from Sicily a few years ago and decided to open an Italian eating house. His latest venture “Cipriani Pizzeria” on Belfast's Lisburn Road had the misfortune to be called after a famous hotel in Venice. I have never heard of the hotel, never been to Venice and even if I did go I would probably not be able to afford to stay at this august hostelry on the meagre living I make.
You would think that no one would care about what they call a restaurant in Belfast but the owners of Hotel Cipriani in Venice kicked up a stink; they were afraid that their regular visitors from Belfast, all two of them, would think that the hotel was in some way associated with the Lisburn Road eatery. A trip to Belfast High Court and a few hefty legal fees later and poor Salvatore has had to change the name of his business.
Words and names are very important to people. Take that most wonderful of all English words, “knickers,” for example. According to the BBC we have begun exporting this and several other words to the United States in recent times. Until recently women in the United States did not wear knickers. Now before you go thinking that our female friends across the pond go around half clad let me point out that they had their own perfectly acceptable term for this particular item of underclothing. Now, however, the word knickers is going down a treat.
It appears that many “Britishisms” are crossing the Atlantic and taking the US by storm. “Flat” is quickly replacing the more cumbersome apartment; “roundabout” is a lot more aesthetic than the Californian “traffic circle.” Even those Irish words that had invaded the English language are being sold on. “Loo” from the Irish “An Lú” which means “the smallest” (room in the house) is making itself heard among the bars and restaurants of chic Boston.
One word can make a lot of difference. We hide words, we invent them and we deliberately leave them out. Take for example Saturday’s Irish Independent report on the marriage of Sonya Macari and Colin Devlin. Now before I read about the marriage I had never heard of any of them and shall probably never hear of them again. Believe it or not the Irish Independent is an Irish newspaper and 84% of Irish people still designate themselves as Catholic.
Sonya and Colin got married in the Three Patrons church in Rathgar, surrounded by around 100 of her closest family and friends. The Three Patrons Church is a Catholic Church which takes its name from the three patron saints of Ireland; St Patrick, who evangelised this land, (we need him back) St Brigid, for her ministry of hospitality (where has it gone) and St Columba, for his love of all people and living things. This place would not be used for a civil ceremony.
In a roughly 200 word report on a marriage in a Catholic Church there was no mention of a priest or Mass: “Sonya Macari wed her musician partner of 10 years Colin Devlin in an intimate ceremony in Dublin yesterday” was how Brian O’Reilly reported the wedding Mass.
Certain words dare not be mentioned!
Even words on a scrap of paper 1600 years old can cause a stir. Karen King, who apparently is an academic of some note, has got her hands on a fragment of paper in which Jesus reportedly refers to his wife and this appears to be causing quite a stir in the hallowed halls of academia.
An article on CNN television news said:
“King has posited in a draft article, tentatively accepted by the Harvard Theological Review that the papyrus dates to the fourth century but that it could be a copy of a lost second century text.
The papyrus script found its way to King in 2010 from a collector. She translated the Coptic, an ancient language used by Egyptian Christians, and discovered the phrase that made heads turn around the world.”
Here’s a bit of advice from a man who has watched the world for fifty years. If you want a book published, a bit stir in the media, or to become a celebrity overnight, all you have to do is come up with a theory, a hypothesis or anything else you can think of that discredits the Christian message of Jesus.
For a man who died 2000 years ago, he is very much in the news.
Here’s my new theory and it’s not about Jesus; it’s about Angela Merkel and David Trimble.
I believe David and Angela are really brother and sister. Where is my proof, I hear you cry? Behaviour, my friend, behaviour!
Do you remember the Good Friday Agreement and its immediate aftermath? David came out and said “the devil is in the detail.” Many nationalists believe, whether rightly or wrongly, that he never had any intention of honouring the agreement he had signed and that he had to be dragged kicking and squealing every inch of the way.
On June 29th this year the world was led to believe that Frauline Merkel had agreed to a deal to save the euro. This week in Brussels, at yet another European crisis meeting, Frauline Merkel made it plain that Germany would be doing what suited Germany, no matter what people thought she had agreed to in June.
And the neighbours are beginning to notice:
“Former US Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, Larry Summers, said European leaders' handling of the sovereign debt crisis evokes comparisons with US strategy during the Vietnam War until helicopters pulled out of Saigon.
"An observer such as myself, who wishes the project well but is able to maintain some degree of detachment, sees in some of what has taken place a pattern all too reminiscent of US decision-making during the Vietnam War," Mr Summers said at the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin.
Citing research by military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, Mr Summers said US policy-makers opted at each juncture of the war in Vietnam to do the "minimum" to avoid an imminent catastrophe until it all collapsed around them and the helicopters left Saigon.”
The European dream is falling apart and we don’t even seem to care. No one is saying the right words; no one is prepared to say what needs to be said or to take the action that needs to be taken. Like David Trimble, Angela Merkel has an election to fight. What odds about the people when an election has to be won.
