Bucket List #5

Renault4

This is not a photo of my first car, but it is a photo of a beige Renault 4 with a sunroof.  My first car was a beige Renault 4 with a sunroof, but it also had matching dents on each front corner, and a chiaroscuro quality imparted by the proliferation of rust.

How does it qualify for my bucket list?  Well, it was a rust-bucket!

My Renault 4 came to me by way of my Sister, Síle, who decorated it with the two matching dents by knocking down first one pillar and then the other on the driveway of her house in Newbridge.  She bought the car second hand from the Burkes, who owned a garage in Tipperary.  That might explain why a Renault 4 came to be fitted with a sunroof.  It also had a go-fast stripe, and I suspect they did something to the engine to give it a bit of power, but maybe that was just an illusion imparted by the stripe.

There is a magic and a nostalgia associated with your first car.  It is usually a piece of rubbish, but it is a very important piece of rubbish.  Your first car is probably the most expensive and most important thing you have ever owned up to the point where you get your second car, or a house, or an engagement ring.

Your first car represents your freedom as a young adult.  Your ability to strike out at great distances without begging rides from parents or siblings, without the need to rely on public transport.

It is a space of your own.  If you have a car you can take a girlfriend for a date in said car.  Louise learned how to drive in it, and there was no worry that she might scrape a door or a wing as there might have been with later cars, of which we will say nothing.  Before you know what is happening a girlfriend can become a wife, much to the confusion of her brothers who would not be caught dead in a car like that!

You could bring friends to rugby matches as far afield as Malahide, Greystones, Clonskeagh and Churchtown.  You could give rides to Glénans trainees for holidays in Bere Island, Baltimore or Collanmore Island, instead of having to hitch rides from other members.

When the last exams finished you were able to bring a gang of friends to Rutland Island in Donegal for a week in Murf’s holiday home.  They could then have a great laugh about the acceleration qualities of a Renault 4 engine going uphill in a headwind with five big lads on board.

You could nip up the Wicklow mountains for Sunday hikes, or head off to Dingle or Glenbeigh for a rainy Irish summer holiday.  The possibilities were endless.

It was a gateway to adventures.  My Renault 4 carried dinghies, ribs  and sailboards on the roof.  It had a great cargo space, especially when you dropped the back seats.  It held lots of sailing equipment, hiking equipment, camping gear, washing machines and plenty of second hand furniture.  When we bought a house it was furnished with bits and pieces of second hand furniture bought from the small ads in the Irish Press and carted back in or on the Renault 4.

Because it was rusty and a bit battered there was none of the concern that you might scratch it, or leave a stain on the seats, or get a chip in the paintwork.  I didn’t worry that the seawater would add more rust.  I didn’t mind if puppies shat or puked in the back.  It was a workhorse, not an ornament.  It enabled my adventures rather than decorating my existence.

In its final years the rust holes became larger and larger.  On rainy days it was advisable to wear plastic bags on your feet because of the spray coming up through the floor.

Then one day it stopped.  Dead.

A friend of my Sister came up from Kildare and towed it away to see service in its final days as a hen house.

When I look back at the sum of my experiences in that battered old rust bucket I pity any teenager or 20-something who is gifted a brand new vehicle as their first car.  You will never understand the unadulterated joy to be had from owning a total piece of crap, bought and paid for with your own money.

Chickencoop

Mermaid or Siren?

Odysseus

Odysseus tied to the mast

This morning in work a lady was singing softly as she filled her water bottle from the ever so slow water filter in the office.  It reminded me of the passage below.  Do Mermaids really sing?  I thought it was just Sirens.  I thought the Sirens lured you onto the rocks with their singing, and the Mermaids saved you from drowning, if you were good looking enough!

 

—————————-

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
 
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

…………………..From: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: by T.S. Eliot

The moon was a ghostly galleon!

Highwayman

 
    The Highwayman; by Alfred Noyes
 

                                        PART ONE

                                                 I

    THE wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
    The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
    The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
    And the highwayman came riding—
                      Riding—riding—
    The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

                                                 II

    He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
    A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
    They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
    And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
                      His pistol butts a-twinkle,
    His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

                                                 III

    Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
    And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
    He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
    But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
                      Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
    Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

                                                 IV

    And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
    Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
    His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
    But he loved the landlord’s daughter,
                      The landlord’s red-lipped daughter,
    Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

                                                 V

    “One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
    But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
    Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
    Then look for me by moonlight,
                      Watch for me by moonlight,
    I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

                                                 VI

    He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
    But she loosened her hair i’ the casement! His face burnt like a brand
    As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
    And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
                      (Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
    Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, and galloped away to the West.

