We have all by now heard of Greta Thunberg, a Swedish schoolgirl who made headlines around the world in August 2018 by refusing to attend school in the face of climate devastation, and the severe ramifications for humanity.
The simplicity of her stance in striking inspired school children around the world to emulate her, to call out government and declare that ‘enough is enough’.
This girl and her journey should be an inspirational one for us all. Her actions represent the quality and bravery of the upcoming generations – our children and grandchildren.
Greta’s message resonates with her own generation. School children continue to take action, skip school and protest. I assume that these children have been supported by their parents and schools. Some children would not have been supported in this action and just ‘wagged’ school. Perhaps others have not participated, whether by their own choice, or because they haven’t been allowed.
To see a variety of stories around the topic of Greta, climate change strikes and our reactions to this, check out The Guardian.
This month, Greta travelled to New York to attend a UN summit on climate change. She brought attention to her quest by travelling via yacht, instead of flying and contributing to the carbon load. Then we heard her speak.
It is surprising (and embarrassing) the vitriol pouring from so many after listening to Greta. Some of the people commenting in the negative do not surprise. They have almost nurtured an expectation as people that are behind the times, misogynistic, unsympathetic about difference and climate change deniers. Even those that may have some sympathy and awareness of the climate fiasco, aren’t prepared to hear a 16-year-old girl ‘tell them off’. And unfortunately, her presentation style grates.
Have you heard the slang sayings ‘fish wife’ or ‘harpy’? Derogatory terms for ‘a course scolding woman’ and ‘a very unpleasant female person’. These hateful descriptions could be applied to the presentation style.
Let’s be honest here. In marketing, beauty sells, sexy sells, a honey toned voice sells. Promises of success, wealth, love, safety and longevity – for ourselves and our children – sell. A message of doom, coming from a red faced and screeching teenager, that does not sell.
People also question who is feeding her the agenda? She has presented fact-based, scientific reports to support her case. But who is feeding her the line?
Does it matter where she is getting it from, if the information is accurate, science based and might help to create a required shift in consciousness? But of course, one socially awkward 16-year-old girl can’t be allowed to just stand up for her beliefs, with passion. Because it makes the rest of us look bad. Lazy, selfish and apathetic. Really, it comes down to selfishness!
I have at least one friend on Facebook who has not been shy to share phrasing such as “irritating and annoying”, but who at the same time announces that “we are too stupid and selfish to do anything significant until it’s too late, so (I’m) just counting down the clock until we are engulfed in war and natural disasters of our own making.” This is one specific person, but I feel it covers a gamut of feeling from people. And many people will hold back from saying the negatives, because in a PC world we aren’t encouraged to express the unpopular majority viewpoint; otherwise, we become the monster. That new term for favouring one group or thing over another – reverse discrimination.
I personally, passively worry and acknowledge that whatever I do will make little to no difference, with regard to anything, but especially to climate change. I also don’t have confidence to take a stance on something if I don’t personally understand every detail behind the issue. Basically, I’m not a scientist, and throw my hands in the air.
I have, however, for many years now boycotted the cheap product (discount) retail stores – the one buck shops, two buck shops, euro shops, reject shops – even KMart or WalMart or Target. Stores that sell a lot of crap that won’t last long, with a high proportion of plastic.
Plastic that not only litters and doesn’t decompose, but (I believe) wastes fossil fuel (oil) both as an ingredient and of course in the manufacture process itself.
I also actively try to not just collect stuff. Except books. I have to admit. And I’ll continue to buy books until the day it is legislated that we are no longer able to use trees to create paper.
Generally, I pay the carbon tax on airfares too. Not every time.
Now, if every single person in the world followed or performed even these small steps – it would make some difference. Every single person.
This doesn’t apply to desperately poor people; they can’t afford to collect crap.
Developing countries want what we have, aspire to it, and why not?
Each generation engages in the notion of the next generation being better off, it is what they’ve worked for. This really peaks with ownership and wealth.
Two buck shops allow us to buy whatever piece of rubbish that appeals, allowing us to feel we’ve some say, some power, some ability to beautify ourselves and our homes.
