This Is Not Leaving Cert Weather.

Greetings from the bowels of early June. It is the third day of the Junior and Leaving Cert examinations (for those not from Ireland, the Junior Cert are the exams you take in the middle of your illustrious secondary school career, and the Leaving Cert exams are taken before you enter college, or uni as I will have to start calling it soon enough) and I am lamenting the dearth of exam weather. WHAT GIVES.

My sister is currently sitting her LC, and yesterday heralded the onslaught of English Paper Two. Now, I take an interest in what comes up on that exam every year, mainly because it’s my favourite out of the two. Those of a writerly bent (Méabh, for one) always went for Paper One, as it allowed you to write diary entries and write short stories. My imagination sadly does not work that fast (I always went for the newspaper articles and letters to magazines), so I always relished Paper Two, i.e. getting to write about Shakespeare and Brian Friel and Jennifer Johnston and Eavan Boland and Derek Mahon and Sylvia Plath. Incidentally, over the years, Paper Two is the most contentious paper in the Leaving Cert cycle, mainly because of its Prescribed Poetry section. Eight poets are on the course, only four show up on the day. You could work around this due to the fact that there is always An Irish Poet and A Female Poet on the paper, but people still get caught. Yesterday saw a repeat of the 2010 Boland Controversy in the news that Sylvia Plath, widely tipped to appear this year, er, didn’t.

Plath: a shit-eating grin if ever I knew one

Mind you, the folk in my old secondary school were pinning their hopes upon Ireland’s Greatest Living Poet (for winning the Nobel Prize, for writing ‘Mid-Term Break’ and ‘Digging’, for giving a poetry reading for charity at NUIG which was notable for the fact that I played with a massive fluffy white cat afterwards), Seamus Heaney. He didn’t show either. The bastard.

Heaney: he’s got a meme now, you know

I guess we all should have seen it coming. Considering the fact that Adrienne Rich shuffled off this mortal coil earlier this year — and guess who was this year’s Token Female Poet? However, I never tire of this annual guessing game. Thousands of people, including yours truly, glue themselves to boards.ie and twitter just to find out which poets make it onto the paper, or whether people’s predictions come true (and judging by Eavan Boland’s continual absence, they tend not to sometimes). It just brings me back to 2008, and my own sitting of Paper Two. At first glance I was horrified by the Othello question, was stumped by the Comparative Study, and skipped Unseen Poetry (because hey, you’re supposed to do that LAST), but when I saw the most glorious question on Derek Mahon, almost plagiarised from the Mocks, I got an answer written in forty minutes. And besides, I got an A2 in the end. Happy endings do occur.

As of next week, I’m going to be in Stratford-upon-Avon for the annual Britgrad conference. I’m very excited to be going over there for the first time, as well as checking out the Shakespeare Institute too. But I’m sad that I won’t be there when my sister completes her final LC exam. She’s worked incredibly hard all year, and I’m proud of her.

On a final note, I leave you with this. It is ‘proper good’, as they say:

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Is this a non-Cymbeline or Shakespeare related post?

(Most of my last posts have been related to it, or Shakespeare. I am quite predictable.)

In the last few days I’ve finally gotten my hands on the latest Mark Lanegan album, since it was released in February. This is actually a Big Deal, seeing as a) he’s prolific as hell but NOT when it comes to solo albums, so this is a first and b) the part of me who’s still a first year and who was completely obsessed with him (he came to Galway during the first two years of my degree, cue fangirl excitement) is very very happy.

At first listen, it’s a very good album. This week I’ve been incapable of moving past the ‘wtf?’ brilliance of ‘Ode to Sad Disco’, which combines two disparate loves of mine (Lanegan, obviously, and synth-pop). This really Shouldn’t Work On Principle, but it does.

And this is coming from the second last week, EVER, of undergraduate classes and lectures. I had my final English seminar class last week, and I’ll be completely finished with History come next Tuesday evening. This is insane.

But my first visit to Cute Overload in quite some time allowed me to come across this. He’s so TEENY!

Saturday playlist, 30/04/2011

Some few favourites from the past while. And no, it is not my fault The National have a new single out.

And Now For Something Completely Unrelated!

  • I finally got around to reading Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas this week. It is genuinely a treat to read aloud – there’s no other way to enjoy it more. The language is just sumptuous. I’m curious as to how it can be staged instead of performed on radio as Thomas originally intended it, but I suppose Google can provide some answers to that question later. Now, I have to finish reading The Good Soldier. And properly start Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. And Look Back In Anger AND We Need To Talk About Kevin. I’ll start them at some point, lads. Promise.
  • I’m going to buck trend and NOT talk about the Royal Wedding. Hah! It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just I’ve exhausted anything witty or relevant that I have to say about it…
  • Believe it or not, this is actually true. 
  • Oh yes. Glorious weather. It’s 99 season, yes?
  • I saw Moment by Deirdre Kinahan at the Town Hall Theatre last Thursday. What at first seemed to me a bog-standard kitchen sink / prodigal son story proved to be so much more – over the space of two hours this son’s arrival home and his younger sister’s reaction to it provides the ingredients for a night in which family secrets best left buried are exhumed and re-exhibited. At times witty, at times excruciating,  and Christ almighty tense as hell, I found myself fully invested.
  • And now – LOOK AT THE FEET!

    Seriously. LOOK at them.

Record Store Day 2011. Also, damn you wind.

Was recommended this by a friend today. But just so you know, unlike the likes of Kanye West whose tweets are terrifyingly and hilariously real (I give “I just threw some kazoo on this bitch” as an example, and end at that), this is total satire. Unfortunately Patton Oswalt and the internet world don’t seem to realise this.

Also, Happy Record Store Day to you all! From my brother telling me of the festivities back home (Sligo has a decent record store in the form of Third Wave Music, which is still operating despite HMV only a minute’s walk away. If you ever find yourself up there, I heartily recommend going there. The staff’s recommendations are second to none too), I began to wonder today if Galway had an independent record store of its own. All I had heard about was HMV and Zhivago (which folded recently). If a town as small as Sligo can have one, why shouldn’t Galway?  I decided to do some research, and it appears that I am largely ignorant of this city’s history! There have been some over the past couple of years, such as Redlight Records which went bust since the last Record Store Day, but at present we do have two – Wingnut Records from inside Bell, Book and Candle, as well as The Little Room on the Spanish Arch. (also, if there’s any other record shops in Galway, do let me know. I would say something about “it’s a shame that we aren’t more informed and we need to save our record shops”, but that would require me getting onto my high horse, which given my listening and buying habits would be unwise of me to do.)

also, there’s one thing wrong with walking the Salthill prom: the bloody wind. My poor ears.

The Friday playlist – 15/04/2011

A basic rundown of what’s been on the iPod this week. Some of them are slightly bizarre, I admit.

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Edit: I’d watch that Portishead video if I were you. I remember watching that particular video for the first time a few days before my first year Christmas exams and needless to say, it blew me away. I haven’t watched it since until now, and I really recommend YouTubing it. It’s something special, as is this one.  Christ,  I’d blog all day about Beth Gibbons and Portishead if I could.