April 22, 2009
Well, I’ve been and gorn and done it. Handed over a this-is-definitely-it handful of filthy lucre (as opposed to the I’m-definitely-interested-but-could-still-change-my-mind, much smaller, handful of the stuff), signed on the dotted line and agreed all the agreements. So: I am now officially a member of Sustainable Projects Ireland Ltd, and will definitely be building my very own eco-house. Woohoo!
Pretty village green
I had another look at my site – beside a stream, plenty of space for a west/south facing facade and garden, and not cheek-by-jowl with my neighbours. Pretty perfect. It’s hard to imagine it from pictures or a map, but it really is beautiful and it feels like a good site. Already I’m getting ideas about what to plant, never mind what to build!
My plot – on far side of stream (currently a ditch)
View of the whole site as you enter from the main street
My plot is at the squished, red ‘X’, left of centre
In celebration I went off to one of the many nearby towns (there’s a lot of exploring to do of the surrounding area), Nenagh, and bagged myself a really top lunch in Country Choice. Very good indeed, if somewhat over-the-odds, price-wise. And very excellent coffee, which bodes well.
Of course all this will take time. Storage has been rented, boxes bought, and so we’re currently clutter-clearing (ugh!) and touching up the house ready to put it on the market, hopefully next week. In the meantime I’ll be meeting the other members of the project and deciding how to contribute my obligatory 100 hours per annum, and generally getting involved. And once I’ve picked an architect we can start designing the house which is the really exciting bit.
I’m steadfastly ignoring the doomsayers (and the part of me that says “What! Are you absolutely mad, woman?!”) and being resolutely optimistic, assuming that yes, the house will sell. It will of course take longer than it would have a year ago, and will undoubtedly fetch a good bit less, but life goes on and I just have to assume that that’s true for other people too. What’s life for, if not for taking chances, after all. But yes, fingers are very much crossed. : )
Photos by Simon
November 27, 2008
Rich, poor; young, old; pretty, plain, beautiful, ugly; mean-minded, generous; sweet-tempered, bad-tempered; mousey, bolshy; academic, illiterate; child-free, pregnant; mother, sister, daughter, cousin; insecure, confident; obliging, stubborn; acute, slow; professional, unprofessional; feminist, anti-feminist; thin, fat; short, tall; traveller, settler; journalist, teacher, housewife, gardener; web-designer, house-designer, film-star, extra, shelf-stacker, shop assistant, writer, musician, judge, juror… tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, butcher, baker, candlestickmaker…
(Photo found on Flickr)
Since working in the field, people have asked me “what type of woman ‘puts up with’ domestic violence?”. The above list is my answer. There is no ‘type’. Domestic violence knows no boundaries. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just middle-aged or married women who suffer abuse in the home – in fact, young women are more at risk.
1 in 4 or more of us experiences sexual violence at some time in our lives, and 1 in 5 of us experiences abuse in the home, a place we normally associate with sanctuary, peace – our inner selves.
Shouldn’t we be asking what makes an abuser?
We are now into day three of the 16 Days Campaign, an International campaign started in 1991 to link violence against women with human rights – to show that such violence is a violation of a woman’s human rights. There is much more info here.
November 6, 2008
I have been a bad, bad blogger, doing nothing here for two months now (though some drafts are waiting).
It should have been out this morning, but I had some techie problems. It’s easy doing your own blog, well relatively, but what format do you use to give it to somebody else? In my innocence I used OpenOffice, software I’m just getting used to, and up until today I thought it was okay and certainly better than Word. Pah! It couldn’t cope with the images which I’d forgotten to shrink, and multiple crashes ensued. Then I discovered that OpenOffice files are not easily opened by other software, so Peter couldn’t get at my pics.
After a second very late night (no sleep on Election night – Go Obama! – and not much better last night) today was spend uploading each pic all over again. Peter very kindly gave me his login so I could fix and finish everything properly. But in the middle of uploading, just as OpenOffice crashed for the umpteenth time, I had the message of death: “your startup disc is full”. Aarrrgh!!!
There was some frantic, emergency moving and deleting, and several expletives were not deleted, and we were on our way again. Thankfully things were okay after that.
