Wednesday, November 25

Stewart Parker, Belfast playwright.

I was told today that Stewart Parker was coming back into the public gaze.

I certainly hope so, as Parker is a much misunderstood and ignored Belfast playwright. His trilogy of plays for Ireland are the best I've ever attended or read. This was a guy who was influenced by a French playwright that wanted to put 'play' back into theatre, and saw it as a forerunner to Hollywood. Yet Parkers' trilogies are so different to his French influences, a bit like night and day. The trilogy plays are very verbal plays, not physical at all. One of his other plays, 'Lost belongings' was made by London weekend television.

The Irish Times described him in one of their editorials as interested in jazz. He wrote a column for them, but his interest wasn't merely in jazz but 'high pop'. 'High pop' is a term used for Parker because he tries to combine 'high culture with modern culture. He had a real interest in contemporary culture, the stuff that isn't taught in universities. He wasn't influenced by the Jonsonian idea that judgement of something as good is because it has lasted and stood the test of time. He saw this as critical cowardice, and believed we need to make judgements about what is happening in our own culture aa s it is happening around us in real time.

We had the emergence of pop culture in the 1960's, but many commentators and playwrights were of the old school, influenced by the Johnsonian notions and were wary of contemporary culture. Contemporary culture was left to its own devices, but for Parker, culture was culture. Particularly the culture of the cities, urban culture. Seamus Heaney was dismissive of the urban, he wrote of rural culture, but since the year 2000 most humans now live their lives in cities for the first time in human history. AS a dramatist he makes use of how people live in cities and Belfast in particular, he was obsessed with Belfast. He had a love hate relationship with it.

One of his plays deals with Henry Joy Mc Cracken. McCracken in the play imagines walking through Belfast.

There is of course another walk through the town, still to be taken. From Castle place to Corn market, and down to the Artillery barracks in Ann St. And from thence back up Cornmarket to the scaffold.

Mc Craken knows he is about to die, the fate of all Irish political martyrs. He wants his last words to be profound but can get no further than 'citizens of Belfast'.

He wrote that the city was a giant body,and the diagnosis was not good, circulation sluggish, and lungs congested with severe constipation, when there was a proposal to build roads through the city. He took a stand against the building of the roads, and in Pentecost his last play puts very profound words in to the mouth of one of his female characters. This play is based on the UWC strike, and a couple are divorcing, the wife needs to move out. She says of her house

'the only difference between this house and a stately house is that this home speaks for a far greater community experience'.

Parker thought that the national trust should take over some of these old Belfast homes and keep them in good order as a reminder of what Belfast was once like. The national trust do this now in some instances, though I am not sure if it is done with an old Belfast house, but the museum at Cultra is based on this idea.

Parker died young at the age of forty seven.

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Sunday, November 15

Sharing photos via windows live writer.

These photos were taken today in Warrenpoint, County Down. Northern Ireland.  I uploaded them to windows live, and live writer allows you to share them either individually or as an album.

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Live writer, inserting maps..moving into first class..

Map picture
This is a map of Belfast’s Falls Road inserted via live writer into a blog post!!! Good isn’t it? Of course there are different kind of maps, road maps and aerial views, but for demonstration purposes this was a good one.  This windows live writer is like a whole new place for blogging and takes it to a different level.  It’s like moving up into first class from economy in a plane or train.
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Saturday, November 14

Thank you to ‘Tales in my head.’

 I would like to thank ‘Tales in my head’, for his ‘awesome blogger’ award.  Wow!!! That took me by surprise.  Thank you Christiejolu!!  it was extremely good of you to think of me.

Ok so now for the rules…..
7 things you don’t know about me.


1) I’m not a great time keeper and always arrive late, not ‘fashionably late, simply late.

2) I’m an Easterenders fan.

3) I like being in the house and listening to the rain and wind outside.

4) I like to read in bed.

5) I’m no good at sports.

6) I like to escape to the country when I can.

7) I’m watching the U.S. series ‘The Unit’, which I am really enjoying….

Bloggers I’d like to give this award to are:-
1) Alice

2) Janice

3) Tales from my head.

4) Steve E.

and as I’m still finding my way around, I hope I’ll be forgiven for not posting seven bloggers, but I’ll keep visiting and commenting from all of you and getting to know more of you I hope. 

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When the red red robbin......

A red robin in the tree in my garden on a cold dismal and overcast day in Belfast today.
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Wednesday, November 11

Windows live writer – a fantastic way of blogging.

Last night I was looking to apply my own handwriting script to the blog posts on this blog.  Now I realise it is not necessary, as windows writer will do it for you, which is much better and easier.  My own hand writing is eligible anyway, so this font changer in windows writer is ideal for changing the font of a blog and making it stand out as different.  I didn’t know I had windows writer and came across it  by mistake, but now I’m glad I found it as it allows blog owners to publish their posts much easier  It also allows you plugins like emotions, and it will automatically update you in twitter if you like.  It has a very easy to use interface. test post with which you can insert photos and make them smaller or bigger simply by dragging the corner of the uploaded pic.   It will allow you to insert video via an url,, and insert tables, and maps quite easily.  Easier than ABC, dare I say it!

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Poetry – getting it right.

One of the best Irish poets is Patrick Kavanagh.  He was a man that wrote about what was close to him, he drew his inspiration from his surroundings, the family farm, the clay and its contradictions.  Clay was the stuff of life, and yet it could smother, and like the contradictions in clay there are contradictions in his life and work, which he tried to reconcile.  Its interesting when listening to writers to hear what it is they draw their inspiration from.  James Ellroy, the other evening in the Waterfront Hall, said he drew his inspiration from American history.  American history has been kind to me, he said.
The best and simplest example of writing  about what is close is Kavanagh's poem 'My Room'.
'My Room', it may be a musty attic but the little window lets in the stars.  Kavanagh doesn't try to describe the stars, he simply describes what is close and the stars illuminate it.  That's getting it right. smile_wink
'My Room'
Ten by twelve
And a low roof
If I stand by the side-wall
My head gets the reproof.

