Sunday, March 18, 2012

Random Thoughts: An Über-Celtic Postscript

The site of an old-fashioned hardware store in southern Arlington is now the home of P Brennan's Irish Pub. We went there for the first time, Sal and I. She had the Wexford Lamb Stew; I had the Corned Beef and Cabbage. We both washed it down with hard cider. It was noisy, to be sure, but it was Saint Paddy's Day, and more noise than usual at a public house would be the norm. There were an awful lot of people wearing Kelly green tee shirts, which by Irish standards is a little garish, which is to say, American.

Afterwards, we headed across town (that is to say, across the river) to attend a lecture at The Avalon School given by my friend, Elizabeth Kantor, concerning her new book, "The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After." Many women have felt the need to settle for less when it comes to men, relationships, sex, and marriage. Dr Kantor believes otherwise, and maintains that the works of the English author Jane Austen can show them the way. Sal was so impressed that she bought a copy for a young Filipina of her acquaintance. In talking about the book on the way home, we discussed how much of this dilemma facing girls in America today, is not as much of a problem in the Philippines, where even in the present day, courtship is a more civilized ritual, and a family's blessing of the proceedings is still de rigueur in polite society.

I can still remember when I first heard Van Morrison's album featuring The Chieftains entitled "Irish Heartbeat." Paul was just a wee lad in those days, and he and I would sing along with it. In this video clip from the late 1990s, Morrison performs the first track on the album in its usual 4/4 time, rather than as a waltz as is traditional to the melody.

The Emerald Isle currently suffers from the same economic challenges as do we, despite a boom in the late 2000s when it was found to be a source of cheap labor for the tech industries. The price of real estate went through the roof. If you live in the States, you can guess what happened next. And yet it remains a source of artistic inspiration around the world, where the feast of Saint Patrick is celebrated even in Russia.

Today I stopped in again at P Brennan's on my way home from church for their Sunday brunch. They have local musicians stop in for an informal jam session from noon to three. There were about eight of them this time around; I don't know the usual number. It's been a long time since I did anything like this, I'd probably show up one day with my mandolin and sort of stay in the background, hoping not to cause any trouble.

We'll end this with a verse from Chesterton:

From the great Gales of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
for all their wars are merry
And all their songs are sad.

And so it goes.

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