Well… okay except… why-oh-why-oh-why, etc, is it so difficult to place pix in WordPress? You put them side by side, save it, and then suddenly they’re all over the place again. I obviously don’t know enough about it yet, as it was pure guesswork, but I had to reformat several times, sucking up great swathes of time.
Anyway, blogging about blogging must be a bad sign of something, I’m sure.
Thanks Peter for being so patient. Rock on. :)
September 2, 2008
I’m just back from Electric Picnic, a three-day music festival in Stradbally, Co. Laois. Where to start?! This was my first festival ever, and I am thrilled that I finally took the plunge. Better late than never, say I.
I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of visuals, vibes, layout and the practicalities. I’d been warned about the loos (not as bad as expected), and knew about the music of course, but that’s about all.
I had the arrival all nicely planned with military precision: park in car park E, and wheel my trolley-load of stuff to the adjacent, “quiet”, campsite. Right. First off, there’s no choice about where to park. This is probably old news and a non-issue to regular festies, but as a fest-virgin I’d no idea. For the last ten miles we were in a one-way system with a sole destination, so I was deposited unceremoniously in car park C1. I think it’s the furthest one from my campsite. I was seething to the point of distraction but realised I’d better shake off that attitude pretty quickly so I got into the spirit and followed everyone through the mud. It was at this point that I first realised I had Too Much Stuff. Y’know, Just In Case. I knew I wanted to get to the Quiet Campsite (hah! more on that in a bit) but no one seemed to know where it was. Eventually a nice young chap (sometimes it’s quite good being at an age where you can say that) took pity on me and hauled my very heavy trolley some of the way and I found what seemed like a good, quiet spot to pitch my tent: towards the far corner, at the edge by the car park fence (remember that bit) for easy findability late at night. Tent was pitched in ten minutes, as adverstised, and I felt inordinately smug and pleased with myself.
View from tent (yes I was there early)
More or less how it looked later on (not my pic) though I’d a bit more space around mine.
One cereal bar later, bag packed with loo roll and G&T decanted into a Ballygowan bottle, and I was ready to explore. What a huge site! There was so much going on it was head-spinning. Delicious looking food stalls, music everywhere, people in costumes, stalls for Oxfam, Amnesty and the like, a fully fledged carnival complete with big wheel and Fossetts Circus, a cinema no less (how the hell could you find time to go to the pictures? I barely had time to eat!) – the list was endless.
Going for a thong – tattoos instead of clothes
One of the many good food places – chilli chips and great veggie burgers
The Body and Soul area was beautiful, with sculptures, creative lighting, quiet areas and a very calm, chilled out vibe. Veterans will know all this I’m sure, and possibly be less impressed, but I loved it.
The centre of the Body and Soul meditative area at night
But I was there for one reason only: the music. I found myself at the main stage for Kíla, though it says something for the state of my specs that I was actually expecting The Kills, even though I knew they weren’t on until the next day… and that was even before the first G&T. D’oh. They were OK, though I was definitely less than impressed with their dancing troupe of self-conscious, ‘Brazilian’ (no way!) hip-wigglers. Kíla reminded me of Horslips (remember them?). I was going to say they’re an updated Horslips, but actually not so updated really.
The rest of the day consisted of New Young Pony Club, Tinariwen, Joan as Policewoman, Digitalism and Think of One. I’d intended to go to Goldfrapp but messed up on the timing due to getting utterly lost (and misdirected) going back to my tent. And instead of choosing who to see for a whole set, I found myself rushing to get a bit of everyone… well you do, don’t you, as a newbie? NYPC rocked, and are definitely on my ‘must have’ list. I enjoyed the Saharan sounds of Tinariwen too, though found them a bit samey after a bit. While they were hypnotic to listen to, and captivating to watch, I would have liked to hear more of their upbeat sounds. But yes, they’re on my ‘more’ list too. Joan as Policewoman was thrilled to be there, and I’m sure she put on a good gig, but she was too downbeat for me at that time of the evening and I wasn’t pulled in. I applied the three-song rule and left: I needed to dance. Lucky for me then that Digitalism were up next, and I danced hard after battling my way through the hordes to a better spot near the front. I do like being right up front. :)
I’m not a Sigur Ros fan but if I’d had any energy left by then I would have stayed to get their apparently fantastic show. I’d slept really badly the previous night (too excited!), so decided to get an early night and be ready for the rest of the packed weekend. Meandering back to my tent I passed an amazing dance troupe, Strange Fruit. “Their unique shows see the performers bend and sway to impossible angles on five-metre poles combining elements of theatre, dance and circus to create a truly original style of performance.” Can’t argue with that – it was beautiful and mesmerising.
