The Masters of Irish Literature

July 11, 2018

Those who may ever be inclined to think on the subject of Irish literature usually cite Yeats and Joyce, Beckett and Shaw, William Trevor and Seamus Heaney. I would ask them, though, to add three more names to the list of masters: Chris O’Dowd and Nick Murphy (who work as a team) and Spike Milligan.

A few years ago, the Everloving happened across a British TV show called Moone Boy. Set in very rural Ireland, it followed the life and adventures of a 12-year old lad, Martin Moone and his Imaginary Friend. The rest of the characters consist of bullying big sisters, an endearing set of parents with no hope, some very odd school friends, and an even odder assortment of locals.  There were only 18 episodes and they ended in 2015. Wonderful series. The Imaginary Friend was played by Chris O’Dowd. He also wrote it along with Nick Murphy.

At the same time, O’Dowd and Murphy wrote two novels based on the series: Moone Boy: The Blunder Years and Moone Boy: The Fish Detective.  It is these two books that I offer up as evidence of their mastership of Irish literature.

In the first, The Blunder Years, our 11-year old hero despairs of life in a house with gloriously-ineffective parenting, constant near-poverty, and three bullying older sisters. His friend Padraig suggests Martin get himself an Imaginary Friend.  Martin agrees and conjures up Loopy Lou, a persistently awful rapper. Martin tires of Lou pretty quickly and discovers a far more congenial Imaginary buddy in Sean, an unemployed clerk in a bad suit and a head full of (usually) bad advice for his young charge.  How they go about disposing of Imaginary Lou is the final plot.

In the second book, The Fish Detective, 12-year old Martin needs money for Christmas so he talks his way into helping at the local butcher’s shop. The owner in turn hires him to go undercover at the local fish factory (her competition) to discover how they prepare fish without any local workers being employed. Martin, always accompanied by Sean of course, wheedles his way into the factory and finds out the startling truth. They find sadness and true friendship, a troupe of homesick singing Brazilian fish-gutters, and more than enough silliness to entertain for 200 pages.

I assume, from their style, format, and the occasional fart joke, that these are written for a younger audience. But don’t let that fool you.  Any novel that can make a 70-year old man laugh out loud more than once on the #20 bus (where darker street cabaret is on offer a lot more than classy verbal jousting) is a lot more than just a kid’s book. There is marvelous entertainment for the brain here as well as for the belly.  These works are funnier than Pygmalion and pithier than Godot, adding greatly to the sum of human happiness and knowledge of (a very particular part of) the human condition.  A Nobel Prize should be the least of their rewards.

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At the very beginning of this piece i also mentioned that Spike Milligan needs to be considered among the great Irish masters. I have to admit that this opinion is based entirely on memory. Back in the 1960s, I read a book of his called Puckoon, set in Ireland during the Partition of 1924.  Even at this long distance, say fifty years since I read it, I still believe this book was the funniest novel I ever read. Any novel that can evoke a memory that strong just has to be a classic.  I rest my case.

 

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Grandview’s Parks and the Future

July 7, 2018

This month’s GWAC meeting is on Monday 9th July in the Learning Resources Centre, under Britannia Library. The meeting begins at 7:00pm.

The main topic this month: Green Spaces and Plazas—Their Importance to Livability and Community-Creation in Grandview Woodland.

As you probably know, our neighbourhood has far less green space per resident than most other parts of Vancouver. The most recent Community Plan does nothing to address that issue, suggesting, rather, that plazas (presumably open concrete spaces) will be introduced as a substitute for the real thing.

The value of green space to a community is a very worthwhile conversation to have and I hope that many of you will attend and speak your mind.

 


Snacks Tonight #12

June 30, 2018

 

This afternoon I made mango and cream cheese egg rolls. Baked, not deep fried.  From all accounts they were the best snacks I ever made!


Saying NO to Yes Vancouver

June 29, 2018

Hector Bremner, the NPA councillor so conflicted that even the NPA won’t have him any more, has formed his own municipal political party which he calls Yes Vancouver.

A number of problems are already obvious with this party which is partly ego-driven and partly a front for the Rich Coleman side of the BC Liberal Party (yes, the same Rich Coleman who is currently hiding from the media who want to question him about money laundering):

  • First, there is already a fine local organization called Yes Vancouver. It is a non-profit which raises money for Dress For Success. They are non-partisan and support no political party;
  • Second, people searching quite reasonably for YesVancouver.com actually get taken to a website for a Toronto Real Estate firm; ironic as Bremner’s “party” favours build build build as the only solution to our problems.

So, these folks who want to run our City after the next election cannot do a simple name search for their party, and cannot do a simple web search for suitable urls.  Imagine the chaos if we want them to do something that actually takes some thought?

Finally, a question we need to keep asking Bremner whenever he puts his head above the wall:  during his council campaign last year he promised to donate his Council salary to a worthy charity. Did he do that? And if so, what organization was favoured with the donation?

We need to send a resounding NO to these wannabes.


The Anti-Education Station

June 29, 2018

 

I wish I could credit the person(s) who created this.


Impromptu Cabaret

June 28, 2018

Starting tonight, the 2nd Annual Impromptu Cabaret Festival begins at the Havana Theatre, 1212 Commercial Drive.

This is a series of 10 one-hour solo cabaret shows by local performers, from blues to rock to all sorts in between.  The first show, tonight, features accordionist Jenny Anderson.

Shows start at 6:00pm.  Tickets are $15 per show, or $100 for a festival pass.

 


Anarcho-Syndicalist Birthdays!

June 27, 2018

Today is the anniversary of the births of two of my primary political influences and allegiances.

 

 

On this day in 1869, Emma Goldman was born in Lithuania. She lived an ardently revolutionary life until her death in Toronto in 1940.  Her autobiography Living My Life (1931) is a constant inspiration, as was so much of her extraordinary output.

On Goldman’s 36th birthday in 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was formed in Chicago. They engaged in revolutionary industrial unionism, promoting worker solidarity in the struggle to overthrow the employing class.  They believed in workshop democracy and full worker control.