Friday, December 31, 2010

A Neotenic Tweet for A Happy New 'Ewe'r!

As Mr C. is out counting his chickens before they hatch (not to difficult even for him as he only has 6 in total), I decided to cast a cold eye (have you seen the Irish weather lately) over his blog entries during the last year. Although the blog posts now exceed 150 discourses, most of which contain levels of corn best reserved for the said hens, a quick glance of the viewing stats reveal that the most popular blog entry was the one referring
to Little Bo Peep and his lost ‘sheep’ followers. Well, all I can say is that I could have told ‘ewe’ so as a photo of yours truly, Mr Bo Peep, features prominently on this page posting. So I think that it is only fitting on New ‘Ewe’rs Eve to page tribute to these valiant sheep who have continued to provide mental sustenance to the forlorn Mr. C with their tweet little ‘hogget’s’ of wisdom during the last year. Thus I would like to try and list some of these small ruminants before the shepherd returns to resume his attempts to bore his flock further. Needless to say because of the worldwide reach of Twitter there are sheep followers across the globe with for example the St Louis Rams in the USA and lots of ewe-ro sheep throughout Europe. But I have found no better way to falling asleep than trying to count my sheep and I would like to apologise in advance if I omit any little lamb who may have inadvertently strayed during the year. Remember there is no ‘fleece’ on me, so here goes a list of some of my woollier flock —

Baa! Baa! New Ewer to Americannanny, Beachanny, BigAlphy, 2 Girls on a Bench, mitchellnicola, Aurora111, StoryRoute, susxox, KarlaTelega, TheIrishMother, runningonbutter, cathyby, DrCesa, DinaSantorelli, bloowriter, bsfirstpages, hlane, Musicshosh, Burn2Write,Yawn!!!!!, sensibleflutist, CynthiaY29, arkarthick, colm_ryan, stephenkinsella, RodolfoGrimaldi, Yawn!!, Stretch!!! Liamooo, DorothyDalton, maybenextweek, Kool_Aid_Wino, Doallas, talktojoe1850, iheartrhody, Baa! Baa! Wake up a moment, they sheep also skip and dance: ElizabethBastos,Mollydcampbell, alaindebotton, ananelson, DeeGF, sarasheridan, AmyOscar, AllieDillon, linda_grimes, Iamdebra,Junecaldwell, AnnieAtkins,
ckingwriter, Amacvittie, hprw, Anouilh, ouch! my hot water bottle is getting cold!, HeatherKephart, LjinNW, deshocks, 8Orion8, Werethe1s, 20euro, womenwhowine, gunsinger, ina, Scallejo, colmtobin, franksuntimes, seoconcept, eolai, kaeliferguson, Calbion, sarahndipitous,Twyttlededum, ThePondJumper, Twowitwowoo, counting 322 I think, jennyfoxe, MiriamOCal, MargaretMolloy, MiriamDonohoe, saoireobrien, zzzzzhhhh!! Snoreeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Written in jest by Mr Bo Peep, the Alter Ego of Mr C, your regular blogger.

Most popular blogs in 2011:

1) Mr Bo Peep has lost his sheep (followers) again- March 2011
2) Culture Night in Galway-Charlie ‘Byrne’ after Reading
3) Is Fame the Real Name of the Tweeting Game?

And Mr. C’s own favourite dedicated to his Grandson:
‘My little Irish Giovanni’- ahhh!

Note: If you are not listed above and feel needled by your woolly treatment, please tweet and u will be added to the friendly flock right away!

Happy New Year and here’s to Fine Tweeting in 2011

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Tweeting greeting for the New Year to my Redundant Reindeer

This is an updated post Christmas verse as written in jest and on a whim
As a response to an overindulged festive season and a hangover so grim
But also to wish New Year Health to my tweet followers and blog friends
By conveying good will, fond wishes and hopefully to make some amends
For any banal, silly or even obtuse tweets sent during the last long year
By expressing thanks for all tweets received and proposing a toast of good cheer.
Over the last year some five thousand people have visited my profile blog
Some have left comments about their love life and even feeding their dog
So lets thank them now during the festive season, raise a glass and be happy
A thought you really shouldn’t need to be told by this head sore chappy.

