We visited Peter Layton’s London Glassblowing emporium this day last year. Having been there many times before, we specifically returned to watch Olga Alianova demonstrate how she makes some of her jewellery. Her work is exquisite and isn’t just jewellery. Her mounted wasp factories are reminiscent of the paper wasp nests under the eaves of our home in Houston many years ago.[Read more…] about Glass Wasp Factories
Archives for November 2020
‘No more distressing moment can ever face a British government than that which requires it to come to a hard and fast and specific decision.’
– Barbara W Tuchman in The Guns of August (1962)
Curious learning not only makes unpleasant things less unpleasant, but also makes pleasant things more pleasant. I have enjoyed peaches and apricots more since I have known that they were first cultivated in China in the early days of the Han dynasty, that Chinese hostages held by the great king Kaniska introduced them into India, whence they spread to Persia, reaching the Roman Empire in the first century of our era; that the word ‘apricot’ is derived from the same Latin source as the word ‘precocious’, because the apricot ripens early; and that the A at the beginning was added by mistake, owing to a false etymology. All this makes the fruit taste much sweeter.
– Bertrand Russell ‘In Praise of Idleness’ in In Praise of Idleness, and Other Essays (New York: Norton, 1935).
‘Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite’ is Spike Milligan’s epitaph. ‘I told you I was ill’ are the enduring words that recall his death in 2002, except they are as Gaeilge.
‘A Úachtaráin agus a chairde’ said Queen Elizabeth II in Dublin, at a State Dinner in her honour in Dublin Castle in 2011. It was hosted by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese and that’s why the visiting monarch opened saying ‘President and friends’.
Martina Devlin has a story in today’s Independent that is quite surreal. It’s about an Irish language epitaph on a headstone that has been blocked in the UK. ‘In ár gcroíthe go deo’ which means ‘In our hearts forever’, would seem to be at risk of persisting ‘in our courts forever’.
The head of the Anglican Church spoke in Irish without translation and yet, her ecclesiastical courts have consistently ruled that Margaret Keane’s epitaph in Irish must be translated to avoid misinterpretation.
If I was a UK citizen in Northern Ireland, I would see this as an insult. I would treat this as an affront, a direct insult to me, to liberalism and to freedom of expression. I’m not a UK citizen and I’m pretty worked up about it because there is a history of mistrust. Like a natural resource of enmity and bile, this Anglican Church appears to mine a seam of bitterness and bring confrontations to the surface. One could say it suggests that the society the Anglican prelates represent are sliding back towards medieval if not authoritarian thinking.
It’s a disgrace that the Church of England should deny Irish speakers of British citizenship the right to express themselves in their own language. It’s antediluvian and harks back to the worst of Victorian memories when the poorest of British subjects in Ireland were allowed starve to death else forced to emigrate. It’s hard to prove causation or understand the 1840s imperial thinking but some argue that it was helpful to reduce the numbers of subsistence farmers, that it was a necessary step towards clearing the lands so that agricultural practices could be modernised. Some have said that Stalin learned from this program in creating the Holodomor of the 1930s.
A chairde, words matter and their language matters too.
This is the third ‘shot’ in three days and it comes from a London street. There’s a magnificent Ginko Biloba on Greencoat Place in Westminster that I watched for weeks until the leaves were right. Then the sun had to be right and I waited a day or two more. And so, at 11:05:42 this day last year I was standing beneath a yellow bough that is just higher than the single decked buses that pass three or four times an hour.[Read more…] about Gingko Shot