Author Archive: Eamonn Fitzgerald

Ex-pat Irishman keeping an eye on the world from the Bavarian side of the Alps.

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So, Farewell then, Hazma bin Laden

Thursday, 1 August, 2019

A poem composed on the reported death of Hazma bin Laden, terrorist, and son of Osama bin Laden, terrorist icon, who always found a warm welcome at Al Jazeera, in those heady days when it gleefully aired his rantings to Qatar and the world.

So, Farewell then, Hazma bin Laden

You dreamed of striking at the heart of the “Crusader-Zionist alliance”
Although, sometimes the enemy was “hypocrite, apostate regimes”
You had hoped for the Big One.
Like your dad, Osama
Who organized the most murderous act of terrorism in living memory –
But US special forces put a halt to his gallop in 2011.

You were being groomed as a future leader of al-Qaida
Somewhere between Afghanistan and Pakistan
In between watching porn and imagining mass slaughter
And sorting dates and figs.
Then, a US drone swung by
A Predator, perhaps

Suddenly, a hissing noise breaks the silence
Instinctively your mates dive for cover, but to no avail;
The missile blows the tent to shreds.
You died from burns, flying shrapnel and the crushing blast.
And no one shed a tear.
And someone gave a cheer.


Choose your picture framers carefully

Wednesday, 31 July, 2019

Fermoy


A$AP Ant: Real Baltimore is Worse Than “The Wire”

Tuesday, 30 July, 2019

The A$AP Mob (Always Strive Always Prosper) is a hip hop collective formed in 2006 in New York City. The Mob is made up of rappers, record producers, music video directors and fashion designers, who have similar interests in music, fashion, style and art. Most of the rappers in the collective carry the “A$AP” title: A$AP Rocky, now starring in Sweden, A$AP Ferg, A$AP Twelvyy, A$AP Nas and A$AP Ant. Here, A$AP Ant discusses the city of Baltimore, which is very much in the news these days.


For Mother, who would have been 91 today

Monday, 29 July, 2019

We celebrate the birthday of Kit O’Donnell today with the poem In the Same Space by C. P. Cavafy, translated from the original Greek by Edmund Keeley. We also remember the love, the generosity, the wit, the words and the indestructible legacy.

In the Same Space

The setting of houses, cafés, the neighbourhood
that I’ve seen and walked through years on end:

I created you while I was happy, while I was sad,
with so many incidents, so many details.

And, for me, the whole of you has been transformed into feeling.

C. P. Cavafy (29 April 1863 – 29 April 1933)

Mother


Reek Sunday

Sunday, 28 July, 2019

Thousands of people, young and old, some in their bare feet, made the arduous climb of the 764-metre Croagh Patrick in County Mayo today. According to local belief, Saint Patrick fasted for forty days and nights on the summit during Lent in the year 441 AD, and on the last Sunday in July every year (“Reek Sunday”), pilgrims from near and far climb the mountain in honour of Saint Patrick. Ireland’s holiest mountain is five miles from the town of Westport and overlooks Clew Bay.

The great Magnum photographer Josef Koudelka climbed Croagh Patrick in 1972 and captured the quintessence of rural Irish Catholicism in one iconic image. The kneeling pilgrims pictured are, from left to right, Sean Pheat Mannion, Paddy Kenny and Martin Mannion from Connemara. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anam.

Croagh Patrick


“No longer fit for purpose” is no longer fit for purpose

Saturday, 27 July, 2019

A list of rules has been sent to the staff of the new Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, asking them to stop using words such as “hopefully” and phrases such as “no longer fit for purpose”. The guidelines, obtained by ITV news, were drawn up by the North East Somerset MP’s constituency team years ago, but have now been shared with staff in Westminster. It should be noted that as chair of the European Research Group, a hard-Brexit Tory backbench alliance, Rees-Mogg has become increasingly influential in Parliament in recent years.

Much ridiculed already by the PC crowd, the Rees-Mogg guidelines contain a vital call for accuracy. Staff are told: “CHECK your work.” Other directions include “Organisations are SINGULAR” and a request for no comma after the word “and”. Among the words and phrases considered unacceptable are: “very”, “due to” and “ongoing”, as well as “equal”, “yourself” and “unacceptable. “Rees-Mogg’s aides are also barred the use of “lot”, “got” and “I am pleased to learn”. Much of this is admirable, much is personal taste, but a double space after a full stop made more sense when people used typewriters. Still, much can be clarified and communications can be improved if a style guide, especially one that’s fit for purpose, is used from the outset in an important office.