For let’s drink a toast to the New Year and to my now redundant reindeer
Who follow me despite it being 363 days until they’re needed again I fear
Dasher, Dancer, Vixen and Prancer may be tired having pulled Santa’s sleigh
But I still enjoy Padraig_OMorain, DorothyDalton and LJinNW come what may.
Santa’s favourite Reindeer once had a fine regal stature and a famous red nose
But Bloowriters’s colourful tweets have left him blue with a tummy full of woes.
I should refer to the down at heel state of reindeer Comet, Donner, Blitzen and Cupid
But kaeliferguson,gunsinger and rosecasanova are still flushed so lets not be stupid.
My Polar Bear support is on the wane I’m afraid from MargaretMolloy and 8ORION8
And Penguin friends like Werethe1s, Mitchellnicola and Suga_Lumps are tepid of late
Snow ball like tweets of glee are melting from such as Burn2Write, hipcop and Confusad
Some of which during Christmas had brought a red faced reaction to this old Dad
You see, in the festive cold weather I had shared a tipple tweet with womenwhowine,
Even became a Slave_to_coffee,and enjoyed jokes from Twowitwowoo, so that fine.
But there is still a distinct chill on my Twitter site as some still consider me a nutter
And that’s despite the best cooked up tweets of my redundant reindeer ‘runningonbutter’.

During the last few days, my festive mood has lifted with the visit of my grand boys
And I have yet again always found solace in playing with Star Wars and other toys.
So grandchildren don’t complain this year if you have to visit your poor old grandad
Just remember MargaretMolloy, Suga_Lumps and Americannanny as life ain’t bad.
So what’s the essential secret of the Twitter experience of this post Festive Fare?
Well, for me, it’s the hope of new friends to be made and tweets to be read there
For despite our continued economic gloom in home and in the fractured Irish State
We must remember in the New Year to cherish friendship and fun before it’s too late
The New Year should begin in hope and anticipation with children, family and friend
And if so, our opportunity to grow in health and happiness will see us through in the end
So to I say Bah Humbug to Scrooge, moaners and whiners and ask you to give pause
As with Christmas still in your heart there’s still a place for reindeer and Santa Claus.

Note: Reindeer names refer to twitter sites of some followers.
This is a purely fictional verse written for amusement only.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Is Playing Blind Man's Bluff Enough: Economic Blog for Fintan O'Toole

The recent so called ‘bailout’ of the Irish economy to the tune of €85 billion by the IMF/ECB has lead to increased hysteria in the media in particular but also among the Irish populace at large. This sense of outrage and despondency culminated in the Union organised march in Dublin last Saturday supported by about 50,000 people. There have of course been many commentators before this, proclaiming Armageddon if Ireland continued on its current path towards restoring fiscal rectitude and some, little David McWilliams the economist have even toured some of the country’s theatre venues like biblical soothsayers proclaiming the end of the credit world for our sovereign identity and indeed for the nation itself.

In the last few months Fintan O’Toole has used his newspaper column to also preach against the inequalities inherent in the fiscal solutions being proposed by our financial ‘saviours’ and has highlighted in particular the challenge to the democratic process inherent in decision making being executed by unelected European and indeed international decision making organisations. Mr O’Toole lays the blame for this situation arising at the door of ‘the demoralised rump administration served by the Department of Finance’ and more generally on a government that was ‘spooked and stamped by the small-time bullies of the Irish banks’. He also calls for the creation of a new more genuine, democratic republic and has even taken his sense of grievance to the forum of the streets like Ireland’s famous worker rights figure James Larkin.

However, while I fully understand and concur with Fintan O’Tooles sense of outrage and indeed support his call for a fundamental reappraisal of the benefits of a privileged elite in the Ireland of today even in the recession, I have severe doubts that he will achieve his goals. The real danger in the current approach I feel is that it is too broadly focused, dissipates too much energy in pillorying the alleged culprits and its prescriptions for change are too general as to make them practical to implement in the short term at least. Simply put, I believe that the current clamour for change may produce more energy that light and may simply produce an alternative government administration with a renewed fiscal friendly focus but basically selling the same flawed product. In other words, it could resemble the process of re advertising an existing washing powder product as new when it in fact is merely being repackaged to gain increased market penetration.

Thus, I feel we should focus succinctly on the core issues facing the country, being how we got here, what we should do about it right now and what should we aspire to in the future, as elaborated upon below:

Context on Crisis:

I fully accept Mr O’Tooles contention that ‘the primary responsibility for what has happened in Ireland lies with our own political, administrative and banking elites’ and that ‘Europe was barely less stupid’. However, I would also emphasise the broader context in which much of our economy in the Celtic Tiger years was forged. Thus our economic ‘success’ was mainly due to the fact that we were considered a very poorly controlled tax haven and that the 12.5% corporate tax that we now defend so strongly was merely an additional bonus to those firms relocating here. Thus we created a milieu of tax free money and light regulation in which it was not only considered opportune but highly advisable if not essential for foreign banks to invest here, in order to maximise financial returns to their shareholders. In essence during this period, our country was a National Money Laundering Location for foreign investment and this alone explains the decision of bond holders/foreign banks to invest so much here. However, it is too easy to just dwell on past excesses and waste time indulging our new found fury on politicians alone. We have a short memory indeed in this respect as very few people complained during the boom years. So much of the responsibility rests with our good selves for overindulging at that time.

