Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Over the past two months I have felt privileged to have access to the Irish Writers'Centre, and not just because of the strength of their coffee. For the last seven Tuesday evenings I have been part of Connor Kostick's group of people who are finishing their novels. Conor has been patient but demanding; who is our intended reading audience, where is the story going, how about this character, why is he in the story. Each week the first hour was studying some aspect of novel writing as dealt with in great literature; Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, Heart of Darkness, and others.In the second hour half the group reads from work in progress and we discuss points raised. Once I got used to the Irish voices, (soft spoken and rapid) I was fascinated by the very high level of work presented. I am sorry I will not be in Dublin for the final three sessions because the stories are developing; last night I heard about a servant girl summoned home not knowing her young sister was to be married. That probably happened often in the days before universal literacy and postage. I heard the final chapter of a detective story, a clinical psychologist's report, and others read by people with madonna like faces and names like Clodagh and Nu sala and Maighred. I don't know if all this effort is because of the coming 'Novel Fair'planned for the centre on March 10th 2012, but they would all gain a high placing in any Novel Competition.
The concept of the novel fair is brilliant. A Novel Competition will close on November 11th and is designed to give 'novelists q chance to by pass the The terms and conditions of this opportunity are on the centre's website Oh how I wish I was sixty years younger and Irish by birth rather than ancestry.
As well as learning the structure of novels, I learned a great deal at Charlie Connelly's Travel Writing course, and met his wife, swapping reminiscences of the Blue Hotel in Methven.
Fridy afternoons is Ink Slingers, a group of writers who meet at the Centre under the inspiration of another angelic colleen who poses suggestions for us to write about. I am going to miss them all when I leave next week, even though I shall be with my old friends from the Poetry Kit list and of course I am looking forward to seeing them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


THE number 19A bus no longer runs, so this morning I decided to go exploring, using my bus card which permits unlimited travel. The first bus at the stop was an 88 somewhere or other via City Centre the sign said. My plan was to stay on that bus until it got back in to town. It headed North away from the Liffey and into suburbs, housing estates and new towns. First we drove through streets lined with plane trees and Victorian brick mansions; an early 'stock broker belt' semi detached villas of brick and stucco, tudor windows still sparkling but the paint work looking decidedly scruffy. Then concrete and timber 'eighties functional' stacked like boxes'; housing estates; a university village; motorways and waste ground. Then far away from anywhere a huge concrete building with I.K.E.A. painted on it.
Good, I thought, now we will turn around and go back. But we didn't. The bus joined several dozen other óut of service'buses in the Dublin Bus yards. The driver was nice about it and showed me where to catch the next bus back to the to city.

I must confess I was relieved to see the spire when it came into view.

Monday, August 29, 2011


TV channels have been showing the violence in Tripoli until yesterday when preparations for Irene became news. Before then it was riots in London. The general impression being that violence and mayhem is all that it happening worldwide.
Yesterday evening I sat under a tree in Parnell Street watching people returning from a football match. Near me, on the grass, some young folk were sharing take aways and beer. Groups of people, families, couples, friends, in yellow and green strolled towards the city centre as did similar groups in blue. A passing nine year old in yellow turned jubilant cartwheels.
"Ah Donegal was looky," called one of the young folk. The nine year old, and his family waved before getting into their estate car and driving away. The banter continued as other groups strolled past, then the group on the grass gathered their wrappings and beer cans and continued down the hill. No confrontation, no abuse. It was wonderful.
At the Writers 'Centre Fergal poured me a cup of his special coffee, guaranteed to keep Sleeping Beauty awake for a hundred years. The second floor had been transformed into a 'Poets'Pub. this being the night people came along and shared pieces of their own work. It was a very high standard indeed. First a man sharing his work in progress, a stream of consciousness in polished prose,James Joyce would have enjoyed it; then a young woman poet, followed by a balladeer who read a rant about Dyslexia from his newly published book and sang songs accompanying himself on guitar and harmonica, reminding me of Tony Chad . Another older man also played guitar but he played, as opposed to strumming a beautiful melodic tune. High point for this bracket was not the elderly New Zealander who felt completely out of her depth, but the ordinary looking, auburn haired, middle aged woman who read excerpts from her book about surviving chemotherapy, in Irish. The audience obviously understood her, they listened with that special silence which shows people are engaging with what they hear.
That was the first bracket or performers, two more brackets to come. But it was nearing ten o'çlock and although Fergal's coffee was keeping my brain spinning my physical body {especially feet in new shoes) kept nudging me and pointing to the clock.
As I tried to sleep I thought, 'Maybe this is what the world is really like? Not the bloodshed and mayhem hyped up by television, but people sharing what they are with each other.' Must have been the caffeine.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


