Railway art, crocodile tears and Hamlet.

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You never regret a railway journey, no matter how crowded or hot the train may be or how glum your fellow passengers are. There is always that childish air of promise, some surprise to intrigue or divert  your mind. Your companions may be caught in a moment of suspended animation or indeed in animated conversation. The train presents opportunities for concentrated people-watching, probably the oldest entertainment in the world. You must keep an impassive poker face. Or you can look out the window. A vast cyclorama unfolds as you go along: sheep grazing, a man ploughing with a tractor, birds descending on the furrows, golfers deliberating, boats on the dry, back gardens with the bric a brac of family life strewn about the lawn, projected suburban developments long abandoned and overgrown with weeds. Three jet planes there, racing westwards. The passengers are too high to see the ducks in Rogerstown estuary or the reflections of the trees where once there were orchards and strawberry beds.

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The young lady beside me was applying her mascara, preparing a face to meet the faces that she meets. It’s a delicate process. It took her all the way to Malahide to get it to her satisfaction.  I thought she looked okay before she started. Strange stuff, mascara. I looked it up. It was used in ancient Egypt by priests and pharaohs and notably by Elizabeth Taylor. It was compounded from wax, kohl, soot, the juices of berries and crocodile stool. I looked that up too. You don’t want to know. Victorian ladies were very fond of mascara and spent hours every day, applying their cosmetics. There was no shortage of soot, what with children climbing up chimneys all the time. Gentlemen used mascara to darken their moustaches. The children in the chimneys had no need of makeup. It would have been wasted on them. Kohl to Newcastle. Just a thought.

Eye liner? Young girls emphasise their eyes with black stuff. It makes the eyes small and sneaky looking. A pity. The windows of the soul.  Eyebrow pencil is a hoot. The eyebrows are painfully plucked away and then replaced further up the forehead, with black paint. It makes for an expression of perpetual surprise. I bet the crocodiles would have been surprised too, if they had known what was being done with their stools. God has given you one face and you paint yourselves another. Hamlet. W Shakespeare. The illusion of beauty might be better if it were not accomplished in public, under the eyes of strangers. Magicians guard their secrets jealously.

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The Victorians had many other accomplishments worth noting. They made cast iron a thing of beauty and utility. They built railways to link countries in meshes of steel. They strung wires and cables to create a world-wide-web. Their municipal and railway building were works of elegance. They invented new colours that a pharaoh might envy. They developed industrial war. They developed photography to record their achievements for better or for worse.  They grew great beards and Dundreary whiskers—the men mostly. They did not invent that ugly perspex, or the aerosol spray can. No wonder Turner and The Impressionists loved the iron, the light and smoke of the railway age.

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That shed had an elegance of its own. It was built by craftsmen in time gone by and defaced by modern vandals. It is difficult to admire graffiti artists. Their slogans are illegible. They appear in the most unlikely places, no doubt at great danger to the artist in question. Perhaps it is akin to the Victorian desire to place a flag on inaccessible peaks. There is an air of revolt and anger about graffiti.  I saw one once, Sod the Ozone Layer. Enough said.  And yet, in certain circumstances, they might have a point. That oil tank is more interesting, even though I can’t read what the artists have written. A lot of work went into it. Maybe like WWI dazzle paint, you don’t see an ugly tank at all.  A spot of crocodile stool might complete the effect.

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The building behind is still ‘a blank canvas’. We shall see.

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Shambling man-like creatures.

  

It seems that in Trump’s America, Evolution is a dirty word in many schools. That is a pity. Look at this little fellow. Does he remind you of anyone? Yes. It’s you. Look at his toes, all ten of them. He has developed a  clever adaptation of the fingers. It has taken millions of years to produce such perfection. He probably would make an indifferent pianist or keyboard operator. But the fingers work for him. Maybe Evolution intended to equip him with an umbrella during the aeons of precipitation  when oxygen and hydrogen came together to fill the cavities of this cooling planet with water. However he got a hang glider. Not even Leonardo da Vinci (clever chap) succeeded in doing that. It has taken humans unreckonable numbers of millennia to achieve flight. To give Leonardo his due, he did many other admirable things.  The definition of the Renaissance Man is that he did not specialise in one narrow field, as is the pattern nowadays. Would you go to a fresco painter to design a helicopter for you, or a military fortification? You would look askance at a portrait artist or a writer of sonnets (backwards) who spent his nights sneaking into morgues or tombs to dissect cadavers by candle light. Those are jobs for specialists. They have papers attesting to their qualifications. No room for gifted amateurs.

