To A Bird Another Bird

Much has been in the news in recent times about Hungary and Hungarians, about keeping the former as a stomping ground exclusively for the latter. If I weren’t made of stern stuff, I might take offence. It’s a little like running with a crowd of friends for years before finally realising that you’re only being tolerated and that life, for them, in their eyes, would be much better if you buggered off and went back to where you came from. Read more

Stopgap Grace

Am excited. So excited. My man Neil McCarthy will be back in Budapest next week. Okay, so technically he’s not my man, but I feel a strange affinity to this purveyor of words who reintroduced me to the joy that is poetry. Many moons ago, when Treehugger Dan’s was a pillar of the Budapest arts scene, I went to one of his gigs and sat, mesmerised, by the life he imbued in his poems. That was back, I think, in 2009 or 2010. Read more

LOL

Not since reading Christopher Moore‘s book Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal have I laughed out loud in public as much as I have in the last few days. And twice since, when I saw another reading commuter shake with laughter and checked what they were reading, it was that very book. I’m sure some might think that Moore’s humour borders on sacrilege, but my  God would enjoy it; He knows how to laugh. Read more

Who said that???

I’m getting paranoid. I find myself double- and triple-checking who said what when I use quotations. I had a minor meltdown a few years back when a quotation I have framed and have always attributed to WB Yeats was selling in the bookshop in Trinity College, Dublin, also framed, but this time attributed to Oscar Wilde. I like both men, yet it seems more a Yeats thing than a Wilde thing. So, I’m sticking with Yeats. Read more

2018 Grateful 52

If I told you that this author has received numerous awards for their writing and holds not one but twelve honorary doctorates from universities in Europe and North America, or that they have a CBE for services to literature from Her Majesty in the UK and were also another by the government of Botswana for services through literature … would you know of whom I was talking? Yep – and I bet it was the Botswana bit that gave it away. Read more

Travel books and tour guides

Plenty has been written about the differences between tourists and travellers. I’m usually a traveller and very occasionally a tourist – and yes, it definitely depends on who I’m with. I’m not a great fan of guide books that give me the Top 10 things to see and do, all neatly packaged. Such lists come with the implied suggestion that I have to tick off each one before I can claim to ‘have done’ Paris, or Timbuktu, or wherever.  [Not that I would EVER use the expression – ‘I’ve done wherever’. I’ve been to Malta about two dozen times at least and I still haven’t seen everything there is to see on the island. I defy anyone to say they’ve done Malta.] Read more

Prison chaplain John Jordan

I’m an addict. I’m addicted to that instant gratification that comes with being able to order the next book in a series I’m reading and get it minutes later. My kindle has revolutionised how I understand the word ‘series’. Instead of resting after one book and perhaps picking up whatever is lying on the shelf unread, I can now move straight to the next book in the series ensuring a steady diet of the characters and storylines for as long as it lasts. Read more

My name is Mina

I read. If I’m not doing anything else, I’m reading. Few things in life come close to time spent with a good book. But it’s been a while since I’ve read a book that touched the very heart of me, one that I’d like to see on a prescribed reading list for anyone in need of some soul sustenance. Read more

2017 Grateful 36

My first baseball game was watching the Padres at Murphy Stadium in San Diego. When the crowd stood at the top of the seventh to sing Take me out the ball game, I thought I’d passed into a parallel world. I don’t pretend to know the rules, even if some of the lingo crept into my vocabulary while I was Stateside – home stretch, third base, in the ballpark, batting zero. Read more

2016 Grateful 6: Adrian McKinty

I bought a washing machine a couple of months ago and every time I go play scrabble, Facebook throws out an ad for a washing machine. I’ve been reduced to venting my frustration at the ineptitude of its advertising algorithms by screaming at my laptop: I’ve already bought a bloody washing machine. I don’t need another! Read more