To day I planned to use my bus card to travel randomly on Dublin Buses and see more of the city. Fate, or more the state of my internal regions decreed otherwise. Dublin certainly is a lively place, especially when one can't sleep and lives on the edge of the club belt, full of less than sober revelers hailing taxis, talking politics in incomprehensible languages, saying good night to girlfriends in the next county, and the girls shrieking responses. I finally got to sleep about five and re-surfaced at 10.30. Too late for breakfast at the hostel, so I set off to O'Brien's cafe where Laszlo and Kristina (thanks to their friend who sent me their names) filled a sesame sprinkled bagel with bacon, egg. tomato and relish, and served it with their strongest coffee. Fortified, and feeling much better I continued my walk. Harcourt Road connects Harcourt Street with Camden Street. It is now a one way double lane with double yellow lines down both sides sod there is absolutely no where to park. The the little shops that once flourished there are now boarded up or are clinging on to existence. I find that sad, because little shops are part of Dublin's appeal.This morning I walked a left handed circuit from the hostel, turned into Harcourst road and again turned left before I reached the junction at the top of Camden Street. There I found a real fruit and veg shop, and a lovely little curio (not old enough to be antiques) store with a model phrenologists head in white china, a set of Astrologer's character reading charts hand painted on vellum, and a beautiful little sextant in a case with the basic knots surrounding it. Next left turn brought me to the housing estate in Charlemont Street but I turned right this time and reached a row of pretty houses facing the grand canal.
The photograph at the top is looking down Charlemont Street from the hostel. There is one house that might be a relic of Georgian days, but is, I suspect, a 20th century copy, and the rest of the street is definitely Functional Modern. I wonder, in 200 years time will students lead a protest to prevent their demolition?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


At present I am living in one of Dublin's many hostels, I share a dormitory with three other women, a passing parade of nationalities who are all very kind to me because of my great age. There were the two French girls who have the same baptismal names as two of my grand daughters, Rosemary whose broad Irish brogue makes her harder to understand than Livia, the Brazilian girl currently in one of the top bunks.
The hostel is clean and safe but the plumbing is dire, especially the showers where one cowers in a corner and punches a button which sends a torrent of ice cold water everywhere, including the dry towel rail. Just as the water becomes bearable it all shuts off. I endure this because the staff,Brazillian, Spanish, French and Moroccan are outstanding.
BUT THE INTERNET ACCESS IS HOPELESS. My in box is full of messages from Kaye in Darwin, Jan in Temuka,Stu in Chipping Sodbury and when I try to download them I get a message rhat something seems to be wrong etc. Worse than that, I am supposed to send and receive chapters of work from the novel writing course I am mainly here for.Last Tuesday, after a week of trying to send text and getting a 'we are sorry connection appears to be broken'I took my lap top across town, sorely termpted to toss it into the Liffey as I crossed. A technician in Moor Street said it was a virus which he could clean out for 40 euros.
At the Irish Writers Centre in Parnell Square I logged on, downloaded my e mails, sent the homework I was expected to share with the novel writing group, Everything worked perfectly.
So Kaye, Jan, Terry, Stu, Lesley Tammara in Israel and everybody, as well hunting for Vogel's bread,which Mimi tells me is available in Dublin (not in Camden Street Tescos though) I shall lug my laptop across town on a 19A bus and read and answer your e mails.
That is after I have braved the shower.


maTwo years ago my sister's daughter and I came to Ireland hunting ancestors. In the taxi from Dublin airport Mary talked to the driver about her quest to locate her father's mother who had migrated from Dublin more than a century ago.
"She was a Miss Ennis." Mary told him.
ÉNNIS? Then she would have lived in Moor Street. The Ennis's were baker" the driver replied. So yesterday I went hunting along Henry Street until I found Moore Street a rather dilapidated area full of market stalls with fruit at half the price of Tescos. I bought a box of grapes for 1euro.


Monday, August 22, 2011


Modern buildings have FOR SALE or TO LET or LEASING NOW signs all over them. Cars are either silver grey MERCS or bright red AUDIS (I want one).
Girls look as though they are auditioning for RIVER DANCE. They wear jeans under their dresses, and they walk about holding their hands to their ears talking to themselves. That Red headed colleen in the cafe is actually Russian and her boy friend is from Brazil.
When people here talk about 'football'they mean some peculiar game with rules as esoteric as Aussie football. New Zealanders get a far away look in their eyes when we mention Molenberg or Vogels. The bread here is awfyl. I look at the Braeburn Apples in Tesco's and wonder how far from Glenavy they grew.
When I cross on a red light waiting motorists smile and wave! The protocols for road crossing are sensible.

