All I’m saying, Shakey.

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves. Rachel Malik.

This will be brief as I am working at working less while the kids are on holidays. So far, my approach has been a complete failure. There was a pause last week, like when the TV goes snowy, while I waited for a half dozen or more promised books to land on my doorstep. It was lovely. I sank mindlessly into Book 6 of the Poldark series (bliss), I made stock and took 74 million bee photographs. Then, my loyal and chipper postman rolled up four days in a row to deliver the avalanche.

I’m digging my way out:

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik.

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves. Rachel Malik.

This is an unusual but satisfying book. It seems very mild and gentle but turns out to be quite powerful. It strikes me as being very British. Read the full review here.

GRAPE OLIVE PIG by Matt Goulding.

GRAPE OLIVE PIG. Matt Goulding.

I’ve long been a cookbook addict but never much interested in recipe-less food-writing. That may be about to change. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, loved it actually, and would happily armchair-travel again with Mr. Goulding. Read the full review here.

City of Light, City of Poison by Holly Tucker.

City of Light, City of Poison. Holly Tucker.

Ninety percent of my book diet is fiction but, every now and then, I enjoy some historical narrative. What tempts me, always, is a touch of royalty. I’m a sucker for a tiara; when I’m sick or miserable I resort to Hello magazine for the ultimate escapism. If I want to indulge the same fantasy under the cloak of literary merit, I’ll turn to Antonia Fraser.

This book turned out to be more of a gruesome thriller than a royal romance but it kept me turning the pages into the small wee hours. Read the full review here.

I’ve just finished reading Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl but I can’t decide what I want to write about it yet. I think it might be growing into a blog post rather than a review. While mulling that over I spent a lovely afternoon with the girls watching 10 Things I Hate About You. Debate is raging in our household as to whether this or Ferris Bueller is the greatest teen movie of all time. Personally, I was rooting for Michael J. Fox’s Teenwolf. Thoughts?

Teenage Son is studying Hamlet so last night we watched the BBC/RSC version with David Tennant. I thought it was excellent.

Following that, to lighten the mood, we indulged in a little Shakespearean themed Rowan Atkinson. I love this. We have resolved to end every day with a Rowan Atkinson sketch.

‘It’s five hours, Bill, on wooden seats and no toilets this side of the Thames.’

Now, I’ve promised to go play bananagrams with the Small Girl. Anyone want to see the 74 million bee photos?

PS. The title makes no sense at all unless you watch the sketch, and even then very little.



Relish, Reindeer and Melomakaronas.

Christmas Preparations.

Hah! Say that with your mouth full of cookies.

The sky is hanging about 12 feet above the ground. It’s not raining, exactly, but the finest mist is dangling there in the most exasperating fashion. It feels like a slight weight, a downwards pressure on the shoulders and the spirits.

I am feeling tired, perhaps under-caffeinated (more on that anon) and in dire need of cake.

If you fancy a delicious morsel pop over for a look at my melomakarona recipe and review of The Little Christmas Kitchen. I worked hard to make this a good recipe and it really is.

melomakaronasMelomakaronas are delicious Greek cookies, soaked in a spiced honey syrup and traditionally eaten at Christmas. We devoured (I say we because I don’t want to admit that I ate so very many) dozens of them as I was testing this recipe. The book, The Little Christmas Kitchen by Jenny Oliver was also a real treat. I didn’t expect it to have much bite but it caught me by surprise and really hit a nerve. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for holiday reading.

I went all out, hell for leather, on the Christmas preparations last week. The only problem is that there is almost no light at all so I have very little photographic evidence of my efforts. Here is one candle-lit photo which pretty much encapsulates my week:

Christmas Preparations.

Rudolf was the high-light. Isn’t he adorable? He is my very first crocheted toy and I am more than a little enamoured.If you are tempted, you can find the pattern here. He may get stuck with the name Rudolf Gilmore as I made him while watching The Gilmore Girls with my daughters. Anyone else watch it? It was terrible. Less said the better.

I realised in panic, as I opened my last jar of rhubarb chutney, that I was in imminent danger of having NO CHUTNEY FOR CHRISTMAS! Action stations were assumed, my most humongous pot was excavated from the dreaded corner cupboard and filled to the brim with the stuff of toasted cheese sandwich fantasies. We call it fakeymaloe relish, it’s not so far off the real McCoy and you can find my not-so-secret recipe here.