This is Agatha,  an Aye Aye, a specialist. She has enormous ears for eavesdropping on termites. She has wonderful eyes for seeing in the dark and locating termites. Observe the remarkably long middle finger–for (you have probably guessed it)–locating termites inside trees and drawing them out, the perfect finger food.  There must be days or even nights when she sees the dark silhouettes of bats crossing the face of the moon  and wishes that just once, she could try something different. But no. She has to concentrate on the endless search for termites. High in protein, deliciously crunchy, inordinately nutritious, as the experts might say.

I’m not averse to a spot of evolution, especially when explained by someone like Attenborough. We have followed  his account of the development of life on earth and the many twists and turns of that story. He has opened our minds to marvel and wonder at the myriad complexities of this story. We like to think that human ingenuity has liberated us from the tyranny of a mere struggle for survival. We talk of Progress as if all new things are better and will make us happier. Trump has spoken about beautiful American weapons. Weapons make us feel secure. Nothing bad can happen to us if we have enough weapons. Arm the teachers to protect their schools. Run Run Shaw, the Hong Kong film mogul had twelve Rolls Royce cars parked on his driveway. He had nowhere to drive them. The Plains Indians captured horses from the invading Spaniards. This increased their productivity when hunting buffalo, to the extent that they had to lug piles of buffalo hides (their index of wealth)  around, when they went on migration. This slowed them up. The Flathead Indians tied boards across the foreheads of newborn babies to make them more beautiful. This compressed the frontal lobes of their little brains, impairing their development. The tribe died out, a kind of reverse evolution. The wealth generated by The Industrial Revolution, was won at a hideous cost.  We should be able to do better—given our superior intelligence. Rupert Murdoch wants to acquire yet more media.

I watched  a shambling hunchbacked figure emerging from the mist. His head was lowered, oblivious to everything around him. His prehensile thumbs flickered across the screen of his phone, tablet, ipad, ipod or whatever, a Quasimodo of the digital age. In a generation or two his descendants will have developed  thumbs to rival the Aye Aye’s termite-catching finger, (specialised evolution). Their heads will grow out at right angles from the body, (specialised ditto) the better to see the screen. Perhaps, of course, Natural Selection will cull the most ardent screen watchers, by means of bigger, faster motor vehicles, particularly those who combine phone use with driving. Look around any restaurant. Families dining together, a vital bonding ritual since the days of the cavemen, sharing the wisdom of the elders with the young to give them a start in life. No they don’t. The wise old elders are texting and the young are left to their own devices. No mutual eye contact. The meals take place often without a word. They have the latest gadgets, so they must be happy. They are specialists. Nobody chipping arrow heads, painting the walls, stitching furs together, singing songs, sharing stories and jokes, tending the fire, looking out for sabre-tooth  tigers or demonstrating a rudimentary wheel (brilliant idea, might just catch on).

The Chinese used to crush the bones of little girls’ feet and bind them so that they grew into ‘beautiful lilies’. This was to make them more attractive (?) and unable to run away from their husbands (progress?). It was the fashion of the time. The mutilation was usually carried out by the older women of the family. I don’t understand modern shoe fashions. A  bevy of young ladies, fashionably dressed as for a wedding, scampered barefoot across a pedestrian crossing in front of me, carrying their fashionable, but unroadworthy,  shoes in their hands. But I thought shoes were for…..Nah!  They laughed as they ran and talked animatedly on their phones. I hope they weren’t late for the wedding. At least they were able to run. That’s progress I suppose. Grumble grumble. I guess I’m a Luddite at heart.

Not bad but still no cigar.

 

How low can you stoop? Health and Safety

via How low can you stoop? Health and Safety

Holmpatrick Cove, Skerries. 2nd Invitation to Walk the Land. Bank Holiday Monday, 30th October 2017 1p.m.

Walking the land has long been regarded as essential to an understanding of what happens on a farm and what must be done to ensure a positive outcome. The same can be said of the proposed development at Holmpatrick Cove, Skerries, granted full planning permission by Fingal County Council last January. The first public walk on the land was on October 8th, when several hundred people came along to see what is proposed. Many had never visited this area of Skerries before. They were astonished by the spectacular views that opened up before them. There was well-nigh unanimous support for the venture which offers much needed amenities to Skerries and the surrounding area: a ready-to-go coastal walk and training pitches for young people; a hotel; a swimming pool and gymnasium, all fully accessible to the public, plus an outstanding housing development by Baufritz, one of the leading builders of Eco housing in Europe. There was widespread dismay and disbelief at the fact that An Bord Pleanála had, after seven months of deliberation, denied permission for the scheme to proceed.