Comfortable people – those at any level of the wealth spectrum that fools us into thinking we’re safe – don’t want to change.
Somebody else will sort it out.
It isn’t real.
It is somebody else’s problem. AKA some future generation.
One of Michael Moore’s books, and I can’t remember the name at the moment, has a scene where his granddaughter lends him a pencil to write something. There is some sort of disagreement where he uses it too quickly, or wants another, and she scolds him because pencils are rationed – all due to how his generation wasted resources and ruined the world. I’ve googled it and found it is Dude, where’s my country?Click to read an extract. Published in 2004.
My point is, Michael Moore was referencing climate devastation in one of his books in the late nineties, early noughties.
It is now 2019.
Another very scary book I have read in the last 15 years is the Chaos Point, which clearly identified a tipping point as the end of 2012. That after this point, it was too late. Published in 2006. This book did become a bit weird for me, as it moved into talking about ‘expanded consciousness’, and so I didn’t finish it. But the ‘facts’ described early on were frightening.
It is now 2019.
I’ve been a science fiction reader all my life. And so many other speculative fiction novels (let alone non-fiction offerings) have addressed the potential devastation of climate change. As in so many areas of science, these fiction authors have predicted what has become truth.
Somebody has to jump up and down about important things. On a smaller scale, mothers and fathers do this! How else do we learn to grow into good and responsible humans? Your teachers do it. Bosses do it. Doctors try to come down hard about your health. Scientists have been trying for years to wake us up. The Michael Moore’s, the Al Gore’s, the Bill Gates’ – to name some – have all cried ‘open your eyes, we can make a difference, we can make a change’. And, now Greta.
These people are unfortunately trying to sell us inconvenient truths. We don’t want to hear them. It is easier for us to scoff, and find reasons to denigrate the message and the messenger!
I haven’t heard Greta’s full speech. I switched web pages. I don’t think I thought negatively about the message – but I did react to the delivery. I was immature. I was being self serving; selfish.
Good on you Greta Thunberg, and your support team. Thank you for trying. You are making a difference. I don’t want to hear the message. I am concerned about the impact the pressure will have on you. But I do, applaud your dogged perseverance.
I’ll begin with a contemporary, bleeding obviously famous ex-Galway busker – AKA Ed Sheeran! Now, I didn’t know until I’d been in Galway a while, but apparently Ed busked in the streets of Galway before fame found him. And Galway (seems) to claim him as their own. And of course, he’s reciprocated with his song Galway Girl and by filming his famous video here – even if he used a Dublin Girl, Saoirse Ronan, in the clip.
I’ve paused to listen to many buskers while in Galway and have been blown away by the quality and youth of some musician buskers. Children, and I’m not talking teenagers or young adults, but children. Two or three of them, most likely siblings, I’d say. You know how siblings have a special complementary sound in their tone and harmony? Well, it seems obvious to me 🙂 But these kids are not only singers. They’re playing multiple instruments, with skill and passion. It is amazing and what a great training ground for them.
Not only do they get performance practice, they get to experience some adversity too! I’d guess at a few – weather, getting to their spot, rejection (no coins) elation (crowd loves them), weather, internal issues (having a bad day,, one of them doesn’t want to play, got colds, mum and dad are over it) weather, hecklers (hopefully not too many of those for the children) and even, red tape.
Wouldn’t anyone hearing angelic harmonies out of the mouths of babes stop in their tracks, amazed, dumbfounded and proud for them? Anybody with an appreciation for music – and a soul – would.
There are of course lower quality performers. They may be desperately having a go, because why? Well, I can only imagine. I’m not in their shoes. I’d assume their first impetus is earning some coin. And it would only be coin, because I’m talking about the ones who just aren’t any good. I’ve seen and heard a few older people especially and wondered “do they think they’re playing well?” In fairness, I think to myself, perhaps they used to be good. Maybe it is that their style has had its day, or it would hold up if they were part of an ensemble. Did their mothers always tell them they were brilliant? Do they know that they’re only mediocre, but stuff it; they love what they’re doing and they could use the extra coin.