Chutney crisis averted, I moved on to emergency mitten replacement for the Small Girl. If these look like exactly the same mittens I made last year it’s because they are, but one size bigger. I used the same ball of cheap yarn that refuses to come to an end regardless of how many Barbie dresses and babydoll blankets I make from it. The Small Girl is content because they match every other pink thing in her life and I won’t be heartbroken when she inevitably loses one of them (never both). Just looking back at last year’s mittens I was reminded of this post which I must try to bear in mind as I strive to resist strangling my Teenage Son in the run up to his Christmas exams.

So, we were going well (errant teenagers aside) with the reindeer and the mittens and the twelve jars of chutney and then…disaster struck…my beloved Burleigh mug took a nose dive off the arm of my chair, bounced a couple of times and skidded out the door to the hall where it spun around dramatically before striking a tragic handle-less pose.

It has been carrying a chip on its rear end for months now but that didn’t bother me. This mug is a champion, a hero amongst mugs. It can hold thirty percent more than the average mug which is just exactly how much more coffee you feel you need when you reach the bottom of an average mug. This ergonomically-shaped mug also keeps coffee hot for a good forty minutes which is exactly how long you need to drink a thirty percent longer cup of coffee. Also, it’s very pretty. And my favourite colour. Sob.

I was quite prepared to live with a handle-less-chipped-but-otherwise-perfect mug but when Husband attempted to fill it he discovered a fatal injury. Scroll back up to the photo and see if you can spot it.

‘Yes, you can still use your mug,’ he assured me, ‘but only if you are willing to approach it sideways on and never have more than an inch of coffee at a time.’

The family have little pity. They are all greatly relieved that I, as opposed to anyone else, broke my own mug.

Since then, I have achieved nothing. Zilch. Nada.

I have sliced the top off my left index finger bringing a halt to all yarny activity.

I have thrice stepped in dog poo and some incontinent, foul fowl has taken a shine to the windscreen and bonnet of my car.

The laundry basket has complained to the laundry basket union about over-time and over-crowding.

I ordered pizza for Sunday dinner.

There is every chance that my Husband is writing to Santa as we speak requesting a proper, functional housewife as his old one appears to have broken down.

Here…the man said it:


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Is the movie ever better than the book?

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent.

I’m quite certain there must be some mediocre book that was made into a great film but I can’t for the life of me think of one. Anyone? Can someone put me out of my misery here?

The reverse, obviously, is a commonplace occurrence. Most recently, Teenager Daughter and I were disappointed by the movie Me Before You based on the satisfying weepie by Jojo Moyes. The Martian by Andy Weir seemed like the most cinematic of books but the movie was, to be frank, shite. Gillian Anderson in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth was abysmal. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (by Louis de Bernières) particularly broke my heart.

I wonder whether some people are avid readers mostly because they happen to be very good at imagining the characters, the dialogue and the action inside their head.Then, like playing the piano or piping royal icing, the more you do it the better you get. Is that what it means to be a good reader?

That might explain why it’s so important to start while you are young and willing to accept fairytales as reality. I remain tragically gullible. I take everything literally and believe every word that anyone says to me. I’m an easy target but I am a good reader.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the BBC make brilliant dramatisations. That is probably because they are just brilliant but also because they make six or eight or even twelve part series and they put everything in. If a dramatisation takes as long to watch as it took to read the book you are off to a good start.


I had detected recently a bit of buzz about a book called The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent (great name, eh? Go on, say it in your head and roll that last R). The interesting thing was that every review I came across compared it to a movie –Amélie – rather than any other book.

It’s a book about books, about book writers and book lovers and good readers but it’s not like any other book. The movie that plays in your head as you read it feels like a sweet, French film.

It’s also very short, short enough (I think) to squeeze the whole lot of it into a film. I’m really hoping it will be made, made in France and made in French. I think there is a good chance that this good book could be a great film.

Click to read full book review…


Graham Norton’s Holding.

Holding by Graham Norton

My early teenage years were rotten. They were sufficiently miserable, I think, to warrant a doleful memoir but the writing of it would likely kill me. Never mind that, for one month (July) out of every twelve I was shipped off to summer school in a Ghaeltacht (Irish-speaking) area of West Cork. There, on an island three miles long by one mile wide, I discovered that there is something very reassuring about isolation. The mind, mine at least, relaxes in wide open spaces with long views and no visible threat on the horizon.


I hated leaving, every single time, I would cry inconsolably on the ferry ride back to the mainland. I might, if circumstances had allowed, have taken myself to live out there. I could have spent all my days reading books and listening to the ocean.