 

                                        PART TWO

                                                 I

    He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
    And out o’ the tawny sunset, before the rise o’ the moon,
    When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,
    A red-coat troop came marching—
                      Marching—marching—
    King George’s men came matching, up to the old inn-door.

                                                 II

    They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
    But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
    Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
    There was death at every window;
                      And hell at one dark window;
    For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

                                                 III

    They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
    They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
    “Now, keep good watch!” and they kissed her.
                      She heard the dead man say—
    Look for me by moonlight;
                      Watch for me by moonlight;
    I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

                                                 IV

    She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
    She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
    They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
    Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
                      Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
    The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

                                                 V

    The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
    Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
    She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
    For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
                      Blank and bare in the moonlight;
    And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love’s refrain .

                                                 VI

        Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
    Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
    Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
    The highwayman came riding,
                      Riding, riding!
    The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!

                                                 VII

    Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
    Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
    Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
    Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
                      Her musket shattered the moonlight,
    Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

                                                 VIII

    He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
    Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
    Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
    How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
                      The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
    Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

                                                 IX

    Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
    With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
    Blood-red were his spurs i’ the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
    When they shot him down on the highway,
                      Down like a dog on the highway,
    And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

                                                      X

    And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
    When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
    When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
    A highwayman comes riding—
                      Riding—riding—
    A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

                                                 XI

    Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
    He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
    He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
    But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
                      Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
    Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

Maura Clancy R.I.P.

maurame

My mother passed away quietly today attended by four of her seven children.  She joins her husband Paddy who passed away ten years ago, much to her annoyance.  She felt that she should have gone first.

She was 89 years old in October and lived what can only be called a full life.  She leaves behind on the planet seven children, 20 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren so far.

A lot will be said about Maura by others in the days and weeks to come.  I want to take this opportunity to share some words from Maura directly.  Back in 1998 when I was researching my masters degree I was developing an interview system and used members of my family for practice until I had it road tested for full roll out.  Sometimes the stream of speech may seem a little random and disjointed, but these are real words as spoken.  People often do not speak in a linear manner so there are some strange seeming jumps from topic to topic.

I asked Maura a question about how she behaves in an environmental manner and she replied as follows:

What do I do?   Well, I suppose my big thing is I don’t waste…..since I learned about compost I….you know I don’t waste vegetables.  I try to return to the earth what it, em, what belongs to it.  I have a guilt complex about plastic bags.  I don’t know what to do about it, they’re just dished out everywhere.  I really think if we were all made to pay for the plastic bags, or if we were made to bring our own baskets it would save an awful lot of pollution.  We have this thing [green box recycling pickup] where they come once a week and there’s things that go into it.  But if there are any old  clothes there is a woman up the road now that will take anything; old bags, old clothes, and they are ground down into making mats for somebody out in the missions in Africa.  So that’s another thing I’m hoping to do.  But I suppose, the environment, I em, I hope I haven’t done anything consciously to destroy it.  But then of course maybe I have.  Maybe we should all be looking at washing powders going into the water…..

Maura got her wish on the Plastic Bag issue when the Irish Government introduced a levy on plastic bags in 2002.  Now we all bring our shopping bags or baskets to the shops as she wanted.

Later I asked a question about the things that define people and this is Maura’s answer:

Cycling I suppose.  I started off thinking I’d love to act because I was interested in drama but I know from my years of experience now that I would have made a damn good teacher.  But people didn’t go back to work [in Ireland women had to give up their jobs when they married].  But I think through my interest in drama and through my ability to teach, I think I can be proud of the family I brought up.  I think they would be my….identity.  But as against that there is me.  I mean, I don’t want to be a slave thing.  I always wanted to do things, get around.  I wouldn’t have had so much opportunity I suppose, I loved going off to Kilkee and I loved the oul’ holiday because it was a break in routine.  I did enjoy all the sewing, it was creative.  I suppose I’m….I like the creativity.

I think I like, I like somebody to say they’d like to come for a meal [One of her sons] there last week said can I come for a meal and I was just going to do the ordinary, a run of the mill dinner, throw on the chops.  Ah, it’s nice to do something a little different, which is creativity.  I suppose in that way, and that’s why I’m not doing as much painting [Art] as I should.  I suppose I should get more and more absorbed in the painting.  I spend a lot of time reading and thinking I’ll do it, and I will, because I am learning all the time.  But I see me as getting a buzz standing in a spot that I’ve walked or cycled to, and looking at a lovely scene.  I know that music is beautiful and I know that drama… and I don’t think anything can match a God given scene, a landscape with the glisten on the water maybe, or the colours on a mountain and especially if you’ve had to achive something to get there.

