The tradition of giving thanks for a bountiful harvest pre-dates the Pilgrim Fathers of Plymouth Rock, all organised religions and probably even the invention of recognisable clothing. After successfully hunter-gathering the roots, berries and mammoth steaks, what better way to celebrate than pulling on the Sunday best and eating until physical activity is rendered impossible.
Fleeing from intolerance, religious oppression, imprisonment and summary execution, England Dissenters migrated first to Holland and then undertook a perilous voyage across treacherous seas to reach a new world offering a land of the free and a home for the brave. Many died in that first harsh winter but, according to legend, the colony managed to survive due to its endurance, toil and by the grace of God. Another version suggests that the local Native Americans took pity and shared their food only to be rewarded with the European gift of smallpox. (more…)
The absolute joy of existing in an infinite and expanding universe is the certainty that the space-time continuum will continue to throw up some astonishing surprises. Who on earth could ever have imagined that FIFA actually has an actual ethics committee or that Michael Gove would actually do something useful by reversing the barking mad decisions made by failing Grayling at the Ministry of Justice. Pensioners in the House of Lords might pay good money for being put to the lash but a pensioner in a Saudi prison might be bad for business. With friends like Saudi Arabia, who needs extraterrestrial aliens with vaporising death rays? Obviously the government will engage in a “dialogue” with the bug-eyed silicone based life-forms from somewhere beyond Alpha Centauri in the hope of flogging them some lovely weaponry. (more…)
Playing the man
Within the occult dark arts coven of British politics, it is evidentially clear that former MP and novelist Chris Mullin is a witch and should be immediately conveyed to the nearest village pond to be dunked in order to ascertain if he floats or sinks. In the early years of the first Thatcher government, the then Labour MP for Sunderland South and shameless supporter of the late Tony Benn concocted a fanciful yet amusing piece of fiction entitled “A Very British Coup”. The plot of this far-fetched political fantasy involves a left-wing working class Labour MP by the name of Harry Perkins unexpectedly becoming a British Prime Minister. (more…)
Philip Larkin was only partially correct in suggesting that we project our own faults onto our children; he forgot the bits about bequeathed neuroses and anxiety. The dead poet and librarian might have held some unpleasant opinions but he took his own advice and by having no children of his own avoided the gathering apprehension of an offspring’s A Level results day. Thursday was always going to be a tense morning. (more…)
Wilde in Merrion Square Dublin
I was there less than two weeks ago; I saw the posters, understood what it was about and knew what the opinion polls were saying and heard the anecdotal opinions of the people I met. Yet on Saturday afternoon, as the result of the Irish Equal Marriage Referendum became clear, something utterly astonishing has taken place in Ireland. It is no exaggeration to say that the entire country has experienced a societal seismic shift overnight.
With a national turn-out of 60 per cent and with 62 per cent voting “Yes”, talk of a landslide is probably a bit of the blarney but the sands have shifted irrevocably and, to my mind at least, a Catholic State has become an Irish Nation. The figures demonstrate that a sizable majority of the population regardless of age, faith, ethnicity or gender who would never in a month of Sundays describe themselves as LGBT have voted for equality, compassion, respect and (wait for it) love as basic human rights extended to their fellow citizens. (more…)