Indeed we could be said to resemble a person with a severe hangover who blames the party guest the next morning for providing free beer.

At any rate, the current obsession with finding scapegoats will only contribute to excess negativity and only fan the flames of bitter dialogue over supposed corporate greed and bank bail-outs. Peeved petulance is no remedy for the real grievance felt by many tax payers now burdened with the cost of the Celtic Cull of our lapsed largesse.

Context of Bailout:

Fintan O’Toole rightly states that it is the core capitalistic system of money supply and investment which is effectively holding the World to ransom at the moment despite the best efforts of government’s world wide. Thus the ECB and the IMF are merely bit players in this worldwide economic perspective. Nevertheless, we gladly played this financial game in boom times as pointed out above. However, the price now being asked of us is so severe that we, as a nation have had to seek a ‘bailout’ from European/
International funding organisations. In response, we are prone to act like spoilt children who want to throw their toys across the floor in exasperation when told off and demand more pocket money. We have been so profligate with the money extended in loans to us that as a nation we are now effectively bankrupt and have a Hobson’s choice now facing us as a Nation.

Hence, we must accept the terms of an €85 billion bailout or be unable to pay ourselves within six months. Furthermore, we will probably need yet still further funding if the albatross nature of our bank loans is to be reduced. Faced with this appalling dilemma, we vent our fury on the government and blame such as Brian Lenihan, for guaranteeing the Bank Loans. In the process, we have moved from Celtic Tiger Land to Cloud Cuckoo Land. Unless we want to strike out as a new genuinely socialist republic and adopt a Cuba like isolation from other capitalist nations, we simply have no choice but to cut the best deal we can get and no nonsense about the government playing a better hand of cards will detract from this cruel reality. Essentially we are victims of the three card trick (IMF/ECB/EU) whether we like it or not and any other type of card game is only going to involve a game of Blind Man’s bluff!

Sovereignty Debt and Bank Debt Distinction:

As most economists will testify, there are two distinct parts to this real debt burden: one the sovereign debt and the other being the bond holding debt, or in actual terms, the European banking sector debt. In the former case we have no option but to meet our obligations in this respect but in the latter case we can seek to transfer some cost of the bank bailout to the bond/bank holders. However, as the actual cost of bailing out our banks is likely to greatly exceed the current amount of the IMF/ECB loan, and as contagion is likely to spread to Portugal/Spain at least, it is better to wait a ‘final fiscal’ solution before formally raising this issue further at this stage. Thus, on balance, I feel that we have no option but to bite the bullet and get on with a 4/5 year recovery plan whichever government is in place.

Real Caring is Fair Sharing:

I feel that true leadership at whatever level in Irish society can only flourish if there is genuine feeling of hope in the future and a sense that the ‘gain will justify the strain’ as it were. However, in Irish society at the moment, as Fintan O’Toole and indeed Constatin Gurdgiev and other informed economists have rightly pointed out, there is no fair or even an agreed foundation on which to build this leadership structure, and as an architect I can testify that poor foundations augur badly for future stability. I personally feel that the poor in our society are becoming increasingly marginalised and frustrated by the direction of government cut backs and that salaries should be cut by up to 50% for sums more than €150k if any progress is to be made on perceived sharing of this pain. The need for other major structural reform has been flagged elsewhere.

Value versus Cost of Social Inclusion:

There would appear to be little appreciation of the value as opposed to the cost of the contribution made to this society by those classed within its currently redundant work force, especially the young. Core business activities for both small and medium sized firms are being starved of bank cash support. Furthermore, there has been an exponential increase in red tape and regulative activity by government agencies presumably to keep them busy during the recession.

Thus, I would personally be more concerned by the absence of any attempt to ‘cherish all the children of the nation equally’ as expounded by our founding fathers as any concern for a supposed loss of our sovereignty. If we personally take out a mortgage on our home we don’t loose ‘sovereignty’ over it, we only loose that sovereignty if we cannot repay that loan. Thus, it is essential, that all vulnerable people in our society be particularly cared for in the current recession. In this respect, I would like to see the dole abolished and jobs offered in lieu to all our people in conjunction with loans extended over a lifetime if they are unable to pay premiums on mortgages in the current situation. Thus, instead of hounding people into Fas courses for training in jobs that will never exist, young people should be offered structural employment at a minimum pay if necessary as an alternative to the dole. Many people I’m sure would prefer even a basic structured job than the prospect of being idle and being treated as a mere number on a dole register.

