28 March 2013

224. LESSON ZERO IN LANGUAGE STUDY

A language is a large set of sounds that are coded. Example: bitch, beach, batch, are coded, but butch and botch are not. If you utter the first three to English speakers they will react, hear your meaning and reply... by another set of coded sounds like: fake or fuck, but fick or feek or fack are not coded and therefore not used to exchange ideas in a conversation.

1. A language is a large set of sounds that are coded.

These coded sounds are to be really accurate to be recognised to have their code deciphered so to speak. Yes, SO to speak! The coded sound is similar to a note made on a violin. If it is not just quite accurate it sounds awful and misses its purpose of making sense to the listener. Example: if I say I have put a new shit on the bed, instead of a sheet... you are sure to get a loud laugh instead of a normal reaction.

2. The coded sounds are to be really accurate to be recognised.

In order to utter these coded sounds we all have the same instruments. I mean we the humans are equipped at birth with the exact same instruments.

3. All humans have and use the same instruments to hear and utter these coded sounds.

Like a walky-talky we produce sounds and we receive sounds.

To produce sounds we have vocal cords that vibrate with air expelled from our lungs. We use all the various things in our mouth such as: the back and the tip of the tongue, the palate, the upper and lower lips, the teeth, the nasal conducts.

To receive sounds we have two ears, one on each side of the head. Each ear is equipped with a drum with a very sensitive skin stretched across it.

4. We produce sounds and we receive sounds. We are a living walky-talky.


Usually after this intro students are bewildered. They had never noticed!

When you are a baby you get to hear the same sounds over and over. By a trial and error process you guess and get to associate a given sound with a meaning. It takes some years for a child to understand all the coded sounds spoken around and it takes even more years to be able to utter and speak them out correctly. The process uses miming, aping, and memorising.

Coded sounds in one given languagage get to hit your ear drums always at the same spot. They become familiar sounds. Your brain classifies those sounds at the speed of light, well..., and unfamiliar sounds get ejected. Or classified in the same spot as a familiar sound. Example: the English sound written 'th' is not heard for what it is by French speakers but identified and classified as a 'z' or 's', e.g. ze English sink zat ze French are crazy.

When you try to learn another langue, i.e. another set of coded sounds unfamiliar to you, you have to try and stop this automatic filing of new sounds into familiar old slots. You have to LISTEN first. Like a violin artist musician you have to tune your ear to a brand new sound when it hits your ear drum. Once you actually hear that sound for what it is you have to find out a way to produce it. Usually when asking a native speaker of any given language you do not get help as they don't have a clue. If you are lucky you might just come across someone who knows.

For example, when I was trying to learn the Fulah language in the 1970s I simply could not figure out how to utter the 'ddh' as in 'biddho' meaning 'child'...until one day when I met a tall Fulah student in Paris who explained that it was a glottal stop, stopping the air from coming out at the back of your throat between the two syllables.

In a way it is easier to learn a language that has not been written. You have to concentrate on the sounds alone. Reading a foreign language with your own idea of its pronunciation is very treacherous. And very wrong. Yet it is the usual way we are taught foreign languages at school.

                                                      === === === === === ===

With the egg and the chicken we often wonder and ponder what came first in the order of creation, the egg or the chicken. In the case of spoken or written language there is no pondering to do. The answer is straight forward: THE SPOKEN LANGUAGE CAME FIRST and by far, by millions of years. Mankind produced and exchanged sounds long before some original dude thought of writing them down.

Some decided to scribble signs representing sounds, that is our alphabet. Others decided to scribble signs representing the actual idea of what they were saying, that is the Chinese way of ideograms.

In the case of signs representing sounds, no one agreed on a standard of course! Between the Dutch, the French, the English and the Germans, a same and identical sound has 4 different ways of spelling. Example: the sound 'oo' as in fool in English is spelt 'oe' in Dutch, 'ou' in French and 'u' in German.

So good luck with your language study!

See this museum of languages in Paris if you pass by!

http://www.mundolingua.org/en/

This post was kindly prompted by reading The Chaos of Correct Pronunciation from the blog Bouquet of Sharpened Pencils that you can find here on the list of my blogger friends in the right hand margin. 

20 March 2013

223. Irish Pullovers

Pullovers, some say sweaters, cardigans, jumpers. I mean knitted garments. Knitwear.