Too many words make a list. And lists can be dangerous as the people of Kennebunk in the state of Maine in the US have found out. Alexis Wright is a 29 year old who runs a fitness class in the town. To supplement her income Ms Wright embellished her exercise routines with some naughty add ons. The methodical young lady, in order to be fair to everyone, provided a pricelist for various exercises and another list of those who availed of her services.
Now the list is to be made public and a lot of important people in the 10,000 strong town are living in fear. The list contains names from all sections of the community. Even the sheriff’s office is represented.
A Scottish friend of mine had a lucky escape. He was in the town on business and asked Ms Wright if he could avail of her services. Making fun of his accent she said, “Sorry, Jock, I Kennebunk ye the night!”
America is on the move, but not in the direction it wants to go. According to presidential candidate Mitt Romney the sitting president, Mr. Obama, will start the geographical shift if he is re-elected.
"If the president were re-elected, we'd go to almost $20 trillion of national debt. This puts us on a road to Greece," Mr Romney said during the second presidential debate.
Although I have a healthy disdain for politicians, the choice of president does affect us all. The US economy is still the largest in the world and we in Europe shall not recover until they get their house in order. It’s a pity they ever had that Tea Party in Boston. Life would have been a lot simpler for us if they had paid their taxes, with or without representation, like everyone else.
Tax and money cause so many problems. Here is a snippet of information that might amaze you. I have two friends, a married couple, one of whom works in the north and the other who works in the south. They live here. The northern worker earns £32,000 a year and the southern worker earns € 72,000 a year.
Now for the mad bit; when the southern worker loses all their deductions in the south and converts their wages into sterling they end up with £100 less per month than their spouse. Now figure that one out!
The marchers are out again. Trade Unions have been marching in London, Glasgow and Belfast last Saturday in a bid to reverse cuts in government spending. This leaves me in a bit of a mix up. I don’t know what to think about it.
The UK is borrowing £15 billion a month to run the country and at some point in the future this money shall have to be paid back. We are borrowing from our children’s future to give us a life we can’t afford today. Is this moral?
But then again people have worked as teachers, civil servants etc all their lives and have been promised a good pension. We all pay taxes towards the NHS so we can expect a free health service. Yet somehow the money is not there.
The money is not there so we borrow, but shall we be able to look at our unemployed children in twenty years time and tell them that we borrowed their future away? Tough call isn’t it.
At least they’re having a party in Luxemburg. The principality is celebrating the marriage of its Crown Prince Guillaume, 30, to 28-year-old Belgian Countess Stephanie de Lannoy.
There’s something about a wedding that gets the country going. It lifts the spirits and gives us all something to look at. Every now and then we need a break from reality.
What is your escape?
Mine is Star Trek. From its first showing in the early sixties right up till now I don’t believe that there is an episode I have missed. When I sit down to watch Jean-Luc battle it out with the Borg, the euro crisis, the presidential debate and even the goings on in Stormont have to wait for an hour till I see who wins.
There’s something in all of us that needs a lift every now and then. The Star trek captains were all in London last weekend and a £90 a ticket it was a bargain. There was even the wedding of a Swedish couple who were dressed as Klingons. You can do anything in a make believe world, as long as you don’t get too close to reality.
Reality is catching up with Captain Kenny of the starship “Castlebar.” If you read the Free State press on Sunday you would have noticed that the knives are slowly beginning to be drawn from their scabbards as the back benchers realize that Captain Kenny’s insistence that all is well on Planet Ireland is as plausible as a Warp Speed 9.
Jerome Reilly, John Drennan, Eoghan Harris, Colm McCarthy and Daniel McConnell all wrote articles which in some way were critical of Kenny’s leadership.
If I was Captain Kenny I think I would be going to a church somewhere and start praying for a miracle.
I did a bit of praying on Sunday night myself. I went, for the first time in my life, to a Church of Ireland Harvest Festival Service. Having written in this column about making an effort to go out and see our Protestant neighbour, I decided to go to one of their services and as I had often heard of Harvest Services I went along.
The Rev Canon Raymond Stewart preached a bit, we sang a few hymns, had a cup of tea and were generally made very welcome. The guest preacher for the evening was the Rev Ken McLaughlin from Donegal. He gave us a spirited sermon on creation and brought out many points that I hadn’t thought of before.
I enjoyed the evening. There appears to be a lot more that unites us than what separates us. I felt comfortable and at ease with my Protestant neighbours.
As I finish this on Sunday night I see that the Basque separatist parties have won elections in the Basque area of Spain and now the fear is that they shall push for more independence. As Europe’s leaders dither about what to do next, nationalist sentiments I fear shall rise and their political inaction and national self interests shall destroy the European Union.
While we may all feel helpless in light of the enormous problems facing our countries and feel that there is nothing that we as individual can do. Perhaps we should try praying for our leaders to make the right decisions at this crucial point of our economy.
“Our God is a great God.”
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published in Observer Newspaper group, N.I.
25th Oct '12