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Saturday, February 18, 2017
‘There was this fantastic thing a writer called Archie McGregor did in the 1980s…. It was called “Bruno Glanvilla writes”, and it was very much a skit of Glanville boasting, “I was in Italy last week, in bella Italia, and I was with Graham Souness, and…. oh, what a handsome man he is.” Glanville was showing off,’ ….’It was all about the fine meal he enjoyed, and the wine he drank, and the people he met.”
In a word, culture. And by the 1970s, the English football fan had set about trashing if not the citadels of European culture, then at least the idea of them.
from And the Sun Shines Now (How Hillsborough and the Premier League Changed Britain) by Adrian Tempany (2016). Very Highly Recommended.
Saturday, February 11, 2017
By then, we had reached the river again. And the sun came up in the east where the Liffey meets the sea and the black water began to come to life. The air was full of the smell of hops, sweet and heavy as treacle and seagulls circled in the sky over the brewery. A heron was standing on a rock in the river on one leg, like a ballerina. Everything very quiet. Dublin was dreaming for a moment…. All quiet and glittering in the morning sun.
And next thing, we heard the shots.
from Signatories by Emma Donoghue, Thomas Kilroy, Hugo Hamilton, Frank McGuinness, Rachel Fehily, Eilís Ní Dhuibhne, Marina Carr, Joseph O’Connor (2016). Very Highly Recommended.
Saturday, February 4, 2017
….sitting down to our supper of boiled bread and milk. We have both to spare, as the storm did not permit the milkman to land in the morning, and we now have a double portion. Adam says: ‘Mamma will be in great glee when she comes here, to find such lots of boiled bread and milk.’ I am annoyed from little turns I am forced to do about myself and Adam. Fancy me cooking ham and cabbage, and cleaning up the crockery?
from Too Beautiful For Thieves And Pickpockets, a history of the Victorian convict prison on Spike Island, by Cal McCarthy and Barra O’Donnabhain (2016). Recommended.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
The seminary was renowned for its food, the produce of its out-farms. Plates of sliced pork, cured ham and pressed tongue were laid out on white tablecloths in the lee of the sand dunes. We poured home-made lemonade from glass bottles. Some of the lads had gathered flotsam and we boiled up the water we had brought.
I had known for thirty minutes that I had made the wrong choice in life.
from The Trout by Peter Cunningham (2016). Very Highly Recommended
Friday, January 20, 2017
I’ll say quickly what..brought me to America but I don’t feel much in the way of saying too much. Least said soonest mended is the old saw…
My father was a butter exporter in a small way sending butter in barrels out of Sligo port into England. All good things were sent there. Cows, beeves, pigs, sheep, goats, wheat, barley, English corn, beets, carrots, cabbages, and all the rest of the paraphernalia of existence. All that was left in Ireland was the potato and when the potato was lost there was nothing left in old Ireland.
from Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (2016). Very Highly Recommended.
Friday, January 13, 2017
They simply didn't know what hit them. The Young Munster supporters would arrive in their thousands…. They'd come into the clubhouse beforehand and set up base camp. They’d have the sandwiches ready and one massive communal picnic would break out. They'd have their pig's feet and a few pints and they'd be saluting everyone. This was a big shock if you were from Wanderers or Lansdowne.
from Donal Lenihan: My Life in Rugby by Donal Lenihan (2016). Recommended.
Saturday, January 7, 2017
Keogh invited the three of us to dinner at his home next day…..
Wolfe Tone arrived to join us for a dinner of brisket of beef, roast leg of mutton and boiled cows’ heels, washed down with claret from Lisbon. As secretary of the Catholic Committee, Tone spent many evenings here planning strategy.
from The Star Man by Conor O’Clery (2016). Highly Recommended.
Friday, December 30, 2016
It was preserved in the oral history, the demise of the great Chinook spawn along the Saint Lawrence, a lifecycle disturbed by the presence of outsiders. It was carried with the natives, the memory of fish, in song and story.
What you had to do, in your most solemn appeal, was pray to the wolf, the bear and the eagle, seek alternatives, abstain and let a species recover. In so doing, you nourished the inner spirit, humanity following nature, and not the other way around.
from The Death of All Things Seen by Michael Collins (2016). Highly Recommended.
Friday, December 23, 2016
They fell silent as the nuns moved around the table, serving the main course of veal scallopini. The meat looked rubbery, the sauce congealed. If anything forces this Conclave to a swift conclusion, thought Lomeli, it will be the food.
from Conclave by Robert Harris (2016). No Recommendation.
Saturday, December 17, 2016
“Let’s go,” he told his childhood friend, Viktor Borisenko, after picking him up in his car. It was clear to Borisenko that something had happened, but Vladimir would not so much as hint at what it was. They went to a Georgian restaurant near the Kazan Cathedral, the colonnaded landmark on Nevsky Prospekt, eating chicken in walnut-sauce and, to Borisenko's surprise, for his friend had never before allowed the indulgence, drinking shots of sweet liqueur. Only much later did he learn that they had been celebrating his friend’s acceptance into the KGB.
From The New Tsar by Steven Lee Myers (2015)
Saturday, December 10, 2016
All children love treats and ours were cones and wafer bought in Titteridge’s, Doneraile’s ice-cream parlour. Miss O’Connell sold sweets and this was where we indulged our sweet tooths. In most cases though, life’s little extra pleasures came from jam on well-buttered fresh bread or drinks of cool milk on a hot summer’s day.