In Ireland a very particular type of sweater has been traditionally knitted for years with white natural wool in intricated patterns and stitches. Those jumpers are known in the world wherever you find Irish settlers, mainly in the former British empire.

In the late 60s I arrived in Australia married to a young Australian whose grand-parents had emigrated from Ireland around the First World War. Wearing such a jumper for him was a statement of fond attachment to the culture of his forebears. He would not let me touch his Aran jumper. It was for him a semi-sacred article of his deep rooted identity.

In continental Europe, however, in France or Germany, this knitted white woollen sweater with intricate patterns does not mean anything. You may like the idea to wear one but it has no extra meaning and above all it does not indicate identity.

I love wearing my own knitted jumpers and I love nordic designs. In my three times twenty three years I have made quite a few pullovers and cardigans for myself and other people. Before Christmas last December, 2012, I started something of my own design. I called it the "shepherd's hood", using natural white and black wool from sheep of my area of France, or just a bit south of my area actually in the Limousin Region. As I had attended a needle tapestry course in Aubusson during the summer I had been made aware of a new trend in undyed wool for the sake of not polluting the ecosystems with chemical dyes. A wool mill www.fonty.fr  was selling pure white and pure brown wool direct from the fleece. I found the colours very attractive. I bought some from the retailer on line Laine-et-Tricot  and started knitting.

Life has surprises sometimes! In January I moved to Ireland taking my knitting with me of course. When I ran out of my Limousin natural wool, I started another "shepherd's hood" with local Aran wool in green and brownish colours. Eventually I got some more Limousin wool sent over and I kept knitting relentlessly.

Meanwhile, my brain cells kept working and my imagination went wild. I was in Ireland now and a major rugby match was going to be played in Dublin. What if all the supporters were wearing my "shepherd's hood" in their national colours or in their team's colours?! I would add little bells on the four corners of the hood and they could even make noise with their woollen hoods to support their team in the stadium. I went on knitting frantically... until one day when I searched on the internet for this famous knitwear manufacture of Irish sweaters. I needed to tell someone of my big idea. Moreover if it made sense commercially, the idea would have to be taken up by professionals.

So... one snowy morning, on 12 March 2013, I drove from Wexford to Monasterevin leaving at 7:30 and arriving at 9:30. The whole Irish landscape was covered in snow. It was somptuous! I met Lorraine and the boss of West End Knitwear  as arranged by mail and email. Their website www.arancrafts.com says Welcome to Arancrafts Ireland and has a taste of long tradition. I explained that my own father ran a factory and I was brought up with the painstaking work of a new 'collection' twice a year which involved the imagination of the whole family. I told the story of my encounter with Aran sweaters in Australia. And then I showed them my "shepherd's hood"... well! two halves of it, one half in natural black and white wool and another half in green and brown Aran wool.

I don't know what they really thought. They seemed interested in the way I made it, number of stitches, etc. But they went cold and dismissed me cooly.

A few days later I found on internet that the real Aran manufacture of traditional Irish sweaters is "Aran Sweater Market" in Golway. Their website  www.aransweatermarket.com  shows the same collection of knitted articles. So I don't know now! Have I made a mistake by going to Monasterevin? Are they related? Doing business together or being competitors?

In any case my "shepherd's hood" does not fit within the Irish tradition. It's a French idea! Who then would be interested to manufacture my "shepherd's hood" and market it in continental Europe? 

222. A PLAY AND A PARADE

Last week-end was quite something. St Patrick's Day was coming up and I was keen to live the event here in Ireland. The 17th March fell on a Sunday this year.

But four or five days prior to that, as I was walking down Main Street like a lot of  Wexford people do, I saw a banner stretched across the street with publicity for a play at the Opera House for Friday night, €15 last chance. The Opera House is a very modern building right in the middle of town on High Street. I live at the very end of High Street, so I detoured and bought myself a ticket. After all... the month of March is my birthday month if I need an excuse!

The play was called 'Out of Order', a "rollercoaster ride of side-splitting comedy" the brochure said, written by Richard Willey and played by the Bridge Drama theatre group. The Opera House here has a number of small theatre stages with different names. People say they are going to the 'something' theatre which led me to think that Wexford had many theatres. Everything is centralised at the Opera House which is used for opera only once a year in October. I am impressed that a small fishing town like Wexford has such a beautiful place for the performing arts. And it is booked out most of the time. The play I was going to see had been booked out for 3 days and they had added this performance to make everyone happy by putting a banner across the street. That last performance was booked out too!

