Archive for October, 2010

Jeremys #3: Hardy

Posted in Jeremy... on October 30, 2010 by Johnnie

Third in a series of short tributes to well-known people called Jeremy

I’m always astonished when people tell me they’ve never heard of Jeremy Hardy.  It’s hard to imagine life without his input. 

I first came across this charming and astonishingly funny man during my lengthy stint as a regular Guardian reader in the 1990s.  Aside from the fact that his turns of phrase, initially unexpected alongside his rather serious byline photo, made me chuckle rather a lot, what caught my attention was his politics.  For many of us left-leaning folks, Britain in the 1990s was all about making the Labour party less leftie, so it was always particularly gratifying to find a socialist within the pages of the country’s best Labour-leaning paper.

It was also a shock to everyone when his column ceased in 2001, especially when the official reason was that it “wasn’t funny enough”.  Continue reading

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These are Grave times…

Posted in Grave News, Travel on October 29, 2010 by Johnnie

It is that time of year.  The air has turned chill and crisp, the leaves brown, orange and scarlet.  The time of overcoats, scarves, gloves and mystery, when I feel the overwhelming impulse to listen to the very bleakest Scott Walker and read ghost stories.  It’s also the time when I feel like spend chilly afternoons wandering around cemeteries.

As the title of this blog suggests, I love cemeteries, graves, tombs and all the paraphernalia of death.  Growing up reading Poe and MR James, it’s hardly surprising.  I’m drawn to all things Hammer and there’s little more enthralling than a graveyard scene in any novel, even those which don’t involve the supernatural; the opening of The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins being one of the finest examples.

Cemeteries are amongst the few places I can become properly lost in thought.  There is a peace and tranquility within their walls which is unlike any other, and one that encourages wandering rather than sitting in contemplation.  Continue reading

In search of patience

Posted in Words on October 27, 2010 by Johnnie

Patience.  It’s a beautiful word.  To me, it represents more of an aspiration than something that comes naturally.  But I’m learning.

When I was 15, a school friend flicked through my drawing pad, admiring my freehand, felt-pen copies of album cover (chiefly The Smiths) artwork and told me that I “must have the patience of a saint” to copy them so meticulously.  Maybe I did have, then; where did it go?  I didn’t think my drawings were very good but praise showed me that if something was worth doing, it was worth taking your time over.

My grandfather was the embodiment of patience.  It didn’t seem to matter what he was doing: carving something wonderful out of wood for his giddy brat of a grandson; making a giant pot of his legendary vegetable soup or his magnificent porcini risotto; or just spending a good portion of the day in his armchair, solving book after book after book of crossword puzzles, keeping his mind agile and alive.  To me, the sound of patience was always his breathing; gentle, easy, never quickening and always, always whistling through his nose. Continue reading

Why is a taxi driver’s time more precious than anyone else’s?

Posted in Rude Things, Shopping, Travel, WhingeRantMoan on October 18, 2010 by Johnnie

First, a disclaimer:  I know that not all Dublin taxi drivers have over-bitten, vinegar-soaked fingernails, nor do they all wear chafing hessian underpants – in other words, they’re not universally irritable, intolerant, impatient, racist, shoulder-chipped prole chauffeurs.  I also understand that, as self-employed people, time generally equals money in their line of business.  And I have had more than my fair share of thoroughly pleasant, courteous, considerate cabbies in my time too.

However, a little good will goes a long way and it’s distinctly lacking in some quarters.  Three times recently I’ve got into a pre-booked taxi to find the meter already running.   Continue reading

Roger? I still would…

Posted in Film, Heroes, Star "Style", TV on October 14, 2010 by Johnnie

Sir Roger Moore turned 83 today.  They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes but I always hold out a little hope I’ll meet him one day.  He was my first pin-up hero, the first ‘person I wanted to be’.  I’m not sure who bought me the giant Roger Moore poster on my wall when I was only 4, but I really wish I still had it.

As I spent a huge proportion of my childhood in front of the telly (which is why I’m 25 stone and live on crisps*), he came into my live (suavely) as Simon Templar in The Saint and as Lord Brett Sinclair in The Persuaders with the late, great Tony Curtis.  I’ve been watching reruns of The Saint lately and they still stand up; he’s still heroic.

He was also my first style icon.  Whenever my grandmother would take me to buy clothes, even as a 3-year-old, I only wanted to buy shirts and ties – that’s what Roger always wore.  Not sure they were matching paisley-patterned ones, mind you, but it was good enough for me. Continue reading

He. Is. Not. Appreciated.

Posted in Heroes, Music with tags on October 8, 2010 by Johnnie

Great Fall line-up: Mark E. Smith, Brix E. Smith, Craig Scanlon, Steve Hanley, Simon Wolstencroft, Marcia Schofield.  Brilliant opening track to a brilliant album. Introduced by Tony Wilson. Continue reading

Time to call in pest control

Posted in Favourite Publications, TV, Unwanted Comebacks on October 4, 2010 by Johnnie

I’m sure Irish News Of The World readers are a discerning bunch but surely even the most apathetic of them have their limits.  The new ad for the paper is little short of astonishing, even in a country which has experienced its fair share of shocks lately.

‘Typical’ rheumy-eyed NOTW readers open their fridge and kitchen cupboards of a Sunday morning to find an infestation of various types of pest.  The first three would be bad enough but the fourth is none other than the former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, in his latest guise as a ‘roving’ football reporter.  For anyone who doesn’t know, doesn’t care or may simply have forgotten, he wasn’t just the leader of this country a long time ago, he was elected leader of this country at the last general election. Continue reading