Strings Attached


By Joanne Lipman and Melanie Kupchynsky

I don’t know if I have a particular propensity to cry while reading books on planes, but I seem to recall doing it on numerous occasions. I don’t know what other people make of it if they notice, but I don’t really care. I may have mentioned before but I do love a book that makes me cry.

This one I had put in my bag several times but always ended up reading something else. I took it for our trip to Birmingham and finally got stuck into it. I was never more than a mediocre piano player, but I still understand to some extent the feelings that are evoked by the playing, how it brings people together, how it helps to heal.

This evening I got to see a fantastic concert with the Mornington Singers and a visiting choir from Slovenia, Saint Nicholas Choir. The Slovenian choir sang joyful songs, full of life and then we were brought to the other extreme with songs of mourning. And during it I had a sneaky read of some of my next book club choice ‘Night Film’ by Marisha Pessl which features some manic and beautiful piano playing. We decided to go with something in suitable to the season and it’s proving quite addictive. In some ways it reminds me of Shadow of the Wind, though I don’t think it’s quite as well written (so far).

Strings Attached made me feel nostalgic for the time when I was young and believed my mother when she would point out somebody playing piano on the television and tell me it would be me one day. It made me think about other teachers in school and how much they did for me and how I never made any effort to contact them to thank them in all of the years since then. And I’d like to say I’d change that now, but most likely I won’t. And from the other side, I look at the photos I have of my classes from my year in Minsk and wonder if any of my students ever think of me.

So, I did well to read a book which had been sitting around for a while. I avoided buying any books in the airport and I had good intentions about not buying others. The only one on my list was the book club choice. Right beside our hotel I found the most gorgeous Waterstones. I wandered in and when an employee asked me if I needed help he also asked if I knew the shop was closing in ten days.


Well, they were moving location.

What a pity, it was such a beautiful store…

Yes, it was going to become an Apple Store.


So what could I do? I was straight back into the mode where I feel like I’m the only person keeping bookshops and physical books alive. So I had to buy some books. But I’ll do better, really I will. And all of the books I bought are ones I will actually read, not ones that will just look good on my shelf., In keeping with the eerie theme I’m particularly looking forward to reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Gothic Tales’. I thought I had read all of her work, but apparently there are a few more volumes to go. I don’t expect to come across any more ‘North and South’s but I’m sure I’ll enjoy them.

The UnAmericans

Love Belarus

by Molly Antopol

So I am half way through this book of short stories and finding them fantastic. I half-heartedly suggested this to my bookclub but they weren’t too pushed and as I didn’t know if it would be any good I didn’t pursue it and suggested Sofi Oksanen’s ‘When the Doves Disappeared’ instead (and it went down well). I do wish we’d gone with it now. One story in particular impressed me. ‘My Grandmother tells me this Story’ and not just because it was set in Belarus.

You can read the full story here:

It’s about a Jewish kid hiding in the forests in Belarus during the second world war. It reminded me of ‘City of Thieves’ by David Benioff (where is the petition for that movie to be made, will it be after Game of Thrones is finished?) and also the movie Defiance, which I somehow managed never to hear about before this summer.

Keeping this short, as otherwise I won’t post.  I was in Hodges Figgis a few weeks ago and overheard a conversation between a couple about how she couldn’t buy any more books until she started reading all the ones she already had. And I though, hey, didn’t I have some resolution about that at some stage, should I start again?

So, I was making a new resolution about not buying new books (not even for my husband) but when I was buying some for my niece’s birthday present I saw that in Hodges Figgis they were selling books where 100% of the proceeds go to the Syrian Crisis Appeal. How could I say no?

Christmas shopping


When I was growing up we always did our Christmas shopping on the northside, Henry St, O’Connell St. We wouldn’t dream of shopping on the southside, way too expensive. But every year at some stage we would make the journey across to Grafton St. to look at Switzer’s windows.
A long time ago Switzer’s closed and Brown Thomas moved in. They still make the effort to decorate the windows for Christmas, if in a less traditional way. They’re beautiful but I don’t know if parents would still bring their kids to see them.


Arnott’s on the other hand, they seem to be decorating their windows in a way that is nostalgic for those times of parents bringing kids to look at the Christmas windows, even though I can’t say I ever noticed them too much back then. Maybe I was too excited to go and see their Santa!

Anyway, book club Christmas party tonight. I hope I don’t get shot for having chosen ‘Spider’s Web’. It was an interesting book, but unfinished, it just stops in the middle of nowhere. I hate that!

All Hallows


Another day another Christmas concert. This time the Dolce choir was holding theirs at All Hallows college, a former seminary in Drumcondra. It was a miserable evening but we were able to forget about that once the music started and get into the Christmas spirit.
Speaking of which, well, I’ve picked up Le Testament Français again and I’m really getting into it. The first few chapters always seemed a bit of a stumbling block, but I’ve got past those. And at one sentence I wanted to cry out and I’d love to quote that here but I’ve no train books with me today. Apart from a small handbag I’ve just got a bag with a Christmas jumper.
Yes, I’m doing the 12 pubs of Christmas. I know it’s all about the backlash this year and I should be tut tutting, but I’ve never done it and it’ll be a good chance to get to know my work colleagues… At least for the first few pubs and I’m not sure how long I’ll last!
Wish me luck!

