Category Archives: Irish life

A little local geology

In the car today, scootling around back roads on a grey Irish day and looking at the landscape, I was struck by the difference in terrain north and south of the Burren.

The Burren, if you can’t be bothered to follow the link, is a range of spectacular low grey limestone mountains in the north west of county Clare. Stripped down to the bedrock during the last glaciation and washed clean by north Atlantic weather ever since. Okay, there is some grazing up there, but not much. But it is an incredible place to visit and walk. Or just to stare at in case it does something odd and very western Irish, like break into song or say “How are ye? Just visitin ye say?”. Because the landscape does look like it’s capable of speech. Eloquently heavy on the wow factor.

I thought the mountains in BC were something else, but the sense of nakedness these hills convey is far greater. The Rockies and coastal ranges are huge and covered in thousands of square kilometres of dark green coniferous gloom, yet even above the treeline, there’s none of that sense of barrenness that you find here.

The Wilder West of Ireland is very much a post glacial landscape. From the wide open flatness of South east Galway and Northeast Clare where massive rivers of ice once scoured the land down to its bones, south to what I’m beginning to think of as the calving grounds, where huge bergs melted as they clove off the ice sheet, dropping their burden of ice-scoured rock into undersea piles, which in the wake of receding sea created the tightly packed rolling land of east Clare down past Limerick and south to Cork. The grassed over terminal moraines giving a rough poetry to this landscape with it’s flowing river valleys and tightly rounded little hills.

Compared to the gentle rolling hills of my birth, this part of Ireland looks a hard place to scratch a living from the soil. It’s marginal, the bogs providing little good grazing and the grassland not really suitable for large scale growing of arable crops. The many large rocks in the soil pose a hazard to ploughing. We’re talking quarter ton lumps of stone here. Then there are the Turloughs, seasonal lakes, saucer shaped depressions which flood in Autumn and Winter, disappearing altogether in late Spring and throughout the hazy days of Summer.

The Wilder West of Ireland takes you like that, forces you to slow down and breathe, walk wide open, near deserted beaches to stare across untrammelled surf out into the Atlantic. Make you take time to watch the ever shifting colours of the sea and listen to the booming of waves striking high limestone cliffs.

It’s often quieter than a library after closing time with only the cawing of crows and the soft ruffling wind to hone the senses on out here. There are roads where cars and tractors only pass on an hourly basis. The silences can be oddly liberating and disquieting. It makes a man think, so it does.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc

Well, we’re having a nice bout of sunny weather here in the wilder west of the Emerald Isle. Spring is here and I’m spending as much time out of the house as possible while Mrs S incorporates her Jungian ‘shadow’. There’s a new born calf in the upper meadow, triplets and twins in the lambing pen, and the wayward Shetland Pony has been confined to barracks. So on the domestic front at least, we’re all under control. I hope.

However, ealier today I was reminded of the Latin description of a classic logical fallacy, specifically POST HOC ERGO PROPTER HOC which is the act of drawing a conclusion by mistakenly attributing causal connection without real evidence. It’s actually quite common and appears in the media far more option that you’d think.

A prime example; Boris Johnson’s recent assertion that lockdowns are the principle reason why COVID-19 cases have been dropping off a cliff is one such. The only problem being with this statement is that the numbers don’t exactly back it up. Deaths and hospitalisations for all causes were already well below normal in the first week in 2021. So says the UK’s Office of National Statistics. Their numbers don’t lie.

Then if we go looking for the data to support the mask mandate and other intrusions, one only has to look at the timeline of the base data. What you will find is that, allowing for incubation periods from probable time of infection, the claims that masks plus lockdowns equals fewer cases doesn’t hold water.

Do we assume that because vaccines, which we are told take several weeks to work and are now widespread, are responsible? Does the timeline support this assertion? Go on, guess. The data and the claim don’t match up. Deaths and hospitalisations were already dropping rapidly. Do not, under any circumstances take my word for this, the numbers are all public domain.

All I ask is that the following is taken into account; that another hypothesis is possible. Specifically that ‘herd immunity was reached some time ago. Do the numbers support this? Well, possibly. They certainly don’t rule it out.

For all other hypotheses, including the crazier ones saying that COVID-19 is somehow linked to man made climate change, there is no viable or conclusive evidence. Those can be dismissed out of hand as ‘conspiracy theories’, especially if ‘big oil’ is somehow to blame, when both the mechanism of that change and the base premise are unproven. Don’t believe me? Go looking for the definitive evidence. Not just what is reported in the media or by politicians.

Under these circumstances, what we can do is look at the behaviour of those keeping lockdowns and masks going. Specifically that they keep on adding bells and whistles to the restrictions laid upon the general public. From vaccination passports, which won’t contain a disease which has done it’s worst and is now receding in the rear view mirror, despite the best efforts of some people to keep it in the drivers seat.

