Wednesday, 31 July 2013


I've been thinking about yuccas recently. 

Well, for the last forty eight hours or so. Before that I hadn't been thinking about yuccas at all. Not really, though I do recall seeing some on display outside a store in Toronto. And yes, I do recall...yes yes it's all coming back to me as I write, I do recall thinking then that I hadn't seen a yucca in a long while. 

The thought passed. 

I came back to Ireland and there I was, forty eight hours ago, sitting in The Bayside Inn in Sutton in County Dublin. It was very quiet. I hadn't been there for a few months but the same people seemed to be sitting there in the same seats, being very quiet. It was strange for me to think, to realise that all the while I was away in North America these same people had been sitting here. Not missing me in the slightest. The relationship was mutual.

The deceased husband of a girlfriend of mine once told me that it took a good ten years to build up a relationship with a pub. He actually told me a lot of other stuff, me being the lover of his wife, like, but what sticks in my mind is that particular notion, that it takes a good ten years to build up a relationship with a pub. 

Now I don't know about this at all. It may well do, but it is not necessarily so, not necessary that any relationship will be built up at all.  I have been going to the Bayside Inn in Sutton for ten years or so. Every few months. Say maybe six or seven times a year. And, hand on heart, I can say that  I have absolutely no relationship with the Bayside Inn in Sutton, nor with its denizens. And I could be going there for the next ten years, and I can confidently assert that I would have built up no relationship.

So there. But...doubts creep in...maybe that is the nature of the relationship? Maybe a relationship that doesn't exist is in fact a relationship?

Is this all getting a bit Wittgenstein?

Perhaps. So, these yuccas. There I was sitting in my non-relationship with the establishment, a sort of dark matter relationship...there I was and I became conscious of being watched. I put up with this for awhile and then looked around. And there they were, a row of yucca plants along a shelf, watching me. Four or five or maybe even six yucca plants. I didnt count. There was enough. There was actually too many. Because that's the thing about yucca plants, they are a singular, should be anyway. One is quite enough. After that they get sinister. They kind of gang up on you. And one becomes aware...of the yuccas of North County Dublin and the yuccas of Toronto...their totality...

That's all I have to say on the matter.


I see I have a new follower on my Academia site.  She's looks very nice. Here she is below. She's interested in Early Photography. And so am I. And she's also interested in The Life and Works of Mary Hayden. And so am I .

But I wonder if she's interested in yucca plants?

Barbara Lawson

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Madonna in Monkstown.

Well that was a good six month break from the slavery of the screen.

Have been in Canada for this last month...don't knock it, it's a great country...Toronto is a great city...Soby's at Yonge and St Claire is a great supermarket...Jingles is a great pub...(with the exception of their "chef's salad" which is a few olives buried in a  pile of lettuce leaves...)

And so, now that I'm a leading food writer, I have to mention that I'm barely back in Ireland when I see Madonna walking along by Monkstown Church in County Dublin...well I don't actually see her, not in the flesh (don't tempt me) but rather I see a photo of Madonna walking along by Monkstown Church in County Dublin...she is, the caption tells me, accompanied by her bodyguard and some female friends.

This bodyguard concept is a good idea, Monkstown is a notoriously dangerous area. I found it dangerous when I lived there. Though it must be admitted that most of the danger in my case was created by my female friends. Wrote a book about all that.

I tell my wife H, about whom I wrote that book, that Madonna has been in Monkstown County Dublin.

"What was she doing", says H, "adopting children?"

It's one of her sardonic mornings.

Life does that to a woman. Particularly life with me.

"No", I tell her, "it's all about food".

So what has Madonna got to do with food?

Ah hah...this is the thing...Madonna is going (in the picture on my screen) to the funeral of David Collins.

Oh God, David Collins is not dead is he?

Oh yes he is, and  I don't even know who he is. Quick google. Oh God again. He's a celebrity architect from Glenageary in County Dublin. And he's designed every restaurant worth going to in London. And he wears velvet jackets. And Graham Norton was also at the funeral. And and and...the details pile up...but those relevant to myself are hidden, obscured...I's much like poking through  the lettuce leaves in Jingles pub at Yonge and St Claire, looking  for the damn olives...

Ah hah.

Olive one...Collins went to St Conleths School in Dublin...SO DID I ...

Olive two...Collins designed the Wolsley Restaurant in London...I  HAD BREAKFAST THERE ONCE !

Olive three...Collins's father was an architect Jack Collins of Glenageary County Dublin....ah hah...ah bloody hah...I knew that old boy, vaguely, by repute...and long years ago when I was setting up my horticultural business (another blog, another day, another blog, be patient) I bought some equipment from a secondhand salesrooms which, I learned, had originally been in Collins's offices...

How about that then? It's eerie. The connections between myself and David Collins are obviously multifaceted and extensive. The cosmos does have an architect.

Dammit. I should've been at that funeral. I feel guilty now. I just should've been there. And what was I doing instead?

Well...back in Toronto I didn't spend all my time in Soby's Supermarket or Jingles Pub, I was actually working as well. And part of my work  was to visit and meet and talk to a very elderly lady from Ireland. A jewish lady, she is the surviving sister of Ettie Steinberg, the only Irish victim of Auschwitz, about whom I have written in the past.

I did all that and came back to Ireland with my notes and my photographs and I went to my house and I cut my grass and then I sat down to write about the elderly Jewish lady and her life and all that, and how her murdered sister did not have a life nor a chance to be an elderly lady in Toronto surrounded by a huge loving family.

Yep, that sort of peripheral stuff.

When I could indeed should have been at the funeral of a posh restaurant designer.

Me and Madonna.