Posts Tagged ‘Irish’

The commission for a mural and teaching adults.(Auto- biography).

August 11, 2015

With roughly more than seven decades between the beginning and now, one has to allow for some discrepancies on this heap of memories. The order and dates might not be exact but the events are true. One might also have to allow that the events are somewhat embellished to make them more readable  or perhaps even enjoyable. A French polished table doesn’t make it less or more of a table if presented in raw oak.  The specimen of my life is not any different from the multitudes of other lives. It is also not any more unique in its minutia than those other lives of this world.  I write what I feel was important. But the nature of writing an autobiography  implies a certain amount of egoism. I do it to continue with my life as I have in the past. Keep myself off the street. I enjoy the confessional  part of it, but also realize it is a race against time with the inevitability of those final last words that befalls all of us. The pole vaulting days are over but writing about it makes solid the past. A kind of coagulation of a mishmash of memories rusted onto the years gone by. The words as yet not said do remain ringing.

The school that our daughter went to was about a ten minutes bicycle ride along a sweet little country lane into the small town. She used to come home for lunch and go off again for afternoon lessons. At no stage did we even contemplate that there were dangers of traffic or bad people prowling about. Children getting to school on their own was the norm. At least in The Netherlands. It was idyllic. Even in the country, no distance seemed beyond a ride on a bicycle. No helmets were worn either. All was safe and there were bicycle path separating riders from cars. We had sheep, chickens and a pregnant Shetland pony. What could one ask for more?

One winter morning there was a furious tapping on our bedroom window. Our bedroom was at the front of the farm overlooking the meadow in which the sheep and pony grazed. It was our neighbour. He was a serious farmer unlike us. “You have a foal, Gerard.”   “Get up and hang the afterbirth” he said. Of course it wasn’t in those words. The dialect in the area we lived in was as unlike Dutch as Scottish is from English, or Welsh from Irish. Is there some unwritten law that men respond to tapping on bedroom windows and not the female? In any case, it had snowed outside and our bed was warm. Even so, I did admire and liked our neighbour’s care for our pony. He had already told us it looked she might un-pack at any moment. I got out of bed and went outside just wearing slippers and a morning coat. Indeed there was this lovely little foal barely able to stand up and take its first suckle.

Sorry for the B/W picture only. It was a triptych painted in acrylic..

I don’t know why an afterbirth had to be hung up from a tree away from ground hugging predators such a  canny fox or, indeed a wolf or bear. It was a tradition steeped in folklore and we apparently had chosen our farm in a village that were the harbingers and last owners of some very ancient habits which must not be disregarded.  We, after all were living here as strangers and really almost imposters more than traditional owners and had to tread carefully with respect to keeping their traditions. I stumbled about found the afterbirth and flung it over the large elm next to the farm house. Both mother and baby Shetland were doing fine. Our neighbours were happy too.

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A Horse, a Horse, my Kingdom for a Horse…(Steak)

February 10, 2013

galloping-horseA Horse, a Horse, a Kingdom for a Horse… (Steak)

There are so many different strokes for different folks it makes a mockery of absolute truth, common sense or even us keeping a semblance of  being sane. As some say; what is grist to the mill is porridge for the porkers.

Who can’t but be amused over the ‘shocking revelations’ that horse meat has been eaten in Britain? People were seen choking on their tripe and tripping over their chokos. What, eating horse? We are English, don’t you know? Cameron was keen in pointing out, the moral repugnance of having been dudded by the French in meat being horse meat instead of real meat, the holy ‘cow’. I am sure many were also outraged by having eaten horse, never mind morals of eating any animal.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-09/cameron-condemns-horse-meat-scandal/4509702

There is growing outrage, and of course, its le frogs who are to blame. What insult, with ’les chevaux’ being mixed into our beloved frozen hamburger mince. What will the neighbours think?

The irony must be crystal clear to many of the non-Anglo world that in a country where just about everyone is brought up on horse racing, betting and punting, that the eating of horses is seen as abhorrent, close to eating babies or to boarding out children to schools. (Hold onto your horses, we do that lovingly).

We all know that horses are not allowed to be whipped anymore and much is made to prove we don’t, with lots of TV footage of horses being stroked and even kissed (on the flaring nostril after having made a packet for the owner and the punters). Surely, that’s proof of our love for horses!

Yes, but what about the proof also that horse racing is cruel and not far removed from Espanol bull fighting or Indonesian cock-fighting. The animals are manically competing against each other and when their chance of winning is beyond hope they will end up in paddocks, hopefully looked after caring owners but many also with enlarged hearts, lungs and tissue damage. It is estimated that about 60% of horses trained for racing end up at the knackery well before their natural lives would have expired.

That’s right, next time you open a tin of Pal, look deep inside, you are looking at Beaux Hoofs or Triple Ur Dollar. Many also are so psychologically damaged, too nervous and flighty, unfit for casual riding around the paddock as well. We also know that many are damaged during racing with torn muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Look, having come from Holland I have eaten horse meat as well. Mea Culpa to all horse lovers. It was one of mum’s bitter disappointments that David Jones in Australia did not sell smoked prosciutto from horse meat.’ Oh, no we don’t sell horse meat,’ she was told. My mum blithely unaware of the cultural sensitivity, answered, ‘oh, you should try it, and it is sooo delicious… mmm…she smacked her lips.’ The shop girl disappeared, fainted behind the counter.

I don’t think the French, Dutch or Italians love horses any less than the Brits or Irish but make less of a fuss when eating them. The Dutch are more likely not to eat sheep. Those poor little lambs etc. It is strange isn’t it, with that lovely children’s song with little Bo Peep that it hasn’t filtered down in Britain to then also not eat lamb.

 

Different strokes etc… and so it goes on. The more one learns about people the more I like my lentils and stroke my Milo. Our incorrigible Jack Russell.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUql207FuW4

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