I'd like to convey the atmosphere of the place. When I turned up around 10 to 8pm the room was already nearly full. You take a seat wherever you like, I was told. The rows of seats being steeply placed one above the other so that you have a view of the stage above someone's head, I did not mind sitting way up next to a lady who greeted me as if we were old friends. She knew about France, she said, she had been to Lourdes a number of times on the French fast train, the TGV.

Eventually when the room was overflowing with people hanging on the top side aisles the light was dimmed and we were plunged into the play. I did not know yet that I could laugh non-stop for an hour and then for another hour and still want more! The picture on the brochure had not attracted my attention: three people standing casually in front of a dead body on the floor. Another cynical thriller, I thought. Wrong! A comedy raising the act of telling lies to an art!

I learned that the Bridge Drama comedians were a local group from Castlebridge. They have their own FaceBook page and tour extensively in Ireland. Very professional. I also learned that the pocket theatre where we were sitting was called the Jerome Hynes after the man who died on stage there on the opening night of that theatre. I had been told that Ireland was a very special country. But there on Friday night I saw it and shared that lively imaginative and vibrant atmosphere.

And then on Sunday the parade!

I didn't know what to expect. Is it like for carnival, parading floats and painted dancers? my granddaughter had asked me on the phone. Or is it more like a military parade in the way of the French national day. I really did not know what to expect.

First of all it was cold with the northern biting wind blowing and I was freezing but I stayed on until the end.

Along the Quay on-lookers were standing three people deep along both sides of the street. At the beginning the bagpipers were marching with their banners, then several groups of Scouts in their uniforms followed by sports groups and martial arts associations. There were gaps between the groups and often they would stop and perform some dancing or pretend fighting. All sorts of groups paraded, even some representing shops in town, one selling spectacles, another selling cars and the local creamery parading with an old tractor and a make-up cow with one guy for the front legs and another for the back legs. One of the last groups was a float of the 'light opera' company advertising the coming show about witches.

The parade had a taste of homemade. It was neither a carnival nor a military parade. It was in the family register, look at the kids, aren't they beautiful, this is what we can do here, and bless them all. It took me by surprise. A bit disappointed perhaps but happy to have shared in a casual show of real life in Wexford. 

15 March 2013

221. Suicide, let's talk about it

When I arrived in Ireland in January I fell in love with the place and I decided to settle in Wexford. Everything looked happy and rosy. People walking along Main Street, the shops, the trawlers at the wharf, the new and modern opera house, the church steeples in every directions, even the rain I liked! Settling in has not been a problem. I was able to find accommodation and open a bank account, receive an electricity bill for proof of my residence here and join a prayer group in a Christian community. In short life seemed to me to be more than bearable here.

And what do I read on the FaceBook page of the Wexford Free Press? That the suicide rate in Ireland is high and that here in Wexford many jump from the long bridge to shorten their lives.

I learned a long time ago in my anthropology studies that the most important thing in any given human society is what you don't say. The job of an ethnologist is to find out the un-said, the un-speakable. This comes out as very true here to-day for me.

On the FaceBook page of the Wexford Free Press I found this call from the Wexford Marine Watch:          

"Saturday 16 March Wexford Main Street 11:00 till 4:00 Wexford Marine Watch volunteers will attempt to make a golden mile of coins starting at North Main Street and stretching to South Main Street. Please come along and put down your coin and help this worthy cause"

And on the Wexford Marine Watch website (www.wexfordmarinewatch.com) you can read this:

"WMW was established in January 2013 primarily to try and combat a long epidemic of suicides off Wexford Bridge - one of the longest bridges in Ireland today.
Most of these individuals are not recovered in time and get swept away by the very strong tidal flows in the Harbour. This can result in drawn-out lengthy searches for weeks, with no sign of closure for the families affected. It is distressing for the Community, the rescuers and the families involved."


Further on the FaceBook page of the Wexford Free Press again you can read:

"Cutting through the bullshit

Suicide. It's a dirty word for some and a tragic way out for others. Approximately one million people die from suicide each year and about 29 million more people try unsuccessfully.More people are taken by suicide than by accidents on the road. So why the hell don't we talk about it?"