But you have to venture forth, don’t you? You have to gather all your courage and put your game face on. Becoming an adult is about being brave enough to jump in and say, ‘hey, I want to play too.’

What has any of this to do with Graham Norton?

Click here to read more.

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If You Want To View Paradise…

Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to three.


Ballymaloe was pure joy. I suppose that place, for me, holds something of the wonder of Wonka’s factory. I didn’t spy any Oompa Loompas but the chocolate tart was extraordinary and I suspect we may, Augustus Gloop style, have cost them a fortune in fudge.

Ballymaloe ignores foodie trends and steadfastly sticks to serving the best of Irish farmhouse cooking. It’s difficult to explain why you should pay a premium rate for bacon and cabbage unless you believe my Teenage Son when he tells you it was the best bacon and cabbage he has ever eaten. The roast lamb and floury potatoes in their skins tasted exactly like they did when my Granny made Sunday lunch.


Granny worked as a waitress during the 50s and 60s. She was intelligent and well-spoken enough to find employment in the best hotels.  The highlight of her modest career was being trusted not to spill the soup on Princess Grace of Monaco during her 1961 stay at Dublin’s Gresham Hotel. She told us the manager had a photo in his office of Grace with Granny behind her. I’ve scoured the internet, to no avail, for a hint of that photograph.


In later years she worked for a company who specialised in Outdoor Catering. As a child, I thought she meant they made picnics  but in fact she was beavering behind the scenes at big shindigs held at the Mansion House and Aras an Uachtarain (residences of the Lord mayor and President respectively). The top brass of Dublin knew her as Mary. We were never allowed to utter a bad word concerning Charlie Haughey as it was his generous tips which allowed Granny to buy out her ordinary terraced house from the council. Yes, he tipped that much. Do you doubt me?! She was one of the little people but she saw how the other half lived.


I’m certain Granny’s own mother was an able cook who trained her well but I suspect Granny gleaned tips from the chefs she worked with. I remember her tiny scullery being transformed into a test kitchen as she experimented with Salmon Mornay. She believed in St. Anthony and Good Food.‘You are what you eat’ was her maxim.

Ten years ago, I brought Granny to lunch at Ballymaloe House. She approved. What more can I tell you?

On another trip to Ballymaloe Cookery School, Granny and I posed for a photo with Darina Allen. The nice person who used my camera somehow managed  to NOT take the photograph and, once again, Granny escaped the celebrity photo opportunity.


Our waitress on Sunday was very much of Granny’s ilk. She didn’t ask whether we wanted seconds, rather she told us in no uncertain terms that we would have them. I noticed that the second big dish of spuds (I choose that term because it is, in this case, the right one) and extra bowl of buttered cabbage were parked directly in front of Teenage Son. When the dessert trolley ran short of raspberry jelly, our woman made sure we all got an extra large serving from the next bowl. After the whole room had been offered a piece of homemade fudge with their coffee, she came back and stealthily deposited the serving plate beside Middle Girl. To be honest, she sort of made my day.

I don’t often imagine that Granny is at my shoulder but…maybe.


Listen, I’m going to put a link in here to a song I love. Almost no-one ever clicks the links but this one is special. This one tells you how much my generation loves Willy Wonka. There is no video. Just close your eyes and let Glen Hansard carry you away….


Adieu Gene Wilder, and thanks. You were Willy Wonka.




The Improbability Of Love On First Dates.

Poached pear. First dates Ireland. The Improbability Of Love. Waterstones. Hannah Rothschild.

Teenage Me desperately wanted to be ordinary. From my flamboyantly dysfunctional forebears I inherited an ample bosom and impressive nose…things that stick out, literally.

I hid my nose in a book, sought camouflage in baggy jumpers and never even contemplated going on a date. Irish people didn’t date anyway. Dating was an American contrivance, as foreign and unlikely to come my way as Dr. Pepper or Cool Whip.

Irish people of my generation snogged randomly during slow sets at the disco and had a maximum of eight minutes and forty-one seconds (Purple Rain) to decide if they had met their match.

First dates. The Improbability Of Love. Poached Pear recipe.

Last night Husband and I watched First Dates Ireland in the company of our teenage Son and Daughter. Half of us, as such, are just embarking on the whole mate-finding malarkey and the other half have stumbled out the other side.

