Monday, December 24, 2007

The Tree Which Makes Our Christmas

I love Christmas. I have always loved Christmas.
A long, long time ago, my father made Christmas magic for me.
It was as we left the house, in the dark, to go to Mass.
Suddenly, he looked skyward and asked me if I had seen Santa.
As he did, I heard the sleigh bells, I know I heard them. They were clear and loud and, well, jingly.
Of course, I didn't see the sleigh. But I heard the bells. That much was certain.
It was years later, when I lifted a bunch of keys off my desk, one day, that I realised how my father had made the sound of the bells.
He had rattled his keys. And he had made Christmas magic for me.
Of course, Santa had already been and gone by the time we were heading out to Mass, so I couldn't possibly have heard the real bells.

Now that we have little Charlotte in our lives, Christmas is more magical then ever.
She may not quite understand, at 20 months, what's going on. But we do.
And tomorrow morning, we know we will watch her little face light up as she unwraps the presents from Santa and from friends and family.
We have two Christmas trees, one in the living room and one in the kitchen.
And it is the one in the kitchen that makes this Christmas magic.
Because Connie has decorated it with the little shoes Charlotte wore in the first year of her life.
They remind us how lucky we are to have her, what a miracle life is, and what a wonderful gift from God our little girl is.
Tomorrow, we will go to Mass in Mount Argus where, like last year, I hope to fulfill my ambition of standing on the altar with all the other mammys and daddys with their children while we sing the Our Father.
It's emotional, and the likelihood is, a tear may run down my cheeck.
It's a truly moving experience.
And one that reminds us what Christmas is really about.
Happy Christmas.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Politically Correct Fairytale of New York

I'm putting this up for the benefit of anyone who doesn't get the Sunday World (shame on you.)
You may, or may not, know that the BBC removed the words 'slut' and 'faggot' from Shane McGowan's masterpiece, Fairytale of New York. They said the words may offend, though oddly, they left the word 'arse' in.
It was, of course, political correctness gone mad and they restored the words after a public outcry.
But just in case the PC brigade gets its way, I have cleaned the song up for them.
First, the words as Shane McGowan wrote them, then, the PC version.

Fairytale of New York (as written by Shane McGowan)

It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The rare old mountain dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

They've got cars big as bars
They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas Day

You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you

The boys of the NYPDchoir
Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas Day

Fairtytale of New York (as the politically correct gobshites in BBC and elsewhere would have it)

It was December 24th, equal status female friend,
In the area set aside for the treatment of those with alcohol problems,
A senior citizen suggested that i seek medical help for fear that I may suffer fatal consquences from my condition in the coming twelve months,
Then he sang a song,
Which appeared to be about an alcoholic drink,
I was a bit rude, I admit, and turned away,
But I fell asleep and I dreamed of you.

I had a bet today - though I know that offends those in many religions -
And it came in at eighteen to one,
I have a feeling,
This year’s for me and you,
So Happy Christmas/Hannukah/Ramadan/Winter Solstice*
I love you equal status female friend,
I can see a better time,
When all our dreams come true

They’ve got high emission mechanically propelled vehicles the size of licensed premises,
They’ve got rivers of gold,
But the wind goes right through you,
And those in their senior years really should wrap up well or, better still, stay indoors,
When you first took my hand,
On a cold December 24th,
You promised me Broadway was waiting for me.

You were handsome but not in a way that suggests other males were less so,
And you were handsome too, in a similar way,
Queen of New York City,
When the band finished playing,
They cheered and shouted “encore”
Sinatra was swinging - though not in the irresponsible, partner swapping sexual sense,
And those with alcohol problems were singing,
We kissed on a corner
And danced through the night.

And the boys of the NYPD choir,
Were singing Galway bay,
And the bells were ringing out,
For the 25th of December.

You are clearly short of money,
And you like Seventies music similar to that once produced by the Sex Pistols,
And you, it has to be said, appear to be a woman of loose morals with a heroin problem,
Evidenced by the fact that you’re in hospital and on a drip to boot,
You’re not a nice person and you remind me of an insect of the kind people often use when they go fishing,
You are not expensive and you are possibly homosexual not that there’s anythiing wrong with that,
Happy Christmas/Hannukah/Ramadan/Winter Solstice* my bottom,
I pray to God/Buddah/Muhhamed/Yahweh/Nobody at all that we don’t have another one.

