Once again, my apologies for being a lousy correspondent. At some point or points I will switch tracks and be able to write to you engagingly about the new world I’m exploring here. But as of now my brain is overloaded. I’ve written my first computer programs, built a database by hand, interviewed people, held project meetings. It’s been a month and a half. I feel like my thumb has been jammed down on the fast forward button. I’d like to tell you about all that I’ve learned, but it seems less like learning and more like being swept out to sea on a tide of knowledge. I don’t think I have the authority to explain any of it yet.
This is a polite way of saying that I have no idea what I’m doing.
So meanwhile, some more pictures from my wonderful visit to Skycon at the University of Limerick. UL is a young university and so has one of the most modern and impressive campuses in the country, though it can’t compete with what we have in NUI Galway of course.
OK… What the freaking freak is that? The department of bizarre architecture? We don’t have one of those.
And I bet these buildings hardly look impressive at all when the sun isn’t shining.
Another shot of that “Living Bridge” over the mighty Shannon. Our campus has a bridge too though. Actually, our campus is crossed by a bridge.
A bit of nature for ye now. It was a lovely day for invisible spiders.
Back in the hotel after, with the gang from NUI Galway’s Computer Society. (The decent hotel where Randall Munroe was put up. We stayed in a Travelodge, a sort of footlocker for people.) What is everyone looking at with such interest – a video perhaps? Cartoons? No. Server logs. They’re using phones to view what’s happening on the club computers.
Only now can the story be told – because since I got back I’ve been too shagged. How did I become involved with the Ballyhea Burn The Bank Bondholders band? I have to be honest, I am not altogether sure. It sounded like a wild thing to do. It was a noble cause. It would mean spending time with one of my favouritest people. I had some time, flights were cheap, what the hell.
Our journey begins as it ends – in Knock. Knock is one of the world’s weirdest little airports. It has a runway long enough for 747s, but it is miles and miles away from anywhere almost anyone would want to go. The nearest cities are Galway, Limerick and Derry, but the closest of them is an hour away and they all have their own airports anyway.
Knock was the brainchild not of a planner or politician, but of a priest – who thought that the site of a minor and, it has to be said, suspect apparition could become a major destination for pilgrims, if there were only an airport to bring them. But the maxim “If you build it they will come” applies poorly to superfluous infrastructure. Knock had to wait for a new miracle and a new prophet – Michael O’Leary of Ryanair, who knew how to put unwanted airports to good use. So from Knock, an hour away from Galway, we can fly to Hahn, two hours away from Frankfurt. It’s a very useful service – and not only for us, as we were to find.
Knock though is well worth visiting for itself, if you enjoy mocking people’s beliefs. Perhaps I can find a better way to put that… It’s fascinating, because it displays religion at its most incredible. The town of Knock is more or less a religious strip mall, selling objects of veneration in boxes of a dozen beside charming isn’t-drunkenness-funny souvenirs. It’s hard to imagine how anyone’s faith could survive a pilgrimage here.
I would swear that religious art has just got more dumb-looking in recent decades. These figures seem actually to have concussion, the features weirdly cartoonish and toy-like. The 3D pictures of animals are… unexplained. Virgin Marys now come in Standard and Luminous. I resisted the desire to buy a luminous one.
I do not know what a Happy Death Cross is, or how it differs from the usual sad death type of crucifix. We speculate that if you look close, Jesus has a big smile.
So we tear ourselves away from the anthropology just in time to meet up with the Ballyhea folks at the airport, and board our flight. Though not before paying an extra €10, for Knock is a toll airport.
Aboard then, and of course the first thing that greets you is Ryanair’s extraordinary panoply of warnings, right in front of your face. They know that the usual safety cards are often damaged or taken as souvenirs (seriously, I have a friend who collects them), so to save a few cents every flight Ryanair plaster them to the back of the seat in front of you. You spend your entire journey being constantly reminded of the things that can go wrong with a plane.
And I ask you, if you didn’t know all the safety drills already, would you really be able to work them out from this? What the hell is that guy doing with the yellow vest – the hula? And look at the first panel of “Exit B Overwings”, the bottom row of the right side. The whole point of doing this in pictures is so you don’t need to read English to understand the drill. But without that caption, the picture seems to say “If you look out the window and see fire, stay in the plane”. That’s really only good advice if you’re flying through a fire.
Gotta say, plane wings are lovely things.
When we boarded though, someone noticed a thing that took us all by surprise. Among our fellow-passengers was one of the people we were hoping to meet in Frankfurt – Doctor Patrick Honohan, the governor of Ireland’s Central Bank, on his way to the very meeting we were going to picket. This, I admit, was troubling. Were we so broke that our Central Bank Governor had to fly Ryanair? It seems almost shameful. Of course to his credit, Honahan had recently turned down a pay rise in the hope, naive as it might seem, of business and public sector leaders following suit. So perhaps this was another example of economy.
Hold on to your hats! If you live in Dublin, Limerick or Galway, ‘A Tale of Three Cities’ is coming soon to your City. Following an incredible impromptu ‘improv jam’ session at Electric Picnic in 2010, some of Ireland’s top improvisers decided that there was too much fun to be had to leave it it that.
Plans were hatched, and they decided a three city comedy improv tour was in order. Members of No Drama (Dublin), Choke Comedy (Limerick) and The Spontaneous Theatre People (Galway) have joined forces and become the Improv ‘Supergroup’ known as The Make-Up Artists!
Improv Comedy is an incredibly exciting form of theatre. It is energizing for the audience and performers alike, and no two performances are ever alike.
The Make-Up Artists‘ show promises to be a great night of weird and wonderful comedy antics. All the scenes and games are unscripted, and many are based on the audience suggestions. It will have you on the edge of your seats wondering what could possibly come next, and delighted when you find out what does!
Dublin – Thursday 8th December, Doyle’s Pub, College St Show starts at 8.30pm, admission €10
Limerick – Saturday 10th December, The Belltable, O’Connell St Show starts at 8pm, admission €10
Galway – Sunday 11th December, Upstairs @ The Townhouse Bar, Spanish Parade. Doors at 8pm, admission €7/5
Any additional enquiries, email spontaneoustheatre (at) gmail (dot) com