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A place of chaos that never dares to doze

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The wheel and the bike are still kings of the streets in Beijing despite the proliferation of big motors as well. Here, a Beijing native 'brings home' his three piece suite of furniture on his power assisted bike/trailer.

Most nights when I wake up, there’s a kind of reassuring familiarity at seeing the same lampshade hanging from the ceiling. I feel it says to me: “Go back to sleep, all is well.”

Seldom in this contented if slightly uneventful nocturnal world do I ever glance at a different shade for ceiling, lest by chance an errant dream intrudes, so it was kind of challenging over recent weeks to wake up in a strange room in a city where every night, around 20 million souls close their eyes.

For nearly a minute on that first night away from the home hearth, I tried to figure out the strange layers of curves on this imposter dangling from the ceiling, before it squinted slyly down at me and seemed to whisper: “Welcome to Beijing.”

It is quite a culture shock alright, from the green fields of North Galway to a city like Beijing that never sleeps. In fact, it doesn’t even doze. This is a place where the filthy rich intermingle with the proletariat in one giant stew of humanity.

Beijing is surely the city of the wheel. Any form of bike – even those with the rustiest of chains, absent saddles or rickety pedals – is used to transport people and goods from one location to the next.

Any yet in my first day of walking through the streets of Beijing, I have never before encountered as many top-of-the-range Mercs, Audis, Beamers and Porsches, all spewing out carbon monoxide, in a city desperately trying to draw its breath.

Beijing is a place of the most outlandish contradictions. Despite the city having an AQI (Air Quality Index) often in the high hundreds (whereas in Ireland 30 to 40 would be the norm), fuel guzzling monster motors make short distance but time lengthy journeys across a city choked with traffic.

Yet in the midst of all of this, there are little tuk-tuks – small and battered looking battery powered bikes with room for two passengers – that do a magnificent job in the short runs through the city centre.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Country Living

Bemoaning loss of innocence in a sport driven by big bucks

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Brazil dazzled the world of football in 1970 with their mix of pace, grace and sheer footballing class.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

I’m not big into trying to resolve the huge issues of the world like wars, climate change or attempting to dethrone the obnoxious Elon Musks of this world, primarily on the basis that my influence would be akin to a moth trying to stop a herd of charging elephants.

And, I suppose at this stage, I have to accept that it’s far too late to try and call a halt to the World Cup proceedings in Qatar but for the life of me, the event doesn’t even send a sliver of enthusiasm through my nervous system.

Maybe, it’s an old-fashioned streak that’s there inside of me, but the thought of watching World Cup matches in the run-up to Christmas just doesn’t seem right. Okay, so it will be about 30°C in the heart of the Qatar desert but watching a World Cup semi-final in the middle of the Christmas office party is just a stretch too far for me.

Alas, World Cup memories go back a long way with me to a late Sunday in July 1966 when as a ‘small boy’ I was given the job of ‘minding’ the house while the ‘rest of them’ saved a small field of hay a couple of miles away from the house.

Of course, at the time there wasn’t even a faint chance of a black-and-white TV in the house, while visits to any abode that might have a telly, were strictly confined to a Sunday with the stipulation that Galway footballers had to be involved.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

Long gone are the days of penance and sacrifice

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

THE year 2022 seems to be freewheeling along at an alarmingly fast rate with our good Summer and long sunny days now just a distant memory as we tread through the gloomier and danker days of November. Already the talk is of Santa Claus, Christmas parties and shopping expeditions, while the opening of the seasonal outdoor market in Eyre Square on this Friday is ushering gently – but quite quickly also – into the season of goodwill.

There was a time when November tended to be the Winter equivalent of the Lenten period in late Spring, with various people giving up little vices in preparation for the season of Advent which clicks in on the last Sunday of the month.

It was also a month when some of us would invariably make the ‘huge effort’ to ‘give up the drink’ but as the years pass, one of the commitments I make to myself, is that I’m too long in the tooth to be making  sacrifices that are just a step too far.

I’m making an effort at present to read a Dermot Whelan book, ‘Mind Full’ – quite an enjoyable and insightful read – where he devotes a chapter to the impact that the ‘Demon Drink’ can have on our lives.

One of the conclusions he came up with was that giving up drink for a period of one month was quite a fruitless exercise – even self-defeating – as when the penitent returned to the pint, as on Easter Sunday after Lent or December 1 in the wake of the November drought, larger than ever amounts would be consumed. (For the record, his recommendation for a meaningful break from ‘the pint’ would be a period of one-year – now that would be a real tester).

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

 

 

 

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Country Living

Changing times in that trawl for a perfect mate

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Jon Kenny and Norma Sheahan in a scene from The Matchmaker: Only the means and methods of meeting have changed since the 1960s.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There’s an old country saying of: “When God made them, he matched them,” and often one not used in a complimentary tone back the years when I’d hear my father or mother, or the neighbours, dissecting the travails of a couple not renowned for their tolerance or understanding of each other’s way.

Tales would emerge of how couples had been matched up,– sometimes with bad light and the cover of darkness being used to camouflage the more obvious physical defects of one of the parties – but even if the pairing was made in the shade, honour would prevent it from being undone, when the next viewing occurred during the reality of daylight.

A couple of weeks back, I took one of those far too infrequent visits to the Town Hall Theatre in the city of Galway (accompanied) to take one of those steps back in time to watch one of the late John B. Keane’s classic compositions, The Matchmaker.

Maybe, not a production to everyone’s liking on the basis of slightly coarse language and a cluster of sexual innuendos, but you’d want to be in a seriously bad humour, not to burst into fits of laughter at the antics of Jon Kenny and Norma Sheahan.

It was a tonic for both body and soul, although at an early stage of the performance four or five people took to the exit doors, two of them having to climb over the backs of their seats, to escape from the devilish and irreverent prose of the Listowel playwright.

While there is of course the funny side to the whole business of matchmaking, that mirth could also conceal a deep-rooted loneliness felt by many people in rural Ireland, often bachelor farmers of reasonable means and appearance, who had a longing to spend the rest of their days with a companion (in those days always a female) to stoke the fire, share the household duties and maybe enjoy ‘a bit of fun’ as well.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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