Hope in a Time of Malady:

The extreme sense of malaise and despair felt by most of the Irish population in the current recession is systematic of the waste and lack of appreciation of talented and creative people, both young and old in our society. People in protected jobs in both the private and public sectors cling to their sense of entitlement and the government’s tries to usage the guilt of the excluded unemployed by an unreal new emphasis on the merits of the supposed smart economy. However, for many buried under the weight of joblessness and personal debt, this emphasis is neither really smart nor genuinely economic.

One Last Wilde Wish:

I have avoided commenting on our countries financial dilemma for a long time and have endeavoured to offset my own severe loss of work opportunities as a self employed architect by posting mostly light blog entries on Twitter as a light distraction from my own problems in this respect. However, I feel that the carefully argued proposals of both Fintan O’Toole as a journalist and such as Constantin Gurdgiev and Brian Lucey as economists, deserve at least a considered response and support from me. I do not pretend that I have set forth any brilliant insights but I assure all those who read this blog that its sentiments are heartfelt and genuine.

In ending this little discourse, therefore, I would like to refer finally to a quote from Oscar Wilde, which even in the sense of acute despair felt by many aspires to a feeling of hope in it’s uplifting outlook for the future:

‘We are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’

I for one, despite having felt severe adverse effects from the recession on my own business in architecture, remain hopeful both for my family and their future in this wonderful country that we all love so much.


Colm O’Riain

Twitter profile: @COLMORIAIN

Photo: Christmas Cheer in the Crystal Ball?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Toyboy Story 3: A Woody Won't He Buzz Slight Year?

They say I’m a bit old in the tooth for Santa gifts it’s true
But at this time of recession, living in hope is all we can do,
I continue to get a buzz from the toys driven on Top Gear
Even though our family fortunes have had a slight year.

There must be someone with FUNds in the IMF or even the ECB
Who will put aside contagion fears and simply think of me,
For obviously a simple Sports car is still a toy boy pleasure
Which should be nurtured and enjoyed at a guy’s full leisure

Any minor difficulties encountered in affording petrol for the car
Could be offset by heightened vanity and being a peer group star
For even mature men at heart are really just older and taller boys,
Whose continuous fantasy is to own some gadget or drive big toys?

You see a married man may seem to settle down with a fond soul mate
But when it he hears an engine roar, his heart jumps and he just can’t wait
To sit at the wheel, put the accelerator to the floor and give it full throttle
For fear people think he lacks such an appreciation or having the bottle.

So don’t fret when your man suddenly gets broody this festive season
And seems withdrawn, morose and introverted without any apparent reason
You see the problem lies deeper than image and our current economic woe
For a man’s whole identity lies in racing cars and bikes with others in tow

So by all means buy the children small gifts, toys and presents so sweet
But don’t forgot the old man and his addiction to the sleek on the street
Even a small dinky toy car or truck will often suffice to keep his mood fun
For modern man just needs the illusion of power when all is said and done

Therefore, be mindful of Christmas spirit promised but never fulfilled
As men for the most part are more sensitive than they are often billed
So tweet them with dignity, pride and a sweet love in its proper place
Especially when their toy boy illusions drive them to set a fast pace


This verse is intended only to amuse and offer some fine Christmas Cheer
But to those with no appreciation of men, its sentiments may appear queer.
It’s no harm to study the verse but don’t dwell on it more than you ought
Just remember that men are really much deeper than first you may have thought.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Fairytale so Tragic, no Prince to Break the Spell

The appalling news in Ireland yesterday of the double slaughter of four small children and two young women by male companions, one of whom later killed himself, leaves one in a state of complete shock and bewilderment. It is true that Ireland as a nation has seen some dark economic days recently but nothing has prepared us for such a heartrendingly awful occurrence. In a supposedly Christian country where family values are still regarded as paramount, it simply beggars belief that such a terrible act of extreme violence against ones own young family could be perpetrated by anyone. Furthermore, the fact that this occurred in two separate locations and affected two families within the one day reinforces the extreme sense of shock accompanying the news of this terrible tragedy. One is left reeling and trying desperately to understand what possible depressive mood or imagined reason to despair could possibly provoke such unspeakable acts of savagery. Truly our whole identity as a family focused society in Ireland is rocked to the core by these terrible events.

And yet I have experienced such feelings of personal shock before, perhaps not so much in respect of innocent children within a family unit, but more broadly, for example, at the slaughter of innocent people in the wider conflict in Northern Ireland some years ago and of course at the time of the attacks of 9/11 in New York. I especially remember watching on television the unfolding appalling spectacle of the 9/11 attacks and the sheer scale of the human and physical destruction occasioned by these atrocities. However, like many people I struggled to find works or indeed emotions adequate to reconcile ones sense of despair at the events with a profound feeling of compassion for the extended families linked directly to such tragedies. Strangely, I found a wonderful expression of these feelings, not in documentary programmes or indeed in wordy book tomes but in the music of Bruce Springsteen and in particular in his music on the CD ‘The Rising’.

