Browsing articles in "Entertainment"
Jun 16, 2016

Joyce & Rebellion – Dublin on Bloomsday

ReadingIt was a day of threatening rain, that didn’t quite bucket down as expected. But the gloomy clouds above did nothing to dampen the city spirit below. Wandering around were all sorts of wonderful characters. Bowler hatted gents, straw boatered chaps, flapper girls, meringue hatted ladies and modern day Molly Blooms. I’ve been mingling with these types around Town all week, but today we joined in the fun!

Bloomsday Festival guide in hand, our first stop was St Andrews on Westland Row. My church. A holy place neither breath taking nor dull, but imposing if only on the inside. Most folk scurry past this impressive building every day on their journey home via Pearse Street Station. St Andrews is not an intimate church, so its size lent itself perfectly to the concert Joyce & Rebellion: A Musical Journey.

St Andrews is one of the many Dublin landmarks immortalised in Joyce’s Ulysses. The programme evoked times gone by with a beautiful mix of song, music, poetry and story. And of course history. St Andrews’ association with the 1916 Rising is celebrated by an exhibition at the church, well worth a visit. Joyce & Rebellion: A Musical Journey reminded us of the heart and courage of local men and women.

Hosted by Elizabeth Watson and Jean Monahan, the pews were filled by plenty of well dressed Joyce enthusiasts. None under 40… Opened with a reading of Thomas Moore’s The Minstrel Boy, by Carmel Heapes, then Moore again, Silent O’Moyle, read by Connie Murray, both accompanied by Carole O’Connor at the ivories. Oro Se Do Bheatha Bhaile was performed by Greenore Community Choir.

JoyceIt really took me back to a time (the 1980s!) with my Granny and Grandad O’Shea. Being in their tiny kitchen singing old songs. The fire blazing, the wireless humming in the background. A big pot of stew brewing on the stove. Tea for the adults, lemonade for us. Grandad with the toasting fork (hot buttered toast…) in one hand and a billowing Woodbine in the other. Granny standing, stirring, chatting.

Down by the Glenside sung by Jean Monahan, followed by George Smith and Simon Heapes’ performance of The Rising of the Moon and The Wearing of the Green. Catherine Byrne read W.B. Yeats September 1913. More memories! School, this time. Too young we were to appreciate anything at all… Of course I remember these poetic rhymes, learned by heart, but how they really speak to me now.

Simon Heapes took to the stage (or altar) once again with Love’s Old Sweet Song. We helped him, nowhere near his tenor, but enjoying it all the same. He was joined by George Smith, belting out A Nation Once Again, with all of us on hand once again. Catherine Byrne brought us more Yeats with The Song of Wandering Aengus. Historical tales of our 1916 heroes knitted together the songs and prose.

George Smith sang Grace, Carmel Heapes read Pearse’s The Mother and Connie Moore sang The Last Rose of Summer. It truly was an escape from the commercial, digital world we live in today. In fact, my iPhone had run out of juice, I didn’t even have to worry about capturing shots. Just being free of technological distraction for a few hours… It’s so relaxing! How art did thrive before Twitter tyranny.

AltarTo My Daughter Betty by Thomas Kettle was told heartfelt by Carmel Heapes, Oft in the Stilly Night performed by Simon Heapes. The final curtain at St Andrews; all three, Simon Heapes, George Smith and Connie Murray with Carole O’Connor on piano, as throughout, in a roof-raising rendition of The Holy City. We were invited up to encore, us fellow Joyceans, and linked arms with Love’s Old Sweet Song.

The concert was free. It was absolutely excellent. Thanks to the St. Andrews Church Choir and St. Andrews Church Heritage Working Group. And, of course, the hugely talented performers. Nobody my age really goes inside a church these days, unless for a wedding, christening, communion or funeral. Not a regular Mass goer, I pop in for solace from the city. And music. And exhibitions. And fun!

Back out into the light of day, dark as it was, we sailed past Kennedy’s, spying the Bloomsday brethren within. We popped in last time, for a wicked performance by the bold Rose Lawless, doing Molly Bloom to only the flawed perfection she can. This time we were in want of tea, not ale, (’twas only midday!) so we tucked ourselves in at cosy café Tri Via, on Lincoln’s Place. A great people watching spot.

Indeed, as we put away delicious homemade muffins, brownies and croissants, did we see a certain Senator, dressed to the nines cane and all, approach Sweny’s next door. David Norris is a familiar face to all Bloomsday patrons and a huge supporter of the Irish arts. Cameras clicked as he swept in and out of another fabled Ullyses stop. Sweny’s Pharmacy is now an olde worlde bookshop and Joyce museum.