And the boys of the NYPD choir,
Were singing Galway bay,
And the bells were ringing out,
For the 25th of December.

I could have been someone,
Well,that’s true of everyone,
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you,
I kept them with me equal status female friend,
I put them with my own,
Can’t make it all alone,
I built my dreams around you.

And the boys of the NYPD choir,
Were singing Galway bay,
And the bells were ringing out,
For the 25th of December.

*For a full list of religious festivals from around the world held at this time of year, please send a stamped addressed envelope to, oh, the BBC.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This is Ireland's Winter Wonderland

It's the same every year. The Christmas cards arrive and, almost without exception, they feature snow.
There are snowman. There are little cottages with snow on the roof. There are children playing in the snow. There are people tobogganing. There are buildings covered in snow.
Here in Ireland, companies send you cards which have digitally enhanced pictures on the front, showing their Dublin headquarters covered in snow.
Televisoin stations show us promotions. And there are always snow flakes.
Television advertisements feature snow, and some even feature Dublin scenes, covered in show.
Even the decorations on our streets are based on snow.
When was the last time it snowed at Christmastime in Ireland?
Some time around the birth of Christ, I'd wager.
So here is our new Christmas song. It's called Ireland's Winter Wonderland.
And, like the card above, it's true to life.


Car horns blare, traffic’s crawling,
Traffic jams, are appalling,
It’s nothing but rain,
It’s always the same,
This is Ireland’s winter wonderland.

Gone away is the summer,
Winter here is a bummer,
It rains cats and dogs,
There’s frost and there’s fog,
This is Ireland’s winter wonderland

In the meadow we can build a mudman,
And pretend that we’re in Sandy Lane,
But we know in our hearts that it’s a dudman,
And tomorrow ‘twill be lashing down again.

Later on, we’ll conspire,
As we sit by the fire,
Completely unfazed,
‘Cos we’re double glazed,
This is Ireland’s winter wonderland.

In the meadow we’ll swim in a puddle,
And pretend we’re on the Costa del,
But really in the cold we’ll all be huddled,
As the weather turns our Christmas into hell.

When it rains, it’s depressing,
In three layers you’ll be dressing,
You pray there’ll be snow,
But in your heart you know,
Not in Ireland’s winter wonderland.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Tara Find Will Change Nothing

❍The carved stone, found at Lismullen

IT’S a while since I mentioned Tara.
They’re firing ahead, as fast as they can, destroying the place.
How any archaeologist, with even a modicum of pride in what they do and what they are trained for, can aid and abet the destruction of 5,000 years of history is utterly beyond me.
The saddest thing of all in relation to the M3 is, that it is utterly unnecessary in the first place. It is being built to open up land for development and no other reason.
Soon, Fianna Fail and their lapdogs in the Green Party will oversee the construction of two more motorways through what once was the Royal County. That will bring to five the total number of motorways through Meath.
Add to that its incinerator, its dumps, its pylons and the gross overdevelopment of Bettystown and south Drogheda and you have all the evidence you need.

