Fa – the Green Dragon

A Place for the Odd Musings of an Expat Bristolian


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Obscure words explained 104 – blarney

BLARNEY

Deceptive speaking

Irish call it eloquence

The gift of the gab


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Obscure words explained 102 – ban sidhe

BAN SIDHE (Banshee)

Old Irish, Fairy

Vengeful if one offends them

Clodhna their Queen


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Unusual U.K. place names 74. – Stuggadhoo

STUGGADHOO, Isle of Mann

on he Isle of mann

many nations have ruled here

Famous for Manx cats

 

 


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A Night to Remember

In 1992 I had just arrived in the USA from China where I had been working for almost 4 years. I had started to work for a hotel group with about 4 properties in the Twin Cities area. Not long after starting, the city of St. Paul, Minnesota was the venue of an exhibit of the Titanic. My hotel was one of the sponsoring hotels. As part of the promotion we invited corporate accounts to a special reception and a chance to visit the Titanic exhibit. The reception menu was replicated from the first class menu served to the passengers aboard the maiden voyage. I saved a copy of the promotional material which was printed for the occasion. The material featured the two vessels of the White Star Line; the SS Olympic and the RMS Titanic. On the reverse side was the celebrated menu. I used the various dishes served to cook up the following poem.

The title of the poem recalls the original film made in Black and white with the title “A Night to Remember” starring Kenneth More and Honor Blackman which was released about July 1958. The RMS Titanic sank 105 years ago on April 14th, 1912.

 

A BITE TO REMEMBER

 

The night we remember,

When the Titanic sank deep down

First Class passengers were dining,

Like a night out on the town

 

Their dinner on that fateful night

First oysters a la Russe

Canapés à l’amiral

And then a sherbet mousse

 

Second course of soups

One came from the Volga

Cream of barley in a bowl

And too, consommé Olga

 

Third course served was from the sea

Not brought in a terrine

Poached salmon on a gilded plate

With sauce of mousseline

 

Fourth course were the entrées

With filet mignons Lili

Or chicken Lyonnaise

And vegetable marrow farci

 

Fifth course they call removes

With lamb and sauce of mint

And duck with Calvados,

Just a little hint

 

These were paired with veggies

Healthy garden fare

Spuds, carrots, minted pea timbales

All of them were there.

 

To clean the palette sixth, was served

Punch Romaine or sorbet

The choices two but simple

You only had to say

 

Seventh course was roasted squab

On a bed of wilted cress

Exquisite dining for the price

You could not ask for less

 

Eighth course was a salad

With champagne Vinaigrette

This was such a tasty dish

Whoever could forget?

 

The ninth course was a cold dish

Of Pâté de Foie Gras

Goose livers all the way from France

Where food is Ooh la la!

 

Comes now course number ten

Peaches in chartreuse jelly

Waldorf pudding, chocolate eclairs

Watch out for your belly

 

Eleventh course,

Of fruit and cheese.

By now more food

Is one tight squeeze

 

And finally a bourbon tasting

Best to sip it slow

And on that note I’ll say farewell

This was a fine last supper of some who rest below.


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Footloose

When I was footloose and fancy free

I had an urge to go to sea.

But in truth a ship I could not find

I had read about the Golden Hind.

The only ship that lay at anchor

The owner a local merchant banker.

She was the good ship Walrus

Just as well you did not see us

A motley crew that was quite true

But our hearts were keen and our fears were few.

Some press-ganged from too much ale

Consigned for now to help her sail,

And follow on the breeze

Bound to the west and open seas.

First our heading north through the Irish Sea and past the Mull of Kintyre.

Through lightning and heavy rain I saw St. Elmo’s fire.

A good omen I was told, to see a ship aglow

Old sailors taking in the storm as just another show.

Captain Yarman spoke to us next day

To explain how we would earn our pay.

You work in watches by the bell.

What that meant was hard to tell.

Then spoke the Bo ‘sun a sullen fellow

But beneath his gruff he seemed quite mellow.

Stay sober, be on time and that was it.

Oh! Be clean and always stow your kit.

Leave nothing loose below these decks

The surest way to break your necks

When the seas run high you mark my word

Never tell me you never heard.

That night was ever northward

Towards the midnight sun

And then as the dawn was breaking

We steered for our westward run.

Bound for the Cayman Islands and Montego Bay

Rum at Aunt Jema’ah’s place,

And while the ship was lading a little time to stray.

Those were good days, sailing on the tide.

But some years later my heart was claimed

For now I had a bride.

Her blood ran hot with cayenne spice

And I a land lubber in a trice.

Set now to growing vegetables

And digging in my plot

No longer footloose nor fancy free

Only to dream of days at sea.

The nights when in my hammock swung

Rolling with the waves

And in between the swells I thought

What have I learned in life, what lessons has it taught?

A list counted in my mind.

The most important I could find:

Never forget your passion.

Live life clean and tidy.

Ship shape and Bristol fashion.


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The Man with the Rowan Rod

 

This is another piece from the box of stuff I found waiting to be unpacked in my garage.

The Man with the Rowan Rod

 

He came to visit me today,

He brought his Rowan rod.

Hereabouts it’s called a fé.

When asked if that was Irish? All he did was nod.

He took my measure top to toe.

He had a grim and solemn take

He did this twice before he could go

To find the wood with which to make

My suit of fir which I would wear

With other souls who’d gone before

To the space beneath the turf I’d share.

So now I sit and wait for God,

I‘ve seen the man with the Rowan rod.

I even looked him in the eye.

He wished to speak, I could see.

At which he let out one long sigh.

He asked a question what shall I do

When my time comes, who do you

think with measure me?

Don’t worry about length or breadth I said

Upon this earth we made our bed

The time will come for us to answer

For all the stuff that we have done to others and alone

Sins for which we must atone.

I’ve confessed my sins to God

So I’ll be fine beneath the sod.

Go now and confess at least

What you remember to a priest

And he’ll have some words to say

He’ll even tell you what to pray,

As penance for forgiveness of your faults.

And when you reach the Pearly gates,

Just reach up and ring the bell.

Peter will check you in his book and the gates will open wide

Peter then will ask of you, why don’t you come inside?

On earth you measured souls and you did measure well

So much so my friend you saved them all from hell.

Your solemn look and words you spoke

Had great effect on all the folk

You met before my angel called on them to say

Before your maker you will go today.

It caused them in their last moments to give some thought

To the life that they had led.

But what really saved them

were the words that you said.

Repent the end is nigh!

Today you’ll meet your lord and God

In his kingdom up on high.


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THE FOX FUR HAT and a simple misunderstanding

 

Prince Charles attended the grand opening of the new Garda Siochana barracks in Tinahely, County Wicklow in Ireland wearing a dark blue pin-stripe three piece suit and a fox fur hat.

After some speeches and various pieces of music played by a Garda brass band and a ribbon cutting, Prince Charles found himself sitting at lunch with Gwinnon Vaughan,the mayor of Tinahely and a few other local dignitaries. after the entrée and just before the dessert was about to be served the mayor coughed discretely and said ” your Highness thank you again for coming to our small off the beaten track town, but please forgive me, I must ask about the fox fur hat you are wearing”.

Prince Charles responded somewhat matter-of-factly.

“Oh yes”. “Well I was getting ready for my trip yesterday and my father, Prince Philip wanted to know if I could go sailing today I told him no as I had a grand opening at a Garda Siochana barracks in Tinahely.” “He simply said  Oh!- wear the fox hat”