Ok – I am moving my blog from the old woodpigeon01.wordpress.com account, just up the road to a brand new address: sunnyspells.wordpress.com.

Hopefully, when all this is done, you will be automatically redirected to my new web address. If you have subscriptions or you are linked to me via a blog reader, you might want to check that you are still getting my posts and update your settings as appropriate.

Right then. Wish me luck. See you on the other side.


With a lack of proper imagination endemic in certain parts of Kildare, journalistic bollocks is the great global king. Give them a minute and they’re off, spouting shite about Chinese bullfighting flower arrangers, or whatever they can think of before the deadline arrives.

And I loathe reading the bollocks that some journalists spew out, without wit or humour or an ounce of research. Only an abject terror of being “judgmental” prevents people discussing this issue with the frankness it deserves.

So for once, let’s be honest. A journalist that is gratuitously talking through his arsehole is needlessly burdened with many handicaps: for ugly writing and imminent dismissiveness in themselves lead to social isolation, emotional and sexual frustration, pontifical infirmity and often premature bed-wetting.

Some journalists are so lazy that they physically cannot be bothered to think about what they are writing. So either they improvise, using tinfoil helmets, or a towel wrapped tightly around their heads, or they get a chum to sit on it. So now do you wonder why the very, very crap also have very, very few friends? (It may also have something to do with bad insect puns).

The conjoined trinity of women’s lib, bra burning and bad mammies lie at the heart of the bollocks epidemic. The mammies of the 1970’s started listening to that Greer wan and all hell broke loose. Everything has consequences you know.

The Sun was a great thing to discover, but we never imagined it would give us sunburn and the purple dots in your eyes if you stare at it too long. Oxygen was great too when it was invented but it created flatulence and yawning. And the feckin’ Greeks! Who invented those?

Moreover, merely to state the next obvious truth — that mothers are largely responsible for people talking through their arseholes — is to court hysterical denunciations from the virally infected. But we all know that most men are now dead, given that their wives stopped feeding them in the 1970’s and once hyper-busy women with careers started watching rugby and farting at inopportune moments — then their children started talking the most unbelievable shite.

Do you know why a shite-talker wheezes? It’s because their huge arsehole is preventing light from escaping, whereby it crushes the brain. The ultimate humiliation comes when you have to ask your one remaining friend to accompany you to the loo, so you can collect up the contents of the bowl to write your next Indo column.

And most lethal of all is the mental virus that accompanies scatological verbiage. This not merely acquits parents of their own personal responsibility for having made their children into shite-talkers, but it also causes them to hallucinate. When they gaze at the revolting column-inches their children have spewed up, their poor diseased brains only register a future Poet Laureate or Pulitzer Prizewinner.

So the key to the cure of the bollocks-talking illness is the neutralisation of mothers especially. This will almost certainly require a kitchen, a large ball and chain, inflammable corsets and lack of access to cigarette lighters — and needless to say, the author of such a solution can only be a woman, as the men are, after all, dead. Until her hour comes, shite, blather and rambunctious nonsense will always rule.

Inspired by this.

I have a small favour to ask.

If you read this blog, please say hi in the comments below.

I’m thinking of changing to a new blog name (but staying with WordPress).

via hollyladd (Flickr) CC Licensed


1) Relate your story

Tell your story with a clear beginning, middle and end. Make the story as compelling as possible. Make the protagonists look really heroic, and your adversaries positively villainous. Exaggerate your main points for the maximum emotional effect. Ignore anything that might contradict your story.

2) Ignore

If someone starts to poke holes in your story, ignore them. They might go away or give up if given no satisfactory answers. Don’t take their calls. Pretend you are at an important meeting, or you are out playing golf. If you have to, them you will respond soon. Don’t bother to.

3) Ridicule

If they persist in attacking your story, laugh at them. Go for the jugular. Tell them they haven’t either the knowledge nor the wit to understand. Impugn their motives. Call them close-minded. Make them out to be in the pay of someone. Threaten them.

4) Obfuscate

If other people are now listening, pretend that’s not what you meant, that you were quoted out of context. Exaggerate minor truths to major importance. Minimise the importance of your major points. Appeal to any authority you can find. Appeal to tradition. Appeal to their emotions. Find anecdotal evidence that fits your argument. Throw as many curveballs at them as you possibly can.

5) Justify

If your argument is now falling apart, start to justify your motives with gusto. Blame your enemies. Blame your friends. Blame the media. Blame the polical establishment. Blame the woeful lack of standards in education. Make yourself out to be the victim of a plot. Bring in the effect on your family wherever possible. Go on a drinking binge. Get caught.

6) Oh yeah. That.

Admit you were wrong.

Say, here’s an idea. Why not not go from 1) to 6) directly? You might earn some self respect while actually learning something.