One of the Porters here who reminds me of Le Beau in Hogan's Heroes (remember Le Beau? Pocket sized and gorgeous) has just shown me how to clean the inside of my computer. I take it to the nearest petrol station and use their free air pump to blow all the dust etc that gets lodged under the keyboard.
In just two weeks I head for Bristol, Liverpool and then home at last. C'est la vie!
My first purchasw when I get home? After a car that is,A loaf of Vogels bread.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


O'Briens cafe and the Kebab/hamburger joint both close on Sunday so I strolled into town and had an Irish beefburger at another favourite eating place in Camden Street. The Irish are famous for tall stories, but you should have seen how tall this beefburger was! So I went for a walk afterwards to burn of some calories. St Stephen's Green is everything a city park should be, a whole city block surrounded by railings, and full of walks and statues. At one entrance Wolfe Tone surrounded is by granite plinths. I stopped beside the pond to see a variety of gulls swimming and flying above the water. At the main entrances a notice board advertised what attractions were in the park that day, including 'Romeo and Juliet'. I am afraid I have never changed my opinion since one of my fourth form English class told me, 'If I was her mother I'd smack her bum!' and I had to agree. I was about to head out of the park and find another walk when music stopped me in my tracks. It was a band, a Brazillian band, drums, maraccas, whistles, guitars and a vocalist singing in Portugese. I tried to get close to take some pictures, but half the population of Dublin was gathered around listening and responding to the music.On the grandstand the drummers, to one side a community choir, led by a girl in green parading with an emerald and silver banner. And giving the beat for the audience a tall girl wearing a Brazillian bikini, (3 postage stamps and a couple of bita of string) with high heels on her feet and silver plumes in her hair, and Dublin was dancing along with her. I tried to get a shot of a very respectable looking dad holding his toddler above his shoulders as he dances, and Irish matrons dancing for the joy of it. Alas I could not get near enough, but it was wonderful.
The fences around St Stephen's Green were hung with paintings. The artists sat on camp chairs at the edge of the pavement, ready to talk to customers. There seemed to be every level of achievement, from very skilled botanical studies, through landscapes, seas scapes, copies of old masters to impressionis to traditional modern.
Luckily I still have to watch my weight, keep my luggage down to 20 ks. so I know I can only look and admire.
Livia from Ceara in Brazil, one of my room mates, has just come in. She saw Romeo and Juliet this afternoon and was impressed with the beautiful modern costumes and acting.

Bur Sunday in Dublin is quite marvellous, believe me.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I usually call in to O'brien's the little cafe on the corner of Charlemont Street and arcourt Road, about 2 p.m. One of their sandwiches and a capucchino, or a frappe in hot weather, leaves me satisfied for the rest of the day. The picture above is what I have been raving about.

I called in to-day and as well as the usual sandwich and coffee, you can have a bagel if you'd rather, I was treated to a a showing of photographs, ferns, flowers, birds and butterflies taken on a recent trip to Jamaica.

I still don't know their names, but it does not matter. They told me they have only been in business here for two months,and they are incredibly grateful that I have publicised them. I don't know if 30 New Zealanders hitting on my blog is going to send a rush of customers to O'Brien's in Dublin. But anyone looking for a nice place to eat fresh food try O'Brien's or tell your friends.


Meet Frank, photographer for the Irish Times Magazine. He took hundreds of pictures of me when he came to the Irish Writers Centre, a nice professional man, and as I told my friend Rita who was helping me focus, where else could an 85 year old have a good looking young man kneel at her feet?
So this morning I Went down to Camden Street early and bought this Saturday's Irish times. On the cover a celebrity woman golfer, pretty with a frangipani blossom in her left ear which used to be a signal as to one's nuptial state. I forget which ear meant the wearer was single. Sinead Gleason,s article about me was on page 6 with a photograph of a batty old wrinkly that turned out to be me. Reading interviews about oneself is a truly ego depressing experience, no reflection on Sinead's or Frank's competence of course.
But on page one of the weekend review was an account of a six year old girl who was asleep when her foster father came home at midnight and beat her te death. This was the report of a 1968 court case, where the jury had decided it was all right for a carer to beat a child to death. The foster father was sentenced to 12 months in goal.To-days article points out that 'horrible things'were still being done to children, but now such events 'évoke horror', showing a shift in social attitudes. I hope so.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I have been travelling for nearly three months and often meet people who have only a hazy idea of where New Zealand is and what it is really like. For Loyalty's sake I smile and agree that it is a lovely country full of intelligent people and sheep. I am tempted sometimes to say what I really think. So here goes, and I hope I will be allowed back in the country when I come home in September.

