Saturday, June 23, 2007

She hasn't gone away, you know!

Blankpaige is currently undergoing essential maintenance and regrets any inconvenience to the one casual reader and my omnipresent stalker.

(Note to cyberstalker, I've not done those sorts of things to a long standing boyfriend, so do you really think that I'd start with a unknown but obviously disturbed whack-job?)

Normal service will resume shortly .... well in a month or so.... or whenever.

Adios for now,

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Credit Card

My cousin Joe who lost his job last year as a result of cost-cutting and my Auntie Sarah who saw her local bank branch close down because of 'strategic realignment' would like to be one of the first to congratulate Bank of Ireland Chief Executive, Brian Goggin on his €4 million performance-related earnings for 2006.


P.S. I can't imaging how much he'd earn if he actually performed.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Lies, Damn Lies and StatCounter

Blankpaige is long known for her breathless admiration of StatCounter - that super smooth, so-easy-even-a-girl-can-use-it technology that lets me stalk those who visit this site.
Now here is your chance to give something back to StatCounter creator, Aodhan by voting for him on the Business Week Young Entrepreneur 2007 Awards.

Vote early, vote often. Go ahead, sign the contract now and lets take the next step forwards together.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Brit Baiting for Beginners

Some time ago, I spent a number of very enjoyable years living and working in both London and Birmingham. Those were in the dark deary days before being Irish had the sexy cache among the Brits that we currently enjoy. (Hang in there, my Muslim friends, the tide will change for you too. Soon enough they'll stop thinking that everyone of you wants to wreck mindless and violent carnage and might even have Muslim theme bars - okay well maybe not the last but you know what I mean.)

Being obvious outsiders, my band of anarchist Celtic cousins and I developed several amusing hobbies which could broadly be categorised as "Brit Baiting". The first involved deliberately steering conversations around to a mention of "Great Britain" or the "British Empire". This was the perfect cue for one of our troupe to remark innocently how much of a weight / embarrassment / obstacle must the whole colonial thing be. Even the most mild mannered (and it has to be said the majority were) Brit would reflect more positively on the benefits of the Empire and how Britain was admired the world over. This was the opening we'd hoped for. We'd immediately launch into a litany of 'countries what hate the Brits'. "We Irish hate you, The French detest you, The German's despise you, The Italians disdain you, The Australians loath you, The Americans think that you are pathetic, the entire Indian continent abhor you for considering their great land mass as a 'sub-continent', the South Africans will never forgive you,....... You get the message? Of course, pretty soon our unloved British pal did also.

A variant on this theme was to steer seemingly harmless conversations around to things of cultural significance. (One astute Englishman observed that conversations with Paddies were harmless in the same sense that TNT if handled with care was generally regarded as safe.) Ogh how we'd laugh at the game, "name one thing that is culturally synonymous with your native land". We'd trot out Guinness, James Joyce, U2, the potato famine and St Brigid's crosses. Our Scots friends would offer Malt Whisky, Rabbie Burns, Simple minds, Presbyterianism and the Glasgow kiss. The most English thing our hosts could offer was the smell of cut grass, warm beer and the sound of a firm ball on ash. We'd point out that every nation with grass land could claim the first, Scotland invented the second and the Paddies had a game called hurling infinitely more skillful than cricket. Someone once ironically suggested Vindaloo, Crowded House and motor racing before we all laughed uncontrollably.

Now all this is by way of long rambling introduction to the observation that two British Ministers are seeking to "build on the growing tide of nationalism" by advocating a national day of celebration for Britain and more considered granting of citizenship. Immigrants would have, they suggest, make every effort to integrate and on a credit-based system would gain or lose marks for learning to speak the language or committing a criminal offence which would impact on the granting of citizenship. The MP's and the Fabian Institute suggest that they should look inward to what was important to the nation rather than constantly make allowances for groups who wanted to live in Britain but not be British. (Of course one only has to go on holiday to Spain to see the reverse in action!).

