I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Issue 16, Winter 2010

Issue 16, Winter 2010

In the Dialectical Fairyland

Denis Healey once quipped of Shirley Williams that she needn’t think herself an intellectual just because she had a bad hairdo: Zhemchuzhina would have agreed. Unlike the dishevelled and independent-minded feminists of the Old Bolshevik milieu, by the mid-1930s women in the upper echelons of Stalinist society subscribed to the quasi-bourgeois style that became de rigueur: servants, nail varnish, lipstick and good works patronising factory workers, teaching them good manners and instilling, inter alia, a love of art and of the leader.

Foreign Devils

In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, thousands of Christian converts and missionaries were executed, some of them crucified. In 1637-8, the government suppressed a rebellion of Catholic Samurai warriors and peasants with great brutality and drove the remaining Christians underground. Suspected converts to the hated foreign contagion were forced to recant or face excruciating death by anazuri being hung upside down and bled over a pit.

Concrete Proof

Built in 1974, it was put up by Robert McAlpine, who relied on many of those “fusiliers” who had come to Birmingham from Ireland and who played such a key role in constructing the culture and identity of the modern city. And yet, despite all of these reasons to applaud, the Central Library will be entirely ripped out by 2013 a move that suggests the extraction of a massive, and perfectly healthy, tooth.


It is important to distinguish the harms intrinsically connected to drug use from the many harms in addition to the creation of a lucrative criminal black market in drugs that are actually caused by prohibition. Prohibition-induced ignorance, confusion and rashness are lethal, as is prohibition’s blocking of an effective system of quality control. The latter is an ongoing disaster since most drug-related deaths are caused by contaminants in drugs or ignorance about the actual strength of doses bought on the black market.

One Part Prescient, Five Parts Puerile

Highly promiscuous, he was unfaithful to all his women, and never – quite – managed to love anyone else as much as he loved himself. He was chauvinistic and seemed to have very little respect for women – Rebecca West was informed of her duties “as a custodian of genius” – “You have to take care of me and have me fed and peaceful and comfortable.” He was puffed up with a sense of importance that his considerable abilities did not quite justify, and had an unpleasant proclivity to explode into furious rage at the smallest imagined slight.

Different Because Worse

A political response that would disengage from the demands of financial markets that are by definition volatile and oriented towards short-term profit is urgently needed from EU leaders. Their historical failure to react decisively, with clarity as well as vision, renders them a caricature of the founders of the European integration project, which was, after all, inherently political, even if it originated in the coal and steel sectors.

The Art of Concealment

Gaps in personal biography are more than compensated for by O’Sullivan’s reassembly of the social and political networks inhabited by the O’Kelly brothers which, in their early years in Dublin and London, included John Devoy, James Clancy and Joe Clarke. The insights into 1870s and 1880s Paris as “satellite city of radical Irish nationalists” are especially compelling and provide a lively parallel to the narrative of O’Kelly’s tutelage in ethnographic realism by Gérôme and Bonnat.

Edging Towards Peace

Although Mrs Thatcher professes to have found Mr Haughey easier to deal with than Dr FitzGerald, at the time … she had a high regard for his honesty of purpose and indeed (so it seemed to me) even a degree of personal affection for him. Although she found him unduly loquacious and tended to call him “Gareth” (“She seems to think I’m Welsh,” he observed ruefully), he was a man (like Gorbachev) she “could do business with”.

Our Man in Bohemia

His protagonists are wanderers, usually bohemian, invariably troubled, following their distant star across oceans, into deserts, through the orbit of violence and evil or madness, then on into the depths of almost certain obscurity. They live, for the most part, in the contemporary world, consuming books and encountering friends and lovers, but their dedication to art seems anachronistic, more of a piece with the romantics, surrealists, or beat poets.

The Sea of Anecdotes

While this merriment was afoot, I lay on my bunk straining to understand, and to be admitted to some small share of the pleasure which the rest of the company evidently derived from the recitals. At first the rapid flow of speech and varying voices and styles proved impenetrable. The joy of Russian jokes.