Yes, let us talk about it.

An epidemic of suicide. Is suicide a viral disease? Some classify it as a mental disease. It has to be 'classified'. We are so hopeless in front of it. Most people living near or even with individuals in deep depression are taken by surprise when the case is diagnosed as suicidal. Not so much because it would be shameful for the 'patient' to mention it but because the suicidal condition is a secret to keep for further efficiency: if you tell you want to kill yourself, people will prevent you from doing it, so you won't be able to do it. There may be another reason for the secret: a depressed suicidal person craves for love and attention, they hope to the last minute that those around them will see them. But we live in a society where everyone is so occupied at his/her own success that you become blind to those 'beloved' ones by your side.

As an anthropologist I was trained to listen to people, write down every detail of a story even if it does not make sense and then analyse all this to draw some structured picture out if it. Maybe I can help with that.
 

11 March 2013

220. THE WEXFORD MERMAID Act 2

Act 1 of this silly play can be found in entry 216. I LOVE IT HERE

THE WEXFORD MERMAID, a play by Frankie Perussault

Act 2

Setting: The inside of a pub with small stained glass windows, entry on the right, a bar on the left with a couple of tall stools, empty and full glasses of guinness on various tables, small groups of extras mumbling as background sound, some background music.

At a table in the front of the stage: The Young man, the Businessman, the Musician

- Musician: This is a brilliant idea but how will your bridge hold on such a distance?

- Businessman: suspended, of course, latest technology.

- Musician: What? From a satellite?

- Businessman (laughing): No! Engineers jargon. You can't understand.

Musician plays a bit of a music phrase on his violin or flute.

- Young man: From Wexford to St Malo it will have to go over Lands End in Cornwall.

His sister the schoolgirl storms in from entry door on the right.

- Schoolgirl (mad): I've been looking for you all over the place. I've even asked your girlfriend if she knew where you were (gets cut off)

- Musician and Businessman (together): The mermaid?!

- Schoolgirl (shruggs her shoulders): Dad wants you to help him with the trailer. He's putting the boat out, he wants to go fishing to-morrow.

- Young man (standing up promptly): I'm coming, I'm coming!

Schoolgirl and Young man leave in a hurry by the entry door to the right.

- Musician: Over Lands End to St Malo? It sounds funny. Let's have a look.

- Businessman (while unfolding a large map): Quite handy actually, we will have an arch on land there between two suspended parts.

While, mumbling, they scrutinise the map, a troll comes in at the back pushing through a stainglass window. One of the pub patron helps him out and places him on a tall stool. The troll is served some drink and people slap him on the back jokingly. He leaves the way he came.

- Musician: Instead of suspended, why not have it floating? You know, like they do in the army to cross rivers.

- Businessman (beaming): Brillian, brilliant! I had not thought of that!

Musician plays a bit of a music phrase.

- Musician: Yes, but it won't work... (gets cut off)

Enters the Tall lady with long shiny dress shuffling her feet to the bar. Dead silence in the pub until she leaves with a beer can.

- Musician: It won't work, the shipping traffic through the Channel would have to be stopped...

- Businessman: ...or diverted to sail to the North Sea round the north of Scotland and Ireland. Brilliant! brilliant! Small fishing harbours will become great ports, a new Rotterdam or a new New York in Donegal...

- Musician: And with the North Pole melting away we'll have cruising ships going to Japan stopping over in Galway!(plays 2 or 3 chords on his violin or some trills on his flute)

Some loud car hooting and police sirens are heard outside. Everyone rushes to the door to see what it is. The Musician and the Businessman do too. Someone says it is the officials coming to plant the first stone for the bridge to France. They all go out pushing one another. The bar is empty and very quiet. A troll comes in throught the same window as before, opens a larger window to let the Young man come through too.
They go and sit at the table where the Businessman and the Young man were before, pushing the map aside.

- Troll: Do you believe in trolls?

- Young man (smiling softly): Do I believe in trolls?! Yes, of course I do, you are here talking to me.

- Troll: But I am only in your imagination. You can't prove I exist, you can't catch me!

Young man pretends to catch the troll and the troll pretends to escape.

- Young man: Now tell me in earnest, do You believe in mermaids?

The Troll is laughing to giggles for a while.

