Tag Archives: England

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 83. On Neighbours.

Mozart lived here when he was younger.

While I was in London this weekend, I stayed in The Belgravia Hotel (more like a guest house, but there you go) on Ebury Street, about ten minutes walk from Buckingham Palace. I took a bus tour of the city and it actually passed through Belgravia. I learned I was in august company. Mozart lived across the road from the hotel (he composed his first piece at the age of eight in London); Ian Fleming, Roger Moore and Sean Connery lived nearby too. JK Rowling and Margaret Thatcher are current residents.

Geniuses all, with the exception of The Iron Lady.

 

 

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 71. On Nice.

Wish You Were Here?

One of my least favourite sayings currently doing the rounds, especially in the bar trade, is “It’s nice to be nice.” Really…is it? Sometimes it’s nicer not to be nice. Sometimes you can get a hell of a lot of satisfaction just by being rude to people who deserve it. Of course, you can turn the other cheek – but why leave yourself open to another assault. It doesn’t make sense.

There is another nice – Nice, in the South of France. If you’re looking for me in the coming week, that’s where you’ll find me, lying on a beach, having fun.

 

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 63. On a Sense of Community.

Dublin supporters on Hill 16 at Croke Park.

Nothing brings a community together better than a sporting occasion. And nothing unites a community more uniquely than a victory. In much the same way a country can celebrate a major win in competition (Ireland beating England in this year’s Cricket World Cup springs to mind), Dublin’s All-Ireland success over their arch-rivals Kerry last Sunday has brought a smile to the brow-beaten face of Dubliners.

Whether your a fan of GAA or not (I’m ambivalent most of the time), it’s hard not to get caught up in the euphoria a victory can bring. Already we’re looking forward to next year.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 61. On History.

I mentioned to a customer the other night that I was taking a weekend trip to London in a couple of weeks. He liked England, he said, it is steeped in history. Ireland, on the other hand, has no real history to speak of.

I disagreed. Ireland has a fascinating history because of its ties with England. For better or worse, our relationship with our closest neighbour is an essential part of our history.

Can you imagine someone writing an autobiography that didn’t include any relationships or active engagement with another living soul? It would be boring and isolationist. People need people.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 46.2 On Nationalism.

We love him despite his unique looks.

Wayne Rooney plays for Manchester United, a soccer team with plenty of Irish support. To us ManYoo fans, Rooney can do no wrong. He finds the net on a regular basis.

Steven Gerrard is a Liverpool player. To fans worldwide, he is the heart and soul of the team. Likewise with John Terry and Frank Lampard. Irish supporters of Chelsea FC know their team depends heavily on these lions of football.

But put an England shirt on any of these players and Ireland bays for blood. It seems ironic that these men are both heroes and villains to the same set of supporters.

 

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 14. On Cricket

England won the Second Test yesterday at Trent Bridge, beating to the world’s best test playing side, India by 319 runs.

What? I hear you shout. Why is James babbling on about a game none of us neither like nor understand? The answer is very simple. I inherited a lot of things from my father (good looks notwithstanding), including my support for Manchester United and a working knowledge of the ins and outs of cricket.

It’s a field game in which the side that’s in avoids getting out. The side that’s out wants in. Oh and they take tea. A lot.

 

 

On This Day…1 October

Friday, 1 October 2010

I welcome you to today’s installment of On This Day, the first one in the merry month of October. I know it should be the “merry, merry month of May,” but we do things differently in Ireland. Like bailing out banks to the tune of 29 billion euro. Yes, Anglo Irish Bank, I’m looking at you!

*Fumes*

Anyway, before I have a total canary, I’ll go straight to events on this day in…

959 – Edgar the Peaceable becomes king of all England. He succeeded Gerald the Bloodthirsty Warmonger.

1795 – Belgium is conquered by France, despite going 1-0 in the first half.

University of Capetown

1811 – The first steamboat to sail the Mississippi River arrives in New Orléans, Louisiana.

1829 – South African College is founded in Cape Town, South Africa; it will later separate into the University of Cape Town and the South African College Schools.

1880 – First electric lamp factory opened by Thomas Edison. What a bright spark he was!

The George Washington Bridge. (Image: paulscharffphotography.com)

1903 – Baseball: The Boston Americans play the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game of the modern World Series.

1931 – The George Washington Bridge linking New Jersey and New York opens.

1946 – Mensa International is founded in the United Kingdom. I’m still waiting to see if they’ve accepted my membership.

1957 – First appearance of “In God We Trust” on U.S. paper currency. Just as well God isn’t a banker!

1971 – Walt Disney World opens near Orlando, Florida, United States.

1975 – Thrilla in Manila: Muhammad Ali defeats Joe Frazier in a boxing match in Manila, Philippines.

1989 – Denmark: World’s first legal modern same-sex civil union called “registered partnership.”

Birthday wishes go to:

Jimmy Carter, former American president and world-famous peanut farmer, is a dry roasted 86-years-old today.

Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music star Julie Andrews is 75.

Randy Quaid is 60.

And Irish pop singer and actor Keith (Boyzone) Duffy is 26.