Pics taken from the Nokia
Then as I walked past the IMC World Music Stage – via an incredible 10-minute head, neck, shoulders and back massage – intriguing sounds pulled me in: the Belgian and Moroccan musicians of Think of One creating Gnawa trance rhythms mixed with jazz, gypsy and funk. A great way to end the day’s music and squeeze a last dance out of my tired body.
Oh yes, I mentioned the quiet campsite, didn’t I? Hah, quiet apart from the rave in the adjacent carpark, that is. And the parties in neighbouring tents until 3 or 4am. Ah well, I had my earplugs, my tent was nice and cosy (and thanks to festival veteran friends I was well equipped) so I did manage some sleep, and felt surprisingly OK on Saturday morning. I heard other people complaining about it though, so I was glad it wasn’t just me in my festival innocence.
The next morning I met up with friends for coffee (wonderful coffee from Coffee Angel, hit the spot perfectly) and we swapped notes and plans. She’d noticed lots that I hadn’t, and so my list of things to explore expanded even more. At 12 noon (armed with yet another coffee) I headed to a ‘tweetup’ – a meeting of twitterers – and about six of us turned up. It was a delight to meet twitterers (and friends) FrankieP, Maryrose, PeterD who had donated the fabulous boat from Casino Royale, David from Poetry Ireland, and Ciara in her superb costume.
PeterD’s waterproof? camera…
After some grub (delicious sausages and mash from the wonderfully-named ‘Hot S&M’ stall) I was off to hear Dublin’s Crash Ensemble. I was surprised and pleased for them that it was so well attended and it was great to hear them play in such a venue. They obviously enjoyed it too and it was a terrific performance.
More dancing beckoned then, in the form of The Herbaliser, who rocked big time, and I loved Jessica Darling’s fabulous soul singing. Then it was over to the Electric Arena for Elbow. I only knew one or two songs of theirs and they weren’t quite what I expected (yes I know they’re huge) – though in a good way. But their set doesn’t stand out for me, compared to the others, good though it was. However, after that it was Underworld, and wanting to be up front, I was bit early so also caught the last 20 mins or so of Grace Jones. While she’s not really my thang, you have to hand it to her – the woman has style. Just as much of it as she ever did by the look of things: she put on a an amazing show and had the crowd in the palm of her hand. I met a couple of lovely women, Ines and Pamela, and we hooked up for the following gig which was Underworld. As with many others I’d never heard of them (yes I know) but had been told they were unmissable. And they were! My new festival buddies were very impressed with my front-finding abilities and delighted to be up there where all the action is, but yet where it’s less claustrophobic. And the security folk give you glasses of water too, which is pretty cool. What a show! Brilliant dancing, and we all had a blast.
Underworld from the Nokia
The view behind me at Underworld
And yet the night was not over! George Clinton was on the main stage from 12–2 and it was packed. We sidled right up to the front again and danced like it was 1979. What a weird setup though. I mean, what is the deal with the nappy guy? And I could have lived without the 70s air guitar from Michael Hampton (and yes he’s amazing), but thankfully it was only the odd number and we were back to the funky beats in no time. Ooh yeah.
Back to the tent via the Neutronyx ‘Rave in the Woods’ which was beautifully set up, but not for me the right beats to follow all that funk, so I hit the hay. And then the rave proper started. And the party. The rave in the carpark (almost beside my tent) was, I’m told, ‘dirty techno’, ie not a steady pulse that you could kinda ignore in your sleep, but rapid fire hard bass on and off, so it woke you up when it started and when it stopped. Until 7:15am. Then people started getting up. So with no sleep I was very tired on Sunday. Yes I know, if I will insist of festivalling at my age blah blah… but soddit, a bit of sleep would make it so much easier. Still, Coffee Angel wasn’t called that for nothing I’m happy to say and I perked up.
