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Cyprus Avenue, Cyprus Avenue again, Say Nothing

Monday, 25 March 2019

▲ Back in 2015 I went to Belfast to see Van Morrison perform Cyprus Avenue – his wonderful  1968 track from Astral Weeks – on Cyprus Avenue. I’d already seen him run through Astral Weeks, that classic favourite, at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2009. In 2015 it was Sir Van’s 70th birthday and he was celebrating with two concerts on the leafy and affluent East Belfast road, name checked in the Cyprus Avenue track and on Madame George in Astral Weeks

Then a month ago in London I saw Stephen Rea – Academy Award nominee for his role in The Crying Game – in the play Cyprus Avenue at the Royal Court. The play had done the rounds from London to Dublin, Belfast and New York and was now being revived, Rea ‘plays an Irish Protestant Unionist who becomes convinced his infant granddaughter is actually Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in David Ireland’s violent absurdist comedy.’ It does not end well.

There’s a lot of back story to this because for years in Britain you were not allowed to hear Gerry Adams’ voice, so if he appeared on television whatever he said had to be dubbed in by somebody else. That somebody else was often Stephen Rea. Plus from 1983 to 2003 Rea was married to Dolours Price.

◄ I’ve just read Say Nothing by American writer Patrick Radden Keefe. Its subtitle is ‘A True Story of Murder & Memory in Northern Ireland.’ The person murdered was Jean McConville, 38-year-old recently-widowed mother of 10 who was marched out of her Belfast flat in late 1972, driven from Northern Ireland across the border to Ireland and executed by the IRA. Dolours Price was certainly one of the people who drove her across the border and may well have been the person who pulled the trigger. The people who ‘say nothing’ in the book certainly include Gerry Adams. He does, however, say he was never a member of the IRA – although Brendan Hughes (who definitely was an IRA member) said that everybody knew Adams was an IRA member, ‘the people on the street know it. The dogs know it …’ So did Dolours Price kill Jean McConville on Gerry Adams’ orders? Well Adams is saying nothing.

It’s an intriguing read with terrific reviews in The Economist and The New York Times and by author Roddy Doyle, also in The New York Times. Now pretty soon Tory Party Brexit promoter Jacob Rees-Mogg may manage what Gerry Adams and the IRA could not achieve, he may manage to unite the two Irelands.

Cyprus Avenue, Cyprus Avenue again, Say Nothing

25 March 2019 | Media

▲ Back in 2015 I went to Belfast to see Van Morrison perform Cyprus Avenue – his wonderful  1968 track from Astral Weeks – on Cyprus Avenue. I’d already seen him run through Astral Weeks, that classic favourite, at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2009. In 2015 it w...

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The 737 Max, Compromised Design, the FAA, déjà vu & perhaps 346 is the Magic Number

22 March 2019 | Transport

There’s a lot of talk about the causes of the two 737 Max crashes – Lion Air on 29 October 2018 (157 deaths) and Ethiopian Airlines on 10 March 2019 (189 deaths). Two thoughts and one case of déjà vu, that handy French expression which means ‘we’ve been here before.’ ...

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More Aerial Views

16 March 2019 | Transport

Flying from Dubai to Baku in Azerbaijan late last year a wonderful view of Iran’s snow-capped Mt Damavand popped up in my Fly Dubai 737 window. ▲ A few months later (ie just a week or two ago), flying from London to Singapore there it was again, this time I was fly...

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Empty Skies

15 March 2019 | Transport

Of course the skies are currently empty of Boeing 737 Max aircraft, but as a result of the recent India-Pakistan dispute, from Wednesday 27 February Pakistan closed its airspace to commercial flights. All those flights between Europe and South-East Asia – Bangkok, Kua...

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Courtyard Blackbirds, Backyard Dragon

13 March 2019 | Living

We often have birds nesting in our courtyard in Australia, it’s totally enclosed so they’re safe from cats and other intruders. The last few years it has been blackbirds, which are an exotic, ie not a native Australian bird. This year they produced not one, but three ...

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The Maldives – not for me thank you

4 March 2019 | Places

Flying between Europe and Australia I regularly gaze down at the Maldives and on one occasion, five years ago, I even blogged about identifying the islands I was flying over from 35,000 feet. So it was time I paid a Maldives visit although I don’t think I’m going t...

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Cruising on an 1891 Overman Victor

2 March 2019 | Transport

I had a ride in Melbourne with the Vintage Cycle Club on their annual city cruise. I was riding an 1891 Overman Victor sprung frame ‘safety bicycle’ borrowed from the Farren Collection’s wonderful assortment of old bicycles. ‘Safety’ means it has equal-sized wheels an...

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London – round the city

26 February 2019 | Places

▲ This year so far I’ve been in Melbourne, Sydney, New York City and London. Passing through Gloucester Rd tube station on the District Line this art work pops up beside the line – it’s lettie eggsyrub by Heather Phiillipson, part of the Art on the Underground project...

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New York City – tall, skinny skyscrapers

25 February 2019 | Places

A brief visit to New York and early one morning, walking from West to East Manhattan, to East 56th St, I spot this very tall, very skinny skyscraper. It’s 111 West 57th St, one of the current craze for very tall, very skinny skyscrapers sprouting up around the city. T...

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Sydney Walks

21 February 2019 | Places

Walking was the order of the day on a recent trip to Sydney with a bunch of friends. The city has great walks, harbour side and ocean side. ◄ We started with the 10km harbour side walk from Spit Bridge (Mosman on the North Shore) to Manly, which is on Sydney ...

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