Thursday, May 6, 2010

on passing by- again

As most regular readers will know I have lost all respect for both the Green Party and its leader, John Gormley. Here is a leader and a party who espoused high ideals before the last election and told us they would put manners on Fianna Fail and act as our watchdog. And what has happened? Like all junior parties in Fianna Fail governments they have been subsumed into the Fainna Fail way of doing things. Where we were promised light we now have darkness. Where we were promised accountability we now have buck passing. Where we were promised ethical conduct we now have back room deals and subterfuge.
There appears to be a willingness to accept anything, and do anything, to remain in power. I suppose the fact that they are going to be extinct after the next election means they have decided to forget about their promises and stay as long as possible to maximise their pensions and entitlements. Even in light of this some of Mr Gormleys recent conduct has been surreal. In the last budget we were told that a carbon tax was to be introduced to combat global warming and to help us meet our responsibilities under the Kyoto Agreement. Mr Gormley was quick to point out that this extra tax was at his party’s behest and was another way of encouraging people to use less fossil fuels. He announced that some of the money raised was to be used to insulate thousands of homes across the country. So far it sounds like exactly what you would do with the proceeds of a tax but why did he then tell us that the money raised would also allow the Government to reduce taxes in other areas, including VAT and PRSI. So in effect large swathes of the environmental carbon tax are to be used as general revenue by the Government and not as much as a squeal from the Greens.
Further evidence of Mr Gormleys changed attitude was obvious in an interview he gave to RTE Six One News during the recent arctic weather. Brian Dobson was asking the Minister about the emergency committee the Government had eventually set up and asked him why the Minister for Transport was not dealing with the problems. When he was asked directly where Mr Dempsey was Mr. Gormley got snotty with Dobson and replied “ I don’t know where he is, I don’t know”. In light of the fact that the whole country knew that Mr Dempsey was on holiday in Malta I find it impossible to believe that one Government minister was unaware of the whereabouts of another Government minister so what we were treated to was the spectacle of a Minister of the Irish Government telling a barefaced lie on the national broadcaster. That this was from the leader of a party that promised to bring a new honesty into politics just shows how far down into the mire the Greens have gone.

At the time of writing the weather seems to be improving somewhat. Many parts of the country have seen a thaw. Unfortunately the melting snow has nowhere to go because the fields are already waterlogged in most parts of the country because of the downpours we endured before Christmas. Having been down in the Cork area earlier this week I am only too well aware of the problems. On the road outside Mallow rain and melting snow was literally gushing out of the fields and across the road. One stretch of the road, which is the national primary route between Limerick and Cork, has potholes which are seven or eight inches deep. I am sure this will be repeated countrywide so Noel Dempsey’s assertion that there is no money for repairs had better turn out to be a non runner.

Today I would like to mourn the passing of a very dear old friend, who has been with us for a long number of years, and was known by one and all as Common Sense. No one knows for sure exactly how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be much remembered by all as having cultivated numerous valuable lessons including “ know when to come in out of the rain”, “ why the early bird gets the worm”, “ life isn’t always fair” and “ maybe it was my fault”.
Common Sense lived by a very simple, sound ,financial policy. The essence of this policy was don’t spend more than you can earn. He also had some very reliable strategies, such as adults, not children, are in charge. Unfortunately his health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. He could not understand why schools required a teacher to get permission from a parent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student but was barred from telling parents if the same student became pregnant and wanted to have a termination.
When He heard reports of a six year old being charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, teenagers suspended from school for using a mouthwash after lunch and a teacher sacked for reprimanding an unruly student His condition rapidly worsened. He could not understand why parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their children.
Common Sense started to lose the will to live when he started to see religious organisations becoming businesses and forgetting about their original reasons for existence. He recoiled further when criminals started to receive better treatment than their victims. . He certainly took a backward step when he found that you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and that if you had the temerity to tackle the burglar he could have you charged with assault, and he would be backed up by the Gardai and the Judiciary. He finally gave up the ghost when a woman failed to realise that a steaming cup of coffee might be hot. Having spilled some on her lap she promptly took legal action and was awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his spouse, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.
Unfortunately he has been survived by four stepbrothers, commonly known as I know my rights, I want it now, Someone else is to blame, and I am a victim.
Attendance at the removal and burial was quite sparse but this may have been due to the fact that so few people realised he was actually gone. If you still remember him pass it on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

All for now. Mike Edmonds Jan 2010.

