I often wonder if people’s names inspire them to take up particular occupations and interests. A lead expert here in Ireland on birds is called Hatch; a porter I knew was called Carri; a barrister called Law.
Have you any insights?
I love music and dancing but am desperately poor at both, unless I am alone in the kitchen. I was told to mime in the school choir during a big exam, lest I cause us to lose marks and was booted out of a beginners dance class on night one because I was not up to scratch.
So, I have tended to be the spectator when it comes to these activities and was fortunate enough to be in a class in school that had lots of good singers, dancers and musicians.
About seven of them formed a singing group and they were the people who really taught me about harmony.
We’re talking early 1979’s so songs like John Denver’s Leaving on a Jet Plane and Yesterday Once More by the Carpenters were on the list.
The group did very well in various competitions so we used to have rehearsals and post-win celebrations in class time.
Those were precious moments that brought us all together as the group loved to have backing singers, even me!
I’m still catapulted back to our final year in secondary school that was based in a small room away from the hustle and bustle of the main building when I hear even a hint of those songs. The teachers never took much persuading to let the singing begin and the guitars tune up.
I think we all realised that these were memories in the making.
There’s a support centre in Waterford City for people impacted by cancer. It’s called The Solas Centre, and they have an annual fundraising Run/Walk for Life every October.
My first foray in the event was in 2009 a few months after my mother died and I walked the 13 miles slowly but got there in the end and felt extremely emotional at the finish, as my father was at home bursting to know how it had gone. He had always been my walking mentor as a kid.
Anyway, this year it is virtual and spread over the weekend. I am bet from walking but picked some of my very favourite places to take on the challenge.
Cancer came knocking on our family door a few years back and really put the frighteners on us. I must have thought of phoning or dropping in to The Solas Centre a thousand times but never did. Just knowing I could meant the world.
Knowing there is a listening ear, empathy, advice, support is so, so important and knowing that it is just a heartbeat away is wonderful, no matter how bad a situation is.
The virtual event is great because I am meeting fellow participants decked out in our orange T-shirts in the most unlikely places.
Today, it’s about waiting for the tide to ebb so I can do my last lap for one of Waterford’s greatest treasures.
Irish eyes are smiling more than ever at the moment as we are learning to live with masks and face coverings.
Eyes can say so much. They undoubtedly are windows to the heart.
More than ever, we need to work at the coming together of gentle gazes, filled with empathy and kindness. Also, the gaze needs to be a collective one in which we all look at what we can do as individuals, families, communities, counties, countries … to help reduce the conditions in which Covid spreads and also the extent to which lives and livelihoods are impacted.
If ever there was a time when each individual’s every action counts, this is it.
Let us look together towards the horizon of hope.
If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way.Seamus Heaney
I have a big issue with the suggestion that people who survive serious diseases or illnesses like cancer or Covid 19 are somehow better fighters than those who die.
That way of thinking suggests that the people who die are lesser beings in terms of their will to live.
All this hurts me deeply because some of the strongest, most life-embracing people I have ever known have been swept away by killer diseases. They did all the right things but they were up against the impossible.
Yes, it’s great if people survive but it’s crucial to remember that there is a huge amount of luck involved as well as other things like genes and access to health care.
We need to be extremely careful lest we intentionally or unintentionally cast those who die as ‘losers.’
In my experience, it is we who are the ‘losers’ as those who stand no chance may well be people with hearts of gold and oceans of talent, vision and creativity.
I suspect I am not alone in having latched onto a particular meal choice during the pandemic. It seems to offer certainty and comfort both in its preparation and eating.
It’s a Fish Dish – which consists of a mixture of poached salmon and hake with bay leaves; mashed potato; sweet potato, spinach, tomato, mushroom, garlic, red onion and herbs from the garden.
The mixture goes into one of my late mother’s best bowls and gets about 20 minutes to brown in the oven.
We are a house of vegan, vegetarian and non-fish loving carnivore so I am the only person eating the fish dish.
I’m surprised I haven’t tired of it yet but I am beginning to realise that it is about a lot more than food.
It is definitely about nostalgia, craving to smooth the ongoing jolts and wanting to eat home-cooked healthy food.
Have you found yourself returning over and over to the same food since the pandemic struck?
It was 2am our time in Ireland and I woke with a jolt as if there was an alarm clock going off.
The Trump v Biden debate was just starting and all these miles away I listened to the whole thing on BBC radio. So it was a bit of a triangle Ireland, UK and US.
It certainly kept me awake but then I am a political animal. Not seeing them, just hearing their points and interjections was an interesting way to do it but maybe the body language would have told me a lot more.
There was no commentary like you’d get with a boxing match on radio so I had no idea if blows were hitting home or one or other was clinging on to the ropes for a breather.
What struck me most was Biden’s slow delivery compared to Trump’s faster speech.
Also, in the dead of night miles away, I couldn’t but wonder about the fact that these are two men who in other spheres would be written off as old and vulnerable and candidates for cocooning.
Sleep resumed as soon as the debate ended.
I have no idea why the red bicycle light that Dad gave me when I was about eleven came blazing into my mind today.
It was a gadget and a half because it was a radio as well as a light. I thought I was in heaven cycling along listening to pop music – the likes of The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Diamond….
The light/radio was an under the blankets job as well and it served up Radio Luxembourg when I should have been fast asleep.
I could read books by the torchlight or my favourite magazines, Tennis World and Jackie, while listening to the music.
I wonder if Dad knew that he had given me a perfect way to disobey the bedtime rules.
That light may have allowed me to be seen but it let me see far, far more than I ever imagined anything could when he casually handed it to me one Autumn day.