Irish Poetry: Humour, Rhythmn, Ryhme and Reason

Now Delaney had a donkey that everyone admired,
Tempo’rily lazy and permanently tired
A leg at ev’ry corner balancing his head,delaneys donkey
And a tail to let you know which end he wanted to be fed
Riley slyly said “We’ve underrated it, why not train it?”
Then he took a rag
They rubbed it, scrubbed it,
They oiled and embrocated it,
Got it to the post
And when the starter dropped his flag

There was Riley pushing it, shoving it, shushing it
Hogan, Logan and ev’ryone in town lined up
Attacking it and shoving it and smacking it
They might as well have tried to push the Town Hall down
The donkey was eyeing them,
Openly defying them
Winking, blinking and twisting out of place
Riley reversing it,
Ev’rybody cursing it
The day Delaney’s donkey ran the halfmile race.

The muscles of the mighty never known to flinch,
They couldn’t budge the donkey a quarter of an inch
Delaney lay exhausted, hanging round its throat
With a grip just like a Scotchman on a five pound note
Starter, Carter, he lined up with the rest of ’em.
When it saw them, it was willing then
It raced up, braced up, ready for the best of ’em.
They started off to cheer it but it changed its mind again

There was Riley pushing it, shoving it and shushing it
Hogan, Logan and Mary Ann Macgraw,
She started poking it, grabbing it and choking it
It kicked her in the bustle and it laughed “Hee Haw!”laughing ass
The whigs, the conservatives,
Radical superlatives
Libr’rals and tories,
They hurried to the place
Stood there in unity,
Helping the community
The day Delaney’s donkey ran the halfmile race.

The crowd began to cheer it. Then Rafferty, the judge
He came to assist them, but still it wouldn’t budge
The jockey who was riding, little John MacGee,
Was so thoroughly disgusted that he went to have his tea
Hagan, Fagan was students of psychology,
Swore they’d shift it with some dynamite
They bought it, brought it, then without apology
The donkey gave a sneeze and blew the whole lot out of place

There was Riley pushing it, shoving it and shushing it
Hogan, Logan and all the bally crew,
P’lice, and auxil’ary,
The Garrison Artillery
The Second Enniskillen’s and the Life Guards too
They seized it and harried it,
They picked it up and carried it
Cheered it, steered it to the winning place
Then the Bookies drew aside,
They all commited suicide
Well, the day Delaney’s donkey won the halfmile race.

Flit like a butterfly…

meer focus

You might wake up some mornin’
To the sound of something moving past your window in the wind
And if you’re quick enough to rise
You’ll catch a fleeting glimpse of someone’s fading shadow
Out on the new horizon
You may see the floating motion of a distant pair of wings
And if the sleep has left your ears
You might hear footsteps running through an open meadow

That was Bob Lind singing about the elusive butterfly of love.

The butterfly I am thinking of flits aimlessly, changing direction for no reason other than a splash of colour, is wafted up and sideways by the breeze….

That’s my mind, which generally has a struggle to focus and apply itself. Distraction is easy and frequent and false hares are irresistible once started, so I end up foxless.

Is that procrastination, a lack of discipline, poor focus, scant 1 thing at a timeconcern? Probably all; which is somewhat depressing. Tenacity and determination have always been my weak point: it took me 14 years to achieve my BA, for heaven’s sake!

 

in the momentPhew! This started out as flash realisation it was Friday and I had not written my weekly blog and a mild self castigation for following  bloody butterflies again!

 

I have been meaning to read up on meditation; maybe this is another message?

who cares

Enjoy your weekend, y’all!

Old Insults, not profane!

old fashioned insults

Hey! You scobblelotcher! Thy vile countenance curdles milk and sours beer!” 

Now that is a nasty, personal insult which is likely to generate some reaction from an idler toying with his nose contents instead of attending to his duties

.better insults                              nasty look

Snollygosters, gobermouches and gnashnabs will seize on that one and add it to their repertoire of groans unless someone heads them off with an irrelevant deviation.

However, if aimed in your direction you could robustly deny being a whiffle whaffler and retort:  Zooterkins! I will not take that from a zounderkite and fopdoodle such as you, whose klazomaniac shouting only serves to bumfuzzle and create a catawampus. Stop sitting there and doing diddlysquat – you will get your dipthong in a twist.

prob pronounce

I discovered these words in Dictionary.com – a veritable treasure trove of such gems. I must confess that they are very expressive and I regret that they are no longer in common use!

Do use a few – if only to bumfuzzle others!

