Sunday, May 08, 2005

Free as a bird...

To Audubon Park for a small celebration of Irish culture. Yippee!

First up, we sat and listened to a band, a band of real Irishmen, from Ireland! They were okay, not up to the kind of acts I'd caught while in Dublin, but in the sunshine it was a treat. One man closed his eyes and did a sweet song called "Little Lost Children." Sweet. It was sad but the Americans at the event were spread as follows throughout the attractions -


While the Irish band played to just a few folks, it looked like the World Fish and Chip Eating Championships was going on fifty meters away.

We checked out the other tents and attractions. There were two performers on a small stage, exposed to the sun, one man in black, one woman in red. They were taking their audience through a history of Ireland, punctuating the proceedings with scenes from plays, poetry set to music, and traditional folksongs (Molly Malone, etc). It was good, really good. Here was W B Yeats with his "golden apples of the sun", here was Oscar Wilde visiting Denver, lovely. I got to put my hand in the air when we were asked who had visited Ireland, I got to nod my head when we were asked who had visited Trinity College. I didn't know quite what to do with m hand when we were asked if we were Irish - I still don't know the answer to that one.

Moving away, there was an Irish prehistoric tent with Celtic items and some notes on how they were constructed. A man in appropriate peasant garb was drinking a Coke and instructing some children.

There was a small enclosure with some Irish breeds of dog, an Irish setter and some wolfhounds. The wolfhounds were causing a stir. In a country that admires Big Stuff, people were gasping that "that's the biggest dog I ever did see..." and such like. The wolfhounds just flopped around and looked shaggy-cute. The Irish setter had a beautiful face, but the person minding her seemed to be busily projecting her own lack of social confidence on to the dog. Each time someone came near the dog, the handler would lurch around and look weird, the dog would take fright, and jumping up, run underneath a chair.

Kids were having a drum workshop while we entered a tent that had an exhibition of famous Irish -Americans. There was John Wayne, Ed Sullivan, James Cagney, Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley, etc, interesting black and white pictures of the past and potted biogs. There was a poster for the "film with the terrible Irish accents..." - Far and Away with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

Children were waiting patiently for a puppet show to begin. The puppeteer was drinking a pint and looking annoyed. Five minutes till showtime.

We went over for our own fish and chips, now things had calmed down. Some street performers were raising the temperature with some Irish banter. Irish banter is great, and when it comes from someone inside a costume that has transformed them into a 9 feet, drunken granny, with titties the size of spacehoppers, it's better still. There were two more accomplices, one a funny-haired, mad-eyed, village idiot - (refrain: "But Mammy! I'm 45! I'm not a baby, Mammy!") and a menacing old man with a scythe who almost gave a middle-aged woman a heart attack (she didn't think it was funny).

While we ate, young girls and boys came and did some Irish dancing. Sadly, the rhetoric of competition kicked in, and an American women hammered on and on about semi-final this and championship-winning that before each group of little angels kicked their legs in air. A large crowd had assembled, mostly parents, I suppose, who dispersed immediately afterward, when the Irish band returned to entertain chiefly the blades of grass.

And so went home, having sampled in a small way the delights of that lovely nation, Ireland. And so was marked our first day of freedom for many weeks. Amen.


Blogger Claypot said...

Sounds like a good day! But what is it with the eating thing? While on holiday in NY I got to go to a baseball game at Shea Stadium. The family in front of us spent the whole time with their faces in fast food wrappers. They would go get some hot dogs, sit down, eat them, get up again immediately and go get pizza, eat them, get up and get fries etc etc. This went on for hours.

5:22 AM  
Blogger HF said...

God! Was about time you got out! Your hunger for experience is so tangible in this writing. Glad you had a nice day...

1:32 PM  
Blogger L said...

sounds really fun! I'm jealous... love good Irish music

8:55 PM  

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