Tuesday, May 25, 2010
382. North Cider, South Cider, Rest of Ireland
The ideal Ireland that we would have, the Ireland that we dreamed of, would be the home of a people who valued material wealth only as a basis for right living, of a people who, satisfied with frugal comfort, devoted their leisure to the things of the spirit – a land whose countryside would be bright with cosy homesteads, whose fields and villages would be joyous with the sounds of industry, with the romping of sturdy children, the contest of athletic youths and the laughter of happy maidens, whose firesides would be forums for the wisdom of serene old age. The home, in short, of a people living the life that God desires that men should live.
-- Éamon de Valera (New Yorker, returnee, scholar, rebel, felon, Taoiseach, President, old man, corpse, transformed national icon) from a speech made on Irish Radio on March 17, 1943.
People laugh at the innocence of de Valera these days, and of course they are welcome to do so, but in my never sufficiently humble opinion, I think -- no, I know -- they don't have a clue where he's coming from. He may have been prudish in sexual matters, painstaking and upright in even the smallest financial transactions (thrifty, too), appropriately dressed on all occasions, and in many other ways a man of his time and its notions of respectability. But politically he was a dangerous radical, quite implacable, ready to employ violence if need be to bring about his unbending dream of an independent Ireland. Because of the rigidity of his character and his overweening belief in his own righteousness this was not always a good thing for the people around him (Michael Collins immediately comes to mind) and not always a good thing for Ireland either. His inflexibility caused a great deal of conflict and dragged us into a civil war over the Treaty in which former comrades within the IRA ended up hunting and killing one another in a war that could and should have been avoided. Like De Gaulle, even Robespierre, he was one of those authoritarian Great Men who identify themselves with the State at a time of overwhelming duress and will brook no opposition. But out of misery sometimes ... sometimes comes redemption.
But what about modern Ireland? Freedom becomes a habit, a thing one takes for granted. A free nation goes off in different directions, no longer focussed on national grievances or the humiliation of foreign occupation. Different lifestyles come into play. New difficulties swim out of the depths, raise their ugly heads, problems entirely of our own making. How we cope with them is the measure of the country we have become, now that the older generation that bequeathed us the Free State, then the Republic, have gone on to their grumbling & complaining final rest -- de Valera among them.
So what is Ireland like in 2010?
It's bloody hard to explain. It's a meritocracy with recent family overtones and less recent historical undertones. The class system, like America, is largely based on income. Kids who finish school and go on to university get jobs and make careers while the kids who drop out at 14 and hang out in the neighbourhood end up on the fringes. Family connections (it's a small country) can definitely help get you into a job; lack of them can also freeze you out. During the 1990s there was a huge economic boom which made some people incredibly rich and their kids got used to living on Daddy's money. At the same time the working class kids bounced around from one dead-end job to another and got caught in a world where the big money came from drugs and criminality. This is very evident in Dublin. The big distinction in Dublin is the River Liffey -- Anna Livia.
I wrote a poem below (Anna Livia) which simply talked about the river itself, and not what it does to Dublin City. The river runs through the centre of the city and acts as a kind of border-line, not quite like the Berlin Wall, but in local perceptions somewhat similar. The North Side is essentially working (now non-working)class: hard-scrabble, tough neighbourhoods, old houses, what we like to think of as the 'real' Dublin -- two guesses where I'm from -- with a heart and a soul, the part of the city where all the young fellas came from in the past who dropped everything and went out to fight for Ireland. Could be there wasn't all that much they had to drop: restricted lives and boring jobs, provided they had one. This is where Leopold Bloom lived, next to the church (dull stroke on the strike of nine) in Eccles Street.
North Cider/ South Cider was a clever ad by Bulmer's last summer -- a cider-making company who'd figured things out.
The South Side contains the Old Viking city, the University, the leafy Georgian squares, the government offices, the museums, the quiet avenues, the settled civilised side of the city. This is where all the 'outsiders' settle, coming up from the country and from foreign parts like you wouldn't know what. They've taken over the city in their upscale spreading suburbs. The rock stars and Hollywood celebs go further south to Killiney on the sweeping Italianate hills overlooking the sea. It's beautiful. It's expensive. It's so cool. The North Side (inner city) is turning into a slum. So that's what's happening.