Tri ViaIn we went, events sure to unfold. There was a stall outside doing lemonade and madeleines and plenty of vintage fillies and gents milling about. And the scent of lemon soap filled the air. But an impromptu reading from the Dubliners meant we were in luck with perfect timing. A Scottish man, whose name I do not know, gave a swaggering version of a chapter’s events. It was really very, very cool.

A bar of brown paper wrapped lemon soap in the bag we made our way up into Temple Bar, my neighbourhood. This culture vulture lark is hard work, so we broke off to the Porterhouse for a bit of footie action. England v Wales. It’s a top spot for pub grub. We polished off Scampi, Piri Piri Chicken Sandwich and Mixed Veggies all with lovely fluffy chips and a pint each. Oyster Stout for me. Very nice!

Meeting House Square was next on the agenda, for Bloomsday Readings with Keelin Shanley. The journalist and broadcaster was joined by various Irish actors, writers and musicians for another gratis gig. I’ve been known to listen from my bedroom, which looks onto Meeting House Square, in the past. I can catch bands at the Olympia from here too! The square was filled with Joyceans, old and young.

Roisin Ingle, of the Irish Times, was on the stage as we approached. There were hearty performances from Colm O’Gorman, Domini Kemp and, you guessed it, Senator David Norris. We segwayed into the National Photographic Archive to mix up our rebels with our rascals once again. The exhibition, Rising, is free entry (can you see a theme here?) and documents the events in and around the day.

Davy ByrnesBlack and white images of the destruction done to Dublin, the bravery of young Irish men and the effect on the everyday lives of locals are just fascinating. It’s hard to believe it was only 100 years ago… A walking tour of the exhibition is available, but we were happy to take it all in ourselves. I’ll be back with Himself, who’s a big history buff. And we do live next door! Mama and Papa certainly enjoyed it, too.

We were done by now. Off they went, Mother and Father, to Grafton Street, and up to Davy Byrne’s for one last nod to James Joyce. Bloomday is fast becoming one of the city’s most celebrated events, with Bloomsday Festival running events throughout the week. It’s great craic and I always find Townie friends out and about. Next year, Madre and me have promised to dress up! Or don a hat at least…

www.bloomsdayfestival.ie

Apr 9, 2016

The Holiday – Short Story

four-friends21 years. It seemed like a lifetime ago to Jane McCarthy. Class of ’95. It had been a long hot summer, which of course, had begun on the first day of the Leaving Cert. Jane hadn’t revised a jot. Nothing new there. But she’d been confident about her final exams, nonetheless. She’d her portfolio done and already had her place in a London art college.

All she had to do now was get her A in art and she’d be away. School didn’t worry Jane. She went when she felt like it. Sometimes did her homework. Jane McCarthy certainly wasn’t afraid of any teachers. Not even the head nun, Sister Eileen. She’d be free as a bird after the Leaving. Next stop London!

Well, after the holiday that was. The four of them had booked flights to Malaga via London. It was madness really, Jane reflected. Herself, her best mate Sarah and Sarah’s friends Maeve and Laura. Three weeks in Torremolinos. Three weeks! God, they must have loved themselves… That was a helluva lot of babysitting money.

Long before the days of cheap Ryanair flights, so they’d found themselves flying Dublin to Heathrow, tubing across rush hour London, suitcases and all, to Gatwick, finally landing in Spain a day later. How their parents had allowed it Jane would never know. Not that her own parents had ever said no…

How life had changed. They were all married now. Jane only recently. She and her new husband, Kevin, had eloped to Las Vegas. Not for her the big puffball meringue wedding. Jane had always marched to the beat of her own drum. They’d had a big party when they’d got back. No first dance, no cake, no madness. Just great music and delicious food.

Jane and Kevin had suited themselves just fine. Sarah was already married five years, with three under five. And another on the way! Maeve had had a spectacular wedding in a castle, as befit a judge’s daughter. She had two little boys. And Laura was in Scotland, married with a baby.

Jane was the only one not a member of the Mummy Club. All of the girls from school were kidded up now. Some even had teenagers! It was a funny thing, really. Jane reckoned that if you asked the mothers, they’d definitely say that nothing had changed. In terms of frendship. But from Jane’s point of view, everything had changed. You were either in or you were out. And she was out.

The exclusivity of the Mummy Club wasn’t even something subtle. It was a red line. Jane wasn’t that bothered by it, not in a chip on your shoulder way. She was just aware of it. As a reality, more than anything. But, Jane absolutely adored her friends’ kids.