Five holy pictures
Hang on the walls:
The Virgin and Child
St Patrick our own
St Anthony of Padua
Pope Leo XIII and the Little Flower.

My bed in the centre
is many things to me:
A dining table
A writing desk
and a slumber palace.

My room is a musty attic
But its little window
Lets in the stars.
Patrick Kavanagh

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Tuesday, November 10

Thanks Alice - from me to you!

A gift from Alice in Wonderland.

Firstly, I wanted to thank Alice over at her beautiful site for this lovely gift she gave to me the other evening.  I cannot tell you how surprised I was to receive anything from anyone,  and I appreciate it immensely.  It has boosted my spirits and made me think I can do this.

The other thing is to tell my readers (?) seven things about myself that they don't already know.  I haven't really posted anything about myself at all on this blog, thinking who'd be interested in my boring details, but here goes:

1) I'm doing a course on world literature that I absolutely love, its only one morning a week, but it's really interesting.

2) I like this blogging and hope to get addicted.

3) I don't like romantic films or novels.

4) I used to think Al Pacino was georgeous.

5) I need to lose about a stone and a half but hate dieting, but keep trying.

6) I love live theatre.

7) I'm a closet Daniel O'Donnell fan.

I'm not really able to link seven new bloggers yet, as I'm not very experienced with these type of blogs, and I'm still getting to know my way around this, so I'll need to be excused from that part of the rules for a little while.  As for staying 'awesome', I'm not sure I've even arrived there yet, but thankyou Alice for thinking of me.

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Monday, November 9

Remembering the fall of the Berlin wall.

Today, twenty years ago the Berlin wall fell. I remember it well, and can recall how pieces of the Berlin wall went on sale on ebay. I don't know if what they were selling was actually pieces of the wall, but the scenes on our television screens will always be remembered by most of us old enough to remember that far back. But Berlin as a city has more history than simply a wall coming down, and two sides of a divided Berlin trying desperately to come together after the cold war.
As tourists we went on a walking tour of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp located just out side that city.
It was first used as a concentration camp by the Nazis, and then as a gulag by the soviets. In the later part of the war, ovens were also used there.

Berlin is a beautiful city. The Brandenburg gate is particularly beautiful at night when it is lit up, and some of the scenes I remember from twenty years ago showed people streaming through the gate from east to west.
Check point Charlie now is a bit of tourist fun, it is manned by students who will give you a stamped fake pass to get through the gate, provided you give them something like ten pound sterling, you can get your photo taken there too, and take a look at what remains of the wall, which isn't a lot. I was told that the Germans did want any memorablia from the wall remaining after it fell, which is a pity, so now there isn't much of the wall left to see at the 'checkpoint'. It is a very interesting city, with boat tours along the river, and historical tours including the many walking tours organised from the Brandenburg gate each morning during the summer. We couldn't see everything there was to see here on a one week trip and hope to go back again to see and experience the things we didn't get to see on our last trip and to enjoy some of that German hospitality and good food.

The writing on the front gate of the camp says 'Work will set you free', which of course it didn't in that place. The only way out for the prisoners was through the ovens, a horrible testament to mans' inhumanity to man.

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Sunday, November 8

A wet day near Enniskillen.

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James Ellroy talks about his style of writing.

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The signed book.

To Kate. James Ellroy.

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James Ellroy talks about his new book, 'Blood is a rover'.

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James Ellroy in Belfast.

Last night we were at the Waterfront Hall, in Belfast to hear James Ellroy talk about his new book, and talk about it and lots of other stuff, he did, and did very well. He is a great orator, and knew how to work a room. This was in the main auditorium rather than the small theatre they have there, and while it was not full, there was definitely a good crowd turnout to hear him, on a very wet, cold and miserable Saturday night. One guy who asked a question on 'Dudley Smith' a character in one of Ellroy's books, and who was Irish and born in Dublin, told us that he had travelled up from that city to hear and meet Ellroy. I also heard French speaking people behind me who had come to the talk.

The evenings format was a reading then a discussion with a local author and questions and answers from the floor. A stage was set with two chairs and small table with some water, and a podium from which Ellroy spoke, and was introduced by David from No Allibi's bookstore.

Far too much happened in one evening to be covered in one post, so I'll blog more about this, and have more pictures and a couple of small short videos too.

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Saturday, November 7

Out of sight is not out of mind...

A grand-daughter in Dubai

Always thinking of you, always proud of you, and we will always love you.

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Flu jab ....

Today we went and got the flu jab. I was really not all that happy about going, but the attitude 'better safe than sorry' won through!

The nurse said, if your arm gets red, simply put a little cream on it. One of my husbands' work colleagues got the jab, and the swelling went all the way up to his shoulder, so I'm hoping my arm doesn't get as bad as that.

We got the jab in the first batch of patients our doctor notified. It was open surgery. As advertised, doctors surgeries are staying open to accomodate the amount of people who will be getting the swine flu jab. We also got the normal winter flu jabs a few weeks back. I know some people who got the jabs both together, and their arm was a mess. So I decided we'd do it in stages, and get one at a time.

So far so good, my arm is not swollen, only tingly, and feels a little heavy. The nurse said that is how it would be, and that tomorrow it could feel as though someone punched you on it. (!) What ever the situation, I'm glad we got it, its done now. Hopefully it will ward off the infection.

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