Here are some Shakespearean words which you may like to combine in a best-insult competition.shakespeare list

Mind you it will be difficult to surpass the devastatingly nasty subtlety of Winston Churchill: “We know that he has, more than any other man, the gift of compressing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thought.

 

 

Will you take a tint, Paddy?

guinessWell it may not be a surprise to some of you, but I am an Irish citizen. With a name like Malachy, you might have thought there was a hint of Guinness somewhere. Mind you some in the Wes-Transvaal thought it was a Jewish name.

The first of my family name invaded Ireland as a Norman knight. Family
service to the Crown was duly recognised in 1328 by granting of the title of Baron of Loughmoe with even a castle in Tipperary. Purcell_crest
The medieval Irish genealogist Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh wrote that our family genealogy begins with Charlemagne, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

The family supported the Catholics after Henry VIII and lost the title. So there is no need to refer to me as Your Grace.

My great grandfather was a stonemason in County Clare. Just after my grandfather was born in 1861, the family left for Leeds in Yorkshire.

He became a soldier and served in the Cape Mounted Rifles, commanded the Rand Rifles Regiment in South West Africa and then served as a Brigadier General in the South African Expeditionary Force in World War 1. He retired to Ireland but sadly the IRA suggested he should leave because of his senior service with the British Army.

shamrockMy father was taught the Gaeilge by Mrs De Valera herself. And if you ask me nicely later today, I might sing James Connolly.

 

Today is a day for joy, a drop, appreciation for the the skilful word and a limerick or two. The thing about limericks is that one needs to read them aloud.not calm

It is an old maxim in the schools,
That flattery’s the food of fools;
Yet now and then your men of wit
Will condescend to take a bit.

(Not mine but that of Jonathan Swift).

 

O long life to the man who invented potheen –snoopy paddy
Sure the Pope ought to make him a martyr –
If myself was this moment Victoria, the Queen,
I’d drink nothing but whiskey and wather.

(Anon)

Let schoolmasters puzzle their brain,lovely day for a guinness
With grammar, and nonsense, and learning.
Good liquor, I stoutly maintain,
Gives genius a better discerning.
Oliver Goldsmith

Have you heard about the Irish boomerang?
It doesn’t come back, it just sings sad songs about how much it wants to.

It’s not that the Irish are cynical. It’s rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody.
Brendan Behan

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.
Oscar Wilde

I have particular regard for this pithy aphorism by George Bernard Shaw which seems to apply to all media today:

Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation.

irish harp

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig ort! Saint Patricks Day Blessings on you

 

This day marks the beginning of Lent, the Christian tradition of fasting andustd renewed contemplation of spiritual life. It endures for 40 days in commemoration of the time Jesus spent fasting in the desert, during which he endured temptation by Satan. Adherents focus on prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial.

All very commendable and worthy practices.

I recall the tiny Catholic Church in Mbabane, overflowing with serious and devout Swazis lining up to be marked on the forehead with an ash cross. Incense and sweat and lovely singing. I couldn’t wait to get out and surreptitiously wipe my brow before any of our friends could see me – they were all Protestants.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” – a sobering thought.

Dad gave up his Gordons pink gin and water (ugh!) before lunch and his John Jameson’s whisky before supper. I think Mum gave up smoking? My brother alent-birthdaynd I had to forgo sweets, which was really heavy!

The fast was for 40 days but Sundays were excluded and so were birthdays in our house.

I have for some years maintained a fast by giving up beer, which is quite a sacrifice for me.

sacrificesHowever, this year I have decided to give up meat. I must confess that my motivation is not that pure: I have been working on reducing my girth by eating healthier and less food and I am conscious that like many colonials, I eat too much meat. So a wee bit of vanity sneaks in there, but discipline and self-improvement trump them.

Giving up meat is not as simple as just forgoing beer; it is a major disruption to household habits, which affect not only me, but also my wife.

She does not like most fish. She has always done the catering including evening meal preparation. You may discern the tension. So I must prepare my own evening meals.

My research into Lent indicates that some fasts only included animal meat, so fish and fowl are acceptable. So tonight it will be tuna fishcakes; tomorrow sardines on toast, Friday could be salt and pepper squid, Saturday maybe crumbed whiting and Sunday will be braaivleis!prawn-salad

Monday boiled eggs, Tuesday tuna salad, Wednesday spaghetti marinara … I am getting into the swing of this! Suggestions are welcome.

I also intend to read up on meditation and perhaps practice it and attempt to complete the book I am writing, which is a major challenge as I have reached a stale block.

Finding a poor person to provide a meal to is difficult in the relative prosperity of a social welfare state. Some local homeless people demand money instead as they get too many meals!! I shall seek an alternate charitable cause.