The hoilday had come too soon after a heavy summer of first loves, drunken nights and freedom from school. It would be college, and life itself, once they returned. Not that any of the four of them realised it at the time. Those were the days when life just happened.

Arriving into Torre, on a balmy August night, past the London Boys nightclub on the corner and into the cool confines of Maeve’s grandparents apartment, they’d finally set down their luggage after an epic journey. Jane had a bought a shimmery pink triangle bikini in Accessorise at Gatwick Airport. She and Sarah laid out their summer clothes on twin beds.

As they lay in the dark calm, Jane and Sarah could hear Maeve and Laura giggling next door. What followed was three blissful weeks of laughter, sunbathing, shopping, eating, swimming, relaxing, drinking and chatting. Nobody made Jane laugh as much as Sarah could.

Sarah would only have to whisper one of their in-jokes – “Duty-free goods for you?” – and Jane would nearly wet herself laughing at Sarah’s high pitched mockery. That one was for the orange Essex girl air hostess they’d had on the chartered flight to Malaga. The first of many mad characters encountered on the holiday. Luckily, they’d all been on the same wavelength.

Mr. Marchioct, the ridey waiter in their local bar. Tights Man, the old guy wearing, erm, just tights. George McFly, Mr.M’s nerdy colleague who’d assumed they’d come to the bar for him. Once, they’d attracted a bunch of frisky French boys, and Jane joked – “Voulez-vous couchez avec moi dans la mer?”. They’d nearly chased her into the sea.

Or the time a greasy English club tout had almost whisked them into a grotty niteclub with a promise of endless shots. Or when they’d gone to Marbella and managed not to find the beach… And the Godfather! An ancient Italian lothario who’d managed to hook up their pedalo to his powerboat.

Jane smiled at the sheer innocence of them. The totally ridiculous scrapes they’d got into. They’d practically run out of cash by the third week. Lunch was a bag of patatas fritas. And a beer. When they’d first gone to the local bar, George McFly had brought them a round of San Miguel instead of the Pina Coladas they’d ordered. The pigeon Spanish that had ensued…

But the cocktail money was long gone now. And somehow the girls had managed to still get along. Inspite of Jane having her moments. Of parents fretting down the phone (not hers). And of the eventual trip home. A journey from hell, involving planes, trains, boats and tears.

Jane had gone straight to London, afterwards. Sarah to UCD, Maeve to DIT and Laura to Edinburgh Uni. The intervening years had seen them dipping in and out of each other’s lives. 21st birthday parties, crazy nights out, first boyfriends. Then 30th birthdays, weddings, first babies. And now Jane’s 40th. Married, but still no baby…

She and Sarah had shared a flat in Town at one stage. They’d been on several more holidays together. The time they’d been played by a couple of waiters in Majorca. Or when they’d got chased by a randy old goat in a market in Crete. Terrfying, but they’d never laughed so much. Nobody got Jane like Sarah did.

Their friendship had survived plenty of ups and downs. Jane’s five years in London. Sarah moving out of the flat in Town. They had both found new soulmates in their husbands. And it was wonderful, especially for Sarah to see Jane finally settling down. God knows Jane had tangled with enough fucking idiots over the years.

Jane had been delighted when Sarah had her first little one, Megan. Then suddenly, everyone started having babies. They were all so adorable. Jane loved playing with other people’s babies. Cuddling them, comforting them. But it really hadn’t occured to Jane to have her own baby. She was not a Mummy.

They’d been the same all those years ago. The four of them. Starting out in life. Jane had almost dismissed the Mummy Club as being all in her mind, until recently. She’d gone to Arklow for Megan’s birthday party. Sarah was glad of the help, she was in her third trimester. Jane had enjoyed decorating the house, with the three girls following her every move.

It was when the other kids arrived… And the Mums. Jane had felt like a spare part. She’d sat down and got on with painting the kids’ faces. It was only when Sarah had rolled her eyes at Jane’s silly games, that she’d realised the truth. Would Jane McCarthy ever join the Mummy Club?

 

Feb 11, 2016

Silver Boots… A Life in Style

Silver platforms - CopyI want them, I need them, but there ain’t no way… Silver boots. For my 40th birthday? Hell yeah! Or no way Hose? There comes a time in every woman’s life when she must put away her childish things. For some it’s buying a house. Others, getting married. Most, having kids. Me, turning 40! There’s a new sheriff in Town & it’s my older, (slightly) wiser self. The big sister I never had (or wanted). Anyway, she talks more sense than I ever did… So it’s “Non!” to silver boots.