Of what?
Of utter ignorance, utter incompetence and, in our most historic county, an utter disdain for the past.
John Gormley is, of course, part of it all. His Pontius Pilate act is nothing short of a disgrace. Green? Not even vaguely. He can introduce all the carbon taxes he wishes. Gesture politics.
His buddy Eamon Ryan bans exploration for plutonium in Donegal because, he says, if we don’t use nuclear power, it would be hypocritical to allow uranium to be mined for use in other countries.
Typical of the nonsensical busy bodying of the Greens.
We allow prisoners to be brought through Shannon to be tortured God knows where. We allow troops to pass through Shannon to kill or be killed.
And I’m pretty certain that, in some industrial complex somewhere in Ireland, parts are made that ultimately end up in the weapons to be used by, again, God knows who.
Recently, a carved stone was found at Lismullen. It is as old if not older than Newgrange.
It won’t move Gormley or Noel Dempsey or, in particular, the chief philistine, Bertie.
If they found Tutankhamen’s tomb, it wouldn’t move Bertie. Likely as not, he has never heard of Tutankhamen.
The stone is just further proof, that the Tara/Skryne Valley is important, not just to Ireland, but to the world.
Irish travellers marvel at the antiquities in countries like Italy, Greece, Egypt, France, Cyprus, Malta - wherever.
Meanwhile, historic sites that could and should be preserved for posterity, for future generations and, indeed, for tourism, are being bulldozed by a government of ignorant, greedy buffoons.
We look back at our history, and we read of the wonderful people who built Newgrange and Knowth and Dowth. We look at places like Glendalough and Clonmacnoise and the Skellig Rocks. We think of our writers like Joyce and Shaw and Wilde and Yeats.
And we do so with pride.
Is it likely, do you think, there will be the same sense of pride when people look back at the achievements - or otherwise - of Ahern and Dempsey and Roche and Gormley?

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Some Things Change, Some Don't

IT’S almost Christmas.
It’s easy to tell how close Christmas is if you live in Dublin.
There are more vomit stains on the street.
There are more drunks and they appear earlier and earlier each day as Christmas Day gets closer.
Nobody will let you out into the ever worsening traffic jams.
Clampers are in overdrive.
Virtually every shopper in every shop is rude, behaving in a way they wouldn’t dream of at other times of the year.
You can’t get into pubs.
There is more violence, both on the street and domestically. It is almost inevitable at Christmas time, that some unfortunate woman will stab her husband, invariably fatally, after he arrives home drunk and penniless without money for food or presents for the children.

More people drink and drive.
Everybody is short of patience.
And children are greedier than ever before.
It’s likely that each of us are at least a little bit guilty (I know, I know, it’s like being a little bit pregnant) of at least some of the behaviour outlined above.
And I know that when someone my age talks about it being worse now than ever, other, younger, people put it down to my being a grumpy old man.
They’re half right.
I AM a grumpy old man.
But I am a grumpy old man because it IS worse than ever.
I wonder how much of Ireland’s new found wealth ended up, literally, going down the toilet?
Poverty, you see, has a disciplining effect. I you haven’t got the money to drink, you can’t drink.
If you haven’t got the money to splash out on ridiculously expensive and utterly unnecessary luxuries to hand out as presents, you can’t buy them.
If you can’t afford cocaine - or the new favourite in Dublin, Champagne, vodka, red Bull with a spoonful of cocaine stirred into it - you can’t buy it.
Nobody wants to go back to the bad old days. Well, not all the way back.
But it would be nice if we lived in a country run by people who were less concerned with their own salaries and more concerned with the fact that they expect pensioners to live on one-twentieth of what they pay themselves.
It would be brilliant to live in a wealthy country that had sufficient schools for its children.
It would be marvellous to live in a country which had a health service rather than a health system.
Ireland is now the kind of country where three young people died from cocaine overdoses in one week.
It is the kind of country where suicide is epidemic.
It is the kind of country where we wonder not if there will be another gangland murder soon, but only when and where it will be.
And it is the kind of country, where Christmas is seen as an opportunity to get drunker more often than normal, where cocaine supplies have been bulked up for the festive season, where prices go through the roof, where selfishness abounds and where, it seems, there is more concern about what’s on television or what is going to be the Christmas Number One, than there is about people and more especially, the people who are concerned about where they will get shelter on Christmas Day, where they will get something to eat and who they will have, if anyone, to talk with.
The Christmas message is all but lost.
Children, I would bet, wouldn’t mention the birth of Jesus in their top five Christmassy things.
And that is profoundly sad.
Because while celebrations, gifts, giving and receiving and traditional fare all have their part to play at this time of year, so too do decency, charity, prayer and reflection.
Last year, I had what was, I suppose, a slightly selfish ambition for Christmas.
It was to be able to stand on the altar in Mount Argus with all the other mums and dads and children, during the children’s Christmas Day Mass, with my daughter Charlotte, as they sang the Our Father. It is a tremendously moving moment every Sunday, but especially on Christmas Day.
I achieved that ambition.
And this year, it is exactly the same.

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