I have to tell you, we laughed, we flinched, we cringed and very nearly cried. It beggars belief that people are willing to take part in this show but it does seem that the producers are quite genius in the match-making department.

Poached pears. First dates. The Improbability Of Love.

Most heart-wrenching of all is that the biggest risk seems to be admitting you like someone. Rejection is a far more terrifying prospect than disappointment or even ridicule.

If you’d enjoy more than one hour of frivolous TV contemplating The Improbability Of Love, you might enjoy the book, by Hannah Rothschild, which I’m reading.

I was seduced by this book in Waterstones where it was displayed as April’s Book Of The Month.

The Improbability Of Love. Hannah Rothschild. Poached Pear. First dates.

At the centre of the story is a fictional, lost painting by Watteau. We flit back and forth (much like the cameras on First Dates) between stories, ranging from  18th century France, to Germany during the war and onwards to present day London, all the time piecing together the history of this one picture.

The heroine of the piece is Annie McDee, a lonely chef, who happens across the masterpiece in Bernoff’s dusty junk shop. So far, so predictable. Except that it’s not at all. I don’t want to give away the many twists  but I’ll give you just one teaser. The picture talks. The picture has the most wonderful French accent I have ever seen on paper.

‘Let me guess what you are thinking. Girl finds picture; picture turns out to be worth a fortune. Girl (finally) finds boy with a heart. Girl sells picture, makes millions, marries boy, all live happily ever after.
Piss off. Yes, you heard, piss off, as the cake tin at Bernoff’s used to say (it was decorated with Renoir’s Parapluies, which explains quite a lot).
Life is not that simple.

Ooooh la laaah, even the Maitre D’ at First Dates wouldn’t hold a candle to Monsieur le Tableau. He also gets all the best lines.

‘The Lady of Delights gave peerless advice: forget coquetry, be direct and be passionate yet correct. Men need reassurance; they need to know that you love them.’

and at his most profound;

‘My composition is about the fleeting, transformative respite over aloneness that love offers despite the cold certainty that this reprieve is only transitory.’

The Improbability Of Love is a cracking good read. The plot is dense and satisfying. This is a book about art, avarice and plain old hunger.

‘In a tattered old book, she found the perfect pudding – thin slices of quince and pear poached in honey and rosewater…and tiny green leaves of scented rose geranium as decoration.’

Hannah Rothschild. The Improbability Of Love. Poached Pear Recipe.

I’ve been reminded that people come in all sorts and sizes, that their sticky-out bits fit together in improbable ways and that love is never ordinary.

If you can’t afford to buy an old master to prove your love you could always poach a pear.

Poached Pears.

Choose a saucepan that will hold six conference pears quite snugly. Make a syrup of 400mls water, 3 tablespoons of honey and one of brown sugar, the juice and thinly sliced rind of one lemon, 4 smashed cardamom pods, half a  split vanilla pod, 2 cloves, 3 small rose geranium leaves and one teaspoon of rosewater. 

Peel and core the pears. Poach them for 20-30 minutes in the simmering liquid. Remove the pears and reduce the syrup by half or more until what remains is a sticky, viscous liquor.

Allow the pears to lie in this liquor until the time is ripe and then share with the one you love.

Poached pear. The Improbability Of Love. Hannah Rothschild. First dates.

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This Blog Will Save Your Life.

On April 11th last year, my birthday, Teenage Son set up a WordPress blog for me. That was his gift. It took a full six weeks to summon the courage to write My First Post but, from the instant I  hit that Publish button, I was completely hooked.

This song will save your life. Leila Sales. Young adult fiction. Book review.
This Song Will Save Your Life. Leila Sales.

My birthday and bloggy-versary was perfect. I walked the dog through the murky rising mist and then came home and threw the photos I took  up on the blog. I had promised myself a day off but I could think of nothing I wanted to do more than show you how green my morning was.

The sun appeared so the Small Girl and I had lunch in the garden at her miniature picnic table and then snuggled together in a deck chair to read a chapter of Little House In The Prairie.

After that, we sat quietly a while and listened to the bees arriving.


Middle Girl insisted that we squeeze an episode of The Gilmore Girls into our afternoon and I didn’t object.

I made pizza, our official food of birthdays.


Teenage Daughter made my birthday cake. The recipe for Rachel Allen’s blueberry baked cheesecake is here. At my request, the blueberries were replaced with brandy-soaked sultanas and some homemade mixed peel which the kids detest. It turned out just like the cassata cheesecake I remember from Italy. Scrumptious. The kids still didn’t like the peel so…more for me!