- Young man: What's so funny?

- Troll: You (pointing to Young man) are asking Me (pointing to himself) if I believe in mermaids!!! (dead serious) No, I don't.

- Young man: Why not?

- Troll: Because they are in your imagination. You can't catch one. Now tell me, do you believe in God?

- Young man: Ah! that is different!

- Troll: Different? You can't catch Him. He might be in your imagination.

- Young man: No, Troll, He is not in my imagination because there are effects of His presence. Just like the wind. You can't see it but you can see its effects.

- Troll: Effects of God? Like what?

- Young man: The world, the universe, us here talking... (gestures in large movement)
If God did not exist I would not be here alive thinking and talking to you of the existence of God.

- Troll: We could be talking of trolls, mermaids, unicorns, dragons or santa claus. Why is God different?

- Young man: I guess because God is about our sprirituality (looking lost), the way we can transcend our material selves... Dragons, unicorns and mermaids are about our capacity to dream and invent other worlds.

- Troll: Mmm... fiction and spirituality are... (gets cut off)

- Young man (suddenly): I'd better go now. Bye Troll!

The Troll runs to the window where he came in and leaves the same way without saying goodbye. The Young man leaves by the door.

                 
                CURTAIN DOWN

"Do you want more... still!"

219. What if...

Any religion is based on a myth. - Don't go, stay with me! I am not using the word in a derogatory sense but in its fondamental meaning which is a structured story regularly revitalised and enacted by rituals. -

We all know that little Jesus was born in a barn and placed in a manger, that three kings from afar guided by a star came to visit him and how he talked to the priests for his bar-mitzvah and how he divided his loaf of bread for his last supper with his mates and how he had to carry his own cross up the hill on Golgotha.

A myth somewhere along the line is based on a true story and by 'true story' I mean a fact which took place in History. It is the case with Jesus of Nazareth. He is a historical figure. He did exist.

During the past centuries since his historical existence, while some spent time and effort enhancing the myth by declaring him a god and his mother a virgin mother of god, others worked at finding out documents and archeological evidence of his life. The former tried to hinder the work of the latter. But in the end historical truth always wins over myth.

                  °°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

So, what if... Jesus was just a man, a guy from Nazareth who lived under Roman occupation of his country. His old man, Joseph, married his mother when she was pregnant. Joseph was a mature man with a number of young children to look after when his first wife died. He badly needed another wife because with his activity of carpentry and wood merchant his business selling to the Roman army was flourishing. He promised a friend who had a young pregnant daughter that he would marry her. Joseph was of king David's descendance and as such had to register in Judah rather than in Galilee where he lived when the Roman administration did a census. From there before coming back to Nazareth they travelled to Egypt where Mary had relatives.

Little Jesus grew up as a spoiled brat. He was the benjamin and did have the attention of his old man and his mother perhaps more than the eldest children. In the story of the prodigal son he is actually talking about himself. As a young man in his twenties he received some money from Joseph and left to study with a sect in the desert on the other side of the Jordan river. There they asked him to be their leader but as he did not completely agree with their theories, he came home to Nazareth and to his old man.


                °°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°
Christians have to face the fact that the myth will soon be erased by the facts of History. And then what? Will we stand up and cry? Hoping against all hopes that the clock can be turned back? The myth cannot hold any more. Nobody wants to hear it, no one wants to believe it. It does not make sense anymore. It is dead. Like the old Romans at the end of the empire, we are faced with the fact that our comfortable faith and religious practice are dead.   

My concern is about the void it creates.

"Man will not live of bread alone", it says somewhere in the scriptures. Can we re-invente a relationship with God? Without the dogma of the original sin, the curse, the guilt and the sacrifice to redeem humanity? Can we find inspiration in the life of Jesus the man, the great thinker and reformer? We will have to.


    

5 March 2013

216. MARX OR JESUS

These two guys have shaped the entire western world as we know it to-day.

We live by the teachings of one or the other. Each of their visions of the world is a well structured self sufficient system of ideas, i.e. an ideology explaining the world and giving directions for individual behaviour.

I am talking to myself here trying to sort out my own thoughts.

These two guys have a lot in common. They are both "children of Israel" having had a very similar kind of education, even at some 2000 years difference. They are both rebels having analysed the current digressions of the society they lived in: the sclerosis of rituals for Jesus, the extravagant exploitation of people by the industry for Marx. They both launched their respective vision of the world through circles of friends who then explained and added and passed it on.