The lyrics and music on this Springsteen album underline in eloquent and very moving terms the sheer scale of anguish, hurt and sense of abject loss experienced by those involved as extended families in the 9/11 tragedy. Songs such as ‘Counting on a Miracle’, ‘Empty Sky’ and ‘The Missing’ give emotional expression to broken hearts and lost dreams. So as I was dwelling on the appalling human tragedy in the loss of such innocent children in particular in Ireland yesterday, I was reading and listening to Bruce Springsteen .I feel that the words from one of his songs, which form the title of this blog, affords a vivid expression of the lost innocence typical of a child’s fairytale books when a magic prince can no longer arrive to break the spell and release us from this agony. Finally, although I like others hope that the extended Irish families will somehow achieve peace and perhaps even forgiveness and understanding over time, the overriding sense of despair at the moment is summed up in the words of the song: ‘You’re Missing’ part quoted below:

“Shirts in the closet,
Shoes in the hall
Mama’s in the kitchen,
Baby and all
Everything is everything
Everything is everything
But you’re missing”

But God give them comfort and some solace from the seemingly bottomless human well of sadness and despair.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Enjoying Old Dogs,Children and Watermelon Wine

There is a famous Hollywood axiom which, I’ve read, is proffered to aspiring actors, the gist of which advises them never to go on stage with either animals or children as they will be upstaged and their appeal will be greatly diminished if they do. Although I would hardly describe myself as a major ‘player’ either on stage or screen, I do subscribe to the Shakespeare’s famous lines in the play ‘As You Like It’:

‘All the World’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players
They have their exits and their entrance
And one man in his time plays many parts’

Thus, when I was recently offered an opportunity to play such a part, and in the process gain considerable local ‘fame’ by agreeing to perform a walk on role in a commercial photo shoot, I jumped at the opportunity. The occasion in question was the production of a promotional web for the new ‘Enjoy’ café/food shop adjoining the renowned White Gables Restaurant in Moycullen Village. Although I am an eager supporter and indeed consumer of the wonderful array of ‘sweet sensations, gourmet delights and stunning wines’ available in the new shop, I was at first rather reluctant to take on the role of an ‘average’ customer for the photo shoot. This diffidence was increased when I was told that I would be seated with a dog to provide a more caring and sensitive image, as I pointed out that I have no such animal. I thought it best here not to suggest that I substitute one of my Rhode Island hens for the dog as I believe that this might be considered foul play on my part. However, I was greatly relieved to be told that a dog would be provided for me and all I had to do was sit outside the café and have some coffee and cake. Thus my reticence was assuaged and I realised with pleasure that in this respect at least, I could have my cake and eat it as it were.

I arrive at the café at around 4pm and was duly assigned a seat outside where I was served delicious coffee and pastries. However, I began to notice that there was some problem with the manner in which the photographer was ‘directing’ his work. Simply put, despite the dog being allocated a ‘lead’ role, he was late for the shoot presumably on the basis that he was not going to be treated as any mere gun dog. When he arrived with his owner, he refused to sit down beside me but took great interest in the pastries being served on my plate. I began to try and coax him by rubbing his neck and pushing gently on his back to try and get him to sit down. I don’t remember the dogs name but I think it might well have been ‘Brando’ as he obviously saw himself as a sort of Marlon Brando like actor portraying a similar ‘sensitive but stubborn’ personality portrayed in the film ‘On the Waterfront’ but here played as ‘At the Shopfront’.

As the photographer was becoming ever more agitated, it was suggested that the dog lead be attached to the table to allow me to hold a newspaper in a casual manner while accepting a cup of coffee from the waitress. However, every time some passing motorist hooted a car horn, the dog jumped up and tried to head off down the road after the car with the table in tow. Thus, the ‘director’ had to hold up traffic to assuage the dogs concerns and Brando eventually sat down with a suspicious demeanour beside me. By that time however, the two lovely girls behind me had finished their lollipops and soft drinks and these had to be carefully replenished in case the dog would take a liking to them as well. Finally, the director had just set up his required set piece when a friend drew up in his car, rolled down the window and shouted over to me:
“I’m NOT a celebrity, get me out of here’, ha!
The dog barked, the chair fell back and the newspaper blew away in the wind.

I’m glad to say that the owners Kevin and Anne Dunne were extremely gracious about the whole affair and later declared themselves happy with the resultant photos. But you do not have to take them at their word as you can see all the photos themselves and indeed find full information on the restaurant and café/shop by looking up the ‘Enjoy’ part of the White Gables Restaurant web site.

