested in history personally at all insofar as myself is concerned.  I didn’t enjoy the election.  I had a reflection on this over the summer.  As I say, I’ve got my mojo back.” Now in fairness, the episode with the air... Full Article →

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