1) I had The Talk with my 11 year old son last night. I think I did well and I got some great questions from him. We talked about lots of stuff: DNA, puberty, the menstrual cycle, conception, contraception, XY chromasomes, how twins come about and teenage pregnancy. It was wide ranging and after a few brief factoids, I let him direct the conversation, to ask any question he wished. The only confusion that happened was when he couldn’t understand how eating a condom each month would help prevent conception. I had to go over that one with him one more time.

2) I have been suffering from a large mouth ulcer that has been lodged in the back of my throat over the past week. It is near the opening to my inner ear, so I have had an earache as well as a bad sore throat. I went to the doctor and I was prescribed antibiotics, which in hindsight was a fairly poor diagnosis. What I had was viral, not bacterial. It’s as useful as throwing a life-belt onto a road to help in a car accident.

3) I went for a medical test yesterday. The results indicate that I need to make some big lifestyle changes regarding diet and exercise. This is no surprise to me, but given my current daily and weekly routines, not to mention my love-affair with high cholesterol food and lack of exercise opportunities during the week, I am not sure where I start. It’s a huge challenge for me. Huge. No, really.

4) On the plus side, I had a meeting with my dermatologist and the result is terrific. Over four years, no recurrence and nothing suspicious looking on my skin. It means I’m now out of the danger zone. Long may it last.

If anyone had asked me up to today what the Irish mainland’s most southern headland was, I would have immediately answered “Mizen Head”. I would have been wrong.

That honour goes to the much lesser known Brow Head, a few kilometres to the east of Mizen*.

Brow Head can only be visited on foot. There is a small car park near the ithmus between Crookhaven and Barley Cove. A 2km walk westwards up the Mallavogue laneway and through some fields, leads you directly to the headland. On the way, you will see the remains of some old mines, constructed in the 19th Century. There is also a signal tower on the headland, dating back to the Napoleonic times. Guglielmo Marconi built one of the first transatlantic telecommunications towers on the headland.

The headland itself is precarious. There are high cliffs on both sides, with sheer, vertical drops in all cases. Brow Head is undergoing active erosion and entire bedding planes are exposed in some places. The wave action is intense, to say the least. We were fortunate to come there during a large swell. The huge volumes of water crashing into and pouring off the rocks were nothing short of breathtaking.

Here’s a short video to give a flavour of the place. It’s a real gem. Hidden Ireland at its best.


* Mizen Head is actually the third most southerly point on the Irish mainland. That’s a good pub quiz question for you, right there).

The water scares me.

I look out on the river beside my house. Everything is serene and quiet.  The inhalations and exhalations of the tides add a beautiful rhythm to even the gloomiest day. The glistening and the ripples, the sparkles and the splashes. It’s calmness personified.

But now, this water scares me.

It frightens me because I saw yesterday what water can do. I have seen the live TV images of huge waves pushing themselves inland, carrying trees, cars, boats and houses as if they were matchsticks. I have seen, as we all have now, the sudden loss of possessions, of dreams, of lives, of everything, in a cancerous upwelling of this self-same liquid that flows silently past me every hour of every day.

Those images will not leave. The cars turning and reversing in panic. The houses crushed to a pulp in an instant. The fishing boats floating drunkenly over roads and streets. The manicured fields: one second ordered and cultivated; the next, crushed under a mass of human detritus and shapeless debris. A vast battlefront, more powerful and destructive than any army ever launched against an enemy. A formless hegemonising goo exerting its dominance over our civilisation. The immediate nullification of decades of patient human labour. Vast swathes of land reclaimed by a master more powerful than the greatest of our technologies.

What makes it scariest of all: its unconsciousness. Its indifference to the vast suffering it inflicts. This monster is nothing but a function of physics and geology. All else is moot. You get in the way, you die; no matter how virtuous or deserving your plight. The greatest cruelty is unleashed when no mind or conscience is involved.

I look out on this expanse of water and I imagine a giant black wave of destruction turning the corner and advancing up the channel towards me. I imagine stone buildings turned to rubble in front of my eyes. I imagine the windows exploding and and an unconscionable mess flowing into every room of the house. I imagine the walls of the house groaning and capitulating under the relentlessness of the planet’s most powerful weapon. Beyond this, my imagination fails me.

So you may babble away, dear water. You may bubble and sigh. You may lap upon the shore and twinkle under the passing flutters of a playful breeze. But I cannot trust you. Your darkness knows no limit.

I saw a Twitter message today that got me thinking. The tweet went along the lines of that if your kid wanted to be a politician you must do everything in your power to dissuade them. You should bribe them out of it if necessary. I can understand where the writer is coming from. Politics is a rough world. It’s a place where lofty ideals often tarnish and shatter in the rough and tumble of power games, bargaining and compromise. The bruising experience of politics leaves many people disillusioned and cynical. It shouldn’t be like this, but it is.

Nevertheless we must pause to consider where we are. We have schools. We have hospitals. We have fire stations and a police force. We eat food and drink water that, most of the time, won’t make us sick. We have rights. We can go to court to protect those rights. We have the right of assembly, press freedom and an electoral system where the powerful have to submit themselves to the wrath of the people who put them there every few years.