On the surface New Zealand is a pleasant society, founded by idealists who wanted to build Utopia. But New Zealand has a brutal understructure. It runs by male values for the three Rs, Rugger, Racing and Rooting. The rich guy with the best P.R. gets the top job Yes we have had Female Prime Ministers,Governors General, and Chief Justice, but listen to the undercurrent, Fred Redneck drinking with his pals and Lucy Loudmouth in the coffee shop. Do these achievements earn respect? Of course not, High achieving women are lesbians who have slept their way to the top. Good old Fred knows somebody who drives a taxi in Wellington and they should know. Or Lucy's daughter is a hairdresser in a salon on Lambton Quay, and one of her clients works in the Prime Minister's Department and told her.
What worries me is that Lucy and Fred and all their connections get to vote. They have only a vague notion of how the country functions, but they cast votes. After Helen Clarke was defeated I asked several friends and aquaintances why they had voted the way they did, Common replies were, 'Ít's time for a change'but no idea why they thought that. 'John Key's a nice looking man,' So if masculine good looks is a qualification for high office I should nominate Justin Beiber for Pope.
But New Zealand is a great place to bring up children. Really? That sad little roll call, Lilly Bing, Delcilia Whittaker, Coral Burroughs, James Whakaruru, the Kahui twins, and so on, tell a different story.
Of course Lucy Loudmouth KNOWS these things are done by non white solo mums with unemployed boyfriends.Well the probloems of bullying and violence is spread a lot more thickly through all classes of New Zealand society.I saw that in my teaching years and it has been going on for a very long time.
And then there is the habit we have of cutting down tall poppies. Helen Clarke had been Prime Minister 'Long enough', when two women in Masterton won Lotto there was an outcry, 'It was too much.'our guardians of public virtue cried. It was exactly the amount prescribed by the rules of Lotto.
I read in the news that the Government is planning to issue coupons for unemployed under eighteens which can only be redeemed for food and clothing not cigarettes or alcohol. How sanctimonious! May I suggest that the authorities then modify petrol pumps so that farmers can only fill their tractors with tax rebated petrol, not the family car, and while they are at it they should modify cash registers so that farmer's grocery items are not classed 'dog food'regardless of the vintage.
So Fred Redneck and Lucy Loudmouth open your eyes, and your minds, start putting your brains into gear before engaging your vocal chord. But neither of you read my blog do you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I don't know their names, the young couple who run O'Brien's coffee shop on the corner of Harcourt Road and Charlemont Street. I dashed in there one holiday lunch time because the Kebab shop I usually patronise was closed. The couple in the Cafe were about to close, but they stopped putting chairs up and made me a snack to take back to the hostel;hot cappuchino and the best sandwich I have eaten in a long time, hot bacon, sliced tomato and red onion in fresh wholemeal bread.
Their premises are so small it has more tables on the pavement outside than in, but everything is scrupulously clean. She makes the sandwiches,the fillings are on display in a glass cabinet. He makes the coffee and handles the cash. But the nicest thing about the whole set up is the way these two treat their customers. When I go in they remember me, the way I like coffee, and that I prefer wholewheat bread. My sandwich comes cut into little triangles, and there are some potato crisps on the plate too, plus a little square of dark chocolate in the saucer of the coffee cup. And there is a copy of the day's paper for customers to browse.
There are many good eating places in Dublin, O'Brien's is one and an unexpected pleasure.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


No photograph to-day. I logged on to Yahoo news and found tributes to Sir Paul Reeves, ex Anglican Bishop of Aotearoa, former Governor General who never seemed to play politics, or race. A decent man, and I have only a vague idea of what his political affiliations were.

Then I read that 'óne in four New Zealand children are living in poverty.' Well I wish someone would define poverty, because in my years of teaching I have seen children whose parents were short of cash, but the quality of their living was rich. I went to school with kids who had bare feet, and their fathers were out of work, but those father's grew vegetables and caught fish while their mothers knew how to sew and knit and make the most of what they had.