For any who were unable to visit Holmpatrick Cove on October 8th, a second general invitation to walk the site, is extended for  the Bank Holiday, Monday, October 30th. The entrance is not far away: 22 metres from Shennick Green open space, 128 metres from the nearest house in Downside Estate and 24 metres from the bus stop at Shennick Estate, all integral parts of the urban  area of Skerries town. This leads you onto the Coastal Walk, an objective of Fingal’s Development Plan since the 1970s, which can be realised by the Holmpatrick Cove Plan, at no cost to the Council or to the taxpayer! You will see the site for the proposed hotel. There is no hotel in or close to Skerries, noted in the Tidy Town report as a major gap in the social fabric of Skerries.

 

 

 

You will pass the site of the proposed, ready-for-use training pitches, very much desired by the sports clubs of Skerries and offered at no cost to the Council or to the taxpayer. The houses nearest to these training pitches stand at an average distance of 120 metres from the site. None of the occupants of these houses made any objection to the development of Holmpatrick Cove. The houses of the principal objectors stand between 150 metres and 305 metres from the pitches. Nevertheless, the Bord Pleanála refusal maintained that children playing on these pitches during daylight hours, (as there will be no flood-lighting)could cause inconvenience and damage the enjoyment of their houses by the occupants. As for the coastal walk, the objectors’ houses  are at an average distance of 310 metres from the coastal walk. My apologies for burdening you with statistics but compare the three main sports clubs, G.A.A. Soccer and Rugby Clubs whose pitches (flood-lit) are surrounded by housing estates that stand as close as 20 metres to the main pitches. Does anyone demand that these clubs should be removed? On the contrary, most residents  regard these clubs as valuable assets and good neighbours, encouraging healthy activity among hundreds of young people and as major contributors to the social capital of Skerries.

    

Consider if you will, the enormous benefit of the coastal walk, projected by the Council to go to Loughshinny, Drumanagh and Rush and even further. This would undoubtedly become one of the great tourist attractions of Fingal.

As pointed out at the last walk on October 8th, there have been campaigns for a swimming pool in Skerries for at least 40 years. There is no swimming pool in North Fingal. Holmpatrick Cove offers a swimming pool to serve the schools and general public for this area–again at no cost to the Council or to the taxpayer. You might like to read that again…no cost, either financial or environmental. The rigorous Environmental Impact Statement, the Archaeological and Ornithological Surveys show conclusively that environmental and cultural considerations have been at the forefront of this development. Yet permission was refused on foot of objections  from  a few individuals living close to the site.

Judge for yourself. You may read these objections (public documents) on the website of Fingal Planning…search planning applications online. F16A/0085, as you may study the plans, the history of this application and other correspondence under Documents. You can click on the last entry on the panel  CLICK HERE for the some details of the appeals against the Council Grant of permission, the BordPleanála decision and inspector’s report. Fingal PLo6F.247928  (Public documents.) If you are wearied, frustrated, angry or curious from all this reading, come along to Holmpatrick Cove on Monday next, Bank Holiday Monday 30th of October, take in the views, breathe the fresh air and give your imagination free rein to picture what could be here and has as yet, been denied permission by An Bord Pleanála against the wishes of your elected Council and the many people who signed the petition, as you can still do, in support of Holmpatrick Cove. Assemble at Shennick Green to  start at 1p.m.

 

See also the splendid photographs in Skerries News and videos on the Holmpatrick Cove Skerries  facebook site.

Hooray for Hollywood. They don’t make movies or gags like those anymore

Source: Hooray for Hollywood. They don’t make movies or gags like those anymore

See For Yourself: Holmpatrick Cove Support Walk. Sunday October 8th at 1.00. p.m. to 3.00 p.mm. Rugby Club Steps, White Wall, Shennick Green

Click on all images to enlarge. Please share this post as widely as possible.

               

   

These are a few views from the proposed Holmpatrick Cove Coastal Path. It is probable that most people in Skerries and the wider Fingal area, have never seen this vista. Up to now this view has been available only to a privileged few—-who object to the lands being made accessible to the general public. Please come and see what could be achieved here by the Holmpatrick Cove Development—-already granted full planning permission by Fingal County Council, your democratically elected Council. Do not allow this amazing opportunity to be lost to you, to your children and to future generations. Bring your camera and be delighted.