Comparison of numbers reported in the media, particularly the BBC, have been often at odds with the data. Like all they’re doing is regurgitating press releases and misleading sound bites rather than do a little research. Which is supposed to be their job, for heavens sake.

Knowing this, what are we to think? Are we to believe all that we are spoon fed, or do our own research? Because the facts, as are available from publicly available sources, tell us that the pandemic is over. So, for what seems like the hundredth time; why are we still having to cope with these restrictions?

For my own part I am but a man with a blog and a keyboard, nothing more. I can only say as I see. But what I see is giving me a bad case of “WTF!?”

Family stuff.

We’ve finally got our Irish drivers licences and will be driving around the county looking at properties now the silly 5km restriction has disappeared. Not that anyone was really paying it any mind out here in the Wilder West of Ireland, we just used the back roads, knowing that the Gard were focussing on the big cities and motorways. They haven’t really the manpower for much else.

Not that the figures really justify lockdowns, it’s just that the politicians are too frightened to let it go. They’ve been got at by activists and lobbyists or in ignorance have succumbed to groupthink. So here we are, making the best of things.

We’ve bought a couple of garden chairs and have a nice sheltered spot in the garden that is also a bit of a sun trap. Which is good. A cup of coffee or tea is so much nicer outdoors on a sunny day. As is a large glass of wine, or large Martini, but we have a self imposed rule of not drinking alcohol before 4pm. I have a whiskey every other night, Mrs S and I like the odd glass of Pinot Noir.

One of the curiosities of Irish rural life is that we keep finding ourselves facing wayward livestock. First thing today it was a Shetland Pony in the yard, trotting around and making a tour of inspection on his own. Colum bought it as a stable mate for one of his breeding horses and it’s smart as they come, having worked out how to lift the latch on a gate, and knowing to stay off the road outside, preferring to visit the collection of ramshackle bans and pens to the rear of our house where its friends are.

Sunday’s escape was four steer calves in our front garden. I was upstairs in my office at the time, until Mrs S shouted “Bill, come and have a look at this!” Dutifully trundling downstairs I looked out of the front window to see four steer calves amiably bumbling around on the grass outside. so I phoned Colum and shooed then back up into the farm entrance where Colum caught them coming the other way. Between us we manoeuvred the errant livestock back into the right pen and safe from the predations of fast moving tin boxes on the road outside. This sort of thing happens at least twice a week. Fortunately mostly during daylight hours.

News from the UK; ‘North’ was crowing a bit about the pubs being open for outdoor drinking in jolly old Londinium. The prodnoses and puritans of course disapprove, and would like to make the pandemic that has passed into a permanent feature of everyone’s life. Over here of course, unless you move in some very select circles, the pubs remain firmly closed and bolted. This is what happens when governments have too much power, they f*ck everything up because all they know are political solutions which don’t translate into the real world.

As for ‘South’, in the fabled land of Oz, she’s bagged herself some reasonable contract work to keep the wolf from the door, and we’re advising from here on the pitfalls and benefits of being self-employed. As for the second Australian contingent; did you know they had snow in Darwin, Australia over the weekend? Hang on a minute! Darwin? Australia? Northern Territory? Officially that’s a Tropical Savanna climate. What the hell is it doing snowing in northern Australia there? Even if the snow didn’t settle. At least according to Australian Sister in law, who lives up there. A brief ‘polar blast’ from Antarctica was apparently to blame.

I mean, hold on a minute, if what all these much vaunted media ‘climate experts’ and people like Extinction Rebellion keep telling us about their ‘sceance’ it should be getting warmer. But no-one either understands nor wants to know is that we’re in the early stages of a Grand Solar Minimum, and it’s going to get colder over the next thirty years or so. Which will lead to local climate shifts, altered wind patterns and thus stormier conditions in some places, Areas which at present can produce arable crops may no longer be able to do so.

Then, providing we don’t trip over a threshold in the Northern hemisphere, it will begin to get warmer again after 2053. Depending upon the shifts in climate we’re seeing, which may be shifting around so that current desert areas that bloomed in prehistory will be crop producers once more. This isn’t a ‘conspiracy theory’, because if you bother to look, you can find the evidence that it’s already happening. Shifting growing zones, cold weather events in the tropics. And none of these climate shifts have anything to do with changes in atmospheric C02. At least there’s been zero correlation with the wild claims of climate doom.

So what did I do? Reader, I ignored all the silly prognostications of disaster, went out and bought my wife a bunch of roses. Because a thoughtful man should surprise his better half every so often. This is a far more worthy thing than protesting about something we have no control over, with far more beneficial results.

Easter Sunday morning

We’ve seen more lambs over Easter weekend. All twins, lots of sleepless nights for Colum and his family. At times like these its all hands to the pumps, which means everyone works through the night, ensuring these bright little lives slide out into existence with the least possible interference from predators and the normal difficulties of birth.

