Black and white photography

We have a visitor here at the Manor.

The daughter's dog stayed overnight and the place is in a right state of chassis.

Cola is a lovely dog.  She is big, black and hairy and lives under the illusion that she is a small cute puppy.  As a result she tends to crash around the place sending things flying and knocking things over.  She also has a major fascination with me for some reason so I have to keep yelling at her to stop trying to climb on my lap. 

Penny gets on very well with her, but there are tinges of jealousy.  Strangely enough it is usually Cola who is the jealous one so I can't go near Penny without Cola crashing on top of me demanding affection.  And when she crashes, she crashes.  As I said – she's big [and heavy].

To add to the confusion, the neighbour's dog has more or less taken up residence here so between the three of them the garden is now ripped to shreds with mud, grass and debris spread all over the gaff. 

I tried photographing Penny and Cola and there I ran into a problem.  You see, Penny has a pure white coat and Cola is pure black.  So whatever exposure I use, I either underexpose one or over expose the other.

Cola and Penny

Maybe I should re-take that photograph now? 

They are just back in from the garden and both are equally mud coloured.

As is the couch.

Government in crISIS

This Irish Water lark really is the gift that keeps on giving.

During the week, the gubmint had a rethink.  They are now going to bill us at a flat rate [thereby eliminating any argument that it’s about conservation].  The new rate is capped at an "affordable" rate, which I suppose is quite affordable if you're on nearly ninety thousand a year which is what those gombeens in gubmint get paid.  The rate is capped until 2019, and a law will be introduced to ensure that Irish Water will not be privatised.

Claiming to put a cap on the tax until 2019 really shows the gubmints contempt for the people.  There are those who will be taken in by this ploy but anyone with any intelligence will spot that this is a "loss leader" to get people to sign up.  One they have signed into the scam the tax will skyrocket through the roof.  And as for passing a law to prevent Irish Water from being privatised –  they can just as quickly introduce another law cancelling out the first.  Smoke and mirrors.  Three card tricks.

Then of course there is the tactic of divide and conquer.  This reached a high point yesterday when some gobshite in the Dáil compared water protesters to the ISIS fighters.

Yes, seriously.

We are facing an ISIS situation because of the water protesters.

Now I have seen a water bomb smack Burton on the back of the neck, and I have seen the crowds surrounding said Burton's car but I don't think there has been any kidnapping, rapes or beheading?  Have protesters been sending kidnap videos to RTE? What have I been missing?

I would put it to that fucking red-neck twat that his proposal of "nipping the protests in the bud" is far more reminiscent of an old Soviet style of state where dissenters must be squashed and eradicated. 

He seems to be trying to give the impression that the protesters are all middle class well heeled Dubliners trying to live off the backs of the poor country folk?

I wonder what all those Dublin folk are doing down in Cork today?

In defense of the pipe

There is something that has puzzled me for a long time.

Where have all the pipe smokers gone?

I know there are a few Puritans who would smugly claim that they have all been killed by their nasty foul addiction but that is plainly a pile of ordure.  I remember a time when on Budget Day the price of cigarettes would be increased but not the price of pipe tobacco or cigars because they were considered "a healthy alternative".  I remember a day when politicians such as Harold Wilson or Jack Lynch would never be seen without a pipe.

The other day I was enjoying a nice pipeful and a large coffee down in the village.  I got chatting to my old pal who runs the village grocery store.  As I puffed my pipe and he puffed his cigarette we naturally got onto the subject of smoking, and I mentioned my little puzzle.  It struck me that if anyone knew how many pipe smokers there were in the vicinity, he would.

He thought for a while and did a bit of mental inventory.

I don't know what the population would be in his shop's catchment area.  Including the village and all the outlying areas where people have to travel through the village to get home, I reckon there are about three thousand.  Going by statistics around eight hundred of those would smoke.  And the number of those who smoke a pipe?  Including myself … four.  Only four people in a very large area of the county?  Only 0.5% of smokers?  I found that quite amazing.

It has reached the stage where, if I meet a pipe smoker while out and about we are such a rarity that we get chatting.  The same question always arises – where have all the pipe smokers gone?

One thing I have discovered over the years is that the pipe is admired by just about everyone, smoker and non-smoker alike.  I have lost count of the people who admire the aroma, and the number of people who have said it evokes memories of their father or grandfather.  It ranks up there with the smell of an Autumn bonfire or turf smoke.  Many have said even the mere sight of a pipe-smoker is relaxing.

I used to smoke cigarettes [well over forty years ago] and I found them to be messy.  There was always ash everywhere and butts to be disposed of.  They were a quick fix and tasted of saltpeter.  The pipe on the other hand keeps its ash neatly in the bowl and there are no fag-ends.  Ash can be discreetly disposed of at the end of a smoke, and that's it.  I grant that a pipe is a little more trouble in that it has to be cleaned regularly and it's an extra item to carry around – instead of fags and a lighter, I have to carry a pipe, tobacco and a lighter, but that is a miniscule drawback compared to the rich flavour and aroma.

