Ask me why I’m voting Yes

Ask me why I’m voting Yes.

For all our friends in crisis.

For all the nurses, midwives and doctors I know who have to carry a copy of the Constitution when caring for my pregnant friends.

For the shade in legislation, not the black and white of the Constitution.

For all the parents who have to make decisions they’d rather not make.

For all the women I know who travelled to another country for their medical care, and never said a word.

For any woman who has ever felt trapped in her own body.

For all the taxi bus and train drivers, ferry workers and pilots who brought our sisters abroad for care they should get at home.

For shame to go away.

For Ireland to face its self.

For the bereaved.

For the anonymous.

For empathy.

For the truth.

For the raped.

For the women who can’t share their stories, who can’t voice their pain.

For anyone who can change their mind when faced with the reality of the 8th.

For my wife and daughters.

For listening to women.

For Savita.

For Ann.

For repeal.

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Reads of the Week #83

It has been a long week, mainly because I entered my late 40s and haven’t been able to shake the cold I had last week. Added to that, I haven’t read as much I usually do. But, as in previous posts from weeks when I fell behind, the things I did get to read and share are pretty special.

First is a piece by by Isabel Hayes which is marked by her honesty, openness and heartbreaking experience of miscarriage and ivf. A compelling read.

Next, given the Winter Olympics have dominated life in this house for past two weeks, here’s a piece by David Segal on a broken ski pole that entered Norwegian folklore.

Third on the list this week is another piece by Michael Harding, which almost defies description beyond saying it’s a perfect slice of rural Irish life.

This next choice is the latest short piece from Katie Coyle, who is another regular contributor to my weekly lists. What I like about this piece is it is as much about how to send your daughters out into the world as about anything else.

Couldn’t chose between two podcasts this week , so here’s both: What’s the Deal With Eleven? In which John McWhorter explains the etymology and pronunciation of English numbers. What I love about this series isn’t just the nerdy joy of how John expands on his theme, but the detail that goes into constructing forty minutes of aural joy. Secondly, here’s Melvyn Bragg and guests discussing the Dreyfus Affair, the 1890s scandal which divided opinion in France for a generation and gave me some of the most interesting History classes down through the years. The joy of explaining how France repeatedly tried to tear itself apart between 1870 and 1914, and yet survived was something I always looked forward to. Another In Our Time podcast.

And finally the image this week is ‘The Tenth Hour (XVII)’ by Bharti Kher, which I found here.

Reads of the Week #82

After a week off, I had so much to chose from since #81. I don’t know what the choice each week says about me or my current state but this week I picked a piece on the misuse of History, on a movie from the  1960s about an uncertain future, one about a war that might or might not be over, a piece on a horror movie based on a classic novel by an Irishman, another the New York subway in all it’s crumbling glory, something lovely about a father, something deep about Shakespeare and a black flower.

Gary Younge on how History is stolen, distorted and resold to us.

Bruce Handy goes into fantastic detail on the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey (note colon).

Liam Stack on the ‘Forgotten’ Conflict That Shaped the Modern World, the Korean War.

From Come Here to Me Dublin, Florence Balcombe, widow of Bram Stoker, and the war for Nosferatu.

On the In Our Time podcast, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Shakespeare’s best known, most quoted and longest play, Hamlet. Did it for my Leaving (first time) and taught it with relish so many times.

And the cover image is Black Pansy (detail), from Georgia O’Keeffe, from 1926 I found through #WOMENSART.

Reads of the Week #72

The weeks fly by and with them the reading becomes more specialised, more focussed. Whether it’s a president or a teacher, a dying man or a lottery winner, the time of year tells us things are silently taking shape beneath the surface, and we have to make do with what we can.

We’re lucky to have a President who is so versed and interested in History, this speech from his recent visit to Australia on the Famine and the scattering of the Irish is powerful.

This piece by Matt Bencke broke my heart.

Here, John Thomsett sets out how schools should approach professional development: it’s a primer for those of us in this area of education and for school leaders too.

Podcast of the week is 99% Invisible‘s account of how El Gordo, the lottery in Spain, is both a thing of beauty and a strange ritual.

And the cover image this week is from Jo. I found it here.

Have a great week everyone.

Reads of the Week #69

Some very affecting stuff this week, much to ponder in this selection on grief and talking, on silence and growing up, as well as being a grateful parent and human being. There’s a podcast on one of the great songs that can be bent and shaped into a musical standard and a jazz classic, and the photo is proof of the beauty of our little part of the world.

Malachy Clerkin, stepping away from sport, his usual patch, here, writes about the ache left behind when a loved one dies and how that gap is always there, it just takes the most unexpected trigger to remind you.

Also stepping away from sport, though into his other field, Richie Sadlier wrote here about seeking and benefiting from therapy in troubled times. It isn’t something he was comfortable telling people about at the time, but ultimately talking helps, whether we seek professional help or a friendly ear elsewhere.

I constantly refer back to Maria Popova’s Brainpickings selections, a source of regular brainfood. This essay is on Paul Goodman, who I’m only discovering after reading this piece and the Nine Kinds of Silence he identified. It fits well with the previous selections. I’m trying the fertile silence of awareness at the moment!

In the middle of a blogpost called Why children do not care about being successful adults, Ben Newmark wrote a sentence that had me punching the air.