And yes, we’ve been woken up every so often by the latest plaintive cry of newborns, higher pitched than their mothers, complaining at being shunted out of a nice cosy womb to the scant comfort of a concrete floor and the careful ministrations of businesslike two legs. When it gets busy in the lambing shed across the yard during the wee hours, sleep for us sensitive mortals can get a bit fractured. We just try to roll over and check our earplugs as best we can. My days of being up all hours are long ago, and I don’t think Mrs S has ever stayed up past one am in her entire life.

Now from the lambs point of view being born is a mixed blessing, but at least Mum has milk on tap. But before that then there’s the indignity of being unceremoniously hauled out of the shed by a two leg, carried like a brace of rabbits and dumped into lush green grass to recover, suckle a bit, and try to come to terms with these complicated things at each corner called legs.

Keeping on this rather agricultural topic, now the lambs find other lambs, other mothers who don’t smell like their mum does and there’s a bit of confusion, a bit of argey-bargey while everyone sorts out who belongs to whom and should be sucking on which teat on which Ewe. This life business don’t half get complicated. Especially as yesterdays lambs tell you it’s chillier than yesterday. Isn’t there supposed to be a hot yellow thing in the sky that makes you feel warm? Mum says it comes and goes, so keep hold of that thick woolly coat sonny, never mind that tight lacky band round thee nadgers. They’ll soon drop off. Although I’m not sure of how they castrate the boy lambs. It’s usually done at birth, sometimes with a knife, sometimes with elastic bands around the scrotum.

Easy to see that Boris Unraed (Lit. ‘Boris the badly counselled’ who definitely needs a tight elastic band around his scrotum IMHO) is going to set travel restrictions into law which will hurt our family (For one) a great deal. These ‘vaccine passports’ mean we probably won’t see our daughters in person again. All for a pandemic that has been over for months. For months, you utter bastards. For all the talk of ‘COVID deaths’ our local hospital seems to be quiet and the local funeral directors appear to be doing no more than the usual trade.

Regrettably, given the nature and probable longevity of these travel restrictions, it’s now unlikely that Mrs S and I won’t ever see any grandchildren in person either. This I feel is unforgivable, and my UK postal vote will be going to Reform UK, who seem to be the only people opposed to these unnecessary restrictions. I’d like to point out that any other administration that imposes COVID passports won’t be forgiven either. However, in addition,, apparently now I’m a resident of Ireland, I get a vote over here too. Now I can’t stomach the ultra nationalism of the Irish National party who are one of the most vociferous anti-lockdown campaigners, but do like what I’m hearing from the Irish Freedom party. I also like them because they want out of the EU and aren’t quite so vehemently anti-British as the Nationalists. Although I can’t say I’m impressed with their stance on abortion. That should be a personal choice on the part of the mother, no-one else.

So there will be a reckoning of one sort or another. I don’t know how, I don’t know by whom, but there has to be one. This has to end.

Another day

….Another day struggling with Canadian Banks. I have a question here, why the hell do Canadian banks behave like they’re still in the 19th Century? You know, restrictive practices, refusal to deal with certain companies and generally being patronising towards their customers? It’s my bloody money and I’ll do with it as I wish. I am breaking no laws, at least that I’m aware of. They’re very happy to take money from any source, but when it comes to moving that money out using the self same brokers as I used to pay it in, result; radio silence, evasiveness and behaving in a way that makes me distrust them, and banking requires trust to operate. Although I prefer to trust, but now I have to verify everything first. Which slows the job up.

Oh yes, and this is getting tiresome. Another digital book burning, and the defence of that deletion by ‘blue checkmark fact checkers’, who use weasel words and lawyers tricks to defend the book burners. Who funds these ‘fact checkers’ anyway? Whenever I read one of these ‘fact’ checks, their reviews are only true for a given version of ‘true’. Heavily conditional and couched in language so slippery a greased pig would look sticky by comparison.

I must say that these implementers of ‘cancel culture’ are quite creative in finding a source of ‘offence’ over which books were cancelled. Who would have thought that Dr Seuss was ‘institutionally racist’ or that a Captain Underpants spin off ‘mocked’ Chinese culture by celebrating martial arts as a plot device? Seriously people?

As for the latest iteration of the WordPress editor. It makes me want to migrate to another platform. It’s that crap. Can we have the ‘classic’ editor back please?

Out here in the wilder west, we’ve been scootling around Clare and Galway looking for properties via the back roads that the Gardai ignore. That said, I was at the south end of Ennis yesterday and the regular checkpoint coming off the M18 had disappeared. All the cones, everything. We were north of Tuam, County Galway the day before that on the motorway, expecting to get stopped at the checkpoint at the end of the motorway. Nothing. A couple of patrol cars passed us by, but no-one was getting stopped. The only precautionary notices we saw were the temporary lit signs reading “Protect each other” and other such patronising idiocy.

I think there’s been a union meeting and the coppers are refusing to stand around in the Atlantic drizzle asking damn silly questions.