On This Day…25 September

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Good morning, good day, good evening, and welcome to Saturday’s installment of On This Day. I hope you’re well and that you enjoy your weekend. To set you off on the right path, here’s your daily trip down memory lane. Way down memory lane. So way down in fact, we’re starting with what happened on this day in…

303 – On a voyage preaching the gospel, Saint Fermin of Pamplona is beheaded in Amiens, France. A bit of a wasted journey if you ask me. The French are not for turning.

1066 – The Battle of Stamford Bridge marks the end of the Viking invasions of England. Chelsea FC play their home games there now. I thought John Terry looked like a Norse, all right.

1690 – Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick, the first newspaper to appear in the Americas, is published for the first and only time. No one bought obviously.

The Bill of Rights

1789 – The U.S. Congress passes twelve amendments to the United States Constitution: the Congressional Apportionment Amendment (which was never ratified), the Congressional Compensation Amendment, and the ten that are known as the Bill of Rights.

1906 – In the presence of the king and before a great crowd, Leonardo Torres Quevedo successfully demonstrates the invention of the Telekino in the port of Bilbao, guiding a boat from the shore, in what is considered the birth of the remote control.

1944 – World War II: Surviving elements of the British 1st Airborne Division withdraw from Arnhem in the Netherlands, thus ending the Battle of Arnhem and Operation Market Garden. It was A Bridge Too Far.

1983 – Maze Prison escape: 38 republican prisoners, armed with 6 handguns, hijack a prison meals lorry and smash their way out of the Maze prison. It is the largest prison escape since WWII and in British history.

1996 – The last of the Magdalene Asylums closes in Ireland; just one of the many scandals Ireland has endured under the institution of the Catholic Church.

Celebrity birthdays today include:

Mr & Mrs Zeta-Jones Douglas (Image: babble.com)

Catherine Zeta Jones and her husband, Michael Douglas, share their birthdays today. She is 41, he is 66. We wish Michael well as he recovers from throat cancer.

Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, is 59 and still strong with the Force.

Maria Doyle Kennedy, Irish singer, actress and star of The Commitments, is 46.

Hollywood actor Will Smith is 42.

On This Day…23 September

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Welcome to another action-packed, thrill-a-minute piece of history trivia. I hope you get as much fun out of reading these as I do putting them together. They take time, but it’s time well spent.

Today we start with…

1122 – Concordat of Worms: an agreement between Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V near the city of Worms. It brought to an end the first phase of the power struggle between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Emperors. And you thought it was all about gathering live bait for fishing…

1779 – American Revolution: a squadron commanded by John Paul Jones on board the USS Bonhomme Richard wins the Battle of Flamborough Head, off the coast of England, against two British warships. 1-0 to the US.

A photogenic bunch, don't you think? (Image: 19cbaseball.com)

1845 – The Knickerbockers Baseball Club, the first baseball team to play under the modern rules, is founded in New York.

1889 – Nintendo Koppai (Later Nintendo Company, Limited) is founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi to produce and market the playing card game Hanafuda.

1909 – The Phantom of the Opera (original title: Le Fantôme de l’Opéra), a novel by French writer Gaston Leroux, was first published as a serialization in Le Gaulois. So now we know who to blame for the musical.

1952 – Richard Nixon makes his “Checkers speech”.

1999 – NASA announces that it has lost contact with the Mars Climate Orbiter.

2002 – The first public version of the web browser Mozilla Firefox (“Phoenix 0.1”) is released.

Happy birthday to:

Mickey Rooney is a venerable 90 today.

Jason Alexander as George (Image: seinfeldscripts.com)

The Spanish singing superstar Julio Iglesias is 67.

Paolo Rossi, the Italian footballer who won the World Cup Golden Boot in 1982, is 54.

Jason Alexander, who plays George from the hit series Seinfeld, is 51.

Eric Miller, Irish rugby player, is 35.

But the birthday I really want to celebrate today is the Boss, Bruce Springsteen. He turns 61 and shows no sign of ever slowing down.

Go on ya good thing!

On This Day…7 September

The weather has taken a turn for the worst. Yesterday it rained twice. First for eight hours, then again for the remaining sixteen. I have Noah on speed-dial. He’s gathering the animals, I’m collecting welfare payments. See you in Waterworld, people.

On this day in…

1191 – Third Crusade: Battle of Arsuf – Richard I of England defeats Saladin at Arsuf.

SS Lusitania

1907 – Cunard Line’s RMS Lusitania sets sail on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City.

1953 – Nikita Khrushchev is elected first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Does this mean he took minutes?

It was the brolly that killed poor Georgi 😦

1978 – While walking across Waterloo Bridge in London, Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov is assassinated by Bulgarian secret police agent Francesco Giullino by means of a ricin pellet fired from in a specially-designed umbrella.

2008 – The US Government takes control of the two largest mortgage financing companies in the US, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Happy birthday to:

Michael Emerson, Lost‘s Ben Linus, who is 56 today.

Marge and Julie

Chrissie Hynde, singer with The Pretenders and ex-wife of Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr, is 59.

Julie Kavner, the voice of Marge Simpson, is 60.

And the singer of the song that terrifies married men everywhere, Gloria Gaynor, is 61.

I don’t know about you, but I “will survive” if I never hear this song again.