Monday, 26 September 2011


We are experiencing technical difficulties with our computer. Blogging to resume in a week or two.

Sunday, 18 September 2011


I have never seen two animals as amourous as the wood doves I see on The Girl's swingset every day.

Few other animals beat humans in this area. Most, from frogs to hedgehogs to elephants, seem to have a torrid affair, and after that they will always have Paris. Even among those that mate for life, from albatross to gibbons, I gather the marriage is more a partnership. Our doves, however, are seriously into each other, to the point that I'm expecting The Girl to ask about it.

On the other hand, they fuel their daily exercise with our cabbages, and if my wife ever makes good on her threats, we will be having roast pigeon one night.


Line of the day: Holding up the bulbs of a particularly shaggy daffodil, The Girl said, "Look, Daddy! We got the ones that look like an exploding chicken!"

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Girl

The Girl at the local pub.

I took a week off my day job this summer to spend time with The Girl, and among other things I took her to a workshop at the Irish Film Institute. They showed the children, six to twelve, how to make their own movies, using flip-books and whirling pictures. She adored it, and when she emerged I told her I had another surprise for her: I was taking her to the cinema. She had only been to a real theatre a few times in her life, so this was a special occasion.

I had picked out a film I thought she would love: an Irish movie called A Shine of Rainbows, about a Irish boy who befriends a seal pup. It was the sweet children’s story I researched, but contained some tragic scenes when the boy’s mother died. As The Girl began sobbing in her seat, I realised that she’s never seen a sad movie before.

I have worked hard to allow her the innocence that many children these days are denied, but know she must be introduced to sadness at some point. Still, I comforted her, talked to her afterward, and gave her a week of fun, and she forgave me.


As we all settled down after supper, I said I wanted to watch a Cary Grant movie, and that she was welcome to watch it with me.

“Is it scary?” Not that I know of, I said.

“Does it have wolves in it that suck your blood?”

Um ... no, I said. Did you see anything on the telly about –

“Does it have any dead angels?”

Sweetie, I said, have you been watching movies at your friends’ houses? I asked, thinking I might have to speak to the neighbours.


I thought about writing something about the tenth anniversary of the day that I and my co-workers gathered around the television and watched the towers collapse like fast-forward candles. Certainly such remembrances fill the news here, so I can only imagine how gonzo the US media must be about this anniversary.

And yet .... I have studiously ignored such news, as I do my country’s two-and-a-half-year election season. I don’t want to see any of the movies made about September 11, with the real victims played by Hollywood actors. I don’t want to hear the politically powerful announce what the day means, or see choreographed rituals of grief. I don’t want to stick a “We Will Never Forget” link on a Facebook page and say I have honoured the dead. I respect that others find value in these public commemorations, but I am not obliged to.

You see, I actually saw these things happen. I don’t want a media campaign to slowly superimpose its own meaning over that genuine moment, until my own memories are replaced.

Friday, 2 September 2011


The Girl on a street in Dublin.
Whenever I talk to The Girl, I choose my words carefully, knowing some unknown portion will stick but not knowing how she will piece them together. We don't discuss anything too dark, for example, but I do talk cheerfully about how Nature works or how people lived in earlier eras.

Sometimes, though, she says something that I know she is not repeating from me or anyone else, something she must have worked out on her own.

The other night she was reading Peter Pan to me as I tried to shave with a straight razor, and asked if it hurt.

"Not if you do it properly," I said, "but I'm still learning. Do you know why I'm trying to learn?"

Absent-mindedly, without looking up, she said, "We need to know how to be a Gordian."

A guardian? I asked.

"Like people used to be," she said, and I realised she was saying Edwardian.