I can imagine the rainy morning Gardai briefings “It’s O’Hallorans and Murphy’s turn at the checkpoint. Err, where are they? I don’t see them here.” Says the duty sergeant.
“Sick.” Comes the laconic answer from the back of the room.
“With what?” Demands the sergeant.
“Standing around freezing their arses off.” comes the reply.

We’re told that things will begin to open up again around 12th April and guest houses and hotels will be allowed to open in June, despite the ‘mathematical certainty of a fourth wave’. That mathematical certainty being the results of a predictive model, the kind that have totally failed to reflect reality so far. So there won’t be a fourth, fifth or sixth wave, no matter the wishful thinking of the doom mongers.

Hi ho, another day……

St Paddy’s

Over here in the Emerald Isle it’s coming up to the one year anniversary of tiers and lockdowns. Notwithstanding; earlier today Mrs S and I were treated to a convoy of about fifty, yes fifty cars sporting the Irish tricolour and balloons honking madly as they drove up our lane, kids sitting in boats on trailers, standing on the dash as Dad’s drove, waving at everyone from out of sun roofs waving flags. Elf and safetee would have had a conniptive fit.

Despite noises in the media about increased Gardai presence to prevent anyone anywhere enjoying themselves, people found a way round. God alive, this is why I love this place.

Going through the motions

At present there’s not much happening. Mrs S and I have been sloping off to the beach every day when the sun shines, taking the back roads to avoid the mercifully rare Gardai checkpoints. We’re not stopping and talking to people at length, so we’re hardly likely to catch anything or pass it on. There’s supposed to be a video, but for some reason it’s still being ‘processed’. At least on Bitchute, so here’s the Rumble version.

The only problem we have is having to wait another month before the restrictions are supposed to be lifted. (Yeah, right) That and the seasonal spraying of manure to improve the grazing on the meadow overlooking our little domicile. Boy, doesn’t that just clear the old sinuses. I’m told there’s some rain forecast, sometime. Can’t come soon enough.

In the meantime I’ve been spending some time reading up on the factors that drove some of my ancestors out of Ireland in 1843.

There’s a body of opinion that solely blames ‘the English’ for all Ireland’s problems during those times. Yet the facts, as presented, tell a more nuanced story of the great outflow of Irish people that happened in the 1840’s, of which my ancestors were a part.

One of the points that sticks in my mind from the video is the disparity between the rents paid, and what those nasty bloated plutocrats of English landlords received. Say a rent was forty shillings a year, the land owner only got three. So that’s thirty seven shillings going to the land agents and other middlemen. The system had become financially over balanced. So much so that when the hard times hit, the poor buggers at the bottom of the pile had nothing left, and the top people had no reserves, while the middlemen were sitting pretty, trousering the greater percentage of the rents.

The great potato famine wasn’t the only one to hit the Emerald Isle, but it was as they say, the last straw, the final blow. It was a real tipping point, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands from disease and starvation.

Now this is just an observation on my part, but I have the distinct impression that you poor buggers across the Irish sea are headed for a similar crisis as the EU steps up it’s trade war, and your own government has deemed it illegal for you to leave. Hard times are a-comin’ folks, and if you think Bojo the moron’s half-baked draconian regulations will keep you ‘safe’, think again. The pandemic has been over since last May and they’re still going to keep you locked down until September. At least.

You think not? Then why has ‘furlough (a.k.a. unemployment payment) been extended to September 2021 and people forbidden to leave on holiday? Answer me that. All the time illegal, and possibly infectious, immigrants are being let in on the grounds that they will form a pool of cheap labour and keep demand for pay rises low.

I mean, our current crop of Irish politicians aren’t much to write home about, but at least the Gard don’t come round kicking in your door because you’ve had more than the regulation number of friends round for drinks. There aren’t enough Gardai for starters. Besides, we still have policing by consent over here in the civilised wilder west of Ireland.

No I’m not gloating, just amazed that no-one in the UK is currently rioting, chucking rocks at Tory Ministers or the Stasi currently masquerading as the UK’s Police Service. Like the Danes are, like the Dutch are. And the French. And the Germans and Italians.

At least nothing is flagging up in my news feeds. If anyone has any primary sources, I think we’d all like a heads up.

The Daffs are out

First spring lambs spotted on the hill overlooking our house this morning. New born twins. We’d talked to Colum when he came to collect the rent money on Sunday, and he reckoned that lambing wasn’t due to start for two to three weeks. The sheep it seems, have other ideas.

The Gardai are all busy chasing teenagers for chucking fireworks at them in Dublin, so any rational person will take advantage of such a situation and grab a break at the seaside, negotiating a maze of back roads to do so. I am a rational person, so I took us out for a sunny day at a very nice beach. Which was good for our sanity. Saw one speed trap on the main drag before we made the turn for home. That was it.

Overall we’re all good. The sun is shining, the daffodils are coming into bloom, we’re currently having what I call a ‘false spring’ which is one of those interludes between patches of wintry weather. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it does help us cope with the news that these stupid, pointless and ineffective lockdowns are likely to continue into June. Yeah, right.