And I do not believe that throwing money at Barnado's will cure poverty. What will help is decent people being acknowledged, regardless of their income. Decent people make a decent society.

Friday, August 12, 2011


In the 1940'S a member of the Guinness family married and she was given eight square miles of Irish countryside as a wedding present, including a castle. two lakes, forests with foxes, badgers and other Irish wild life(Celtic Tigers excepted). My eldest son, Frank wonders if she was a stout bride. with a dowry like that would it matter?
Joe, our encyclopedia of Irish knowledge and bus driver-tour guide, told us that Guinness is no longer owned by the Guinness family. It was taken over by a French consortium. I don't know who owns the Guinness Estate, all eight square miles, but it was a fantastic spot to look at from the hill tops. Joe also kindly took pictures of us with our own cameras so we had a souvenir of the day, plus proof we had been there.
It was while staying on the Guinness Estate that Paul McCartney composed his song, "Yesterday" That to Joe's generation is ancient history,


Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Yesterday I at last got my bus tour sorted and enjoyed a great day with a driver called Joe. He looked like Rod Stewart would have before he got so dissipated and he sang a great deal better, was a great story teller as well. WHEN I get my pictures down loaded I shall write more about Irish scenery that looks like Otago without the dairy cows, where Paul McCartney struck lucky with scrambled eggs, a young woman who runs marathons to raise money for cancer research and the village where Ballykissangel was filmed.

In the meantime I gave up trying to book a flight on the internet to get from Dublin to Bristol, The web page advertised flights from 5.99 euros. I tried to find out what the luggage allowance was and got locked into a mass of non information. So this morning I walked down Camden Street until I found a real live travel agent. Yes, he could book me a flight to Bristol, cost 138 euros. He showed me the print out, luggage, taxes, airport charges, probably donations for Ryan air's grandmother's birthday, and use of the on board toilet, swelled the cost from 15 euros to more than 100.

So I have been thinking, would it be possible to travel the world like I do without any luggage? I wouldn't mind trying it. I once spent a week in San Francisco with only my carry on bag. I could stow knickers and toiletries in a large handbag. On arrival at each destination I would visit the local op shop, kit myself out and leave it all behind when I leave. How;s that for a reality show? And it does make sence The shorts and T shirts I wore in Crete are just so mch dead weight now, and I had to find some warmer clothes in Dublin. I would rather like to challenge the airlines at their own game, fly round the world at minimum cost and still be well dressed.
Watch this space.


One of the nice things about being a lone traveller is that other people share their stories. On the bus tour to Wicklow we stopped at AVOCA the village where Ballykissangel was filmed. It all looks very familiar, especially Fitzgerald's hotel and the police station.
"Are you on your own?"asked an unmistakably English voice, "Come and eat with us."
Lisa Dawn and her mother are from Jersey. Her husband died last January and she now runs marathons to raise funds for cancer research. She ran the London Marathon, a half Marathon in Italy and has run to the top of Mount KIlimanjaro in Africa and down again. By running she has raised more than 15,000 pounds for Cancer research.
The service in Fitzgerald's is slow, it took us nearly an hour to even have our order taken, but the food was good. I had fresh vegetable soup with new baked soda bread. Lisa Dawn had Guinness stew and her mother lasagne. We all had a slice of rhubarb tart to finish and it was delicious.
We then visited the oldest woollen mill in Ireland for a guided tour. Guided as in footsteps painted on the floor and notices on the wall above the various machines.
Some men were weaving cloth on the hand machines and in the inevitable shop we saw examples of clothes made from the cloth. Beautiful but I have to watch my weight, luggage weight that is.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Who remembers Madge, (You're soaking in it)? who sold Palmolive liquid on TV a long time ago. I liked Madge because she didn't put on any airs, she just told viewers why Palmolive was a good product. She was not young, as T.V. celebrities go, but she had an honest sort of charm about her, Well I met Madge's Irish equivalent on Friday, Her name is Bernie, she would be about the age Madge was when she sold Palmolive. How did I meet her? A nice Irish voice telephoned me. Could he please come and take some photographs for the Irish Times Magazine article Sinead Gleeson was preparing. We agreed to meet at the Irish Writers'Centre at 3 oçlock, I have reached the age where make up is irrelevant, it doesn't hide the wrinkles, so I don't usually bother. But in a photo I would look like a beacon.
I called into a pharmacy near the Dublin Spire, seeking something to kill the shine. I wanted something I could brush on. Bernie saw me browsing and asked how she could help. I explained what I needed, and that it was for a one off photo shoot. My daughter-in-law, Jo is an Avon lady and every Christmas stocks me us with products from her range. Bernie understood immediately and tested my skin tones, then filled a small bag with sample sachets from her range.
Now, for anyone buying cosmetics in Europe I want to make a recommendation. VICHY COSMETICS are sold only in pharmacies, and they are good, as in soft on the skin, and sold by knowledgable people like Bernie.
The photoshoot went well, the photographer look a lot more pictures than I expected, and I shall see the result in next week end's magazine.


