The Familial Paraclete

Posted on: September 1st, 2012 by robert No Comments


"Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily."  Francois de La Rouchefoucauld

"Why should dog, a horse, a rat have life, And thou no breath at all?"   King Lear, Shakespeare

My grandmother spent her final years frequently succumbing to sudden emotional displays which involved great big heaving sobs. This was after a lifetime proudly claiming she was unable and even incapable of crying. Often she'd express tremendous envy at people on television who could easily yield to tears. The reason for such unexpected lachrymose moments towards the end remained a mystery to us since they represented just another uncharacteristic trait which developed after a stroke robbed her of her mental faculties – including the ability to communicate. Coherence had completely left her. What remained was a jumble of words and immense frustration, which we all abjectly felt but were unable to remedy.

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The Peripatetic Travails of Young Werther

Posted on: May 1st, 2012 by robert No Comments


I'd always wanted to visit Dungeness – a part of the world I'd first heard of through the work of film-maker Derek Jarman. I once made a half-arsed attempt at completing his diaries but failed. The book was lent from the library and, from what I recall, was long overdue. But it was returned, because on retrospect, navigating toward the final excoriating detail of his demise from AIDS was too much for even me. I didn't care much for his films, notable for their avant-garde pretensions and ostentation, but in his journals, the elegiac and often searing accounts of his final years, tending to his exquisite garden in Dungeness while contemplating mortality, left such a curious impact that I decided when chance allows, I must visit.

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The Victor and the Vanquished

Posted on: April 11th, 2012 by robert No Comments


"The most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."  Baron Pierre De Coubertin

Dearest V

I've snatched an idle moment in the office to write and say how sorry I am that things didn't work out with you and you know who. I once read, though don't recall the source, something resonant, and you may agree about now: Sometimes you are forced to defend your feelings. Sometimes you're forced to look at relationships that aren't positive anymore. There are times when you have to make peace with the fact that you are at war. Sometimes you have to accept that you're with someone that doesn't want love to conquer all.... Read More

Madder Voices

Posted on: March 12th, 2012 by robert No Comments


Britain's most senior Catholic, Cardinal Keith O’Brien has labelled the government's proposal to legalise gay marriage as "grotesque and madness".... Read More

A Convenient Fiction

Posted on: February 14th, 2012 by robert No Comments


“He who does not bring to the study of religion a sort of religious sentiment cannot speak about it. He is like a blind man trying to talk about colour.” Emil Durkheim

“Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact it falls in with our instinctual desires.” Freud

The wild-eyed black woman, dressed in her Sunday best of twin set and pearls, gripped mercilessly onto the hand bars of the bus as though she was clutching on for life over a trap door into the fiery flames of hell.... Read More

The Redundant Man

Posted on: December 15th, 2011 by robert No Comments


It's typical that the week temperatures plummet to arctic lows is the one in which I leave my winter hat on the train. I realised the moment I stepped onto the platform, even seeing it through the window sat forlornly on the row of empty seats. Momentarily struck with indecision, in the end I let the doors close fearing that rushing back on to retrieve it could leave me marooned in Kings Cross. And who wants to end up there on a wintery Monday morning? I was already late for work and didn't fancy negotiating my way back to Fleet Street.... Read More

RIP Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011

Posted on: December 15th, 2011 by robert No Comments


"I suppose I should close now because I've said all I wanted to say for myself... In the meantime we have the same job we always had, to say, as thinking people and as humans, that there are no final solutions, there is no absolute truth, there is no supreme leader, there is no totalitarian solution that says that if you will just give up your freedom of inquiry, if you would just give up, if you will simply abandon your critical faculties, a world of idiotic bliss can be yours. We have to begin by repudiating all such claims - grand rabbis, chief ayatollahs, infallible popes, the peddlers of mutant quasi-political worship, the dear leader, great leader, we have no need of any of this. And looking at them and their record I realise it is they who are the grand imposters, and my own imposture (has been) mild by comparison."


In London, the spring hadn't advanced in the way it had in Sligo, as indicated by clusters of daffodils and snow drops, gathered on the grassy banks beside the road to Lisadell House. It was odd really given that from Knock, the countryside was still covered with a blanket of frost, and the trees and fields shimmered in silver which created a remarkable Winter wonderland, seen through gaps in the steamed-up car windows.... Read More

From Tenby With Tux…

Posted on: July 20th, 2009 by robert No Comments


In 1830, the 11 year old Princess Victoria opened the Royal Victoria Park in Bath. The legend goes that the following day a newspaper reported on the event and remarked upon the soon to be Queen's 'dowdy' appearance and ‘thickness of ankle.’ So incensed she was by the comments that she vowed never to return to the city ever again. It was a promise she kept managing to shun the city for the duration of her reign. Even when travelling through on the Royal train in later years, she'd order courtiers to pull down the blinds in every carriage to avoid setting eyes on the place.... Read More

La Viva Eivissa

Posted on: June 29th, 2009 by robert No Comments


My Darling V,

Well hang on to your safety belts cos this one's going to rock you baby!

Doesn't it seem like only yesterday we were in Treptower Park in Berlin, playing that game of rummy through the billows of barbecue smoke. I can't recall who won since the time was occupied ogling the teutonic minions in our midst. I'm rotten at staying in touch, and your silence is I suppose my penance. But since I must have pen in hand at least once on holiday to stave off boredom, I'm writing you this from the sunny Isle of Ibiza. La Viva Eivissa!... Read More