Anyway, Mrs S and I are okay. We have a sunny spot in the garden to take tea while farm work goes on all around. Colum’s dog barking at the Shetland Pony Colum bought recently to keep one of his thoroughbreds company. The pony wasn’t too happy at having an uppity dog think he was an over sized sheep and complained loudly. Colum’s sons chainsawing more wood while I restacked our own log store Canadian style. While things are quiet, the chores have to be done. We just get on with things, ignore all the panic mongering, although I did notice that the radio has switched from all doom, gloom and saccharine ‘stay safe’ propaganda to more hopeful stuff about some businesses that have not gone bankrupt in the last year being ‘allowed’ to re-open.

Unfortunately I’m not so hopeful. These lockdowns aren’t going to end until those deluded souls who support them get a sanity reboot. Not holding my breath for that to happen. Things have become too polarised. Everything is partisan political, and if you aren’t in lockstep, you are the bad guy. The politicians are talking about ‘wealth taxes’, which is just another way of passing the bill for their screw-ups onto John Q Taxpayer. No doubt the well connected will pay no more than the bare minimum while those of us who can only afford to buy one house get asset stripped.

So we’re all still at the mercy of this big government-created crisis as the economy implodes and everybody’s assets are bought up on the cheap by those crony capitalists who can afford clever lobbyists. A case in point being all those wealthy climate change promoters who buy large beachfront properties. Pardon me for noticing, but aren’t these expensive waterfront places supposed to be drowning in the next year or two? Like they were back when the ‘global warming’ bullshit first started in the late 80’s?

One item of note being the wholesale purchase of agricultural lands by some very wealthy people. Almost like they want to corner the food supply, isn’t it? Yet these are the very people who support ideas like the rest of us having to chow down on reconstituted Cockroach. These latter day Henry Ford’s seem to think because they have made a lot of money that makes them fit to tell everyone else how to live. I contend that the Davos Party or World Economic Foundation and suchlike are not fit to govern anybody because these organisations are made up of compulsive meddlers who are philosophically incapable of understanding the multiplicity of subtleties the average human individual is home to, like Ford was.

These techno-geeks think we’re all herd animals to be managed and culled on demand. We’re not, humans are a co-operative tribal apex predator. The sooner the WEF gets that memo and stops interfering, the happier everyone, including them, will be.

Creative solutions

Just witnessed an interesting spectacle. I was at my desk when I heard a loud honking of car horns from close by. No idea what was going on so I looked out of my window. I could hear lots of almost continuous honking but nothing in sight. Walked across to the main bedroom and opened the window. Across the farmyard and down the lane I saw a balloon decked car sitting outside the drive of a neighbour, blocking the lane with a line of cars behind it, all honking like mad.

First thought was “Someone’s being a dick.” Then I looked again and saw that the loud line of cars behind the car blocking the road were likewise decked with balloons and decorations, all frenetically sounding their horns and waving at the house. As I watched, the father, I assume it was Dad, walked over to the stopped car to be handed a package. Words passed with waves and smiles to one of the kids being held up to stand on the garden wall. Then the car blocking the road moved on, to have it’s place taken by the next in line. Gifts were passed on. Thanks exchanged. The little child waved to their line of well-wishers. This carried on for ten minutes. “How cool is that, a COVID compliant birthday party?” was my next follow on thought.

Cars drove up past our drive, turned around and went back past the child on the wall, who showed every sign of enjoying the spectacle enormously, waving with enthusiasm at the passing party cars.

Total time from start to finish? Just over ten minutes, but a ten minutes that will stay with that family for quite some time. They got a little validation. Social distancing was observed and a child got a birthday party. Which left me thinking “What a lovely creative solution to the heartlessness of lockdown.” a jovially extended middle finger against the forces of repression as only the Irish can do. Not allowed to have a birthday party? Well, we’ll soon see about that.

Erin go bragh.

Dear Diary…

…I have things to do which aren’t getting done while the Winter winds howl round the eaves. Mostly because of these pointless COVID restrictions that have no basis in science, unless of course it’s political science. I have conversations which need to be arranged. Tasks performed. Roadblocks circumvented.

Then there’s the news that even with the whole population vaccinated the travel restrictions aren’t likely to be lifted and other such fuckwittery. It seems to me like half the world is scared of it’s own shadow, convinced that we’re all going to be slaughtered in our beds by a virus from befordadawnatime, or some other phantom conjured up by mathematical modelers. Yes, SARS/COV-2 is a nasty bug. As bad as the 1968-9 flu outbreak. And it seems to be hitting ethnic minorities hardest, particularly those with the darkest skins. Vitamin D studies anyone?

