Read of the Week #88

From the week just gone, two topics have dominated my reading: politics in Britain, the Windrush scandal which intersects with Brexit so clearly for me, and the Referendum on May 25th on the removal/retention of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution. Two reads each on those two dominate my choices there, I’m making no excuses for nailing my colours to the mast (both Brexit and the 8th Amendment were/are poor outcomes of public discourse). I’ve broken this post up with some humour and History, when political dust settles we should always have time to laugh and understand our History.

I’ve included the work of Donald McRae here before, and this piece from the Guardian combines several of my passions. An interview with Jürgen Klopp is always welcome reading for a Liverpool fan, but here Donald directs him into talking about Brexit, German politics and much else as only an expert journalist can. And this was before last week’s classic against Roma!

Taking that discussion a step further I was glad to find Kimiko de Freytas ‘harped my fear aright’ in this piece on the Windrush Scandal. The way the British government has treated it’s own citizens from the Commonwealth (or Empire as some would prefer it, I think) in an effort to scapegoat all immigrants does not augur well for the post-Brexit Britain.

Now for a moment of light relief. I’ve often turned to Patrick Freyne to make me laugh out loud in a room all by myself (the gold standard of excellent humour writing). Here he’s describing Francis Brennan, tv personality, though none of us really know know how or why, even Francis himself I think.

I’m picking two of the clearest pieces I’ve read on the Referendum. Both moved me to tears, both have I believe the ring of truth that comes from a position of authority. Chris Fitzpatrick is an obstetrician and gynaecologist, former Master of the Coombe and a university Professor. He warns of the danger of oversimplifying this so complicated issue, and urges the reader to think of the woman in the emergency room and the woman on her way to London. The second is by Caroline McCarthy who makes the clear case that providing the opportunity to chose is the best thing a Republic can do for its citizens. I’m voting Yes for the reason both Chris and Caroline so clearly outline. I’m voting Yes, decisions about so complex and at the same time human issues do not belong in as unyielding a document as a Constitution, but in laws set by our parliament.

Podcast of the Week sends us back to In Ireland in the revolutionary period. This History Ireland discussion on cinema as the newest mass media of the time is fascinating.

Finally, this potrait of Dora Maar by Pablo Picasso is the image of the week. I found it here.

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Reads of the Week #87

Seven more things to read, hear and see this week, some longer reads too, giving a chance to think and consider as we go.

Tim Don, Ironman and extraordinary human being, knocked from his bike in October 2017, crushing two C2 vertebrae vowed to run a 2:50 in the Boston Marathon on Monday. Some story from Lindsay Crouse.

He did it in 2:49 by the way

 

This is tough to read at times: Andras Forgach, Hungarian novelist found out his mother had been a communist informant who tried even to use their relationship to her spymasters’ advantage. Tim Adams on the echos of history in our world.

John McPhee on bears. That’s all you need to know.

When we look at the Windrush Scandal and the treatment of immigrants in Britain we can draw a direct line to Brexit. Again, history and the future linked, this time by Tanja Bueltmann.

 

This is something to give us hope: Carl O’Brien on Jialimey Vuong who wants to address the lack of diversity in teaching, by becoming a teacher.

 

Podcast of the Week is an interview with Declan Kiberd on Today with Sean O’Rourke. Just to hear the familiar voice of one of my most influential and engaging teachers is a treat.

This week’s image is from Danish artist Peder Severin Krøyer (1851-1909). “Fishermen coming home”. I found it here.

Reads of the Week #86

 

It’s been a while. Easter and a family trip to London have taken my Sundays for a few weeks, but here we are again, collecting, curating, reading, sharing.

I’ve gone back a month or so to find this selection, and one thing is clear: I read a lot of amazing writing, I had over forty pieces to narrow down to a manageable list. I decided in the end to include writing that stayed with me over the weeks, that was of course high quality but also affecting. Hope you like them…

 

Next some poetry, since I changed jobs, I’ve had to make more of an effort to seek out verse and these poems by Fiona King about her son Adam really stayed with me. To be able to express the emotion in a family’s life in poetry is something rare.

A frequent visitor to this blog, this is Michael Harding writing about finding a voice as a young man, among other things of course.

Another writer who I revisit often is Anthony Wilson, usually for his poetry, but this piece On Being Chipper is so rewarding on depression and finding a place for talk in the dark.

For a complete change of pace and subject this piece by Matt Ufford who was sent to Iraq in 2003, writes about rolling into Baghdad on a wave of euphoria, but after all this time that war is still going on.