Jacob Rees-Mogg style guide


The Romans wrote it down

Friday, 26 July, 2019

Why do we know as much as we do about the lives of ordinary Romans? Mary Beard offers an answer in SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome. Snippet:

“The reasons why we can tell this story in such detail are very simple: the Romans themselves wrote a great deal about it, and a lot of what they wrote has survived. Modern historians often lament how little we can know about some aspects of the ancient world. ‘Just think of what we don’t know about the lives of the poor,’ they complain, ‘or of the perspectives of women.’ This is as anachronistic as it is deceptive. The writers of Roman literature were almost exclusively male; or, at least, very few works by women have come down to us (the autobiography of the emperor Nero’s mother, Agrippina, must count as one of the saddest losses of classical literature)… The complaints, however, miss a far more important point.

The single most extraordinary fact about the Roman world is that so much of what the Romans wrote has survived, over two millennia. We have their poetry, letters, essays, speeches and histories, to which I have already referred, but also novels, geographies, satires and reams and reams of technical writing on everything from water engineering to medicine and disease. The survival is largely due to the diligence of medieval monks who transcribed by hand, again and again, what they believed were the most important, or useful, works of classical literature, with a significant but often forgotten contribution from medieval Islamic scholars who translated into Arabic some of the philosophy and scientific material. And thanks to archaeologists who have excavated papyri from the sands and the rubbish dumps of Egypt, wooden writing tablets from Roman military bases in the north of England and eloquent tombstones from all over the empire, we have glimpses of the life and letters of some rather more ordinary inhabitants of the Roman world. We have notes sent home, shopping lists, account books and last messages inscribed on graves. Even if this is a small proportion of what once existed, we have access to more Roman literature — and more Roman writing in general — than any one person could now thoroughly master in the course of a lifetime.”

SPQR


In the end, it was a break moment for the hoax gang

Thursday, 25 July, 2019

The Putin Hoax


Like tears in rain

Wednesday, 24 July, 2019

Near the end of Blade Runner (the original, not the remake), the leader of the rebel replicants faces death, having failed to find a way to extend his artificial life. In the film, Roy Batty, played by the late Rutger Hauer, is the bad guy who needs to be stopped by Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford. So they pursue each other through a bleak, rain-sodden cityscape. When cornered, the dying AI android, utters five sentences that speak to the possibilities of the future. He helps us imagine a scenario where humans will live among the stars, where new wonders are waiting to be experienced.

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”


Boris Johnson and the rich

Tuesday, 23 July, 2019

British politics is about to get an injection of passion when Boris Johnson becomes the new leader of the Conservative Party today. Instead of the dullness of doctrinaire Corbynism and the snot-green provincialism of OTooleism, the next Prime Minister will bring wit to where there is staleness and badly-needed energy to where there is lethargy. As we await the opening of the envelope, here’s Boris on the very rich:

“We should be helping all those who can to join the ranks of the super-rich, and we should stop any bashing or moaning or preaching or bitching and simply give thanks for the prodigious sums of money that they are contributing to the tax revenues of this country, and that enable us to look after our sick and our elderly and to build roads, railways and schools…

…There is no point in wasting any more moral or mental energy in being jealous of the very rich. They are no happier than anyone else; they just have more money. We shouldn’t bother ourselves about why they want all this money, or why it is nicer to have a bath with gold taps. How does it hurt me, with my 20-year-old Toyota, if somebody else has a swish Mercedes? We both get stuck in the same traffic.”


Know that you aren’t alone at evening

Monday, 22 July, 2019

The novelist and poet Vikram Seth divides his time between India, England and the USA. His most famous work is A Suitable Boy, which was published in 1993. With its 1,488 pages and 591,552 words, the book is one of the longest novels ever printed in the English language. The very first work that Seth published, however, was a book of poems and All You Who Sleep Tonight, from which this is taken, appeared in 1990.

At Evening

All you who sleep tonight
Far from the ones you love,
No hand to left or right
And emptiness above —

Know that you aren’t alone
The whole world shares your tears,
Some for two nights or one,
And some for all their years.

Vikram Seth

Evening candle

“Life is not easy for anyone here. Loss and fear, failure and disappointment, pain and ill-health, doubt and death – even those who have escaped from poverty have no escape from these. What makes life bearable is love – to love, to be loved, and – even after death – to know that you have loved and been loved.” — Vikram Seth