Even the normally hyper-sensible Mrs S has caught the worry bug, suggesting to me that maybe we should put our names down for vaccination. I said she was free to make her own decision, but I’m going to wait until May 2021 until I make a move in that direction. I want to see the outcome of this uncontrolled mass clinical trial first. I remember the fallout from the rushed vaccinations for Swine flu in 2009-10, so my caution is a learned response. Debilitating Narcolepsy is one of those conditions I don’t want to put myself at risk of. When I’m happy about the risks, then I’ll roll up my sleeve, not before. I am no anti-vaxxer, just naturally cautious about something so obviously rushed to market. Like with any new technology, I prefer to let the early adopters take the risks.

So I’m going to concentrate on that which can be done, focussing on subverting any restrictions by whatever means are available. To that end I’ve bought a nice big page to a day A4 desk diary, like I used to have when I was a contractor. Bloody useful things. Better than a cell phone because a handwritten diary can’t be accessed by anyone but members of the same household. True, you can’t make phone calls with it, but for at-a-glance accessibility you can’t beat desk diaries. Nothing ends up down an electronic rabbit or memory hole, and it can’t be hacked remotely. Technology has it’s place, but as a cautious man I prefer not to keep all my proverbial eggs in one information basket. You can fill them with doodles as mnemonics, sketches and notes. Whatever you like.

Physical diaries are also useful as an organisational tool that you always have access to, even if the power or Interweb goes out. So long as there’s light to read, you’re still up and running. Win-win.

As for entertainment, I haven’t been happy with TV, or even streaming for some considerable time, and have purchased a batch of 1000 and 1500 piece jigsaws to occupy my mind while I play ‘hurry up and wait’. Mrs S has her books, and we take time out to chat about what she’s read and how far along we are.

This is my life at the moment, and I’m doing the best with it that I can.

Catching up

The phones are back up, which means I can start getting things moving once more. Four days without a landline seemed like an eternity. No-one could dial in. I couldn’t dial out. People were getting fractious, not least of all me. Fortunately there is one silver lining to the louring clouds of lockdown, and that is that everyone’s expectations are significantly lowered.

As for the rest; sometimes the fun never starts. Especially for those living in County Longford.

I am so glad we live where we do.

Downtime

I’m used to living and working online. It is, in some respects, something I’m fairly good at. For other things there is a phone, and as a trained communicator (Two ears, two eyes, two nostrils and one mouth, use in proportion). Unfortunately, when I need to talk to an overseas contact, our landline is down. Like today. So no business gets transacted. People don’t get paid on time and this reduces the sum of human happiness. Not something I like being even partially responsible for.

I could of course, if I had money to burn or an international data package, use my cell phone. But I’d rather put my funds to better use than paying cell phone companies for millivolts and sitting in a call centre queue for an hour or more while my remaining brains trickle out of my ears in tune with the bland awfulness of wait queue Muzak and their interminable adverts.

So what to do? Let my blood pressure be pushed beyond safe limits because the vagaries of fate preclude action? Or do I bugger off and do something slightly more interesting and successful while the phone company fix the lines? Dear reader, I chose the latter. Life, especially under the current pointless restrictions, demands little victories, those micro successes that bolter the shreds your self-esteem can be reduced to when utilities fail, and despite it not being your fault, guess who is first in line to get it in the neck when things aren’t done? Got it in one. Guess whose turn it is to be the office cat? Yours. Enjoy.

Here’s an interesting little life hack; did you know that an air fryer can make toast and fried bread? Well this one can. Saves putting the oven grill on. Don’t have a toaster, and didn’t fancy doing the old skillet toast trick. So my air fryer was put into service. 6 minutes at 200 Celsius lightly browns the bread and makes a nice hot slice to receive marmalade or whatever topping you fancy.

As an FYI; cast iron skillets can make seriously good toast and fried bread, which is where they score over the average toaster. Get the pan good and hot, stick in the bread and frying medium of choice (Olive oil, butter or nothing at all), flip when ready. There are more ways to make top notch toast than are thought of in anyone’s philosophy. All that is needed is a little outside the box culinary thinking and Robert is one’s father’s brother.

You can’t do fried bread in a toaster either. They’re a bit one dimensional as far as kitchen appliances go. Try putting anything but dried bread in them and the next thing you know it’s sparks and flames all round like a fork in a microwave. So I have the more versatile air fryer instead.

Another little culinary parlour trick I have to pass on is to stop your garlic going off. If, like me you don’t use more than a clove every other day, the trick is to peel the individual cloves and drop them into a jar of Olive oil. Result; garlic that doesn’t go off in a week and which keeps fairly well for a month. This also gives you a ready supply of Garlic Olive Oil, which commands a far higher price in the shops than the usual. So it’s a money saver too.

Anyway, supper beckons. Just soup and a small charcuterie and cheese board. There’s probably another glass of Pinot Noir downstairs too. And here’s me with this terrible thirst.

TTFN

How to screw up

Rent day conversation. Landlord likes his rent in cash. Not cheque or money transfer, but in physical Euros, which I have to get from the bank every month. It’s a minor inconvenience, but it gives me an excuse to pass through Gardai checkpoints. Colum (Not his real name) and I enjoy a cordial relationship. We pay him money every month, occasionally shoo wayward livestock back into the sheds and meadows, exchange gifts over Christmas and talk when time allows.