They were both entirely convinced of 'messianic' times, a D-day in History when the known world stops and is replaced by what they have invented: the coming of God in glory and the resurrection of all, for Jesus, the special day of victory over the current social order, for Marx.

Yes but... their ideologies are in total opposition.

The one prones love of your neighbour, love of your ennemy, love of the stranger.
The other prones hatred of your superior in the social hierarchy, everlasting struggle against the leading class of bourgeois, whether they are good or bad, and all out destruction of all the religions.

Many of their teachings sound alike. With Jesus and his followers all humans are children of God and therefore brothers. This 'brotherhood' was extended by the first Christians to actually creating tight knit communities where everything was communal and shared. With Marx the workers have to unite to such a degree of communal sharing as to totally eradicate private property.

It is easy to fall in the pit of 'going marxist' for people who value the idea of brotherhood among folks of all nationalities. The blurred limits between the two ideologies can lead anyone to take the wrong turn.

I do not feel qualified here to expand on this subject. But I know for sure that between Marx or Jesus you have to make a choice.

When I came back to France in 1974 after having split from my Australian husband I lived in the city of Lyon and in 1976 I enrolled at the university there to study social anthropology or ethnology as you may call it too. The whole atmosphere of the campus was marxist. There were 'meetings' of lecturers or students alike. There was one woman lecturer who was actually running for some political mandate. The jargon in the lecture halls and on campus alike was marxist with lots of words unknown to me. Even lecturers that were known to be non-marxist felt the need to show they were in the know. You could talk about sex or class struggle at will. You could not talk of God or about any subject dealing with spirituality. The government at the time was not socialist. It regarded and dealt with university students as if they were the scum of society. I am talking of my own experience at the Lyon 2 university in the late 1970s. It could have been different elsewhere but I doubt it.

Slowly but surely this way of thinking pervaded the whole of society. The government became socialist in 1981 and then not only university students but school kids became marxists! I fled in 1988 when my son was 11 and ready to go to high school. I did not want him to be subjected to that ideology whereby the poor bugger is seen as good and a perpetual victim to the nasty guy, his employer who is the entreprising fellow exploiting him. This over simplification of the economic world we live in was to me a complete lie.  

I came back at the time of the first Golf war for a couple of years. I was a total stranger in my own country, did not adapt to it and again left to go and live in the Southern Hemisphere. When I returned yet again it was in May 2000 and this time back to my native village where I had fond memories of my grandparents and their way of life in a rural setting. I did not realise that by then even the villagers had become marxists. To-day in my area the Member of Parliament is a communist and several Mayors running towns and cities are socialists. The overwhelming ideology is marxist. The State is replacing God. The State protects and provides. The State takes care of its citizens from craddle to coffin. You have to 'declare' everything you want to do, pull down a garden shed, open up a roof window, and in certain areas you are being told what colour to paint your front door. Everything is either forbidden or obligatory... and talking about Jesus is absolutely out of the question.

I am not much of a religious person. I mean the rites and dogmas of any given religion don't appeal to me at all. What I must have in order to live to the full is an answer to my material and spiritual needs. So, an ideology organising my material needs and denying that I have spiritual needs does not do me at all. On the other hand an ideology that could satisfy my spiritual needs as well as organise my material life, yes, it would suit me fine.

The solutions that Marx gives to provide for our material needs do not allow for spirituality. Besides, we know it now, it does not bring any adequate solutions to the material needs of humans at all. The experiment in Marxist ruling in various countries of the world have all been grandiose failures.

I dream of a system of ideas which would not be a religion but which would bring some relief on both my material and spiritual needs. If only we could strip the vision that Jesus had on the world of its religious aspect, if only we could just study Jesus as a great thinker without his aura of miracles, resurrection, sacrifice and holy deeds, perhaps we would get a great vision to rule the nations of to-day.

217. Deliver us from evil

Friday night 1 March saw a special event take place at the church of St Iberius in Main Street, Wexford, Ireland. It was a service prepared by the Christian Women of the World Day Of Prayer Interdenominational, website: www[dot]wdopi[dot]org. The theme this year organized by the French group was: "I was a stranger and you welcomed me".

