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Death

Wilde Easter

Monday, 22 April, 2019

As Oscar Wilde lay dying in Paris in November 1900, the priest who received him into the Catholic Church was Father Cuthbert Dunne. When the Dublin cleric ended his days in Mount Argus Monastery, the young Brendan Behan was living nearby in Kildare Road. Like Wilde, he also became a professional wit and, referring to that last-minute conversion, Behan commended Wilde for shedding his sins as life ebbed away. He also reminded the world slyly that the two of them had enjoyed their bisexuality:

“Sweet is the way of the sinner
Sad, death without God’s praise
My life on you, Oscar boy,
Yourself had it both ways.”

Oscar Wilde’s Easter Day was published in 1894, six years before that famous deathbed conversion in Paris. It’s a bitter-sweet poem.

Easter Day

The silver trumpets rang across the Dome:
The people knelt upon the ground with awe:
And borne upon the necks of men I saw,
Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome.
Priest-like, he wore a robe more white than foam,
And, king-like, swathed himself in royal red,
Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head:
In splendour and in light the Pope passed home.
My heart stole back across wide wastes of years
To One who wandered by a lonely sea,
And sought in vain for any place of rest:
“Foxes have holes, and every bird its nest,
I, only I, must wander wearily,
And bruise my feet, and drink wine salt with tears.”

Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)


Remarque on right and wrong

Saturday, 10 October, 2015 0 Comments

In the fourth installment in the Millennium series, The Girl in the Spider’s Web (original Swedish title: Det som inte dödar oss), author David Lagercrantz quotes Erich Maria Remarque as saying: “It’s always the wrong people who have the guilty conscience. Those who are really responsible for suffering in the world couldn’t care less. It’s the ones fighting for good who are consumed by remorse.”

The graves


John Steed exits

Friday, 26 June, 2015 1 Comment

“Daniel Patrick Macnee died a natural death at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 93, with his family at his bedside, according to his son, Rupert.” So reads the statement on the actor’s website. Despite his many roles, Patrick Macnee was most famously John Steed in the 1960s’ British TV series, The Avengers. Paired with Diana Rigg (Mrs Peel), he was the elegant complement to her beautiful Holmes-like character and the couple were the embodiment of grace, charm and wit. Viewers wanted to dress like that, drive those cars and have machines that recorded phone messages.

As Macnee’s website puts it: “….The Avengers became known for its progressive approach to feminism, the female stars being more than a match for Steed… and a plethora of ‘diabolical master minds.’ The programme was also known for its creative team’s interest in stories about cutting-edge technology.”

For Patrick Macnee, who played many parts but will be remembered for one, here’s the introduction to the famous monologue from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Act II Scene VII:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts


Death, be not proud

Thursday, 2 April, 2015 0 Comments

Daddy

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

John Donne (1572 – 1631)


Germanwings flight 4U9525

Tuesday, 24 March, 2015 0 Comments

Over the years, the Rainy Day team has flown dozens of times to and from Barcelona, over the French Alps. Our thoughts today are with the families and friends of the passengers and crew of Germanwings Flight 4U9525 who died there this morning.

Germanwings

Courage is the price that life extracts for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things.
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights, where bitter joy can hear
The sound of wings.

Amelia Earhart (1897 – 1937)


A one-woman revolution

Sunday, 6 April, 2014 0 Comments

“A year ago this coming Tuesday, I was travelling to London on a train, correcting the proofs of my biography of Margaret Thatcher. As we reached Charing Cross, I signed off the last page of the book (which concerns victory in the Falklands war). When I got off the train, I discovered she had died.” […]

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Horae Canonicae

Friday, 29 March, 2013 0 Comments

While far from being a direct account of the hours before Christ’s death, W. H. Auden’s Horae Canonicae, is a reflection on the events and importance of Good Friday. It comprises seven poems, each corresponding to one of the offices of the monastic day. The work begins with be Lauds, a joyful song heralding the […]

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Tarantino’s aestheticization of violence on the road to Newtown

Monday, 17 December, 2012 1 Comment

The US premiere of the new Tom Cruise action film Jack Reacher has been postponed after Friday’s shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, of 26 people. Paramount Pictures says the decision was made “out of honour and respect for the families of the victims whose lives were senselessly taken”. The studio did not mention that Hollywood is […]

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We know not whither, but we all must go

Wednesday, 13 June, 2012

We pause now to pay our respects to the beloved father of Mrs Rainy Day, a man who cherished the mountains of his native Tipperary as much as the plains of his adopted Midlands. In the coming days, a sincere life will be remembered with tears and laughter and prayers fraught with pain as we […]

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The audacity of Facebook

Thursday, 2 February, 2012

To not write about the Facebook IPO filing would be to exhibit a disregard for news bordering on iconoclasm of the worst kind and that’s not what Rainy Day readers expect, so here goes. The numbers porn is fascinating: user base of 845 million, almost $4 billion in revenue, $1 billion in net income year… […]

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