Sourdough and a Short Séamus Heaney Film

I made my first 100% rye sourdough loaf yesterday, and it turned out pretty well. The recipe is from a YouTube video I saw by Patrick Ryan of Firehouse Bakery.

It was the stickiest, messiest dough I have ever worked with, however. Next time I will need to be psychologically prepared and suitably worked up because it is a bit of a battle.

Here are some pics of the finished loaf:

Digging, by Séamus Heaney

I made this short video using one of my favourite poems by Séamus Heaney. What do you think?

Whether I am reading or writing or baking bread or making a video, I need to be doing something. That’s the type of person I am and the notion of sitting around doing nothing on a bank holiday weekend, or any weekend for that matter, is a kind of hell for me.

There’s nothing wrong with it, I guess, and we all need to wind down. But there is more than one way of winding down or taking time out and I like to spend my time doing something.

Because I like to be able to say, ‘I made this’.

Words Meaning More Than Their Ordinary Meaning

I was watching the championship hurling match between Kilkenny and Cork a few weeks ago and the true meaning of words and language hit me.

The game was on RTE and, if my memory is accurate, the hurling pundits were Henry Shefflin, Anthony Daly, and Ken McGrath from Waterford. McGrath was a great hurler, one of the best ever never to have won an All-Ireland medal, played for Waterford for at least a decade, and won 3 All Star awards.

What McGrath had to say after the match was won by Kilkenny sent a shiver down my spine.

Kilkenny were not fancied to beat Cork. Cork were knocking on the door to win an All-Ireland for the last few years and many people had a quiet fancy for them to win it this year. Kilkenny, on the other hand, were seen to be in transition and Brian Cody was trying to build a new team that would get them back to the top of the hurling pile.

Kilkenny played well in the first half, but the game was in the balance and it was still all to play for at half time.

But the young Kilkenny team came out in the second half, played with real steel and skill and won easily in the end.

Anyone who loves the GAA and hurling in particular look forward to the banter in the studio between the experts, the hurlers who in the recent past strode the hurling pitch like giants until time came calling.

When Ken McGrath was asked for his comment, he said something like,

‘I grew up in Waterford city and was envious of our neighbours up the road (referring to Kilkenny) but today’, he said with his eyes lit up and bulging and shaking his head in awe, ‘these are men. Real men.’

Ken McGrath, ex Waterford hurler

Only a hurling man truly understood how big a compliment this was.

Only a GAA man recognised the real value of what McGrath had said, and knew what McGrath meant, and knew the picture he painted was far larger than the sum of the 5 words he had uttered about the Kilkenny hurlers.

A hurling or GAA fan, steeped in the legend of the games and the hero worship of his own personal heroes down through the years, knew exactly what Ken McGrath was talking about.

No further analysis was needed.

Besmirching the Tricolour

Something I’ve noticed lately on certain social media sites, such as Twitter and YouTube, is the use of the Irish tricolour in the profiles of certain individuals who hold views ranging from xenophobia to racism.

These keyboard warriors, most of whom hide behind a fake name, feel free to spout hateful bile about the State, immigrants, and people with whom they disagree from the safety and comfort that a fake profile on YouTube or Twitter can offer.

The tricolour is supposed to symbolise a coming together of two traditions on this island: Catholic and Protestant. It is supposed to stand for peace and inclusion, not putting up barriers and the creation of division between Irish people and non Irish.

The backward looking fools who wrap themselves in the tricolour under these circumstances besmirch it.

In the recent past we used to sneer at the Brit who wore Union Jack shorts on his Spanish holidays.

Now we have his Irish, digital counterpart poncing around on Twitter and Facebook with hateful antediluvian, neanderthal comments about Longford being overrun with immigrants or becoming like Birmingham.

2 Bank Holiday Weekends, 2 Banners-Just Politics?

I’ts an easy one to make.

The connection between the simplistic thinking demonstrated by Mary Lou McDonald’s carrying of a banner “England get out of Ireland” in New York on St. Patrick’s Day and the crude, one-dimensional thinking which led to riots in Derry at Easter culminating in the death of Lyra McKee is discernible.

Yet that connection did not prevent Mary Lou from holding up an LGBT banner in Derry when speaking about the tragic loss of the young woman’s tragic death whilst condemning the killing.

Two ‘bank holiday’ weekends, two banners.

