Sandycove

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Last night I went to Sandycove. This tied in very nicely with finishing Dublinesque, considering the closeness with Ulysses. I realised that although I’d been to this pub in Sandycove a few times, on musical society business, I’d never actually been out to Joyce’s Martello tower. So I had a wander. I thought, if this was somewhere in Spain and there was some kind of tourist attraction close by I’d be racing up to see it and take some photos. Obviously it was closed. And dark. So I won’t put up any photos just now. (I also passed some spectacular houses, oh, how the other half live!)

I’m not sure exactly how many Martello Towers there are on the Irish coast. I wasn’t particularly curious about them when I was younger, they were just there.

Anyway, I was at a quiz last night for my former musical society. And I won a bottle of wine. That’s a result!

http://johnsbookshop.com/product.php?intProductID=1310
We were sitting under this poster. At first seeing the ‘de’ my mind switched to Spanish until I recognised the French and worked out that in French the film if ‘The Dead’ was simply called ‘Dubliners’. That story never fails to move me.
It’s a long journey back though and my phone was dead, so I did read a little bit more of The Yellow Dog. Until I had to snooze, but stay alert enough not to miss my stop…

Napoli

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Il Caffe di Napoli getting into the Christmas spirit. I love this cafe, I often grab a coffee there while enjoying the last of my free time before work.

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Dublinesque: If I hadn’t been in love with this book already the reference to Skerries helped! The last few days I’ve been holding my coffee with one hand, my book with the other and trying to navigate the paths of Dublin without bumping into anybody. I’ll try to write something more about it though I’m not sure where to start. It’s a real book lover’s book. And it makes me want to read Ulysses, which is an achievement.
Anyway I’ve just finished it and have to run back to work.

The New Theatre

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In Dublin there are a lot more theatres than you might think at first glance
There are a few big ones with extended runs of big budget shows, some fantastic, some middling. But there are plenty of smaller ones with a wide variety of limited run shows. This is one of my favourites, a theatre behind a bookshop, what’s not to like? Well the bookshop is a curiosity itself, a communist bookshop, you can read about it here. While I wouldn’t be in agreement with many of the far left politics, it does stock a lot of material relating to different social issues, often not found elsewhere. And the theatre also usually shows ‘issue’ plays, though that’s sometimes more obvious than others. (Also, as my cousin pointed out, some very graphic versions of Irish legends, which seem to be children’s books, but on a closer look might be a bit too violent!).
We went to see a play called ‘Returning to Haifa’. Since I’m no good at reviewing I’ll link to the Irish Times review. It was very interesting and, not that I’d read up on it much in advance, but not what I expected. I was a bit worried that it would be very one sided, but I found it quite even. There were no winners on stage. (Also, why are my fictional namesakes always middle aged or elderly Jewish women?)
There was a discussion afterwards and I’m sure it would have been interesting, but my cousin is off to Peru and we wanted to catch up.
On the book side of things, she has recommended Elena Ferrante, so I must check her out.
I’m nearly finished Dublinesque, really enjoying it, I’ll try to write some more when I’m done. However, considering it’s so strongly influenced by Joyce I was reminded of the first line of Finnegan’s Wake (not that I have read this or Ulysses):
riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay
and realised that this must be referring to the church I wrote about a few days ago when I started reading Dublinesque. Literature is everywhere here, especially with the help of Joyce.
I have read Dubliners at least. And if you haven’t, you should. It’s 100 years old this year. Not that that’s the reason,  you just need to read it because it’s so good.

Sunshine

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Just your typical November day. Glorious! Yes you get a lot of miserable weather too, but days like this are just lovely.
I’m back to the usual employed person’s Sunday night blues. But it was a nice weekend. And I’m really enjoying Dublinesque, more so than a lot of the books I’ve been reading lately.
We were at my brother’s for dinner in the city centre and afterwards we saw a fox. I really wasn’t expecting that!

Day of St. Cecilia

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I’m back from a beautiful (as usual) concert of the Mornington Singers in the equally delightful Adam and Eve’s church. As usual the selection of music was very eclectic, but today they had three new works, the winners of a competition earlier this year. All the composers were present. Anyway, I have a feeling I’m going to be attending a few more choral concerts in the run up to Christmas!
I haven’t done much reading today, I kept reading about the podcast ‘serial’ and started listening today and was hooked ( as often happens with me) much to the annoyance of my husband.

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However I have just started reading another book. Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas. I was flicking through it in the bookshop, read this page and just had to buy it. Going well so far!

Hidden Gem?

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I noticed the lights outside this door a few days ago. I don’t know if they are always there, I don’t see why not, they don’t need to be just for Christmas, they’re just classy. Simple white lights like this remind me of Vienna. Ah, Vienna at Christmas. That is something special…Don’t mind me, I’m just getting nostalgic and stepping back 13 years.

Anyway, I passed by a little closer this evening to see what was there, but all I saw was the number 25. However, when I googled it I saw that it was a ‘private dining venue’. Well, this year’s Christmas party is already booked, but maybe I can get in on the shortlist for next year?

