Do you have a fleg?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 13, 2012 by dannybarriosoneill

All the current melodrama in Belfast, over what has become affectionately know as “de fleg”, reminded me of this bit of comedy insight from Eddie Izzard:

Flag Season

Posted in Politics, Ramblings with tags , , , , on June 18, 2012 by dannybarriosoneill

I’m an Englishman, with Irish roots, and I’ve been living in Belfast for about 5 years. I remember arriving in Belfast for the first time, coincidentally right into the aftermath of the yearly 12th “celebrations” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelfth). Rubbish everywhere, smouldering bonfires and no one in sight, save the odd sleeping drunk. It all seemed pretty epic. I didn’t really know anything about it at the time, and I probably still don’t, but these days I call it flag season. At this time of year a lot of folk take off to the south, leaving others to get all angry and marchy.  Maybe that’s unfair, but it’s certainly how it initally felt to a mongrel outsider like myself. But, once you start getting to know a place like this, it’s not quite so piss-and-vinegar as the hundreds of flags and rioters might lead you to believe.

I live on a sleepy little protestant estate, everyone is very related, very friendly and generally it’s lovely. At this time of year little old ladies begin to struggle up ladders with their flags. Good old William. As much as I dislike the flag waving, there’s a sort of bigoted honesty to this whole process that’s more endearing than the  misguided re-branding of Belfast with this often mauve logo (specifically not one colour or the other, you see)  that you see all over town:

I think a lot of good things are happening in Belfast at the moment, but this isn’t one of them. It’s not Coca-Cola, it’s a vibrant, still fractured, often angry place. You might reasonably reinterpret the above like this (though I doubt it has much mileage with the policy makers):

Living here is still great, though, even through flag season, and this year I’ve decided to join in with the locals by putting something in the flag pole holder on the side of our house:

 

The promised land

Posted in Rock Climbing with tags , on June 8, 2012 by dannybarriosoneill

Anyone who’s ever spent any time wandering around looking for new boulders and crags will have experienced something I like to call “diminishing boulder syndrome”, DBS for short. The sequence goes something like this:

image

1.Spot an amazing boulder in the distance, it’s majassive, at least 20 m high.

2.Trek towards it for an hour, bog, brambles, midgies. Ignore the fact that it now looks about 3 m high. It MUST be amazing.

3.Arrive:

image

Yes, it’s shit. Again.

99% of all exploration ends this way. Even if it is big enough to climb on so much of what defines good climbing resides in the details: too many holds, too few, quality of rock and, above all, quality of movement. Movement is king.
So, if you do find something brilliant amongst all the rubbish it’s like a gift of chance, a very special thing indeed. It’s that alone that keeps anyone psyched enough hammering away at step 2. 

Green pie action

Posted in Environmentalism, Rock Climbing with tags , , , , on June 1, 2012 by dannybarriosoneill

I love to play outside, it’s brilliant.

I’ve been climbing trees, and rocks, and falling into brambles, for as long as I can remember. These days I also spend a lot of my time trying to understand how ecosystems work. I’d like to think the two things are hand in glove. But really, if I’m out climbing, the experience is often so immersive that I struggle to take a step back and contemplate where I am. As climbers I think the things that tend to occupy our concerns are quite specific. Polished footholds, tickmarks, chipping, the occasional bit of litter. Pretentious melodrama in the grand scheme of things. Do we care about the environment much beyond what it can immediately give us?

It would be unfair to single out climbers, because everyone wants a bit of the green-pie action; surfers want clean water, walkers want paths, Al Gore wants more carbon sequestration.

The list goes on. Scientists even talk in terms of “ecosystem services”, which seems quite telling. But what I really wonder is, do we need that green-pie for its own sake, or do we simply need what it can give us? I’d always vaguely held the notion that it was a bit of both, but more of the latter. Then, the other night, I saw this film:

I think everyone who’s seen it agrees: it’s an outrageously grim affair, and the thing that really sets it apart from other post-apocalyptic tales is the total lack of any green-pie. It’s not your typical subversive environmental message; it’s a wrecking ball to the face. It could even be hard hitting enough to wipe this self-assured smile off our chancellor’s face:

If it’s good enough for George, then it’s good enough for you. So, if you haven’t already seen it you should, and afterwards go and hug a tree, or roll down a grassy bank.

Grass is awesome, isn’t it?

Chronic constipation

Posted in Ramblings on May 19, 2012 by dannybarriosoneill

That’s my cheerful diagnosis of the modern blogosphere.

Or should that be a bad case of the runs? I’m not sure. Metaphors confuse me sometimes and, in any case, the resulting face is pretty much the same.

So, I’ve decided that it’s high time I stick my oar into this bloated canal of goo. Insignificant ramblings about stuff. It’s too early to be any more specific than that. I can guarantee brevity on account of my inability to type or think fast, which must be worth something. But in general it’s likely to be moderately wasteful of your time. Apologies for that (well in advance).