I always wondered why earwigs got such a bad rap.  As kids we were convinced they would climb into your ear and drive you insane.  This myth was reinforced by the habit of the earwig to insinuate itself into cramped dark spaces.

Also as kids we were convinced that earwigs were responsible for ruining our apples.  How many times I have pulled an apple from a tree to find earwigs occupying the core, yeuch.  It turns out that the earwigs were relatively innocent of the crime.  It is the larva of the codling moth worm that does the damage to the apple.  Where the larva exits the earwig enters, and is caught red handed at the scene of the crime.

It turns out that earwigs get their unfortunate name from the practice of using ground up beetles as a form of ear medicine in ancient times.  They never actually invade our ears unless we stick them in there.

The German name for an earwig is Ohrwurm, which translates roughly as Ear Worm.  From this we get the term for a song or tune that sticks in your mind and can almost drive you crazy, as we once thought the earwig would do.

I have an earworm today, but it is not a song.  It is a poem.


Do not go gentle into that good night: by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Negative Waves


50!  Where did that come from? I had all these plans to mark my birthday and then they were brought to ruin by events beyond my control. As John Lennon wrote; Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.  Happy Birthday John, we love you still.

I am writing this knowing I can’t post it (OK I can post it now, yipee). I have a job offer, but not a contract. I want to hand in my notice, but can’t yet. I certainly can’t post this on a blog. Not yet in any case.

I find the situation very frustrating, because I have to be so careful who I talk to about it. I want to celebrate the new job, which is a dream job as far as the work is concerned. I am a bit relieved to be escaping from the heavy atmosphere of the old job. All those negative vibes are unhealthy to the human psyche. As Oddball said (Kelly’s Heroes) “Why don’t you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don’t you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don’t you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?”

So, I am leaving the tobacco industry, having worked here for a year and a half. What have I learned in this time? Well, marketing is very difficult when you have a display ban, an advertising ban and almost a complete communications ban. In fact marketing comes down to distribution, availability and price. I have learned a lot about distribution and availability, which is really useful. It allows me to unpick elements of campaign analysis in other industries.

I have also learned that tobacco companies in Ireland are behaving in a highly ethical manner. They are more concerned about being squeaky clean than the regulators are. They are an important bastion for the defence of civil liberties. You may not like smoking, but that gives you no right to impose your world view on adult smokers. In Ireland in particular we need to kill the nanny state mentality that has flowered under recent governments. If we allow the government to run roughshod over tobacco companies then other scalps will follow. The nanny brigade has already drawn up the short list. Alcohol, sugar, carbonated drinks, children’s cereals, children’s TV, girls’ clothes that are too hookerish, dogs that look like they might be pitbull crosses. But it won’t stop there. They want to ban Christmas before Hallowe’en, Easter in Lent, white shoes in winter, traveller weddings, sun beds, spray tan, and on and on until they rule every aspect of our lives. 1984 how are you?

What is it about Ireland? Are there too many quangos for too few issues? The biggest ad campaign running right now, in a crippling recession, when nobody has any money to spare, is telling us to put our gum in a bin. Come on guys! Is this of national importance? Will we be wading through chewing gum swamps within days if the chewers don’t comply? We seriously need to get our priorities straight.

So I am going to finish this bottle of whiskey, pick up my shotgun, dress in my big fat gypsy boob tube, and go down to the church hall with my pit-bull and feed him Coco Pops and Coke. Now, anyone not behind me is in my way!

In case the irony is lost on you, now that I am 50 I have the right to be a grumpy old git.

Poem In October; by Dylan Thomas

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second
In the still sleeping town and set forth.

My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.

It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singingbirds.

And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart’s truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year’s turning.


It was 20 years ago today!

My son is studying music in school for his leaving cert. One of the musical scores on the syllabus is the Beatles Album: Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. How cool is that? Well, cool for me. But for him I guess you have to put it in perspective.

Sergeant Pepper was released in 1967, when I was 4 years old, so it formed part of the musical DNA of my upbringing. But my son is 17. For him this should be just a 46 year old album. It would be like me in 1979 having to study music written in 1933. Would I have rejoiced if my school told me I would be learning the musical score from “Flying down to Rio” starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire? Would that have got my hands clappin’ and my feet tappin’? Not exactly. I was listening to Blondie, The Boomtown Rats, Pink Floyd, Ian Dury, the Police, the Undertones and Thin Lizzy.

But here is the incredible thing. Yes! He is excited. He is interested. It is a mark of the enduring influence of the Beatles that those funky kids today dig that groove because those cool sounds are so gear. OK slang language has definitely seen a seismic shift, but the music lives on.

1966/67 was the heyday of the rivalry between the Beach Boys (Pet Sounds), the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Jimi Hendrix was at the height of his career. “Dazed and Confused” was released by Jake Holmes. Bob Dylan followed on his “Blonde on Blonde” album by releasing a greatest hits LP. Van Morrison went solo and released “Brown Eyed Girl”. The Doors broke onto the scene with their debut and then “Music from the Big Pink” by the Band came out in 1968.

In this context you can appreciate that Sgt Peppers hit the charts at the very pinnacle of the creative explosion of 60’s music experimentation. It was a great time to be alive. Of course, if you remember it, you weren’t there 

Within you and without you: by George Harrison

We were talking-about the space between us all
And the people-who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion
Never glimpse the truth-then it’s far too late-when they pass away.

We were talking-about the love we all could share-when we find it
To try our best to hold it there-with our love
With our love-we could save the world-if they only knew.

Try to realize it’s all within yourself
No-one else can make you change
And to see you’re really only very small,
And life flows ON within you and without you.

We were talking-about the love that’s gone so cold and the people,
Who gain the world and lose their soul-
They don’t know-they can’t see-are you one of them?

When you’ve seen beyond yourself-then you may find, peace of mind,
Is waiting there-
And the time will come when you see
we’re all one, and life flows on within you and without you.Image

A squall.

A fair day.  All seems well.  Then you look upwind and see it coming at you.  It is dark, fast and threatening.  It moves differently to the cyclonic wind.  It is more aggressive, jerky, and hits the sea from a high angle.  You face three choices.  You can drop your sails, batten down and ride it out, as long as you are in the open, far from a lee shore.  You can run to the side, tighten your sail, steer full and bye, try to let it slide by, get around it.  But it can change direction, and come after you.  Finally, you could turn and run downwind.  Run directly away from it.  Probably the most dangerous course, because if it catches you there is the danger you will broach.

So, what to do?  Absorb the fury, front up to it, or run away?

A squall is a wind, but maybe a squall can be a person in your life.  How do you deal with those you threaten you and yours?

This I do know, you can’t avoid them!

Mr Tambourine Man (Excerpt); by Bob Dylan

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.