I saw them in the window of Buffalo only last week. Came home & told my husband. Rookie mistake. Eyebrows were raised. Laughter was stifled. “You’ll end up looking like that Mad Oul Wan with the crazy paintings on Merrion Square”. Indignant, I stroke my fun fur leopard coat. The time has come. So soon… I stare down at my shiny black leather Chelsea boots. He’s right. There’s a fine line. I open my wardrobe. The sequins, the statements, the madness… Everything must go!

shopaholicI’ve always known this was coming, so last New Year I got the ball rolling. Several black bags straight on down to Age Action, never to be seen (by me) again. Bubblegum pink 1960s Babydoll dresses, Granny’s curtains 1970s Maxi dresses, electric blue metallic platforms, gold knee-high Wonder Woman boots, patchwork corduroy Baker Boy hats… Buh bye! Clothes I’d lovingly collected over the years; worn to gigs, parties, dates. Even work! Alas, I’m too vintage for Vintage. Sigh…

Ah, glory days! So, before I say a fond farewell to the rest, a trip down fashion memory lane… Aged 0 to 5, as a child of the 70s, I wore a fetching mixture of brown pinafores, anything made of floral sofa material, mustard cable-knit cardies & homemade woolly bobble hats. We also lived abroad in a hot country, during which time I wore just pants & armbands. Stylish! Up to age 10 it was all novelty ankle socks, Mickey Mouse watches & neon pink polyester Kylie Minogue sweaters.

MadonnaThen followed a tres shady Tween grey area of finding one’s fashion feet. I had an old Singer sewing machine by now… We’re talking homemade rah-rah skirts with matching Fergie bows (remember?), a t-shirt with “Madonna is Cool” written with one of those glitter fabric pens, liberal use of diamante & studs, plastic clip-on earrings & my first pair of high heels. And my first lipstick. I can still taste that synthetic pink gloop. So, basically the same gear I was running up for my Barbies.

Secondary school changed everything. First I tried to keep up with the Joneses. Whatever the popular girls were wearing, I had to have it. My Mother was tormented keeping up with trends. Levi’s sweatshirts, Converse, tie-dyed t-shirts, khaki bomber jackets. Next thing… Rebellion! I started buying records. Then began the snakeskin boots, velvet blazers, second-hand purple flares, Morrissey t-shirts. Topped off with Bjork buns, blonde streaks and a complete disregard for school.

LifeMe and my best mate went to gigs every night of the week. Suede, Pulp, Blur, Radiohead, Nirvana, Elastica, Oasis. We mitched off to catch the Manics in Cork, even though we’d just seen them at the Tivoli. I have a vivid memory of the pair of us lusting after serious Rock Chick trousers in ASHA. Silver PVC for me, tartan bondage for her. We’d visit them every week, our baby-sitting money getting closer, but for our pesky record buying habits. We never did get them in the end…

I was 19 when London called. Art School. Parties. Days in bed. Going up the West End. I hated it as much as I loved it. A curious phase of collecting dolls & wearing pink plastic platforms, with a Barbie backpack, melded with a spell of serious clubbing. I was lonely for my friends back Home, yet doing things I would never have done at UCD. I took a second bite at London after finishing college in Dublin, this time all lip gloss & tight jeans. Aged 22, I was King of the World. And then some!

TopshopBlonde & yoga-toned, I worked in a gym & wore my jeans painted on. I had the arms for vests & the nerve for killer heels. Living with five other girls (and, at one stage, two blokes & a dog) in Central London, we’d start in the flat & end up down Soho, in Camden or Shepherd’s Bush. Shopping for Saturday night, I’d hit Topshop Oxford Circus, at the bottom of our street. Loud dance music pumped through it’s floors. Portobello Market & Covent Garden were regular haunts.

Eventually London moved on, and so did I. Back to Dublin. The wilderness years of my late 20s followed. What was I going to  with my life? I lived with my parents for a bit, working lots of silly little jobs. Did writing classes, wrote plenty of fiction. Got into astrology. Started learning French again. Went to music festivals. Partied just as much as ever, only now with hangovers. Wore combats, slogan t-shirts. Adidas Superstars. Cut my hair off. Got a bit fatter. Lost my mojo big time…

Night FeverI wondered if I should return to England. Not London, maybe Brighton? It’s funny, when you’re 30 you think “This is it… if I don’t sort my life out now, I’m fucked!”. For my birthday I had a 1970s disco at my parents’ place (always a party house). Music, lights, glitter. Everyone got dressed up. I drank Babycham & got sick. It was class! But the Celtic Tiger had arrived, roaring madly. My mates got mortgages, careers got real. Folk even got married. But, I was unemployed & living at home…

Then a random phone call. A typing test? A job interview. My first office job. It lasted nearly five years. I got a place in Town. I was workin’ 9 to 5, doing a Journalism degree at night. Still living like it was 1995. Shopping was one of my fave pastimes & the office was my catwalk. I’d do Grafton Street late-nite Thursday, pop into TK Maxx on Saturday morning & browse the Dublin Flea Market, around the corner from my flat, of a Sunday. I loved the Sales. And I adored Vintage.