And so another day of music dawned and it just kept getting better and better. We were serenaded during coffee by the excellent Dublin Gospel Choir on the main stage – they were loud, lively, and perfect for a sunny Sunday. Great stuff. I had a bit of time to explore, amazingly, so had a good poke around the Village Green and the Body and Soul areas.
Thank heavens for healthy juices: great for hangovers. One highlight was when Hot Chip’s Ready for the Floor blasted out of a stall. About a dozen people spontaneously started dancing, giving it their all so I dropped my bag and joined them, wandering off at the end of the track. Magic.
Next up was Brooklyn’s Hercules and the Love Affair, and yeah they were good and I danced to the disco beats, but would have liked a bit more variety in it, though I suppose that’s just what they do. I kept thinking they were about to break into Donna Summers’ ‘I Feel Love’ (they didn’t) though they did cover Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’, an old favourite and not one I ever thought I’d dance to. The lovely CSS followed and they were terrific, though I thought that the sound system really let them down with so much bass that the voices were quite lost. I definitely want to hear more of them.
Sunday evening was difficult. How the hell can you choose between so much funky goodness? I managed half-an-hour of The Roots who were superb, and let’s face it how often do you see a euphonium (oops) sousaphone on a hip hop stage? Well quite. But I had to leave because then there was Grinderman. Now, I knew that there was a Nick Cave connection there, but in spite of being a Nick Cave fan (am seeing him in NYC in Oct) I’m still discovering his back catalogue and, embarrassingly, I did not know he was in Grinderman. Argggh! Imagine my surprise! There he was – in the flesh! OMFG I was starstruck and he was awesome in the true sense of the word. What a powerfully intense, superb performance. He was magnificent. Once again I was in the front row, and on a (natural) high for the whole set. Fanbluddytastic. Actually I still have the Cheshire cat grin from that. Sensational.
So how do you follow that? Well, The Gossip did a good job of using up some of that overflowing pent up energy from the preceding gig. Beth Ditto was unstoppable and the crowd loved her. Again I wasn’t so happy with the sound though, and don’t think it did her any favours. The bass was so wallopingly loud (and I do love bass with a good amount of welly that rattles your whole body) that we didn’t get the full force of her wonderful voice. And I even put tissues in my ears to prevent that physical slam slam a couple of times when right at the front by the speakers. But Beth Ditto really rocked and we all screamed along happily with her during ‘Standing in the Way of Control’.
OK not from Electric Picnic, but you get the gist.
The final main-stage act was the Sex Pistols (what’s left of them) and I caught some of it. Well it was sort of OK, and it was nice to hear punk rhythms after all the funk, electronic and what have you. They were doing their usual thing trying to whip up the crowd into a frenzy in a fuck you sort of way, but the crowd was not to be whipped. It just seemed wrong: nothing less than anarchy and a crowd going apeshit will do, really. Otherwise it’s just not punk. I don’t know what or who it would take to create that sort of vibe these days, but the Sex Pistols didn’t manage it. The audience liked them but was basically polite, I thought. I tried Chromeo briefly after that, but wasn’t really in the mood for that, so felt it was best left for another time.
I used the opportunity to have a good wander round and see it all properly at night – it really was stunningly beautiful. The wooden tower was to be burned at 12:00am so I hung around to wait for that and managed to pack in one more dancing gig, again in the World Music Tent: the African sounds of Mahmoud Fadi’s United Nubians – sax, African drums and a DJ. Nice.
Preparing the tower for burning
Exciting displays from Arcadia
And close up
The burning turned out to be at 2am, but by now my feet were so sore I thought I wouldn’t make it back to the tent, so I gave up and headed off to sleep, which I did. All night long, and with a huge grin on my face.