My father was a caring soul. He made and left sandwiches on the windowsill when we were out playing. We would come and graze on these as we wished.
From Donncha’s World by Donncha Ó’Dúlaing (2014). No recommendation
Saturday, December 3, 2016
On visits to Moscow, Helmut (Kohl) invariably looked me up at the Gorbachev Foundation. In 2002, in our small dining room there, we arranged an intimate supper with just him, his assistant, myself, my daughter Irina, and a member of the Foundation staff. He cheerfully drank two or three glasses of vodka, followed by beer. Kohl was very proud of his role in the creation of the Euro, and signed a 20-Euro banknote, added the date, 1 January 2002, and gave me it as a souvenir.
from The New Russia by Mikhail Gorbachev 2016. Very Highly Recommended
Saturday, November 26, 2016
September had its miserable strictness of school’s restart and freedom’s loss, its watery, mocking sun, and its big anti-climaxes above in Croke Park, but it also had tarts and crumbles made with the finest of Mothers’s own apples that were still ripening an hour before, and that nearly made up for everything.
from The Thing About December by Donal Ryan (2013). Recommended
Friday, November 18, 2016
Manon runs her tray along the counter, looking into rectangular metal pans of beans, sausages, watery mushrooms, tomatoes from a tin and scrambled eggs that have congealed into a solid square. A permanent breakfast offering in a lightless room, at 8.00pm on a Monday evening, for people who have ceased to observe normal day and night hours.
Dave..picks up his tray and moves over to Manon’s table..as she flicks over to Channel 4+1 for the news.
‘Officers say they are very concerned about a twenty-four-year-old woman who went missing..on Saturday night…’ . ‘Very concerned’ being code for ‘we think she’s dead’.
from Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner (2016). Highly Recommended
Saturday, November 12, 2016
Every German mother was mad about it. The Merry Widow by Franz Lehar. First performed in Vienna in 1905; as sugary as one of the city’s cream cakes. Lehar had died in 1948, and Hitler had sent a personal representative to his funeral.
‘What else is there to say?’ Jaegar took a chocolate ..and popped it into his mouth. ‘Who are these from? A secret admirer?’
… March bit into a chocolate and winced at the sickly taste of liquid cherry. ‘Consider: you have no friends, yet someone sends you an expensive box of chocolates from Switzerland. With no message. A box that plays the Führer’s favourite tune. Who would do that?… A poisoner, perhaps?’
‘Oh Christ!’ Jaeger spat the contents of his mouth into his hand.
from Fatherland by Robert Harris (1992). Highly Recommended
Friday, November 4, 2016
I drained the glass in thirty seconds. White wine. What is the point of it? I picked up the bottle and studied the label. Apparently the vines are grown in soil treated in harmony with the lunar cycle, using manure buried in a cow’s horn and flower heads of yarrow fermented in a stag’s bladder….
“You like it?” asked Ruth.
“Subtle and fruity,” I said, “with a hint of bladder.”
from The Ghost by Robert Harris (2007). Highly Recommended
Monday, October 31, 2016
From my very early touring days I remembered the best fish and chip shops are to be found in the North. Delicious fresh cod and chips all smothered with lashings of salt and vinegar, and let’s not forget the mushy peas. Food that comes with its own specific gravity, that stings the lips and lies heavy in the stomach afterwards; wash it all down with cheap red lemonade or a warm can of Irn Bru and have a jolly good afternoon snooze.
from Memories, dreams & reflections by Marianne Faithfull (2007)
Saturday, October 29, 2016
A few years later, still attracted by the economic opportunities of pig flesh, he decided to buy a pile of pigs’ heads, advertising them outside his pub in Fethard. But they did not sell and the heads started to rot on the premises. Eventually, after several complaints… the rueful Bailey contaminated another stream when he threw the hundred or so heads over a bridge in the dead of night. During the summer of 1957, Bailey acted as guide to Ted Nealon, then a young reporter covering the boycott for The Irish Press.
from The Fethard-on-Sea Boycott by Tim Fanning (2010). Very Highly Recommended.
Friday, October 21, 2016
Many of the organised crime figures in Lewisburg (jail) treated me as one of their own…made sure I received the same food as they did: corn on the cob, pheasant and rice, steak and onions….
… pheasants were ..cooked on a nightly basis around autumn. Traps were set for the pheasants - milk boxes, which fell on them, as they entered to eat loose scattered corn. One night a raid was conducted on the dormitory for narcotics and other contraband. Officer Hill picked up a laundry bag, put his arm deep inside, jumped back and shouted as two pheasants flew out and around the inside of the dormitory and out through an open window. The place was in uproar…Hill was very unpopular.
from The 100 Kilo Case by Peter Daly with James Durney (2016). Very Highly Recommended.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
My chickens are gone woeful fat. Eileen says I leave them in too much corn altogether. She doesn’t know that I also pick big caterpillars off the cabbages and feed them to the old fatsos. They see me coming and get into a right flap. They’re the fattest, happiest chickens in Ireland, I’d say. I’ve a daughter too, you know. I can’t bear talking to her any more. I used to think she was the bee’s knees, but now I’d rather feed caterpillars to chickens than talk to her.
from The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan (2012) Highly Recommended