My school life was miserable and I would have done anything to be happier. The idea that by working hard I was more likely to be a successful adult one day, and should take comfort from this abstract idea, was inconceivable to me because my world was all-encompassing and the idea of ‘growing up’ had very little meaning.

This was me too. And I resolved very early in my teaching career that I would never forget what it was like to be a teenager. Great read
https://buff.ly/2lsccO9

And finally, an old(?!) friend of the Reads of the Week returns: Heidi Stevens turned 43 this month and wrote about what she really wants from her kids for her birthday. It’s rare enough that I read something and pass it straight to my wife on the couch for her to read, but I did with this.

Podcast of the week is from BBC Radio 4’s series Soul Music again. This edition is on My Favourite Things and it trips from Julie Andrews and the Sound of Music to John Coltrane in short but brilliant music odyssey. Every episode is worth a listen.

And this weeks image of a place I know well. Every Saturday morning I take my kids swimming giving me the hour off to go for a run. One of the routes I take regularly brings along the river Suir at the end of Bulmers Orchard where Jonathan Ryan took this photograph of the apples dislodged from trees after Hurricane Ophelia blew by a fortnight ago. We’re lucky to live in a place so beautiful.

 

 

Reads of the Week #65

This is a short list. A few things blew me away this week, and a theme emerged, unknown to me. This writing sent me back to Robert Frost, which is never a bad thing, and a poem we’ve read with in class many, many times: Out, Out-.

And they, for they were not the ones dead, turned to their affairs. 

That line has provided content for many an English class, some students see it as a sign of the heartless, disconnected Frost, others see it as representative of a way of life, rural New England, where, like many an Irish farm or house, death is acknowledged and life goes on, as best as it can. I’m revealing my hand here, but I tend towards the latter. The writing below confirms for me that we all deal with life and death differently, but writing, or talking about it, surely help. Read and listen well till next week.

 

The Jupiter Epiphany by Michael Coady, appeared in last weekend’s Irish Times. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Michael on occasion, I taught his daughter even, he is a poet from and of Carrick-on-Suir. I’ve spent over two decades working in Carrick and Michael’s poetry sat on my shelf more many of those years. This poem, both a celebration of a life and of a description of an Irish funeral is rooted in his place, it is perfect. I read it aloud to my wife and eldest daughter when I found it, I do’t do that often.

 

Sinead Gleeson (who if you haven’t read, you should start with this) also made me stop in my tracks with this piece, Second Mother, on her Aunt Terry, which manages to be moving and joyous while lamenting the death of one so loved. Take a break after you read this, and let it sink in.

 

Two podcasts for you.

First from Radiolab, the amazing, and again heartbreaking story of Oliver, or Billy Sipple who saved Gerald Ford’s life and became a media curiosity. As a former Marine, there was interest in him, but as a gay man, a circus was created and gradually his life fell apart. A sobering view of the media and the marginalised.

 

Secondly from Sam Loy, an interview with his grandmother about his grandfather. Sounds simple, but, again, in the simple things lies not only truth, but heartbreak. I can’t say more, but it too is perfect.

 

I think the title of this Edvard Munch is a bit OTT but I still love it. I got it here.

Reads of the Week #53

This week, the week the State Exams finished for 2017, also marked the finishing of my school work. I manage the Book Rental Scheme in our school and that means waiting until late June to stock take and look at the order for next year. It’s an opportunity for listening to radio while I work and for finding reading material that distract me from textbooks. 
Earlier in the week I read a piece by Michael O’Loughlin to mark Bloomsday in the Irish Times on James Joyce as a European. I liked this line in particular ‘There are few other nations whose foundation myth is based on the notion that we’re not actually from around here.’



Last week Fintan O’Toole won the Orwell Prize for his coverage of Brexit and in this article for the New York Times, he deftly puts British turmoil in an Irish context: perhaps some of us in Ireland can be allowed a moment of schadenfreude as we look across the sea and ask… the question the English so often asked about us: Are the English fit for self-government?



For Fathers Day, Esquire published this moving piece by Tyler Coates on his father’s voice which is moving and real: The last remaining evidence of my father’s voice, the final thing that roots him and his existence in my brain, will eventually cease to exist–just like VHS tapes, and the accent he spoke with, and my memories of him, too.



To my friends’ baby girl: I hope you grow up to be Wonder Woman by Heidi Stevens is essential reading for anyone with a daughter. [You were born] the same week a female superhero (finally!) started kicking butt at the box office… a signal of our fondest hope for you: that you grow up knowing you can choose your own path and fight your own battles and change the world.



Here, Pasi Sahlberg reckons we should be concentrating on ‘small data’ to improve education, ‘small data’ emerges from the notion that in a world that is increasingly governed by binary digits and cold statistics, we need information that helps us to understand better those aspects of teaching and learning that are invisible or not easily measurable. 



Organising Teaching: Developing the Power of the Profession from Howard Stevenson and Nina Bascia has seven challenges for teacher unions to reorganise and it is essential reading for teacher trade unionists. 

Podcast of the week is the conversation between Tom Sleigh and Paul Muldoon about Seamus Heaney’s In the Attic and Tom Sleigh’s own The Fox On the New Yorker Poetry Podcast, which, mainly due to Paul Muldoon’s knowledge and geniality is a always a treat. 

And finally, this weeks picture of the week is of  Ballinaboy, County Galway, Ireland, 1965 by Edwin Smith which I found on twitter from Anne Mortier. Beautiful landscape, ominous skies, homestead in between, the perfect vision of Ireland.