In fact the atmosphere throughout was jolly and, well, festive. Even the Gardai were friendly, laid back and chatty, and told me they thought it was basically a decent crowd. They didn’t expect trouble and as far as I know they didn’t get it. There was so much I didn’t have a chance to see – even apart from the music I missed – you’d really need a week to get through even half of it. Poetry, comedy, theatre, art trail, cabaret… I just wish it had been longer. It was fabulous, and already I can’t wait until next year (and will be eyeing up other festivals too). I’m a total convert.
The get-out the next day was another story, suffice to say that:
(a) I am SO buying a rucksack; and
(b) next time I will tie a balloon to my car.
But I still have my wristband on. :)
[All pics not from my lowly Nokia 6300 are reproduced with permission – and next time I'll bring my camera!]
August 5, 2008
I commissioned a piece of art two or three weeks ago from twit2art.com, a site run by artist Jan Leenders. It’s all based on Twitter, a social networking site where you post a status update (much like in Facebook) in 140 characters or fewer. Click “Read this first” on the twit2art website and all is explained more eloquently than I can put it.
Anyway, I was tweet number 37, so mine cost €37 which is a pretty good deal I’d say, and it arrived today.
It’s mixed media with acrylic, as they all are (thanks to Jan for putting me right on that), and mounted on a wooden frame. I thought I would have to mount it/frame it myself, so that was a nice surprise. And it measures 12cm x 18.5cm, for those who like to know such things. It’s neat. :) Of course, as soon as I tweeted I wished I’d posted something profound or meaningful, but hey, I love my piece of art and that’s what matters. Thanks Jan.
July 11, 2008
My Moo cards arrived yesterday, and they are FAB!
100% recycled, they don’t have the glossy look of the non-recycled, but they’re thick, substantial, and very well printed. Fifty different images with full colour on the back (mine are lightish brown with white lettering) came to around €15 – amazing value. They arrived in a few days too. You can chose your own images as I did, or opt for some of theirs and they have a wide range of fabulous designs.
They do a number of products including mini-Moo cards pictured here:
and note cards:
Browse HERE for the full range and order your Moo cards today!
July 9, 2008
Image via Wikipedia
A couple of weeks ago I registered a couple of domains at Blacknight Solutions. Some of my twitter buddies had talked scathingly about Hosting365 (which was down a lot at the time) and I’d seen various references to Blacknight over the last few weeks so thought I’d give them a go. All I need for now is a personal site, as I already have two business sites — one that’s been up and running for years, and one that’s waiting to be designed. I should add that I’m a newbie, a total techno-numptie, and my existing site was designed, executed and entirely run by somebody else, so I hadn’t picked up any knowledge from that.
To cut a long story short, with immediate help from the good people at Twitter and Blacknight, I was up and running in no time. I had some initial problems with Blacknight and complained about them on Twitter, but within half an hour the sales manager had called to see how he could help: he had been prodded by a Twitterer who knows someone in Blacknight. A follow-up phonecall to an indirect, non-phonecall complaint? That IS impressive.
Register365, on the other hand have been slow to resolve issues and some things are still not as I would like. Unfortunately some of my sites haven’t been with them long enough to transfer away, but I will move them when I can. As others have reported, their support system is permanently broken, though they do eventually answer emails.
So then it was time to install WordPress and get it running. Twitterers were quick to step in with advice. Remember that at this point I’d never even heard of a root directory so it was uphill all the way, and if there was any eye-rolling on their part they didn’t show it. :)
So thanks to these lovely chap & chapesses at Twitter and Blacknight, the first stages were sorted out very easily. Since Darragh Doyle asked for a low-down on what I did I thought I’d better oblige.
Having used Blacknight’s ‘Installatron’ and had a problem or two (with multiple uninstalls/reinstalls) before discovering that it’s not very popular, I had a go at installing WordPress manually. Since the “famous five minute installation” instructions include things like “create a dabatase” (eh?) there was a LOT of pouring over this:
The Blacknight tutorials were very helpful too, as were the tech gurus, and I figured out the file directory system, MySQL, FTP-ing and so forth. My first ever FTP worked! (FileZilla is great.) Thanks to the gurus I now know what file ownership and file permissions are (and, yes, a databse!). Instead of being exasperated and making me feel stupid, I felt like I’d really achieved something. I still have only a hazy grasp of some of it, but the mist is gradually clearing and I think I’ve moved up a rung on the geek ladder.
