Yesterday was Bloomsday. I wasn’t in Dublin: I was on stage in Brighton with Salter Cane. Still, I couldn’t let the occasion pass unmarked.
During a break between songs I took the opportunity to wish everyone a happy Bloomsday. I was met with nonplussed stares. Philistines!
I’m kidding. It was a most cultured crowd. Not only were the cream of Brighton’s web scene in attendance (thanks for coming along, Andy and Richard), the very charming Andrew Miller was also there. I managed to avoid geeking out immediately and it wasn’t until later in the evening that I blurted out how much I enjoyed Oxygen.
For those hoping to take the easy path to Bloomsday enlightenment, the BBC have provided a Joyce-lite primer for Ulysses:
"CHAPTER 6: Bloom attends a funeral at Glasnevin Cemetery, his symbolic encounter with death mirroring Odysseus’s descent into Hades. It’s a real barrel of laughs."
They’ve also opened up comments and it’s interesting to see just how divisive Joyce’s work remains to this day. The first comment makes for especially juicy reading, coming as it does from one "Stephen Fry, London".
All of which reminds me of the old joke about the Irishman looking for work on a building site in England. The foreman wants to make sure the Irishman knows his stuff so he asks him:
"What’s the difference between a joist and a girder?"
To which the Irishman responds:
"That’s easy: Joyce wrote Ulysses and Goethe wrote Faust."
Thank you folks, I’ll be here all week.
While I’m in a joke-telling mood…
I guess all you Europeans saw that football match a few days ago when France beat England 2:1 in extra time. Right after the game finished, I got a text message from a friend of mine in Ireland that read simply:
"Carlsberg don’t do football matches, but if they did…"
As you can imagine, there was something of a Franco-hibernian cultural appreciation society formed that evening. Every Frenchman became an honourary Irishman thanks to their football team’s achievement in bringing the English down a notch or two (though not quite enough to put a dent in the alarming number of St. George’s crosses festooned on cars and buildings).
It wasn’t until today that the Irish wit truly came to the fore. I received from the same friend in Ireland the following gem condensed into the 255 character limit of an SMS:
"Why do the English make better lovers than the French?"
"They can stay on top for 89 minutes and still come second."