Who am I to judge? And I only am judging because they’re forcing it on me by playing in the street. Everybody, anybody, should sing, play, dance like nobody’s watching. Full of joy and free of judgement. Unless you insist on sharing it with me 😀
There are some bloody brilliant ensembles and bands busking in Galway. To name two that I’ve really enjoyed are the Galway Street Club and Dead Letter Devils.
I’d describe the first as grunge, exuberant, loud, authentic, Irish and explicit. They’re on Spotify if you’re interested in looking them up. I love how their drummer uses a tea carton! I love to tap out a beat – I think I’m very good at it and keep thinking I should get drumming lessons. The musicality of banging out a beat on a wooden box blows me away. It puts a smile on my face.
Dead Letter Devils‘ Facebook page describes them as a foot stamping mix of bluegrass, swing, old timey and just a dash of folk-punk. Another loud and out there, enthusiastic band. Love it. Looks like I can only find their music by buying a CD off them on the street. But I never stay to the end to find out how much they cost. I’m also too self-conscious to sneak in and check their collection box 😀
That’s another thing I personally have trouble with – the donation. There are so many buskers and you can’t tip them all. And I haven’t necessarily heard the entire song / performance, just appreciated what I heard as I walked by. So, what’s the etiquette?
I find it easy enough if there isn’t a crowd around the performer. But for those amazing groups mentioned above, the crowd is big. And I come along, don’t know how much longer the performance will go on for, and really want to ask how much their CD is, but don’t want to a) wait or b) interrupt the performance – or c) bring attention to myself 🙂
I really hope that for these guys it is about the exposure and not (at least in this performance) about the money. Because there are a number of them in the group – seven or eight? And the money being offered has to be shared around them all. So, this is when it comes down to the opportunity to busk – the ability to gain attention and reputation, spread through word of mouth or by the serendipity of an event manager of some sort also passing by.
Last weekend I was wandering around and came upon the Galway Busker Community group in Eyre Square. Some of their members were performing, but their purpose was to entertain while bringing our attention to new by-laws about to be put through Galway Council, ‘seriously restricting’ busker rights in Galway.
Most of the contention was about lack of consultation with the busking community, and also that busking was a grassroots way for performers to be discovered. Galway Street Club shared on their Facebook page that because of the ‘platform of Shop Street in Galway, they and other performers have had the opportunity to perform across Ireland and Europe’. And that the Galway Council has seen this and ‘used their image and reputation in advertising in their bid for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture’ (which they’ve won!).
The by-laws include such rules as – short version:
Crowd Size. Must immediately cease performing if public access to or from any premises is restricted, due to a crowd gathering. So, if people have stopped to enjoy their music the band would have to stop playing – because a crowd has gathered! 😛
Amplification, backing tracks and use of drum kits are expressly forbidden. Amplification is needed due to the background noise of busy streets, and use of drums is an integral part of most band music
Censorship. ‘ … act, say, do or sing anything that may cause alarm, distress or offense …’. As the band says, this means that anybody even having a bad day who takes offence can complain and the band would be fined up to 1500 euros at any time.
Now, you can see some sense in what the Galway Council is trying to achieve. And although I, like so many others, love the expressionism, musicality and pure entertainment of street buskers, if you’re in business in such a tourist-centric town, you’d feel the need to be heard.
But ‘hello business’ – what is your main focus. That you need tourists in your city, in your street and then in your door. Well don’t these entertaining buskers help attract the tourist? Or are they just a pain in the butt with their noise, crowd pulling (interfering with access) and (potential) bawdiness.
I’ve twice been inside a retail business and had a conversation with staff about how awful a particular performer was on the day, with their comment being “yes, he’s always out there!”. So, if the businessman is also afflicted with a shite performer, then that’s a relevant point in the conversation.
I don’t know if Galway buskers have to audition before gaining a permit, whether they even have to apply for a permit. But there are areas in the world, including Australia, where this is a requirement and at least then you would expect an enjoyable standard.
I’m not a journalist and I don’t do real research for my light and observational writing. And so, I haven’t looked closely at the full detail of the by-laws. The Galway busking community cries ‘highly restrictive’.
