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Correfoc

Sunday, 24 September, 2017 0 Comments

The annual Santa Tecla celebrations end with an event called Correfoc, which means “fire running”. Catalonia’s streets fill up with characters dressed as devils and dragons spitting fire, with brave spectators running in and out between them. Meanwhile, giant male and female figures are marched around the streets to the ear-piercing sounds of the traditional tible and tenora, tarota and gralla.

Carrefoc


Tecla: key saint

Saturday, 23 September, 2017 0 Comments

Santa Tecla is regarded as the patron saint of Tarragona in Catalonia and her September feast day is the town’s major holiday. The event is accompanied by non-stop drumming, firecrackers and spectacular fireworks after dark.

Tecla celebrations

Note: In many Spanish-speaking countries, Santa Tecla is also considered the patron saint of computers and the internet, from the homophony with the Spanish and Catalan word tecla (“key”).

Tradition: Tecla (Thecla) was a saint of the early Christian Church and a follower of Paul the Apostle. She was miraculously saved from burning at the stake by the onset of a storm and then travelled with Paul to Antioch of Pisidia where an aristocrat attempted to rape her. Tecla fought him off and was put on trial for the crime of assaulting a nobleman. She was sentenced to be eaten by wild beasts but was again saved by a miracle, when the female beasts protected her against the male aggressors. She rejoined Paul in Myra and became a healer. Such was her popularity that the physicians in the city lost their livelihoods, so they hired a gang of young men to attempt to spoil her virginity at the age of 90. As they were about to take her, she called out to God and the ground opened up and then closed behind her. She was thus able to go to Rome and die in peace beside Saint Paul’s tomb.


Storm coming

Friday, 22 September, 2017 0 Comments

Surf's up

“They sicken of the calm who know the storm.” — Dorothy Parker


Shadow dancers

Thursday, 21 September, 2017 0 Comments

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.” — Merce Cunningham

Dancing on air


Ploughing the sea and the shore

Wednesday, 20 September, 2017 0 Comments

The Irish (Gaelic) word treabhadh means “ploughing”, but its use is not confined to the land. In An t-Oileánach (The Islander), Tomás Ó Criomhthain writes of “ag treabhadh na mara”, literally ploughing the sea. It’s a beautifully visual phrase for describing the hard, dangerous work involved in making a living from fishing:

“Daoine bochta saonta sinn ag cur an tsaoghail dinn ó lá go lá. B’fhéidir nárbh’ fhearra dhúinn bheith n-ár scannróirí. Bhíomair oilte, toilteannach leis an slí bheathadh do cheap an Máighistir Beannaithe dhúinn a dhéanamh gan leisce, ag treabhadh na mara go mion minic gan súil le dul chun cinn ach ár ndóchas i nDia.”

Ploughing the sea and the shore


Inspirational No. 10s

Tuesday, 19 September, 2017 0 Comments

Our new century began with the most open, exciting tournament in modern football: Euro 2000. The four semi-finalists all played classic No. 10s in the space between midfield and the opposition defence. France, Italy, Portugal and Holland had Zinedine Zidane, Francesco Totti, Manuel Rui Costa and Dennis Bergkamp respectively. Today? In a sign of the changing times, the No. 10 jersey is being assigned to inspirational players — Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. — rather than designated playmakers.

No. 10s


The sea around us

Monday, 18 September, 2017 0 Comments

“If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.” — Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us

The sea around us

Morning Sea

Let me stop here. Let me, too, look at nature awhile.
The brilliant blue of the morning sea, of the cloudless sky,
the yellow shore; all lovely,
all bathed in light.

Let me stand here. And let me pretend I see all this
(I really did see it for a minute when I first stopped)
and not my usual day-dreams here too,
my memories, those images of sensual pleasure.

Constantine P. Cavafy


Michael Fitzgerald: who would have been 99 today

Sunday, 17 September, 2017 0 Comments

“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.”

Dylan Thomas

Michael Fitzgerald (17 September 1917 – 2 April 2011): He was a farmer and he was a thinker. He loved the land, its history, its substance, its moods and its meaning. He knew why people had fought and died for it and he understood the passions it generated. His hands were shaped by decades of wresting a living from the soil. Possessed of a sense of chivalry that has all but disappeared; he was one of the last representatives of a culture that had its roots in an ancient, a simpler, a lost world.

Father


Wind & Rain

Saturday, 16 September, 2017 0 Comments

The 184th Oktoberfest begins in Munich today and it will run until 3 October. Normally, it’s an occasion for Kaiserwetter (glorious, sunny weather) but it’s kicking off this year with wind and rain. That’s ideal weather, though, for rugby and, for the first time ever, Oktoberfest will feature a world-class “sevens” rugby tournament, with teams from Fiji, South Africa, England, France, Ireland, Australia and Germany.

Wind and rain are central motifs in the ballad performed here by the superbly talented Hanz Araki, who combines his Japanese and Irish heritages in an American mix that makes for a refreshing interpretation of traditional music.


Our_WTC

Friday, 15 September, 2017 0 Comments

Our posts here this week have been dedicated to the 16th anniversary of 9/11. The focus has been the photographs collected by the Berlin-based artists Stefka Ammon and Robert Ziegler for their 9/11 remembrance project, MY_WTC, which displays tourist images of the World Trade Center.

Our final photograph is personal and was taken in October 1989. My late mother kept a diary of her trip to New York City and here’s what she wrote after her boat trip around Manhattan: “Seen World Trade Centre with its Twin Towers. Rise 110 Stories and 1,350 feet each and on one of them is a high pole to warn the planes not to fly too low.”

Mother with Twin Towers


His_WTC

Thursday, 14 September, 2017 0 Comments

We’re recalling the 16th anniversary of 9/11 this week here by presenting the photographs collected by Berlin-based artists Stefka Ammon and Robert Ziegler for their 9/11 remembrance project devoted to tourist images of the World Trade Center. Here we have a perfectly-framed image of a young man facing the camera as a swath of ferry backwash forms where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Lower Manhattan is shrouded in haze and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center are a spectre of their tragic destiny. “MY_WTC #31 | Paul 1990 | Twin Towers, center stage.”

“1990, on the ferry to Staten Island. After traveling up from Annapolis on a greyhound bus, arrived with a headache, so decided to get out of the humid city, to get some fresh air and a better view of the city from the ferry. I was glad I did because I’d never get another chance.”

His WTC