Good morning, comrades and random people who've landed here by searching for Unmentionable Practices. Seriously, wipe the keyboard occasionally.
You find me both energised by a long weekend in Dublin, and cast down by the inevitable return to The Land of Pork Scratchings (though I'll confess to a lifelong romance with the baked outside of the noble porker).
A few snapshots of the Dublin weekend: bumping into my brother-in-law as soon as I got there - his elegant gait and splendid beard of burnished copper distinguished him amongst the throngs. Wading through packs of Italian tourists in 'Irish' t-shirts, hastily donned to replace the 'Oxford University' ones they'd bought on that leg of the tour. Unfeasibly tanned Tallafornia girls giving the world insights into their personal lives on Grafton Street. The clash of cultures as Bloomsday survivors, Sudanese refugees, Republicans and Dublin Pride adherents mingled outside the GPO. The seedy pub (J. Kennedy's, on St. George's Quay - honourable mention too for the Library Bar) which boasted a 1960s Stereogram playing Yo La Tengo and Neu! albums (on white vinyl) in their entirety. A friend passionately denouncing sheep ('the woolly bastards') from bitter personal experience.
Seemingly every woman clutched a copy of Shades of Grey (top tip, ladies: a trusted source tells me that for proper, well written filth, you want Susan Lewis, apparently available in a all good youth hostels around the world): what happened to reading porn alone, at home? Dev would have been turning in his grave. Not even a Customs officer confiscating the filthy books at the border like the old days. Actually, nobody at the border at all - immigration to Ireland consisted of a friendly man asking people what their nationality was, while Holyhead was entirely bereft of customs or immigration staff. If you fancy doing a spot of smuggling, the ferry is the way to go. Actually, I should confess to aiding illegal migrants myself - a few years ago I took a Ghanaian friend over for the weekend. He was a bit worried that he didn't have a visa for Ireland, but I knew it would be fine. Just follow me, I said. Sure enough, he claimed to be Irish and strolled straight through: a fine weekend was had by all.
Recession? Not a sign. Abercrombie and Fitch opening (though as far as I could see, every single native and tourist was wearing head-to-toe A+F already), Brown Thomas doing a roaring trade, high-end outlets booming everywhere you looked.
On a personal note, I was reminded at the National Library's Yeats exhibition that it isn't only voles which plash: 'Easter, 1916' contains these immortal lines in the third stanza:
Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road.
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone's in the midst of all.
Yeats's plashing foal (boom…tish) got there first - the poem was published in 1920, whereas Waugh's vole didn't plash until 1938 - by which time Yeats had his testicles rerouted through his liver (true story, connected to reactionary masculinity theory) and taken up weirdo magic rituals with his Golden Dawn friends.
So here I am, back in the Hegemon, the only souvenirs of my brief escape a multi-pack of Taytos and some soda bread. And the rain still falls…