Even the Puritans ignore us.  Their questionnaires and statistics always quote the "number of cigarettes per day" and never ever mention quantities of tobacco.  They wiffle on with their 4000 [or is it 6000?  I’ve lost count] carcinogens in cigarettes but they never analyse pipe tobacco which I'm damn sure contains far less.  Any real doctor [as distinct from those who just trot out the party line] I have ever spoken to has always told me that the pipe is far preferable to cigarettes so why is this never publicised?

Because of the Anti-Smoker movement [Big Pharma, to you and me] a lot of people considered their position on cigarettes.  Many have switched to electrofag, some went cold turkey and the more brainless even tried Big Pharma's own useless patches and gum.  But no one ever suggested they try a pipe.  Why?

Has anyone got any answers?

Alcohol Awareness Week

I dropped by Dick Puddlecote's over the weekend.

In between rifling his fridge and raiding his drinks cabinet [I had to raise a glass to his sixth birthday?] I noticed he mentioned that this is Alcohol Awareness Week.

Now I wasn't aware this is Alcohol Awareness Week so maybe they should have an Awareness Week set aside to make us aware of all the various awareness weeks that we aren't aware of?  It seems logical?

I did a little research and discovered that this appears to be a uniquely British event.  There was no mention of an Irish Alcohol Awareness Week so I can only assume that they are aware that we are all aware of alcohol?  The only site I could find here in the Emerald Isle was Alcohol Forum, but their latest news only goes up as far as the 1st of July.  Maybe they suddenly became aware of alcohol and haven't been sober enough to write since?  Seeing as they are funded not only by the gubmint [i.e. my taxes] but also by the EU [i.e. everyone’s taxes] they must be on one hell of a bender.  Fair play.

I have been aware of alcohol from a very early age, though I could only speak its name later on when I learned to talk.  I am aware of it every time I raise a pint of stout or a glass of the hard tack.  I'm even aware of it when I sup a glass of wine around the neighbours when wine is all they have, so I'm not really sure if an Alcohol Awareness Week would benefit me in any way.  However there is a problem with these awareness campaigns [apart from their being fucking stupid and irritating] is that the Nannies love using them to spout pure bilge in the guise of facts.

Nanny: Hello Grandad.  Are you aware this is Alcohol Awareness Week?

Me: No, and I don't care.

Nanny: But are you aware that a million fluffy kittens die every time you drink a pint?

Me: Aw go fuck yourself.

You see what I mean?  They bring out these awareness weeks to make us aware of all the stupid fucking idiotic "facts" they have dreamed up since the last awareness week. 

Why can't the pubs hold an Alcohol Awareness Week?  Maybe there is a person out there who isn't aware what alcohol is and that person really should be made aware?  Think of the enjoyment?  Think of the health benefits?  Those people are missing out on the sheer delight of waking in the gutter at first light all covered in puke and diced carrots.  Pubs should make us all more aware of alcohol by offering each one of us at least one free pint a night.

I'd drink to that.

Oh, and Happy Anniversary, Dick!

Divide and conquer

The “vast majority” of anti-water charges protesters are “led by forces who have no regard for democracy”, said Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.

Time for a rewrite?

The Irish Gubmint is “led by forces who have no regard for democracy”, said Grandad.

There.  That's more like it!

The latest tactic apparently is to tar all protesters with the same brush – we are all anarchists [dead right!], hooligans, left wing factions, criminals and have no regard for the safety of women and of course … cheeeeldren.

According to Dame Enda, there is nothing wrong with protesting.  That is, provided we all stand meekly on the pavement silently waving placards while politicians drive past with smirks on their faces.  Move one foot off the pavement however and we become criminals, left-wing hooligans and anarchists. 

Dame Enda seems to have this dream of an ideal Ireland.  In his dream, we all meekly pay our taxes, accept whatever is thrown at us and tug the forelock whenever a politician drives past.  In his dream, politicians are left alone to claim their massive salaries [and pensions] while jetting off to wine and dine with their masters in Brussels.  We are the Plain People and we have no right to object.  In fact, we have no right to think as the gubmint will do all our thinking for us. 

Unfortunately for Dame Enda, the Plain People of Ireland don't see things his way.  We have seen through his little scam to privatise a basic human resource and to bill us twice for the privilege of drinking a glass of water.  We have had enough of his taxes and his contempt.  He is damn lucky that all he is getting is a few rowdy protesters and the odd water bomb.

His tactic now is to try to demonise the protesters and to turn the general population against them. Divide and conquer is an old trick.  Every demonstration becomes a riot.  Every protest is a criminal act.  Blocking a car is kidnapping.  A water balloon is a deadly missile.  I have even seen a suggestion that he is organising his own hooligan element to discredit the protesters.  That wouldn't surprise me one bit.

The Taoiseach said the issue with Saturday's protest was far beyond whether people could afford to pay for water.

Yes – he's beginning to get the message.  It is not about whether we can afford to pay, but rather that we don't want Irish Water in the first place. 

He said there was a more "sinister agenda" at play.

Sinister for him, maybe.  The people want him and is ilk out of power.

The Plain People of Ireland are at last awakening.