Category Archives: Foreign parts

Problems on the Rhine

No, not the one in Co Clare.

No German officers

Brexit loonies

It is hard to understand how people can be so short-sighted and indeed nitwitted as to vote to leave a larger political and economic union, without the slightest idea of what was to happen afterwards. Or how politicians, with a hugely inflated view of their own country’s importance, can ignore economic and commercial practicalities in favour of an entirely unrealistic notion of sovereignty. No thought for how existing commercial relationships would be affected or how that would affect trade and employment. A ridiculous assumption that politicians and civil servants could set up new trade deals and would be better at it than those with practical experience.

That, however, is exactly what Sinn Féin did in 1918 and 1919, in its election manifesto and in the unicorn-bedecked “democratic programme” adopted by the first Dáil.

I say this not to excuse HM Brexiteers — I think that both they and Sinn Féin (past and present) are bonkers — but to suggest that outbreaks of mass insanity can happen to anyone.

The ghost of William Ockenden

I see that Ramsgate is back in the news.

A boat for the Royal

Someone asked me the other day what, given the unreliable water supply, would be the ideal boat for use on the Royal Canal.

I replied that it should be one with four-wheel drive. Maybe one of these.

Industrial stuff by night …

… perhaps on a cruise.

h/t Tom Whitwell’s 52 things, which include the truth about Elon Musk’s flamethrower.

The Newry bypass

I hesitate to criticise the Newry & Portadown Branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland, admirable folk who conduct regular work parties improving the Newry Canal. So perhaps I should say that I disagree with them instead — at least on the proposal for a Southern Relief Road, aka bypass, around Newry, linking “the Warrenpoint Dual Carriageway to the A1 Dublin/ Belfast Road“.

Such a bypass is a very good idea and, of course, far better than the insane Narrow Water handsacrosstheborder project. But the new road must cross  the Newry River and the Newry Ship Canal, and I would be vastly surprised if there were any economic justification for the cost of an opening section or for the disruption that each opening would cause to traffic. Certainly six or twelve sailing vessels would no longer be able to reach the Albert Basin in Newry, but the greatest good of the greatest number should surely prevail.

I can’t see that the absence of sailing pleasure craft from Newry would in any  way diminish the heritage or historic value of the ship canal or the basin, and they are of course entirely irrelevant to the stillwater canal.

A spokesman from the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland” says that

The IWAI was formed in 1954 to stop the building of low bridges on the River Shannon. Fortunately this campaign was successful otherwise there would be no hire boats on the Shannon today. Think of the loss of revenue. This should be a lesson to the bridge builders in Newry.

This is rubbish, for two reasons. First, sailing vessels on Carlingford Lough are never going to be available for hire on the Newry Canal, so their inability to reach Albert Basin would have little effect.

Second, the IWAI campaign on the Shannon was notably unsuccessful. Instead of swivelling bridges that would allow masted vessels through, the Shannon now has fixed bridges (Banagher, Shannonbridge, Athlone) and lifting bridges (Roosky, Tarmonbarry) that lift enough to allow motor cruisers through, but not enough for sailing vessels.

Ruth Delany [in Ireland’s Inland Waterways: celebrating 300 years Appletree Press, Belfast 2004] says that the IWAI Shannon campaign resulted in there being a minimum clearance of 4.3m on the Shannon, which is a long way from the 35m that the Newry & Portadown folk are seeking. The only Shannon bridge providing that clearance is Portumna, a swivel bridge, which (unlike the others mentioned above) was not — or its ancestor was not — built by the Shannon Commissioners.

By using the Shannon as a model, the N&P folk have actually weakened their case: the 9m clearance suggested for the Newry bypass is more than twice what the Shannon provides.

 

The Prince of Denmark?

Look here, upon this picture, and on this.

Don’t read this!

If you read this article, Norman Geras “Our Morals: the ethics of revolution” from Socialist Register Vol 25 1989, MI5 (or 6, or one of them) will be round to your house pulling your fingernails out with a pliers before you can say “but it’s on my reading list“.

Perhaps the University of Reading (where, let us remember, Robert Gibbings, onetime Munster Fusilier, taught) should consider renaming itself as the University of Not Reading.

And perhaps Her Majesty’s Government is run by a combination of fascists and nitwits.

 

Maya Bugge and the Standedge Tunnel

The Standedge Tunnel, on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, is the longest (5 km), deepest (under the Pennines) and highest (above sea level) canal tunnel in Britain. There is nothing remotely like it in Ireland, where the only canal tunnel was a miserable effort on the Ulster Canal in Monaghan town.

The western entrance to the Standedge Tunnel: the Diggle portal

Inside the tunnel (2005)

Light at the end of the … (2005)

The eastern end at Standedge, a short walk from Marsden

The Huddersfield Narrow Canal in Slaithwaite, downstream from Marsden

The “large village” of Marsden (home to the Riverhead Brewery) is close to the Standedge portal. It runs an annual jazz festival and, in 2017, it had the Norwegian cellist and composer Maya Bugge create, perform and record in the Standedge Tunnel.

The recording, No Exit, is now available on Bandcamp for a mere STG£10 (digital) or £12 (CD). There are five tracks:

  • Lullaby for Standedge Tunnel
  • Legging
  • Passage
  • Boat
  • No Exit.

Highly recommended.

In C-ab

What to watch while listening to In C.

Very flat, Norway. Not.

Here’s today’s performance. Minimalism with buck-leppin.