Now I have to confess, I have some sympathy with their plight. It has to be said that there has never been a more generous, welcoming and decent bunch of individuals as one finds among our nearest neighbours. They have opened their country without much restriction and found that generosity thrown back in their faces. They've tolerated how we blame them for everything - the famine (our reliance on one crop and our failure to grasp the concept of crop rotation), the decline in the Irish language (blame Peig), the M50 and political corruption. It's all the Brits' fault.

But I kind of think that it is by taking an outward perspective which defines our particular cultural context. If you were to ask me, the very essence of Englishness is being polite, abiding by the rules, queuing unnecessarily and "being concerned about what everyone else thinks about us". The very British sense of fair play would quickly force that nation to conclude that it was just not cricket to be penalising an immigrant for not knowing who was third in line to the throne when the majority of the natives couldn't tell you who was their Prime Minister. Brits are understated, reserved and composed. They are not given to sporadic and spontaneous celebration just because a day is marked as the national holiday. For god sake, they don't even have a sense of what the nation is. Scotland and Wales are clearly foreign countries but what about all that land north of the Watford Gap? Is that part of England?

Like ourselves, their flag has been hijacked by a bunch of evil racists and instead of delivering the sense of unity and peace, it has come to symbolise naked sectarianism. But we can tolerate ambiguity so much better than the Brits. Both countries have ceded large chunks of national sovereignty to the EU in reward for access to European markets. The Brits need to believe that Sterling is still the standard and the Queen's head will always be on their stamps. We believe that as long as we can turn it into smokes, all cash is king and we will happily prostitute our stamps to promote any sporting franchise. The Brits wouldn't be comfortable celebrating St George's Day for so, so many reasons. It sends a particular religious message, no-one knows anything about St George, they aren't very good at celebrating, and anyway "surely there is someone else in the world who might also want to have their national day and we don't want to cause offence".

With Brit Baiting, as in all sports, is not the winning which is important, it's the taking part. We would do well to reflect on how this well meaning nation wrestles with problems of integration and changing national identity. It might inform us sooner rather than later of the road we need to travel.

"The meek shall inherit the earth (if that's okay with everyone)"
This is why I love our UK friends so much and wish I could help them through their current navel-gazing exercise. I also wish we could watch and learn instead of laughing at how so much smarter we are.


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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Things to Do in Cavan when you're Dead

Seems like Dario needs some love too.

Ode to Dario
Spread the word,
Share the love,
Feel the pain,
Shovel the shit

and you'll be a man some day.


Blog Love

In a manoeuvre known in the trade as 'doing a mulley*', I'd like to send out some blog love links to two new kids on my blog block.

Check out Michael Nugent's blog, "That's Ireland"and Una Mullally's blog "Una Rocks" for no other reason than because I asked you nicely.

God, but I wish linking to other blogs wasn't such a time consuming process, I'm all exhausted now and don't have any energy to blog. I feel like a very fastidious scholar who knows the importance of crossing "t's" and dotting "i's". I never get beyond the "An interesting thing happened to me this summer on my holidays at Courtown". Is there any other way than logging into my blog account, opening the template and adding a html code line, opening another window, navigating to the blog of interest, copying the address line, returning to my blog, rebooting the computer and starting the process over again? I did try blog roll once but it didn't seem to work.

And the most annoying thing is that I had a fantastic blog post written in my head about how blogging is better than sex, why there won't be a soft landing and how Damo is right, the 2012 London Olympic logo does look like Lisa Simpson giving number 2 some oral stimulation.
I'd also an insightful analysis of the Green/FF courtship, how the Leaving Cert is irrelevant and how to hedge the cost of future holidays what with the increasing monopolisation of the travel agent sector. All good stuff, believe it or not.

But I'm too tired for all that now.

* This reference complete my statutory obligation to name check Damien Mulley and/or StatCounter once every three posts. I know that such levels of hero worship can get a bit tedious after a while but what's a girl to do?!