GirlsMy Boss would ask me, over the phone, “What are you wearing today?”. He hated City Shorts, so I wore them. And silk Pussy Bow blouses with a slick 1970s flared jumpsuit. A black peplum mini dress with a leopard top, fishnets & red t-bar shoes (a colleague thanked me for wearing “Ann Summers” to work). A lilac polyester 1960s dress with cravat & balloon sleeves. Sunshine yellow heels with a green pencil skirt. Heidi plaits with diamante hair slides. Wool suits & knee-high boots.

One day I wore a floaty silk dress. Nothing unusual there. I showed a couple of Big Wig clients to the boardroom, got them some tea. Then clocked my rear-view in the Ladies. Garishly patterned Pink Panther boy-shorts screamed for attention underneath the see-thru fabric. I’d gotten dressed in the dark. A lunchtime dash to M&S for a more subtle pair of work knicks. And a slip! It wasn’t the first or last time I left too little to the imagination… I really don’t know how I got away with it.

TypingRedundancy. I’d graduated by now & decided to give my writing career a go. I had no choice. The Recession was at full tilt & there was no chance of a job. Over the last five years I’ve had gigs as a Costume Assistant in films, Commercial Copywriter, Proof Reader, Shop Manager, Social Media Content. Wrote plenty of fiction. Still not published. And I Love Saturday, of course. I was skint, but I still managed to socialise like crazy. I met lots of new friends & certainly didn’t settle down.

Any clothes money was spent in Oxfam. Granny chic. I filled out again & covered my cushioned tush with floral chiffon dresses, cashmere cardies, an electric blue wool cape from Avoca (second-hand). Red cowboy boots, Kate Betts hats, rainbow silk scarves, stripy tights. My wardrobe, although organised (sometimes), was like a jumble sale. I was losing my edge. Sometimes I looked put together; more often thrown together. I longed to live in a minimalist hotel room, with zero stuff.

HepburnBut, then I met my husband & moved to our one bedroom loft in Temple Bar. I won’t lie, we’re both messy. We binned a load of things. There’s still too much. Most of my clothes are at Home (sorry Mom & Dad). Lying dormant in a Sliderobe prison. I’ve lost the lard (again!) & I’m ready to wear these clothes. However, I’ve moved on… I’ve never been a “classic” dresser. I always loved clothes that made me laugh (I know). So, a more mature image is in order, no doubt about it… Let the cull begin!

I’ve read Marie Kondo’s best seller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying”. Yes indeed. The Madame Chic series by Jennifer L Scott also speaks to me; I have all three books. Today I picked up Stylist Annmarie O’Connor’s “The Happy Closet”. Mindful dressing. I like! And a pair of black Lee skinny jeans (birthday present to self). No silver boots… And no idea what my brand new look is gonna be, but as the Konmari Method promises; it will Spark Joy. Here goes nothing… *opens wardrobe*

Apr 20, 2014

The Library Project – Cool Reading

The Library Project in Temple Bar is probably the hippest space in town right now. It’s clean, it’s cool, it’s a thoroughly modrin library. Run by PhotoIreland, The Library Project is a collection of contemporary publication from around the world. Photography & image are the mainstays here, as well as art, fashion & history. Everything’s laid out on easy to browse shelves & tables, so that covers catch your eye.

The Library Project aims to offer an on-going collection of the latest photobooks, magazines & zines from independent & large publishing houses & self-published works too. I picked up some interesting German art zines. Visually, the place is inspiring as a gallery-like feel allows the books to capture your imagination. That sounds wanky, but you know what I mean. Show rather than tell, if ya like.

The curated selection already boasts 900 items & is growing all the time, with companies & folk welcome to contribute to this unique public resource library. There’s also artists prints, Irish made stationery & quirky postcards. And vintage tape recorders. Me neither… The Library Project represents part of the counterculture scene that’s popping up all over Dublin. Not just for hipsters. Check it out.

The Library Project, 4 Temple Bar, Dublin 2 / www.photoireland.org/the-library-project

Apr 6, 2014

Rat Neck – Chainsaw Punk!