“Morning Colum. How are you coping?” I asked him.
“Fairly well I suppose.” He said with a slightly morose air. He’s an Irish farmer, what can I say? “How’s yourself?”
“Dodging the checkpoints.” I grinned cheerfully. “Otherwise we’re good.”
“Ah yes.” He intoned in his slow Western brogue. “Those people up in Dublin are not handling this Covid thing well are they?” I’m glad he’s not a Cork or Kerry man, they speak too quickly, spilling out words like a river in spate, and even with my trained ear I find them hard to follow sometimes. Their speech is quick and musical, full of reiterations, back eddies and redundancies. Fun to listen to, but hard to understand properly. Colum’s slow western drawl is quite relaxing by comparison.
“Well, they’re politicians.” I replied.
He looked at me gravely and said. “They’ve not got much of a handle on it have they?”
“No. You got that right.” I responded and changed the subject. “Money? Receipt’s made out.” The pleasantries and signing off complete, we bid him farewell and he went back to his work, and we to ours.

He was right of course. The current crop of politicians, Tory, Labour, Limp Dems, Greens, Liberals, Democrats, Fianna whatever label they put upon themselves, are not doing a good job of handling what is in reality, a fairly minor crisis. Yes, people have died, but a good many should not have done. Politics prevented usable anti-viral treatments being applied and thus cost lives, as well as sent infected patients into non-infected environments full of the vulnerable. The grapevine tells me Hospitals aren’t giving anti-virals but using steroids and ventilators instead. Because of politics. Beds have been cut. Because of politics. In short, ignorant politicians panicked and made a mess. And are still panicking because no-one wants to admit they were wrong, or be the first to admit being so.

No government that I’m currently aware of, is applying or recommending known remedies, like improving metabolic health with simple means that work for everyone. This is stuff that was commonly printed in ‘Home doctor’ books available in the 1960’s and before. Even today, Doctors recommend them. Cut sugar intake. Eat a balanced diet. Cut down on Bread and rice. Get out for a walk every day in the fresh air. Do something physical. That way you’ll have what they call better ‘metabolic health’ and so be less likely to suffer the worst of any disease.

Now we’re in this crazy logjam of lockdowns and restrictions, maybe because no country wants to be made a pariah by other nations who will probably use the freedom within a neighbour state as an excuse to have a little trade war, or other such one-uppersonship to curry favour with their respective electorates. No politician wants to be first to ease the lockdowns, because for them the restrictions aren’t an issue. They can get all those little services the general public is denied. Apart from Boris Johnson, do any of these characters look badly groomed?

The thing is, those of us with an operating brain cell have things called memories. We remember previous virus outbreaks. We check our sources. We double check the evidence. Where possible we go to the base stats and don’t trust spin or regurgitated press releases. We also listen to the real world; for example, overheard in a Supermarket yesterday. Woman to checkout operator, “Oh, me Mam had the jab a few weeks ago and she still got Covid.” And that’s not the first time I’ve heard people say similar things within audible range over the last week or two. That’s from a very small sample size. All you need to do is keep your eyes and ears open.

You won’t read much about that in the political or media mainstream. The best they have is “Shut up and do what you’re told.” while people lose their livelihoods and human rights.

I agree with my farmer landlord; the politicians and media have it wrong. This pandemic has been an object lesson in how to screw up. And haven’t they done that in spades?

A handy household tip

We had a bath in one of the downstairs bathrooms at our new Irish domicile. Somewhere previous tenants used to wash their dogs and also two year olds bearing permanent markers as well by the look of things.

The dog thing was easy. Drains were unclogged by removing the circular grid from the plughole and depositing the foetid mass recovered from the U-bend down the toilet. Scuff marks were removed with ordinary bathroom cleaner and lots of elbow grease. The other part proved more difficult. Bleach didn’t even touch the permanent marker artistry, nor did three kinds of disinfectant type cleaner.

Which left only one obvious choice; acetone, like that found in nail polish remover. But I was loathe to use it because acetone does horrible things to resin and many plastics. Fortunately Mrs S suggested her cheap acetone free nail varnish remover in conjunction with make up remover pads, although I’m sure that cotton wool or even paper towels of any kind would have sufficed.

So I applied the acetone-free nail varnish remover with a series of cotton face pads. Fifteen minutes and a lot of squeaking (With the occasional muted sound of amazement) later, the bath was blemish free and ready for use.

Now I don’t know if it was the ethyl acetate or nethyl ethyl keytone ingredient that cut the mustard, but the end result was a bath fit for human use; gleaming and clean. So afterwards I allowed myself the luxury of a good old soak in a solution of scented Epsom salts with a big mug of tea at hand.