For my part, I must admit to having found the whole affair to be a chastening experience for any airs and graces that I might have had, for I was truly upstaged by two small children and a big brown dog as the accompanying photo on this blog will testify. Thus, whenever I am now inclined to aspire to any notion of vanity I simply listen to the lyrics of Tom Hall as sung by John Prine and Mac Wiseman on the CD; ‘Standard Songs for Average Children’ (to be heard on and in particular to the words quoted below from the song: Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine’

“Old dogs care about you even when you make mistakes,
God bless little children while they’re still too young to hate,
When he moved away I found a pen and copied down the line,
‘Bout Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine’

Note: This blog entry is intended only as a humorous testament to our ability to have a pleasant experience even in the current recessionary time and to thank the Dunne family for providing such wonderful local culinary experiences in Moycullen, County Galway. Here’s hoping you all ENJOY it as much as me!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In Honour of a Gifted Artist 'Toon'ed to Irish Times

There was a competition on Irish Television recently to nominate Ireland greatest person and it was won deservedly in my opinion by John Hume, the now retired Northern Irish politician. The award was an appropriate recognition that John Hume literally risked life and limb in his efforts to bring peace and reconciliation to this country and was rewarded by being granted the Nobel Peace prize. However, if there was an equivalent award for the artist who best represented Ireland’s social and political life over the last three decades in a humorous and insightful way, I personally feel that this honour should go to Martyn Turner, whose cartoons feature in the Irish Times on a regular basis.

There are always two items which I look forward to in that newspaper each morning and which in their modest way define my day whether in good times or bad. One is the Sudoku puzzles which act as a morning stimulus to the waking brain and the other is any cartoon from Martyn Turner which never fails to both inform and amuse. In fact at a time when the use of 140 character messages on Twitter has become a hugely popular medium for the transmission of cryptic social discourse, it is worth reflecting that Martyn’s cartoons have long predated this phenomenon and indeed surpassed it in their effectiveness in communicating an amusing insight in a few words linked to an exceptionally drawn sketch. It is worth collecting his books as they reflect a visual history our time by often underlying the vanity, egotism and double standards which permeated much our national psyche during the last three decades and are represented so well in his work.

I remember visiting the Shelbourne Hotel Bar in Dublin with one of my daughters and commenting how envious I was both at the quality and skill personified in the cartoon images of politicians hung in framed prints on the walls. It must have stuck a chord with her because on the occasion of my twin brother’s (not identical) sixtieth birthday, this same daughter presented D and me with just such a cartoon of us executed by Martyn Turner. She told us that it took considerable commitment and perseverance to get Martyn to undertake the commission as he had never met us and had to work from photos. However, D and I were absolutely thrilled with the result and although there has been some debate as to which of us is better captured in the cartoon, we were both amazed and honoured by the work. In fact, if Marina herself reads this blog, may I say that it I will be eternally grateful to her for her kindness and consideration in getting us this wonderful gift. You have indeed made an old man and father very happy and proud of you as ever.

Note: I have included photos of some of Martyn Turners books and recent cartoons with this blog as an encouragement to others who as yet may not know of him, to look out for his work. For those who have asked where my profile image originated, a glance of the 'twin' cartoon will illuminate all. Finally, as my brother and I are due to meet once again for the all Blacks v Ireland rugby match in November (still talking after all these years) I have included a rugby sketch and of course a copy of our own personal treasured cartoon!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Is Fame the Real Name of the Tweeting Game?

If I want to achieve increased recognition and Twitter Fame
Perhaps I should change my Bio and even my name
You see being an old Irish named fogie is all very well
But to some Cyber tweeties it’s just like visiting Hell.

Maybe it’s time that I stepped up anew to the plate
Like an X Factor hopeful with a Simon Cowell date
I know I can’t sing a song or dance at all it is true
But like Jedward said, this really shouldn't deter you.

Perhaps I should now call myself Laddie Da Da
As I love Italian food and can sing as well as Lady Ga Ga
But I would certainly have to draw the line at a glitzy frock
As that would hardly increase my ‘HE’ manly stock!

No perhaps it’s best to call myself a more modest GodCannabbe
Just like a good follower on twitter named GoddessWannabe
But even at the thought of this new image my mind buckles
So perhaps the best option is to adopt a name like Lady Chuckles.

But it’s true that my followers might laugh at me not my name
So a new PR image may be needed to keep ahead of the game,
I am now torn between copying CoastalKate or even MusicMicetro
And am toying with CoastalColm or perhaps HipHopMicgogo.

But I’m also out of line with my tweets and my location Foursquare
And as for posting photos on Facebook I simply refuse to go there.
You see tweeting about cups of strong coffee or bubble and squeak
Has as much interest for me as going to the bog or taking a leak.