We have abolished slavery. We no longer have capital punishment or corporal punishment. Torture, child labour and animal abuse are proscribed.  The voices of women, children, homosexuals, immigrants, atheists, the poor and other marginalised people can no longer be ignored. The society we have today is in many, many respects better than the world our grandparents and their grandparents were born into.

And who, in the end, made it happen? Politicians.

It was politicians who gave people their rights to be heard. It was politicians who argued for child welfare and against slavery. It was politicians who faced tyrannies down and protected our democratic freedoms. It was politicians who wrote the reforms, signed the laws and brought and end to wars. Our society is what it is today because of the work of politicians from our past.

Not all politicians are perfect. Some, indeed, have set back the march of progress and greater freedoms. Many others have little to show for their years of service other than a fat bank account. Yet, some politicians have made a positive difference and those differences have created the society that we have today. The story presented is not an altogether gloomy one.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Society is far from perfect. We still have crime, war, bad health, unnecessary suffering, discrimination, hatred, environmental damage and unconscionable injustice. We have problems in our country that are crying out to be solved. These problems require people of vision. They require people who can look beyond the grubby compromises and roadblocks. They require people who are willing to dedicate their lives to an ideal, mindful that failure awaits at every turn.

In politics, it is not years that make the difference, but decades. We need a cadre of people who are willing to dedicate their lives for a vision. Despite our concerns and our cynicism, we should encourage the most motivated of the upcoming generation to become politicians.

If you would like to vote someone in, vote for them.

If you would not like someone in, vote for anybody but them.

If you don’t want any of them in, and you are not considering voting at all, why didn’t you run for parliament yourself then?

Just remember, if you don’t vote, then you don’t get to complain about the next government because you, by your inaction, helped to put them there.

Ryan Tubridy outdid himself on the Late Late Show last Friday with an interview with a so-called “visionary” from Medjugorje, Vicka Ivanković-Mijatović, who claims to be in daily contact with the Virgin Mary. Mijatović is in Ireland all this week. Earlier on Friday, she spoke to a capacity crowd in the RDS Concert Hall.

The interview was mostly a monologue. Tubridy allowed her to speak freely (and was gently chastised for interrupting her flow at one stage) while she whittled on about how Mary’s dress sense and the occasional cameos of Jesus during her regular encounters. It was mad, delusional, contradictory stuff. If not for the prevalence of Roman Catholicism in Ireland, would Tubridy have been so patient and understanding? Say a woman came on the show to talk about her frequent meetings with polka dotted llamas dressed in bowler hats beseeching people to jump on one leg for a few hours each day, would the reception have been the same? Don’t answer that.

Within her ecstatic rantings, she talked about suffering being a gift. It was here that I lost my composure. The idea that suffering is a “gift” must be one of the most pernicious and cruel canards ever invented by mankind. Suffering is bad enough without someone suggesting that there is some sort of supernatural reason for it.  It implies that somehow, you deserve it. You have done something in your past, or you have thought things that call you out for special treatment at the hands of the Gods. Or perhaps God has some special mission in mind for you, so that you will continually torment yourself to understand what exactly it is you should be doing in your life at a time when you can least afford such vexations. Perhaps if you consider suffering to be a gift, you will therefore be reluctant to lose this gift by seeking medical help or other forms of assistance. Perhaps you will see suffering in loved ones as a “gift”, thereby prolonging their agonies too?

As anyone who has been around suffering long enough will attest, there is nothing at all glorious about it. Far from enriching lives, it wrecks it. It sucks the colour out of existence, leaving people in a perpetually vulnerable, negative, fearful and disordered state. In far too many cases it is capricious. It hits one person, leaving others unaffected. It’s roots may be genetic, age related, accidental or based on factors totally outside your control. It is plain to see that the most deserving of suffering in this life often never get their just desserts while the least deserving may sometimes receive it in spades. Even when suffering is deserved, the resulting effect may be out of all proportion to the severity of the cause. Suffering is not a gift. It’s a crap shoot.

Those who suffer do not need our prayers. They don’t need us to tell us that it happened for a reason. They don’t need to believe that somebody, somewhere singled them out for special treatment. They don’t need the mental torture that comes along with the statement that suffering is a gift. Any god who loved us would not send us such gifts, period. Any reasonable definition of love would never, repeat, NEVER, include torture, but some strains of religious thought have no problem accepting this.

There is no easy solution to suffering in the world. People get sick and die every day. Shit happens to us all, and for some it would fill a Boeing 747 with knobs on. There are reliefs in some situations and in those cases they should be embraced wholeheartedly. People can help and medicine can help and treatments can help and time can help, but there will always be unfortunate exceptions.

What sufferers do not need are the trite, malign rationalisations telling them how lucky they are.

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