Rat Neck. Who the hell are they? A post-Punk apocalypse some might say. Four blokes in a Dublin band, others would venture. All I do know is that they’re fast & furious. Rat Neck formed in 2010 & have been steadily taking over the world since their first release on Breaking Tunes “In The Way”. Youtube their rather strange videos, featuring cartoon crazies Barry & Tommo, sketched by drummer Ollie.

So, back to the music. I caught them recently at a private gig, to launch their EP, at The Natural Cut on Wicklow Street. Fuck-off loud guitars, free whiskey & a nice little crowd. What’s not to love? Rat Neck’s set was tight. I saw them again, a couple of weeks later at Fibber Magees. Yup, that old rock spot that I haven’t been in since the Millennium. Ah, the days… And they royally rocked that joint too.

Rat Neck channel a chainsaw energy that just forces you to head bang. Rude not to with my hair. Lead singer Vinny leads the way with his oily undercut swinging to the speeding rhythm of his guitar. Flanked by ice cool bassist Pa & old skool rock guitarist Peter, he lets loose in not quite a Henry Rollins way, but close. Filthy language, of course! Rat Neck’s sound is heavy but the songs are well catchy.

The motley crew at Fibbers tapped a toe, or stomped a bovver boot, to “S.O.M.C” & “No Way Back”. My fave tune “Rohypnol” went down a storm. Rat Neck are a great live band. While making big waves online, I won’t be surprised to see them popping up at venues all over Dublin this summer. If you like Killing Joke, Black Flag or Faith No More, you’ll dig these guys. Old skool noise & then some more.

ratneck.bandcamp.com / www.ratneck.com / www.fibbermagees.ie

Mar 21, 2014

Silk Road Exhibition – Centre For Creative Practices

When some friends asked me to join them for an exhibition launch on Wednesday night I found my knackered self, clutching a cuppa, buried in the sofa. A quick text revealed the destination to be the Centre For Creative Practices, a close neighbour of ILS HQ. I know town’s on my doorstep, but I was glad to be staying local. The short stroll woke me up! And the CFCP is always a joy to visit.

Upon arrival, the place, a rather cool cellar-like Georgian basement on Pembroke St, was already fairly lively. I located a glass of red & found my friend by the canapes. Exotic pastry envelopes with strawberry, creme fraiche & pistachio. Munch! The Silk Road Exhibition, a showcase of photography & artwork, is running as part of the Silk Road Film Festival. A celebration of Silk Road voyages.

The exhibition is designed to introduce Asian & Middle Eastern art, culture & imagery & brings to life many of the countries along the legendary Silk Road route. Indeed, the crowd at CFCP was a melting pot of cultures & an indication of Dublin’s changing ethnic flavour. Photography includes several Irish artists, who have travelled the Middle East, with rich images of life steeped in Silk Road history.

Paintings feature works by artists from Iran, Yemen & Ireland. I particularly liked pieces by Michelle Boyle, Maliheh Zafarnezhad & Farnoosh Rahimi. The exhibition is a sea of colour & texture, allowing the observer to immerse in Silk Road culture. The gallery was officially opened by well-known actress Aisling O’Sullivan & there was a good talk by photographer & exhibition curator Fares Fares.

The Centre For Creative Practices is running the show until next Thursday & is screening a film (Ningen, Japenese) on Saturday afternoon at 5 pm, as part of the Silk Road Film Festival. I got chatting to Iranian film director, Mahmoud Kalari, a charismatic man who’s groundbreaking work is highly influential in Middle Eastern cinema. He told me his next project is a one continuous shot film. How cool.

Kalari is hosting a Cinematography Masterclass at The Screen cinema on Townsend Street from midday on Saturday, featuring break-downs of his Academy Award winning films. The Silk Road Film Festival runs until March 25th, with events including – Bahar Cultural Event, The Adventures of Mirzabalad & Dragonfly’s Pond. No better way to herald Persian New Year Nowruz, Festival of Spring.

Silk Road Exhibition – until Thursday 27th. Free entry. Curated by Fares Fares & Nasrin Saadat.

Centre For Creative Practices, 15 Pembroke Street Lower, Dublin 2 / www.cfcp.ie / www.silkroadfilmfestival.com

Mar 17, 2014

Busyfeet & Coco – Cosy & Cool

Wandering across town from A to B last week I bumped into an old pal. The beauty of Dublin. We both looked at our watches & scheduled in some urgent tea & cake. Since we were on Stephen Street, Busyfeet & Coco came under my radar. An old haunt of mine at the top of South William Street, near Peter’s Pub. Used to be a fave pitstop between the office & college back when I was earning & learning.