So what on earth will I do to increase my personal appeal?
When trivia and banality are often the only real deal
But Lo!, DrCesa may have solved my dilemma with a simple mantra
By suggesting to try tweeting happiness as much as I cantra

So at last I am now renewed and ready for a new Twitter Day,
As no new name change will be needed to tweet in a positive way
So here’s wishing all my followers the best Fortune and Fun
For Fame is no substitute for a real life when all is said and done.

So what’s the moral message of this tweeting preamble?
About a crisis of conscience and not taking a gamble
Well if you want to be successful in social media on line
Just try to project your positive self and you’ll do just fine.

Note: This is a purely fictional verse written for amusement only.

Mobile Photo Magic:Autumn Leaves and River Heaves!

It's amazing how the weather in the West of Ireland changes so quickly at this time of year from torrential downpours one day to lovely Autumnal sunshine the next. What is consistent however, is the steady fall of the leaves which seems to blanket the ground in a vibrant pattern of golden yellow and red colours. Thus, last weekend I took some photos along the Owenriff riverside, waterfall walk in Oughterard, Co. Galway to try and capture the rushing flood of water in the river and the beautiful array of colours in the leaves carpeting the walkway itself.

Note: photos taken with a HTC Legend Android Phone

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Toad in a Hole while Living under a Mushroom Cloud?

I have been reminiscing on this blog before about the joys I experienced as a young person in times now distant, going out to collect mushrooms at this time of year. Thus when my wife and I were travelling across country in our car recently we felt sure that we would come across some wild mushrooms in the fields. I of course could not look too carefully at the passing fields while driving but my wife scoured the fields in the hope of discovering this treasured crop. The problem of course is that mushrooms may not be found in the same fields as the previous year due to fluctuating factors such as the rotation of crops, animal husbandry etc. Suffice it to say here therefore that we did not locate a single wild mushroom on our travels. You can imagine my surprise therefore when I left the house a few morning ago to find a series of wild ‘mushrooms’ dotted in clumps below the garden trees. Of course these may in fact be dangerous toadstools rather than benign mushrooms.

Thus I am putting some photos up with this blog in the hope that someone may be able to advise me as to their name and type. However, I hasten to add that I do not intend to consume any of these mushrooms and I am only posting this query out of curiosity.

Still until I find an answer to my query I’m afraid that I will continue to labour under a mushroom cloud of doubt.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Little Ponying Up for Barbie Days and Care Bear Nights

I’m sure that in common with many people when their children grow up, I experienced a profound sense of emptiness and absence when our children left the home nest. I always feel that such little persons really start out as tiny ‘birds of pray’, in that they seem the answer to all ones prayers. However, during their teenager years they more often resemble ’birds of prey’ more than the saintly variety as they seem to need to swoop upon the latest fad with the concentration and swiftness of action characteristic of a wild eagle or other such untamed wild bird. As our own particular home life was dominated for many years by two little darling girls, I am long familiar with the need to respond quickly to demands for Magic Johnson basketball shirts, Spice Girl platform shoes and even Michael Jackson thriller attire. However, most of these fashion items have now gone the way of tight fittings leggings and flowery mini skirts and have been consigned appropriately to Fashion Hell where presumably they will be worn by other unworldly devils for eternity.

Although we seem to have little to show in material terms for our girls teenage years, we have a whole attic full of pre teen toys that they cherished so much that they could not part with them come fashion hell or high water. As both girls are now in their twenties and as one of them has two little boys of her own, both have at last agreed to allow us dispose of these toys. So I recently climbed into our attic, risking life and limb, and sorted the girl’s toys from the other motley collection of boxed clothes and Christmas trees/decorations. The reason for this climbing adventure is that my wife has decided to embark on what she affectionately refers to as her new ‘hobby’ by attempting to research the origin and value of these toys before selling them on E-Bay. At the last count we had 33 different ‘My Little Pony’ toys but 12 seem mysteriously to have ridden away into the sunset. Please don’t scoff here and scream that this seems an unduly large number of ‘horsey’ toys. You see there is a valid and logical explanation. It is that both Santa Clause and I were both assured that the purchase of such galloping friends would be cheaper than keeping a real pony. But in retrospect, I have to admit that this argument might not hold water unlike the little pails and buckets which were bought to give added ‘life’ to the pony experience. Thus we have ‘wedding ponies’, nursery ponies with cot and even Cinderella Castle ponies. It is enough to make a man think that he was taken for a ride himself at this time.