There was a lovely bundle of perfect presents.


And then, we danced. Well, Small Girl and I danced while Husband made the tea.


D’you know what? Cyndi Lauper should be on prescription.

Another chapter of Little House (she loves it!).


Then bedtime for Smallest.

Later,  we watched Alan Bennett’s The Old Lady And The Van. I read the book years ago and would have killed to have seen the play. Teenage Son was adamantly against my movie choice but I reminded him of how often I’ve endured Star Wars and he settled down. If you haven’t seen it yet, I urge you to watch it soon. There is a nice review here with the story behind the film.

The combination of Alan Bennett’s exquisite writing with Maggie Smith’s extraordinary talent is heart-melting. The very last scene might be my favourite closing scene ever.

There’s a voiceover, towards the end where Alan Bennett says,

‘You don’t put yourself into what you write, you find yourself there.’

That’s it, really. That’s what this blog has done, and continues to do, for me. I’ve typed up a card, to remind myself.


I have found joy and solace here. I have laughed and cried at this desk. I have discovered a portal to a world populated by decent, kind people.  I have found inspiration, encouragement and friendship. Thank YOU, from the bottom of my heart, for finding me.


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Nagging OFF.

Nag, nag, nag. All day long.

Get UP. Are you up yet? Have a shower. Did you brush your teeth? Where did you TAKE OFF your shoes? WHY have we no hair elastics? Is this Barbie hair or dog hair in the sink? Take your lunch. Take your LUNCH. Take YOUR lunch, not your sister’s. Wear a coat. Not THAT coat. Bring out your dead, I mean WASHING. Flipping washing machine on the blink again. Where’s the dog’s lead gone? Don’t tell me it’s raining again. No, we’ve no bread left for toast. Who’s sock is this in the microwave? Bring out the DIRTY DISHES from under the sofa. How did all these apple cores get behind the radiator? Open your curtains. The place looks like a tenement. How long has this mouldy sandwich been in your pocket? Are you seriously telling me that your biro leaked AGAIN? Who ate ALL the cheese? I KNOW there was a bar of chocolate in here. Don’t tell me the dog puked again. Turn off the kettle before it EXPLODES.

Stop, I said, STOP. Stop and smell the bluebells.


Guess what? I found the switch for the nagging. It wasn’t easy to locate. It’s lodged somewhere between the ‘I’m trying to raise my kids to be decent people‘ and ‘If I say this again I’m going to crack‘ areas of my brain.


(Get it? Crack. sorry.)

For one week only, I let go. Nagging OFF.

To facilitate a break from the laundry treadmill, I declared an official pyjama week.  I bought a ton of bread and we made toast mountains. The kids agreed to make one dinner each.Teenage Daughter made scrumptious tacos. Middle Girl’s rasher salad was super-tasty.


‘Can I make pasta?’ Teenage Son enquired when it came to his turn.
‘Sure’, I replied, forgetting that he is Italian.


Four hours for a bowl of pasta. Good job we had all that toast on stand-by. It was worth it though for  fresh tagliatelle with wild garlic pesto. Yum.

It rained and hailed and blew a gale outdoors so we snuggled on the sofa and caught up on our Gilmore Girls marathon. We are up to season 5. In other words we are up to Logan or, as I insist on calling him, Cary (from The Good Wife).

I’ve had such a giggle with the girls. We all keep shouting at the telly, ‘MARTY! Look at Marty! Oh, poor Marty!’

If Marty had just looked up she might have noticed him. I’m pretty sure Marty is the guy who would bring Rory coffee in bed on Sunday mornings and walk colicky babies at night and clean s**t off the dog’s rear end. Girls should think about that stuff when they are choosing a man. A stretch limo won’t help when the kids have gastro. By the way, no spoilers please! We don’t know what happens!!

I won’t tell you how many episodes a day we watched. You would call social services on me. It was enough episodes to get my shrug finished although finished is a relative term. My yarn was labelled 4ply but it was really much finer than that. You might call it lace weight but I think gossamer is more like it. It made up much smaller than the pattern predicted so I had to keep adding rows and rows, episode after episode. I know, we’re back to that check your guage issue. I never learn. Eventually, I just quit and sewed it up.

I got out of my pyjamas to pose for you but I didn’t put on make-up or dry my hair. I tried clicking ‘enhance’ repeatedly on the photo-editing but it wasn’t sufficient to the task so I resorted to cropping. I’m not sure about this thing. It looks like a bit of old net you might find on the beach. I could hang a few shells and some bladderwrack around my neck to complete the look.


