29 January 2012

27 January 2012

Holocaust Memorial Day

This time, the country is deep into memorial mode. It's not only the milestone figure of 75 years. It's nasty stuff happening, the far right is lifting its nasty head in too many places here and elsewhere on the planet to pretend all is well.

This is what I wrote in 2012:

Friday evening. I am the last to go. I cycle past the lecture halls and down hill onto the round about. Very little traffic here, hardly anybody. People are at the gym, shopping, getting ready for the weekend.

Yesterday I had dinner with old friends. For the first time in so many years they were planning a holiday, somewhere warm, Mediterranean and we opened up an old school atlas and traced the shore lines with our fingers, Rimini, Greek islands, Ibiza, Mallorca, Tarifa, the French Riviera, Sicily... What about Turkey, I ask.
No way, they say, we are not going to a country with a military dictatorship. There are limits.

In Berlin this morning, an old man was invited to give a speech in parliament. An eminent literary critic, a sharp, often rude and somewhat arrogant presence in the talk show circuits and book review pages. In an interview last week he said, he was afraid of this speech. He survived Treblinka and the Warsaw ghetto. He read from his memories of death and persecution and when he finished, he looked up and said, thank you. There was a long silence.

Friday, TV dinner night or maybe out for a movie, a couple of beers. When instead, we should be on our knees, with our heads down in silence, all day or half of the day, or for an hour, ten minutes, make it one minute, just one minute of respect and shame and remembrance. Is this asking too much?
Ancient history, you say? None of your business, long before your time. And anyway, what good does it do, a minute, an hour, a day? What day did you say it is today?

for the record

It is so uplifting to receive comments, you have no idea.
You know the feeling when you open a window to air the room and all the noises and smells come in from outside? And the sunlight? Sort of like that. Thank you.

26 January 2012

Very familiar sensation:

And then the hum, always that hum, which maybe wasn't an echo after all, but the sound of time passing.

Jennifer Egan, "A visit from the goon squad", last page.

the river is full again

24 January 2012

Five hours on the superfast intercity train and I met the whole world, well almost. 
Across from me there was a very tall, very blond transvestite with a very tiny and very white dog who had a separate seat reservation. Transvestite spent four hours carefully gluing spangled sequins on a party hat and making phonecalls to Schatzi in Vienna, in between hugging and talking to dog. Gorgeous, the two of them.
Then there was the family of five, all of them deaf and involved in silent card games and sign language conversations and silent laughter. I admit that I watched in awe and I hope they didn't notice me gawking.
Next to me the budding tenor who gave me tips on how to sing properly (apparently what you need to do is wipe all expressions from your face and let go of any feelings of embarrassment or self conscience) while flashing his sheets of Schubert Lieder and Mendelssohn's Elias around. He was nice enough to talk to but when he went on and on about how hilarious (yes, hilarious!) Goethe's Faust really is and how he is reading it for the 6th time just for fun (oh please!), the words pompous and twat started to form in my mind and for fear of letting them slip out I pretended to read, which I cannot do on trains because I get sea sick. But Caruso was adamant and so I was given the list of famous but obviously useless tenors, incl. their various flaws and bad habits, and hence we were able to conclude that the world must be waiting for him.
And so we raced on through the dark rainy evening and miraculously, I arrived dead on time. Dinner was waiting.

18 January 2012

and this is the usual story

17 January 2012

The inevitable frost came at last and that's the end of the nasturtium, but you were warned. The thing about frosty air and cycling is the runny nose and of course the way the cold wind stings and gets inside all the way through the tiniest gaps of the scarf wound half way across my face. And those fancy extra strength thermo mittens are a waste of money. But let's not get carried away here, this is nothing.
A gang of super idealistic people has occupied one of those empty office buildings that were meant to make Cork city shiny and modern. Another group is squatting in the empty BoI in Belfast. Cheers me up no end despite the fact that they will most likely be kicked out soon, maybe even before they get into their first and unavoidable alpha male dispute on who can be king of the castle. 
Waves of deja vu and nostalgia: exactly 30 years ago. Funny how the wheel of time turns and comes back to the same ideas and hopes and dreams every so often. 
Would I do it again: no. 
Would I dream of doing it again: yes.

12 January 2012

Spring is making promises outside. Snowdrops, primulas, crocus, the nasturtium that didn't die in frost (that never came - so far) has been going since September, a rambling rose flowering, fig trees with green shoots.
Hold it, hold it, fella, this is way too early.

09 January 2012


I sat there for one whole hour having my teeth cleaned professionally (not that my teeth aren't clean, brushing and flossing are my rituals, but there is all that accumulated grit in the tight corners below the radar) by this little kwepie doll of a woman full of smiles and talk. Talk! I mean, there I am lying on this seat/stretcher with my fingers and toes clenched and the sweat running down my back while she tells me fabulous stories of a childhood in Siberia and clear frosty days and dry snow underfoot and salted fish and hot summers and insects and muddy roads and deep birch forests and old cars and dogs everywhere and all the time she is scraping and scratching and poking and sanding and then I get the glass of water and rinse it all out.

04 January 2012

03 January 2012

The battle is in full swing. 
On the one side, we have an imposing, tall, large man in his early 80s, someone who has all his adult life felt in charge of his destiny, confident that science has all the answers, generous and intelligent and safe in his knowledge that a folded banknote slipped into some hand will open doors when in a tight spot. Someone who never had to bother anybody for support or explanation and certainly has no intention to do so, now of all times, definitely not his offspring (who are his minors if anything), whose patience with casts and physiotherapy and clinical examinations and medical opinions of young (!) doctors has run out. Definitely.
On the other side, we have his eldest child, a primary school teacher (tsk tsk), quick-tempered, confident that she sees the bigger picture with all the answers and that he has generally lost it, incl. the ability to ever drive his big shiny silver car again, unwilling to allow him make mistakes and thus bring shame on the family (who?) and demolish his good name (and hers) and really really pissed off about his weight gain.
The referee: da baby boy, ignored. As yet.

I duck for cover. The blessings of being born in the middle.

02 January 2012

The red blob just to the side of my right cornea is probably nothing. It looks like it but it doesn't burn like it usually does when the inflammation starts. I am nervous, but totally over the top. My ophthalmologist is on holidays until next week Tue and I'll be damned to spend hours waiting in the A&E for what?
Just doodle along, will you...

01 January 2012

new year's resolution, sort of

To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded.

David Foster Wallace