At a glance, what I’ve seen looks sensible. There’s a balance to be found between creative license and practical reality. And if the busking community is correct, then perhaps the problem is really the lack of consultation and collaboration writing these by-laws, rather than the fact that they’ve come into being at all.
As a visitor to this medieval city, buskers add a festival element and entertainment value that seem to me, worth bottling. Galway City Council and the Galway Busking Community working together would be music to the ear of business, community and visitor alike.
I know, this is being said from the comfort and confidence of a long marriage. I’m part of team Eric and Trish, in life and work. So what’s this about a ‘lone wolf’?
Apart from the partnership of my marriage, I regularly say ‘I’m not a people person’ or ‘I don’t do people’. Lots of my friends would confirm that.
I have friendships. Carol B and I. Bobbie and I. Sally and I. Tash and I. Deb and I. Judy and I. I’m friends with the committee team I volunteer with at Vision Australia radio. Sometimes, Heather and I get coffee. There are people that I consider friends from the olden days, but we don’t hang out anymore, so I guess they’re acquaintances now. But in the day, these were strong friendships. Maire and I. Sandra and I. Sandra was there for me when it really counted.
The only bunch, group, gang of women I’ve hung out with in recent times is my Esperance friend group – Wednesday card ladies. Jan, Joy, Lorraine, Margaret, Michelle, Julie and Yvonne to name some. The connection began at Curves, which is a women’s exercise club. And through Curves, I found the card ladies. And I’ve loved card days, but I’ve honestly thought that it was really about the ‘doing’ of card playing, and not really the relationship with these ladies. But I’m thinking differently. 😀
Now as I’ve said in a previous post, while in Galway for an extended period, I thought it a good idea to find a community group of some sort. Whether that was volunteering, or a doing activity, it didn’t matter. Just a way to connect in Ireland outside of the passive interactions with shop assistants, ticket sellers, tourist operators.
Recently I had my fifth Saturday morning coffee with a beaut bunch of ladies. And I celebrated my birthday in Galway, away from home, my husband, my children. Murphy’s Law too, I had my first emotional/lonely moments this week. I changed apartments, and was disappointed with the quality and facilities of this one. Also, the location, while probably brilliant for a family on a summer beach holiday, didn’t seem to meet what I needed. It was stark and soulless. The continuing miserable weather probably wasn’t helping. And maybe it was just the right stage of the journey to experience loneliness. For a while, the novelty of the sabbatical holds sway and then at some point you realise you’re human!
Now, it’s not like I celebrate my birthday at home. It’s really another day. If I’m lucky, my husband and kids remember. I’ll get a text or phone call from the children who are all interstate. My sisters usually remember and give me a call. Mum usually calls.
I definitely haven’t had a party since my 21st. Sandra, remember my 21st? I’d had my first child exactly one week before. This was during my first marriage and my then husband Mark, a couple of friends from the Army Reserve, Sandra and her parents, and I think my then mother-in-law gathered at our apartment. I was estranged from my own family for a little while there and so this bunch of friends insisted that I had to celebrate.
Well, this lone wolf keeps reaching out. It is an anomaly that I don’t understand. But I sent the message out to my Treasured Ladies and said “If you’d like to join me for coffee and cake on Wednesday afternoon between 2 and 4, please do. You have to leave by 4 because I’m going out that night.” 😀
Clear direction there 🙂 I am very direct, honest and forthright. It gets me into trouble. And is part of why I think I don’t do people and I particularly don’t do women. Maybe I’ve distanced myself too much from the experience of women friendships, but I’ve believed that, in general, women are annoying.
In my experience, which is mainly in the workplace, women could concentrate on doing their job more and leave their emotional baggage at the door. It would make life at work so much easier. It is difficult for me to pinpoint what it is that bothers me about encouraging friendships with women – but the emotional neediness and territorialism that I’ve experienced means I retreat from them.
I find men a lot simpler to deal with. Frustrating at times, of course, but I like their directness and (usually) lack of guile.
Now, have I lost a bunch of you, because I sound harder than you thought I was? Or because I’m not doing the solidarity with women thing? I hope not, because I’m sharing what I feel honestly and coming to a realisation that maybe I’ve been missing out. In the spirit of protecting myself.