End result; now a pale cloud of oil of Eucalyptus and white willow follows my every motion and I am relaxed and clear headed. A once barely useable bathroom is scented with something other than Domestos and more in keeping with our nasal preferences. Domestic equilibrium is restored.

Sometimes I think we could all do with a good old soak in scented water every so often. It’s so very relaxing. So much more so than just a shower. Perhaps that’s why the world seems to be so up it’s own arse all the time. The protagonists don’t spend enough time soaking all their cares away.

By way of an afterthought, candles and wine are permissible, and for Mrs S essential. She has been promised some of the same to help forget about all the self-important drama queens who abrade our sensitivities on a daily basis. I’m just about up to my back teeth with all the hand waving over climate, some virus that has passed it’s worst and who gets to be king of the castle over the water. The markets may dip, but they will recover. It’ll all be the same in a decade or so.

Pass the bath oil.

The year that fun forgot…..

So much for a white Christmas although we had a three degree frost last night. Oh well, it was a long shot anyway. Well chums, hasn’t the last ten months been a real barrel of feckin laughs? Frankly, if 2020 was a person, I’d be tempted to throw it face down in a puddle and firmly plant my boot on the back of it’s neck until the bubbling stopped. Which is roughly how I feel about the people responsible for all the panic mongering over SARS/COV-2.

The terminally terrified, media and panicking politicians have done incredible damage to everyone else, just in case they’d catch a nasty dose of the flu. Yes it’s a nasty bug, yes it is worse than the normal seasonal influenzas, but not by that much. And it has done it’s worst. as I and many others have pointed out before. We effectively have ‘herd immunity’, regardless of new mutations that don’t seem to be doing much. The only thing that made the stats look bad is the misapplied PCR test, which was never intended as a diagnostic tool. The death stats are back to around seasonal norms. But I repeat myself. Yet again.

Update: see screenshot of stats for the UK below.

The renewed lockdowns mean Mrs S is chafing over every tiny detail, getting uptight with me for anything less than perfection. I do not blame her for this. I blame the arseheads responsible for closing everything down, yet again. For so little cause.

On the upside, a BREXIT deal has been agreed, with no serious tariffs between the EU and UK, which will work well for us here in Ireland. Just a little customs paperwork, which will be streamlined over the next few months. The markets like the outcome, and sterling took over a three cent uptick in price when the news hit, which should help any people on pensions and bode a little better for those reliant upon funds from the UK. Some are calling the fisheries part of the deal a ‘sell-out’, but it buys time for the UK to rebuild it’s fishing fleet and set up conservation zones. So it’s not a total shitshow. Silver linings abound. If you know where to look.

Overall 2020 has been a very frustrating year. Complicating for us what should have been a relatively simple move. The constant delays have resulted in our search for a place to refurbish is taking three times as long as it should. Getting out to view properties has been a constant game of sneakaround when no one, least of all the local law, is sure what the damn restrictions are anyway. Hell, we’re on ‘business’ anyway. The business of a little property development. So no-one is going to bother us much.

Originally, we were all told three weeks lockdown to ‘save’ nationalised health services, which turned into three months, and now at the current rate, with vaccines that don’t really give that much immunity, looks like heading into three stuffing years. When does this torture end? When no-one can die of anything any more? Don’t hold your breath for that one. Now the politicians have claimed the power over the minutiae of our lives, they will be loathe to let it go. Which is a very depressing thought.

Apropos of nothing, might I mention in passing that over here in the Wilder West of Ireland, Michael Collins is still a figure of deep reverence, the picture of this legendary guerrilla fighter hanging on many an Irish wall, as well as being portrayed by Liam Neeson in a very watchable feature film. After all, it was Collins who was the key figure in founding the Irish Free state, the birth father of the modern Republic of Ireland.

Even my family, protestants and heretics all, used to speak well of the ‘big fellow’ or ‘big man’ as he was known, despite one of our remote relatives being murdered by republicans back in the early 1900’s. Although fair’s fair, we had distant relatives murdered by both sides in the struggle for Irish independence, like so many others of Irish descent. And I was never a fan of what the paramilitaries did during ‘the troubles’. Neither side. But Collins was a realist and man of his people.

I try to look at it this way, it was all a long time ago and life is too short to hold that kind of grudge. The killers and order givers are all dead and long cold in their graves anyway. The fires of hell have claimed the wicked. Justice of a sort has happened.

Funny thing though, a few days ago between lockdowns, Mrs S and I were sitting in a pub having a quiet drink and I found myself looking up at a picture of Mr Collins in army uniform and wondering; “What would Michael Collins think about these curbs on Irish freedom and hate speech laws?” For a moment all the pub sounds faded into the background and I slipped into a short daydream until Mrs S Prodded me back to reality. Was it my imagination, or had I heard a ghostly chuckle and the double-snick of a well greased rifle bolt? Nah. Probably just my over-active imagination.

Anyway. Happy New Year all. Let’s try not to make a complete 2020 of the new year. Although no doubt the political classes will give it their best try.

Best Regards,

Bill