Of course, I went for the usual. Apple berry crumble, served warm with cream, & a hot chocolate. My mate ordered a nice wedge of carrot cake & a pot of tea. Busyfeet & Coco has a Continental feel. Couples huddled in corners, arty types reading the paper, students buried in notebooks. I always feel at home here, whether alone or in company. Small tables are dotted around, with seating outside too.

Homely cake is inviting in trays at the counter. The apple berry crumble is still as good as ever! If you’re looking for more, Busyfeet & Coco is open all day with excellent breakfast, lunch & dinner menus. Try out their cheese & bacon burger, classic BLT, grilled goat’s cheese salad or Mexican chicken wrap. Casual deliciousness! Or go sophisticated on Saturday night with a cheese board, wine & live music.

Busyfeet & Coco, 41-42 South William Street, Dublin 2

Feb 21, 2014

Jasmine Bar – Unknown Pleasure

Brooks Hotel on Drury Street looks terribly unassuming from the outside. You’ve probably walked past it a million times. But step inside & you’ll find the Jasmine Bar, an oasis of calm in the city. It’s been a secret haunt of mine for years. Lunch, afternoon tea, a cheeky Tom Collins. We’ve done family dinner in Francesca’s Restaurant on many occasions too. Brooks is a hidden gem, in the middle of town.

Not being a seen-to-be-seen kind of place, the Jasmine Bar offers the sort of peace & quiet to sit back & relax. With Ma & Pa just back from their hols, it was the perfect spot to settle in & hear all about it. We ordered off the lunch menu. Caesar salad for me & Greek salad for Herself. A turkey & stuffing sandwich with a cup of tomato soup for Dad. And we shared some wonderfully robust potato wedges.

The measured service at Brooks is luxe, not lax. Staff are highly trained, lending a Continental feel of being looked after. We could use more of it in Dublin. Everything was laid gently on our table, with a smile. The food is simple, but something to write home about. Award winning chef, Patrick McLarnon, is the main man at Francesca’s. His use of local artisan ingredients extends to the Jasmine Bar.

My Caesar was fresh & crunchy with lovely dark Romaine leaves. Ma’s Greek was just as well put together. We’re salad experts, y’know. We liked these mucho! Dad’s sambo went down a treat & his soup was nice & tangy. The menu has a good choice of sandwiches – tomato, mozzarella & basil, McConnells Organic smoked Irish salmon – & the hearty Brooks burger or a beef & Guinness stew.

If you want to linger on after lunch, then you’re in the right place. The Jasmine Bar is one of the best whiskey bars in the country, offering a Whiskey Tasting Experience for groups. Any wonder Madre loves this joint… The cocktail menu offers indulgent tipples too. If you’re looking for a bit of fun though, check out Brooks Private Cinema Club. Really rather cool. Great films & better food than any Cineplex.

Jasmine Bar, Brooks Hotel, Drury Street, Dublin 2 / www.brookshotel.ie

Feb 13, 2014

Costumes Parisiens – Chester Beatty Library

It was my birthday on Tuesday, so I went up town looking for some action. Well, I went to the Chester Beatty Library, actually. There was a bit of excitement though, with the snow storm & all. It felt so romantic to be swept up in a mid-February blizzard. I ran through the grounds of Dublin Castle, finally finding refuge in the Silk Road Cafe. Wet coat off, tea & fresh orange cake on. This place was made for comfort…

Costumes Parisiens is showing at the Chester Beatty since October & it was finally my chance to have a goo. The exhibition features the unique illustrations of Journal des Dames et des Modes (1912-1914). One hundred years after it’s publication, these fashion plates give us a taste for the elegant styles of du jour. It was Beatty’s glamorous wife, Edith, who encouraged him to acquire the magazine.

The fine sketches depict a whimsical side of style, which is really what fashion is all about. A rich & exotic opulence, characterised by Orientalism, Neo-Classical French & Art Nouveau design with rich fabrics & bold patterns. Costumes Parisiens serves as a record of the growth of haute couture & the revolutionary path to modern women’s apparel. It celebrates luxury & craftsmanship in fashion.

Gowns, dresses, hats & handbags – the French woman at the turn of the century was a leading arbiter of style. These original prints from George Barbier, Leon Bakst & Bernard Boutet de Monvel capture ladies of the Belle Epoque era at leisure & play. Vivid colours & intricate detail relay the womanly art of dressing. Although the menswear is equally beguiling, it’s the feminine look that truly inspires.