This is just a lead-in. Sorry. A fellow Northsider -- now living in Spain, strange how we can feel so passionate about the place yet choose to live elsewhere -- sent me this. It's a parody, sure, of all the things I've been talking about above. It's no more than a joke, yeh? Trouble is, it's not that far from the truth ....
NORTHSIDE LEAVING CERT
MATHS TEST FOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
IN THE NORTHSIDE OF DUBLIN
GANG NAME ____________________
1. Deco has 0.5 kilos of cocaine. If he sells an 8 ball to Vinno for 300 Euro
and 90 grams to Tomo for 90 Euro a gram,what is the street value of the rest of
2. Anto pimps 3 brassers. If the price is 40 Euro a royde, how many roydes
per day must each brasser perform to support Vinno's 500 Euro a day crack habit?
3. Whacker wants to cut the kilo of cocaine he bought for 7,000 Euro, to make
a 20% profit. How many grams of strychnine will he need?
4. Christy got 6 years for murder. He also got 350,000 for the hit. If his
common law wife spends 33,100 per month, how much money will be left when he
gets out of the 'Joy?
Extra Credit Bonus: How much more time will Christy get for killing the
slapper that spent his money?
5. If an average can of spray paint covers 22 square metres and the average
letter is 1 square metre, how many letters can be sprayed with an eight fluid
ounce can of spray paint with 20% extra paint free?
6. Liamo steals Eamo's skateboard. As Liamo skates away at a speed of 35 mph,
Eamo loads his brother's gun. If it takes Eamo 20 seconds to load the gun, how
far will Liamo have travelled when he gets whacked?
SOUTH SIDE LEAVING CERT
MATHS TEST FOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
IN THE SOUTHSIDE OF DUBLIN
(if longer, please continue on a separate sheet)
1. Julian smashes up the old man's car, causing x amount of damage and
killing three people. The old man asks his local TD to intervene in the court
system, then forges his insurance claim and receives a payment of y. The
difference between x and y is three times the life insurance settlement for the
three dead people. What kind of car is Julian driving now?
2. Chloe's personal shopper decides to substitute generic and own-brand
products for the designer goods favoured by her employer. In the course of a
month she saves the price of a return ticket to Fiji and Chloe doesn't even
notice the difference. Is she thick or what?
3. Rolly fancies the arse off a certain number of tarts, but he only has
enough Rohypnol left to render 33.3% unconscious. If he has 14 Rohypnol, how is
he ever going to shag the other two-thirds?
4. If Savannah throws up four times a day for a week she can fit a size 8
Versace. If she only throws up three times a day for two weeks, she has to make
do with a size 10 Dolce et Gabbano. How much does liposuction cost?
5. Alexander is unsure about his sexuality. Three days a week he fancies
women. On the other days he fancies men, ducks and vacuum cleaners. However he
only has access to the Hoover every third week. When does his Sunday Independent
COUNTRY LEAVING CERT
MATHS TEST FOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Name: Paddy/Mary _________________________
1. If Paddy Joe Murphy drove a Massey Ferguson through PaddyJohn's turnip
crop at 10miles an hour. What colour was Paddy John's tractor?
2. If John Joe likes Mary and Mary likes Paddy, how much is a pint of stout
in O'Brien's at the crossroads?
3. Paddy Joe Mahoney has 25 sheep, 10 cows, 12 hens, a cockerel and 6 geese.
John Joe has 12 sheep, 18 cows and 12 pigs. How much does Paddy Joe offer to
John Joe for a dowry for Mary?
4. If it takes Sarah Jane 40 minutes to cycle 12 miles to O'Brien's on the
crossroads for the ceilidh and it takes Mary Murphy 40 minutes to walk 2 miles
to O'Brien's, which girl will end up in John Joe's hay barn?
5. If Paddy Joe's prize hen can lay 4 eggs every morning and his other hens
can lay only two each the odd morning, which one will he have for Sunday dinner?
Yerra! Whoever wrote this knew first-hand what he (possibly she) was doing. This harks back to the ill-printed circulars and pamphlets handed out in the same old familiar streets 2-300 years ago on pain of Transportation. Cantankerous wicked people, they keep coming along, God Bless 'em entirely! Siochán leat.
Posted by dedalus at 10:10 PM