Onwards and upwards.
July 1, 2008
I called in to la Banca in Lucan, just outside Dublin, this evening for an impromptu meal with a friend. It looked lovely with a great interior that is both chic and inviting.
I order a steak salad and my friend orders pan-fried chicken. Oh, and my friend would like a cappucino before the meal. “Before? That’s coffee you know!”… well, fancy that! But they don’t have decaff of any description (I wanted a decaff Americano).
The first thing I try is my chips. Uh oh. They taste like they’re from next door’s takeaway, reheated from yesterday: i.e. soggy with a flavour of stale oil.
Well do they look like good chips?
However, my steak is surprisingly good (well surprising after that first chip), nicely rare as ordered and very succulent, and there’s plenty of it too, but there’s a peculiar drizzle on it. It looks like it ought to be balsamic vinegar, but there’s something distinctly soy-saucish about it. Would you dilute balsamic vineger with soy sauce? Not if it’s a good one, surely, and why bother if it’s a cheap one? But the rocket is nice, fresh enough, if a bit sparse: it is garnished with a grand total of twelve small rocket leaves. Not much for a salad really, is it?
I don’t know about you, but when I think of a steak salad I think of something like this:
My friend’s chicken arrives in a cheese sauce which was not mentioned on the menu. She doesn’t want a cheese sauce, or any kind of sauce for that matter, but she’s hungry so she eats it (like I do with the chips — I did actually eat some most of them). The chicken is gloopy she says. Gloopy? Well soggy then. Hmm. She says ‘and I bet the cheese sauce is made from two Easy Singles’. I bet it isn’t, but if it tastes like it, well…
She orders veg with hers, and these include green beans. Now maybe I’m wrong, but aren’t you meant to string them before cooking?
When asked if everything was all right (not, ‘did you enjoy your meal?’) we did, er, give our opinions, or at least the polite versions, but the server could not have been less interested. She was spectacularly uninterested, visibly regretted asking, and offered no comment. Except to say, when challenged about the cheese sauce, ‘oh well the chef must have just felt like adding it’. Huh? What if you don’t eat dairy? Maybe it had to be used up. Like my chips.
The total bill, for one cappucino and two main courses was €44. Way too pricey for the quality and I certainly won’t be back there again.
June 27, 2008
First in an occasional series of random links.
I have to reblog this mashup of the last days of Brian Cowan from Damien’s blog yesterday. It’s absolutely bloody brilliant.
And would you like to live in Shamrock City? If you sign up to Dublin’s Coastal Development Scheme your dreams might come true. It came in the other day from Pat Phelan, and I only got around to seeing it last night. The scary thing is I wouldn’t put it past them.
LMAO at Sales Guy vs Web Dude, the bones of which are, apparantly mostly true. Apols to those of you who work in IT. Quote of the week has to be “I’m sorry, you can’t arrange them by penis”, and even if you can’t make out what’s being said at the beginning do please persevere.
Getting it Dry is one of my favourite photoblogs. Simple and beautiful.
Just in case you get can’t manage the sport of extreme reading, there’s this spot about chairs that can follow you around the library. It’s so exhausting…
And since the weather is just so astoundingly lovely…
(With psalm chants earworms today) Happy Friday. :)
June 22, 2008
*Due to the plethora of search terms used to get to this blog post, I’m experimenting with changing or taking out certain words.
Well of course I have to write about this morning’s experience of getting na_ked with 2500 odd other people in the Dublin rain for the Spencer Tunick installation.
I signed up for the event a while ago, and didn’t really give it much thought until the previous day or two. Then I read Darragh Doyle’s latest blog this morning, and it got me thinking about my own body image, where I am with it now and where it came from. I could very much empathise with some of his experience: at school I was the music geek, eschewing the sports I was so bad at, and of course was overweight and endured the usual name-calling. While the weight is less of a problem these days, I would say that along with every other woman in the country, I suspect, I am acutely aware of my ‘deficiencies’ as vaguely measured against the ubiquitous skinny ideal that’s so hard to ignore.