I suppose I am an agnostic, but I believe in some of the traditions and practices and need self-discipline and spiritual renewal.

Give it a go! It’s a far more achievable challenge than New Year resolutions!

Fishcakes

Even though I say it myself, I regard my culinary talents as adventurous, even challenging!

I only married in my 30’s, so had a fair bit of cooking experience in my bachelor days, despite living in Africa where cooks were often employed for most meals. Of course being an African male, I am an experienced vleis braaier, which is Afrikaans for ‘meat guerrilla’.

braai-vleisThe braaivleis, known as barbeque in many parts of the world, is a cultural practice which involves the cooking of piles of meat. The cooking often takes place after a few drinks and is not really that important; the meat just has to look cooked. It often does in the evening twilight, after a few beers…

But I am not here to talk about meat, of which, I have realised, I eat too much. Accordingly, I have resolved to give up meat for Lent in accordance with older traditions and instead of beer.

My wife is perturbed as I said that I would eat more fish, which she is not fond of. So I have set out to show her that there is no need to fear, by cooking some fishcakes as a surprise.

In order to ensure a special dish, I used my pilchards in chili sauce, which I had been saving pilchards-chilifor a treat. I combined it with some bread crumbs of the nutty, seedy bread she prefers. To make the mixture more special and because she doesn’t like raw onion, I used sliced pickled onion, which I thought was quite innovative. To add some colour, I added a couple of sliced pepperdews, small red capsicums in a sweet syrup. I mixed in an egg for binding, salt and pepper seasoning and some finely chopped parsley from the garden. Simple!

Please note, this was my own recipe!

The mixture made six and a half cakes, which I fried in olive oil. Even though I say it myself, they were delicious! (A couple fell apart, so I had to eat them for lunch).

To my consternation, my wife turned down the fishcakes without hesitation – she doesn’t like tuna, chili or my cooking, especially when I try different ingredients…

Looks like I’ll be cooking for myself for the 40 days of Lent.

P.S. I had a nibble of half a cake before I went to bed. I must confess I had a very weird dream about riding a brown ox which was chased by a lion past a lion reserve full of identical lions following each other, holding the tail of the foremost one in their mouths…

afrikaner-ox

If I was King of Australia

… I would decree that all homeowners would be required to have rainwater tanks, solar energy, groparsley sage.jpgw vegetables and fruit in their garden and keep chickens.

In this little garden, we have a few basic herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (I feel a song coming on)  as well as chives, lavender, garlic and turmeric.

We will soon have a sufficiency of lemons and the yellow guava tree has a score of fruit. I cut down my first paw-paws for not producing enough fruit, but one has re-sprouted and the sprout has two fruit. Hopefully, it will be a lesson for my two new-fangled, self-pollinating red papayas, which are really shooting up. Our fig tree should bear next summer and our solitary pineapple is nearing fruition.

Our raised-from-seed granadillas gave us a score of fruit in their first year; if we are lucky we will get a second harvest.

The chubby maroon cherry guava looks likguava-cherrye it’s perfect for harvest. Sadly, it’s too late – it is already over-ripe and will have a rotten, fermented fruit taste and smell and likely a number of lively fat grubs.

I have never seen such a bountiful crop. I munch one or two green-yellow skin ones which are at the safely edible stage of ripeness; I don’t see any worms, but then I don’t look.

The rainbow lorikeets add their greens, reds and yellows to the tree and at night the flying foxes squabble over them. I bet they can smell the fruit from a mile away.

I think of my grandmother, who we called Gogo (pr: gawkaw) in the Swazi way. She would boil them up and strain them through muslin to make guava jelly – the perfect accompaniment for the impala roasts of the winter to come. We got to lick the wooden spoon and the bowl.

Now that I have become old and fat, I have become an anti-sugar Nazi, so can’t make the jelly which requires pounds of the sweet poison. But it saddens me. I am happy when my friend Grant comes and noshes a few of the fruit, recalling his childhood too.

tamarillosWould you like some tree tomatoes! Called tamarillos here, they are bountiful on my tree and I can’t eat them all. Flying foxes and possums find their smooth waxy skin too difficult, so I have to dispose of the whole crop. Lots of giveaways, to protect me from gout, caused by too much tomato. (Definitely not beer!). What will I do when the second tree comes into fruit? – I may have to go commercial!

Our bountiful garden gives me great joy. A hydroponic system is under consideration but may be too finicky; chickens have been vetoed. I am not yet King of Australia.

Nevertheless, go forth and cultivate!