I have a whole skein of this hand-spun, hand-dyed gossamer from Irish Fairytale Yarns leftover. Suggestions on a postcard please…


I was also completely negligent of the blog so my apologies for any posts or comments that got by me.

I’d like to thanks it’s good to be crazy sometimes for nominating me for the Sunshine award. I firmly believe that Crazy is the true path to happiness. If you’re with me, take a look at that blog.

The kids are back at school now. There’s a wash hung out on the line and a pot of stock on the hob. I’m just about ready to flick that nagging switch back to ON.

Take cover.

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Bob Geldof and W.B. Yeats. Fanatic Hearts.

On Easter Sunday, Ireland celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 1916 rising. Walking the dog, I passed houses with Tricolour flags draped from windows and bunting suspended between chimneys.

I couldn’t get into the spirit of it.

I tried to write a patriotic blog post but failed. I was planning to write about the many occasions, on holidays or living abroad, when I corrected  a mistaken waiter or nurse or student with the phrase, ‘Io non sono Inglese, io sono Irlandese’, ‘I’m not English, I am Irish’.

It seemed to me an important distinction and I was willing to make it  over and over again. When I looked at it written down it just seemed petty and childish. What does it mean anyway? I kept thinking about how proud we all were when Queen Elizabeth came over and we all showed her around like eager Grandchildren. Your Majesty, we cried, come and look at the fort we made out of your dining chairs and embroidered cloths. I was irritated by an embarrassing feeling of not quite understanding my homework.

My patriotism thwarted, I decided to just let it pass.

And then last night, along comes Bob Geldof to sort me out.


Husband and I were entranced by this programme. You can watch it on the RTE player where it was shown in two parts and called A Fanatic Heart or on the BBC player where it was shown in one epic session and titled Bob Geldof on W.B. Yeats.

Bob Geldof chronicles the life of Yeats and a A-list line up of golden voices read the poems. Richard E. Grant weeps, Colin Farrell wets himself (ok, he doesn’t but he does look scared) Shane mcGowan slurs incomprehensibly and Van Morrison takes like a natural to the role of ‘grumpy oul’ fella’. Damien Lewis was good, Tom Hollander was very good, Bono read  as though he wrote it himself and Liam Neeson, ahh,  that voice just went through me, straight to the heartstrings.

Yeats was drummed into us in school, drummed all the way in. As Geldof puts it, Yeats is in our DNA. If you put your foot on an Irish person’s beachtowel they are likely to tell you that you are treading on their dreams. God help the man who doesn’t hold a door open for you; he’s damned to join romantic Ireland with O’Leary in their over-crowded grave.

To be honest, most of Yeats’ poetry sailed right over my head. But there are lines that move me in ways I can’t understand.

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,
Riddled with light.

Poets feel in words and, if the words are right, the reader translates them back to feelings. I don’t think you need to understand all the words to experience the feelings.

Yeats was as confused as  the rest of us about what it means to be Irish, not English. The woman he idolised scorned him in favour of a republican hero, John MacBride. Following the 1916 rising, the British made a martyr of MacBride and a martyr’s widow of Maud Gonne. Poor Willie with his poems didn’t really stand a chance. How’s that for conflicted?

Yeats was clearly a bit of a fruitcake. You only have to see his proposed costumes for the judiciary to know that ( it really was worth watching the programme just for that bit). The thing is people who don’t walk around wearing a veil of conformist normality might just see world with more clarity.

As Geldof points out, Yeats was paid to be a poet. Think about that. He got up in the morning and sat at a desk and thought about things and searched for the perfect words and pared them down and distilled them over again. He kept at it until he got it right. He must have been good at it. They did give him a Nobel prize, after all.

His poems were served to us like a draught of  cultural identity. Drink this and know who you are. We knocked them back. We got drunk on Yeats.

A nation of veil-wearing conformist fruitcakes.

No Second Troy


Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?


We could do with Yeats now. The bits of him in the South of France and the bits of him in Drumcliffe would all be rolling over if he could see us. Our democratically elected members of parliament are feck-arsing around since February 26th and we still have no government. They are like a crowd of kids on a see-saw, all trying to get the other kids in the playground to add  weight to their side. It’s stuck. We need a grown-up to stand up in the middle and get the thing moving. Hey Bob, are you busy?

You might like to read about our visit to Coole Park, here.

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