The Gardaí


It’s a bad photo, I know. I need to start using my actual camera. I suppose I’m still a bit self conscious trying too hard with my phone, whereas I’ve no problem hiding behind a camera. I passed this bus while walking back to the train. It was full of Gardaí being bussed home ( I suppose) after the water charges protests. Maybe it’s silly, but I didn’t want to hang around to take another snap.



So I went to a gig here last night and it turns out it was the TG4 New Year’s Eve show being filmed. It was good fun, apart from having to rush off for the last train. The joys of commuter living! I was looking around thinking, why do people not go out more on Monday nights? And then I remembered Tuesday mornings…

Whelan’s is a great venue and dragging out its 25 year celebrations this year. Outside Ireland it’s probably most famous as the venue in PS I Love You, a film I’ve never been tempted to watch.

I’m having an early night tonight, mostly because I’m doing a charity fast for Concern, so the stomach is rumbling.
I read a little of The Spider’s Web today thinking I should really try to finish it for Thursday so I can lend the book on to somebody else, but I think I won’t be going in the end.

Tomorrow I’ve got another concert to go to in Christchurch (so many concerts in the lead up to Christmas!). This time it’s the Trinity Orchestra with soloist Eadaoin Copeland, who we were so lucky to have playing at our wedding.

Also, linking, linking, but did you know Hozier used to sing with Trinity Orchestra? Check this out if you don’t believe me:



So I didn’t get a great picture of the Sandycove Martello Tower, but here’s one of the many others, the one in Balbriggan. Yet again there was a beautiful Sunday morning, though the clouds did appear soon after taking the photo.

We went to see a lovely Irish movie this afternoon called Standby There is a good review here: .
I had hoped to catch it after work one evening, but it didn’t seem to be in any of the city centre cinemas, which is a shame. Maybe it was only there for one week. I know any time a film consists of two people wandering around a city I just go into automatic Before Sunrise reference mode, but of the two Before Sunrise-ish films I’ve seen this weekend, this was by far the superior. Dublin looked fantastic, although I did find it a bit depressing that it was seen as being the loser route for him to stay and also that there was never any question of her coming to Dublin. Anyway, I’m not saying it’s a classic but it was funny and sweet and just what I needed after Friday’s atrocity.

It stars Jessica Pare (from Mad Men) and Brian Gleeson (forever to be known as son of Brendan). What can I say, I love all the Gleesons. As soon as we figure out what date suits us all, a group of us will be heading to see all three Gleesons in The Walworth Farce in January.

Oh and by the way, on the subject of the Gleeson family here is a video of them messing around as kids and adults. The song, by Squarehead is in aid of St. Francis’ Hospice.

No mention of books….no time for reading today really…

National Concert Hall


Yesterday at lunch I slipped out to the National Concert Hall. Once I’m really stuck into the job this won’t be so easy so I’m trying to make the most of it. I went to watch Derby Browne and really enjoyed it, except for the fact I kept checking my watch for the time. The guy beside me was making lots of notes, a critic or just somebody who wants to write something for his own blog?

After work I headed over to the IFI for a film at the French Film Festival. Usually I’m very good at reading brochures about Film Festivals but never actually going. A friend of mine had suggested this film, Trois Coeurs and the description I read sounded like some version of Before Sunrise, so I said yes. Oh dear God, it was bad. Just, I don’t know what type of film they were going for, from the music it sounded like a thriller, the actors were all good, but the story was just bad, bad, bad. I kept wanting to shout at the screen and that doesn’t happen often.

Afterwards we headed to the Italian Quarter for a quick glass of wine before my train. Ah, the commuting lifestyle, where you have to internalise the train timetable and weigh up the pros and cons of rushing for one train or maybe having to wait quite a while for the next one. I don’t know what was going on with the wine pouring, it seemed like a very delicate work of art was taking place in front of us, but I just about had enough time to drink it. Every now and again we burst out laughing, thinking back over the film.

On the train home I was listening in on two girls talking about student life and feeling nostalgic. The conversation turned to Slane and how Hozier would be supporting the Foo Fighters. Like them, I wouldn’t be mad about the latter but would be more interested in the former. One of them mentioned playing after him at The Ruby Sessions back before he had made it but how good he was and how it just seemed to be ridiculous to be following on after him. I can understand, but it’s a great story to have!

In the morning I started reading Le Testament Francais by Andrei Makine. It’s one I’ve picked up before and abandoned but I want to give it a proper chance this time. I’ve loved other Andrei Makine books, most recently Brief Loves that Live Forever. Each chapter/story seemed perfect in its own way.