Art and Anecdote

The past is turned to stone and all is still. The walls uphold a door of time, half opened, half closed; the artist, veiled in pensive mood to future’s eye, yielding, but there was no key.
Yet, in melancholy mind the viewer looks upon the scene, ostensibly of rack and ruin, but in truth sees the value of a foregone age; memories to the greatness of people who in their time erected Temples, Villas, Mills and Basilicas which far out-lived their society and being redundant, were abandoned to the elements of nature; but by the quality of the craftsmanship employed, they remained standing and nature itself respected their presence, sometimes for thousands of years. What remains then of the structure of the great Woollen Mill in Ballymore Eustace, is that to which nature has genuflected and is captured and depicted by the wonderful artistry of Fiona Barrett.

In this drawing titled The Old Woolen Mill, Ballymore Eustace, published in the November issue of the Ballymore Bugle, so full and strong in symbolisms, replicating the ethos and pathos of a community through ages of time – the strength and structure of the pillars, as shoulders, upholding the upper hinged half of one of the two great wooden doors which once hung there, and supporting the loaded weight of the overhead archway; and above that, the pediment, over which a window opens to the sky, just as one might see a shaft of morning light shine through when the Sun rises over Newgrange, an unknown phenomena when this mill was built.
Building stones, loosened by weathering, are strewn in the immediate foreground, and through the gates the eye is drawn perceptibly along a pathway bordered by wild bushes, entering another time and space to a dark place, as though Lucy had walked into the wardrobe put there by C.S. Lewis on her way into the unknown, to meet the Witch and the Lion; a dark place within ones mind, puzzling and enigmatic, as yet unexplained, where may be found a foreboding will, and trembling to penetrate this darkness, resolved to reveal and understand the mystery within, so reducing it to a mere secret; or as Dante, lost in a dark wood, was guided by Virgil through a wood to the sign on the gates of Hell where he read with dread – “Lay down all hope, you that go in by me.” These are awesome journeys.
But there is hope here, for the artist opens the soul through mists of melancholy as light appears above the dark place – Elysium, seen
through a scattering of scarcely-leaved tree-branches in the new season of Spring; Dante’s Garden of Earthly Paradise in Canto 28, that final terrace of purification in Purgatory where the ecstasies of beauty and love abound, illustrated by Botticelli and Wm. Blake, before Paradise itself is gained.

The drawing is intense, powerful, and a profound expression in shadow of light and dark, contrasted by deep cross-hatching and lightly shaded line; of life and of the stillness of time, but more so in the message of hope; for while the door may be half closed to the past, it surely is half open to the future, and in this mosaic of past and present, echoes of sound are ever present in both spheres of time – of a millrace rushing to a millwheel and splashing onward to rejoin the mother river, Anna Livia
It is not so easy to draw parallels to work such as this, but reminiscence calls upon Francis Wey’s truly monumental book, Rome, (1865), for the excellence of the illustrations (and perfection of the literary content), and of Samuel Rogers’ Italy, (1830) for the illustrations of Wm. Turner.
It is by these standards that we can appreciate the importance and real value of our artists, and the Ballymore Bugle is extremely fortunate in being favoured by people of the calibre of Fiona Barrett, and before her, the equally memorable drawings of Bill Delaney, each in their own way giving emphasis not only to the physical characteristics of Ballymore through their art work, but exceptionally, managing at the same time to reflect the ethos of its society, mentioned earlier, as inclusive and inherent.
Michael Ward.

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