At the same time that I’ve said all of the above, remember that my feelings and observations are subjective. I am not a confident woman. I’m afraid to open up to other women in fear that I’ll be judged and found wanting. I measure myself against these other women and find myself lacking. If I keep away from them, then I don’t have to worry. Don’t have to put myself out there and risk heartache.
Yet, I reached out to the Treasured Ladies – again. We only had a small turnout. It was spontaneous and they all have lives, some of them still work. But these so very generous ladies said yes and came to my place for coffee and cake. And it was lovely. I don’t have the words for how lovely it was. I’m really amazed that I appreciated it so much. And you know what? They keep saying ‘thank you’ for inviting them and how they really enjoyed it. Genuinely!
This is a real eye-opener for me. Have I missed out on something special? I’m a reader and of course I’ve read a lot about women and their friendships. But it did seem that this was something that ‘other’ women did.
So, the lovely Treasured Ladies were there for me. And the following weekend, it became clear that I was there for some of these ladies. We all have stories. We all have things going on that affect us, and our interpersonal relationships. Being there for somebody to talk to, to share their concerns, to confirm that they’re not alone or crazy. To empathize with their feelings. That is something worth embracing and encouraging.
During August 2019, I stayed at Ce ne Mara, self serviced apartments right on the working Port of Galway, which according to the port’s website, has a ‘history dating back to the 10th century’.
Ebb and flow was continuous and very interesting, mainly cargo ships being loaded with a lot of what seemed to be silage (or at least wrapped hay bales). Corrib Fisher visited several times and is identified with ‘oil products’ on the shipping schedule I found. The ship parked right outside my window and seemed to be offloading huge windmill components, propeller parts. And yes, their website schedule says OT Deaal ‘type’ is ‘wind energy project’. So I guessed correctly! Coincidentally, I was on the bus out to Clifden a couple of days later and lo and behold, off in the distance, there were big arse windmills.
Irish Navy ships were also in regularly during August. I’ve seen the Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats – all named after revered Irish writers, poets – literary figures. All three ships are offshore patrol vessels, 90m in length and weighing 1,933t. I’d have loved to tour onboard, but was away the weekend they offered guided tours. Dammit!
Movement was very engaging and my imagination triggered. How long do these guys spend at sea? How often are they at home? Is Galway their home port?
My apartment had floor to ceiling windows in the living area and I pretty much left the blinds up all the time. So, at night especially, we could see each other. I kind of hope it made them feel less alone, but maybe I’m being romantic. I promise that I kept my clothes on 🙂 and assumed that they were finding comfort (if any), perhaps watching my TV and not being perverts!
I’ve observed that many of the boats kept their engines going 24/7, perhaps for power? There was a constant humming and slight vibration. I did think it would affect my sleep, but funnily enough I mainly noticed when it wasn’t there. Those nights it was too quiet to sleep 🙂 One of the larger ships, the OT Deaal, kept me awake because of its lights. The bridge area was quite high and floodlit and these lights came straight into my bedroom and were just too bright. I ended up moving into the lounge, pulling down the blinds and sleeping on the sofa!
I don’t know what it is, but I love watching boat activity in ports and plane activity at airports. At Albury, where I live usually, until very recently you could sit out on a bench in the sun and watch the coming and going of planes. However, they’ve now extended the terminal building and so that’s stopped. And I’ve noticed that the availability of viewing platforms at many airports is discontinued. Must be part of our security conscious culture now.
Anyway, humans seem to take pleasure in proximity to water, whether that is dams, brooks/creeks, rivers or oceans. There is something magical about being near water. Soothing, food for the soul. Lift your face and feel the breeze, the sea spray, breathe in the moisture, listen to the crashing of waves, hear the squawking of seabirds, see them lift and soar. Walk along jetties, wharfs. Wander out to the seashore, beaches, rocks – go fishing.
People have clearly been attracted to the movement at this port, in my observation. They stop and look. Taking photos, smiling and pointing.
So far in September there have been a couple of cruise ships in, although they must be too big for the port as the passengers were shuttled in via tenders.