I particularly enjoyed the display of real handmade clothing. So beautiful, these gowns held such allure in their fabric, draping & embellishment. It makes me rue the day Penneys was invented. Imagine Madame wearing leggings? Me neither… Costumes Parisiens is a must-see for those who appreciate a stylish aesthetic or those who simply enjoy beautiful graphics. Showing until March 30th 2014.

Costumes Parisiens, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle, Dublin2 / www.silkroadcafe.ie

Feb 11, 2014

Evita – Powerful Romance

It was off to the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, a hop, skip & a jump from ILS HQ, last night for Evita. Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice’s all-singing, all-dancing tale of Argentina’s legendary “spirit of the nation”, Eva Peron. First stop for us, me & Dad, was Herbstreet on Hanover Quay. Where else? Always a full house during sell out shows, we enjoyed a warm welcome & a bustling atmosphere. The perfect place for pre-theatre chow.

The menu at Herbstreet changes with the seasons, but one thing that remains the same is their scrummy sweet potato wedges. Big chunks of foodie love served with chipotle & lemon feta dips. So we shared those, alongside baked Cooleeney with sourdough bread & quinoa salad for me & a special of grilled halloumi with fruity cous cous & apricot chutney for Dad. All totes delish, needless to say!

Dessert followed at the Upper Circle bar, where we paired our drinkies with a box of Cocoa Atelier chocolates. Ambassador… Well, it is my birthday! The view of Grand Canal Docks from here, is one of the best features of the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. A magical slice of modern Dublin. Yes, Sir. We soon took our seats, for the performance. The Gods. I must say, I do like watching from the Upper Circle.

Is it wrong to fancy Marti Pellow? Starring as narrator Che (channelling Che Guevara, but not quite him), Pellow looks swashbuckling swarthy in his combats and bovver boots. Of course, I remember him from his Wet Wet Wet days, when as a ten year old I was a little bit in love with him. Pellow is now an accomplished Wet End player, as well as a successful solo artist. And still quite handsome too…

A deep throat opener from Che, brings us to Evita’s state funeral where her passing is mourned by the nation. Then we go back in time to 1940s Argentina, where small town girl Eva Peron lets her larger than life personality do the talking, or singing in this case. In search of the big time, she persuades tango singer Agustin Magaldi to take her to Buenos Aires. Eva is ready for her first bite of the Big Apple.

With bright lights in her eyes Eva climbs the society ladder, forging a career as an actress & model. Following a devastating earthquake, Eva meets Juan Peron at a charity ball. Together they rise to power, during a time of political turmoil, to become President & First Lady of Argentina. Under Peron’s wing, Evita transcends her humble beginnings to national sweetheart. Theirs is a tale of enduring love.

Evita sweeps us up in a heady cocktail of romance & power as Eva, played superbly by Madelena Alberto, & Juan Peron, played by stage veteran Mark Heenehan, fuse together to make an unforgettable alliance. From the start of their affair, “I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You” to the height of their reign, “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” the stage is a hotbed of emotion. Pure Rice & Lloyd Webber magic.

Alberto’s mighty voice takes us through the highs & lows of Evita’s political opus & into the bosom of her marriage. The love between her & Peron is reflected onto the raging streets of Argentina. This production highlights Evita’s magnificent wealth against a backdrop of Argentina’s desperate “shirtless”, represented by Che throughout. Her heart must outshine her diamonds, as far as they are concerned.

A captivating “High Flying Adored” between Eva & Che, leads us into her infamous Rainbow Tour of Europe. Evita puts on the performance of her life, while at the same time fighting a losing battle with her failing health. She rallies behind Peron, but he must watch his beloved burgeon in spirit & wither in strength. She clings to him, all she has left. “You Must Love Me” brought a tear to my eye.

Evita really captures the heat of Buenos Aires at the time, with the Perons cast against a lively ensemble of good time girls, military men & ordinary folk. I enjoyed the costumes in particular, from flirty tea dresses to dapper uniform, they conveyed times past when both men & women held their own brands of allure. Evita’s glamour to Peron’s steady presence. A winning combo in any day & age.

The final scenes see out the tragedy of Evita’s untimely death with Peron pledging “She Is A Diamond” to her & “Eva’s Final Broadcast” as her heart wrenching last stand. We’re back in black for her funeral, Che to the fore once again lamenting her death with all of Argentina. Evita is an icon for women & Madelena Alberto’s invigorating turn is a triumph of passion & self realisation. A spectacular show!

Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2 / www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie / Herbstreet, Hanover Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2 /www.herbstreet.ie

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