Saturday, December 31, 2011

New years snow (and firework), 12.30 a.m. 2010
Strange dream last night (though I suppose most of my dreams are strange, after a fashion). Just remember a tiny fragment: walking along a road where a couple of small girls were playing. After I passed them one shouted 'Are you an atheist?'

Only one answer to that: yes and no. Amis's definition of agnostic (as in acknowledging our immense ignorance in finding the right questions (never mind answers) to the great cosmic Because) is about right.

Anyway, Happy New Year to all. As your man puts it, 'Live long and prosper' (if the latter wish is not too tall an order under the circumstances).

Photo above is a view of our snow-crusted road after midnight on January 1st 2010 (you can see a firework going off far right). And here's a little something to go with it, if you're in the mood:

 Dublin, January 2010

At home, hearing the knock
of fireworks – the city uncorked

shaking and shaking its bells –
he peers out, listens, inhales

real snow, newly laid
on steps, road –– a decade’s

slippage underscored by black
street-lit tyre-tracks

looping the hedged corner
out of what was –– just –– there.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Cracker

Christmas Cracker
Which is the more correct?
(a) Ho fucking Ho
(b) Ho fucking Ho-Ho
or (c) Ho-Ho fucking Ho

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A French Teacher

French Teacher

Mr Feutren (Fruity) isn’t from France
but Brittany. Important. Make no mistake.
Something –– anger? passion? –– has shorn his face
to a bald, beak-nosed, hunched-electric presence.   

Yes, he fought with the SS during the war.
A Breton nationalist, why should he hide
what he believes? What he did was justified
(though I’m not sure who these justifications are for).

The Irish, so stupide! Hard to believe
how little we know, and how can we make a start
when, in restaurants, we ignore the heart
of artichokes, to nibble at the leaves.

Now he has lost patience and swoops to wrench
some slowcoach from his desk. I am in his sights
and will be next. Because of (or despite)
whatever he fled, he teaches excellent French. 

When our French teacher (in St. Conleth's, Clyde Rd. Dublin) died in 2010 he left a load of papers of 'historical interest' (along with a bequest of £300,000) to The National Library of Wales. This created a minor scandal because of his historically interesting past as a Breton nationalist/collaborator in the Bezen Perrot, essentially an SS unit. He even had a proper uniform and title: SS-Oberscharführer. He fled after the war, first to Germany then Wales and eventually Ireland. Though I never learned a word of French (or much else) in school, he was a vivid presence, and apparently (according to my school friends) a brilliant teacher. So I've included him (above), in a sequence I'm working on about my school days (ironically titled 'Academic').

 PHOTO: SS-Oberscharführer Louis Feutren, ID photo for his Soldatenbuch, c. early 1945. (Bezen Perrot archives)