Our girls interests were not confined to ponies however, as I also remember a wide range of Barbie trucks and cars as well as all ‘necessary’ accessories. I don’t remember ‘Ken’, like the principal male of our own house, getting much of a ‘look in’ during this play time. My contribution to balance was to acquire a range of Lego kits which I am glad to say were also adopted with enthusiasm. Of course, the acquisition of this wide ranging toy collection was not entirely inexpensive, so one Christmas I decided to ‘cut my losses’ as it were, by getting a cheaper brand of Care Bear which to me looked an exact copy of the original but retailed at about a third of the price in a local department store. However, on Christmas Day I noticed that our youngest girl was not taking much interest in the Care Bear delivered by Santa. When I asked why I was told that it just wasn’t a ‘real’ Care Bear. She simply turned the Bear upside down to show that he had no ‘heart’ symbol on his bum! Needless to say poor Daddy hadn’t the heart to try this ploy again and at her next Birthday a real Care Bear magically appeared to great joy.

I’m glad to relate that our house has now been totally transformed from a girl’s paradise home into one geared for boys as our grandsons are now welcome visitors. Of course, we have learned from previous excesses of gift giving. Now we just sit back, lift every object with any semblance of value up onto the highest possible shelf and just let them rip! Even the hens have been known to go inside their coop to take refuge from the energetic zeal of the youngest boy. However, despite some misgivings about our ability to restore our home into a place for viable living purposes after they have left, we have simply decided to abide by the basic rule which applies to all young boys-

Just play ball or you will never score with them!

Note: this little blog is by way of evoking fond memories of two lovely girls and two young lovely boys who have never given us a moment’s anxiety in our entire lives!!

I swear it’s true! Really!!!

A Walk on the Wild Side in Roundstone-Photos

It seems like only a few weeks ago since Western Connemara and the Roundstone area was covered in yellow gorse and purple flowering heathers but now it has turned amber and brown as the Autumn colours are bathed in the rays of the low sun. I have included a series of photographs taken while walking with my wife yesterday along a bog road in Connemara and also at the harbour at Roundstone. As you can see it is no wonder that the quality of the ever changing light and colours within this landscape is an inspiration for artists and indeed general travellers alike.

Note: Photos taken on a HTC Legend Android Mobile Phone

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A New Stamp Needed on Blog posts or Just a Black Mood?

After added some 100+ blog entries to my blog profile page I must admit to feeling a little uneasy about the personal value of the whole Twitter process. Most of my peer group think that I am mad to have anything to do with this social media and I have to admit that there are times when I get tired and bored by it. Furthermore, I realise that the core raison d’être of Twitter is an instant message exchange process whereas I much prefer the sharing of human interest ‘stories’ on the blog pages. As a result, I feel that the Twitter experience is for me often akin to a person stranded on top of a mountain who shouts out from time to time but hears mostly a faint echo of his own voice.

I had a crisis of Twitter conscience when returning by car from Clifden on Saturday when I decided after contemplating the amount of time that I am ‘wasting’ on Twitter each day to ‘sound the last post’ as it were, and withdraw gracefully from the whole process. However, this black mood may have in part being due to the fact that the Connemara ‘Blacks’ Rugby team I follow had just lost their third game in a row by a wide margin and now reside firmly at the foot of the table. Upon further reflection I decided that perhaps I was being too judgemental and introspective and that, just as in the case of my favourite rugby team, the dedication to whom I have no intention of quitting, I should perhaps simply seek a more balanced commitment both to the success or otherwise of my time committed to ‘sport’ on the rugby pitch or indeed to sport on social media in general.

Thus, I am posting some photos from Griffins Bar in Clifden by way of renewing my support for the ‘Blacks’ and I am also resolved to try to put a new slant on my blog entries with a commitment of a shorter period of time. It is especially important for me at my ‘age’ to allow adequate time for reading, for listening to music and above all for enjoying the spectacular scenery of Connemara itself.

As a start I would like if someone could advise me whether the followers on my blog page need me to send them a link on my home page to each new blog entry or whether they are automatically reminded of this by the Twitter process. I would link to reduce time forwarding or re-tweeting blog entries to people who may not even want to see them at all. To me, as I have said before, the blog page is like a personal magazine where I can indulge myself setting forth personal opinions and photos. My only regret is that I can’t share photos of my grandchildren to protect their privacy on the Internet.

I would like to sincerely thank all those who have followed me through my home or blog page and the words of encouragement that you have tweeted to me. At a time of significant stress in my severely restricted work environment, they have genuinely been a great source of comfort to me. May I end this period of personal reflection by hoping that any further blog entries will be of some interest and at least wont ‘bore the socks’ of all concerned.

Note: 'U2' photo is by way of celebration of 100 blog entries, to say that 'you too' can do likewise and as an affirmation of the need for a sense of Fun above all else!