VOYONS MES AMIS! Here are the two honorary grand daughters who shared my dormitory last week, Anna Ise is the blonde with glasses and Rhiannon is the brunette. They were delightful company, as have been all the girls who spend a night or two at Citihostel before moving on, or returning home.

Yesterday I listened as a tall, dark, Spanish girl and a petite blond from the Czech Republic sorted out plans for visiting the Irish National Museum. They did this in English which is their common language.

I am beginning to feel like a Dubliner. Yesterday I walked down Harcourt Street to St Stephen's Green and a woman approached me. Could I direct her to Camden CCourt Hotel? It was a pleasure, straight along here to the next set of traffic lights, turn right, walk up Camden Street until you come to the Bleeding Horse. Camden Court is right next to that. It's about a five minute walk. I've done it! I have actually given someone directions for reaching somewhere! And just now I was able to direct the little Czech girl to Adelaide Road.

I just hope I can find the bus stop for my day trip to Wicklow to-morrow, Last Thursday I followed directions to the letter, finished up asking directions from the wrong 'bus company and missed my ride. They were very polite about it, so I hope I get to and from Wiclow without trouble. I shall see the pub where Ballykissangel was filmed.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


THE IRISH WRITERS'CENTRE is a marvellous resource in Dublin. It is opposite the garden of remembrance in Parnell Square, next to the Irish Writers Museum. On the ground floor is the administration and a room where writers can sit, in really comfortable chairs, and drink the best coffee I have drunk since coming to Dublin, made by two leprechauns in disguise, Fergall and John. The bookshelves are lined with Irish Literature.
On the second floor is a meeting room where "A Twitter of Wit' a brilliant Pastiche from Irish comedies is performed several times a week by two actors.. Then on the top floor are the classrooms. I go there every Friday afternoon for 'INKSLINGERS' a creative writing group . I also climb those three flights on Tuesday evening when Conor Kostick teaches us about writing a novel. It's worth the climb every time.
The photograph was taken from the third floor window, and was of a very noisy, but disciplined anti abortion rally. We had to close the double glazed windows in order to hear Charlie Connolly deliver what we had paid to attend, a workshop on travel writing. Later, as I waited at the traffic lights for the procession to pass I thought back to the time when world news was aghast at the plight of 'X' fourteen years old, raped by her father's friend, stopped from going to England for a termination recommended by doctors and psychiatrists.
So last night I sat in the third floor room again. Each Tuesday five people in Conor's class read a thousand words they have previously distributed by e mail. Conor then asks questions, making us justify details of the plot, characterisation, use of metaphor. He is a tough teacher. One of the extracts last night told of a fourteen year old girl in a Catholic school whose teacher, a nun, tried to have her class discuss the question of 'X's' dilemma, It was brilliantly written,showing the teacher nun's embarrassment, the uncaring inattention of most of the class and the bigotry of a few.
Another writer's excerpt was the start of a mystery novel, and opened with a priest taking the last confession for the day. And to my surprise I discovered that most of the group were not practising catholics. They had only hazy notions of what went on during confession.
Interestinger and interestinger!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011


And I am not going to try and post any photographs, of course she is gorgeous, like her mother and father. However there is a multilingual wave of congratulations floating through the hostel since the e mail arrived.

Let me see, the receptionist is Spanish, as is one of the ladies who cleans like the proverbial white tornado. The this morning there was a couple in the corridor reading a play in Italian. A young man here in the dining room is calling someone in extremely fast French on his computer, Audrey, who is into alternative religion and has been sending positive prayers for your well being is Canadian.The girls who shared my dorm last night are German.

Occasionally I here Irish spoken,and Rosemary the other long term resident in my dorm has a beautiful Irish brogue. Now Stephanie Helen, with your mother's command of Swedish and all these good wishes washing over to you it seems inevitable that you too will become a world traveller, able to converse in any language. Which is just as it should be.
Much love to you
from your Grandmother Davies (Your other Grandmother is a great lady too.)