Well I suprised myself really, and discovered that I finally am becoming happier in my own skin. I think this has been coming on for a while. A couple of years ago I’m sure I would never have contemplated doing something like this, and have often marvelled at the courage of my two friends who go on naturist holidays (not in Ireland I need hardly add). However a couple of years ago I found myself in a spa in Budapest. People there wouldn’t dream of wearing a costume in a spa: nud_ism (single sex) is the way of spa life. Twice I plucked up the courage to ba_re all, and found it very liberating, and now wonder what all the fuss was about.
Last weekend I spent about fourteen hours dancing at a Five Rhythms dance workshop, and while I wouldn’t say I’m a particularly good dancer, I’ve always loved it. I found the workshop a liberating and empowering experience, and came away feeling much freer with myself and more confident about dancing and moving my body.
There’s a bit of a contradiction here though. As one of my favourite feminist cartoons (and I’m sorry I can’t remember who wrote it) reads: ‘now that I’m a feminist I feel guilty about feeling guilty about being fat.’ Well exactly: we can’t win, truly. Even the feminist in me can’t make the inner critical voice keep entirely quiet. So with two contradictory ideals going on here—being happy in one’s own skin regardless of size and shape, versus still wanting to fit in, to look normal, sexy and above all slim—I embarked on today’s mass nud_e event.
I had read a couple of the blogs about the Corkonians‘ experience, and knew that it was unlikely that the nu_dity itself would be a big deal once we were all na_ked. They appeared to enjoy it to a wo/man, some even likening it to a religious or spiritual experince. Hmmm, I thought, interesting!
Arriving at the site at 3am I was amazed at the number of people who arrived in groups, especially mixed sex groups. I was very glad that I had decided to do this solo (my husband wanted no part of it!) and think I would have been very self-conscious had I been with friends. I had read about all the hanging around so was very glad of my layers of thermals — the best from my recent Pennsylvanian winter!
The atmosphere was one of jollity and speculation as we headed from the car park to the bus and then from the bus to the site of the shoot itself. It seemed, as I twittered, that every damn woman there was young and skinny (feeding into those old fears of course) but as I mingled I realised that it was not so. Phew!
The organisation left a fair bit to be desired. It was good until we got to the pier, but then things became quite chaotic. An information leaflet had been produced but it seemed that only around one in ten of us had been given one. As a result, we didn’t know what our positions (sitting, standing, bent over — yes that was a possibility!) were to be. We all sat down as instructed, and I chatted to a couple of groups near me, and it was all very friendly. There was some real eejitery going on though. Several drunks were thrown out, but there were some gobshites left. They talked and shouted every time instructions were given out, so along with the fact that the megaphone wasn’t very mega, we couldn’t really hear what to do. Eventually we cornered somebody who gave us a bit more of a clue.
The sun started to rise, and it was beautiful. Hey look! we said, it’s going to be gorgeous! Then the time came to get our kit off, and as one we all stripped off. Well, not quite as one actually, the group of women in front of me had more sense. They predicted that we’d be hanging around for a bit longer, and of course they were right. Back on with the fleece. One savvy woman had the sense to tie a red scarf around the railing as a landmark for our bags, and I left my black and white scarf sticking out of the bag to help me find it quickly…
Finally the kit came off, just as the sun disappeared and the wind started up, and we quick-marched for what seemed like miles up to the lighthouse on the Pigeon House and beyond. The granite was cold and rough underfoot, and a bit of careful tiptoeing was called for; this was handy enough as it meant the amount of general looking around was limited, giving us time to get a bit more comfortable with the whole nu_die thing. Spencer Tunick was up in a cherry picker with a megaphone and, God love him, he tried to get us to do his bidding. ‘Right everybody, face the sun!’ Okay, that we could do, though by that time the sun had deserted us and it was getting distinctly chilly. ‘Heads up to the sky!’ An array of hands lifted to the sun. ‘No! Not hands, HEADS! FACES up to the sky!’
