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You can’t – she said – go to Sevilla and not try the ‘tostadas’ somewhere like Restaurante Sevilla.

So there I sat inside what looked from the outside like the Iberian version of Jay’s Cafe Diner. Waiting for the experience. And it was as good as they say. Caffe solo,  Jamón Ibérico and fresh orange juice. Breaking my fast among real people going about real lives. And paying only a cursory glance at the interloper sat at what was probably someone’s regular table.

Sevilla se mueve con energia… limpia.  It says so on the side of just about every public bus in this amazing city and it’s true.  Even the street art is incredible;











So too is the calibre of participant at the workshop that gives me reason to be here:

Prof Nancy Law, HKU and Dr Kampei HAYASHI, JSPS.

Prof Nancy Law, HKU and Dr Kampei HAYASHI, JSPS.














So basically here I am on the edge of things. The end of a personal odyssey. But probably not much the worse for it all.  And there are still oranges on the trees.



Seville 2012, December oranges


… wandering about up here on the interweb can be a melancholic sort of thing. You hit on a site like 20six that you haven’t seen for a long while and think ah yeah, this used to be a bit of a fun place. But then you look more closely and you see the changes time has brought – some subtle, some very much in evidence. Missing people. Broken links. Whole swathes of those incognito years gone. Digital silences. Aching emptinesses… dust blown from high shelves in long neglected rooms to reveal only absences.

A real sense that the party has moved on. Especially so when even the ‘WayBack Machine’ can’t take you there…

You know you should have archived all that stuff. All those posts and blog entries that tok your breath away. Meant to. But good intentions and adverbs litter those busywork nights…. 🙂

Here’s one that survived though, tucked away in a remote corner of a distant web.  From Daisy who was (is?) one of those teachers you always wished you had:

14 January 2005 at 19:26
And then…
..a 14 year old boy stands up in front of the class and tells you how his great grandfather was in the first world war. He reads you extracts from his letters about how he misses his wife, and how sometimes he feels cold and lonely in the trenches at night and you feel like you can almost smell the rotting bodies and hear the guns blazing over-head… and the fourteen year old boy finishes the letter and turns to you and says ‘He died the day after he wrote that letter miss, but my grandmother says he was a lovely and cheerful man and I never knew until you told me to go and find out.’

And there is a silence as everybody in the room thinks about this cheerful man, all alone and homesick and suddenly one by one the boys burst into applause …and it takes Miss a couple of minutes before she can speak.

Sometimes something that is said stays with us. No matter how idiotic; it just sticks. Which should I suppose be heartening given the day-job – at least the mad-cow isn’t kicking in yet. And so it’s nothing to write-up as a paper. Unless of course you’re on a roll or badly need a publication quota; Altered constructions of self and semiotic misunderestimations in the Western LGB tradition. That should sell.

But there can be a kind of mongrel-pup-follows-you-home insistence in words.  Which I suppose is why they can niggle.

Twice lately in ‘conversations’ about the future of our small enterprise by the square lake, a co-worker (popinjay-type, good on the recognition of Important People around campus, and an accomplished forelock tugger) has muttered darkly that there are too many ‘precious people’ about the place. This it would seem to mean too many who don’t share The Vision.

First time I put it down to the best they could come up with in terms of an acerbic barb intended simply to annoy on a personal level.  Second time I began to wonder whether there may be a modicum of ontological accuracy to it – the sleeveen sentiment is, after all, very much in keeping with emerging practices in these twisted times.  With all the Omertà, insiders inside cabals, and the not letting Marino know what we’re up to.  Or that Hibernia crowd; Vesi at best…  (I wonder could we buy them out?)

However, on mature reflection I’ve come to the opinion that it is all a bit like young love among the New Horizons freshers or the true importance of QS World University Rankings; nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

Of course smoke can provide excellent cover and concealment while you assemble your lines. And shattered mirrors mean shards to fashion into rudimentary weapons.

Now if only we had some music… a marching band perhaps, with a gallant JP Sousa type out front and the forelock tugger and co-everythings in behind.  That should frighten the buggers………..

Dragged away from it all for a weekend… and just when I was getting meaningfully back into the whole Sturm und Drang thing hanging over the square lake  & environs.  Went south – in a positive way.  Cork.  Sandycove Island, in fact.  BagMan mode.

Stayed “just outside the colourful heritage town of Clonakilty in West Cork” and enjoyed it.  Greatly.  Kind-of like this for a storm-battered soul.

Elsewhere, last pieces sliding into place for a pretty whole-sale eviscerating of the university presence in teacher education in this country. Led by those who should know a whole lot better. Omertà imposssed on the Wee Free of Roebuck  And so far not a titter of public protest.

Perhaps sometimes you really do get what you deserve in life….

Time to dust things down a bit, I suppose.  September is incoming and it looks like another interesting year is in prospect.
The summer has been good; there has been  midnight sun, some fun times on the wrong side of the tracks, and of course a room with not only one but two views.
So… ready to return to the leafy campus?   Kicking & screaming….