I’ve moved on now from the docks of Galway Port and onto Salthill. I’ll miss that little oasis, but you know it will keep on going without me. Since the 10th century? And hopefully, well into the future.
In Australia, roads are big! They’re long and wide. In some places, they’re extra wide where they used to be mining towns and needed the room for vehicles (horse and cart) to pass each other and for turning.
Even if you get off the highway and on to a secondary road, you really have nothing to complain about – size wise anyway. Condition and maintenance of is a different story.
In the 1970s when a child, we lived in Port Hedland, Western Australia for a few years. Often at Christmas, we’d all jump in the car (6 of us) and travel down to Perth. The road was gravel (not yet bituminised) and basically one long, straight, 1632 km (1014 mi) stretch. With wide open vistas. No fences or walls. Occasionally trees.
An unusual memory I have is of driving along this endless highway, in the summer sun, and coming across tiny patches of rain. Just above you for a very short spell. And then back into the sunshine.
Some years, for a change I guess, we’d go more inland via Tom Price or Marble Bar. I guess it broke up that straight line. Marble Bar has the reputation of being one of the hottest towns in Australia (I just read something that said ‘during summer, it’s quite normal for it to be the hottest town on earth). That’s extreme! 😀 We’d visit a pool there, among gorges, with Jasper banks. (Note: I’ve also read that it was first thought to be marble, and so the town was called Marble Bar, but it has since been proved to be jasper; a highly coloured cryptocrystalline variety of quartz).
Roads in Ireland, however, are narrow and winding and often slippery, with blind bends. Hindered by hedges, stone walls and ditches; by livestock and walkers and bicyclists and farm machinery, buses or trucks.
Sure, there are highways now in Ireland, just like in Australia. But for the sake of the drama, I’m not talking about them! 🙂
‘Have Leap Card, can travel!’ has been my mantra while in Ireland. In London, you have the Oyster card, Melbourne the Myki or in Perth the SmartRider (or in The Fifth Element New York, you have the Mooltipass!). This pass has me riding the buses like a local, everywhere I go. And then there are the tour companies, like Galway Touring Co, which I used this week to visit the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher and Doolin.
I have to salute the Irish Bus Driver. Before they have to even deal with the weather, or roadworks, they have to deal with the roads – and that can be a nightmare. This comes from a confident Australian driver who still closes my eyes if a road train is coming toward me! (Note: A road train is truck rig (prime mover) with two or more trailers attached). (Double note: It’s more a narrowing of eyes. Please don’t tell the police that I close my eyes!).
Now, I’m no poet, but below is my heartfelt tribute to the Irish Bus Driver.
Whether driving Bus Eireann through cramped city streets
or out in the country, with tractors and sheep
or high in the cockpit of a deluxe touring coach
the Irish Bus Driver is better than most
Behind the wheel of behemoth beast
a wily character upon his seat
his wits about him every day
exuding humour, come what may
The roads are narrow, winding, steep
obstacles lurk and idiots beep
the Irish Bus Driver breathes slowly, deeply
and protects his passengers, anger not creeping
He has the patience of a saint
keeps temper even, when things ain’t
conditions worsen, eyes are burning
good music plays, DJ grooving
With nerves of steel, he makes no fuss
he charms the women on the bus
reaches a hand to help the weary
has knowledge to share and is rarely dreary
His driving day is very long
from Dublin to Galway, detour by Cong
he says to his clients “meet back here by 3”
the next stop serves the sweetest tea
Of course, there’s always one who’s late
the driver must smile, and never berate
he gets points for highest of driving skills
and also, for zero ‘recorded’ kills
At the end of the day, on roads not for bussing
he gets us home safely, tired but smiling
“Thank you!” we call to our Irish Bus Driver
who continues alone. Back same time tomorrow.
As I said, not a poet! But hope you enjoyed that tribute
I’ve had only a couple of complaints about the buses in Ireland in six weeks. Both times, the bus was late or didn’t turn up. And of course it was raining.
But on the whole, the service is excellent, they are mainly on time. And the Irish Bus Driver has only always been friendly and engaging.