Nothing to see here, folks, it’s just politics?

Why “Moral turpitude” Is Good

I came across a report in the newspaper this morning, a court report of a psychiatrist who had been struck off the medical register by the President of the High Court, Mr. Justice Peter Kelly. The learned Judge found that the consultant psychiatrist was guilty of professional misconduct and “moral turpitude” for being involved in a relationship with a vulnerable patient. The patient had suffered with bi-polar disorder and suffered from post-traumatic stress and was “a highly vulnerable person”.

What piqued my interest about this report, however, was the use of the phrase “moral turpitude”. It is not the type of phrase you come across in everyday social intercourse or at the water cooler or shop or factory floor of your workplace.

I love when Court decisions and comments by Judges in delivering judgment contain such phrases, though, because I have always loved words.

I have also always loved phrases and sentences and paragraphs and books and reading and literature. And all of these things start with a single word.

Words in the English language have been under assault for a while now thanks mainly, I believe, to the dumbing down of language and words by Americans. The overuse of words like “awesome” and “so” and “super” has, regrettably, spread to this side of the world and it appears to be a type of linguistic race to the bottom in an effort to reduce the English language to simple words of one or two syllables which are used in all circumstances.

For example, describing something as “super good” or “super bad”. These types of phrases are to be heard every day of the week in all types of settings and contexts and are so devoid of colour and description and vividness as to make me want to throw up.

The influence of US culture in spreading this virus of verbal diarrhoea to this part of the world has caused ordinary Joes from Tipperary and Donegal and Wexford to appear in the media spewing this nonsense.

So, regardless of what you think of the legal system in this country, regardless of how you view Judges, credit is due to for fighting the good fight in endeavouring to hold onto the English language-the full version in all its pomp and power, not the simplified, emasculated, shrunk down  version in which “super” and “awesome” reign like the plague.

Definition of turpitude

The definition of “turpitude”, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is Depraved or wicked behaviour or character.

The origin of the word is from the late 15th century: from French, or from Latin turpitudo, from turpis ‘disgraceful, base’.

3 Types of Individual That Test My Patience

I come across all types of individuals every month, some of whom exhaust my patience to varying degrees.

Firstly, there is the freeloader, the person who thinks you should be perfectly happy to review and assess their circumstances and advise whether they have a case or not. If you find they have they will pay for a consultation; if they don’t, they don’t expect to pay anything.

As for my time and expertise, this is expected to be applied freely, liberally, and gratis. When you ask them, in turn, will they pop around to my house at the weekend and mow the grass, wash my car, and paint the garage they feel to see the connection.

Secondly there is the employee who exhibits signs of paranoia. This person is in constant contact by email or phone or both to update me of the situation in her workplace, but nothing has actually happened.

Nothing, that is, save for a tsunami of new thoughts from the employee about what other people are thinking, what other people intend doing, and the future outcome of the situation or crisis, depending on your view, and the ultimate outcome which is uncannily crystal clear to the employee.

Nevertheless, she continues to update with a frequency and detail that causes a genuine concern that she is delusional and in need of help from a medical professional who is expert in the workings of the mind.

Thirdly, there is the guy who believes you were obliged to work for him for free and, even though you have won his case, the damages awarded were not of a sufficient quantum to persuade him otherwise.

I do accept, however, if I am not coming across these guys with regularity I am not coming across the gems of clients-the decent individuals who are genuinely appreciative of the efforts made on their behalf.

And I am a firm believer in the saying, “when you enlist, you may soldier”. So, I shall continue to soldier with determination and focus, having swallowed hard.

I’m Not for Everyone

If you are the man who rang four times in an hour to speak to me for “10 minutes” about whether you have a case or not, having been told you need to arrange a consultation, I’m not for you.

If you are the woman who “is nervous about paying for legal advice unless I have a case”, I’m probably not for you either.

If you have ambitions to start your own business and need advice and guidance but things are “too tight” to pay for advice, I’m not for you.

If you are the woman who rang from Idaho or Ohio with a dispute in relation to your driving licence  in your home State, I’m not for you either.

If you are the man who wants to take action about “deformation of character” as a consequence of an allegation against you in your workplace, and you are much occupied with your good name and reputation, and you want to embark on legal proceedings to restore your good name but disappear like snow off a hedge when you are advised there is a consultation fee, I’m not for you either.

