Tag Archives: Language

My Kingston Kana-diary. Pt. IX. Blizzard of Ont. Slán abhaile Starman.

Winter is here. And to quote my parents, “you wouldn’t put a milk bottle out in it”. Although this expression doesn’t really work in Canada because, as mentioned previously, milk over here is sold in 4 litre bags. It’s the equivalent of the Irish public purchasing their potatoes in a carton. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Yesterday, and today, the temperature, when you add in the wind chill, has dropped to -20 C. A carpet of sneachta (Irish for snow) has enveloped the Land O’ Lakes. As beautiful as it looks, it’s treacherous underfoot. I’ve already comically slipped on a patch of ice. Taken by surprise, I lost control of both feet, careered through the air backwards, did a full body twist, and landed on my front, cushioning the landing with my left wrist. Yelling an expletive (possibly fiddlesticks), I was sure I broke my arm. Despite the pain, I up-righted myself and brushed off the snow. It was early morning and I was stood in a business carpark surrounded by lorry drivers (They call lorries ‘transports’ over here). I wore the type of face that dared those large rig drivers to laugh at me. I walked on, head held high but my dignity eroded. Gawd, did it hurt!! When I returned home that afternoon my socks were wet through. My desert boots from Ireland were not up to the task. I was worried I would have the first recorded case of trench foot since 1917. I had to bite the bullet and buy a new pair of water proof boots. Happily, the January sales are ongoing.

Kingston, snow.

Pic courtesy of the Kingston Whig

Got to see a lot of movies over the Christmas break. The Revenant, Room and The H8ful Eight probably being the best of them. I also found the time to watch the movie ‘Brooklyn’, which storyline revolves heavily around a young Irish émigré. It was a little bit too schmaltzy and saccharine sweet for my liking – although, it is a well-crafted movie, and it will be to many others taste. Its set in the 1950s and some of the themes touched on still resonate in modern Ireland. Suicide is still a blight on the land. At least the Church won’t refuse to bury these victims of hopelessness any longer. Anyway, there was a piece of music featured, sung entirely in Irish (as Gaeilge), which gave me real pangs of homesickness. The song in question is called Casadh an tSugain which means the twisting of the rope. Sung entirely in Irish, it has a haunting quality, which would bring a tear to a glass eye. Not sure why I was so affected, as I can hardly string two words together in Irish. I can still say ‘Can I please go to the toilet?’ as this was drilled into us all in primary school. If you didn’t say it in the native tongue, I guess you just had to wet yourself, or worse. Try say it yourself: AN BHFUIL CEAD AGAM DUL GO DTÍ AN LEITHREAS? Phonetically it’s ‘on will cad agum dull gu d on latter us. You can listen to Casadh an tSugain sung by Iarla Ó Lionáird here: bit.ly/1Pry5zr courtesy of irishcentral.com.

Brooklyn

I don’t think I’m making as many social blunders anymore due to cultural differences. I must be getting assimilated. I do stand up and take my hat off during any rendition of the national anthem, ‘Oh Canada’. It’s routinely played in all schools every morning and before sporting events. I prefer to sing it in an admonishing tone though, as in ‘Oh Canada, you silly thing, what have you gone and done now? Wipe that poutine off, it’s all over your face’ kinda manner. I’ve noticed I do say ‘yer man’ and ‘yer woman’ a lot when I’m describing someone whose name I don’t know. This confuses the hell out of my girlfriend’s father. He’s thinking, what man is he talking about? That woman doesn’t belong to me.

I must mention the passing of David Bowie. I was sure someone so other-worldly and supremely talented would outlive us all. It feels like his death has left a hole in my life. It was always a comfort to know that a producer of such great music lived among us. I’ve never been so shocked by a celebrity death. Although he never really felt like a traditional celeb, just a man of music whose songs were gifted to me, and everybody else, as a friendly gesture. The post-bowie age feels so less rich than before he left us. RIP you freaky old bastard you!

Bowie, Changes

I dedicate this blog to Proinsias O’ Compeau. cailín álainn.

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