Midnight sun on Sando Island, June 2012

Sigriswil, Switzerland, August 2012.

To catch up.  Just to see what’s new in your worlds.  To wonder at the fact of still enduring.

To count off the events and happenstances of a year not easily to be forgotten: Brussels, Portlaoise, Cavan, Limerick, Porto, Barcelona, London; Viking, Active Presence, Missionpoint…. and so much more. None of which made it on here!

To look back incredulously on eight months that’ve just gone to plaid… and to share a coffee at what may well be the eye of a storm.

Go mbeirimid beo ar an am so arís.

This evening a number of sky lanterns floated high over the houses in this part of the village where I live. They were stunningly beautiful. Silent, elegant ships of light in the high darkness.

And while part of me suspects they may simply be among the left-overs from last night – when rockets and lanterns seemed to fill the sky above the trick’r’treating crowds – the rest of me half-hoped it was something else. Something more.  I am probably about as areligious as you can be without falling out the door of any community of faith but I do remember that the lighting of votive candles and lights often formed part of the All Saints observations in the chapels of my home town, when I was a child.  As did fasting, prayers and litanies offered for faithfulness. While fasting, prayers and those litanies are now mostly consigned to individual and collective memory, it would be nice to think that out there, somewhere to the south-west of where I sit typing this, there is a hand and heart that believes enough in the votive power of floating lights in a dark sky to set those lanterns sailing.

… your rabbits from your reindeers can get you into all sorts of scrapes when you visit friends with children. Especially when there is a chocolate ‘rabbit’ involved.

– Honestly, it’s a rabbit. You know, a pre-Easter bunny… it’s a little present. Specially for you.

Silence. Quivering lip. Big eyes.

– And those are branches caught between its ears. Not antlers. Honestly.

– I. want. a. rabbit. not. a. rudolf…

Panic rising. There will be tears. It will be a long rabbitless evening. I have failed miserably once again to connect with the whine generation (miniature variety). Old college friend is also approaching tears. The other sort though.

I should have looked more carefully at the stuff on that Maxol shelf. Clearly, Rabbit-ish is not rabbit-enough when dealing with a 4 year old. And come to think of it, ‘not A enough’ is the petulant cry of more than one foot-stampin’ type around here lately… ah yes, the joys of a Belfield Spring.

There was it seems at least one moment of levity at the recent Commencement Address to Graduands at the snow-bound beautiful, leafy campus 4k to the south of the centre of Dublin city. The conferring took place in the O’Reilly Hall which is adjacent to the beautiful campus’ Square Lake – and this, like most of the rest of the place not needed for the safe passage of administrators. VPs  and other Key People, was frozen solid.

Those young hearts going out into the world were advised in all seriousness NOT to try to walk on the lake.

Which only goes to show Health & Safety sees off Divinity and possibly even Structural & Solid Mechanics every time…

… get so annoyed with the facile and offensive nature of something in your email in-box that you hit Reply, slam out a response, and hit Send.  Then you think a bit.

Another in an ever-increasing stream of hectoring emails from some VP or other arrived in my inbox today. It was banging on about some missing annual return from the 2008/09 academic year without which the world was likely, it seems, to stop spinning. 

Academics are obviously too thick to appreciate the absolute necessity to …demonstrate compliance with the policy and the procedures outlined therein.  So the email went on at some length about failure to complete… deemed to indicate … should information to the contrary emerge… viewed most seriously… and so on.  You get the drift, I’m sure.

But bad as it was,  it wasn’t this that really pushed the button. No. It was the public listing of all  members of university staff who had shamefully defaulted on this essential act of probity and not returned the essential form.  There we were @ after @ in the ‘To’  list:  225 in all.  On The N@ughty Step, so to speak.

I was both a little angry and a bit surprised that anyone could be so casual about publishing this kind of information. So I replied. To all.

This seems to cause a bit of a flap campus-wide because my inbox buzzed for much of the afternoon with observations and comments from others on the ‘Wall of Shame’. Some were simply wondering what it was all about, others  were just angry about  the endless sand-storms of administration.  One respondent put the whole thing in a wonderfully elegant way; it was all about meeting the ordeals (of the greatest triviality) devised by the VP’s office concerned.

For some reason I kept thinking of grey philistines and also of a conversation earlier today here. They connect  – somewhere around the notion of direction, autonomy, and respect. Or lack of it.  

Only one  response – from an economist colleague – was in any way hostile to either my own contribution to the rather unintended thread or to those who kept the conversation going using Reply All. The message was pretty direct: I don’t care what you think. Using Reply All like this was, in a very clearly stated view, an abuse of email facilities.

Perhaps. But I can’t help thinking that sending an open-list email isn’t all that far behind in the abuse stakes.  It also shows a pretty spectacular lack of timing to drop a fox like this in the hen-house when so many are struggling to meet marking and grading deadlines right across the university.  But then VPs and straight-talking economists probably don’t have to think too much about that sort of thing.  🙂