I’m not for everyone.

If you are running a business, or thinking about starting one, it’s almost certain that you should not be for everyone either.

Ready for School (the saddest thing)

It was the saddest thing I heard in a long time.

The teacher asked the little lad where he was the previous day, told him the whole classed missed him. The little lad told her he was up and ready for school at the usual time but nobody else in the house got up until 11.30.

So he didn’t get to go to school.

In my daily life, at work and at home, I am surrounded by books. I make it my business to be surrounded by books and believe education is a lifelong process and attitude.

But the vision of that little lad being ready for school and nobody in the house bothering to get up before 11.30 to bring him was a sad and graphic one for me.

If nothing else it reminded me of how much we take for granted in our day to day life; being got ready and taken to school when I was a boy was never an issue and something that I thought happened to every child.

Unfortunately, even in 2019 in a wealthy, educated country such as Ireland, that’s not the case.

The Rule of Law-The Rats Fly From It

the rule of law

The Rule of Law.

I don’t suppose you think about it too much, do you? Maybe you do, but it’s probably not at the top of your priorities.

Me too; in the normal day to day struggle I am not much occupied with it.

Sometimes, though, events intrude and jar my mind, and force me to think about what life would be like without the Rule of Law.

Events like the arson attack on the hotel in Rooskey, the hotel that was to be used to accommodate asylum seekers. Or like the attack on the security guards who were securing a property that KBC bank had repossessed outside Strokestown in Roscommon.

I don’t want to go into the merits or otherwise of these events. I am happy to let the Courts do so when the time is right and I am delighted that anyone accused of an offence will be given natural justice and will only be prosecuted in accordance with the law.

But I am fearful when I think what society would be like without rules and regulations, without laws, without some boundaries by which we oganise ourselves. And by which we give rights and obligations to each other.

I think about what would be like to allow football or hurling or rugby or any other sport for that matter be played without rules. And without a referee.

The strongest, dirtiest players could do what they liked. Anything would go, no penalties, no frees, no rules.

Democracy and the rule of law may have imperfections but, for me, they are the only game in town, the only acceptable solution to organise ourselves as a society in a civilised way.

The thought that in 2019 there are still people out there who believe that violence is the best way to sort out a problem with a bank or with an opposing viewpoint as to accommodating asylum seekers causes my stomach to churn.

It nauseates me.

It sickens me that there are individuals who believe the willingness to wield a baseball bat or threaten serious harm on opponents should prevail in any dispute.

Lord Denning said many years ago when faced with the prospect that the British legal system faced an “appalling vista” if it had to accept that the Birmingham Six were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.

Yet the British legal system bit the bullet, freed the wrongfully convicted and imprisoned prisoners and in the process almost certainly strengthened the appearance and respect of the legal system.

Let me be clear: I have sympathy for anyone who borrows money from a bank and is unable to repay it. I have sympathy for anyone who is upset about asylum seekers living in a hotel in their community.

But that’s as far as it goes.

I also am happy to accept that we need rules and regulations and laws for the good of everyone in Irish society, particularly the weakest and least well off.

The Rule of Law must prevail; anything else is such an “appalling vista” as to not bear thinking about.

Words Really Do Matter (Why I Hate the Absurd Overuse of This Word)

I don’t know when exactly this particular word entered into usage in the way that it has but like all these trends  it came from the United States. And it drives me bananas.

Pass the sick bucket, please.

The word I refer to is “super”.

The use of the word “super” in describing something as “super good” or  “super easy” is an affront to the English language. And I love the English language, and its words.

I strongly believe that words matter and if something is “super good” why not say “great”?

Or if something is “super easy” why not say “simple” or “facile”?

There’s a guy on YouTube whose videos I watch but his frequent use of “super amped” to describe his feeling of excitement concerning making his video or telling his story cracks me up.

And “super sick” or “super dope” is a step too far when it comes to accepting that language and words have always evolved and changed.

Maybe I’m just old fashioned, clinging to the past and an accepted, fixed meaning for words.

And unfortunately I have noticed the irrational, absurd, inaccurate use of this word beginning to creep into everyday use in Ireland.

I am just hoping it will blow over sooner rather than later.

But I will be happy to wait in the hope that I will hear people using other  suitable words from the English dictionary.

Because there’s lots of them, and better, more accurate words.