I had no idea of what it was when I was given the booklet and told I was going to be Woman number 5 on the roll of speakers in this service. We were only a handful of attendants from the Presbyterian church round the corner.

This service was prepared, acted and attended by women only, not that men were banned from it but they just did not turn up. The theme was, in my view, highly political and the leaflet I found plain propaganda. That's between you and me, of course. Otherwise I do agree that you must be kind to people in general, whether they are of your family, your street, your country or not.

However my interpretation of the story Jesus told about the good Samaritan would be that helping out a human being goes beyond and above any other consideration and that rites and rituals are in no way preceding the sympathy and compassion you should have for a suffering human person. It is, in my eyes, the basis for Humanism. I don't think Jesus had a view on Immigration policies here. Yet the booklet prepared by the Christian women of France sounded like a definite appeal to the French Ministry of Immigration!

Anyway... I was keen to be up to what was asked of me, delivering the text out loud at the right moment and not losing track. At one stage at every Christian service you get to mumble the prayer called 'Our Father'. Unfortunately by the time I turned the page of my booklet and realized what was happening, the prayer was well underway and I came in at the phrase: "Deliver us from evil" which I pronounced out loud. I hate mumbling prayers.

And I meant it: "Deliver us from evil"... any evil, all evil. I started thinking of a detail of my life that morning. Early before breakfast I received a text message on my phone telling me I was the winner (by decree I think!) of 2M pounds sterling. To claim it I had to send an email to 'winfree[at]aol(dot)com'. Great, I thought, I'll buy myself a second pair of pants and perhaps that renovated flat on the other side of the road! Of course, I didn't... send an email, but I walked to the shop that had sold me the telephone to report it. The young woman there said they get that sort of mail all the time, just delete it.

Just delete it. Well no, not 'just delete it', report it and make sure that this kind of evil is not reproduced on a daily basis to m'teen mobile phones until some poor bugger falls in the trap.

Evil has to be chased and tracked down. It is not simple misdemeanor. I really became familiar with it when I met someone who admitted taking pleasure at hurting people. This is the core of evil, taking pleasure at making someone suffer.

"Our Father, deliver us from evil". Jesus may have had his reasons to place this phrase in his recommended prayer.

1 March 2013

216. I LOVE IT HERE

I really love it here in Ireland.

People seem to have been brought up like I was! They are friendly and polite to anyone at all times, they find the good things in every bad situation and say thanks. For instance they never complain about the bad weather but they stop you in the street to mention the sunshine. In France, in comparison, people moan, complain and winge all day long. I am French though! What happened to my country? Has it slipped on a banana skin when I was not there? Or something?

I am glad to be here in Ireland. People talk to me, they don't bother about my age, they don't see my clothes before they see me. To-day for instance I was stopped by a young man as I was walking along Main Street. He wanted to tell me about Amnesty International. We talked and joked. And I went on my way. I was actually going to get some milk at the 'Supervalue' supermarket, some equivalent to the 'SuperU' in France. I got a loud good morning with a smile from the guy who was playing the trombone in the corner. He actually stopped playing to say hello to me. Sure, he would have liked me to throw a coin in his hat but not only. Irish people seem to enjoy one another's company just for the heck of it!... whereas in France it feels as if a cold civil war was on going all the time. At that supermarket the cashier woman or man talks to you as if you were of the family. When you stop somebody to ask for directions they usually go out of their way to help you.

As I said I love it here in Ireland.

In Wexford there is a brand new Opera House as well as an Arts Centre. These organisations have a FaceBook page and I found that they were looking for short plays for some competition. So I wrote this!

THE WEXFORD MERMAID by Frankie Perussault

Settings: A fishing port rather like Wexford
Backdrop: A quay with a big trawler moored alongside
Left wing: A fish-n-chips shop
Right wing: Tall houses painted blue, yellow, red like in Wexford
Characters:
- A young man
- His sister in school girl uniform
- A businessman from Dublin
- A tall lady with long hair and a long dress shiny like a fish
- Some trolls i.e. 7-8 year olds dressed as lepricorns dancing the jig
- Two musicians leading the trolls with trad music

    ACT 1
Young man and School girl talking while walking from right to left in middle of stage.

