Grief is just love with no home

Sunday, 11 October, 2015 0 Comments

Mammy and Daddy

“Trying to remember you
is like carrying water
in my hands a long distance
across sand. Somewhere people are waiting.
They have drunk nothing for days.”

Stephen Dobyns

Because it’s there

Friday, 29 May, 2015 0 Comments

On this day in 1953, New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay made the first confirmed ascent of Mount Everest. They spent 15 minutes on the summit, with Norgay leaving chocolates in the snow and Hillary leaving a cross. Together, they had climbed the world’s greatest mountain.


“Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?” is the question asked of George Leigh Mallory by a New York Times reporter in March 1923. “Because it’s there,” was his reply. Mallory made his third and final attempts to climb Ever­est in 1924 and was last seen on the way to the summit along with his companion Andrew Irvine. Mallory’s frozen body was found by climbers on the mountain’s north ridge in 1999.

Note: More than 9,000 people were killed and 21,000 injured in the 25 April earthquake that struck Nepal. Among the dead were 22 Mount Everest climbers. One of the many charities active in Nepal is Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, which is sending medical staff and supplies to the Himalayan region.

Dracula Therapy

Tuesday, 26 May, 2015 0 Comments

Dracula On this day in 1897, Dracula, a novel by the Irish author Bram Stoker, was published at a price of six shillings. It had a print run of 3,000 copies and the book was bound in plain yellow cloth with the one-word title in simple red lettering. In time, Dracula would become the supreme example of horror fiction. The critic Maurice Richardson described it as “a kind of incestuous, necrophilious, oral-anal-sadistic all-in wrestling match”. What’s not to like?

“Then she paused, and I could hear the churning sound of her tongue as it licked her teeth and lips, and could feel the hot breath on my neck. Then the skin of my throat began to tingle as one’s flesh does when the hand that is to tickle it approaches nearer — nearer. I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the supersensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited — waited with beating heart.” — Bram Stoker, Dracula

In his longing for eternity, Dracula developed an insatiable demand for blood and it’s not surprising that one of the hottest treatments in the anti-ageing business right now is the vampirish “Dracula Therapy.” Officially titled Stimulated Self Serum skin therapy, it involves having your face injected with your own blood and it was developed by the London-based French cosmetic specialist, Dr Daniel Sister. A variant of the treatment is popularly called the “vampire facial” and recipients include Kim Kardashian.

A modification of the therapy, called “Rejuvula”, promises the same tightening effect — but not for the face. Irishwoman Claudia McGloin claims that she is the only female medical professional offering the treatment “for Vagina Rejuvenation in Europe.”

“The blood is the life!” — Bram Stoker, Dracula

True Love on the Faroe Islands

Saturday, 14 February, 2015 0 Comments

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers.

Tolkien is not your classic Valentine’s Day quote source, but his timeless sagas have much more to do with the true nature of enduring love than the modern industry that’s devoted to churning out “romance.” Our guess is that he would have loved Eivør Pálsdóttir, who sings in English and Faroese, one of four languages descended from Old West Norse spoken in the Middle Ages, the others being Norwegian, Icelandic and Norn. Life on the Faroe Islands may be hard but this does not mean that it lacks passion. Even Death can be persuaded to reconsider his grim business if shown True Love there.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, 1 January, 2015 0 Comments

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

Little Gidding by T.S. Eliot

The promises we make to ourselves

Wednesday, 31 December, 2014 0 Comments

As the poet Philip Larkin wrote in The Mower: “Is always the same; we should be careful / Of each other, we should be kind / While there is still time.” As well as nurturing friendship in the coming year, we should spend more time looking at clouds. “These vast, quiet things are always to hand,” say the makers of this inspirational video.

The used graveyard

Sunday, 2 November, 2014 0 Comments

Today is All Souls’ Day, an observance that dates back to the 11th century, when Odilo, Abbot of Cluny in Saône-et-Loire, decreed that all monasteries should offer prayers for the Dead on 2 November, the day after the feast of All Saints. The custom spread and was adopted throughout the Catholic Church.

A New England graveyard is no longer used because the local community has died out, but visitors still come to read the tombstones, out of curiosity. The inscriptions, however, warn those reading them that they must eventually join the dead. In this poem, Robert Frost gently mocks our unwillingness to face this fact.

In A Disused Graveyard

The living come with grassy tread
To read the gravestones on the hill;
The graveyard draws the living still,
But never anymore the dead.
The verses in it say and say:
“The ones who living come today
To read the stones and go away
Tomorrow dead will come to stay.”
So sure of death the marbles rhyme,
Yet can’t help marking all the time
How no one dead will seem to come.
What is it men are shrinking from?
It would be easy to be clever
And tell the stones: Men hate to die
And have stopped dying now forever.
I think they would believe the lie.

Robert Frost (1874 — 1963)


Happy anniversary!

Friday, 31 October, 2014 0 Comments

Wedding cake

David Foster Wallace on Robin Williams

Tuesday, 12 August, 2014 1 Comment

The writer David Foster Wallace committed suicide on 12 September 2008. He was 46. For those trying to make sense of the severe depression that Robin Williams battled, here’s how Wallace saw the condition and the despair it produces:

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”

Ian Rankin sums it up

Tuesday, 5 August, 2014 0 Comments

Back story: F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone pays to end bribery trial

Returning from the flea market

Sunday, 9 March, 2014 0 Comments

It is said that back in the 1880s, a visitor to St.-Ouen, just outside Porte de Clignancourt in Paris, observed traders selling scrap metal, old furniture and rags, and exclaimed, “My word, but it’s a market of fleas!” And it is from the French marché aux puces that the English term “flea market” is derived. […]

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