The rowdy gobshite element continued its hilarity with what would normally have been regarded as good Dublin wit, but we were getting colder and colder and just wanted to get on with it. ‘Please!’ pleaded the maestro, ‘Please put your faces up to the sky, no don’t look at me, please, please DON’T look at me, no, no don’t look at me, PLEASE!’—and so on. Two more positions, including lying on our sides in the foetal position (‘Please sir! Please stop kicking the guy behind you, PLEASE!’) and then we were done. By the end of it we really were bloody freezing. We’d been told we’d be na_ked for 30 mins but it was more like 45 plus. While it was partly down to lack of information/organisation and a bad sound system, there’s no doubt that if we’d been quiet (as I read the Corkonians were) it would have been quicker. I’m sure it would have been much less of an ‘oh-for-fuck’s-sake-get-on-with-it experience’ and more of a moving, beautiful one. That was a shame.
In terms of the nake_dness, it really was no big deal, not once we were all nu_de. It was interesting and of course I couldn’t help comparing, as one does (and I did hear that some of the men were relieved at their own comparisons), but it was kinda nice seeing bigger, smaller, more- or less- cellulite, pears, apples, you name it — the whole gamut of human corpulance was there, and I was no better or worse than any of them really. I liked that. I did think I was pinker than many, though by the end most of us were purplish. One thing I did notice was that not everyone was meticulous about their personal hygiene, and that I did NOT like. Ho hummmmm!
Anyway, eventually it was done and back we went to the bags and… panic! ‘OMG help! I can’t find my bag! It’s there I know it’s there, there’s the red scarf that was here… oh fuck, everyone else is dressed and I’m still nak_ed and there’s no bag’… and then one kind girl lent me her towel (I’d forgotten mine and besides it would have been in the bag), and then eventually, finally, ‘oh thank Christ, there it is’. Somebody had moved it but it wasn’t too far away. God, that was a bit of a moment. Being na_ked with everyone else na_ked was fine, seemed normal even, but being nak_ed with everyone clothèd, well that was a completely different experience, and not one to be repeated. Suddenly I was object, not subject, or so it seemed, and it was extraordinarily uncomfortable.
So, we’re all dressed and I start to warm up when the crew walk past yelling ‘all those for the second shoot go down this way’ — er what? Second shoot? It starts to rain. Am I a quitter? No I am not, so what the hell, I’m in.
We were given half-an-hour to warm up before the next shoot. I line up with the others, chat a bit more, shiver a lot more, until finally it’s time to move. We find out we’re going to be in the sea — yes IN the sea. In the rain. In the cold wind.
Off we go to the site and people are already stripping off, and by now it’s lashing down. Clothes off into the bag, trying not to get them wet in the bag, and, ooh ah fuck it’s cold, as the rain hits our purpling, goosepimpled skin.
Then a surprisingly-exhilarating moment occurs: we race down the sand towards the sea, arms akimbo and yelling and whooping at the top of our voices: ‘Holy fuck! Holy fuck! Jeezus it’s fucking cold!’ and the air turns blue to match our poor shivering limbs but we’re laughing too in amongst the screams and yelling. A superb moment.
And at this point I meet someone I know. She’s standing right beside me, we suddenly see each other: ‘I know you from somewhere’ and look puzzled until the penny drops and we figure it out, and—oh no!—it’s a work thing. We laugh awkwardly, trying to keep our eyes on each others faces (I don’t succeed; I’m just, er, naturally curious), and she disappears as fast as she can after that. Oops.
Spencer started giving instructions again and suddenly a roar of ‘Olé olé olé’ went up, and we all joined in and waved at him with both arms in the air, whooping and laughing. I think we all forgot that we were na_ked actually. Except for the freezing cold wind and rain, of course.
At the time it partly felt a bit tedious. It was miserable being that cold, and before the racing-into-the-sea moment the joyousness diminished throughout the first shoot. But as with the aftermath of singing in a concert that goes well, it’s hard work at the time and the high sets in afterwards. All day long I was exhilarated and thrilled that I had done it. I still am, actually, and would I do it again? Would I heck, but definitely not in Ireland.
Oh, and I’m in that last photo. :)
Photos of nake_dness taken from this site, and the others were taken with my lowly Nokia 6300.