The death of Ann Lovett aged 15 after giving birth at a grotto in Granard, Co Longford in 1984 has always haunted me. There were only two years between us in age and I remember the topic being whispered about in the Ireland we had then. In this, the month she would have turned 50, Rosita Boland returns to Ann’s life with skilful writing that shows how far we may have come 34 years on.

This essay on Henry Worsley, the polar explorer, written by David Grann will take an investment of your time, but it will be very worth it. It reaches a devastating conclusion with powerful storytelling. The White Darkness.

John O’Brien writes here of the sadness of being an emigrant when someone ‘The death notice won’t say “surrounded by loving family”. I wasn’t fast enough’ (John O’Brien)
https://buff.ly/2IDeMHQ

 

Time for some light relief. I’ve just discovered Tony Naylor‘s monthly column on How to eat and the most recent about lasagne made me laugh out loud, several times while sitting on the couch alone. Good sign.

Two podcasts stand out over the last few weeks. If you haven’t subscribed to Second Captains yet, you should, this podcast was made free after it struck such a huge chord. It’s an amazing coversation with Sinead O’Carroll and Richie Sadlier about consent, sexual health and education in the wake of the recent high profile Belfast trial on two rugby players. Also, it’s the tip of the iceberg, there is so much more than sport in this podcast, not a week goes by that I don’t learn something about something I hadn’t even thought about before.

The second podcast is an interview that shines a light on a too often ignored part of the Peace Process, that is the role of Northern Irish women. This interview by Lyse Doucet with Monica McWilliams is heartening, enlightening and frustrating in equal measure. Monica is amazing by the way. Another important listen.

This week’s image is Beautiful Women at a Yashiki – Designed by Chobunsai Eishi which is at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, which, by the way, is a beautiful museum well worth a visit. I found it here.

Reads of the Week #85

What does another eclectic mix of reading say about the reader? Magpie? Scattergun? unfocused? Whatever the answer, it works for me. The list of things I’ll read is endless, this week there’s music, poetry, sport, reading, fascism, women’s suffrage and Iran art. Magpie alright.

Here’s Thom Hickey on Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly. Every time I hear this album it transports me back to my first car, a red 83 VW Golf. Different days.

This is Christine Murray‘s Starlings. It made want to read more poetry as much I did in my 20s. So I did (more of that next week).

Next is Sonia O’Sullivan reminding me of the 80s, running was I wanted to do then, same for Sonia but she was better at it than any of us. How far athletics, and women’s athletics in particular have come since.

Next is a great project any English teacher, anywhere, not just here in Ireland should devour: the Bold Girls project from Children’s Books Ireland. Some great ideas for reading for and reading with young women.

We’re All Fascists Now by Bari Weiss is such a rewarding read because it is a challenge, no matter where you start from. I love reading things that make me think again on what I thought I understood. Most of the choices this week it turns out are about being transported back to who I was, this one is about who I am now, always open to a challenge.

Podcast of the week is the return of The History Show from RTE on the history of the women’s suffrage movement in Ireland. I loved it, it is what public service broadcasting is for.

And finally the image this week is The Lady Khorshid (1843) by Sani ol Molk. I found it here.

Reads of the Week #84

This week I write to you from Dunmanway, Co. Cork. Being on the road has become part of my life now, seven months into my new job. The places we visit are as different from each other as is possible, but they have in common a desire to do their best for the teachers and learners that walk their halls every day. And (tortured segue alert) this group of articles I read, often in a snowbound Clonmel, are equally eclectic, and just as united in their ability to draw my interest.

First Mark Hilliard writes of the cruel life an unnecessary deaths in a Cavan orphanage 75 years ago. A welcome reminder of what our country used to be like.

Michael O’Loughlin provides us with a timely reminder of how the echo of the Holocaust is still to be found across Europe, as above perhaps the past isn’t as far away as we might like to think.

Sabrina Gasparrini reminds us here that the price of resisting the worst of the past is constantly keeping in mind the mistakes made before. What will Italy do next?

Now this piece by Joshua Rothman spoke to me, as a person who often stood at a perfectly functioning, expensive piece of technology which drove me around the bend when it broke down. Paper jams. Printers. Photocopiers. Read on.

Every teacher knows that feeling when the printer jams, well, it’s someones job to think about that jam, and try to eliminate it. This piece by @joshuarothman is a great read

For a little light distraction into the perfect and hillarious, here’s Larry David: No Way to Say Goodbye.

Podcast of the Week is a Moving Pictures episode from BBC World Service. Cathy Fitzgerald makes some beautiful radio, this piece on Men of the Docks by George Bellows is a perfect example. And Google Arts and Culture have provide a zoomable version of the painting.

Image of the Week is from Danish artist Peder Mørk Mønsted (1851-1941) which I found here. For the weather we’ve had.

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.