Glengarriff.jpg

Granma

granma

Today in Cuba they celebrate the day of the Cuban Armed forces.

The holiday celebrates the day Granma arrived in Cuba.  Granma was the name of the yacht purchased by the 26th of July Movement to get them into Cuba.  On Dec 2nd 1956 82 members of the revolutionary movement arrived in Cuba from Mexico.

On board were Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro and Che Guevara, who later wrote;

We reached solid ground, lost, stumbling along like so many shadows or ghosts marching in response to some obscure psychic impulse. We had been through seven days of constant hunger and sickness during the sea crossing, topped by three still more terrible days on land. Exactly 10 days after our departure from Mexico, during the early morning hours of December 5, following a night-long march interrupted by fainting and frequent rest periods, we reached a spot paradoxically known as Alegría de Pío (Rejoicing of the Pious)”.

The yacht, Granma, has earned a deserved place in the history of the Cuban revolution.  The boat itself is preserved in a glass case beside the museum of the revolution in Havana, and the landing site on the Playa las Coloradas has become a designated UNESCO world heritage natural habitat site now called the “Landing of the Granma National Park” in Granma province.

Final Journey

viking_funeral

When your time comes what will be done with your remains?
Do you want to be buried or burned?  Perhaps a native American Indian sky burial?  A last trip down the Ganges?  Opt for the Tibetan solution of being fed to vultures?
Dissolved in acid perhaps?  Cryogenically frozen?  Mummified?
Preserved in a glass case like Snow White and lots of Catholic saints?

And then what?  Do you expect a memorial?
Perhaps a huge mausoleum like a Bronze Age Monarch or a Mexican Drug Lord.
Would you prefer your molecules to return to earth with minimal fuss and no lasting impact on the landscape?  A biodegradable eco-coffin, or ashes scattered on the fields.
When the flesh has fallen from your bones would you like to rest in an ossuary?
Do you have a family grave or crypt?  Will the current residents let you in?
Who holds the grave papers?

Will your wishes be honoured by your executors?  Will you know if they are?  Will you care?  Will they?

Just let me go on record now.  I expect the full Viking funeral.  Longboat filled with my possessions.  Battle axe in my right hand, shield in my left.  Helmet – no horns (Authenticity please).  Dog (dead) at my feet.  Point me to the west and set the vessel on fire.
If funds are a problem maybe cremate me and put my ashes into a very small Viking ship.  Don’t kill the dog.  Keep my possessions.  But I want to sail into the west.

-o0o-

Ashes: by Paula Meehan

The tide comes in; the tide goes out again
washing the beach clear of what the storm
dumped. Where there were rocks, today there is sand;
where sand yesterday, now uncovered rocks.

So I think on where her mortal remains
might reach landfall in their transmuted forms,
a year now since I cast them from my hand
—wanting to stop the inexorable clock.

She who died by her own hand cannot know
the simple love I have for what she left
behind. I could not save her. I could not
even try. I watch the way the wind blows
life into slack sail: the stress of warp against weft
lifts the stalling craft, pushes it on out.

 

 

Britannic

hmhs_britannic

100 years ago today the largest ship lost in WW1 sank.  The Royal Navy Hospital Ship HMHS Britannic ran into a mine and was lost with 30 lives.

Sister ship to Titanic, and one of the Olympic Class vessels.  Built in Belfast, Ireland, by Harland & Wolfe, for the White Star line.  She was pressed into service for the war.  Britannic is the largest shipwreck in the world and sits on the sea floor in the Greek Aegean.

 

The Sinking Ship; by Dora Sigerson Shorter

The ship is sinking, come ye one and all.
Stand fast and so this weakness overhaul,
Come ye strong hands and cheery voices call,
“Stand by!”

The ship is sinking in a summer sea,
Bless her but once for all she used to be,
Who rode the billows once so proud and free,
If you but loved a little, with a sigh,
“Stand by!”

Gone, all are gone, they neither hear or care,
The sun shines on and life is ever fair.
They shun the struggle, laughter lurks elsewhere.
The ship is sinking, passing echoes cry,
“Stand by!”

The little ships that pass her in the night,
Speed from the darkness in their eager fright.
From troubled dreams they take refuge in flight.
Why should they then, who know they too must die,
“Stand by”?

Then get you gone, desert the sinking ship,
O faithless friends, who on her pleasure-trip
Clung close with gentle words and smiling lip,
And still as ever on your own joys cry,
“Stand by!”

The ship is sinking, parting in a smile,
The sunset waters mark the last sad mile
In dimpling play and in a little while
The waters close, Death and his angels cry,
“Stand by!”