I’m still reading ‘Wise Blood’. Maybe I’m just not getting it. Maybe there’s a reason I’ve always heard of Flannery O’Connor as a short story writer. I mean it’s a short enough novel, obviously I’m not talking about length. But people have their different genres and I’m not going to judge based on one book.

Ordinary People

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I had some time to kill this evening so decided to run up to Chapters and check whether our next book club books (Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor and The Spider’s Web by Joseph Roth) were available there, as we might have bought out the Hodges Figgis copies.

As it happened Chapters closes at 6.30 and I missed that by ten minutes, but in passing the top of O’Connell St I saw this street art. I love random things like this!

Speaking of ordinary people on O’Connell Street/Bridge, if you haven’t checked out http://www.manonbridge.ie you should, the website or the book. And I’m not just saying that because my Dad is in one of the photos! Arthur Fields took photos of Dublin people from the 1930s to the 1980s. Isn’t that amazing? Will Humans of New York still be taking photos in 50 years time?

The Bookies

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So I noticed this sign today, I’m sure I’ve noticed it before, but not really. There are plenty of ‘ghost’ signs all over Dublin. There’s even a website dedicated to them:
http://dublinghostsigns.com/
But apparently from a quick google, the actual bookmakers only closed down a few years ago, even if Joe himself had long passed away.

I don’t think I’ve actually ever been in a Bookmakers. The name used to confuse me as a child. Maker of books. These days they are everywhere, usually a blight on the main street of any town. Balbriggan suffers a lot more than most in this respect. I think I could tolerate them if they were not so garish. I suppose it doesn’t make any difference to what happens inside, but you can associate them with the classiness of The Sting, rather than the different type of classiness we see on Black Books:

(Do yourself a favour and watch this if you haven’t yet!)

Of course nowadays nobody needs to go into a bookmakers, you can do everything online. I mean, I’ve enjoyed going to the dogs on work nights out, throwing in a few quid for an office pool on the Grand National or playing the Lotto and some people who gamble online can just enjoy it the odd time but for a lot of people it’s an addiction. I was so happy that I didn’t have to get a job at one of the betting companies in Gibraltar. So many of the available jobs were there and I suppose I would have taken one if I needed it, but I really did not like the idea of it. Like working with a cigarette company.

So our next Book Club book is Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. It’s on 4th December. If you’re in Dublin and want to join us, let me know!

Edited to add:
I just saw this article about ghost signs in the Irish Times (and a book on the topic) and had to add the link:
http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/art-and-design/2.642/ghost-signs-on-dublin-s-walls-1.2000833

The Day of the Imprisoned Writer

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This is a photo of the KGB in Minsk, Belarus. When I lived there 10 years ago I never took a photo of this building. My friends told me most likely somebody would come to take my film (yes, I hadn’t moved on to digital yet). I took this photo 3 years ago. Maybe I figured things were not so bad, or maybe the years away had made more more naive.

I was lucky enough to be part of the audience at this event for The Day of the Imprisoned Writer as part of the Dublin Book Festival:
http://www.dublinbookfestival.com/category/news/the-day-of-the-imprisoned-writer-martina-devlin-and-iryna-khalip-in-association-with-front-line-defenders-and-irish-pen/

It was recorded for RTE Arena so should be on the radio at some stage, though I’m not sure when. It will be well worth a listen.

The first story, read by Anne Enright, was this one:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/21/she-tweeted-against-the-mexican-cartels-they-tweeted-her-murder.html

Although the ‘end’ of her story was told in the title it still hit me in the gut when it was read.

Iryna Khalip read a section of her book, detailing how her mother had to prove that she was physically and mentally capable of looking after to her grandson while Iryna was under arrest.

When I went to work in Belarus, part of my teaching contract stated that I could not get involved in Belarusian politics/protests and I could not discuss politics in the classroom either. My immediate thought on reading this was that I wanted to find a protest to join. Predictably, I didn’t. In the immediate years after leaving I regularly read the charter97.org website to follow what was going on in the country, though less so as the years have passed.

Many of the friends I got to know don’t live there any more; they live in America, Canada, Germany, Belgium, England, Austria and here in Ireland. With those who are left, I usually discuss ordinary life, not politics.

In Iryna’s words: “If you are obedient, if you are not interested in the political situation, if you stay away from the oppositional websites, if you stay away from opposition rallies, if you don’t speak about the political situation, then you can feel enough comfort.”
(http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/belarusian-journalist-iryna-khalip-details-dissident-life-1.2000122)

It is easiest to do nothing and live in relative ease, but it is not a way to live a whole life. We have to be grateful to the people like Iryna who are brave and continue reporting even when it is dangerous.

Christchurch

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Not a great photo I know, but I was at a fabulous concert last night with the UCD Symphony Orchestra, especially Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 played by Cillian Copeland.

Today it will be off to the Dublin Book Festival, in particular this one with Iryna Khalip:
http://www.dublinbookfestival.com/category/news/the-day-of-the-imprisoned-writer-martina-devlin-and-iryna-khalip-in-association-with-front-line-defenders-and-irish-pen/

This morning I decided I needed a new book so I’ve started on Wolfgang Koeppen’s The Hothouse. Going well so far…