- Young man (all excited): Yes!... I'm telling you, they've fished a mermaid! Here in the bay not far from the bridge
- School girl: A what?!
- Young man: A mer-maid... (he makes the silhouette of a sexy girl with his hands)
- School girl: Brother, my brother!... Mermaids don't exist
- Young man: They do! I'm telling you they've fished one just here (he gestures towards the trawler)
From left to right i.e. in opposite direction and at front of stage partially hiding them a line of trolls two by two dance a jig across the stage following two musicians. The Young Man and his sister keep talking and gesturing but can't be heard. They all leave the stage.
Enter seemingly from the quay at the back a well dressed gentleman with all sorts of equipment. He starts measuring the height of buildings, the length of the quay, etc. He must make the public laugh just the way he carries on. As he wants to exit, he walks towards the public and nearly falls over in the pit, eventually leaves to the left wing.
Enter Young man and School girl again walking from left to right this time and at the front of stage with pack of fish-n-chips.
- School girl (carrying fish-n-chips and eating): A woman, a female, a lady cannot have a fish tail, she just can't! Below the waist a woman has a womb and somewhere between her legs a vulva, don't you know that, brother?
- Young man (dropping the fish he was eating): oops!... yes, well, yes but...
- School girl: A mermaid, alright then. Now I saw a man with the roots of a tree instead of legs, yeah, I'm telling you. He was very handsome too..
As the Young man bends down to pick up his fish, the Tall lady comes out of the fish shop, shuffles around and goes back in.
- Young man: See! You saw her! They fished a mermaid, it's no joke!
Meanwhile the Businessman enters from left front corner, gets to the centre and hails the Young man.
- Businessman: Hey! Young man! Would you help me? I need a technician (he gets tangled in his various equipment)
- Young man: Why not? Sure! What do want me to do?
School girl makes signs to signify that men are mad, shruggs her shoulders and leaves to the right.  
- Businessman: Would you hold this? (handing him some large piece of equipment)
- Young man (holding the piece): But what is it for? What are you doing actually?
- Businessman: We're building a bridge to France, from here you see (he gestures a point on the quay)
- Young man: A bridge to France?! (ha ha ha LOL)
- Businessman: The contract has been signed with my office, yes, I am pleased to say. The Irish and the French governments have agreed and the money will come from Luxembourg.
- Young man: From Luxembourg??? (laughing still)
- Businessman: Ah yeah, in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, they have no taxes, so they are very rich. They can pay for the bridge from here to France.
- Young man (getting serious): But where to in France?
- Businessman: Somewhere on the coast... St Malo perhaps... or La Rochelle
- Young man: La Rochelle??? (ha ha ha LOL)
- Businessman (serious): Or Marseille.
- Young man: ...but that's on the Med coast!!!
- Business man: Anyway that's not important. Our problem really is to know if we are building it for traffic driving on the left or on the right. My office has suggested to the respective governments that there could be a traffic change over in the middle of the bridge. And if...(being cut off)
- Young man: Alright alright then, let's start working.
The line of trolls two by two led by two musicians enter again from front right corner and dance a jig diagonally across stage to enter the fish shop on the other side. They get tangled in the middle of the stage by some measuring tape pulled across.Pantomime: trolls falling over, losing their hats, musicians missing a beat, etc. They all go in the fish shop and the music dies away. The two men keep talking but are not heard. When the music dies away they are heard again.
- Businessman: Who was the pretty girl you were talking to before?
- Young man: Pretty girl? pretty girl? You mean stubborn girl! She just won't admit they fished a mermaid this morning here in the bay.
- Businessman: Is she your girlfriend?
Meanwhile the trolls had come out of the fish shop two by two and they were all sitting down on the floor sharing their fish-n-chips. One of the musicians leaves the group and goes to talk with the Businessman and the Young man in the centre of stage.
- Musician: Did you say your girlfriend was a mermaid?
- Businessman (interested): His girlfriend is a mermaid?! Can we meet her? Where is she?
- Young man (most serious): OK, let's go, follow me.
The three men leave to the right wing.
The trolls stand up two by two and bring their trash to a public bin somewhere on stage. The bin overflows. Back in front of the fish shop the one remaining musician makes them in single file and they do a tour of the stage dancing and leaving to the right. When they are nearly all out of stage the Tall lady appears at the door of the fish shop again shuffling around and going back in.

     CURTAIN DOWN
"Do you want more?"

254. END OF THIS BLOG

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